Glenn mentions my Death of a Salesman essay, which is here.
These two characters should feature prominently, adding at least one dollop of humor to a national humiliation.
The Leaders’ Declaration from the just-ended G20 summit in Hamburg runs to 14 pages of dense diplospeak prose, 5,311 words. Can anyone point to a single line that is a win for US diplomacy? If there had been one, Trump would have claimed it.
Or in any of the 14 other documents “agreed” at the same time? Here they are, confirmation that German industriousness extends to paperwork. Site link if you feel up to it.
- Hamburg Action Plan
- Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth
- Hamburg Update: Taking forward the G20 Action Plan on the 2030 Agenda
- Annual Progress Report 2017
- G20 Action Plan on Marine Litter
- G20 Africa Partnership
- G20 Initiative for Rural Youth Employment
- High Level Principles on the Liability of Legal Persons for Corruption
- High Level Principles on Organizing against Corruption
- High Level Principles on Countering Corruption in Customs
- High Level Principles on Combatting Corruption related to Illegal Trade in Wildlife and Wildlife Products
- G20 Initiative #eSkills4Girls
- Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative
- G20 Resource Efficiency Dialogue.
The media are concentrating on the one glaring defeat for Trump on climate. As I predicted last December, the other 19 have gone their own way:
We take note of the decision of the United States of America to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. The United States of America announced it will immediately cease the implementation of its current nationally-determined contribution and affirms its strong commitment to an approach that lowers emissions while supporting economic growth and improving energy security needs. The United States of America states it will endeavour to work closely with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently and help deploy renewable and other clean energy sources, given the importance of energy access and security in their nationally-determined contributions.
The Leaders of the other G20 members state that the Paris Agreement is irreversible. We reiterate the importance of fulfilling the UNFCCC commitment by developed countries in providing means of implementation including financial resources to assist developing countries with respect to both mitigation and adaptation actions in line with Paris outcomes and note the OECD’s report “Investing in Climate, Investing in Growth”. We reaffirm our strong commitment to the Paris Agreement, moving swiftly towards its full implementation … blah blah.
The US threat to help other countries backslide on their Paris commitments is empty. Even Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey refused to show any solidarity with Trump and signed on to the strong G19 statement, a major win for Merkel. There is no mention of North Korea, a major and immediate US headache, in the Declaration. Nor of Syria and Iraq. (The price was forgetting about the 2009 pledge to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, no date given then or subsequently. It’s still there on page 12(!) of the ”Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth” annex, but the action has shrunk to token peer review. This suits Merkel, who does not want to pick a fight with her SPD coalition partners on a coal phaseout, so the German policy of continued dithering is now officially the world consensus.) [Update: Turkey is joining Russia in delaying Paris ratification, probably to get leverage with the EU. Unlike the USA, Turkey is building coal as well as renewable generating plants.]
Why did Trump fail so completely? It not just or even mainly because he’s thick. Continue Reading…
Nevada marijuana legalization gives control to newly created ‘cannabis cartel.’ Legal weed in Nevada makes bank on first day of sales.The booze industry is messing up Nevada legal weed supply chain. Las Vegas dreams big in new era of legal marijuana.
California cities, counties confront legal pot. California pot growers brace for proposed limits on chemicals in crop sprays. Modesto, California has not decided on having marijuana businesses, but it could have a tax ready. They want to change the way you buy marijuana. Legal marijuana continues to challenge Oregon employers. You can now buy weed in Oregon without cash — legitimately. Wages growing in Washington marijuana industry.
Massachusetts House speaker asks for halt to pot negotiations until state budget is worked out. What’s that smell in the air? In Boston, marijuana. Dollars tell only part of story of Vermont pot legalization advocacy. It’s summer, and DC smells like weed.
Has legal marijuana caused an increase or decrease in traffic accidents and deaths?
As Canada moves to legalize pot, questions about advertising take spotlight. Many Canada companies dazed and confused on how to handle legal pot. Canada needs to explain balance between UN treaties, legal cannabis.
How much could New Zealand earn from taxing legal cannabis?
We often hope that technology can save us from the work of behavior change or the reality of hard choices, and sometimes it can. Currently, the pharmaceutical industry is trying to carry off such a magic trick by developing reformulated pain medications that cannot be misused.
Will it work? I address that question in my latest Washington Post Wonkblog.
Now that the Senate-blessed Neil Gorsuch has donned the Robes of the Righteous, we have to reconsider the way we live our lives. Not very religious myself, I am now thinking that I should be more active in this area.
So here’s how one might fight fire with fire (and a touch of brimstone). As far as I know, there are no hard-and-fast criteria for defining a religion. For example, Scientology was started by the science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard (who knows, maybe it started out as a joke?), and has been able to gull some of Hollywood’s dimmest stars into joining it.
So what might it take to become a religion recognized by the Supreme Court? My brilliant idea: turn tennis into a religion. Let’s call it Tênis, using the Portuguese spelling to make it more exotic.
Here are some of my p-baked thoughts (hopefully, p > 0.5):
- Shrines: we have Forest Hills, Wimbledon, Roland-Garros, and Melbourne Park, to which we can make our pilgrimages.
- Matriarchs and patriarchs: the Grand Slam tournament winners would surely qualify.
- Club fees: since you are contributing to a religious endeavor, you should be able to include your fees as a charitable deduction on your income taxes.
