Taxing vs Spending

In a Wall Street Journal piece about Tennessee’s required closure of failing bridges problem, a Leake County Democrat supervisor, Joe Andy Helton, had this:

…he was frustrated by politicians being afraid to raise taxes—even to pay for basic services like roads and bridges.

“There’s only but one way to fix things on the local, state or federal level and that’s taxes,” he said.

Of course. Reallocating spending is utterly inconceivable to him.

The two bridges in Helton’s county that must be closed until repaired would cost, at most, a bit over a half-million dollars, together.  That’s not pocket money for a rural county like Leake, but it’s not that much, either.  County and State spending could be (re)directed toward the repairs.

Independent Monitor

Recall Special Counselor Robert Mueller’s raid on President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen’s offices and seizure of Cohen’s records, especially targeting communications between Cohen, the lawyer, and Trump, the client.

Cohen went in to Federal court Friday to try to get the subpoena under which the raid was conducted revoked and the confiscated materials returned.  Some discussion surrounding the events centers on the alleged ability of special monitors—a “taint team”—doing the sorting so as to isolate the privileged communications from the rest of the material sought under the warrant.  Furthermore, this team would, supposedly, conduct its sort before Mueller’s team has gone into the material they seized.

Leaks

Recall Special Counselor Robert Mueller’s unconscionable raid on the offices of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, a raid that confiscated, among other things, communications between Trump and his lawyer that, heretofore, were privileged communications that no prosecutor or court could access.

The press is reporting that Mr Cohen is being investigated for possible bank fraud and campaign-finance violations in connection to his $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels (née Stephanie Clifford)….

We Don’t Get Silicon Valley

That’s what Facebook MFWCI Mark Zuckerberg said in Tuesday’s hearing in front of the Senate.  On the other hand,

Senator Gary Peters (D, MI) asked whether Facebook is using the microphones of users’ phones to listen in to what they are doing and saying—a charge the company has denied repeatedly in recent months.

And given the level of integrity Facebook managers have shown over the years, of course we should believe their denials. Right.  Never mind that that’s an easily done exploit that hackers have done on and off (pardon the pun) for years.  Right along with playing untoward games with the video cameras on our laptops.

Guaranteed Basic Income

Italy’s 5-Star Movement, nominal winners of the latest Italian national elections, wants to provide one.  5-Star Movement (M5S) Senator Nunzia Catalfo has proposed legislation giving every Italian whose existing income falls below the nation’s defined poverty level a Guaranteed Basic Income of up to €780 ($960) per month, with the actual amount presumably varying in relation to how much the person’s existing income falls below that poverty line.

We want to grant a decent life to those millions who are unemployed or whose wages and income are below the poverty line[.]

Union Threat

The American Federation of Teachers doesn’t like guns, gun owners, gun manufacturer, or those who support them.  That’s fine; this is America.

The union’s President, Randi Weingarten, has taken a typically union follow-on step: threatening a union boycott of Wells Fargo if the bank doesn’t end its relationship with the National Rifle Association and with those manufacturers.

We’re issuing Wells Fargo an ultimatum.  They can have a mortgage market that includes America’s teachers, or they can continue to do business with the NRA and gun manufacturers. They can’t do both.

A Gordian Knot Solution

Sometimes blunt instruments are the appropriate ones.

DoJ, while the ink was still drying on its promise of transparency and cooperation with Congress regarding the House’s Intelligence Committee investigations, welched on that promise.  Regarding the electronic communication—memo—that launched the counterintelligence investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia,

Chairman Devin Nunes (R, CA) received an official response from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd.

Upon inspection, however, [the response] looks more like an effort to distract attention from Mr Boyd’s refusal even to mention Mr Nunes’ main request of FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

“White Privilege”

In an op-ed for Sunday’s Wall Street Journal, Zachary Wood, in the course of decrying “white privilege” as an excuse for not engaging in serious discussions to address racism, made this claim:

Does white privilege exist? Sure. If you’re white and you excel at academic or other cognitively demanding endeavors, for example, the light of your success is never dimmed by speculation about whether you benefited from affirmative action.

While his heart is in the right place, he misunderstands the particulars.  This isn’t white privilege (even assuming such a nonsensical thing could be taken seriously). The stigma attaching here is the result of the racism and sexism inherent in affirmative action programs.

Social Media Censorship

Facebook’s management is making some moves in the name of its version of transparency.

Facebook Inc will soon require that advertisers wanting to run ads on hot-button political issues go through an authorization process first, a move the social network hopes will prevent the spread of misinformation across its platform.

And

In October, Facebook unveiled a similar authorization requirement for election-related ads. The latest move will cover “issue ads”—those that don’t specifically mention a candidate but weigh in on a divisive issue, including during an election campaign.

Messaging and the Midterms

Here’s a bit about income taxes, via Laura Saunders in Friday’s Wall Street Journal.

For 2018, households in the top 20% will have income of about $150,000 or more and 52% of total income, about the same as in 2017. But they will pay about 87% of income taxes, up from about 84% last year.

And

[T]he lower 60% of households, who have income up to about $86,000, receive about 27% of income. As a group, this tier will pay no net federal income tax in 2018 vs. 2% of it last year.

And this: