Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Bad Behavior By People In High Office: Playing with data and its consequences

Everybody brings joy to this office… some when they enter, some when they exit.

CBS 60 Minutes report: “…In as soon as 15 years, 40 percent of the world’s jobs could be done by machines, according to one of the world’s foremost experts on artificial intelligence. Kai Fu Lee, a pioneer in AI and venture capitalist based in China makes this prediction in a Scott Pelley report about AI on the next edition of 60 Minutes, Sunday, Jan. 13 at 7 p.m., ET/PT on CBS.

ATO reports tax agents over work-related expenses

The Australian Taxation Office's campaign on work-related expenses has seen a jump in tax agents reported to the Tax Practitioners Board.

Bureaucrats refuse responsibility for 'ecological disaster' on river

Officials managing Australia’s most important river network have also cast doubt on claims that a million fish were killed in this month’s mass die-off in the Murray-Darling system.

Tax Crimes History -- The Fail of Vice-President Spiro Agnew and the Role of Tax Crimes

I listened to this podcast covering a moment history where the President and Vice-President were each under separate unrelated criminal investigations.  This focuses on the Vice-President.  Everybody knows about the outcome of the President -- resignation and pardon by his sucdessor, Gerald Ford (I do summarize the key background below).  For most of us, if we know VP Spiro Agnew at all, it is as a footnote and most of us (like one famous Supreme Court Justice at least claimed) don't read footnotes.  We ought to.  Sometimes.  Terry Gross and her guests lift this footnote and brings it to general public attention because it is relevant to today.  Bad Behavior By People In High Office (NPR Fresh Air 1/9/19), 'Bad Behavior By People In High Office': Rachel Maddow On The Lessons Of Spiro Agnew

Death And Taxes: One Is Becoming Much More Digital

…the value of wealth taxes depends sensitively on the interest rate…If the interest rate is 2%, then the tax rate is “only” 1/0.02 = 50%. If the interest rate is 5%, then the tax rate is 1/0.05 = 20%. I suspect these taxes were put in place in a time of higher interest ares and nobody is really thinking about the effect of lower rates.
That is from John Cochrane, with other points of interest about tax incidence at the link.
By the way, non-inflation-indexed capital gains are in part a wealth tax, so current higher interest rates are lowering the burden of that tax to some degree.

“The fundamental paradigm shift brought about by datafication alters how people participate as citizens on a daily basis. “Big data” has come to constitute a new terrain of engagement, which brings organized collective action, communicative practices and data infrastructure into a fruitful dialogue. While scholarship is progressively acknowledging the emergence of bottom-up data practices, to date no research has explored the influence of these practices on the activists themselves. Leveraging the disciplines of critical data and social movement studies, this paper explores “proactive data activism”, using, producing and/or appropriating data for social change, and examines its biographical, political, tactical and epistemological consequences. Approaching engagement with data as practice, this study focuses on the social contexts in which data are produced, consumed and circulated, and analyzes how tactics, skills and emotions of individuals evolve in interplay with data. Through content and co-occurrence analysis of semi-structured practitioner interviews (N=20), the article shows how the employment of data and data infrastructure in activism fundamentally transforms the way activists go about changing the world.”

DataCiteBlog: “Today we are announcing our first new functionality of 2019, a much improved search for DataCite DOIs and metadata. While the DataCite Search user interface has not changed, changes under the hood bring many important improvements and are our biggest changes to search since 2012. Faster Indexing – Newly registered (and tagged findable) DOIs now appear in the DataCite Search index within a few minutes, compared with the previous up to 12 hour lag. The same is true for metadata updates or DOIs removed from the public search index (by changing the DOI state from findable to registered). Faster indexing is particularly important when related content is published at the same time, e.g. a dataset with a DataCite DOI associated with a journal article with a Crossref DOI…”
See also DataCite 2018 Wrap-up and 2019 Preview – “First, a big pat on the back for last year 2018 saw a lot of changes at DataCite. We went from 5 employees to 8, and we released several new things, both visible and not-so-visible. Here are the highlights from a product release perspective…”

How Paraguay dumps billions of illicit cigarettes on the global market
Paraguay’s illicit trade in tobacco products was originally seeded by British American Tobacco and Philip Morris international. Starting in the 1960s, both companies used Paraguay as a transit hub to illegally access the protected markets of Argentina and Brazil. The case of Paraguay underlines the importance of 1) increasing understanding of the risks to global health posed by local companies aspiring to compete with transnational companies, 2) addressing the lack of independent and rigorous data on the illicit tobacco trade in both regional & global eonomies.

Financing terrorism through cryptocurrencies – a danger for Europe?


There's more to life than money, and NZ Treasury has the charts to prove it
CASE STUDIES: The NZ Treasury continues to refine its four-dimensional foray into the measurement of national wellbeing with a new online Living Standards Framework Dashboard.
Pyramid v Sparrow: the key to enforcing effective regulation
MARK PEARSON: Two classic regulatory approaches. But where does the biggest bang for the regulatory buck lie? Is it in education or punishment?
Why working from home has surprising downsides
RESEARCH: There are strong, evidence-based reasons to both work from home and the office. So, what’s best?

How to find your calling, according to psychology

BPS Research Digest
People who feel they have answered their calling in life are more likely to thrive and prosper.

Research: mindfulness is demotivating

Harvard Business Review
Being present in the moment may have a downside.

Article on Ethics Issues in Referring Clients to Foreign Aggressive Tax Planners/Enablers

Tax Crimes enthusiasts may be interested in this law review article:  Heather M. Field, Offshoring Tax Ethics: The Panama Papers, Seeking Refuge From Tax, and Tax Lawyer Referrals,, St. Louis U L.J.  62 St. Louis U. L.J. 35 (2017), Offshoring Tax Ethics: The Panama Papers, Seeking Refuge From Tax, and Tax Lawyer Referrals.  Excerpts

Despite the investigative research and scholarly analyses of the Panama Papers, many questions remain, including: How did U.S. clients get to the Panamanian law firm of Mossack Fonseca? What were the ethical responsibilities of the individuals (particularly lawyers) who connected these U.S. clients with MF, especially in cases where the U.S. clients sought offshore assistance in order to avoid or evade U.S. taxes? And what, if anything, should individuals in similar situations do differently in the future?

New DOJ Policies for Prosecution of Entities and the Individuals Within Them Most Responsible

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced yesterday important changes to Government policy on prosecuting corporations and individuals yesterday at a conference on the FCPA.  See DOJ announcement Remarks from the Conference.  I include below the key excerpts (lengthy) explaining the policy:
 Under our revised policy, pursuing individuals responsible for wrongdoing will be a top priority in every corporate investigation.   It is important to impose penalties on corporations that engage in misconduct. Cases against corporate entities allow us to recover fraudulent proceeds, reimburse victims, and deter future wrongdoing. Corporate-level resolutions also allow us to reward effective compliance programs and penalize companies that condone or ignore wrongdoing.