Saturday, April 25, 2015

And This Is a Bad Idea?

China's Ministry of Culture has vowed to crack down on the presence of strippers at funerals.  Apparently, strippers are used to bolster attendance at the funerals.  A well attended funeral is considered a positive sign for the after life of the deceased.

Three quick points:

1.  It is rare when "culture" and "strippers" are used in the same sentence,

2.   China might now be eclipsing the US culturally in addition to economically.

3.  Janice has permission to have strippers at my funeral so come one, come all.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Will the Senate Be Sancho Panza?

In tilting at windmills news, the House of Representatives voted this week to repeal the estate tax. The bill also provides that estates would continue to avoid payment of capital gains tax on appreciated assets even in the absence of the estate tax.

Several quick points:

1. With President Obama annually proposing an increase in the estate tax rate from 40% to 45% and taxing capital gains on appreciated assets, while also lowering the threshold at which taxes become due to $3.5 million from $5.43 million, this bill has no chance of passing during the next two years.

2. Last year, only 5,000 estates paid federal estate taxes, a rate of 2 out of 1,000. I suspect that many of the beneficiaries of an estate tax repeal would be the same Wall Street weenies, most of whom vote Democrat, who already benefit from favorable taxation of their compensation due to calling it carried interest rather than earned income.

3. With this Quixotic bill passed, the House Republicans can now devote their energy to passing a 60th bill to defund or repeal Obamacare.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Jinxed? No, Just Smart.

Robert Durst is the NY real estate heir who was recently arrested in New Orleans for the 2000 murder of his friend, Susan Berman, who was found dead with a single gun shot wound to her head.  She had supposedly been contacted by police about the 1982 disappearance of Durst's first wife shortly before her death.  Durst has been married to Deborah Lee Charatan, an ambitious NY real estate broker, since 8 days before the murder of Berman, although they had dated for 12 years prior. Durst was bought out of his family's trust for $65 million in 2006 and is now reportedly worth $100 million. In the finale of HBO's series, "Jinxed", Durst is recorded as saying he killed them all (i.e wife, friend, and neighbor).  Haratan is reportedly living with one of Durst's lawyers even though she is still married to Durst.

Several quick points:

1.  As a general rule, spouses are not required to testify against each other in a trial so a marriage to Charatan would protect Durst from any testimony by her about his past and where the bodies are buried, so to speak.

2.  If Durst dies in prison, Charatan will likely inherit a large portion of his estate.  It is difficult to entirely disinherit a spouse - in Ohio a spouse is entitled to half the probate estate if there are no children, even if the will provides otherwise.

3.  It is high stakes gambling to be involved with someone suspected of killing a spouse and girlfriend, and who was acquitted of killing and dismembering a neighbor while living as a mute woman, although a payoff of $50 million at his death might make it worthwhile. Emphasis on might.

4.  Living with one of the attorneys of someone who killed and dismembered a neighbor is not advisable due to the possibility of raising his ire and meeting the same fate as his wife, friend, and neighbor.  Living 1,000 miles away would be the smart play.

Back From Spring Break

Just returned from Beaver Creek/Vail.  New post to follow soon.

Wish that were me - it is Jack.