Immigration Plan

August 3rd, 2010 | tags: Board Services


I was about to write a blog about immigration, when I remembered to check out my son’s proposal from 2006. I still like his slant on the issue. As the politicians get ready for yet another round of amnesty, I wonder if the Democrats would be so supportive if there was only a path to a Green Card and no path to citizenship for anyone here illegally. In other words is this all about increasing the number of Democratic voters?

Here is the Alexander Muse Plan:
“I have written about my ideas for immigration on several occasions including an original plan in April of 2006 and then again in October of 2007.  The main idea is to apply common sense to immigration.

First, I think there we need a special program for anyone who is well educated, has connections or has significant resources.  Immigration doesn’t need to be fair.  If you have a lot to offer we shouldn’t wait for you to request permission to come to the US, instead we should ask you to come.  We need more smart people in the US.  Our country was built by immigrants.  We shouldn’t assume all of the smartest people are already here.  Why are there more cab drivers from Africa here than engineers from India or China?

Second, there needs to be a plan for those immigrants who aren’t well educated, who don’t have strong connections or resources.

The concept behind my solution is to recognize that workers from Latin America are here to stay.  My plan allows anyone from Latin America to work and live freely in the United States under the following conditions:

  • They register as a non-citizen worker before entry.
  • They must pass a criminal background check before entry.
  • They receive a non-citizen passport issued by the U.S. before entry.
  • They must obtain a U.S. based bank account.
  • They must obtain a U.S. drivers license in order to drive in the U.S.
  • They must not vote in Federal, State or local elections.
  • They must not apply for or receive welfare.
  • Their children may attend public schools.
  • They may use public healthcare facilities as long as they pay the medical bills within one year.
  • They must not commit any crime.
  • They do not have to pay taxes on the first $35,000 of income per family per year (no SS or Unemployment).
  • They must return to their home country if they are unemployed for more than six months (stay at home mothers/fathers exempt if spouse is working).

Workers are only half of the solution.  The other half will be employers:

  • Employers must conduct instant checks on each newly hired non-citizen and recheck those non-citizens each quarter.
  • Employers must report non-citizen employment, and income.
  • Employers do not need to withhold any taxes.
  • Employers do not need to provide health insurance.
  • Employers must not pay more than $35,000 per year to non-citizen employees.

The penalties:

  • Make it a felony (mandatory jail time) for employing a non-registered worker.
  • Make it a felony for working in the US without registering.
  • Expel workers who commit crimes, do not pay medical bills, or remain unemployed.

The carrot:

  • Allow non-citizen workers who have lived and worked in the US for more than five years, have a clean record and have paid their bills to move to the head of the line for citizenship (they will, of course, lose their tax free status).

Let me know if I missed anything. We can make this work.”

Advice on NDAs From My Son Alexander Muse

August 2nd, 2010 | tags: Board Services
by Alexander Muse

Everyone in Dallas seems to be building a mobile application and lots of these people call or email me to share their ideas with me. More than a few of these entrepreneurs ask me to sign an NDA before they are willing to ask for my feedback and/or advice. The quick answer is that I don’t want to sign your NDA. Feel free to solicit free advice from me, but please quit asking me to sign a contract.

Anil Dash wrote a pretty good post titled, “One more time: No NDAs“. Anil points out that a lot of people feel the same way. His reasons were pretty good and worth repeating:

  • When you ask me to sign your NDA, you’re basically saying, in writing, that you don’t trust me. It’s your prerogative to say that, but it’s a pretty lousy context in which to ask for a favor.
  • I have to pay a lawyer to review a document without having any idea why I’m making that investment. No, I won’t “just sign it” without having a lawyer look it over, because it’s a legally binding document whether a lawyer reads it or not.
  • If your idea’s that good, it’s probably not that rare. I hate to be the one to point it out, but protecting your idea in general is a fool’s errand — good execution is hard to find, but good ideas are cheap.
  • I could get screwed through no fault of my own if some other random person walks up to me and blurts out the same idea that you’ve had. Being exposed to the risk of a lawsuit even if I haven’t done anything wrong sucks.
  • If I couldn’t be trusted with your idea, you’d already know about it. There are folks who don’t like me, or who are annoyed by me, but if I’d broken somebody’s trust in regard to their work, I guarantee it’d be just about the first thing you’d find when you Google my name.
  • The biggest value I can probably offer you is that I would talk about what you’re working on. If I honor your NDA, and I meet a great investor or potential employee or valuable partner for your new venture, I wouldn’t be able to tell them about it.

