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Zeynep Tufekci

• Zeynep Tufekci writes in the NYT about the benefits of the updated bivalent Covid booster vaccines. An excerpt:

“Many European countries and Canada, for example, did a better job of making sure more of their population got boosters. Their cumulative death and illness tolls from the Omicron wave are sharply lower than those of the United States, where only about a third of eligible adults had gotten boosters, compared with two-thirds of adults in many European countries. The United States has had a death rate 80 percent greater than Canada’s from the Omicron wave — a similar pattern holds globally. Countries like Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have about 80 percent or more of their adult population boosted, and their death tolls are even lower.”

2022-09-19T15:17:04-05:00September 19th, 2022|HomeRecommended|

Jamelle Bouie — “Republicans would like to offer you some resentment”

• Jamelle Bouie has it right with his Newsletter’s take on the Republican response to student debt cancellation:

“The fact of the matter is the Republican Party does not have anything to offer the millions of working- and middle-class Americans who labor under the burden of student debt. For all the talk of “populism,” the party is still hostile to the social safety net, opposed to raising the minimum wage, hostile to unions and worker power and virtually every economic policy intervention that isn’t tax cuts and upward redistribution from the many to the most fortunate few.

To debate the reality of student debt relief is to make that more than clear to the public at large. Republicans, then, are trying to make this a debate over culture, to try to reduce issues of class to a question of aesthetics, with traditional blue-collar workers on one side and the image of an ungrateful and unproductive young person on the other. And they’re hoping, as always, that you won’t notice.”

2022-08-27T10:49:09-05:00August 27th, 2022|HomeRecommended|

Please, please, get rid of the “carried interest” tax loophole

• It’s really, really, time to get rid of the rather ridiculous carried interest tax loophole used/abused by private equity. If the Senate can manage to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, it’s at least a start. Farhad Manjoo discusses in the NYT, and he includes this priceless quote from Tim Murphy:

“Despite widespread opposition, though, the tax break has somehow endured — as Tim Murphy wrote recently in Mother Jones, it has been “the most unkillable bad idea in a town with no shortage of them, a testament to the unstoppable combination of money and inertia.” (Murphy’s piece was part of an excellent, multipart investigation of the private equity industry published by the magazine.)”

Update:  Bummer, Sinema strikes again and the loophole lives on.  But at least the Inflation Reduction Act has made it through Congress (with no help from Republicans).  From PBS via AP:

“Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, the Arizona Democrat who single-handedly thwarted her party’s longtime goal of raising taxes on wealthy investors, received nearly $1 million over the past year from private equity professionals, hedge fund managers and venture capitalists whose taxes would have increased under the plan.”

2022-08-15T12:56:25-05:00August 4th, 2022|HomeRecommended|

Yes, we really need to improve domestic semiconductor manufacturing

• Congress really does need to get its act together and pass something that will improve latest-generation 5nm domestic semiconductor manufacturing.  I didn’t realize this bill was still stuck in reconciliation (H.R. 6359 and S. 3331), as David Leonhardt reports in his NYT The Morning newsletter.  This is an extremely important measure for domestic security, as we currently have zero domestic latest-gen chip manufacturing facilities. Haven’t we just learned the perils of the over-extended supply chain?

2022-07-14T11:05:39-05:00July 14th, 2022|HomeRecommended|

A very sad day for women’s autonomy

• Once again, Linda Greenhouse says it all, and says it well in her NYT piece Requiem for the Supreme Court.  A pertinent excerpt:

“With the stroke of a pen, Justice Samuel Alito and four other justices, all chosen by Republican presidents running on successive party platforms committed to overturning Roe v. Wade, erased the constitutional right to reproductive autonomy that the Supreme Court recognized more than 49 years ago. As the dissenting opinion — written by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — observed, never before had the court rescinded an individual right and left it up to the states whether to respect what had once been anchored in the Constitution.

The practical consequences of the decision, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, are enormous and severe.”

Definitely worth reading.

2022-06-25T10:42:24-05:00June 25th, 2022|HomeRecommended|

Retired Federal Judge Luttig’s statement

• Some excerpts below from the conservative now-retired Federal Judge J Michael Luttig’s statement to the House Select Committee investigating January 6 (his complete statement can be found here).  He recognizes full well the ongoing risks to our democracy related to republican efforts to subvert the role of the electorate.  The bolded emphasis is my own.

