Power And Dollar

Obamacare Makes Labor Market More Favorable To Small Businesses


Republicans champion capitalism, especially “the pursuit of happiness”.  For that, Republicans consider businessmen to be their safe constituents.  Is enabling small businesses to compete more effectively against the mega corporations something Republican look forward to?  Interestingly enough, Democrats are doing that this time instead of Republicans.  And that is through this Obamacare.

Extending health care to all is the idea of Obamacare.  Having this barrier to health care obviously gives an edge to someone.  In terms of politics (or policy), the question is always about who gets the advantage (or the disadvantage).  Prior the Obamacare days, the advantage is to the employers who can afford the administrative cost of providing a health care insurance to its employees, thus giving them an overwhelming advantage in recruiting and retaining the human resources they need.  This disadvantage suffocates small businesses and self employed.  Ultimately, innovation is sacrificed. 

Plenty of employees make employment decisions based on the health care package.  Many people give up their business dreams and stay as an employee because of the fear of not having health care for their families.  Almost everyone will be covered when Obamacare becomes effective.  Yes, the operating cost is higher for small business owners, however, this increase cost will draw the small business owners much closer to the advantage enjoyed by the mega corporations than if they acquire the health package alone.  In fact, only 38% offer health insurance to employees among the small business owners in 2009 versus 61% in 1993 (read here). 

If America’s small business owners’ talents for success are not willing to move to them and continue to stay in General Motors, ATT and like, then where is the next Google?


March 23, 2010 Posted by | activism, advocacy, america politics, Current Events, 美國, Democrats, economics, Election 2010, health care reform, nonprofits, obama, opinion, politics, Thoughts, US politics, wordpress-political-blogs | 1 Comment

CNN Advertisement: Time To Buy Republican

The author (John Feehery) of this CNN commentary is a political operative, lobbyist, etc.  He makes his living by using his access to the Republicans.  When Republicans are in disarray, so is his livelihood.  In order to drum up more business, he has to encourage his potential customers to spend money in Republicans.  This article is very consistent in his message about “bottom out”.  He also points out very explicitly that political entrepreneurs will see opportunities. 

He is also very good at organizing his advertisement into 5 bullet points.  These points are also in order to of investment relevance rather than political ideology relevance. 

All his points are very valid.  However, the advertisement taste is a little too obvious.

Since when CNN did distributing ad content in place of news content?

May 7, 2009 Posted by | activism, advocacy, Current Events, Democrats, fundraising, legislation, nonprofits, politics, Republican, US politics, wordpress-political-blogs | Leave a comment

Electioneering 102: A Lesson From Green Party of Canada

The federal election in Canada concluded on 2008.10.14.  The incumbent party won another mandate.  There are a lot of interesting content in this election to fill the media.  However, for the purpose of Electioneering, this story may not make the cut to the paper, let alone to the headline.  This case study lesson is experienced by the Leader of Green Party of Canada.  This biggest contribution of this race is: how to choose a spot to run.  The most applicable lesson of this is still city councilor.  


Green Party of Canada has been increasing its vote share ever since the turn of the millennium.  In 2006, they got 4.48% of the votes and no seats in the parliament.  After that election, the Leader of the party then did not run in the leadership race again.  It then became an open race and Elizabeth May won the leadership.  She was an Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada, with government bureaucrat experience, a law degree and a recipient of Order of Canada.  She ran a by-election earlier, against all parties and got the second largest votes in that race.  


Green Party has long held the position that they are unable to win a seat because they are excluded from the televised debates.  This election proves that a televised debate did not help.  


May was looking for an epic race.  This could have been the first sign of trouble.  An election is not about making a statement.  Election is about finding the most representative will of the people.  By being the leader and possibly the first elected officer of a party, May’s election is more important than any other candidate.  There is a lot of media attention, political resources, volunteer resources, and money involved in a leader’s race.  Therefore, it is only prudent to maximum the vote, not to dramatize an epic.  


