I am Shocked, Shocked

Recall Amazon.com’s playing off of several cities against each other in order to maximize the tax breaks and other returns that company might get for building its second headquarters in the “winning” city.  Now we discover this in the offing:

US cities vying for Amazon.com Inc’s second headquarters risk facing an unexpected consequence to victory: other companies will demand the same hefty tax breaks conferred on the online retail giant.

How amazing is that?  Other companies want in on the goodies.

I’m not shocked at that; I’m shocked that those cities’ managers didn’t see this coming.  Their lack of anticipation speaks poorly of their ability to respond to those demands.

Energy “Subsidies”

The Federal government is continuing its ethanol mandates in its misguided effort to clean up the fuel our cars burn as we get about our business.  In an op-ed earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal rightly decried the artificial, government-created and -propped up market in RINs, which oil refineries can trade around in order to get credit for ethanol that they’re unable to obtain and blend into the fuel they produce.  As the WSJ noted, one of several outcomes of this artificial market is this.

The core problem is that the federal government has distorted the energy market by using subsidies and mandates to support biofuels.

The Old Ball and Chain

Hillary Clinton made a speech in India in which she said some things that apparently she was too timid to say here in the US of A.  One thing she said was about white women:

…we don’t do well with married, white women. And part of that is an identification with the Republican Party, and a sort of ongoing pressure to vote the way that your husband, your boss, your son, whoever, believes you should.

Probing the Attempted Murder of an Ex-Spy

Recall that an ex-spy and his daughter were attacked in a British park with a view to killing at least the ex-spy.  The weapon used was a nerve gas that’s only made in Russia.  The investigation itself is pointing strongly at Moscow as the instigator of the murder attempt; although the investigation is not complete.  Now Russia is refusing to cooperate in the investigation unless certain conditions are met.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow would only cooperate with the UK’s investigation into the nerve-agent poisoning of a former spy if London supplied the substance in question and opened up the probe to Russian officials.

An Unintended Consequence

The health coverage plan providers, companies like Humana, Aetna, Anthem, et al., are gaming the Medicare system to keep their Medicare bonuses coming in.  Surprise.

It seems that when Obamacare was passed, it included a system of paying bonuses from Medicare to those plan providers that got sufficiently high ratings on the quality of their plans.

But wait….

Medicare ranks privately managed plans…on a five-star quality scale and provides financial bonuses to providers of top-ranked plans. [A plan-holder’s] plan was set to be downgraded, which would have cost Humana its bonus. So the company merged plans covering [the plan-holder] and more than a million others into different contracts with higher scores. That preserved the bonuses.

Biofuel Mandates

The Wall Street Journal had a piece titled Biofuel Mandates Are a Bad Idea Whose Time May Be Up that centered on the possibility that these might get watered down, or even eliminated, sometime “soon.”

The Renewable Fuel Standard, which forces oil refiners to mix corn-based fuel into gasoline, is one of history’s great policy boondoggles.

Well, NSS.  The only things it’s done of practical consequence have been to serve as a backdoor subsidy for farmers and to drive up the cost of corn, corn substitutes, and food that eats corn.  And to drive up the cost of gasoline and to create ethanol fuel-related automobile engine maintenance costs.

A Telling Remark

It also emphasizes the magnitude of the Republican failure with the party’s choice for Senate candidate in last December’s Alabama special election.

In a Wall Street Journal piece centered on the intra-party fighting the Senate Progressive-Democrats are having over a banking bill that would release smaller banks from Dodd-Frank’s onerous requirements, Senator Doug Jones (D, AL), who won that special election, let slip this in response to criticism from Senator Elizabeth Warren (D, MA) over his support for that banking bill:

I don’t really worry about things like that. I do what I think is best for me[.]

Federal Student Loans and State Regulators

The Trump administration has told States to stop regulating companies that service Federal student loans; that’s the Federal government’s job.  The States have demurred.

The whole thing could—and should—be made moot by the Federal government getting out of the student loan business altogether.  The Feds have no business here; it’s a private enterprise arena, and the States should be free to regulate, or not, to their hearts’ contents on intrastate student lending.  The Feds’ only role here should be to regulate Commerce…among the several States and not to compete in that commerce.

Discrimination and the Census Bureau

In a recent Wall Street Journal Letter to the Editor, a correspondent wrote regarding Edwin Meese III’s and Mike Gonzalez’ Trump Can Help Overcome Identity Politics

Another [excellent idea to eliminate identity politics] might be to not collect any ethnic, racial, or national descent information on US citizens at all.

Indeed. We’re all Americans; all other discriminants are deeply secondary to that.

Besides, as a Supreme Court Justice once said, the way to end discrimination is to stop discriminating. The Census’ plot to collect all of its identity politics data is just another attempt to discriminate.

Another Leak

The Wall Street Journal reported another leak concerning Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s pseudo-investigation of all things related to supposed collusion by President Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russia [emphasis added].

A meeting in the Seychelles weeks before Donald Trump’s inauguration between a Russian executive and a top Republican donor close to the Trump transition team has drawn the scrutiny of special counsel Robert Mueller, who has heard testimony that appears to conflict with an account of the same meeting given earlier to House investigators, according to people familiar with the matter.