Tariffs and Fairness

In a Wall Street Journal article centered on the way tariffs involved in the People’s Republic of China/US trade “dispute” and the simmering EU/US trade dispute impact a Scottish town, Alistair MacDonald posed a question.

Is it fair for the US, in its pursuit of trade concessions, to hurt smaller businesses that make iconic products in nations such as Scotland?

The question is a non sequitur.  The correction is, “Is it fair to single out particular subgroups for special treatment when addressing the rest of the group or the group as a whole?”

No, of course not.

Security Considerations

The Securities and Exchange Commission is building a massive central database in order to facilitate regulators’ market surveillance, and they’re forcing all brokerages to sign contracts to connect their systems to this Consolidated Audit Trail.

Proponents say the CAT will help regulators make sense of complex US financial markets, by putting data from disparate markets in one place and pinning down the time of each trade to the millisecond. … When complete, it is expected to ingest more than 58 billion records a day to become the world’s largest repository of stock-trading data.

Privacy and DoJ

I don’t often disagree with Attorney General Bill Barr, but on this I most certainly do.

Attorney General William Barr demanded Monday that Apple help the US government unlock two iPhones in its terror investigation of the Saudi air cadet who last month killed three sailors at a Navy training base in Pensacola, Florida. “This situation perfectly illustrates why it is critical that the public be able to get access to digital evidence,” Mr Barr said.

“The public,” not “the government” or “the police investigators.”  Now, it’s clear that Barr could have been speaking metaphorically in this, so I’ll not pursue this aspect beyond pointing out the possibility of misunderstanding or of misplaced priority.

Maybe Build Their Own Connections

Idaho wants to connect several of its western communities to a renewable energy hub in eastern Oregon, and the green citizens of eastern Oregon agrees with the sentiment.  Just don’t use actual power lines to do the connection.  Brian Kelly, Restoration Director for the Greater Hells Canyon Council in eastern Oregon:

We need to develop more renewable energy, of course, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of damage to our last remaining wild places….

Yep.  Dan Shreve, Head of Global Wind Energy Research at Wood Mackenzie:

Harms in Public Spaces

The Brits are working out a new way to intervene in private lives and in private businesses, this time in an attempt to control “harms” done via (not by, mind you) “online platforms”—social media.

Under the [British] government’s proposal, a new regulator would have the power to require companies to protect users from a number of identified online harms—such as pornography, extremist content, and cyber bullying.

And

[T]he pair talked through the different terms that had been used to describe social media in a legal context, looking for the right analogy. They tried “platform,” “pipe” and “intermediary.” Nothing seemed to fit. Then “we thought of a ‘public space,'” says Ms Woods. “People do different things online. It was just like ‘how do we regulate spaces?'”

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….

An Appeal

Bayer is appealing a District court judgment against it and its Roundup product which has glyphosate as an important ingredient. The judgment is for $25 million, and Bayer thinks it’s a wrong judgment.

The German company’s main argument is that US federal agencies have determined its product is safe and not a carcinogen.

Bayer noted that the

verdict defies both expert regulatory judgment and sound science.

And

Because the EPA has consistently approved the sale of glyphosate without a cancer warning and has stated that including such a warning on the label would render the product misbranded, any state-imposed cancer warning is expressly preempted

Gimme, Gimme, Gimme

That’s what French unions are demanding with their strikes against French President Emmanuel Macron’s and French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe’s plans to streamline, standardize, and otherwise reduce the cost to French taxpayers of France’s byzantine pension system.

Never mind that the pension system consists of 42 different pension plans or that French civil servants insist that they are, somehow, special and so should have special perquisites unavailable to petty private sector workers.

Trains, subways, and buses were still severely curtailed on Friday, and hundreds of domestic and regional flights were canceled. There were no demonstrations on Friday, but unions have warned the strike could last days and become one of the biggest in France in over two decades.

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.

Obamacare Premiums

Stephanie Armour noted that Obamacare premiums are expected to be lower in 2020 than they are this year, and she wondered whether that means Obamacare is working, or if there remain problems to be fixed.

The drop doesn’t address the core problem with Obamacare: it’s a government welfare program that mandates coverages at prices independent of the risk being transferred.

Falling premiums? They’re still much too high, as are deductibles (which Armour completely omitted from her article), especially when compared to what would be the case in a free market, and they’re for coverages that aren’t, generally, needed, to boot.