Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thursday Libertarian Links

Improper payments balloon over 10% in one year: "Federal agencies reported an estimated $125.4 billion in improper payments for fiscal year 2010. The $125.4 billion estimate of improper payments federal agencies reported in fiscal year 2010 was attributable to over 70 programs spread among 20 agencies. Federal agencies’ fiscal year 2010 estimated improper payment amount is an increase of $16.2 billion from federal agencies’ prior year reported estimate of $109.2 billion."

Tax sanctimony: "In 1980, the top 1 percent of earners paid 19 percent of income taxes, and the bottom half of earners paid 7.1 percent. A decade later, with a lower maximum rate, the top 1 percent paid 25 percent of taxes, while the bottom earners paid just 5.8 percent. By 2008, top earners paid 38 percent of taxes, the bottom half 2.7 percent."

How much good does our high corporate tax rate do?: "While the United States has one of the highest statutory rates on the books at 35%, the only fair way to measure what companies actually pay is their effective rate — what they ultimately pay after deductions, credits and assorted writeoffs. By that yardstick, companies in the United States consistently pay taxes at rates lower than corporations in Japan and many nations in Europe."

Why student debt is horrible: "Making matters worse was a 2005 President George W. Bush decree that student loan debt is the one thing you can’t wriggle away from by declaring personal bankruptcy, says Thiel. “It’s actually worse than a bad mortgage,” he says. “You have to get rid of the future you wanted to pay off all the debt from the fancy school that was supposed to give you that future.”"

Oklahoma following Ohio and Wisconsin in public bargaining: "The bill follows in the footsteps of the law passed in Wisconsin that scaled back collective bargaining from state employees and a bill in Ohio that stripped collective bargaining rights when negotiating wages. The Oklahoma bill doesn’t go quite as far as the bills in the Midwest, but it puts Oklahoma in better company when it comes to labor policy and the state fiscal situation."

Redevelopment agencies in California. If you haven't heard of this, it's recommended. Steven Greenhut is a really good writer.

What can keep you now from getting into Canada?:  "I wrote, "A DUI is now one of the minor infractions …" Actually, it has been a barrier to border crossing for about 20 years, but only now do border agents possess the technology and information to enforce the restriction. The offending tool is called The Smart Border Declaration and Action Plan, by which Canadian intelligence and US Homeland Security information are comingled and available to both governments."

White House snubs Issa subpoena: “We are not conducting a concurrent investigation with the Department of Justice, but rather an independent investigation of the Department of Justice.”

Trump's use of eminent domain: "He tried to negotiate, at one point offering Coking $1 million for the land. But she wasn’t budging. So New Jersey’s Casino Reinvestment Development Authority filed a lawsuit, instructing Coking to leave within 90 days and offering compensation of only $251,000."

More on Trump the complete political hack.

North Korea murder: "An estimated 1 million innocent men, women and children have been murdered in North Korean political concentration camps since 1972, academics believe. [...]Outside observers and nongovernmental organizations estimate that 3.5 million North Koreans died of starvation between 1995 and 1997."

Georgia to actually improve its health care?: Good news for Georgia residents. Yesterday the Georgia House of Representatives voted for final passage on HB 47, legislation that would allow Georgia residents to purchase health insurance plans offered in other states, but not currently available in Georgia due to misguided mandates.

Police state: "Security researchers have discovered that Apple’s iPhone keeps track of where you go – and saves every detail of it to a secret file on the device which is then copied to the owner’s computer when the two are synchronised."

Phil Gramm talks about economic history: "Continuing the history lesson, Gramm, who was a professor of economics before he entered politics, argues that the only other recovery that was as lackluster as the present one was the recovery from the Great Depression. “There were some big recessions, like those in 1907 and 1920–21,” Gramm recounts. “They dwarfed the current recession, and yet the economy came back like a rocket. But in these two cases, the recovery lagged badly, and the government policies are quite similar, except for the fact that in the Depression we had very bad monetary policy. I think you could say monetary policy has been about as accommodating as it could be in this recession.” Gramm argues that, contrary to what is commonly believed, President Roosevelt’s big-spending policies actually prolonged the Great Depression: “People forget that the other developed countries recovered from the Depression much more rapidly than we did. By 1938, industrial production was still down 20 percent in the U.S. from pre-Depression levels. It was up 20 percent in Great Britain.”"


