Universal Basic Income

It’s creeping ever more deeply into the Progressive-Democratic Party’s psyche and ideology. It’s an idea that was first dreamed up in the ’70s, and it remains an idea that can only fail were it to be implemented.

Giving everyone a basic income won’t improve anyone’s income; it’ll only incentivize employers to pay a wage diminished by the amount of the guaranteed government payment.  But the failure runs much deeper than that.

Such a scheme is inflationary: the outcome can only be a spike in inflation followed by price stabilization at a higher price level.

It’s a Start

TikTok is a People’s Republic of China company (for all its public moves to resite its headquarters outside the PRC) that’s a popular social-media app that’s used for posting short videos.

However.

TikTok collects information about its users, including data that could be used to track the location and movements of individuals….

As a result, tour military is banning the use of the app on government devices; the Coast Guard and Air Force have joined DoD, the Navy, the Army, and the Marines in the ban.

Reduced NBA Viewership

The TV ratings of National Basketball Association games are down by 15% compared to last year.

Some folks ascribe this to fewer folks subscribing to television generally. Others blame it on geography:

Many of the league’s best teams are on the West Coast, meaning their games end after some viewers in the East have already gone to bed.

Yet others assign at least some of the blame to injuries, especially to marque players.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver blames in on a “broken” pay-TV system.

All of those would seem to be factors in the public’s decreasing interest in the doings of the NBA.

Data Transfer and Privacy

The European Union’s Court of Justice had recommended to it by an adviser to the court in a particular case involving Facebook that

Companies, including US tech giants, should be blocked from transferring European users’ data in some cases if they can’t guarantee it will be handled in compliance with European Union privacy laws….

That would seem to include a large number of international companies besides ours. Yet several EU member nations are moving apace to bring Huawei into their communications networks….

Hmm….

Foolishness

Russia and Ukraine have agreed a new natural gas transit arrangement to facilitate Russian natural gas through Ukraine to Europe.  The EU was in on the negotiations, and it’s pleased.  Maros Sefcovic, who was Vice-President of the European Commission for the Energy Union until last January and who then transitioned to Vice-President of the European Commission for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight, led the EU’s part of the negotiations.  He now says,

Russia remains a reliable supplier to European markets and Ukraine maintains its role as a strategic transit country.

That Was The Point

The subheadline on a Sunday Wall Street Journal article says it all.

European voters have viewed the process so negatively that even EU-skeptic parties have mostly dropped talk of leaving the bloc or the euro

That was the entire motive for Brussels’ extended bad faith pseudo-negotiations with Great Britain after those uppity citizens voted to go out from the European Union. To be sure, Brit politicians, who insisted they Knew Better than their subordinate citizens, contributed to the mess with their own combination of arrogance and incompetent negotiating, but they just played into Brussels’ hands, they did not create the chaos.

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.