The Sting of Those Pearly Whites

Charles Payne
Posted: Feb 24, 2012 12:01 AM

Oh, the shark babe, has such teeth, dear
And it shows them pearly white
Just a jackknife has old MacHeath, babe
And he keeps it, ah, out of sight

Ya know when that shark bites with his teeth, babe
Scarlet billiows start to spread
Fancy gloves, oh, wears old MacHeath, babe
So there's never, never a trace of red
–Bobby Darin version

Everyone loves "Mack the Knife," but few know the story of the song.  The song was written for The Threepenny Opera Die Dreigroschenoper by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill in Berlin 1928.  The song itself took digs at the corruption of the German government while also portraying the bad guy as someone who also has admirable qualities.  Theater critic Brooks Atkinson said The Threepenny Opera turns accepted values of the good life upside down and went on to say of Mack the Knife, "you want to hate and fear him, but you can't help but like him a little bit."  Some critics compare Mack to the bad guys in the Godfather, the Wire and the Sopranos. 

Soulful Sounds and Insincerity

President Obama has been doing a lot of singing, and he actually sounds good, very soulful and connected.  It's a good way to campaign to the young and hip crowd, and before November I'll look for one hip-hop duet, one country and western duet, and a ballad sung in Spanish.  There is one song I bet our Commander in Chief would crush on karaoke—Mack the Knife.  In some ways it would be the perfect tune based on the insincerity of so many proposals that are just Trojan Horses that either loot businesses, banks or hard working Americans in the name of stealth bailouts for states and funding for community groups.

"You want to hate and fear him, but you can't help but like him a little bit"

Yesterday we got headlines that the Obama administration was looking to cut corporate taxes to 28% from 35%.  This sounds amazing and anything but anti-business, except when you look at the fine print.  The proposal cuts out loopholes and other tax breaks so it's what they call revenue neutral.  In other words, the government wouldn't lose money from American corporations.  On the contrary, over a 10 year period Uncle Sam would take in $250.0 billion more in taxes.  The plan is a waste of time and serves more as a campaign document than something that moves the nation in the right direction.  The big target here is that giant pot of corporate money sitting offshore.

Now d'ja hear ‘bout Louie Miller?  He disappeared, babe
After drawin' out all his hard-earned cash
And now MacHeath spends just like a sailor
Could it be our boy's done somethin' rash?

The idea of punishing companies that earn money around the world might make President Obama popular on Main Street, but it creates a fearful environment for business, and they sit on money just in case actions match rhetoric.  It's really a shame to punish businesses for achieving success abroad by holding them hostage via the highest corporate tax rates in the world.  The irony is the administration is admitting high corporate taxes are a roadblock toward real economic growth, and yet their incessant need to pick winners and losers in our society would mean wrecking opportunities and wrecking lives. 

Considering the stock market is generally valued based on corporate earnings and even missing consensus by a penny can destroy share prices, this new scheme poses a threat to all investors and retirement accounts.  Then again all proposed changes to the tax code from the administration pose threats to everyone with pensions and other retirement accounts.  I find it hard to think any business people think this is a good idea.  There is no way members of the President's Jobs Council could like this deal, as it would hurt companies and punish them for pushing ahead to take complete advantage of their fastest growing markets.

Percentage of 2010 earnings coming from outside the United States:

FB (Sheryl Sandberg COO) 44%
C (Richard Parsons) 63% of banking
AXP (Ken Chenault) 21%
EK (Antonio Perez) 58%
GE (Jeff Immelt) 54%
PG (AG Lafley) 35%
CMCSK (Brian Roberts) 8%
DD (Ellen Kullman) 67%
INTC (Paul Otellini) 79%

I'm still shocked at how policy can always be driven from the perspective of more money for government to spend, appeasing environmentalists, enriching unions, and passing on crumbs to minority communities.  The Louie Millers of this nation that worked hard, became successful, and stirred the economic pot continue to be singled out for punitive action in the guise of economic planning.  I actually appreciate a 25% rate for construction but that should be the rate for everyone.  At 28%, coupled with state taxes the corporate rate leaps back to 32%, still uncompetitive.

Yes, Mack the Knife is ready to do something rash and to spend like a sailor.