If you are running in a city councilor race (or county board, school board, etc), you run to win.  Any other objective is mischievous, and misleading the voters.  It is true that people run elections for all kinds of reasons, some of them noble too.  However, it is only when you aim to win would you be serving your voters, be honest to your voters, donors, volunteers and other kinds of supporters.  Furthermore, if you do not run to win, your result tends to sink, even if you got some special interest groups’ backing because your true primary motives usually affect your plan, execution and result.  For instance, since your real motive is a geography A, you divert more resources to that area instead.  However, that area may be a contestable area.  if the votes are already secured, no need to get vote there.  However, you are doing it there to serve your personal interests.  So, your volunteer hours are lost, your lawn signs are wasted.  Alternatively, you may be interested at a specific donor group.  Similarly you wasted your campaign.


Liberal party delivered their promise not to contest against May in order to maximize her chances to a seat, wherever her choosing.  This promise is also unlikely to be offered in the next election since the leader of Liberal party is also in his trouble.  And no one should plan a race with the expectation that this offer will be made twice anyway.  


May placed this epic over at Central Nova, where the incumbent runs a dynasty there: 2 generations of incumbent, close to 10 elections.  This is where the second problem is.  One should contest in a place to win, not a place to dramatize.  By being the leader, she can choose any leader she wanted.  She should have picked a riding where


1)       The Liberal candidate is not the incumbent, however strong enough that the votes actually matter in her race;

2)       The Green votes are decent, say above the 2006’s record of 4.48% votes;

3)       Incumbent votes are actually weak; below 50% is minimum requirement.  The lower the better. 

4)       Since there are 3 major parties contesting in every riding in Canada, an ideal riding is where all three parties split their votes, i.e. around 30% each.  Of course this is unrealistic.


Election is a contest of organization, stamina of the salesman (candidate), branding (party), money (fundraising) and product (platform).  A leader got the luxury of choosing a riding, which most people cannot afford the infrastructure investment to do.  Building up a local political network to support is not easy.  However, this is fairly accomplishable if you were interested at a city race.  Changing a house from this corner of the town to that corner is not too difficult.  What is the ideal demographic for you?  Ethnic group? Income class? Age group? Occupation?  Family status? 


If she spent 30 minutes to look around the >300 ridings in Canada, she maybe able to see that there are multiple ridings where Liberal is the incumbent, however with >25% of votes; Green votes are above 5%, and the incumbent got votes around mid 30%.  


With 30 minutes of your time, you can see that Welland is one such riding where the incumbent is Conservative.  Vancouver Kingsway is another one, where the incumbent is NDP.  There are probably others.  These 2 may not deliver an ideal environment for victory.  However, the point is there are potential sites to choose from.


If May knew that it wasn’t going to be a victory, then dramatizing an epic is not a bad option.  However, in your case, don’t run.  An election is costly not only to you, but also to your supporters in forms other than money.  


If you plan to remove a low performing incumbent, then get all the prospective candidates together.  Gamble all resources in only one person.  So, all your prospective candidates may want to have a quasi primary to determine who will have the best shot.  

October 22, 2008 Posted by | activism, advocacy, canada, Current Events, Democrats, election, Election 2008, Electioneering, environment, fundraising, nonprofits, politics, Republican, wordpress-political-blogs | Leave a comment

Very Unconventional In This Convention

When the DNC convention is going on, one would expect Obama would get a better polling result.  This is not quite the case.  McCain is closing in when Democrats’ convention is going on.  When Republicans’ convention starts, will McCain’s rating go down because it will invoke Bush’s image in all the TV sets?  This is the reverse of conventional wisdom, although pundits can attribute the former to Obama ditching Clinton for the VP and the latter to Bush.  If this trend continues to hold, or Obama ties McCain by the end of the convention, then we may be witnessing something interesting in electioneering.


Gallup gave 2 point in favor of McCain, which poll ended on Monday.  Another polling company Rasmussen gave 1 point lead .  Since only the electoral votes, let’s check the electoral votes.  Obama vs McCain is at 273 vs 265, if no toss-up states, and 228 vs 185, if toss-up states are removed.  


The simplest explanation is Biden replaced Clinton and therefore Clinton voters are moving.  Something deeper can be going on.  The institution of political parties has been crumbling over the last decades.  It has been eroding ever since the first TV broadcast of presidential debate.  However, these recent polls are showing the brand, the party brand being symbolized by party convention, is not lifting the polling results for a candidate.  Have we gone to this point in America already?  Especially when we recall how similar Clinton and Obama were, in terms of platform.