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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Saturday Libertarian Links

Using pre-1980 measure: "Inflation, using the reporting methodologies in place before 1980, hit an annual rate of 9.6 percent in February, according to the Shadow Government Statistics newsletter."

Taibbi covers Fed transactions: "Christy and her pal Susan launched their investment initiative called Waterfall TALF. Neither seems to have any experience whatsoever in finance, beyond Susan's penchant for dabbling in thoroughbred racehorses. But with an upfront investment of $15 million, they quickly received $220 million in cash from the Fed, most of which they used to purchase student loans and commercial mortgages. The loans were set up so that Christy and Susan would keep 100 percent of any gains on the deals, while the Fed and the Treasury (read: the taxpayer) would eat 90 percent of the losses."

1890's Progressives try to kill football
: "So the Progressives tried to address the problem of football by turning to their favorite solution: They sought to regulate it out of existence."

The racist history of zoning: "In Louisville, Kentucky, where the Buchanan v. Warley story starts, the city created an ordinance that prevented African-Americans from moving into neighborhoods that were majority White, and vice-versa. The reason for this ordinance, Louisville's representatives told the Court, was to prevent the kinds of "civil disturbance" that would arise if White and Black residents were allowed to live in the same neighborhoods."

NYC obstacles to farmers' markets
: "But the city still puts roadblocks in the way of community groups seeking to open farmers’ markets in low-income neighborhoods, says a report to be released on Tuesday by the Manhattan borough president, Scott M. Stringer. Those efforts face excessive fees, confusing rules and a lack of coordination among agencies, the report says."

Technology: "According to the USDA's website, in 1945 it took 14 labor hours to produce 100 bushels of corn on two acres. By 1987, it only took 3 labor hours and one acre to produce the same amount. Now, it takes less than an acre."

Inflation-adjusted spending on defense increases $800/capita in US over 11 years
.

Immigration policy: Since even before the 2008 financial and economic crisis, some observers have noted that a substantial number of highly skilled immigrants have started returning to their home countries, including persons from low-income countries like India and China who have historically tended to stay permanently in the United States. These returnees contributed to the tech boom in those countries and arguably spurred the growth of outsourcing of back-office processes as well as of research and development. Who are these returnees? What motivated their decision to leave the United States? How have they fared since returning?

As always, Ellen Brown gives a good analysis of banking then comes to the wrong conclusion (this is part of the good part): "[Libyans] are entitled to free treatment, and their hospitals provide the best in the world of medical equipment. Education in Libya is free, capable young people have the opportunity to study abroad at government expense. When marrying, young couples receive 60,000 Libyan dinars (about 50,000 U.S. dollars) of financial assistance. Non-interest state loans, and as practice shows, undated. Due to government subsidies the price of cars is much lower than in Europe, and they are affordable for every family. Gasoline and bread cost a penny, no taxes for those who are engaged in agriculture. The Libyan people are quiet and peaceful, are not inclined to drink, and are very religious."

Unbelievable waste in Brooklyn: "If someone had proposed back in 1996 a 17-year, $476 million plan to renovate a courthouse and post office, it might have raised some eyebrows. Instead, the government slices it up into smaller projects so they are less likely to generate press attention or congressional scrutiny."

The government: employing NYC (at everyone else's expense): "Albany and Washington, D.C., are known as government towns. Maybe New York City should be, too: The six largest employers here are government entities, according to Crain's latest ranking of the city's top employers."

Raleigh to re-do zoning code: Raleigh wants to redevelop a number of areas along specific transit corridors that will entice future growth. To get there quickly, the new code will be half the size of the previous one, easier to understand, favorable to mixed use projects and with an expedited approval process, according to Mitch Silver, Raleigh's chief of Planning and Economic Development.

Tax rebellion during Great Depression: "The best known was the Association of Real Estate Taxpayers in Chicago, which led one of the largest tax strikes in American history. At its height in 1933, it had 30,000 paid members, a budget of $600,000, and a weekly radio show. The strikers so angered Mayor Anton Cermak in 1932 that he threatened to cut off their city water. During a special visit to Washington, D.C., Cermak implored Congress to send "money now or militia later." It did neither."

Radley Balko on the law: "The only way to accurately document who says what during an interrogation session is to record the whole thing. Such a record would also increase the reliability of confessions as evidence. More than 750 law enforcement jurisdictions across the United States are voluntarily recording entire interrogations. You might imagine that police investigators would resent such documentation of interrogations, yet studies have shown that once recording becomes standard practice, police officers and prosecutors become strong supporters of the reform."