- Government grants: as per the Trinity Lutheran decision, if the court surfaces need to be redone, a government grant is not out of the question.
- Rackets (an obvious double entendre) and balls: they could be purchased tax-free.
I don’t mean to imply that all religions are as shallow as the one I’m suggesting; it’s just that if we are going to remove the barrier between church and state, as Gorsuch, Alito, and Thomas seem to want to do, we should consider how to leverage it to our advantage, or at least to point out the inconsistencies in their arguments.
PS: I originally entitled this post “What Does It Take to Start a Religion?“ but felt that “Found” would be more …. profound.
PPS: I considered focusing on golf instead of tennis, but thought that it might give someone in high office an idea.
PPPS: In adding comments to this post, be thoughtful. After all, this could be the founding Testament for a new religion. I don’t want it to include a shopping list, as in “A Canticle for Leibowitz.”
Fireworks are surprisingly hard to capture well. One needs a fast shutter speed, but this requires a very low fstop–which means expensive glass if you are using a long lens–or a really good sensor that allows good cropping–similar fiscal problem–or high ISO, which tends to create other challenges. Many of these were at 6400 ISO.
I’ve been doing some writing for Slate these days. I wrote a long and profound piece on BCRA and disability here.
Just today, I did a podcast with Jordan Weissmann. I bloviated, but it was fun. I have to raise my podcast game.
The best part was schooling Jordan on BCRA by making analogy to Jay-Z and Rihanna’s relationship woes. Still not sure why he kept laughing when I was trying to make a serious point.
I am shocked, shocked to discover that no less than 155 million Americans are forced by employers to take a substantial part of their pay (or the family breadwinner’s pay) in the form of health insurance. Health insurance they have not chosen, but has been forced on them. Republicans cannot be content with the repeal of ACA and the cutting of Medicaid down to size. As Avik Roy points out, Medicare cannot be ignored for long. Nor should the cancer of employer health insurance. The same sound conservative logic points inexorably to its abolition.
The loss of freedom is on a positively Soviet scale. Consider these well-known facts.
- Employer health insurance covers the healthy and the unhealthy alike, and at the same rates. That’s totally unjust. Why should a 25-year-old trainee who runs a mile every morning, never smokes or drinks, and shops entirely at the farmers’ market, hand over part of her hard-earned pay to subsidise the asthmatic 55-year-old chappie in Accounts who smokes, drinks, never takes any exercise and alternates between McDonalds, KFC and Dominos for his daily injection of cholesterol-, sugar-, and additive-laden food? It’s positively un-American, and removes the vital incentive to make good lifestyle choices.
- Male employees have as much deducted from their pay as women, and the single as much as those who have children. Nothing wrong with children of course, but it’s a personal choice just like preferring a new car to a holiday in Tahiti, and people should assume the consequences of their actions. If a woman has a child without previously arranging for a husband, that is likewise her lookout.
- Employer health insurance is a form of bondage that ties the employee to her employer independently of the mutual benefit of a free labour contract. The costs of losing a job include, as they do not in America’s competitors, the loss of health insurance. Many American workers are trapped in jobs they are not suited for, or have gone sour on, through this fear.
- Employers are also faced with a heavy cost their competitors in other countries do not bear. In a world without employer health insurance, cash wages go up of course. But the employer would still gain on balance: from not keeping on the unhappy workers whose main motive for staying on is assured health cover, and the high administrative costs of running the scheme. Danish businesses don’t employ a team of people in Human Resources to look after employee health, what would be the point?
- The public policy win comes from bringing back that vital “skin in the game” when individuals buy insurance for themselves. In employee health insurance, it’s not so much a principal-agent problem as the absence of an identifiable principal. Firms know little about health insurance. They buy it because it’s expected by new hires and valued long-serving core staff alike, and everybody else does. They will buy “good enough” and then stop looking. Unleashing the power of the free market to lower prices implies real competition in every sale. This means each individual or family unit must be an agent in a vigorously contested market.
Employer health insurance must go, with the massive tax break transferred to individuals. Some of my more radical libertarian friends think that’s far from enough. All insurance is morally flawed, as it removes the “skin in the game” by spreading risk across large pools. Insurance breeds carelessness. Beyond that, the whole concept of employer and employee is suspect. The Marxists are right, they say, in condemning the wage relationship as servile and alienating: you are not selling something you have made to another, but selling him your very will, accepting a temporary but still abject bondage under which your master controls what you do. In a truly free society, the only employees are women and children naturally subject to the authority of the male head of the family. Should slavery be reintroduced, an idea on which I offer no opinion, it would complete the salutary restoration of the Roman paterfamilias.
We must reluctantly postpone these fascinating debates to another day. For now, Republicans must use their possibly short-lived control in Congress to strike off the tentacles of employer health insurance slowly strangling American business and American freedom.
The “American Employee Freedom in Health Care Act” would be very short. It only needs two operative articles, leaving aside the changes to the tax code.
Article 1. With effect from 1 January 2019, it shall be prohibited for employers to provide health insurance to employees, under pain of a fine of $5,000 for each employee and year of service for which such insurance is provided.
Article 2. The date of entry into force laid down in Article 1 shall be brought forward to January 1 2018 where the employer is a media organization, registered lobbyist, think tank, political party, or other organization engaging in political advocacy or policy analysis as its principal activity, and the employee is a journalist, columnist, presenter, analyst, or regular commentator.