Climate and Capitalism

November 21, 2017 at 1:29 pm

The New York Times has an online feature called the Stone, "a forum for contemporary philosophers and other thinkers on issues both timely and timeless." It is moderated by "Simon Critchley, who teaches philosophy at The New School for Social Research." The latest installment comes from Benjamin Y. Fong, "a faculty fellow at Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University." He writes:

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Haiti Immigration

November 20, 2017 at 10:52 pm

Democrats are denouncing President Trump's decision to end the Temporary Protected Status program for 50,000 Haitians in the U.S.

The chair of the Democratic National Committee, Tom Perez, said: "Donald Trump's cruelty knows no bounds. ...As the proud son of two immigrants who fled a repressive regime, I'm disgusted at the president's heartlessness. With this decision, Trump is tearing families apart and turning his back on the values that have made America great."

Seth Moulton, a Democratic congressman from Massachusetts, called the decision "bad for our American values."

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Mnuchin Linton Money Photo

November 20, 2017 at 4:49 pm

That photograph of the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, and his wife, Louise Linton holding a sheet of dollar bills is the topic of my column this week. Please check it out at the New York Sun (here) and Newsmax (here).

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Subway Salaries

November 19, 2017 at 11:10 pm

A long New York Times investigative article about why the New York City subway system has been plagued with delays and derailments reports, in part:

Subway workers now make an average of $170,000 annually in salary, overtime and benefits, according to a Times analysis of data compiled by the federal Department of Transportation. That is far more than in any other American transit system; the average in cities like Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington is about $100,000 in total compensation annually.

The pay for managers is even more extraordinary. The nearly 2,500 people who work in New York subway administration make, on average, $280,000 in salary, overtime and benefits. The average elsewhere is $115,000.

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Amazon and Fake News

November 18, 2017 at 10:00 pm

When Congress recently grilled executives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter about their role in spreading "fake news," maybe they should have invited someone from Amazon, too.

The Worcester Business Journal reports on a researcher at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute:

Funded by a $516,000 National Science Foundation award, assistant professor Kyumin Lee has developed algorithms that can detect fake "likes" and followers across different social platforms like Amazon, Facebook and Twitter.

Specifically, Lee's work targets crowdturfing, which is described as an online black market for false information including fake reviews, damaging tweets and fake news.

Lee, who joined WPI in July, first targeted sites like Amazon's Mechanical Turk, an online recruiting tool that has been used for crowdturfing campaigns.

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Cultural and Prepolitical

November 18, 2017 at 9:24 pm

David Brooks is probably right when he writes, as he did in his Friday column: "The crucial battleground is cultural and prepolitical."

And Matthew Continetti is probably right when he writes, as he did in his Saturday column:

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Amazon State Sales Taxes

November 16, 2017 at 2:35 pm

When President Trump tweeted a criticism of Amazon for not collecting state sales taxes, the New York Times and Politifact "fact checkers" both emphatically rejected the claim as false.

Under the label "Fact Check," and the headline "Does Amazon Pay Taxes? Contrary to Trump Tweet, Yes," the Times' Linda Qiu wrote an article that said, "Mr. Trump's suggestion that Amazon does not pay taxes is false."

It further explained, "If Mr. Trump's point was that Amazon did not collect sales taxes — which are owed by the purchaser and collected by the retailer — it is true that the company once avoided doing so...But that criticism is outdated."

Politifact — "Winner of the Pulitzer Prize," the site brags on each article page — declared, "Trump's statement is inaccurate and ridiculous. We rate it Pants on Fire!"

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Cost of Compliance

November 15, 2017 at 1:52 pm

Via John Cochrane and Tyler Cowen comes a piece by a blogger explaining how costly rules make it difficult for small operators to convert old urban buildings to more productive uses:

A family bought an old fire station a few years ago with the intention of turning it in to a Portuguese bakery and brew pub. They thought they'd have to retrofit the interior of the building to meet health and safety standards for such an establishment. Turns out, the cost of bringing the landscape around the outside of the building up to code was their primary impediment.

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El-Erian To the Fed?

November 15, 2017 at 10:42 am

President Trump is considering appointing Mohamed El-Erian as vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, CNBC reports.

Before Mr. Trump goes ahead with that, I hope that he or someone advising him takes a look at the earlier coverage of Mr. El-Erian here at FutureOfCapitalism.

A 2013 column about President Obama's decision to name El-Erian as chairman of his "Global Development Council" pointed out:

El-Erian's reputation as a money manager is not without its blemishes. He did a brief tour—parts of 2006 and 2007—as the manager of Harvard University's endowment, leaving it ill-prepared for the economic downturn that ensued shortly thereafter.

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Trump Deregulation

November 14, 2017 at 10:34 am

President Trump is touting a focus on deregulation as one of his main accomplishments. He just may be right, I write in my column this week. Please check it out at Reason (here), the New York Sun (here), and Newsmax (here).

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Israel's Macron?

November 13, 2017 at 8:28 am

The leader of Israel's Labor Party, Avi Gabbay, gives an interview to Bloomberg News, which reports, "Gabbay seeks to portray himself as a reformer with business credentials who transcends traditional left-right politics, in the mold of French President Emmanuel Macron....He tax cuts for working families and streamline bureaucracy and regulation."

There's often a gap between talking about this sort of thing as a candidate and doing it once actually elected. But there's certainly precedent for candidates from the left-leaning political parties making genuine progress on deregulation.

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Trump and Mergers

November 8, 2017 at 12:09 pm

Less than six months ago, a column by Andrew Ross Sorkin on the front of the New York Times business section began:

For the past several months, ever since the election, chief executives of the nation's largest companies have repeatedly professed to be more confident than ever. They say, in survey after survey, that they are more optimistic about the economy and their own businesses, waxing about the prospect of lower regulations and lower taxes under President Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress. Investors, at the same time, have bid up the stock market.

Yet there is a remarkable divergence between what chief executives have been saying aloud and what they are actually doing in practice. They may not be as confident as they say they are.

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Crediting Obama

November 8, 2017 at 10:51 am

My former New York Sun and Forward colleague Amanda Gordon, now at Bloomberg News, covering a New York Public Library fundraising dinner, gets this from Donald Marron of Lightyear Capital: "But of course, the good economy is very substantially because of Obama. It didn't all happen in the last year."

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News Guard

November 7, 2017 at 10:14 am

American Lawyer and Brill's Content founder Steve Brill "is close to completing a $6 million round of funding" for News Guard, "a startup that rates news content, so consumers finding news via search or social media will have a better idea of whether it's trustworthy," MediaPost reports. Former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz is to be co-CEO, according to the article, which says they plan to hire "a team of 40 to 60 journalists" to "rate online content."

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Taxing Inherited Running Ability

November 6, 2017 at 10:47 pm

"What does Shalane Flanagan's victory in Sunday's New York Marathon have to do with President Trump's proposal to repeal the estate tax?" I try to answer that question in my column this week. Please check it out at the New York Sun (here) and Newsmax (here).

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