Thursday, February 25, 2016

Global fact-checking up 50% in past year

Love of power is closely akin to vanity, but it is not by any means the same thing. What vanity needs for its satisfaction is glory, and it is easy to have glory without power… Many people prefer glory to power, but on the whole these people have less effect upon the course of events than those who prefer power to glory… Power, like vanity, is insatiable. Nothing short of omnipotence could satisfy it completely. And as it is especially the vice of energetic men, the causal efficacy of love of power is out of all proportion to its frequency. It is, indeed, by far the strongest motive in the lives of important men...
Love of power is greatly increased by the experience of power, and this applies to petty power as well as to that of potentates.~ Bathroom quote

It is not forbidden to dream of building a better world, which is by and large what the social sciences try to help us to do. How to make cities more harmonious, reduce crime rates, improve welfare, overcome racism, increase our wealth -- this is the stuff of social sciences. The trouble is that the findings of social sciences are often dismissed as being too theoretical, too ambitious or too unpalatable... 

Gabriel Zucman, who teaches at the University of California at Berkeley, has two goals in his new book, The Hidden Wealth of Nations: to specify the costs of tax havens, and to figure out how to reduce those costs. While much of his analysis is technical, he writes with moral passion, even outrage; he sees tax havens as a “scourge.” His figures are arresting. About 8 percent of the world’s wealth, or $7.6 trillion, is held in tax havens. In 2015, Switzerland alone held $2.3 trillion in foreign wealth.  Measuring how much wealth is held in tax havens 

UBS: Globalisation is collapsing around us Business Insider 

Media Dragon Clay Shirky’s observations on how social media have changed politics

Anyone who has ever agonized in the hands of a petty bureaucrat — something Hannah Arendt unforgettably censured as a special kind of violence — can attest to the veracity of this sentiment. 
Duke Reporter’s Global fact-checking up 50% in past year  – By Mark Stencel, February 16, 2016: “The high volume of political truth-twisting is driving demand for political fact-checkers around the world, with the number of fact-checking sites up 50 percent since last year. The Duke Reporters’ Lab annual census of international fact-checking currently counts 96 active projects in 37 countries. That’s up from 64 active fact-checkers in the 2015 count. (Map and List) A bumper crop of new fact-checkers across the Western Hemisphere helped increase the ranks of journalists and government watchdogs who verify the accuracy of public statements and track political promises. The new sites include 14 in the United States, two in Canada as well as seven additional fact-checkers in Latin America.There also were new projects in 10 other countries, from North Africa to Central Europe to East Asia.”

"Only in a bubble could losing money on housing be viewed as positive" 

Tax office workers tell bosses we don't trust you union says

SMH Exclusive: Crown prosecutor  Margaret Cunneen and tow truck driver ben dejonk phone recordings revealed

Siding With Foreclosure Victim, California Court Exposes Law Enforcement Failure Dave Dayen, Intercept

Wall Street Journal editorial, Donald Trump’s Tax Obligation:
One of Donald Trump’s claims to presidential competence is his business and financial success, and so he should want voters to see the proof beyond the gilded staircases. He could enhance his credibility on the point by releasing his tax returns. ...

The rise of robo-advice: Changing the concept of wealth management
Accenture, Jan 2016. Examines the strengths and limitations of robo-advice today, explore various options for leveraging robo-advice capabilities and explain how wealth management firms can successfully integrate robo-advice into their business models.
Humans are startlingly bad at detecting fraud. Even when we’re on the lookout for signs of deception, studies show, our accuracy is hardly better than chance Picture yourself walking down the street when a man approaches and asks for bus fare; he says he lost his wallet and needs to get home. Right away, your phone buzzes with a notification: Stay away. He’s a fraud.The same voice has been asking for money in different locations all week. Such a possibility sounds far-fetched, but your phone company already gathers information from all the phones in its network. The future of fraud busting

Carrie Miller (J.D. 2016, William & Mary), Note, Parting the Dark Money Sea: Exposing Politically Active Tax-Exempt Groups Through FEC-IRS Hybrid Enforcement, 57 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 341 (2015)
Via As You Sow – “CEO pay grew an astounding 997% the past 36 years, vastly outpacing growth in the cost of living, the productivity of the economy, and the stock market. The second report in the series, The 100 Most Overpaid CEOs: Are Fund Managers Asleep at the Wheel?highlights the forces behind disproportionate pay and the fund managers who continue to approve these pay packages.”
+As You Sow 100 most overpaid CEO managers
Images of Mongolia
Via “Germany is in the midst of what has been dubbed a refugee crisis and a fair number of Germans are so worried about the influx of foreigners that they fall for made-up stories. And, while right-wing violence has shot up recently, there is no evidence to suggest that the crime rate has increased because of the higher number of migrants., the brainchild of Karolin Schwarz and Lutz Helm from the eastern city of Leipzig, aims to collate and refute rumors about offenses allegedly committed by migrants

“Suddenly Eco was back in my feed, being used to prove that one of the most notorious presidential candidates in Antipodean, Bohemian or Amerikan history was no worse than Mussolini or even Hitler.”

Even Young Eco was Wise Vice 

When did American military planners start believing they could hold back a Soviet attack?

The biggest loophole of all: Having launched and led the battle against offshore tax evasion, America is now part of the problem  

Study: Sanctions boost foreign military more than they hurt economy PhysOrg

Shockingly, authorities arrest activists instead of people responsible for the Aliso Canyon methane gas leak Inhabitat

Chicago residents sue ‘criminal’ city for not warning of high lead levels in water supply Independent 

Sensitive financial data ‘missing’ from central bank report on capital flowing out of China’s slowing economy South China Morning Post

Among the risks highlighted in the report, which claims that the security and political risk outlook appears worse than at any point in the past 10 years, are concerns pertaining to terrorism, Middle Eastern instability, cyber risk, a Chinese economy in transition, and European financial and political uncertainties.  RiskMap 2016: navigating the ‘contours of risk and opportunity’ in a volatile world

IMF Report: Finland's uncollected 'tax gap' is narrow
Tax Administration Bulletin, 2/12/2016. The Finnish Tax Administration collects value-added tax (VAT) quite successfully according to the results of an international comparison. The part of the VAT gap due to policy, i.e. due to reduced VAT rates and other public subsidies, is two times higher than the part due to uncollected VAT that taxpayers are legally required to pay.

Bloomberg:  Google Isn’t Paying the ‘Google Tax’, by Jesse Drucker (Not related to Tony Ducker)

Comparing Tax Software in Search of a Painless Return

Why have real interest rates fallen so much?

Lukasz Rachel and Thomas D Smith at the Bank of England (pdf): Long-term real interest rates across the world have fallen by about 450 basis points over the last 30 years. The co-movement in rates across both advanced and emerging economies suggests a common driver: the global neutral real rate may have fallen

“At its peak sales hit around 428,000 copies a day. Twenty-five years later, the number of copies being sold on a weekday in newsagents is rather closer to 28,000.” BBC 
The Origins of the Superrich: The Billionaire Characteristics Database, Caroline Freund and Sarah Oliver. Peterson Institute for International Economics, February 2016

Can governments increase tax compliance by rewarding honest taxpayers?  Happy taxation: Increasing tax compliance through positive rewards?

Gough Whitlam created them. Malcolm Fraser cemented them. And the move to new Parliament House multiplied them — exponentially ever since. Charting the rise and rise of the ministerial minder
Imrich Holloway listed minder attributes as:
  • Fast footwork;
  • Capacity for troubleshooting;
  • Immediate access to the minister of a kind the public servant generally does not have; and
  • Personal closeness to the minister — “a relationship of trust, and savvy about the political, media and parliamentary environments”.
  Mind the rise — and ever rise — of ministerial advisers 

Public servants told to keep calm and call the cops 
Robert Boylan et al., Implications of Recent Federal Personal Income Tax Increases for Income Tax Evasion, Tax Revenues, and Budget Deficits, 6 Wm. & Mary Pol'y Rev. 93 (2014)

  1. A discussion of how the IRS, with the Tax Court’s tacit approval, has unfairly penalized mostly lowincome taxpayers by ignoring or misinterpreting two penalty protection provisions: section 6751(b)— which requires IRS supervisors to approve, in writing, all discretionary penalties, and section 7491(c)—which requires the IRS to bear the burden of the production with respect to tax penalties.