Eliminating prevailing wage laws like Davis-Bacon?: "One of the biggest changes has been proposed in Ohio, where Republican Gov. John Kasich's budget would eliminate prevailing-wage requirements for public universities and for local and many state government construction projects under $5 million, compared with the current threshold of $78,258 for new construction. The rules would remain in effect for larger projects."


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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tuesday Libertarian Links

Troubles with inclusionary zoning: "Schuetz, et al.’s 2010 analysis found that suburban Boston experienced higher housing prices and fewer starts as a result of inclusionary zoning during times of appreciation, whereas the San Francisco metro area experienced higher prices but not fewer starts during appreciation and lower prices during “cooler regional markets.” Magnifying booms and busts doesn’t sound good to me."

Iceland says, well, it's a curse word, so I probably shouldn't say it: "Almost 60% of Icelanders voted against a plan to pay the British and Dutch governments money owed for bailing out savers of the Landsbanki online savings arm in 2008, Britain is owed £2.3 billion of the total amount. The ‘no’ vote comes despite a revision of the original repayment plan to allow a longer period in which to pay and a reduced interest rate."

Military spending: "“It’s so much money,” Dreyfuss writes, President Obama’s own National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform(NCFRR) pointed out the $80 billion the U.S. spends on military R&D alone “surpassed China’s entire military budget by more than $10 billion.” Overall, Dreyfuss writes, the U.S. spends as much on military “as the rest of the world combined.”"

"NC Legislature waters down charter school bill: "In an attempt to gain Democrats’ support and reduce the chances of a gubernatorial veto, Republican lawmakers have transformed Senate Bill 8, No Cap on Charter Schools, to such an extent that even some conservative advocates of expanding charters want nothing to do with the measure. Concessions made on transportation, food, capital funding, and oversight have added new layers of restrictions and bureaucracy to a proposal that initially offered merely to remove the state’s cap on charter schools. And even with these givebacks, Gov. Bev Perdue has given no indication that she would allow S.B. 8 to become law.""

The Mutual Aid society and how it killed itself: "In the United States, the government was less worried about the friendlies. The first major legislation, in 1893, was promoted by the friendlies themselves. They lobbied in Washington through the National Fraternal Congress. This organization represented 100 friendly societies with 6 million members and $7 billion in insurance funds. It pressed for passage of the “Uniform Bill,” forcing all new friendlies to adopt the same mortality rates. This would put them at a competitive disadvantage to the established societies. However, instead of driving off the upstarts, this legislation blurred the distinction between friendlies and commercial life insurance companies. Legally they were grouped together. As a result, the commercial insurance companies gradually absorbed the friendlies, leaving consumers with fewer choices."

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Libertarian Links

* A different perspective on free trade: "[T]he World Bank standard for poverty is $2 a day, so "moving people out of poverty" can merely consist in moving people from $1.99 a day to $2.01 a day. In one major study, there were only two nations in which the average beneficiary jumped from less than $1.88 to more than $2.13: Pakistan and Thailand. Every other nation was making minor jumps in between."

* Is print media dying?: "[P]rint circulation worldwide was up more than 5 percent in the past five years, and the number of newspapers is growing. In general, print media are thriving in the developing world and suffering in rich nations. Print newspaper ad revenue, for instance, rose by 13 percent in India and by 10 percentin Egypt and Lebanon in the last year for which data is available. But it fell by 8 percent in France and 20 percent in Japan."

* Medicare secrecy: "For more than 30 years, Medicare has been enjoined from publicly disclosing how much the program pays individual physicians. A 1979 federal court ruling determined that the physician’s right to privacy dominates the public’s right to know how tax dollars are spent. Since then, the federal government—whether headed by a Democrat or a Republican—has consistently resisted releasing information about how Medicare spends our money. Despite President Obama’s statements about open government, he kept the book tightly closed on Medicare."

* Mexicans protesting the drug war: "Yesterday, multitudes took to the streets in more than 40 Mexican cities - and in protests by Mexicans and their friends at consulates and embassies in Europe, North America and South America - to demand an end to the violence wrought by the US-imposed "war on drugs."  What? You haven't heard about this? Or if you have heard something about it, did you know that it is the biggest news story in the Mexican media, on the front page of virtually every daily newspaper in the country?"

