Jackie Robinson’s Progeny

Jackie Robinson, who would have been one-hundred years old this February, stepped out of the Dodgers’ dugout and took his position at first base on April 15, 1947. He was the first African-American to play major-league baseball since the sport became restricted to whites in the 1880s. More than half of the 26,623 spectators at Ebbets Field that day were black. (An unintended consequence: the beginning of the end of the Negro Leagues.) Three decades later, 19% of MLB players were black.

African-Americans constitute 14% of the U.S. population; today, they make up just 8% of the MLB rosters. (Only 3% of pitchers.) By contrast, 74% of NBA players are black; in the NFL it’s 60%, even soccer’s 10% exceeds MLB.

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Financial & Tax News Bites

The current occupant of the White House read this off the TelePrompTer during his visit to Nancy Pelosi’s house:

Wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades, and growing for blue collar workers, who I promised to fight for, faster than anyone else. We passed a massive tax cut for working families and doubled the child tax credit. The United States economy is growing almost twice as fast today as when I took office, and we are considered far and away the hottest economy anywhere in the world.
(Interesting that Republicans no longer vilify the President for using a TelePrompTer.)

Wages supposedly rising and taxes lower, yet there are seven-million Americans who are three months or more behind on their car payments. This seems counter-intuitive as so many have been enjoying larger take-home pay during the past year.

Could be those behind on car payments intended to get caught up when they received their tax refunds. Oops. Many early tax-return filers are distressed to discover their refunds are smaller than they expected, averaging 8.4% less. (The scolds out there tell us a tax refund means we have given the government an interest-free loan during the year.)

When the much-vaunted tax changes went into effect, the IRS issued revised withholding schedules for employers to use. Cynics say the new tables were skewed too low to make the alleged tax reduction appear larger than it actually was.

So much winning.

Lawyers 1,055 – Clients 145

The current occupant of the White House’s business modus operandi used fear of bankruptcy-by-attorneys as a cudgel. For example, in 2006, architect Andrew Tesoro submitted his final bill to the Trump Organization for his work on the clubhouse at the National Golf Club Westchester: $140,000. He was offered $50,000. Wanting to avoid legal hassle and expense, he sent a revised billing for $50,000. When that went unpaid, Tesoro contacted The Donald himself who said he would pay $25,000. Knowing that legal action to collect would cost much more, Tesoro took it, 18% of the billed amount, less than what he owed the consultants who had worked with him on the project.

A local news report tells of a couple in Rohnert Park California who were successful in their suit against the city. Police officers had entered Raul and Elva Barajas’s house, with guns drawn, looking for their son who was on parole.

Unfortunately for the city and its police force, they neglected to get a warrant for the search.

A federal court rendered its judgement against the city of Rohnert Park: $1.2 million. Mr. and Mrs. Barajas couple were awarded $75,000 damages and an additional $70,000 punitive damages. Their attorneys got… well, you can do the arithmetic.

The lawyers always win.

St. Valentine

Were you wondering if St. Valentine was a real person? Valentinus was a  priest in Rome during the third century. He was imprisoned for marrying Christian couples and aiding Christians who were being persecuted under Emperor Claudius. Apparently irrepressible, Valentinus attempted to convert the emperor, for which he was sentenced to death. He was beaten and stoned, then beheaded, in the year 269. He was buried on  the Flaminian Way, north of Rome, purportedly on February 14.

St. Valentine is the patron saint of engaged couples, happy marriages, lovers. If that’s not enough, he is also patron of beekeepers, travelers, epilepsy and plague!

For more about St. Valentine, check out the Catholic version and the Wikipedia entry.

Who’s Crossing California’s Borders?

The current occupant of the White House says California is “out of control.” Something called “Hidden Dominion” posted “50 Reasons Why California Sucks” (Since updated to 72 reasons.) including such well-documented and thoughtful reasons as:

  • California has the worst healthcare system in the country.
  • Los Angeles. (Do I really even need to explain?)
  • San Francisco.
  • Oakland.

A San Francisco newspaper posted an on-line photo essay illustrating the reasons people say they hate California. As a native Oregonian, I am familiar with blaming Californians for most everything, especially their moving to the Northwest and driving up home prices and otherwise “Californicating” our pristine dominion.
It’s almost an article of faith that Californians are eager to get out, relocate to the Northwest or Nevada or Texas. Having recently repatriated to Oregon after twenty-plus years in California, I am here to say it’s not so bad in the Golden State.

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Don’t Worry – Earth Will Be Fine

If you’re concerned about our Mother Earth, don’t be. The planet we inhabit will be just fine. A few thousand years after humankind is gone, Earth will have recovered from the damage done during the very brief time it suffered human infestation. The reign of people will be just a tiny blip on the planet’s many-billion-years history.

In case you were holding on to hope that the coming environmental apocalypse might somehow be prevented, our leaders are doing what they can to assure that any hope is misplaced. The current occupant of the White House has appointed an oil-and-gas lobbyist as acting Secretary of the Interior and a coal lobbyist as acting Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. The President has announced both as nominees for permanent positions.

Which brings us to the Oyster Problem.

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