Thank You Notes

Thank You Notes

To: Santa Claus North Pole Arctic

My mother always told me to write thank-you notes for holiday gifts. We were concerned by a Washington Post account that Santa had been found dead and buried under an ancient church in southern Turkey, but it was fake news. But what’s not fake are the people who should be writing big thank-you notes.

President Trump. The president should write thank-you notes to each of the 70,000 people who actually elected him in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The exact nature of Vladimir Putin’s gift is uncertain.

Much more certain is the gift of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who scared the living heck out of independents and business-oriented Democrats. Sanders is a gift that keeps giving with his constant attacks on business and Wall Street.

An unexpected gift was Donna Brazile. If President Trump writes only one thank-you note, it should go to Brazile upon the publication of her recent book, Hacks. The over 500 companies that make up the Trump empire may want to keep her active on the lecture circuit as a gift that can keep giving.

Women. All the women who have been subject to unwanted sexual advances should write a thank-you note to Harvey Weinstein. As a society, we have tolerated a locker-room approach to sexual relations for decades. Countless members of Congress, especially those who preached family values the loudest, have been exposed, but continue to serve. We currently have a sitting United States senator who made a practice of hiring prostitutes while he served in Washington, D.C.

This behavior is not limited to the legislative branch of government; occupants of the Oval Office back to at least President Eisenhower have had their—as we used to call them—dalliances. It is not only a bipartisan phenomenon, but an Anglo-American one to boot. The English refer to their philandering males as “handsy.” Recently, British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon resigned for comments he made suggesting where the leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leandsom, should warm her hands (hence “handsy”).

Finally, the dam has burst, and women are stepping forward because they are now believed. And we acknowledge that pigs come in all professions, all political persuasions, and ages. For all of this, someone should write a thank-you note to Harvey Weinstein.

Tim Cook. Cook, the CEO of Apple, once boasted that the company did not “stash money on some Caribbean island.” Tax-free would Apple be; Appleby Law Firm documents show that Apple stashed hundreds of billions of dollars on the island of Jersey, one of the English Channel Islands. Jersey is the new tax home of Apple Sales International and Apple Operations International. The maneuver is estimated by tax expert professor J. Richard Harvey as being worth about $200 billion in tax savings. The present tax code is a great holiday gift to Apple, and they should write a thank-you note.

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Journalists everywhere. Journalists should write a thank-you note to President Trump. Subscriptions to the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and other traditional news outlets are all reported to be up substantially. The level of interest in government and politics, no matter how you measure it, has increased dramatically. This continues a trend we saw during the presidential campaign, where Donald Trump dominated news and social media. Traditional journalism had been in a profit squeeze, but not now. Journalists collectively should write a thank-you note to President Trump, with perhaps even an editorial, thanking the president, in The Washington Post.

The super-rich. The super-rich (sometimes called the 1 percent) should write a thank-you note to the House Republicans for their version of tax reform. The current House bill eliminates the estate tax, the alternative minimum tax, retains like-kind exchange for real estate, expands passive income to include all but wages and makes it very easy to be taxed on a “pass-through” basis. All of these “reforms” benefit the super-rich to a remarkable degree. The super-rich in so-called blue states (high-tax states) will pay a little more because the House bill eliminates the deduction for state and local taxes. But the super-rich are mobile—many of them do not actually domicile in high-tax states anyway. Now would be a good time to write your thank-you notes in the hopes that Santa will weigh in. He has probably already moved to Florida.

Gov. Mark Dayton. Dayton has served this state in a number of elected capacities: state auditor, U.S. senator, and governor for eight years. He always looked bored as auditor (and did not run for reelection), unhappy as senator (and did not run for reelection), but highly motivated and involved in his years as governor. The state thrived under his steady leadership, in spite of public disagreements with the Legislature, a government shutdown and squabbles with DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk. Through a lot of this, he has battled health problems, including back surgery. Mark was born into fortunate circumstances and he has probably thanked Santa for that already. In less than a year, Dayton will become a private citizen again. He should thank Santa for the opportunity to enjoy what the rest of us do—being a Minnesotan.


Vance K. Opperman Thanking Santa for the chance to write this column

Vance K. Opperman ( is owner and CEO of MSP Communications, which publishes Twin Cities Business.

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