Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Illness or Internal Terrorism?

MOMENTUM CONTINUES IN the equity markets. For the five weeks ended Friday, November 13, 2009, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 10,270, up 405 points, or 4.1%. The Standard & Poor’s 500 closed at 1093, up 22 points, or 2.1%, and the NASDAQ Composite closed at 2167, up 28 points, or 1.3%.

Intel will pay AMD $1.25 billion, and in return AMD will call off the dogs. HP is buying 3Com for $2.7 billion in cash. Wal-Mart reported a better than expected increase in third quarter earnings of 3.2%, fueled primarily by inventory control and international operations.

Kraft’s $16 billion bid for Cadbury has become a hostile takeover attempt. 20 years ago, Reagan helped bring down the Berlin Wall with a little focused oratory. Wish to God we had leadership anywhere in the world today, similar to that, which would challenge evil and promote good.

The U.S. House has opted for its version of universal health care. Either our elected officials aren’t listening, or far too many of our fellow Americans find it easier to be slaves on someone else’s ship, rather than captain of their own.

Terrorism has found its way into our military, and too few seem to realize the implications, or have the nerve or other body parts to call terrorism what it is. If you have seen a strong denunciation of the Ft. Hood shootings by peaceful Muslims, please forward whatever you have read, as I’d like to read it.

On the tax front, the home buyers’ credit has been extended through April 30, 2010, as part of a law extending unemployment benefits. The full $8000 credit is available for joint filers whose AGI is $225,000 or less, and includes benefits for existing homeowners. This new legislation also allows businesses with losses to carry back 2008 and 2009 losses for five years instead of just two years.

Sales tax for new vehicle purchases is deductible for AMT purposes, for non-itemizers. Pension plan sponsors with internal websites must now post basic plan information there, according to new IRS guidance. Incentive stock options exercised by employees aren’t deductible R&D costs, according to an IRS Private Letter Ruling. The result can be different if there is a disqualifying disposition by R&D employees.

If you lease a plane to a company you control, slower depreciation is required if personal use exceeds 50%. This according to an IRS PLR as a result of an audit. In other IRS news, a defective merchandise allowance from a vendor is not taxed as income. Finally, energy saving improvements to your home, completed before year end, could result in tax credits of up to 30% of the cost of such improvements, within established limits.

A well developed sense of stewardship challenges us to care for and make good use of the earth and all its resources. The dark side of the green movement suggests that man is the problem, and should leave a nominal footprint, if man exists at all. This death wish is common in our world. It is expressed in issues as diverse as the green movement, assisted suicide, abortion, drug use, various forms of self-mutilation, genocide, slavery, and the list goes on.

At its core, this is the natural state of man, when he sees himself as simply one more animal, with no real reason for existence. When there is no understanding of why man was created, or what his purpose is, chaos reigns. Chaos has been the order of the day for most of recorded history, for most individuals.

America, for much of its existence, has been a shining light, a city on a hill, which offered hope, and an escape from chaos, for many. This was the intent of America’s founders, who had a strong belief in what Washington called Divine Providence. While interpretations varied, most of the founding fathers had a strong belief in a Creator who ordered the affairs of men. As we move from this core belief, we see chaos rear its head.

Restoration is possible, though it will need to come from a leader who is prepared to articulate America as a place and source of hope, freedom, stability, and order – a light in a dark world. As Maxwell says, one of a leader’s primary roles is to define reality, and to help envision an excellent future. If these leaders don’t appear, what are we prepared to do individually to reflect supernatural light into a dark world?

Quotes of the week:

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

“Life is hard. It’s harder when you are stupid.”
                                                                      John Wayne