Tags: Buffett | Wants | Murdochs | Tax-Return | Chinese Tariffs Wipe Out U.S. Chicken Exports | Rural Air Service Subsidies | Doctors Admit to Over-Treating Patients

Buffett Wants Murdoch's Tax Return; China Targets US Chickens

By    |   Monday, 10 October 2011 12:42 AM

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Buffett to Murdoch: Show Me Your Tax Return
2. Chinese Tariffs Wipe Out U.S. Chicken Exports
3. Rural Air Service Subsidies Cost $60 Million a Year
4. Survey: Doctors Admit to Over-Treating Patients
5. Ohio Bans Pork From Prison Menus
6. We Heard: Michael Savage, 'The Simpsons,' Andy Rooney

1. Buffett to Murdoch: Show Me Your Tax Return

Investor Warren Buffett says he will make his tax returns public if another billionaire does the same — Rupert Murdoch.

"I think it might be a terrific idea if [The Wall Street Journal] would just ask their boss, Rupert Murdoch, and he and I will meet at Fortune, and we'll both give you our tax returns and you can publish them," Buffett said at Fortune magazine's "Most Powerful Women Summit" on Tuesday, according to CNNMoney.

"I'm ready tomorrow morning."

Buffett has stated publicly that he paid taxes at a lower rate than many of his employees and said rich people should pay more in taxes.

That inspired President Barack Obama to name his proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy the "Buffett Rule."

In his call for Murdoch's tax returns, Buffett was responding to a suggestion by The Journal's editorial board that he could "educate the public" if he "let everyone else in on his secrets of tax avoidance by releasing his tax returns."

The board wrote: "Going only by Mr. Buffett's unverified claims, his federal taxes in 2010 amounted to 17.4 percent of his taxable income, probably because much of his income was from capital gains and dividends. It's also likely that he took significant deductions for charitable donations.

"No doubt the millions of Americans who could end up paying more because of this claim would love to see the details."

As of March 2011, Buffett was the third-richest person in the world, according to Fortune. The chairman of the Berkshire Hathaway holding company had a net worth of about $50 billion.

Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation, ranked 122nd with an estimated net worth of $7.6 billion.

Editor's Note:

2. Chinese Tariffs Wipe Out U.S. Chicken Exports

The Chinese government spent more than $30 billion last year alone to subsidize the nation's solar energy industry, allowing Chinese firms to dump cheap solar panels on the U.S. market and send their American competitors into bankruptcy.

But at the same time, China is accusing the United States of dumping and is slapping prohibitive tariffs on the product of an industry that employs some 300,000 Americans — chickens.

The United States has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization claiming that China violated international trade rules when it imposed tariffs as high as 100 percent on American chicken exports, doubling the price of American chickens in the world's most populous nation.

"U.S. trade officials say that the tariffs have hit the U.S. poultry industry to the tune of between $500 million and $1 billion, with 90 percent of poultry sales to China wiped out," CNN reported.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce imposed the poultry tariffs in September 2010, claiming American chicken producers benefited from subsidies and were exporting their goods to China at unfairly low prices.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said: "We continue to believe a two-way trade can work for the American people when we insist that China lives by its commitments, and maintains a level playing field for American producers to compete for Chinese consumers."

Critics charge that China is itself guilty of dumping by enabling its firms to sell solar panels at prices American firms cannot match. State-owned Chinese banks offer firms loans at very low rates, and the companies benefit from cheap or free land from local and provincial governments across China, according to The New York Times.

In the first seven months of this year, China reportedly shipped $1.4 billion worth of solar panels to the United States, more than the $1.2 billion it sent in all of last year.

The collapse in September of Solyndra, a California manufacturer of solar panels that had $535 million in U.S. loan guarantees, has boosted demands from American lawmakers that the Obama administration pursue unfair-trade complaints against China.

Besides Solyndra, two other American solar-panel makers filed for bankruptcy in August.

California Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said at a hearing last month: "It is reasonable to predict that we could have the collapse of the entire solar panel manufacturing business in America."

No such threat looms for China's chicken industry.

Editor's Note:

3. Rural Air Service Subsidies Cost $60 Million a Year

Taxpayers currently pay more than $60 million a year to subsidize air service to rural communities, but there are significant advantages to providing intercity coach bus service instead of the flights, according to a new report.

The Essential Air Service program (EAS) subsidizes flights between rural communities and nearby regional hub airports. The average cost of a one-way flight is $216 per passenger, according to a report by M.J. Bradley and Associates for the Reason Foundation, which examined air service to 38 rural communities.

The total bill for the flights is $131.4 million a year; 46 percent or $60.8 million comes from subsidies, and the rest from fares paid by passengers.

But the total cost of using buses to link those rural communities with nearby regional hub airports would be $41.9 million, including an assigned "value" for the additional travel time for most bus trips compared to travel time for flights. And that total does not include any fares paid by passengers.

The report, "Keeping Rural Communities Connected," also reveals:


  • The current program providing for two to three flights per day has a maximum passenger volume of 1.5 million, while the bus system maintaining the same frequency would have capacity for 4.3 million.


