Negotiated Penalties

I’m not going to pick on Boeing, but I am going to describe that company’s alleged wrong-doing in a particular case as a canonical example of a principle.

Boeing stands accused by the FAA of

install[ing] defective parts inside the wings of around 130 737NG aircraft and then knowingly vouch[ing that] they met all federal safety requirements.

In consequence, the FAA has proposed a $3.9 million penalty.  As if Boeing should have a say in the penalty it chooses to pay.  This is nonsense.

Seller’s Remorse

Not because they mistakenly sold, though, rather because they’re being blocked from selling. The People’s Republic of China’s telecom company Huawei is suing over an FCC ruling that prevents American rural wireless telecom companies from using Federal dollars to buy Huawei equipment.

Huawei executives have long hung their hats on this bit as their primary reason for being allowed into our national communications networks:

Huawei has long said that it is owned by its employees, operates independently of Beijing and would never spy on behalf of any government.

“The Burden of Compliance”

Hospitals have filed their initial suit to prevent the Trump administration from promulgating a rule that would require hospitals to make public the secret rates they agree with insurers. Their argument centers on this:

The burden of compliance with the rule is enormous, and way out of line with any projected benefits associated with the rule[.]

It’s hard to understand the degree of burden in simply publishing the agreed rates. Paper and ink aren’t expensive, and electrons are even cheaper.  Beyond that, the benefits are enormous: it would allow patients and prospective patients to know which hospital charges what for a given procedure, so the patient could determine—under his own imperatives—which hospital has the most cost effective procedure.

Medicare for All

Simon Johnson, of the MIT Sloan School of Management and an “informal” advisor to Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidate and Senator Elizabeth Warren’s (D, MA) presidential campaign, thinks her Medicare for All scheme is the cat’s meow.  It would, he claims

cut costs by reducing inefficiency, eliminating predatory pricing (for example, for prescription drugs) and using the purchasing power of a single-payer system. Her plan would also constrain the growth rate of underlying medical costs.

Financial Transaction Tax

The Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidates (with, for now, the lonely exception of Joe Biden) all want one.  Fred Hatfield, once a (Democrat) commissioner on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, correctly identified one downside of such a thing.

The tax would be bad for farmers, whose support is critical in the Feb 3 Iowa caucuses.  Farmers manage risk by entering into futures contracts, a type of derivative. Under Mr [Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidate and Senator Bernie (I, VT)] Sanders’s proposal, trades of corn and soybeans futures would be taxed at a rate of 0.5 basis point [0.5%].

In Which Biden Has the Right of It

Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidate Joe Biden is taking heat for his position on legalizing marijuana at the Federal level.  No less a light than Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D, NY) objects to Biden’s hesitation:

Marijuana should be legalized, and drug consumption should be decriminalized. These are matters of public health.

And Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidate and Senator Bernie Sanders (I, VT):

Too many lives were ruined due to the disastrous criminalization of marijuana[.]

Biden, though, doesn’t see the need for the rush:

I want a lot more [data] before I legalize it nationally. I want to make sure we know a lot more about the science behind it.

How Terrible Is That?

Jeremy Corbyn, British Labour Party’s MFWIC, has “accused” British PM Boris Johnson of pushing for US-style deregulation of health care.  The horror.

As the UK election campaigns got underway, Corbyn said his rival wanted to “unleash Thatcherism on steroids” once the country was no longer bound by EU trading treaties and regulations.

Channeling our own Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidate and Senator Bernie Sanders (I, VT), Corbyn thinks “capitalism” is a dirty word.

He went further:

Corbyn also said…that Johnson wants to strike a trade deal with US President Donald Trump to sell off parts of the UK’s National Health Service, or make it easier for US pharmaceutical firms and medical companies to sell into the UK healthcare market.

Boeing and Foolish Questions

In a Wall Street Journal article on the tortuous path to criminal prosecution that prosecutors would have in bringing Boeing to criminal trial over its 737 MAX crashes, Andrew Tangel, Jacob Gershman, and Andy Pasztor asked what seems to me to be a very narrow, short-sighted question.

Should prosecutors weigh Boeing’s importance to the economy and national security when deciding how to proceed with a criminal case over the 737 MAX crashes?

Of course prosecutors should—must—not. What’s truly important is the concept of weighing the risks to liberty and to national security of criminals being too big to be punished. We can never allow such a thing to enter even the run-up to criminal prosecutions.

Tariffs

The Wall Street Journal led off one of its Wednesday editorials with this gem.

The great counterfactual of the Trump Presidency is how much faster the economy would be growing without the damage of his trade protectionism.

Never mind that the great counterfactual of the FDR and Wilson Presidencies (among others) is how much better off the nation would be without the damage of their warfighting.

Once again, WSJ Editors choose to misconstrue the nature of tariffs as tools of international diplomacy and conflict with the nature of tariffs as protectionism. International conflict unavoidably involves domestic damage.

PRC Personal Savings Rate

James Areddy had an extensive article on this in a recent Wall Street Journal.  It seems that the personal savings rate of People’s Republic of China’s citizens peaked around 2010 and has been trailing off ever since.  Areddy posited a number of reasons for this, and why it’s likely to continue.  Chief among them is the usual suspect of an increasingly less poor, if not increasingly prosperous, population wishing to live better rather than save more.  Another major reason seems to be the PRC’s one-child policy, lately relaxed legally, but not socially.  With fewer kids in the family, there’s less reason for parents to save against those kids’ future.