Exxon’s Carbon Tax

Exxon Mobil Corp is throwing $1 million at the move to produce a national carbon tax.

Exxon’s move is an attempt to manage what it sees as the risk of a similar movement in the US, in ways that it hopes will simplify requirements on its industry….
Exxon sees a carbon tax as an alternative to patchwork regulations, putting one cost on all carbon emitters nationwide, eliminating regulatory uncertainty….

On the contrary, Exxon is looking for short-term competitive political advantage at the expense of long-term economic—real—advantage.  That’s unfortunate.

The Dangers of Welfare

These are illustrated by a Letter to the Editor in Friday’s Wall Street Journal.  The letter-writer wrote of a pay raise his company gave its employees and a bit of Panic of 2008 history:

Despite high unemployment rates [during the Panic], we still struggled to find well-qualified employees. We were competing against the federal government’s repeatedly extended subsidy for unemployment programs. We interviewed dozens of people who flatly told us they were only interviewing to obtain another log entry to remain qualified for unemployment benefits, and that they didn’t need to work for us when they could get paid almost the same to not work at all—for 52 weeks or more.

Doing Business with the PRC

The People’s Republic of China is stepping up their corporate espionage.

Starting November 1, police officers will have the authority to physically inspect businesses and remotely access corporate networks to check for potential security loopholes, according to the regulations released Sunday by the Public Security Ministry. Police will also be authorized to copy information and inspect records that “may endanger national security, public safety, and social order,” the rules said.

And

The new regulations also reinforce requirements on censorship and surveillance laid out in the cybersecurity law.

And to steal company secrets and classified information, and to plant malware for future use.

College?

I’ve written before about whether college is for everyone.

Some empirical evidence appears in a Wall Street Journal piece about last week’s unemployment number.

Peerfit Inc is growing, adding 80 staffers to its original 20 in just the last year and increasing their wages 5%-10% in the same period.  CEO Ed Buckley has noted the difficulty in finding “good people.”  Then he added this kicker:

When we first started, everyone we were hiring had a four-year college degree.  Now the skill set [of vocational hires] is sometimes even sharper than their counterparts coming out with a four-year college degree.

Austerity

Continuing the theme that other parts of the world still exist, this thought on Brazil’s upcoming presidential election.  In a Wall Street Journal piece about the Brazilian presidential candidates’—all 13 of them—big economic plans with no money to implement them, the item’s author offered this bit:

Mr. Bolsonaro has raised the most hopes in financial markets of tackling the endemic spending problem. …his top economic adviser, economist Paulo Guedes, has promised investors fiscal austerity….

Taxes and Caps

Howard Gleckman, Senior Fellow at the Tax Policy Center, wants the $10,000 cap on the federal deduction for state and local taxes repealed.  After all, he worries [emphasis added],

what will happen to state budgets if high-income residents resist tax increases that are now less subsidized by the federal revenue code[?]

Further, Gleckman is arguing,

restoring the old distortion “may indirectly benefit low- and moderate-income households” by propping up state spending.

Free Trade in North America

With a Mexico-US trade agreement in nominally in hand (our two nations’ legislatures have ratify it, and our own Progressive-Democrats in the Senate are already saying #NO, #RESIST, and too many Republicans are acquiescing, though), Mexico wants Canada to join the agreement.  Mexico’s President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, after speaking with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:

There is still time to achieve a trilateral agreement[.]

And

We hope they reach that understanding so that it will be a trilateral agreement.

The Rising Cost of Hurricanes

It’s not from more frequent or fiercer hurricanes—the rate and sternness of them actually is down over the last several years—but the increasing density of population and supporting building on hurricane-prone shores and the increasing costs of the buildings that’s driving the cost of hurricane damage.

Counties along the US shoreline that endured hurricane-strength winds from Florence in September experienced a surge in population from 1980 to 2017, with an increase of 95 people per square mile—more than double the density. Overall, Gulf and East Coast shoreline counties, those vulnerable to hurricane strikes, increased by 160 people per square mile, compared with 26 people per square mile in the rest of the mainland, over the same period.

Budgets and Austerity

The Italian coalition government (interesting in its own right, consisting as it does as a teaming up of the far left 5 Star Movement and the far right Liga) has decided to increase government spending and decrease taxes.  This has been projected to produce a 2.4% budget deficit.  For a government already badly in debt, this deficit isn’t good.

Cutting taxes has been decried by others as being the cause of such deficits and debts.  Spending cuts cannot be allowed, say the same folks, because that would be an austere measure.

They’re wrong.

The EU and Iran

The European Union is busily working with Iran to develop a channel for payments that’s outside the normal flow of currencies so that the EU and Iran can continue to do business with each other outside the US sanction regime.  The purpose of this is so the EU can facilitate Iran’s economy and so the EU can make money.

Nothing wrong with that last, at all.  The EU should be working to support its businesses.

There are other ways of achieving that, though.  With this path, the EU is making itself complicit in Iran’s nuclear weapons program.