Wachovia to Wells Fargo Transition?

July 27th, 2010 | tags: Board Services

My Bank just switched from Wachovia to Wells Fargo. All my business and personal accounts are a mess. All the Wachovia staff at my branch have been fired and replace by new people who do not seam to know what to do. I think I need a new bank. Suggestions?

Greenbacks and Green Power

June 28th, 2010 | tags: Board Services

I found some interesting statistics in the June 21st Bloomberg Businessweek. They have a chart showing the investments in “green power” and the return on this investment (gigawatts of power, % of total capacity) for six countries.

Based on the spending (2005-2010) the Billions dollars spent per gigawatt produced ranged from .7 in Germany, to 3.1 in Brazil. Quite a large range. The US number is 2.3.

Spain and Germany are the only countries that have anywhere near 30% of the total capacity in “Green Power”, however they are worlds apart in how they did it Germany paying only .7 Billion per Gigawatt and Spain paying 2.8 Billion per Gigawatt.  The bad news is that the US is planning (Cap and Tax Bill) to look more like Spain and not like Germany.

Also these numbers do not include Nuclear as “Green”.

Costly 1099 Mandate

May 24th, 2010 | tags: Board Services

Buried deep within the recent healthcare bill is a mandate that will force millions of businesses to issue hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, of additional IRS Form 1099s every year. It appears to be a costly, anti-business nightmare.
In a recent summary, tax information firm RIA notes the types of transactions covered by the new 1099 rules:
The 2010 Health Care Act adds “amounts in consideration for property” (Code Sec. 6041(a) as amended by 2010 Health Care Act §9006(b)(1)) and “gross proceeds” (Code Sec. 6041(a) as amended by 2010 Health Care Act §9006(b)(2)) to the pre-2010 Health Care Act categories of payments for which an information return to IRS will be required if the $600 aggregate payment threshold is met in a tax year for any one payee. Thus, Congress says that for payments made after 2011, the term “payments” includes gross proceeds paid in consideration for property or services.
How is the IRS going to deal with untold billions of 1099s? Also now almost every transaction will require a 1099 with you SS# or Tax ID# on them. This is going to make ID theft much easier.

Social media is like the apple in the Garden of Eden

May 19th, 2010 | tags: Board Services

Thoughts on social networking by Ashley forbes Kellogg:

Are you sending an accurate message?  The answer to this question has never posed a stronger consequence than it does in reference to social media. Reputations have been lost, people have been fired because they tweeted inappropriate things. Friends should never let friends tweet drunk.

For whatever reason I am occasionally called to give my opinion and over the last six months I’d been asked three times to chime in on my thoughts regarding social media. The last interview I popped off with, “Social media is like the apple in the Garden of Eden.” Of course it’s the one that made print and there was no way to suck in my words. They were indeed cast to the wind.  At that moment I knew that I could no longer be casual about the new “hot topic” of social media.

Four times a year, I invite ten great minds to engage in conversation, debate and discuss a topic over a meal and bottle (or two) of wine. After my realization that I could not longer ignore social media, I assembled my salon. After a three hour lunch and several meetings with experts (sans wine) here are the highlights of my research. Social media will:
·        Change the way people buy products; it cannot be ignored
·      Alter how humor is communicated
·        Revolutionize not only how we transmit information but also how we “find” people.

This, to me, is the astounding part, and the rationale for all those reluctant folks to join in. A colleague using the web was able in two hours to find top-notch software managers he had worked with 15 years ago that he thought would be perfect for a current project. A few years ago this would have been like finding a needle in a haystack.

