Brexit Talks

In a Wall Street Journal article about the general government paralysis in Great Britain as the Brexit question is allowed to consume all of Parliament’s energy, one statement jumped out at me.

Instead, her [Theresa May’s] premiership is being defined by the Brexit negotiation itself.

What negotiations? Brussels is dictating punitive terms, and May and her team are meekly rolling over and accepting them. They’re even agreeing to discuss an effective partition of Great Britain rather than rejecting the question out of hand and walking out of all of the “negotiations” over the calculated insult and attempt to dismantle Great Britain.

Censorship

The ramp-up in political spending across Facebook’s social networks, which also include Instagram, is breathtaking: In 2014, digital ad spending was 1% of all political ad spending. Now it’s 22%, or about $1.9 billion, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Facebook says that politicians have spent nearly $300 million in the US on Facebook ads since May.

And

Politicians who want to reach the same voters their competitors are reaching on Facebook have little choice but to go there, too.

Which helps explain why Facebook was so willing to censor conservative political ads.

Federal Reserve Bank Regulations

The current iteration of the Federal Reserve Bank Board of Governors, with several President Donald Trump appointees, is proposing a rule that would significantly ease the amount of cash big banks must keep on hand to cover bills due within 30 days.  The savings from this are expected to aggregate to $77 billion per year—not a lot compared to the total of liquid assets held by those banks already.

There is a rumbling, though.  An Obama appointee to the BoG, Lael Brainard, is objecting to the regulatory easing.

She added that banks are “providing ample credit and earning ample profits” under current liquidity requirements.

A Useful Step

It’s even a step toward my goal of privatizing Social Security.  Tom Giovanetti, Institute for Policy Innovation President wrote of an idea for an additional tax cut in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal.

[I]nstead of an impotent income-tax cut or, say, a payroll-tax cut of 4% of income, why not redirect that same 4% into personal retirement accounts for every worker? … With no decline in disposable income, American workers would suddenly be investing for retirement at market rates in accounts they own and control, instead of relying on Congress to keep Social Security solvent.

The Wages of a Minimum Wage Law

Recall Seattle’s 2015-2016 minimum wage law that mandated a rise in minimum wage from $9.47/hr to $12 for small businesses and $13 for large businesses.  The University of Washington early on published a study that demonstrated a drop in hours worked by low-wage workers of some 9% with a resulting decrease in actual income for those low-wage earners—ones least able to afford the cut—of some $74/mo.

New, updated numbers are in, reflecting in particular tracks folks with jobs at the time the mandated minimum wage went up.

Federal Redistributions of State Funds

In response to Robert Poole’s Wall Street Journal bit about making some aspects of our infrastructure more affordable, a couple of folks wrote Letters to the Editor.  And so I have my own response.

[A]sset recycling is not about finding more efficient ways to modernize and expand infrastructure. It’s about raising money for cash-starved treasuries….

and

The solution is to allow all states to retain the federal gas tax generated by each state.

This is Meeting a 2% Commitment?

This is a pretty ugly performance by what used to be a top-drawer defense establishment.

Germany’s Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that only 39 percent of large items, such as tanks and helicopters, delivered to the Bundeswehr in 2017 did not require improvement before deployment.

That’s against an already shockingly low goal of a 70% Operational Ready status for already delivered military equipment—like those tanks and helicopters.

And this:

Only 27 of the 71 Pumas delivered last year; half of the eight A400M delivered; two among seven Tiger combat helicopters; and four among seven NH90 transport helicopters, were operationally ready last year….
Among four new Eurofighter combat jets delivered in 2017, one could be used.

Fairness

Various nations around Europe and Asia are looking at ways to add to the tax burden on multinational technology companies doing business in those nations.

Bruno Le Maire, French Minister of the Economy and Finance, rationalized the movement this way:

It is a question of fairness.

Leave it to a European politician to not understand the concept.

No. Fairness is cutting taxes, not raising them, thereby leaving more of the citizens’ money in their hands.

Right Answer, Wrong Dissent

The Washington State Supreme Court issued a ruling favorable to the State’s charter schools last Thursday.  The question before the court was whether those charter schools were violating the State’s constitution by receiving funding from the State’s lottery facilities.  Writing for the court, Justice Mary Yu wrote in plain words,

Charter schools are not rendered unconstitutional just because they do not operate identically to common school[.]

She expanded on that in addressing the plaintiffs’ argument that the charter schools lacked voter control, holding that, as The Seattle Times paraphrased her,

Trade and the People’s Republic of China

The Wall Street Journal wrote in its Thursday edition that the US was “refusing” to resume trade negotiations with the PRC until the latter made a formal offer to us.  That’s a bit of a misnomer, though, since there’s nothing about which to negotiate until the PRC makes an offer.  Absent that, any discussion about trade would be just idle musings over an afternoon tea, a whiling away of some time between more important things.

A couple of other things jumped out at me in that article, too.