Political parties are institutions.  Institutions have memories, financial resources, brands, people network and ideology/organized political thoughts/platform.  Content distribution technology (newspaper publishing, radio, television and now internet) enables individuals to accumulate political capital easier than before.  Obama is the greatest example of that.  Cost of fundraising is lower, especially the start-up cost.  Institutional memory becomes less and less significant when anyone can download voting results for the past century and generate knowledge and actionable information instantly by any undergraduate student.  People network no longer takes decades or even generations to build (look at Bush 2, Bush 1 and Senator Prescott Bush).  


Is this the turning point where the relationship between candidate and voter is direct without intermediary?  That would be analogous to having no store front in business.  We have always been having a store front for shopping.  Then, Sears gave us direct mail orders.  Home Shopping Network gave us TV direct shopping.  Now Amazon, eBay.  What will happen to us when this business model reaches the business of politics? 

August 27, 2008 Posted by | activism, advocacy, Barack Obama, clinton, Current Events, Democrats, election, Election 2008, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, mccain, nonprofits, obama, politics, Republican, wordpress-political-blogs | 2 Comments

Why Bother With The Biden Announcement?

Biden announcement is a great news story for content distributors.  For elections, VP is very tactical.  VP does not alter the agenda presented to the candidates.  History presents the agenda of the nation to the candidates.  VP brings neither substance nor platform ideas to the candidate since the candidate already formed his platform team before any primary victory.  VP provides insight as to how the rest of the campaign will be fought.  


Obama’s lead over McCain has been narrowing.  Biden’s announcement created some movements in the poll as well.  However, the convention will bring so much hype about Obama that the poll will favor Obama again.  The question will be how much. 


Any salesman can tell you that what really makes a sale is the emotions one manage to inspire from the buyer.  Politics is no different from any other business.  With the advancement in content distribution technology, i.e. internet, information can be catered toward an ever smaller targeted group.  This results in fine tuning an emotional appeal toward a specific emotion to strike for the sale.  


McCain says Obama is a celebrity.  It is not as much as Obama as about the business of politics itself.  McCain is out of date not only because McCain does not use internet, but also he still does not realize, although it has been 8 years since he last ran for president in 2000, the business has been involved in for of his career has become a show business.  The different between running for the president of America and American idol is the difference size of the stage.  The job for American President is about executing the budget prescribed by the House with more discretion toward foreign policy.  The emotional appeal in this business made any intellectual conversation like diplomacy versus military so Clintonite (Kosovo between Albright and Powell, not Iraq).

August 25, 2008 Posted by | activism, advocacy, Barack Obama, Current Events, 美國, Democrats, election, Election 2008, John McCain, mccain, nonprofits, obama, politics, Republican, wordpress-political-blogs | 1 Comment

Guns, $ and Lobbying/Advocating

What is the significance of this gun shooting in an election year? Having an opportunity to bump up into an election issue.  Who does not want gun control to be an election issue? Gun manufacturers. 


Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (NASDAQ:SWHC) is down 2.66%, compared to yesterday’s closing.  SWHC is a $260M company. 


Although recent a supreme court ruling favors gun ownership , this price drop reflects the public opinion is not helping the gun manufacturers.  To mitigate political risk or regulation risk of the gun industry, lobbying alone will not do the job.  It requires image management.  Yes, it has something to do with public relations and reputation risk.  But slightly more.  A change of perception of guns is needed for a bigger audience. 


What about the gun control groups?


If gun control groups rely heavily on grass roots lobbying, gun control groups will have a chance to tighten control in the upcoming political cycle, from 2008 – 2012.  However, are gun control groups supported by enthusiastic volunteers alone?  Is this special interest institutionalized?  Are they prepared political, financially and organizationally, to in all 50 states and the federal government?  Who can sustain battles after battles for this interest? 


This question is simply equivalent to say: which industry shares the same interest as gun control groups?


