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Hugh Neilson

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Hugh Neilson last won the day on July 24

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About Hugh Neilson

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    SETAC Gadfly
  • Birthday 01/15/1966

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    Male
  • Location
    Canada
  • Occupation
    Chartered Professional Accountant/Tax Consultant

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  1. If the players are not following genre tropes you want them to follow, this is often because you are penalizing, rather than rewarding, them. Design the game around how you want it to play out. Examples: "My players always try to kill the villains". When they don't, the villains escape and make their lives miserable. "My players distrust everything to the point of paranoia." Everyone they trusted has betrayed them. "My players never show restraint." If they do, the villains take the opportunity to crush them into the dirt. Ensuring you and the players are on the same page about the game is important in any game, but even more in Hero where the game can be varied so markedly.
  2. Hugh Neilson

    Order of the Stick

    Why does it seem so fitting that Thor is far more laid back than his clergy?
  3. Hugh Neilson

    Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)

    While we technically elect individuals, practically we end up voting for the party. I have been tempted to ask my MP whether I might better vote for someone likely to be in the Opposition, who might represent my interests rather than shrugging them off to the Minister of Whatever for whom I did not receive a vote. I think the reality is an MP should be prepared to sufficiently educate himself as to any issue he is voting on to cast an informed ballot. But that would hold them to a much higher standard than those by whom they are elected get judged. I would not want the job, but I did not run for the job, collect a cheque for doing the job or accumulate a pension for doing the job. If you are not prepared to do the work required, you should not apply for the job - whether that's MP or street sweeper.
  4. Hugh Neilson

    Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)

    I don't know that I would drop down to specific state details. However, if one is looking at a reform of the tax system, I think there is a need to consider all of the options, and a need to consider the impact of tax systems in sub-jurisdictions. It is amazing that the US has over 12,000 state and local sales taxes. Would one Federal sales tax be that much added complexity? Should the governments be looking to harmonize their sales tax rules to make life easier for businesses and consumers? These seem like very relevant questions. Many states are now grappling with the loss of deductibility of State income taxes for Federal tax purposes. This imposes a larger Federal tax burden on residents of those States, in which the individual states have no say. This is without any consideration of county/city income taxes, or any change in the types of tax either jurisdiction historically imposes. Having discussed tax proposals with MPs and Senators in Canada, my experience is that they are not knowledgable of what a given tax proposal (or existing tax rule) achieves. Rather, members of the Department of Finance paint the issue with broad strokes, and any private sector disagreement is clearly only the opposition of those who were unfairly benefiting from the existing rules. That's not to say all complexity can be eliminated, but it should be possible to phrase tax legislation in more plain language, and reduce uncertainties. The Canadian department of finance assures our MPs that there is minimal uncertainty in their proposals, and the government believes them. Apparently, the drafters of the legislation lack any bias, and their assessment of the complexity is more informed than those of current Chief Justice of the Tax Court of Canada, or his immediate predecessor, both of whom have very publicly stated that the legislation is so complex and uncertain that it will create decades of costly litigation. They gain nothing from making any misleading statement in this regard. Who is in a better position to assess the impact on the Courts? Yet their concerns fall on deaf ears. That said, I also chafe when my MP refers a question or concern to the Minister in charge of that portfolio. I did not vote for the Minister. I voted for an MP whose job is to represent me, and my fellow constituents. Unfortunately, as you note, we do not really elect our own representatives any more - we vote for a party.
  5. Hugh Neilson

    Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)

    “I leave it to the experts.” I had a colleague send me a number of articles on tax reforms a couple of years back. One came from the UK, which was well along a reform strategy. In amongst the usual motherhood statements was a comment that the tax system had become so complex that only experts in the tax system could grasp it. That meant only two groups could really understand any proposed changes. One were the government treasury experts. The other was the public practitioners. The latter tended to be dismissed as advocating for their wealthy clients if they disputed any proposals. That left the senior bureaucrats in charge of the tax system. In theory, they were overseen by Parliament, but in practice the MPs could not read the tax law, as it was or as it was proposed, any better than anyone else, so how could they oversee the tax system? The reality was that they could not, so tax matters were not governed by democratically elected representatives, but by the senior civil servants. Is that democracy? That was, frankly, a pretty scary read. I see it in Canada when our MPs and Senators clearly do not understand the detail of the legislation they are asked to vote on. The US has it in reverse, I think, where Congress and the Senate write the broad strokes, but the IRS is left to fill in the detailed regulations. I don’t know the answer, but maybe it starts with a refusal to pass any legislation that the government member cannot read and understand. Not be told what the bureaucrats say it means, in a view from 30,0000 feet, but actually read and comprehend the detailed legislation. But even if that is the answer, getting there from here will be a major challenge.
  6. Hugh Neilson

    Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)

    Why not discuss taxes that are not presently part of the Federal landscape? If I were undertaking a full tax reform exercise, I certainly would want to assess all possibilities. I don’t think we are, though, nor do I propose to. Regardless of the nomenclature one may attach, however, what we presently have are a personal income tax and a corporate income tax. Given that corporate income (or wealth) ultimately flows through to individual owners, I believe that the corporate and personal tax systems are appropriately integrated. Much economic discussion has gone into the desirability of ensuring choices such as appropriate business structure are not warped by tax considerations. Incorporation is quite easy. It is often done for liability protection, not for tax reasons. The US is on the cusp of change as corporate tax rates are being lowered, but prior to the late 2017 changes, pretty much every small business/investment I saw from the US was structured to flow all income out to the individual owners. This might have been by not incorporating at all, but that carries liability issues. Often, limited partnerships and LLCs were used to benefit from corporate liability protection while still flowing all income out to be taxed once, as the personal income of the individual owners. Where only US owners are involved, the S-corporation was another means of having corporate liability protection without corporate taxation. Some few Canadian jurisdictions created "Unlimited Liability Corporations" to have the ability to offer a corporate form which would be able to be classified as a flow through entity for US tax purposes. With the US dropping its corporate tax rates, more planning opportunities with entities taxed as corporations are viable. In the past, getting flow through status was crucial tax planning for most owner-managed businesses. First off, based on my limited understanding of the US tax model, most partnership models. from the Limited Partnership to the LLP and LLLP or even the LLC , can choose whether to be treated as a flow through entity or a separate taxable corporation. In the past, they generally chose flow through due to the high corporate tax rate. Now, that is changing. Moving down to Picketty, this is the question of wealth redistribution. To some extent, it comes back to leaving homes to your daughters, whether we should have some form of estate/inheritance tax, etc. Why do we work hard to build wealth? Often, to build a better life for our children. Imagine if we were told that we could not fund our children's educations, assist them in buying a home or starting a business, etc. It would be a non-starter. Then we get to that estate tax. It's not taking money from me - when I am dead, I have no need for money. Rather, it is taking away my choice of who will benefit from my efforts after I am gone. Typically, it can all go to my spouse and the tax gets paid last to die. But should I not be able to leave my wealth to the next generation? Well, if I can, they get an advantage not shared by those whose parents were less successful. But I worked hard to earn that money, and I should get to decide who benefits from it, shouldn't I? But that means that the most successful get to provide greater advantages to their kids, perhaps grandkids and down through the generations as that capital stays in the family. Often, it seems like we want to say "well, what I have is the product of hard work, so only those with more than me should be restricted in the ability to direct their wealth to the next generation". Seems we are all in favour of higher taxes for the other guys, just not for ourselves. Which comes back to our prior closing comment - we all want a system which gives us more than it asks from us. We cannot all have that, though. The math does not work. I want to come back to "leave it to the experts", but I need some time to spend on that item,. I don't think I have a lot to add to your other points, other than the reality that "simple" and "fair" tend to pull in opposite directions, resulting in added complexity for enhanced (perceived) fairness.
  7. Hugh Neilson

    Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)