* Government workers are overpaid: 1 and 2.

* Walmart to enter banking?  Yes, please.: "In contrast to its experience in the U.S., Walmart entered the retail banking industry in Mexico in 2007, and here's an update of what has happened there: "After four years of operations, Banco Walmart opened its 1 millionth account on March 15, in one of its Mexico City branches. The account holder was rewarded with a $10,000 pesos deposit in their Banco Walmart savings account."

* How many Americans think that the free market is the best economic system?  Not as many as you might think.  And not as many as in China.  Hmmm, I wonder if they know anything about the difference between statism and capitalism (or capitalism-esq.)

* Free markets against racism:  "Gary Becker earned the 1992 Nobel Prize in economics in part for demonstrating that discrimination is economically detrimental — free markets penalize an employer who discriminates for reasons unrelated to ability and productivity."

Dangers of donor disclosure?:  "A challenger seeks a contribution from a person known to support candidates of the challenger's party. The potential supporter responds: "I'm glad you're running. I agree with you on almost everything. But I can't support you because I cannot risk getting my business crosswise with the incumbent who is likely to be re-elected.""

* News quiz: 11 out of 11, baby.  Top 2% of the public.

* Prosecutors can do whatever they want?: "Conservative justices prevailed in the 5 to 4 ruling, which shielded the district attorney’s office from liability for not turning over evidence that showed John Thompson’s innocence."


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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday Libertarian Links

Debunking more lies about Keynesian economics: "From 1929 to 1932 federal spending increased by 50% in nominal terms, doubled in real terms, tripled relative to national income. Judged by that measure, Herbert Hoover makes Barack Obama look like a fiscal conservative."

Masters Degrees don't help teachers?

No under-age partying?

San Francisco: Police city? 

China: a human rights crackdown?

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wednesday Libertarian Links

* Municipal health insurance: The report, which focused on 14 municipalities, found that city and town workers typically pay only $11 to see their primary care physician, half the amount typically paid by workers in the state, federal, and private sectors.

* Fed lending to overseas banks: Overseas banks accounted for about 70 percent of discount window loans when borrowing reached its peak of $113.7 billion in October 2008, according to the Fed’s data. The discount window, established in 1914, is known as the lender of last resort.

* British stagflation: British industrial production fell 1.2 percent in February from January, an official report said Wednesday, marking the largest monthly fall since August 2009 and far worse than analyst expectations for an increase of 0.2 percent.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tuesday Libertarian Links

NC bill threatens to criminalize alt medicine: The bill was adopted by a judiciary committee in early March, and it recently passed the NC Senate. Now, the NC House is set to vote on the bill tonight, and unless NC governor Bev Perdue vetoes it, the practice of natural medicine for many in NC may soon become a more severe criminal offense.

San Francisco to explore variable pricing for parking meters: San Francisco drivers will be the focus of a nationally watched experiment to combat congestion and air pollution by regularly adjusting parking prices at curbside meters and public garages.

Obama reverses 9/11 trial position: The Obama administration Monday abandoned its effort to put Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other alleged plotters of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on trial in civilian courts, saying the accused terrorists will instead face military trials at Guantanamo Bay, in the prison President Barack Obama had promised would be closed more than a year ago.

FDA says, "You can't eat without us": The FDA goes further, stating that “there is no absolute right to consume or feed children any particular kind of food [because] comprehensive federal regulation of the food supply has been in effect at least since Congress enacted the Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906. … Thus, plaintiffs’ claim to a fundamental privacy interest in obtaining ‘foods of their own choice’ for themselves and their families is without merit.”

Supreme Court upholds school tax credits: Ruling in ACSTO v. Winn today, the United States Supreme upheld Arizona's k-12 scholarship tax credit program. Under this program, individuals receive a tax cut if they donate to a non-profit scholarship fund that gives out private school tuition aid.

How much will Medicare vouchers save?:  Skeptics worry that seniors will make bad decisions with their vouchers. They should keep in mind that, according to Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, "nearly 30 percent of Medicare's costs could be saved without adverse health consequences." In other words, vouchers come with a huge built-in margin of safety: seniors could consume one-third less care without harming their health.

Inflation:  In the past three months, consumer prices have been rising at a 5.7 percent annual rate while average weekly wages have barely budged, increasing at an annual rate of only 1.3 percent.

