A Tidbit

…of a concept that’s lost on one of the main groups of central planners of the world, those of Russia.

This one comes from an article in Pravda, which plays a role for the Russian government similar to that of The New York Times for the Democratic Party’s administrations. Interestingly, in addition to being missed by the Pravda author, it’s also missed by Tom Friedman, who cited the article in his NYT article.

Yet Another Reason for Smaller Government

German factory orders fell 5.7% in August, real GDP is stagnant or falling in many European countries, Standard & Poor’s has downgraded France to AA from AA+….

There’s more.

[T]he 18 euro area countries had zero real growth in the volume of production during the second quarter of 2014. Euro area real GDP grew only 0.5% in 2013 after falling 1% in 2012. In other words, output was lower in mid-2014 than it was at the end of 2011.

And yet—or because:

Who Pays for Political Campaign Travel?

In the case of some Democrats, like President Barack Obama, it looks like us taxpayers pay a significant fraction of the costs. As Mark Knoller of CBS News noted the other day,

Under Federal Election Commission (FEC) rules, the government must be reimbursed for parts of presidential political travel.

“When a trip is for political or unofficial purposes, those involved must pay for their own food and lodging and other related expenses, and they must also reimburse the government with the equivalent of the airfare that they would have paid had they used a commercial airline,” states the Congressional Research Service in a 2012 analysis of “Presidential Travel: Policy and Costs.”

Crony Capitalism and Big Government

California’s health insurance exchange has awarded $184 million in contracts without the competitive bidding and oversight that is standard practice across state government, including deals that sent millions of dollars to a firm whose employees have long-standing ties to the agency’s executive director.

Several of those contracts worth a total of $4.2 million went to a consulting firm, The Tori Group, whose founder has strong professional ties to agency Executive Director Peter Lee, while others were awarded to a subsidiary of a health care company he once headed.

The New ObamaMart

…has been out for a couple of days.

However.

The Obama administration unveiled a new version of HealthCare.gov on Wednesday….

Officials also said that HealthCare.gov won’t display premiums for 2015 until the second week of November.

Of course not.

Our Navy’s—and our Country’s—Future

Mark Helprin had some thoughts a couple years ago about this administration’s Naval policy; they’re worth revisiting these days in light of the People’s Republic of China’s ongoing grab for and occupation of the South and East China Seas, and especially against the backdrop of the PRC’s decision to deny the people of Hong Kong their right to choose their own government members, in particular their Chief Executive, in violation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. In the latter’s case, the PRC will tell the Hong Kong citizens who will be on the ballot and so for whom they’ll be permitted to “vote.”

Interstate Commerce and Chicken Eggs

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging a California law that requires all eggs sold in the Golden State to come from hens housed in roomier cages.

State Attorneys General from Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Alabama had sued to block implementation of the law on the grounds that it unconstitutionally interfered with interstate commerce under the Commerce Clause.

They said farmers would have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars overhauling farms to ensure they would have access to the California market….

US District Judge Kimberly Mueller of the Eastern District of California disagreed.

Taxes and Expiring Tax Breaks

Time is running out for Congress to extend more than 50 tax breaks worth nearly $85 billion, including popular ones for college expenses and energy-efficient appliances.

There are other costs to these tax breaks:

The [House of Representative’s Joint Committee on Taxation has identified 79 expired or expiring federal tax provisions from 2013 to 2023.

And

…the so-called “breaks” result in less revenue for the Treasury Department and an increase to the deficit—like the projected $84.1 billion the Senate bill would add if passed in full.

Jobs Numbers

The headline numbers are in, and they seem favorable enough: unemployment has dropped to 5.9%, and 248,000 new jobs were created in September.

However.

Counting the 142,000 new jobs created in August, new jobs were created at a monthly average of 195,000 jobs per month over the total interval. Using, instead, Labor’s revised August number of 180,000 new jobs (I’d be curious to learn how President Barack Obama’s Labor Department could make such a large estimation error—a 20% error), that still works out to a pretty anemic 214,000 new jobs per month over the period.

Ireland, Luxembourg, UK, and EU Commitments

In a letter to the Irish government published Tuesday, the European Commission, the 28-member bloc’s central antitrust authority, said it had reached the “preliminary view” that tax deals struck in Ireland in 1991 and 2007 in favor of Apple constituted state aid.

1991! No statute of limitations here. That’s a small matter, though. The larger matter is the degree of freedom that sovereign nations have to govern their internal affairs while remaining a part of the European Union.