Japan raised its sales tax—consumption tax/value added tax—and promptly saw a 6.3% year-on-year drop in GDP in the last quarter of 2019. Consumer spending (did I mention that the tax was a consumption tax?) fell by 11.5% that quarter.

Color me—and hosts of others much smarter than me—unsrurprised.

Now come the contradictions, from the just US Congress-revived IMF, yet.

The International Monetary Fund thinks the consumption-tax rate will have to rise to 15% over the next decade, and to 20% by 2050. But first the fund’s wizards say Tokyo must expand its Keynesian spending to make the economy “strong” enough to bear the tax hikes to pay for the spending.

Global Warming

From Watts Up With That, some data for the continental United States over the last 100 years, in graph form.  Here’s the lead graph.

Cooling? Say, what? Notice the year-on-year variability, too. Sort of puts the “warming” since the mid- to late-80s in perspective.

Other data are similar in vein: precipitation data—flat; drought severity, when we have one—slightly rising.


A Court Missed

This time, the DC Circuit Court has erred.  The Trump administration—Health and Human Services—had allowed Arkansas, among other States, to set work requirements on its citizens as prerequisites to eligibility for the State’s Medicaid program. Folks and organizations sued over that, and the case wound up in the DC Circuit Court.  That Court held with the suers and has blocked Arkansas from proceeding with the work requirements.

Writing for the Court, Senior Circuit Judge David Sentelle held, in part, that HHS didn’t address the purpose of Medicaid in a way that suited him:

This Loss is No Loss

Recall the fact of the tweet that the NBA’s Houston Rockets General Manager sent in support of the Hong Kong freedom protesters.  Recall further the NBA’s abject cowardice in deeply kowtowing to the People’s Republic of China in response to the latter’s projected upset over the tweet and the NBA’s impudence.  The kowtowing was rationalized from the league on down to individual players that they all had money at risk from the GM’s tweet—as if their personal pocketbooks could compare with the sacrifices of life and limb, in addition to economic loss, of those freedom protesters as they struggled for their basic freedoms.

Party Influence

There is growing concern among some, particularly among the elites and party elders, that our political parties are losing too much power and authority over candidate selection.

[The ascents of Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidate and Senator Bernie Sanders (I, VT) and President Donald Trump (R)] are the latest sign that the nation’s political parties have lost influence in choosing their own presidential nominees….

Tom Rath, ex-Republican National Committee delegate, worried about this:

We’re organized around individual candidates and individual concerns. No one wants to be bothered with the party.

Joe Trippi, ex-Progressive-Democrat strategist and current CNN pundit, also expressed angst:

The Equal Rights Amendment

The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board noted in their Valentine’s Day editorial that the time limit for ratifying the ERA has long passed its expiration date and that Virginia’s lately “ratification” of the Amendment, which might have put the thing over the top for national ratification, came much too late to have effect.

On the whole, I agree with the Editors.

However, on this, I strongly disagree:

The ERA also isn’t necessary today. America in 2020 is a very different place for women than it was when the ERA was written. Laws bar discrimination against women in all walks of life, and women are CEOs, Senators, and the Speaker of the House.

Stakeholder Capitalism

Vivek Ramaswamy, writing in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, offered a brief definition:

“Stakeholder capitalism” is…the fashionable notion that companies should serve not only their shareholders, but also other interests and society at large.

Ramaswamy is right. What the virtue-signaling social justice warriorlettes (of which Ramaswamy is not one) miss, though, is that companies serve “other interests” and society at large by doing well, making money for their owners, and creating jobs for “other interests” and members of society at large—us citizens.

Telecommunications and Backdoors

It turns out that Huawei has been able to use legislatively mandated backdoors into telecommunications software—backdoors ostensibly for the sole benefit of law enforcement, and then only usable within judicially allowed limits, search warrants duly sworn, in the US, for instance—for years.

But we would never do that, says Huawei in its wide-eyed innocence.

“The use of the lawful interception interface is strictly regulated and can only be accessed by certified personnel of the network operators. No Huawei employee is allowed to access the network without an explicit approval from the network operator,” the [senior Huawei] official said.

Progressive-Democrats and Litmus Tests

The Progressive-Democratic Party and its Presidential candidates continue to be…upset…over judicial confirmations that are going on with the Trump administration and the McConnell Senate. And they have issue-based litmus tests for what they consider acceptable (progressively so) judges and Justices. The test is in addition to their wish to change the structure of the Supreme Court to favor their ideology.

Their tests are these: the nominees must overtly favor abortion, be activists regarding the environment, and positively consider labor union matters.

Too Early to Say

…but I’m gonna say, anyway.

Much is being made of Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidate and Senator Bernie Sanders’ (I, VT) so-called victory in the just concluded New Hampshire primary and the momentum he’s supposedly gained with that, coming as it does on the heels of his “near victory” in what the Iowa Democratic Party has been pleased to call a caucus earlier in the month.

[T]he campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders (I, VT) goes from strength to strength, drawing massive crowds and recording top-two finishes in the early-state contests.