Mister Pterodactyl
Monday, May 01, 2006
Does your employer make you go to motivational seminars? Mine does!
The Zig Ziglar motivational seminar came to Des Moines last Monday. There were an estimated 20,000 attendees, which was nice since construction on the highway recently resumed and the venue is right smack in the middle of downtown. There were nine speakers: three ‘motivational speakers,’ each a bigger waste of time than the last; three financial advisers, two of whom had some interesting things to say about investing; and three celebrity speakers who I was pretty excited about.

The first ‘motivational speaker’ was a sales guy who wouldn’t know a funny joke if it bit him in the ass. The first finance guy had a good enough spiel that I actually signed up to attend one of his seminars.

In between them, former Presidential candidate and all-around rich guy Steve Forbes.
Needless to say, Forbes is still pitching the flat tax. He had some interesting info (did you know that the federal excise tax was originally instituted as a way to finance the 1898 Spanish-American War? Me neither). He framed income tax as a price we pay to work. Anytime you raise the price of something, you wind up getting less of it (demand goes down), therefore income tax is a disincentive to work. Et cetera. I have no problem with this message, and it certainly went over big with the crowd. I have no problem with the idea that cutting taxes creates more wealth, and thus increases tax revenues. I wonder, though, where the limit is; at some point the increase in revenue due to greater wealth has to be overcome by the loss of revenue from deeper tax cuts. Otherwise, why not cut them all?
Also, I can’t help but think that yes, cutting taxes is a good thing that pleases my libertarian instincts, but we’ve already spent the money.

Following Forbes was another celebrity. George Foreman. Cool. He had a great speech. Lots of jokes and personal anecdotes about how he got into boxing, how he got involved marketing that grill thing, etc. Lots of fun.

I’ve got one of those grills, y’know. I love it.

Then, another ‘motivational speaker’ with a pretty lame power-of-positive-thinking message. And another financial guru. I couldn’t quite figure out what she was talking about. She did make me wonder what a ‘living reworkable trust’ is.

Then Zig Ziglar himself. Yes, that’s his real name. He, at least, was funny, but after the first 45 minutes I began to wish he’d shut up.

Another financial guy talking about real estate. Ho hum.


He was fantastic. His speech was about his philosophy of leadership (he wrote a book about it). He had moving stories about 9-11, and President Bush’s visit a few days later. He talked about Reagan and ML King. He paused to answer the ‘I love you Rudy’ shouts and digressed into a story about Dr. Strangelove in response to a woman’s cell phone ringing.
He also told a story about Vince Lombardi that I’d never heard before. At the end of his career a reporter was interviewing Vince, who made the claim that he had never lost a game. The reporter mentioned one that he did lose and asked him about that. Vince said ‘I didn’t lose that game, I just ran out of time.’ [The point - leaders have to be optimists.]

I hadn’t really thought about it before, but now I’m wondering about a Rudy/Condi ticket. I’m also wondering if Rudy’d like to jump to the libertarians for a third party run.

One last thing: I noticed across the arena from me there was a sign language interpreter translating for a small group of people. I bet his arms were tired.

Geez, how long was that?

Your tax question: it's called the Laffer Curve. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/laffercurve.asp
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