Of Course They Are

Universities and businesses are objecting to losing the tax-exempt status of tuition assistance, tuition that the universities receive in exchange for pretending to educate our youth and that businesses provide as an employment perk.  The House version of the tax bills currently in the offing eliminates this exemption status.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co, Starbucks Corp, and others say offering tax-free tuition assistance makes it easier for them to keep and train employees.

Schools say they could lose thousands of students if the tuition program is taxed. The nation’s economic development would be stunted if employees shy away from pricey training programs, they say.

“major distortive impact on international trade”

That’s the claim of European nations–Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the UK—as they worry about the drop in corporate tax rates that the House and Senate bills propose.

Well, of course.  They also don’t like the highly competitive tax rates applied by Ireland and Luxembourg and routinely excoriate those nations for having the temerity of competing via tax treatment for business.  While the nations bleat about double taxation and how European businesses operating in the US would be at a tax disadvantage compared to US companies operating in the US, here’s the nub of the thing:

Individual Mandate and Risk Pools

Louise Radnofsky and Stephanie Armour had a piece in The Wall Street Journal that looked at the small and shrinking impact of removing the Individual Mandate (or more accurately, removing the penalty Supreme Court-created tax imposed for not satisfying the IM) on the health coverage providing industry.  The piece is worth the read, but there was one remark quoted at the end that wants a particular look.

“Making the risk pool stable is a vital part” of keeping individual insurance premiums in line with the overall cost to cover a person insured through a larger group or employer, said Andy Slavitt, a top health official in the Obama administration.

An Infrastructure Program

In the coming year, the Trump administration intends to push for an infrastructure improvement program for its next major legislative effort.  It’s certainly true that we need much improvement in our roads, bridges, and transportation networks in all mediums, for both economic and national security reasons (bonus points to those who can identify President Dwight Eisenhower’s motivation for pushing the Interstate Highway System like he did).

It’s also true that such a program would be broadly popular among American citizens.

It’s also true that the proposal coming onto offer, rather than being another Federal boondoggle, would only commit $200 billion as seed money, with the States and locals putting up the bulk of the funding and work.

Safe Spaces and Timidity

Antonia Okofor is an advocate for empowering women, and she argues that the 2nd Amendment is a valuable tool in the empowerment.

She was scheduled to speak at two Liberal (note: not Liberal Arts—they’ve long ago lost that breadth) colleges, Hampshire College and Mount Holyoke.

Hampshire College canceled Okofor’s engagement on short notice—two hours’ notice—claiming that her speech was “too controversial.”  Then the place thought better of its excuse and claimed the trivial technicality of a student application not being complete as the premise for canceling.  This is nonsense: if that had been the reason, school management would have said so in the first place.  On the other hand, the lack of dotted i’s and crossed t’s would have been just as indefensible as an excuse.  This is fear, instead, fear of a better argument.

The Decision

After President Donald Trump announced that the US would officially recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital—a long-standing fact away from which US administrations had been ducking away for over 20 years—global (or at least European and Middle Eastern) expressions of angst have been loud.

Out come the pop psychology analyses.

Martin Indyk, former US Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, former US Ambassador to Israel, and current Executive Vice President of the Brookings Institution:

It was an appeal to his evangelical Christian base, pure and simple[.]

Of course it was.

When I Get Around to It

Senator Al Franken (D, MN) announced on the Senate floor—where, among other things, nothing he said would be actionable in a court of law—that he would resign from the Senate as a result of the plethora of women’s accusations of him sexually abusing and assaulting them.

When will he resign?  When he feels like it (my words).  In the coming weeks (his words).

Franken also said he appreciated the

irony that I am leaving while a man who bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who preyed on young girls runs for Senate with the full support of his party

The Fed’s Interest Rates

In a Letter to the Editor in a recent Wall Street Journal, was this remark:

[A] major reason for doing this [artificially suppressing interest rates] is an attempt to raise inflation to their sacrosanct 2% level.

Interest rates are inherently inflationary, since they raise the cost of money. If the Fed were serious, they’d set their benchmark rates at levels historically consistent with 2% inflation, and then they’d sit down and shut up.

One factor keeping the Fed interfering, though, is universal to all bureaucracies—the bureaucrats can’t sit down and shut up, they think they have to be constantly doing or yapping.

Minimum Wage in San Francisco

City Supervisor Jane Kim, in a recent Letter to the Wall Street Journal Editor sang huzzahs for the city’s $15/hr minimum wage and touted a tax on robots that were replacing those low-skilled workers priced out of the labor market by that minimum wage.

The minimum wage isn’t a pathway to the middle class; it is a safety net to prevent destitution.

And

[A] “robot tax” is a practical way to smooth the transitions caused by automation….

She’s wrong.

I’m sure the robots and kiosks that are replacing those low-skilled workers appreciate being saved from destitution.

Confirmation

…of Palestinian lack of interest in peace with Israel.  Here’s Hamas Politburo Chief, Ismail Haniyeh:

We should call for and we should work on launching an intifada in the face of the Zionist enemy. …  We want the uprising to last and continue to let Trump and the occupation regret this decision.

And

…10 Palestinians were arrested in East Jerusalem overnight after Molotov cocktails were thrown.

Notice that: this isn’t just protestation of a decision with which the Palestinians disagree.  This is deliberately violent protest.  The decision with which these terrorists disagree is nothing more, in their minds, than an excuse to murder Israelis.