Another Obamacare Episode

The Justice Department has declined to defend Obamacare in the suit against it brought by a large number of States in the aftermath of Congress’ repeal of the Individual Mandate penalty tax.  Recall that Chief Justice John Roberts rewrote the law in 2012 to recreate the penalty as a tax in order to preserve the IM as constitutional, and thereby to preserve all of Obamacare as constitutional because of the inseverability of all parts of the law.

With the repeal of the IM’s…tax…that inseverability should doom the rest of Obamacare.

As a result of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision not to defend the law,

Italy and the Eurozone

Since the last Italian election all those interminable months ago, which yielded no party with even a serious plurality, the several (and I do mean several) political parties have been trying to form a coalition of some sort so they could form an actual government with which to operate the country.  The coalition most likely to succeed in forming a government, if not in actual governing, consists of the far-left 5Star Movement and the equally far-right League (Lega Nord, Northern League).  What’s of interest to me is less the irony of these two parties trying to govern together and more the impact on the eurozone and the EU if these two parties actually succeed in allying and governing Italy.  They want

US Corn Exports

The Trump administration is working on a deal with the People’s Republic of China to reduce the trade imbalance we have with them (whether the trade imbalance really is a bad thing and whether the PRC is working the deal as hard as the Trump administration are questions outside this post).  American farmers would have trouble producing enough to meet their part of the goal, were the deal to go through.

US corn exports could jump from $150 million to about $10 billion annually within a few years if China vastly expanded its quotas and reduced its duties that are as high as 65%, according to one estimate.

Encryption/Decryption Race

The political one I mean, not the technological one.  Recall, for instance the San Bernardino terrorist attack, the FBI’s capture of one of the terrorists’ encrypted iPhones, Apple’s refusal to decrypt it (they couldn’t, by their design of the iPhone’s OS), then-FBI Director James Comey’s (yes, that Comey) cynically tear-jerking demand for future such personal device encryption back doors to decrypt at Government convenience, and Apple’s refusal to support development of that.

An expert on the subject—a technological expert I mean, not a political one—thinks he’s solved the problem.  His solution is described in a Wired article.  This expert thinks he has a way of providing Government “exceptional access” to a private person’s (or private enterprise’s) encrypted cell phone (for instance).  His solution, Clear, works this way:

False Choice

Consider the kerfuffle involving corm farmer subsidies in the form of ethanol mandates and the required use of ethanol by oil refiners as they produce vehicle fuels.  The argument is being presented as a choice forced on President Donald Trump in that he “must choose” between the corn farmers and the oil companies as the kerfuffle is solved.

Oil refineries want out of a costly requirement to blend ethanol into the gasoline they produce. Corn growers say the requirement diversifies the US fuel supply, and insist Mr Trump fulfill promises to at least hold the ethanol mandate.

Battle Against Hate Speech?

Bob Pearson, co-author of Countering Hate and CIO of W2O Group says that AI is able to identify hate speech today.

All human beings follow patterns online.  You can see what language, content, channel, and people matter to them. You can see which words trigger information seeking, which language is most associated with hate topics or sites, which people are the most important influencers and you can see a range of behavioral characteristics.

Foolishness of Zero Tolerance

…or of intolerance; the two are interchangeable terms in this context.  This context is the overreaction of school management and local police departments to remarks concerning “threats” to schools.

Gina Gobert’s 12-year-old daughter was detained overnight at a police station in Oakdale, LA, after allegedly talking to schoolmates about a social-media post she said she received that threatened violence against the school.

School management, it seems, decided the girl had received no such threat and turned her over to the police, who decided to charge the child with “terrorizing.”

And this:

Government Surveillance by Regulation

Loosely related to a nearby post, now it seems the government is getting worried about the size of the “private” capital market, where folks can place investments in enterprises, particularly startups, without having to go through the public—stock—markets and government regulations that are broadly extensive and deeply intrusive.

The boom is transforming how companies grow, concentrating investing in fewer hands and raising concerns about oversight

The linked-to article’s subhead lays out the whole misunderstanding. Government doesn’t need to be in the business of regulating every little thing we do.  We can manage our investments just fine without Government’s “help.”  And we can suffer our own outcomes if we choose badly or fortune moves against us despite our otherwise correct decisions.

Standards and Markets

The EPA has decided to revisit, revise, and lower fuel efficiency standards for cars sold in the US for the model years 2022-2025.  The Obama administration EPA had mandated that overall fleet fuel efficiency—averaged across all models of cars built by a manufacturer—be raised to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 from 35.5 miles per gallon in 2016.  This would have represented a greater than 50% increase in fuel efficiency in just 10 short years.

Environmentalists are up in arms over the move.  Fred Krupp, Environmental Defense Fund President:

Idiocy in the Nanny State

Starting in May, the Food and Drug Administration will require chains like Applebee’s and TGI Fridays to list calories next to all their menu items. That includes alcohol.

Because we need to know that stuff.  Or so says Government.  And of course, we’ll pay for that knowledge in higher prices for our drinks, because generating and posting that information—and defending against lawsuits over trivial errors in the postings—doesn’t come free.

Never mind that most of us don’t care.  Nana Government knows better.