Corporate Free Rides

Alex Sanchez, Florida Bankers Association President and CEO, is worried about corporate welfare.

The problem with modern American credit unions boils down to a simple question: why should a family of four pay more income taxes than a $90 billion financial institution? That’s the total amount of assets held by Navy Federal Credit Union. Yet it is exempt from federal and state corporate income taxes, as well as sales taxes (and, in my home state of Florida, intangible taxes). This is corporate welfare.

Income Equality

William Galston doesn’t think we have enough, and it’s the successful one’s fault.

[T]his [trade leaving nations generally better off] is small comfort to those who lose out, especially because the winners rarely compensate them commensurately.

Galston is operating from a blatantly false premise here.

He does have a couple of solutions to offer.

First, they [government] could significantly expand the earned-income tax credit to bolster the incomes of workers somewhat higher up the income ladder. Second, they could implement a broader program of wage subsidies that would raise the wages of lower- and middle-income earners toward a specified hourly target.

Distractions

Mark Warner (D, VA), Ranking Member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has objected to President Donald Trump’s revoking ex-CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance.

This might be a convenient way to distract attention, say from a damaging news story or two. But politicizing the way we guard our nation’s secrets just to punish the President’s critics is a dangerous precedent.

This is neither politicization nor punishment, but a safeguard of our nation’s secrets.  No one, regardless of rank, once they leave government service should have a security clearance.  They neither have a need to know nor a need for access, the two Critical Items—both of which must be present, not just one of them—for granting clearances.  Trump’s only error here is in not ordering the revocation for all persons who have left government service.

Surprised

Writing on the topic of our applying economic pressure on Turkey as a means of getting an American hostage (among others) freed, Greg Ip expressed surprise and worry about the weaponization of trade in his Wednesday Wall Street Journal article.

Trade wars may be morphing into something more dangerous: financial wars.

This, though, merely exposes his misunderstanding of international trade.  Such trade is far more about national policy applied internationally than it is about economics, and international finance is just a tool of that trade venue.  Trade has always been “weaponized;” it has always been about achieving national political goals, of which economics is merely one.

What Are You Going to Do about It?

“The Vatican” has proclaimed its regret for the decades of abuse in Pennsylvania of 1,000 or more children by hundreds of the Vatican’s priests.

The abuses described in the report are criminal and morally reprehensible. Those acts were betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith.

The Church must learn hard lessons from its past, and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur[.]

On the other hand, Pennsylvania’s Attorney General has pointed out the skill with which this perfidy was executed.

“We’ve Never Been Great”

The soul of the Progressive-Democratic Party is Bernie Sanders’ and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ blatant, enthusiastic socialism.  Now the Party’s heart is revealed, as well.  Here’s New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) at a bill-signing event for, ironically enough, an anti-human trafficking measure:

We’re not going to make America great again. It was never that great[.]

Of course, Cuomo has denied what he meant, but keep in mind: he’s a talented, smooth politician for whom words are stock in trade.  He knew what he was saying.

The fact is that the first time he spoke, he spoke from his heart.  He’s just speaking politically with his corrections.

A Crisis Deepens?

The People’s Republic of China has a serious debt problem, but its economy is still slowing (note, though: slower growth still is growth).  To try to control and reverse the trend, the PRC’s central bank is lessening capital requirements for the nation’s banks, pumping more money into the financial system, and urging commercial lenders to offer more loans at cheaper rates to small businesses.  Their answer to too much debt seems to be to pile on more debt, lower the backstop against failing loans, and devalue through inflation the currency needed to repay the debt.

The Will of the People

The West Virginia House of Delegates has returned articles of impeachment against every one of the sitting Justices of the State’s Supreme Court.  One Justice, Robin Davis, has resigned her post, doing so before any of the impeachment cases proceed to the West Virginia Senate for trial.  In her resignation press conference, Davis complained

The majority members have ignored the will of the people who elected the justices of this court.  They have erased the lines of separation between the branches of government.

Turkey and Natural Gas Pipelines

War on the Rocks has an interesting piece on Turkey’s desire to become a natural gas transshipment hub feeding Europe and perhaps Russia.  I think, though, that WOTR underplays the purpose of Turkey’s transshipment goal.

Recall the existing conflict between Turkey and Europe over immigration, economics, rule of law EU-style rather than as Recep Erdoğan does it, and a host of other excuses for Turkey to claim to be put upon.

There’s Help, and There’s Help

Recall that Alphabet Inc, through its Google arm, has refused to help the US defend itself by refusing to work with DoD on the application of artificial intelligence to military projects.  After the resignations described at the link, Alphabet pulled its Google arm out of the project altogether, with effect in 2019 when its current contract expires.

On the other hand, Alphabet is enthusiastic about its Google working within the People’s Republic of China.  Mobvoi Inc, headquartered outside Beijing, makes smart watches and smart speakers for sale within—and outside—the surveillance state.

Its engineers build apps using TensorFlow, Google’s free set of development tools for artificial intelligence.