·        Increase transparency and consequently boost morale and trust- consumers are in control of marketing/advertising messages
·      Provide the next generation with the groups they want to be identified with. Generations following the “Baby Boomers” lacked the herd we took for granted: small towns that changed with the speed of glaciers, small schools and churches where everyone knew each other and played the same role for years
·        Eat up a great deal of time and money if you don’t have a plan

Shortly after the salon, I received an email from a guest at the table. He mentioned that I was particularly quiet and he had missed my usual passion. I thanked him and mentioned I’m only passionate about something I can get my arms around. In truth, I have gone from adverse to interested to intrigued and my research continues.
I do a lot of things but I am, at heart, a teacher.  I found early on that you are the most effective when you are curious – not when you know it all.  So, I’m learning about this beast and reporting what I find. Let me know what you think?
Ashley Forbes Kellogg
aforbes@forbesrobinson.com
214.528.0839

Plea for Tax Simplicity

May 10th, 2010 | tags: Board Services

Earlier this month when I finally completed my Income Tax return (120 pages this year!) I was again reminded how complicated this effort has become. I am not sure how I would do it at all without TurboTax.  I understand that I am one of the minority (less than 18%) who do not use professional paid help for their personal income Tax.

Here are a few facts:

•            The tax code was 400 pages in 1913

•            The tax code is now over 70,000 pages and growing fast.

•            It take the US public uses the equivalent of 3.8 million skilled full time workers  to handle this paperwork

•            Six times the number of people are working on tax paperwork than there are making autos!

This has gotten entirely out of hand. Can you imagine the increase in productivity that a real flat tax, no deductions, no special programs for every considerable special interest group, would provide for our economy?

Perspective on CEO hiring

April 21st, 2010 | tags: Board Services

Hiring a CEO
by Jackie Kimzey

Entrepreneurs have a tough job. They give everything they’ve got to turn their big idea into a company and then, just when things start to really get going, they often have to be willing to turn the reins over to someone else.

This is the ironic truth about successful start-ups: Stepping aside as CEO may be a founder’s single most important contribution to a company’s success.

As a VC firm, our job is to help compress time and get a venture from idea to development to market as quickly as possible. At the same time, we try to remove as much risk from the process as possible by lending our experience and abilities to entrepreneurs. We focus a lot of our attention on the CEO because a good one can remove a lot of the risk involved in building a sustainable, successful business.

If you’re a founder CEO in the process of deciding whether or not to replace yourself with a CEO from outside, you’ll have to ask yourself a lot of tough questions’and answer then honestly. You’ll need to evaluate your ability to fill the CEO’s shoes, just as any other company stakeholder would. When looking at your ability to take your company to its next stage, consider these issues:
• At which stage is your company in the business cycle and do you have the skill set for the next step?
• Where does product development stand? If you’re ready to start production, are you prepared to develop and run a manufacturing operation?
• Have you begun to build a sales team? Are you prepared to build and strategically manage an extended sales force?
• Has the company’s needs for leadership and operational management grown beyond your experience?
• What is your current revenue? While in many cases founder CEOs can take a company to $50 million in revenue, getting to $1 billion in sales requires a more seasoned CEO.
• Do you have the contacts to form and build strategic relationships with partners and customers? Access to a long list of customers and business partners is one of the key assets an experienced CEO can bring to a start-up.

In our experience, solid leadership is the single most important factor in a venture’s success. Many companies under-perform, or even fail, because the founding team doesn’t make the right management transitions at the right time. At each critical juncture in a company’s growth, founders should evaluate their role as CEO with an honest appraisal and be willing to step aside for the sake of their company’s growth.

Angel Investors Fear Finacial Reform Bill

April 21st, 2010 | tags: Board Services

Reprinted from my son’s Blog on www.startupmuse.com :

Marianne Hudson, the Executive Director of the Angel Capital Association sent me this letter and I thought it was worth sharing:

Sen. Chris Dodd released his Financial Reform bill last week.  To say that the behemoth bill has scary things in it for angel investors – and the entrepreneurs you in invest in – is an understatement.  Essentially it recommends increasing the thresholds for accredited investors and also puts in a complicated and long process that would probably result in state regulation of Reg D offerings, likely leading to greater difficulty in syndicating deals across state lines.  The relevant sections are Sec 412 and 413 (pages 380-381) and Sec 926 (pages 816-819).

Bottom-line, these sections could reduce the number of accredited investors by two-thirds (based on data from Rob Wiltbank’s returns study of angel in angel groups) and create all kinds of complications for entrepreneurs (120 day waiting periods for review of filings, different state regulations that make it difficult to syndicate, and even calling into question whether angel investors are “covered securities.” ) Yikes!

ACA leadership has talked with staff from Sen. Dodd’s office and we believe it was not his intention to create this kind of damage for investors, small businesses, and jobs. Instead, they want to protect investors from more Madoff funds, hedge funds, and the like. With that understanding, we are meeting with staff of both Sen. Dodd and Ranking Member Sen. Richard Shelby with recommended language to alleviate these issues.  I should note that the Senate Banking Committee started marking up the bill this afternoon.

In the meantime, we want to make sure that as many Senators as possible are aware of these issues.  We’re working on some of that via the media, working with the Kauffman Foundation, etc.  We also need your help in contacting your Senators, and offer the attached toolkit:

Please write your Senators about your concerns about the bill, particularly if your Senator is on the Banking Committee.  Attached are several tools to assist you.

  • Copy of ACA’s open letter to Sen. Dodd dated today.

  • A word based document you can use to write your own letter.

  • The summary of the feedback from several members on syndicating deals across state lines.

  • List of the Members of the Senate Banking Committee – see http://banking.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=CommitteeInformation.Membership (Hint on letter to Senators – it turns out that FAXING is the best way to reach them. Really.)

  • We also have a whole bunch of other resources on the ACA Web site – go to www.angelcapitalassociation.org/resources/public-policy/federal-policy-issues/highlights/.


I will be sending a note to ACA’s full membership shortly, so you’ll get another email from me.  In addition, I will be contacting a few of you individually to get additional help in contacting Senators on the Committee.

Thanks to Joe Bartlett – an attorney with Sullivan & Worcester who has put in considerable pro-bono time for us -  but also Liddy Karter (who is meeting with Sen. Dodd tomorrow), Dick Reeves (who is connecting us with Sen. Shelby), and Bob Franklin.

Best,

Marianne Hudson
Executive Director
Angel Capital Association
913-894-4700 x1
mhudson@angelcapitalassociation.org

“Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation was Robbed of its Heroes and its History”

March 1st, 2010 | tags: Board Services

I am attending a MOWW meeting tomorrow where B.G. Burkett is speaking. The invite had the following Myths and Facts which I found worth passing on.:

Extracts from the History Channel’s interview with B.G. Burkett, author of “Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation was Robbed of its Heroes and its History”

Myth: Most American soldiers were addicted to drugs, guilt-ridden about their role in the war, and deliberately used cruel and inhumane tactics.

The facts are:

91% of Vietnam Veterans say they are glad they served [Westmoreland]

Jug Burkett,
Vietnam 1969

97% were discharged under honorable conditions; the same percentage of honorable discharges as ten years prior to Vietnam [Westmoreland]

Vietnam veterans’ personal income exceeds that of our non-veteran age group by more than 18 percent. [McCaffrey]

Myth: Most Vietnam veterans were drafted.

The facts are: 2/3 of the men who served in Vietnam were volunteers. 2/3 of the men who served in World War II were drafted. [Westmoreland]

Myth: The media have reported that suicides among Vietnam veterans range from 50,000 to 100,000.

The facts are: Mortality studies show that 9,000 is a better estimate.  [Houk]

Myth: A disproportionate number of blacks were killed in the Vietnam War.

The facts are: 86% of the men who died in Vietnam were Caucasians, 12.5% were black, 1.2% were other races. (CACF and Westmoreland)

Myth: The war was fought largely by the poor and uneducated.

The facts are: Vietnam Veterans were the best educated forces our nation had ever sent into combat. 79% had a high school education or better. [McCaffrey]

FYI almost all of the 125 men who were in my divisions on the USS Biddle DLG 34 had college degrees.