Combating TARP lies:  But as Shahien Nasiripour notes at the HuffPost, the only way you can make the TARP repayment number look like profit is if you exclude everything except the payments made to major banks. If you don't, you've still got $187 billion outstanding.


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Monday, April 4, 2011

NC to get a state currency?

So the NC Speaker of the House now supports a bill to give North Carolina its own unique currency.

Heck yes!

Link here.

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Monday Libertarian Links

* Senators Bacus and Kerry argue in the WSJ that Congress should pass the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Colombian products have nearly complete access to U.S. markets, while U.S. farmers face an average tariff of 30% in Colombia, and manufacturers face a 14% rate. The Colombia FTA will eliminate tariffs for U.S. exports. Seems like a no-brainer

Sugar prices/tariffs: The chart above shows that U.S. sugar prices have averaged twice the world price (28.1 cents per pound vs. 14.4 cents) since 1980 (data here), because of tariffs and quotas that restrict the amount of foreign sugar allowed to enter the U.S. and thereby protect domestic beet sugar producers against more efficient foreign producers of sugar cane. 

* Occupational licensing alert: And yet it now looks like the D.C. City Council wants to engage in the practice that Sowell describes by replacing what is working with something that sounds good - restricting the supply of taxis by selling taxi medallions.

* Think that you're liking Antonin Scalia?  Radley Balko puts a stop to that.

* Conflicts of Interest (COI) in health care: In the 17 guidelines, the authors found 651 episodes of participation by 498 individuals. A total of 277 of the 498 individuals (56%) reported a COI. Over half of the episodes (365 of 651 [56%]) involved a COI. The most common form of COI was consultant/advisory board, followed by research grant, honoraria/speakers’ bureau, and stock/other ownership.

* Privatization/Public Private Partnerships : Private companies are offering to build Hamburg a 3.2-mile cable car line connecting the red light district of St. Pauli with two other tourist destinations.

* Finland educational success:  The Finns are as surprised as much as anyone else that they have recently emerged as the new rock stars of global education. It surprises them because they do as little measuring and testing as they can get away with.

* Vermont to go single-payer?: Vermont is in the process of creating one of the largest nanny state pieces of legislation we have ever seen. The House recently passed HB 202 by a margin 92 – 49. This bill, which will be voted on by the Senate within the next two to three weeks (SB 57), creates a single-payer health care system in Vermont.


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Cell Phone Info in NYTimes

Finally getting mainstream.

Here.

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Friday, April 1, 2011

More on Medicare Scamming

Wall Street Journal:

A Medicare database analyzed by The Wall Street Journal reveals that Dr. Makker has had an unusual propensity for performing such multiple surgeries on the spine. The data show that in 2008 and 2009, Dr. Makker performed spinal fusions on 61 Medicare patients. In 16 of those cases, he performed a total of 24 additional fusions. That gave him an overall rate of 39 additional fusions per 100 initial fusions, the highest rate in the nation among surgeons who performed spinal fusions on 20 or more Medicare patients during those two years.

For the past year, the Journal has been mining Medicare's claims databases to expose how some doctors potentially defraud the taxpayer-funded health program for the elderly and disabled and game its reimbursement system. The databases contain a computerized record of every bill submitted to, and paid out by, Medicare.

Analysis of the data suggests that it also could be used as a tool to help screen for potentially bad or negligent doctors by identifying suspicious patterns of care.

[...]Information in Medicare databases about individual doctors is kept strictly confidential and was obtained by the Journal only under significant restrictions. In January, the paper's publisher, Dow Jones & Co., filed legal papers to try to overturn a three-decade-old court ruling that bars the public release of this information. The case is pending.

[...]Over about three years, from early 2008 through early this year, he billed Medicare more than $5.4 million for all his work, but was paid only $597,510, for a payment rate of 11%, according to a person familiar with his billings. An analysis of a 5% sample of the Medicare billing of 3,247 spine surgeons in 2008 shows the average surgeon was paid 21% of the sums submitted. Law-enforcement officials who specialize in Medicare fraud say lower rates of payment can be red flags for fraud.

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Good Summary of Affordable Health Care Blah Blah Blah's Lies

Cato:

You probably cannot keep your current insurance plan. Although the president constantly reassured us that Americans would not be forced to change their current plans, that increasingly appears untrue.

