It’s tax time and we just completed our tax return. Actually, Karen and our accountant completed our tax return and my part consisted of “sign here and here.” Truthfully, I don’t mind paying taxes. I think it’s the obligation of every American to pay taxes; however, I just don’t want to pay more than my fair share of the taxes. Apparently, I am pretty much alone in that view, as far as corporate America is concerned. A quick and dirty overview is as follows: Amazon had revenues of $10.8 billion domestically and paid zero taxes. In fact, they got a refund of $129 million. Delta had revenues of $5 billion domestically, paid zero taxes and got back a refund of $187 million. John Deere had revenues of $2.15 billion domestically and paid zero taxes, but got a refund of $268 million, which means their kids are going to be able to afford that new pair of shoes and perhaps also a jumbo jet to go with it. Go to the website for the Center for Public Integrity and look it all up. We at The Malibu Times are considering asking our advertisers to pay for their ads to a mail drop in Luxembourg and then transferring it all in Russian bullion to a special account in the Cayman Islands. No wonder they all love the new Tax Act. The change isn’t a drop from 35 percent to 21 percent in corporate tax rate. It’s a change to zero-out domestic income altogether and pay no taxes at all.

•••

This past Sunday, speaking to a large group at the Malibu Library, Operation Recovery held a program around the fire topic: “To build or not to rebuild?” In other words, do you rebuild? Will you have enough money? Do you stay? Do you move away? I must confess, it is complicated and scary and lots of people haven’t yet made up their minds. The best advice seems to be to take your time and don’t panic. We brought in a bunch of local experts to help them along and I can say it’s more complicated than I realized. There are insurance questions, there are tax questions, there are real estate questions and it’s enough to make any human being totally crazy—and in our interactions with people at the newspaper, we notice that many people are totally crazy. They’re all on hairpin triggers, so be kind to your friends and neighbors because many are going through hell and need your help, even though they will tell you they are doing fine. Take my word for it, they are not. Many are finding they are underinsured and it’s going to take between $350 per square foot at the very low end and $650 per square foot at the medium end to rebuild in Malibu—more, if you want expensive finishes. We’ve put a survey into this week’s paper for the people who were burned out or had other fire damage. We want to find out how the insurance companies are doing, by name. You can stay anonymous, but we want to ultimately issue a scorecard for insurance companies and their insurance agents and perhaps also independent agents. So, fill out the survey in the newspaper or go online and fill out the form at bit.ly/TMTSurvey.

••• 

On Thursday, the Mueller Report will be out, and I predict everyone is going to claim victory. It’s going to be awhile before we get enough information to be able to make any kind of reasonable judgment, so try not to jump to conclusions. Still, in the letters to the editor this week, I stand accused of being biased against President Donald Trump. I protest because that letter misstates my position on Donald Trump. I’m not biased against Donald Trump; I detest Donald Trump. There is nothing wish-washy about my position. Bias is something when you have a little slant. I don’t have a little slant about Donald Trump. When I think of him, I have total nausea. To my mind, the only positive thing he’s done is force me to reevaluate my opinion on President George W. Bush. When I look back now and I think of the “W” years, I kind of think of them as the halcyon days of American democracy and perhaps I owe “W” a letter of apology for not realizing how hard he worked to protect American democracy.

•••

Have you noticed recently that there is something going on in the national media? It’s not just Bernie Sanders appearing on Fox News, or CNN picking up a few conservative commentators; I believe it’s deeper and broader than that. There is a growing feeling that we better start talking to each other or we are going to tear this country further apart and, besides, it’s also good politics. The way to begin talking to each other is to begin to start listening to each other. If Bernie Sanders thinks there is a message he can take to the Fox viewers, and swing some of them over, we should listen. In fact, at this townhall sponsored by Fox, Bernie Sanders asked what I assume was a relatively conservative audience how many might go for “Medicare for all” and there seemed to be a lot more hands raised than anyone expected. If there is one thing these guys are good at, it’s picking up shifts in the political winds, and maybe they’re sensing something: a body politic that’s tiring of the rancor. The one to watch is Trump, who has a highly refined ability to read audiences. As I said, he’s not my guy, but it’s a mistake to underestimate his ability to sniff the wind and shift accordingly.

•••

Lastly, kudos to Tiger Woods for coming back from three or four back surgeries and taking the Masters from a bunch of kids—some, almost half his age. 

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