Once gun control advocates can align their interest with the interest of such as industry, then they will have a chance of managing this gun control political process.  Otherwise, gun control groups will be a guerrilla warfare. 

August 21, 2008 Posted by | activism, advocacy, Barack Obama, Current Events, Democrats, election, Election 2008, Electioneering, John McCain, mccain, nonprofits, obama, opinion, politics, Republican, wordpress-political-blogs | 4 Comments

Hurricanes, P&C Insurance and Property Taxes

Most natural disasters have short time durations with a long recovery period, like Katrina and Tsunami.  What we have now is something different:  climate change gives us a long disaster duration with a long recovery period.  Climate change gives us multiple disasters over a long period of time.  


What companies get affected by storms and hurricanes? Property insurance companies.  All state governments want to regulate property insurance heavily because this retail financial product touches a lot of voters.  State governments’ interest in this industry is actually pricing.  If the pricing is heavily regulated, then it is the expense that the companies have to control in order to make profit.  The biggest expense for property and casualty insurance companies is the managing the claims.  Big property insurance companies are AllState (NYSE: ALL), Travellers (NYSE: TRV), Progressive (NYSE PGR), ACE (NYSE: AEX).


For that reason, P&C insurance companies actually have more incentive in participating climate mitigation financial instruments than big financial houses like Merrill or Goldman.  As well, they have more at stake simply because they have less control over their revenue and absolutely no control over their payout.  Finding a climate change solution is more important to them than to many other industries.  The work around solution is to avoid the a high payout area.  But in the age of climate change, which place is not affected?  It is only a question of which natural disaster, be it drought, flood, hurricane, wild fires…


Another aspect of climate change is on infrastructure.  More and more infrastructure will require more repairs.  This will be a financial burden on local governments, which translates to state income tax and property tax.   


However the solution is global, not local.  This is where the political risk is.  Risk mitigation rests among national governments.  However, little is done.  Financial burden is placed on consumers and local governments.  However, they have very tools available to them.  Since financial impact is placed at a local level, that is why it is hardly a national election topic when it is actually a topic of heavy financial substance.


Increasing population density is one tool available since it minimizes the exposure to infrastructure.  Zoning is only one way to make it happen.  Property tax is another way.  In fact, a more effective way.  Change the composition of tax between property and land will create more incentive for building higher density areas.  Decrease the proportion of tax on property and increase the proportion of tax on land will naturally encourage builders to create high density communities.  




August 18, 2008 Posted by | Current Events, Democrats, economics, election, Election 2008, environment, nonprofits, politics, wordpress-political-blogs | 3 Comments

A Lesson From Lincoln

We seldom observe opportunities for Obama to learn more about the mechanics of elections.  This is also a lesson applicable to even to small races such as county or municipal elections.  If Obama studied Lincoln better, he could have avoided this trouble from the Clintons where Hilary gave the permission for more drama at the Denver convention.  Here is the quote from Lincoln: “Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?” 


Lincoln won the nomination with Hamlin as VP, another contender.  After Lincoln won the election, Seward, Chase, Cameron and Bates all got political appointments in his administration.  Why?  Keep your friends close and keep your enemies closer.  The best way to keep your enemies from combining forces to dethrone you is let them fight among themselves.  


This is especially true in an open race.  In an open race, contest tends to be a lot closer among the top contenders.  In order to keep your enemy from distracting you for the rest of the term, give him a job.  Keep him busy at something you have to pay close attention anyway.  Tony Blair made Gordon Brown the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister).  Jean Chretien made Paul Martin Finance Minister.  They all did for the same reason.  


If you enemy were strong enough to lose for 1 percent point, you practical won by flipping a coin.   It is very tempting for your opponent to try his luck again, isn’t it?  Give him a job to do well.  He will see an opportunity to perform and win the next round when you are out the door.  Who knows, maybe you will get a corruption scandal, a sex scandal.  There is only one way to win (get the votes!), but plenty of ways to lose in politics.  


