Talk About Bad Timing

June 2, 2003
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We hope this isn’t a sign of things to come — or, rather, as they have been for so very, very long.

SteveMariucci, the new coach of the Detroit Lions, will speak at a special Rotary-sponsored luncheon in the Ambassador Ballroom of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.

Mariucci’s appearance is not at a regular Thursday Rotary luncheon, but on Friday … Friday the 13th.

  • The Right Place Inc. and the Michigan Venture Capital Association invite business and investment leaders to a conference Thursday featuring executives from some top venture capital management firms.

The session — to background attendees on investment funding models and strategies and challenges for venture capital — runs from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Van Andel Research Institute and costs $50 to attend. The session also will provide a guide to nurturing high-growth businesses through venture and angel investing. The presenters are:

  • Terry Cross, principal, Windward Associates, an angel investor in more than 30 early-stage companies who has founded firms in Michigan, California and Massachusetts.

  • Peter W. Farner, partner, TGap Ventures, a venture capital firm focusing on early-stage investments throughout the Midwest in medical devices, software, specialty manufacturing, Internet, telecommunications and health care.

  • Rajesh U. Kothari, CFA, co-founder and managing director of Seneca Partners Inc., a venture capital and merchant-banking firm with offices in Detroit and Chicago.

  • Mary Lincoln Campbell, founder and general partner of EDF Ventures, an Ann Arbor venture capital firm investing in early-stage, market-driven companies in health and information technology.

  • Donald R. Parfet, managing director, Apjohn Group LLC, a Midwest business accelerator focused on early stage life-science companies.

Birgit Klohs, president of The Right Place Inc., said strong capital investment in high-growth businesses can be a catalyst for job creation and is an important tool for economic growth.

“Unfortunately, West Michigan and the Midwest continue to lag in available venture and seed capital,” she said. “This conference is designed to address that issue.”

  • Now if economics is the dismal science, taxation is the really, really dull science. But for a moment, consider the problems of Tax Foundation. It announced two months ago that Tax Freedom Day — the symbolic date on which the average American earns enough to defray his total tax burden — fell on April 19, the earliest day since 1992.

The foundation said part of the reason for the early TFD was that the 2001 federal tax cut finally began taking effect this year. The foundation also said the economic slowdown played a real role in the day’s placement — lower gross national personal income means lower gross national personal tax burden.

But now this tax cut comes along, forcing the foundation to recalculate. The accelerated personal income tax cut is retroactive to Jan. 1. That cut, to appear in most checks next month, must push Tax Freedom Day even earlier to, say, the first week in April or even late March.

Ahh, but what if the tax cuts give the economy a big boost before the end of the year? That would mean more personal income, right? By the foundation’s logic, that means a heavier tax burden, from which it follows that the foundation would have to ratchet Tax Freedom Day back to a later date … maybe the end of April.

Stay tuned.

  • As usual, opponents are griping that the tax cut is mainly for the rich.

Well, yeah … they’re the people paying the vast bulk of the nation’s income taxes. IRS data show that in 2000, people earning the top 5 percent of income were paying 56.5 percent of all income taxes collected.

The data also show that in 2000, the top-earning 25 percent of taxpayers earned two-thirds of the nation’s personal income (67.3 percent) while paying nearly 85 percent of the federal income tax receipts.

At the other end of the income spectrum, the bottom 50 percent of the nation’s taxpayers earned 13 percent of all income in 2000, while paying about 4 percent of the taxes collected.

And according to President George W. Bush’s remarks last week, the new law takes 3 million more citizens off the tax rolls entirely.

  • And then there are the people who just don’t manage their money all that well, even when they have lots of it.

Take, for example, recently crowned IBF cruiserweight champion JamesToney, who was arrested last week in California for failure to pay more than $103,000 in back child support. Toney, who was born in Grand Rapids and raised in Detroit, has a 10-year-old daughter who lives in the metro Detroit area.

Toney, an established pugilist, may have met his match in the legal arena, if statements attributed to Michigan Attorney General MikeCox are to be believed.

Said Cox: “James Toney said he was looking for a heavyweight fight. Well, now he’s got one. No parent should short-change their children, especially not when they are signing multi-million dollar sports deals.”

And Cox kept the verbal jabs coming.

“I don’t care if you are a fry cook at McDonalds or a professional athlete, if you have the means to support your children, then we will do our best to make you pay. If Toney has the money to pay his promoters, then he certainly has the money to pay for his child.”

Uh, careful there, Mike. Just remember that Toney is a member of the same fraternity as MikeTyson, who went on TV last week to say that even though he didn’t rape DesireeWashington in 1992, he’d do so now because of all the pain she caused him stemming from a rape conviction and three years in the federal pen.

Wow, these guys really are nuts. Round 1 goes to Cox, but the AG still better hope for a quick KO.           

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