    My general experience is that "income" for income tax purposes is "profit". Sales taxes tend to be on gross, but are paid by the consumer, not the producer. Perhaps you intend your corporate tax to be on something else (such as capital), but that is not what I typically see as a "corporate tax". Rather, I typically see tax on the same income an individual would pay income tax on. This is a common model in Canada. As I understand the US model, the norm for small business is to structure as a flow through entity so all income is reported by the individuals. For an unincorporated business, salary to the proprietor (or to partners) is not generally considered an "expense", but rather the profits of the owner. If the owner is not taxable on those profits unless he incorporates, there is a clear economic disincentive to incorporation. Even in your example, a cap to his deductible salary is proposed, where had he not incorporated, the income from his business would be free of taxation because you propose to have no personal income tax. Is the goal to tax the source of wealth (a tax on business, however defined) or to tax the legal structure (corporations pay tax, but proprietors and partnerships do not)? Determining a "reasonable salary" for any given contribution of labour is also no mean feat. Each issue creating new challenges and making the system more complex, but differentiation is certainly possible. At the core,. I find a major challenge is that a corporation's income can be accessed in two ways. It can pay dividends, or its shares can be sold. These are simply two different means of accessing the same value. Taxing them differently creates a bias to one approach over the other. As a very simple example, let's assume our truck driver corporation accumulates $100,000 a year. After 40 years, the truck driver retires. There is now $4 million in the company (ignoring return on the reinvested funds). Should his tax be different if he takes dividends over a 25 year retirement than if he sells his shares? Let's add another wrinkle - perhaps his company invested funds to create a pension for him, the key employee. Should he be taxed differently on that source of retirement income? What if he had taken the annual $100k as extra salary, or as dividends, and invested it personally to fund his retirement? All of these use the same funds for the same purpose. Is one approach beneficial, or detrimental, to society as a whole, supporting the notion that it should receive more favourable, or less favourable, treatment from the tax system? If this is your retirement, being taxed at 0% or 70% would seem a very significant issue. BTW, I am skipping over a lot of comments, simply because I see little to add. For example, the clarification that you are discussing funding Federal costs, and leaving sales and property taxes to more local levels. Although we then have to consider which services are available where, and funded how. For example, if education is a State service, why would I not wish to reside in a state that provides public education at a high level until my education is complete, then move to a state where taxes are limited, and education less funded, now that I have my own skills to command an income? That's an issue often raised in international tax matters - the "brain drain". Gotta run...you hit two more issues above. Why should your daughters get houses tax-free when my kids either inherit nothing and must build their own wealth, or built their own wealth, bought their own homes and now inherit some other form of wealth? I agree with your statement - "I don't know" - knowing what is fair is no easy task. Finally, the problem often is that the electorate each wants a system which gives them more value in benefits than they pay in taxes, We all know that this math is unworkable, but we are often alll too happy to accept the promise of getting more out than we put in when we stand at the polling station. Or at least a majority of us are - enough to win the election.
  8. So he's fired from his role as Director for something he wrote many years ago, but Disney will still use the script he wrote much more recently.
  9. There are certainly legal limits to freedom of speech. If Gunn's statements crossed those lines into illegality, was he charged and convicted? I do not believe Disney has any legal authority to police the Internet. How far are we prepared to extend the right of hirers to discriminate against workers who have made public statements they dislike or disagree with? What is it, then? James Gunn posted comments online which were inappropriate and offensive, many years ago. Now, he is being fired for making those statements. If someone you or I disagreed with on these Boards 10 or so years back were in a position to fire one of us, would it be OK to do so because we had that disagreement? Would the topic of the disagreement matter (whether Batman has normal characteristic maxima versus a heated political debate, for example)? Who gets to decide which topics, and which comments, are sufficiently heinous? Disney? Anyone hiring or firing people? The fact that both Gunn and Disney are in the public eye certainly makes it more challenging, but does that make it OK? Should Disney be required to demonstrate some reasonable basis for any belief that Gunn is a danger to their bottom line? Where do we draw the line - which topics are so off limits that they mandate allowing such discrimination in perpetuity?
  10. James Gunn did something wrong (but unrelated to his ability to direct GoTG 3) in the eyes of Disney, so they fired him. Dave Bautista draws a line in the sand on what Disney did, which may be career suicide. Wow, a lot of entertainers were backballed back in the days of McCarthysim when they espoused, or were even accused of espousing, certain beliefs that others felt were inappropriate. Those who cannot remember history are condemned to repeat it. I don't support Gunn's comments, but just because I don't agree with them, that does not mean I agree it is OK that he be fired for having made them. At one time, "I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. epitomized the freedom of speech held dear in a democracy. What do we live in now?
  11. Hugh Neilson

    Political Discussion Thread (With Rules)

    Some comments, solely directed to tax matters. First, the "corporate tax" is an income tax. It taxes income earned within a corporation. That income eventually finds its way out to individuals. Under your policy, does a truck driver who incorporates for protection from unlimited personal liability (for his own errors, or those of his employees should his business grow) pay a 20% tax for this privilege? Too often, "corporation" is taken to be "Big Black Box with no humans involved". Many small businesses are operated through corporations. In the US model, they would likely be limited partnerships, LLPs, LLLPs, ULCs and other forms of flow through entities which permit income to be reported by the individual owners while preserving limited liability. Would this avoid taxation of the corporate income in your model? If so, why would larger corporations not adopt the same structures? I would expect corporations to issue bonds, paying deductible interest to their tax-free bondholders, rather than shares, paying non-deductible dividends to shareholders. With the sharp decline in corporate income, so much for corporate taxes. Capital gains arise on shares, so I would expect to see corporations keep their share value stable by paying plenty of tax- free (they are income) dividends to their shareholders. Other assets would still have capital gains, of course, Like homes. Would there be any exception in your plan for gains on homes, of would these generate 50% to 70% tax on gains which may only arise due to inflation when a family moves? I am unclear where sales taxes or property taxes fit into your plan. Estate taxes for that matter (easier for us Canadians to forget as we replaced estate tax with taxing capital gains inherent in assets at date of death). Will they remain the same or be eliminated? As they were not part of your plan, I assume they will not replace income taxes. I find many tax plans share the "lack of economic reality" issue with many other promises made by politicians, however I believe your own are linked to reduced government services to permit the government to balance the books on its new, lower revenue base.
  12. Hugh Neilson

    Question About Life Support in a Multi-Slot

    An |MP with separate slots for, say, heat, cold, radiation, etc. protection would simulate the ability to activate radiation shields separate from heat shields or heating to protect from cold. This seems reasonable. By that logic, Life Support is a series of discrete all or nothing powers.
  13. That was not the only Lone Ranger movie, only the most recent one. Appearing in multiple media does not mean every appearance in every medium is stellar. Superman is the iconic Super and he made a lot of the tropes. That said, he was hardly the first as many of the Pulp mystery m,en had secret IDs (maybe the first not to be independently wealthy...). The BatMoney can't trace back to Bruce Wayne? Back in the '70s, that is how R'as al Ghul deduced his identity, actually. Bats has a partner when Bruce adopts a ward, his partner disappears when the ward goes off to college, new Robin and new ward. The Super Acting does indeed make it work, but also the portrayal of Clark as the nerdy guy no one really gets close to. Who knows what my co-workers get up to in their off hours? Loki has been killed off a few times, and the Red Skull came back. Is Abomination dead? Green Goblin survives Spidey's movie, and Zemo was imprisoned. Winter Soldier is tougher to classify. Ultron has appeared dead on many occasions and could be brought back. Ronan must survive Capt Marvel to appear in GoTG.
  14. Hugh Neilson

    Sending baddies flying

    Good point on the TK being constant. Looks like we can get 15 STR TK, Damage Shield (+1/2), Applies to non-Grab (+1/4) = 40 AP,, only to fling targets in a random direction (-1), and perhaps a Link to movement, or to move bys, if desired.
  15. Really? 50 years of ace investigative reporter Lois Lane, not to mention the rest of the Daily Planet staff, being tricked by a pair of glasses is plausible and reasonable? Superman is, in modern canon, Clark Kent because he can be "off duty", and because it is actually harder being a reporter than taking in bank robbers. One reason to keep a secret ID is that what you are doing is illegal, so not letting anyone know who Batman, or the Hood, might be is a means of staying out of jail. This depends on the manner in which we treat Supers in the genre - MCU has gone to "they are heroes so let them do their job", until we got the Sokovia accords (another reason to keep one's ID a secret). The ArrowVerse? Oliver has been investigated three times as being the illegally-operating costumed archer. While true, the original writer of the Joker saw no reason to keep him alive. Instead, he was not killed because the editor saw a purpose in making him available as a recurring villain. Besides, the comics are littered with villains we thought were dead, who survived. That's also a trope (Roy Thomas commonly used to explain how the villain survived when he next appeared). That one has made the crossover - we all thought the Red Skull was dead, didn't we?
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