Friday, April 13, 2012

FRIDAY MORNING RAMBLE: The ‘Slow News Week’ edition

Here’s a quick ramble around a few things that caught my internet eye this week:

Farming will stay out of the Emissions Trading Scam until 2018… “Underlying this appears to be a further calculation: that the Kyoto Protocol and its various policy offshoots is not going to be around, at least in its current form, by the time anyone has to make a decision on this.”
Farming out of ETS until at least 2018 – Rob Hosking, N . B . R .

The thing about “boat people” is why they want to come—“because of the persecution and possible death facing them and their family in their home country… There is also no one Correct Way to be an asylum seeker.”
All the coolest people's ancestors came here by boat – Julie,  H A N D   M I R R O R

Those responsible for New Zealand’s unnecessary housing crisis, a long story of political incompetence and the victory of the self-anointed over everybody else, are finally given a polite but necessary kick in the pants.
 Productivity Commission recommends immediate release of land for residential development in Auckland, Christchurch, in final housing affordability report 
– Alex Tarrant, I N T E R E S T . C O . N Z

Chiefly responsible for the crisis, the only question NZ’s planners seem to ask themselves is “where should we put our zones?” They should be asking themselves something far more fundamental:
Instead of Zoning…What? - – Tibor Machan, T I B O R ’ S     S P A C E

imageThe Triumph of the City is a passionate defence of the city as the best mechanism for human flourishing.
The Triumph of the City -  O F F S E T T I N G   B E H A V I O U R

Dairy farmers can be charged for effluent spills which might enter waterways but councils can dump raw sewage until the cows come home.
Two standardsH O M E  P A D D O C K

We’re from the government, and we’re here to insist that you be happy: The latest iteration of pseudo-justifications for big government is up on us.
 Government Intervention for Your HappinessAmit Ghate,  T H R U T C H

The sacking of the “Fox Mole” raises questions from erudite folks about the alleged journalistic bias of Fox News, just the kind who routinely reads The New York Times.  The alleged basis for the disdain is that Fox is obviously biased whereas the Old Gray Lady is impeccably objective. But this, concludes Tibor Machan, is a misimpression.
Fox TV versus The New York Times – Tibor Machan,  T I B O R ’ S   S P A C E

The only people whose welfare is boosted by the housing-benefit racket are middle-class landlords.
Who benefits from housing handouts? – Neil Davenport,  S P I K E D  O N L I N E

Just when Apple was introducing its latest iPad, the government announced that Apple was among six companies being investigated over ebook pricing. As that investigation appears to be nearing its conclusion, here are three things everyone needs to know about the case.
3 Things Everyone Needs to Know About the Apple Antitrust Case 
– Yaron Brook & Don Watkins,  F O R B E S

Shortly after Steve Jobs’s death I started hearing murmurs from the left about how Apple exploited Chinese workers. In recent months, the murmurs have grown into an obnoxious chorus. But now one of the major sources of the complaints about Apple and Chinese workers has just been exposed as a fraud.
The Smear Campaign Against Apple  - Don Watkins,   L A I S S E Z   F A I R E

Is the Tea Party movement dead? Or is it just evolving.
The Evolution of the Tea Party – Ari Armstrong,  O B J E C T I V E   S T A N D A R D

Important questions we need to answer: just how big is internet porn?
Just how big are porn sites? – 3  Q U A R K S   D A I L Y

Hillary Clinton texts. It’s true:
TEXTS FROM HILLARY
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The term “economic recovery” implies a return to things as they once were. A return to normal. A return to average. But what if this is not that kind of a situation? What if we are in for a new normal, and along with it, a new kind of average? What if we are, as they say, past the point of “no return”?
Misguided Faith in an Economic Recovery – Joel Bowman, D A I L Y R E C K O N I N G

Recovery would happen faster is mainstream economists weren’t all in thrall to The Grocer Fallacy.
The Spurious Grocer Philosophy – Peter Klein, C I R C L E  B A S T I A T

Economics education needs to change. “We must now teach students how we got into the mess of the last five years and how we got only partially out. For that reason, teaching elementary economics just got harder. Our teaching about monetary policy must be completely revamped. Specifically, students must now learn something about ‘unconventional’ monetary policies.”
Keynesians Need to Rethink How They Teach Economics – Mark Brandly,  C I R C L E  B A S T I A T

Oh what a tangled web we weave when we begin to spend money we don't have. We spend it because we think we'll be able to pay it back later. Or, in the case of government debt, because it can make someone pay it back later through tax hikes. But the world is still full of bills that may never be paid, and Australia has one of these own mini-crises ticking away.
Beware the Big Government Debt Switcheroo – Dan Denning,  D A I L Y  R E C K O N I N G

More evidence the Aussie economy is grinding to a halt: Yesterday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released Australian housing finance and building approvals data. It wasn't pretty.
The Road to Australian Housing Hell… – Greg Canavan,  D A I L Y  R E C K O N I N G

That the gold standard prevents authorities from engaging in reckless money pumping is a feature, Mr Bernanke, not a bug.
A Response To Bernanke’s ‘Misunderstanding’ About The Gold Standard 
– Keith Weiner,  D A I L Y   C A P I T A L I S T
Contra Bernanke on the Gold Standard – Frank Shostak,  M I S E S  E C O N O M I C S   D A I L Y

Not everything of value can be measured. Not everything that can be measures is valuable. Motivated human behaviour especially cannot be modelled—and disaster can strike when you try.
Wall Street Math – Doug French,  M I S E S  D A I L Y

“What if we had the following economic system?  This system would shower the globe with free goods day and night, asking nothing and giving nearly everything. Most of what it generated would be free goods, and every living person would have access…
It would serve the common man slavishly and knock the elites when they become proud and arrogant. It would make it beneficial to everyone to include ever more people in its productive potential and give everyone who wants it a stake in the outcome.
That system has a name. It’s called the free market.”
Commerce, Our Benefactor  - Jeffrey Tucker, L A I S S E Z  F A I R E   B O O K S

The economic objections raised against the market economy are based on very bad economics.
The Case Against the Market Economy - Ludwig Von Mises, M I S E S   D A I L Y

A  necessity for peaceful co-existence, for everyone:
How Property Rights Solve Problems – David R. Henderson,  E C O N   L O G

Before iPods, digital downloads and mp3s, before even CDs, we had something called records. Astonishing!

Reasons for space stations, Part 117: research on whisky: “Compounds of unmatured malt were sent to the International Space Station in an unmanned cargo spacecraft in October last year, along with particles of charred oak. The researchers are also measuring the molecules' interaction at normal gravity on Earth so they can compare the way the particles mature.”
Cool!
Space-Aged Whiskey and Russian Rockets – Katherine Mangu-Ward,  H I T   &   R U N

Is Japan dangerous? Not in terms or radiation, but based on the historical record? What if we take the longer view… “Japan certainly appears quiescent. What happens, however, when it is forced to declare national bankruptcy within the next five years, due to a debt problem that far exceeds that of the United States and that can no longer be evaded? What happens when Japanese industry cannot get the raw materials it needs because of expanded wars in the Middle East? What happens when these factors combined with Japan’s demographic implosion force the Japanese to choose between an even more acute subordinacy in world affairs and the ‘glorious’ hope of a Japan reborn through the ‘way of the warrior’?” Do the most essential traits of Japanese culture make a return to war almost inevitable! 
Is Japan Dangerous? – Scott Powell, P O W E L L   H I S T O R Y  R E C O M M E N D S

Do Taxes Inhibit or Inspire Hard Work? Your View?


From a slow start, Germans are catching up in the world-wide tax-subsidized GreenJobsFail race.
Solar panel maker Q-Cells to file for bankruptcy – B . B . C .

Maria Montessori: inspiration for a new generation of business innovators. “Like children, creators need to be able to guide their own learning and development based on their innate and instinctual needs – not those imposed by others who don't know what moves them as individuals seeking purpose.”
Maria Montessori: guru for a new generation of business innovators  - G L O B E   &   M A I L

If you’re anywhere near Takapuna this weekend, think about checking out a session or two of the Montessori Association conference at the Spencer on Byron—especially Saturday morning from 9:45am to noon where speakers offer an opportunity for parents and those new to Montessori to come and learn more.
Montessori Association (NZ) Conference

My favourite living artist, Michael Newberry, has moved to a new larger studio in downtown L.A. Check it out:
Open Studio Some Pics - A N   A R T I S T  ’S  V O I C E

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This great new thriller, Living Proof, “is eerily reflective of today’s political controversies about the concept of human life.”
Kira Peikoff’s Living Proof Speaks To Today’s Controversy on Stem Cell Research 
– Jon Glatfelter,  T H E  U N D E R C U R R E N T

“The ethics of altruism holds that others are standard of value. One is good to the extent one puts the interests of other first, acts to achieve their interests, and, when necessary, sacrifices one’s interests for their sake.
“In The Fountainhead, Ellsworth Toohey is the major strategist of altruism, using five distinct variants of altruism to achieve his ends…”  Read them (or pin them up) in this new print version!
“Toohey’s Five Strategies of Altruism” – Stephen Hicks, S T E P H E N   H I C K S

"A beginning Objectivist's guide of which items from the dauntingly large Ayn Rand Bookstore catalog to read first. Answers such questions as: What are the three most important Objectivist lectures? What are the first fifteen Objectivist works you should read, in exactly what order? What are the four most important chapter is OPAR, and why? What are Ayn Rand's best essays/lectures? Peikoff's? The best lectures by other Objectivists?"
Objectivism: What to Read First – Tony White,  P E R I P A T E T I C   T H O U G H T S

Whatever good you have heard about The Hunger Games, the reality is more spectacular.
Democracy Is Our Hunger Game -  Jeffrey Tucker, L A I S S E Z  F A I R E   B O O K S

wagner-richardWhat’s the opposite of altruism? Egoism, of course—the very egoism every creative genius needs, reckoned the world’s greatest composer, Richard Wagner, in a letter to Franz Liszt: “If I am obliged to plunge once more into the waves of an artist’s imagination in order to find satisfaction in an imaginary world, I must at least help out my imagination and find means of encouraging my imaginative faculties. So I cannot live like a dog, I cannot sleep on straw and drink common gin: mine is an intensely irritable, acute and hugely voracious, yet uncommonly tender and delicate sensuality which, one way or another, must be flattered if I am to accomplish the cruelly difficult task of creating in my mind a non-existent world.”
Compare that view to the sterility of, say, a Rachmaninov…
Creative geniuses as selfish — Richard Wagner version – Stephen Hicks,  S T E P H E N    H I C K S
Creative geniuses as selfish — Rachmaninoff version – Stephen Hicks, S T E P H E N    H I C K S

And with that:

Enjoy your weekend!
Peter Cresswell

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Breakers

The Vector Arena is only four miles or so from the travails going on at Eden Park, but last night it was a million miles in terms of excitement, guts and ticker.

The Breakers basketball team last night hosted Perth’s Wildcats and a sold-out Arena of 9,200 screaming fans in the first of the best-three finals. What a game!

Starting slowly, the Breakers wound up through the second quarter, went to sleep again in the third, and did just enough in the fourth to earn the five minutes of extra time they needed to get over the line. Just over the line—the contest not being decided until the final minute.

Basketball at the highest level is one of the most thrilling games around. This game was one of those.

What a game.*

* * * * *

*Now, if only someone could strangle the dickhead with the microphone. And the one playing Metallica through the first two minutes of every quarter.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

The race card can be awfully convenient sometimes, can’t it.

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Convenient isn't it that just when you should be feeling public pressure to resign over your ratshit performance as a coach, you discover enough within you to produce an “emotional” press conference performance and a reason (you hope) to get the public behind you instead of demanding your resignation.

The race card can be awfully convenient sometimes, can’t it.

Mind you, Pat Lam isn’t coaching my team.  Thank goodness.  But if he was, I’d want him crying because of his coaching performance, not because of what a few people have called him on Twitter.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How much does it cost to to buy a vote, these days?

How much would you pay to buy your votes?

Turns out from party spending returns for the 201 election it cost some parties from $20 per vote (Social Credit) $25 per vote (ACT) to $30 per vote (Colin Craig Party) to buy their way into parliament. (Or not, in the case of Colin Craig and Don Brash and whoever the hell has replaced Bruce Betham in the funny-money party these days.)

Surely it would be cheaper to just stand outside polling booths offering a bit of the folding for a tick in the right box?  At least for ALCP, NZ First, Libertarianz and United the amount to be handed out could well be less than $2 per tick—and in the case of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party only 34 cents, i.e., less than one bullet per vote!

But this of course does not take into account the election bribes paid for with voters’ own money promised by all major parties—and now being borrowed for at the rate of $300 million per week. *

And where does the officially-announced money come from? Surprise, surprise, the Blue Team got most of theirs from businesses ** ; the Red Team got most of theirs from the unions ** ; and the Green Team didn’t need to get it from anywhere because they long ago captured the bureaucracy, the commentariat and the school curriculum, so every election they have the country’s scribblers, cardigan-wearers and school-kids campaigning on their behalf without costing them anything at all.

Interesting too to note where most Green voters come from. Either within a five-mile radius of Grey Lynn (where you can throw a dart at random and prick a journalist, or a ten-mile radius of Aro Street (where you could fire a bazooka at random and hit a dozen bureaucrats, probably the best thing you could do to save the planet).

So no surprises there either.

Democracy can be very expensive indeed.

* * * * *

* At that rate it will be costing every voter and their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren around $20,000 each before the bribes are finally paid for.

** Remember, everyone, when you want politicians to control buying and selling, the first thing to be bought and sold will be your politicians

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Refugees: What’s the problem?

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Once again, the news that several human beings are heading down under with the express aim of making a new home for themselves somewhere in Australasia has talkback callers on both sides of the Tasman in a frenzy.

So what’s the problem?

Is New Zealand so small and our outlook so mean we would begrudge ten human beings the new life they seek in our land—ten people who will have demonstrated, if they succeed, more get up and go in their little fingers than most talkback callers have acquired over their whole lives?   Apparently so. 

Would NZers rather condemn these ten to death than offer them the chance of a new life here ? Apparently they would.

On days like this, I find myself ashamed to be a New Zealander.

Once again, just a very few people have revealed the xenophobic tribalism underneath the skin of so many Australians and New Zealanders who as recently as the Sydney Olympics and the Rugby World Cup were flatulently talking up their “friendliness” and their “hospitality.” What a crock.

Their xenophobia now lies exposed.

As does the cold inhumane heart of the welfare state.

Because it seems nobody wants these people down under.  They’d rather they just “go away.” Go where? Blank out. Seem the only place apparently for these human beings to “go” is to die.  For those eager to remove the welcome mat, this is what they’d like to blank out: the death sentence they wish to bestow on other human beings yearning to breathe free.

This is the sort of human beings they have become.

This is not a small problem.

People everywhere risk their lives to escape their impossible existences, and all around the world the barriers to them are up. People-smugglers 'assist' them, and the victims they smuggle are so desperate they willingly submit to the risks of dealing with thugs and swindlers, of suffocation in airtight, hermetically sealed containers, of setting sail on fragile craft, and of braving stormy and shark-filled waters. They subject themselves to unimaginable risks to escape intolerable lives, and so often are left to die like so much unwanted cattle.

How bad are people's lives that they risk suffocation, drowning and shark attacks to escape the horrors of their former homes? And what of our culture, our politicians, and ourselves when people risk their lives in this way, and we willingly condemn them for having the temerity to interrupt our own comfortable existence?

Many Australasians no longer value other human beings it seems—they are just so many problems they wish would go away. Wherefore this new inhumanity?

As author Robert Heinlein suggested, successful immigrants demonstrate just by their choice and gumption in choosing a new life that they are worthy of respect. So God damn you if the only two words you can find to put together when talking about people who leave their homelands to seek a better life for themselves and their families are ‘illegal aliens.’ Or ‘boat people.’

I submit the responsibility for this dark heart lies with the Welfare State and the tribal mentality it fosters. New Zealanders’ wish that these refugees would just 'go away' and stop bothering them exposes the dark underbelly at the heart of the Welfare State.

"How so?' you ask. "Isn't the Welfare State a model of benevolent charity?" It is not. It is the Welfare State that condemns these people to die.

A VISIT TO YOUR local W.I.N.Z. office is enough to tell you that by its very nature, the Welfare State dehumanises peopleviewing them as nothing other than either a mouth to feed or a wallet to plunder. What’s happening with the xenophobic anti-refugee outpouring is that even the people with the wallets can no longer see the world in any other way than one begging for their alms, and are naturally upset at the prospect of many more mouths being fed at their expense.

Reflect that the Welfare State is not voluntary charity, it is not any kind of charity at all. It is compulsion, forcing every person to be responsible for every other person whether they like it or not. And like it or not, those who pick up the cheque for New Zealand's welfare state resent that forced imposition. They submit begrudgingly to the moral cannibalism of being forced to be “their brother’s keeper,” but resist the imposition of new members to the tribe—and are blinded by the Welfare State mentality to the possibility that new New Zealanders who have braved many dangers to get here would more likely be producers, not parasites.

So, once again, the dehumanising moral bankruptcy at the heart of the Welfare State lies exposed on a small ship floating off Darwin—just as it was when 460 refugees on the Tampa lay floating off Christmas Island surrounded by Australian guns, Prime Ministerial invective, and the loudly-expressed wish by many Australians that their navy just get on and sink it. (It was then, with the Tampa, that the Welfare State acquired a new symbol: Australian commandos pointing guns at sick women and children.)

There is a better way to deal with immigrants and refugees than with guns and a death sentence.

Libertarians have always maintained that peaceful people should be able to cross borders freely as long as they forswear any claim on any existing welfare state--I suggest that this philosophy of libertarian self-responsibility offers a simple solution to the current impasse.

NEW ZEALAND CURRENTLY ACCEPTS 750 refugees annually, housing them, feeding them, and watering them - nannying them - to ready them for New Zealand life. Most refugees have already shown sufficient gumption to escape the horrors of their own homes, and most immigrants quickly demonstrate that such nannying is unnecessary by achieving such spectacular success in their new land it frequently shames their former hosts.

So why this enforced imposition on both the taxpayer and the immigrants? It's as if the government fears we might pick up diseases from them - 'diseases' perhaps like the hard work, enterprise, and initiative that successful immigrants so frequently display. To be sure, we must bar known criminals and terrorists, but that doesn’t necessitate such overly expensive and bureaucratic immigration procedures.

I say, why not simply let people look after them voluntarily?

This shouldn’t be difficult. Every time an issue like this comes to light, many charitable New Zealanders and Australians raise their voices in support of the embattled minority; so why not take these calls literally?

I suggest the easiest solution is for Prime Ministers Key and Gillard to announce that between them they will accept whoever arrives on our shores, but only as long as a sufficient number of charitable Australians and New Zealanders can be found to take full responsibility for them until they are on their feet. Ten people, in this case, who will offer their own voluntary welfare and 'naturalisation services' to help these people start their new life.

Who could possibly, or reasonably, object to that?

Finding a sufficient number should not be a problem. Even the numbers gleefully posted every week by xenophobes like new-Australian Andrew Bolt, who reckons Gillard’s Government has encouraged refugees to head towards Australasia, number only in their hundreds--a “flood” of 1500 souls at most trying to “pour” into a country of 20-million people and a thousand-million empty acres.

And given the initiative refugees will have already shown in getting down here, I would expect that getting on their feet will not take them very long.

This solution demonstrates the stark contrast between generosity and enforced charity, and the simple benevolence at the heart of the libertarian philosophy.

Compulsory 'charity' is a misnomer - it dehumanises both taxpayer and recipient. But when charity is voluntary, people are set free to be benevolent again.

The Welfare State is a killer for benevolence, for the human spirit, for open immigration, and a literal killer for immigrants and refugees braving dangerous waters and the integrity of unscrupulous people-smugglers.

Why not set these people free through the generosity of benevolent New Zealanders—while taking a good hard look at what the welfare state does to people.

And I suggest that the simple libertarian philosophy be adopted with all immigrants: that we allow all peaceful people to pass freely just as long as they make no claim at all on the welfare state.

Until it is completely dismantled, that is.

RELATED READING:

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Financial Repression: Why Every Bank Will Soon Be a Tax Collector for Every Government Everywhere

Guest post by Merryn Somerset Webb, Editor-in-Chief, MoneyWeek (UK)

Financial repression. A few years ago when a few people (Gillian Tett, Russell Napier, etc) started predicting that it would be the thing that made our crisis go away, not many were convinced. The phrase refers to the various methods that hideously indebted governments use to channel the money knocking around an economy to itself rather than anywhere else.

It can include anything from capping interest rates on government debt or deposit rates (as seen all over the world at the moment); forcing institutions to buy government debt; or, at its most obvious, putting in capital controls to prevent anyone taking their money out of the country.

All these things have the same effective result: by taking away other investment options they allow governments to issue sovereign debt with much lower interest rates than they would otherwise be able to. That brings down the cost of debt nicely. But if you then chuck in a little inflation you can make the real value of the debt come down too. Keep that up for a couple of decades and you can repress your way out of trouble.

Financial Repression

This, of course, is exactly how many countries dealt with their horrible post-war debts: let’s not forget that the UK was subject to capital controls until 1979. However, even a few years back, there was a general view that in our new deregulated world, it wouldn’t be possible for governments to use these time-tested methods to get themselves out of trouble. Turns out that it is entirely possible. As Edward Chancellor pointed out in the Financial Times, even in a time of apparently free capital movement, financial repression is entirely possible if everyone does it at the same time.

And doing it they are. “Negative real interest rates are to be found not only in the US but also in China, Europe, Canada and the UK,” where headline price inflation is running at 3.4%, “far above both short and long-term interest rates… Western governments have learnt the lessons of history”, so they are all maintaining interest rates at levels well below inflation. At the same time, inflation is pushing up nominal GDP, and will in time “reduce the real value of outstanding debts, both public and private”.

But the authorities aren’t leaving it there. Far from it; they are going for more explicit repression as well. At the same time, everyone is pushing for their banks to hold more debt for “macro prudential reasons.”

And even when regulation isn’t actually put in place, political pressure is. An article in the Wall Street Journal late last year noted that “senior bank executives” from Italy and Portugal said they were being cajoled into buying government debt. Last year, the idea started circulating in Ireland that pension funds should be forced to sell foreign assets and buy Irish government debt. It makes no sense, said one commentator, that pension funds should hold bunds yielding 2-3% when they could hold Irish debt on 6-10%.

Hmmm. This year, Irish prime minister Enda Kenny is about to make it “easier” for pension fund managers to shift from bunds to Irish debt – by transferring the risk of holding it from the pension fund to the pensioner. Hungary has gone the whole hog and annexed pension funds. In 2010, for example, in an effective nationalisation of their private pension fund system, Hungarians were told to hand their private pension fund assets to the state or lose their state pension.

And capital controls? The idea sounds extreme to modern consumers, but they are certainly back under discussion (see Gillian Tett on them), and you could even argue that, in some ways, they are already with us.

The Long Reach of Uncle Sam

Those who work in the investment business will know of a new US regulation known as ‘Fatca(Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act). Fatca is an extraordinarily wide-ranging, arrogant and intrusive piece of legislation (enacted in 2010) that requires all “foreign financial institutions” – that’s non-US banks, fund managers, custodians and so on, to tell the US taxman about all US taxpayers they deal with both directly and indirectly by the middle of next year.

This is quite clearly an admin nightmare (what is an ‘indirect client’?) so you might think that most non-US institutions would simply ignore it. After all, what jurisdiction does the US have over them? You’d think wrong. No one can ignore it: if they do, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will charge them a 30% withholding tax on all dividends, interest and sales proceeds made in the US.

The tax will begin to be deducted at the beginning of 2014. There will be no refunds. Failure to comply will also be a criminal offence under US law. How is this repression? It makes it harder for US citizens to invest abroad – already institutions, wary of the fact that they aren’t or can’t be compliant, are turning down US business until they see how the whole thing shakes down (how can you find out all you need to about all your clients and ‘sort of clients’ without running into confidentiality problems, for starters?).

The whole thing very dramatically changes the investing and tax landscape for Americans with money abroad. Worse, the crazy US rules won’t be the end of it. No, read this piece by William Hutchings in Financial News, and you will see that Fatca is about to go global.

Watch Your Back

“In the last three years, the Federal Reserve, Bank of England, European Central Bank and Bank of Japan have taken on an extra $10 trillion of debt, according to risk management consultancy CheckRisk, taking their collective balance sheet to $15 trillion.

“They are looking at every possible way to help pay it off. Ramping up their powers of tax collection is one of the few things they can do to help themselves. It is not such a big jump from there to the introduction of a global Fatca, an international framework obliging foreign financial institutions everywhere to act as tax collector for every government.”

John Redwood pointed out in his blog this week that the UK state is currently spending around 48% of GDP a year. Yet the maximum ever tax take is 38%. The gap has to be made up by someone – just as it does in every other Western country.

Financial repression creates that someone – by making a population hold debt that loses them money in real terms be it via their pension funds or banks, by cutting the return they get on their deposits, by upping their taxes and by letting inflation chip away at their assets. That someone is you.

Merryn Somerset Webb
Editor-in-Chief, MoneyWeek (UK)

Publisher’s Note: This article last appeared at Money Morning Australia.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Parents: Beware

Parents beware. Something very dangerous can begin happening in your child’s teenage years.  It’s called “Philosophy.”

Watch out for the warning signs.

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Hat tip Peter Namtvedt who says, “If I had a teenager, I would also be concerned with finding Kant in his/her bedroom.” (Although it is true as a commenter says that “You cannot find copies of Kant in his/her bedroom. S/he will manage to hide them in the noumenal world so you cannot see them”)

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A new old element

(From our Science Desk) Yes, it’s been around a while but a new generation has discovered the gag: A new chemical element has ben discovered…

The new element is Governmentium (Gv). It has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lefton-like particles called peons.

Since Governmentium has no electrons or protons, it is inert. However, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A tiny amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction normally taking less than a second to take from four days to four years to complete.

Governmentium has a normal half-life of 2- 6 years. It does not decay but instead undergoes a reorganisation in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.

In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganisation will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes. This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass.

When catalysed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.  All of the money is
consumed in the exchange, and no other by-products are produced.

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