Over the past few years, a friend of mine has been dealing with an IRS audit. The process of the audit itself has been exhausting to him: assembling paperwork, finding old receipts, and tracking expenses. What has surprised him the most, though, has been the guilty-until-proven-innocent approach taken by the IRS. They returned to him with an inflated tax bill and said: “here, pay this unless you can prove otherwise.” In a country where you need to be proven guilty (either by a preponderance or beyond reasonable doubt!) in any courtroom to receive punishment, the power of federal agencies to levy extra-judicial justice is astounding.
LabMD vs the FTC
The IRS experience came to mind in reading this Bloomberg profile of LabMD, a company that was investigated by the FTC based on a likely specious tip from a spurned salesperson. By the conclusion of the investigation it seems pretty clear LabMD was unduly punished and targeted, but along with the IRS anecdote about it’s a reminder that the oversight and accountability of government is essential — and somewhere our dysfunctional congress is failing. When the onus is on citizens or companies to prove their innocence instead of the government to verify their malfeasance, it creates an unfair power dynamic that is profoundly un-American.
Paul Manafort is a crafty guy
I think the intended takeaway from this Slate piece is that Paul Manafort (new to the Trump campaign) is a terrible person. The moral relativism he embraces actually does not bother me all that much. What terrifies me is his track record of effectiveness, and the idea that he might be successful in reinventing Trump enough to prevail in a general election. The idea of making Americans pick between Clinton and Trump is terrifying beyond the capacity for rational thought.
Yahoo! is worth -$8 billion
The short-term view that private equity has on its investments is incredibly disappointing. Yahoo! is not in the same league as many of its peers, but it is still a phenomenally successful business and continues to be. Private equity’s focus on short-term, significant gains and quick exit is bad for the economy overall and for the people in it, and Yahoo!’s absurd valuation supports that. If you hire a CEO, and they articulate a strategy, support it or dump the stock.