Negotiated Penalties

I’m not going to pick on Boeing, but I am going to describe that company’s alleged wrong-doing in a particular case as a canonical example of a principle.

Boeing stands accused by the FAA of

install[ing] defective parts inside the wings of around 130 737NG aircraft and then knowingly vouch[ing that] they met all federal safety requirements.

In consequence, the FAA has proposed a $3.9 million penalty.  As if Boeing should have a say in the penalty it chooses to pay.  This is nonsense.

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.

Streamlining Negotiations

DoJ says it wants to “streamline” negotiations over the size of penalties misbehaving white collar employees should pay.

Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski, the head of the department’s criminal division—which overseas various white-collar criminal investigations—said the DOJ has sought to reduce the time it takes to negotiate resolutions by grounding proposed fines in US sentencing guidelines and other objective criteria.

Here’s a thought on how to streamline those negotiations.

Stop negotiating.  Make a plea offer (rarely, these too often get used to extort guilty pleas of any sort), and if the white collar declines—no back and forth—go to criminal trial.  Better, if DoJ thinks it has an actual case, go straight to criminal trial.

Seller’s Remorse

Not because they mistakenly sold, though, rather because they’re being blocked from selling. The People’s Republic of China’s telecom company Huawei is suing over an FCC ruling that prevents American rural wireless telecom companies from using Federal dollars to buy Huawei equipment.

Huawei executives have long hung their hats on this bit as their primary reason for being allowed into our national communications networks:

Huawei has long said that it is owned by its employees, operates independently of Beijing and would never spy on behalf of any government.

“The Burden of Compliance”

Hospitals have filed their initial suit to prevent the Trump administration from promulgating a rule that would require hospitals to make public the secret rates they agree with insurers. Their argument centers on this:

The burden of compliance with the rule is enormous, and way out of line with any projected benefits associated with the rule[.]

It’s hard to understand the degree of burden in simply publishing the agreed rates. Paper and ink aren’t expensive, and electrons are even cheaper.  Beyond that, the benefits are enormous: it would allow patients and prospective patients to know which hospital charges what for a given procedure, so the patient could determine—under his own imperatives—which hospital has the most cost effective procedure.

Expanding Surveillance State

Want a new phone in the People’s Republic of China? You have to give up an image of your face to the government.

The requirement, which came into effect Sunday, is aimed at minimizing telephone fraud and preventing the reselling and illegal transfer of mobile phone cards, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a notice in September.

Right. That’s believable.  Never mind that

…facial recognition becomes more and more prevalent in [the PRC], with authorities applying artificial intelligence to sift through reams of data collected in a bid to boost the economy and centralize oversight of the population.

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.

Head in the Sand?

Volkswagen is building cars in Xinjiang, People’s Republic of China.  You know Xinjiang, the “semi-autonomous” region of the PRC that’s home to tens millions of Muslims and to President Xi Jinping’s “reeducation” camps, Mao-ist internment camps for millions of those Muslims, a people of whom Xi disapproves.

VW thinks all of that is jake.

Speaking with DW on Tuesday, the company said its 2012 decision to open the Urumqi facility was “based purely on economics.” VW says it expects “further economic growth in the region over the coming years.”

A NATO Disconnect

French President Emmanuel Macron extended his “NATO is braindead” criticism.

The French leader has been critical of the United States after it abruptly pulled troops out of northeastern Syria, allowing NATO member Turkey to launch an incursion against the Kurdish YPG militia fighting against the “Islamic State” group. The US and Turkey did not coordinate their moves with NATO members.

Nor were either required to, regardless of what anyone thinks of the moves themselves or the rudeness of the lack of advisement.  Syria has nothing to do with NATO, for all that it’s on the rear porch of Europe’s nations.  Coordination with NATO was, and is, not required.

Golly Gee

Hold the presses.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Germany will honor its commitment to spend 2% of its GDP on NATO after all.

Oh, wait.  She says Germany will keep its word

by the early 2030s.

So far off, that amounts to a promise to be kept when the German government—whichever it is in all those years—feels like it.

Merkel’s “promise” is an insult to our intelligence.  Especially since Germany’s commitment, and those of its fellow NATO nations, was made five years ago and the nations promised to meet 2% by 2024.