  • Total fuel use for the flights is currently 7.9 million gallons per year. Bus service would require just 2.2 million gallons.


  • With the bus service, emissions would drop dramatically, most notably carbon dioxide emissions — from 88,149 tons a year to 24,605.

    The report's conclusion: Switching to bus service would increase travel time only marginally, cost taxpayers less in subsidies, reduce emissions, and reduce passenger fares.

    Editor's Note:

    4. Survey: Doctors Admit to Over-Treating Patients

    More than 40 percent of doctors surveyed said their patients receive more medical care than needed, due chiefly to physicians' fear of malpractice lawsuits.

    The survey of 627 members of the American Medical Association, conducted by Dr. Brenda Sirovich of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and two colleagues, also found that just 6 percent believe their patients got too little care.

    Three quarters of doctors surveyed said that malpractice concerns caused them to over-treat patients.

    The research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine also disclosed that 62 percent of respondents believe diagnostic testing would be reduced if it did not generate revenue. Doctors are compensated for each test and procedure individually, thereby increasing their incentives for unnecessary or ineffective practices.

    "Physicians seem to see that there are excesses of the medical care system," Sirovich told National Journal. "Almost half saw it in their own practices — their own patients are getting what they describe as too much medical care."

    The researchers concluded that "malpractice reform, realignment of financial incentives, and more time with patients could remove pressure on physicians to do more than they feel is needed."

    Another study found that in 2009, more than $6.7 billion was wasted in excess healthcare spending in the primary care setting alone.

    The study headed by Dr. Minal Kale, a postdoctoral fellow at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, disclosed that more than half of complete blood work ordered was unnecessary, antibiotics were overprescribed, and money was wasted on unnecessary bone density scans, urine testing, Pap tests and pediatric cough medicine prescriptions.

    Editor's Note:

    5. Ohio Bans Pork From Prison Menus

    No baloney — Ohio has caved to a lawsuit by two Muslim prison inmates and banned pork for all prisoners in its jails.

    Dick Isler, executive director of the Ohio Pork Producers Council, says the state's pork farmers and processors are vowing to fight the ban.

    The lawsuit was filed by Muslim death row inmate Abdul Awkal, who is scheduled to die in June for killing his estranged wife and brother-in-law in 1992. He maintains that the prison system's failure to provide halal meals — prepared according to Islamic teachings — is a restraint on his religious freedoms.

    Awkal said in a court filing: "The issue of eating halal meals is especially important to me because I face a death sentence. It is important to me that I follow the requirements of my faith as I approach death."

    Joining Awkal in the suit is Cornelius Causey, who is serving 15 years to life for murder and aggravated robbery.

    The suit, filed on behalf of the two inmates by the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, maintains that it is not enough for the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to offer vegetarian and non-pork meals, which are available to inmates. The inmates assert that all their food must be prepared in a specific fashion — for example, animals must be butchered by slitting their throats and draining their blood — to conform to Islamic beliefs.

    JoEllen Smith, spokeswoman for the department, said removing pork from the menu eliminates the possibility of pork coming into contact with other foods during preparation, according to The Associated Press.

    But the state argues that providing halal meals would be costly, given the current budget situation.

    Editor's Note:

    6. We Heard…

    THAT conservative radio talk show host Michael Savage's new novel "Abuse of Power" is debuting at No. 4 on the New York Times best-seller list.

    The protagonist in Savage's first work of fiction is Jack Hatfield, a smeared network journalist who uncovers a chilling terrorist plot.

    Charles Spicer, executive editor at St. Martin's Press, said: "Debuting at No. 4 on the New York Times list is almost unheard of with a first book of fiction, even for celebrity writers.

    "Jack Hatfield is a character who will live through many adventures. I look forward to them all."

    THAT "The Simpsons," the longest-running sitcom in the history of broadcasting, will run for two more years beyond the current 23rd season, which ends in the spring.

    The studio and the six principal actors who voice the characters have been at odds over money, and executives had said that if the cast didn't accept a 45 percent pay cut, the Fox Television show would die as a first-run series, The Daily Beast reported.

    The studio, 20th Century Fox, said in a statement Tuesday that "we cannot produce future seasons under the current financial model." Under the two-year renewal announced Friday, the actors are said to have accepted a pay cut of 30 percent, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

    Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, and Harry Shearer each earn about $8 million annually for about 22 weeks of work.

    Ironically, cancellation would have been a windfall for News Corp. and its Fox unit, allowing the company to sell syndication rights to cable channels and online distributors for the first time, noted The Hollywood Reporter. Those deals could be worth $750 million.

    THAT Andy Rooney's final appearance on "60 Minutes" on Oct. 2 was a ratings blockbuster for the CBS show, drawing more than 17 million total viewers — the largest October audience in four years.

    The broadcast was Sunday's most-watched non-sports program, according to Mediabistro. It featured a Morley Safer interview with 92-year-old Rooney, followed by Rooney's 1,097th original essay, his last regularly scheduled appearance on the show.

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    Editor's Note:

    Editor's Notes:

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