If you get your insurance at work, you will almost certainly have to change plans. The administration itself now admits that more than two-thirds of companies could be forced to change the coverage they currently offer their workers. For small businesses, the total could reach 80 percent. The new plans will have to offer additional benefits and meet new federal requirements, likely making them more expensive.

Moreover, the law’s individual mandate continues to pose a threat to Tennesseans’ ability to keep their current coverage. That mandate not only requires everyone to buy insurance, it also requires insurance to meet strict government requirements, offering the benefits the government thinks you should have, not necessarily those you want or need.

It will cost more than advertised. The Congressional Budget Office officially “scored” the health care bill as costing $950 billion. However, those numbers do not reveal the new law’s true cost. For example, CBO’s estimates do not include roughly $115 billion in implementation costs, such as the cost of hiring new IRS agents to enforce the individual mandate. The arcane budget rules of Medicare, Social Security and the law’s new long-term care program also allow the government to count savings twice while ignoring future costs outside the budget window. Finally, the law front-ends taxes while deferring costs, providing a misleading 10-year budget outlook. True accounting suggests that the law will cost as much as $2.7 trillion over 10 years of full operation, adding $823 billion to the federal deficit.

Your premiums are going up. Tennesseans opening their health insurance bills can already see that their premiums are not going down. In fact, CBO estimates that premiums could double over the next six-10 years. Worse, the new law may actually be increasing premiums faster than they would otherwise rise. Some estimates suggest that the law’s new regulations have already added 7-9 percent to insurance costs.


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Where Does Your Tax Money Go?

Here:

http://wheremymoneygoes.com/


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Oh. My. God.

Must be seen to be believed.


Future of Capitalism:
Bloomberg's Matthew Winkler has a piece on some of what the Federal Reserve was hiding when it went to court to resist his news organization's request for records on what banks accessed the Fed's "discount window": "the Bank of China Ltd. (3988) and Arab Banking Corp., a Bahrain- based bank controlled by the Libyan Central Bank, both tapped the window."

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On Entrepreuners

New Geography:

In fact, a recent Kauffman Foundation study found that immigrants  were unique in boosting their  entrepreneurial activities since the onset of the recession.  Overall the share of immigrants among new entrepreneurs has expanded from 13.4% in 1996 to nearly 30% this year.


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FOIA-gate

The whole thing is recommended.

Daily Caller:

1.) DHS attorney Reid Cox attempted to “steal” evidence from a FOIAgate hearing (page 107)

“After a witness interview on March 4, 2011, a Department lawyer attempted to remove Committee documents from the interview room. All documents entered as exhibits during the interview were obtained by the Committee in the course of its investigation into political interference with the Department’s FOIA function,” reads the Oversight Committee’s report.

[...]Meanwhile, a career FOIA staffer explained to the Oversight Committee that the Front Office wanted to be able to redact or deny FOIA requests based on the politics of the requester.
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"Air Time"

Reason:

California Gov. Jerry Brown has unveiled his seven-point plan for pension reform. While the proposals are all good, they will not solve the half-trillion-dollar problem facing the Golden State. But the first item mentioned is something I've been meaning to bring up for a while:
1. Eliminate Purchase of Airtime. Would eliminate the opportunity, for all current and future employee members of all state and local retirement systems, to purchase additional retirement service credit. (RN 14777) (Note Walters, SB 522, would eliminate Air Time)
What is "air time"? In addition to being more proof that you could sooner count every grain of sand on the beach than find every variety of government-employee featherbedding, it's a practice that raises a serious question: If a government employee worked for five fictitious years, would anybody notice? The gist
State law allows the employees to increase their retirement benefits by tacking up to five fictitious years — known as "air time" — onto their public service. Although they pay a fee for the privilege and officials say it is high enough to cover the eventual payouts, critics of air time note that the boost can cost taxpayers millions when the state pension system's investment income falls short, as it has in recent years.
Air time offers a return nearly twice as generous as a similar benefit — known as an annuity — that can be purchased on the private market, said Dan Pellissier, who advised former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on pensions. Pellissier, who as a state employee purchased five years' credit, is now pushing to eliminate air time as president of California Pension Reform.


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One Reason Not to Become a Lawyer

Tax Prof Blog:

Experts predict that fewer than 30,000 new attorney positions per year will be available to the more than 44,000 law school graduates entering the marketplace each year. 
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