“The war on democracy instigated by the former president and his political party allies on January 6 was the natural and foreseeable culmination of the war for America. It was the final fateful day for the execution of a well-developed plan by the former president to overturn the 2020 presidential election at any cost, so that he could cling to power that the American People had decided to confer upon his successor, the next president of the United States instead. Knowing full well that he had lost the 2020 presidential election, the former president and his allies and supporters falsely claimed and proclaimed to the nation that he had won the election, and then he and they set about to overturn the election that he and they knew the former president had lost...

The treacherous plan was no less ambitious than to steal America’s democracy…

Over a year and a half later, in continued defiance of our democracy, both the former president and his political party allies still maintain that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him, despite all evidence — all evidence now –that that is simply false. All the while, this false and reckless insistence that the former president won the 2020 presidential election has laid waste to Americans’ confidence in their national elections. More alarming still is that the former president pledges that his reelection will not be “stolen” from him next time around, and his Republican Party allies and supporters obeisantly pledge the same. False claims that our elections have been stolen from us corrupt our democracy, as they corrupt us. To continue to insist and persist in the false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen is itself an affront to our democracy and to the Constitution of the United States — an affront without precedent…

Irrespective of the merits of the legal arguments that fueled the former president’s efforts to overturn that election — irrespective of them, though there were none — those arguments, and therefore those efforts, by the former president were the product of the most reckless, insidious, and calamitous failures in both legal and political judgment in American history

The former president’s party cynically and embarrassingly rationalizes January 6 as having been something between hallowed, legitimate public discourse and a visitors tour of the Capitol that got out of hand. January 6, of course, was neither, and the former president and his party know that. It was not legitimate public discourse by any definition. Nor was it a civics tour of the Capitol Building — though that day proved to be an eye-opening civics lesson for all Americans…

No American ought to turn away from January 6, 2021, until all of America comes to grips with what befell our country that day, and we decide what we want for our democracy from this day, forward.

2022-06-17T14:30:58-05:00June 17th, 2022|HomeRecommended|

Corporations vs Democracy

• An important opinion piece from Alex Kingsbury in the NY Times — Who Is Financing Trump’s ‘Big Lie’ Caucus? Corporations You Know.; an excerpt:

“All told, as of this week, corporations and industry groups gave almost $32 million to the House and Senate members who voted to overturn the election and to the G.O.P. committees focused on the party’s congressional campaigns. The top 10 companies that gave money to those members, according to CREW’s analysis of campaign finance disclosures, are Koch Industries, Boeing, Home Depot, Valero Energy, Lockheed Martin, UPS, Raytheon, Marathon Petroleum, General Motors and FedEx. All of those companies, with the exception of Koch Industries and FedEx, once said they’d refrain from donating to politicians who voted to reject the election results.

Of the 249 companies that promised not to fund the 147 senators and representatives who voted against any of the results, fewer than half have stuck to their promise, according to CREW.

Kudos aplenty to the 85 corporations that stuck to their guns and still refuse to fund the seditious, including Nike, PepsiCo, Lyft, Cisco, Prudential, Marriott, Target and Zillow. That’s what responsible corporate citizenship looks like. It’s also patriotic.”

2022-06-16T19:06:17-05:00June 16th, 2022|HomeRecommended|

Crypto revealed

• This is a nice interview of UC-Berkeley computer researcher Nicholas Weaver in Current Affairs.  He does a pointedly humorous takedown of what he labels “a giant self-assembled Ponzi scheme. You hear about people making money in Bitcoin or cryptocurrency. They only make money because some other sucker lost more.

and:

So the stock market and the bond market are a positive-sum game. There are more winners than losers. Cryptocurrency starts with zero-sum. So it starts with a world where there can be no more winning than losing. We have systems like this. It’s called the horse track. It’s called the casino. Cryptocurrency investing is really provably gambling in an economic sense. And then there’s designs where those power bills have to get paid somewhere. So instead of zero-sum, it becomes deeply negative-sum.

Effectively, then, the economic analogies are gambling and a Ponzi scheme. Because the profits that are given to the early investors are literally taken from the later investors. This is why I call the space overall, a “self-assembled” Ponzi scheme. There’s been no intent to make a Ponzi scheme. But due to its nature, that is the only thing it can be.

2022-05-17T17:06:55-05:00May 17th, 2022|HomeRecommended|
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