Indications of the Extent of the Exposure

A Rapid City city councilman, Jason Salamun, wants to ban TikTok from city-owned devices and networks, and to prohibit city agencies from using the app. A councilwoman, Laura Armstrong, opposes the proposed ban, claiming Rapid City has bigger problems to solve, such as crime and drugs. Yet that just illustrates how easily the ban could be enacted compared with solutions to those bigger problems.

Armstrong also claims—and she’s serious—that TikTok isn’t a threat. Never mind that TikTok is wholly owned by People’s Republic of China-domiciled ByteDance, and that under the PRC’s national intelligence law, ByteDance can be required by the nation’s intelligence apparatus to conduct espionage on American government and business entities and on individual Americans. That espionage would be done through TikTok.

Yes, and No

Company employees are getting pay raises just for staying on the job rather than moving on to other endeavors.

Wages for workers who stayed at their jobs were up 5.5% in November from a year earlier, averaged over 12 months, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. That was up from 3.7% annual growth in January 2022 and the highest increase in 25 years of record-keeping.

It’s also the case that new hires are getting bigger signing bonuses, initial salaries, and more perks for joining the company.

However, this claim by The Wall Street Journal (at the link above) is mostly backwards in the present environment:

Taxes and our Federal Tax Code

Former President Donald Trump (R) paid breathtakingly little Federal taxes compared to his wealth over the six years covered by his tax records, which the Progressive-Democrats so dishonestly, if strictly legally, released. And yet, despite those same Progressive-Democrats’ desperation to expose illegalities in his low tax payments, those same records prove he did nothing illegal; he simply took advantage of what our tax code—as enacted over the years by both parties as they held sway—plainly, and by design, allows.

Think that’s unfair compared to you and me? Think it’s not right that rich folks should have access to…loopholes…that us average Americans can’t reach?

Federal Workers Working Remote

I agree with the concept, sort of.

The Federal Government Initiative, an NGO government watchdog, has noticed that current federal telework practices, implemented during the Wuhan Virus situation, are associated with a dramatic reduction in paid leave used by the federal workforce. The FGI has expressed misgivings.

Before the federal government engages in expanded telework in perpetuity, its impact should be investigated more fully by agency Inspectors General, Congress, and other oversight entities[.]

I agree that many—most, in fact—nearly all—Federal workers should be allowed to work remotely, and in perpetuity. Remotely, mind you, not via telework.

Think about Leaving

Portland business owners are more than fed up with the level of crime destroying their businesses. Their idea of who has the solution is misguided, though.

Frustrated business owners are calling on city and county leaders to do more to combat rising property crime in Portland….

This situation is not solely on the heads of Portland’s city councilmen or the county commissioners. The business’ fellow residents of Portland keep electing those councilmen and commissioners, politicians who’ve demonstrated their lack of commitment to order and rule of law.

Some Biden Admin Officials are Correct

I’ve written about the dangers of TikTok to American children’s safety and to US security before. For two years, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US has been dickering with TikTok about ways to wall the app off from the government of the People’s Republic of China as a criterion for TikTok’s continued operation in the US.

Of course, a wall-off has no hope of success: its owner, ByteDance, would remain a PRC company and so wholly responsible to the PRC government’s intelligence community to commit espionage on demand. With TikTok still owned by ByteDance, any firewall must necessarily fail in the face of any PRC intel demand.

Preventing Future Omnibus Bills

Chris Jacobs, Juniper Research Group founder and CEO, in his 23 December Wall Street Journal op-ed, offered a solution, but he made this error that’s fatal to his proposal.

But because the Senate parliamentarian allowed Democrats to create new slush funds for domestic spending with a simple majority via budget reconciliation in 2021, a future Republican Congress can do the same….

No. Two wrongs, as the saying goes, do not make a right. Republicans doing this because the other party does it is what Progressive-Democratic Party members do.

Overreach

The New York banking regulator, the New York State Department of Financial Services, has announced “rules” that would require banks of all sizes to consider climate change in their risk assessment considerations. NYSDF’s rules are made the worse because it has outsized influence due to the plethora of Wall Street institutions in the State.

Banks would be called upon to look at climate-related risks when bringing on new clients and when extending credit.

This is naked government overreach, even at the State level, and it’s one more reason financial institutions should leave New York. I can suggest Miami, Austin, Dallas, Sioux Falls, and Fargo as alternative locations.

Punishing the Successful

There are changes to Americans’ 401(k) plans that are included in the Omnibus Spendathon bill currently in front of Congress, and they are IMNSHO highly favorable. (Aside: I hope the Omnibus Spendathon gets killed in favor of a short-term bill—or no bill at all; we won’t miss the Federal government for a few days—that will let the incoming Republican-majority House have its input into the year’s spending. These 401(k) provisions could be brought up and enacted then.)

Among those changes are a raise in the age at which account holders must begin taking their Required Minimum Withdrawals from the current 72 years old to 75 years old.

Priorities

Another fail by the Progressive-Democrat Mayor of New York City Eric Adams.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said with the expiration of Title 42, the Big Apple may be forced to cut public services to prioritize an expected influx of an additional 1,000 migrants arriving every week.

He said it explicitly:

Truth be told, if corrective measures are not taken soon, we may very well be forced to cut or curtail programs New Yorkers rely on, and the pathway to house thousands more is uncertain[.]

There’s this bit of context, too: