Friday, October 21, 2016

Congress, a proving ground for corporate board members

It looks that way as 64 one-time lawmakers who sat on boards in 2015 made an average of $357,182, twice what they earned when we paid their salaries. Since 1992, 44 percent of senators and 11 percent of representatives who’ve departed Capitol Hill have ended up in boardrooms. Do most board members work full time for the company? I don't think so.

Who does this remind you of?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Factoid from the Panama Papers

Africa is perceived as a minor player in the world financial arena. But, in fact, it is a net creditor to the rest of the world, with its net external assets vastly exceeding its debts. From 1969 to 2004, $420 billion was sent offshore. Yet the forty countries of Africa had debt of $227 million. However, “The subcontinent’s private external assets belong to a narrow, relatively wealthy stratum of its population, while public external debts are borne by the people through their governments.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Vote Nobody 2016

More pictures here

Dad, Can I have a ride...

... asked Chelsea Wilson, a 24 year-old Florida woman. Her father drove her to the bank for a job interview. She went in and came out with $300 which, she said, the bank gave her as an advance on the job she had just been offered. Turns out she had stolen the money from the bank.

Here's your way to a fortune

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Paying taxes

As we know, our tax structure is not ideal; it's far from it. All companies have an obligation to keep their costs as low as they can; and that includes taxes. But some companies can take advantage of loopholes in our system, loopholes which, in general, are the result of lobbying by the companies.

Here are some examples. Note that the percent is the sum of federal, state, local and foreign taxes. AT&T - 18%, General Electric - 18%, Coca-Cola, Apple and IBM - 17%, Alphabet (Google’s parent) - 16%, Amazon - 13%, Boeing - 8%, Facebook - 4%.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Inspectors General Ignored

That's what Senator Grassley and other senators claim in a report issued today. They say, "Agency inspectors general, who audit and investigate government waste, have made more than 15,000 recommendations that have been ignored across the federal government". These recommendations could have saved us $87 billion. The report is based on the responses of 72 inspectors general and said eight inspectors general are stymied by their agencies who refuse to give them the documents they request for audits or investigations.

The Atlantic is against Trump

For only the third time in its 100+ year history, The Atlantic has endorsed a candidate for President. It first endorsed Lincoln in 1860 and then Johnson in 1964. Now they are more against Trump than for Clinton. The magazine says "Donald Trump, on the other hand, has no record of public service and no qualifications for public office. His affect is that of an infomercial huckster; he traffics in conspiracy theories and racist invective; he is appallingly sexist; he is erratic, secretive, and xenophobic; he expresses admiration for authoritarian rulers, and evinces authoritarian tendencies himself. He is easily goaded, a poor quality for someone seeking control of America’s nuclear arsenal. He is an enemy of fact-based discourse; he is ignorant of, and indifferent to, the Constitution; he appears not to read."

Obituary for the Great Barrier Reef

Rowan Jacobsen has written a fairly comprehensive obit in OutsideOnline. The reef, a World Heritage Site, was the world’s largest living structure, and the only one visible from space. It was very diverse in the species it housed - fish, mollusk, coral, birds, whales, dolphins, turtles. It was called “the most impressive marine area in the world”.

It was killed by the warming of the water via climate changes and acidification of the reef due to the oceans absorbing more carbon from the atmosphere.

Walmart raises wages, trains workers more, offers better opportunities for advancement

And what happens? Profits increase! This may show the value of "Efficiency wages”, although it's too soon to make a definitive judgment. Efficiency wages happen when employers pay workers more than the going rate. Paying people more may result in more loyal, harder-working, more productive employees in return.

Will other companies try it?

The lesser of 4 evils

A Visit from a Shark

Friday, October 14, 2016

A prosthetic arm that can feel.

It's hard to see but the right arm of Nathan Copeland, the student in the wheelchair, is a prosthesis. He was able to feel Obama's handshake. He owes it to brain surgery. The prosthetic arm delivers currents to the electrodes that stimulate his brain to create sensations of touch that feel as if they are coming from his own paralyzed hand.

Nuisance Abatement in NYC

In February I wrote about the city's use of temporary orders to force people out of their homes and businesses before the people had a chance to be heard in court. Mayor DeBlasio said the city was committed to granting fair hearings to any tenants or businesses targeted for enforcement. And, the NYPD promised a complete review of the program so that innocent people would not suffer consequences before seeing a judge.

Well, the words of the mayor and the police are not supported by deeds. The Daily News and ProPublica looked at 150 nuisance abatement cases filed over the past six months and found that police have sought scores of temporary closing orders as the first step in its actions — civil legal proceedings that target places police say are scenes of illegal activity. The orders can often render entire families homeless, and cause businesses to lose significant revenue, all before they’ve been able to appear before a judge. They also found that fewer than half of the people who were banned from homes or who gave up their leases in settlement for nuisance cases were convicted in the underlying criminal investigation.