It is the same thing even for a county election.  You won the seat.  Give your opponent a seat on a commission, a committee, or even a board of the local chamber of commerce, rotary club.  Yes, he will accumulate his political capital.  However, the appointment originates from your influence as a sitting official.  He answers to you (vaguely, in the case of a board seat).  If it is an important committee, he may under perform just as well, derail his own career and cause you injuries harm.  But it is still better that you see him on the opposing side in each monthly county / city hall meeting.  Who knows, a few years from now, you may want to retire from politics and if you can pass on seat to him, he will have to look after your surviving interests for a long time.  Don’t you see how Bush 1 is to Reagan?  Or how difficult it is for McCain to distance himself from Bush, no matter how nasty the race was in 2000?  How bad can a deal like that be? 

August 7, 2008 Posted by | activism, Barack Obama, clinton, Current Events, Democrats, election, Election 2008, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, mccain, nonprofits, opinion, politics, Republican, wordpress-political-blogs | 3 Comments

Fatal Beating, Doha, 2008 Presidential Election

This fatal beating can stage the next round of assaults between McCain and Obama regarding free trade.  The interesting news about free trade actually did not get reported in American media, although it may fuel the debate well.  The Doha round of WTO negotiation just failed.  A failed negotiation will affect American economy just as much as a successful one.  Here is a synopsis of the effects:




Farmers in developed countries who receive exporting subsidies: America, EU, Japan, Suitland.  Subsidies to farmers will continue to be in place, ie McCain. 

Developing countries’ manufacturers who are defending their domestic markets, esp. China and India.

ASEAN and other inter-government market coordinating organizations.

Cotton producing states, ie McCain.



Agriculture exporters who planned to export to China, India, US and other developed countries as well as developing countries: Brazil, Canada, Australlia

Most industries in under developed countries who planned to export to developed countries and emerging markets.  

Manufacturing industries that expect to enter India and Brazil markets: most industries in US, EU and China.

Telecom, banking (Citi) and insurance (AIG, Sunlife, Manulife) industries from the developed countries (America, EU, Japan) that wish to enter developing counties.

Cotton producing countries expected to enter US market, such as Mali, Chad.


Obama can still make it an anti-Bush issue since it highlights the inability of Bush to compromise with others.

July 31, 2008 Posted by | activism, advocacy, Barack Obama, business, China, Current Events, Democrats, economics, election, Election 2008, John McCain, mccain, nonprofits, obama, opinion, politics, Republican, wordpress-political-blogs | 2 Comments

What About Lobbyists’ Money?

CNN is talking about lobbyists’ money.  Lobbying is inherent to the business of politics.  The very action of voting is a form of lobbying.  The threat should be more focused on if one is lobbying for the interests of some minority group.  If Americans want to prevent lobbying for the interests of some minority groups, than it is no different from the British parliament system where minority lives in the shadow of majority.  That would be markedly different from the American constitution where the judicial branch checks against the Congress, i.e. the tyranny of majority.  The threat media reports focuses on lobbying by money.  This is not unique to presidential politics.  This happens in every state, county and municipal just as well.  Politics happens when there are two or more parties who exchange interests.  The relevant question is how to manage lobbying. 


The convincing lobbying is to lobby politicians by votes.  The back door to this is to lobby by money.  That is why there are laws around election financing. 


A lot of countries manage lobbying with campaign financing laws.  America is no exception.  The law manages this problem by limiting donation amount per individual.  Ever since Clinton’s administration, it changed to donation limit by citizen.  However, more can be done:


Currently, any political action committee can accept donation.  That can change to only political parties and declared campaigns.  

Furthermore, can charity donate? Incorporated?  Labor union?

What about the campaign surplus?

What about donation in kind?  

What about expenses?  Can a vendor charge an amount lower than the fair market value?  Is that in kind donation?

What about money lent to campaigns?

What about third party campaigns during election times?  Say WWF or NRA running ads during election times without any references to candidates?

What is the definition of a volunteer?  Some people may have very strong interests in being a volunteer full time.


Media’s focus should direct the fire to the debate of campaign financing since Obama will not take this issue up to debate.

July 29, 2008 Posted by | activism, advocacy, Barack Obama, business, Current Events, Democrats, election, Election 2008, fundraising, John McCain, mccain, nonprofits, obama, opinion, politics, Republican, wordpress-political-blogs | Leave a comment