Thursday, May 06, 2021

The secret credit card that’s only for the rich

 ‘Strange, when you come to think of it, that of all the countless folk who have lived before our time on this planet not one is known in history or in legend as having died of laughter.”

Max Beerbohm, “Laughter”

Joy is not in things, it is in us.
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Charles Wagner

A revered speaker whom Theodore Roosevelt once invited to the White House, Charles Wagner began as a poor French preacher shunned by the orthodox sect of his church. In his best-known book, "The Simple Life," he insisted that we control our own emotional fulfillment as much as external circumstances do. Despite the adversity he faced, Wagner found joy by following his internal compass: He started his own church, wrote nearly 30 books, and founded organizations to support the working class. His life is a reminder that your current situation doesn’t have to control you; indeed, your outlook and mindset can change the situation, and cultivate joy even in the most difficult times.

Tim Dyce- Draft partnership profit guidelines won’t please everyone: ATO

Tom McIlroyPolitical reporter

The Tax Office has issued new draft guidelines on how partners in law, accounting, engineering, architectural and medical firms should divide up profits, offering a two-year transitional period for anyone with a changing risk profile.

Tim Dyce, the ATO’s deputy commissioner for private wealth, told The Australian Financial Review the previous rules on how profits should be returned as income for professionals had been withdrawn in 2017, with new draft guidelines published on Monday the start of a public consultation process.

“We found that things were happening that didn’t actually breach the guidelines, but they weren’t things that we wanted to see,” he said. “They weren’t working as well as they should.”

The two-year transition period is available to taxpayers shifting to a higher-level risk category compared to the previous rules, where no radical changes in their tax arrangements have taken place. Taxpayers can change their arrangements to shift to a lower risk level or initiate new discussions with the ATO going forward.

Salary partners aren’t affected by Monday’s guideline changes, only those participating in the profit share of professional organisations.

The guidelines determine the level of risk related to profit allocation arrangements and help determine the level of engagement taxpayers can expect from the ATO.

The changing structures of professional firms can alter tax liabilities and the ATO is concerned about arrangements involving taxpayers who redirect their income to an associated entity, from a business or activity which includes their professional services, where it can lower tax bills.

Mr Dyce said in designing the changes the Tax Office had sought a balance between appropriateness and fairness. Once finalised, the draft guidelines will apply from July 1 this year, but are set to be reviewed into 2022.

“It’s fair to say that there will be some that don’t like this. There will be others that are glad that it’s out there,” he said.

“The good thing about those who do move categories is they’ve got time to make adjustments, time to talk to us. We’re not out knocking on those doors, that have simply moved because of the guidelines.

“We can focus on those that were high risk and are still high risk ... while helping and working with those who have moved to a higher risk category to understand why and look at adjusting their affairs to move to a lower risk category.”

Vitalik Buterin, a 27-year-old Russian-Canadian programmer, created ethereum in 2013 when he was 19. The cryptocurrency launched in 2015, and now Mr Buterin holds about 333,500 ether in his public wallet. Multiply that by the $3,500 record high ether stood at yesterday and you get more than $1.4 billion (US$1.1 billion). Not bad.


The secret credit card that’s only for the richTimothy Noah, Substack. Hubertus Bigend, no doubt, has several.


Traffic lights, who needs ’em? Lucky Kentucky residents up in arms over first roundabout The Register. Roundabouts are violence.

Anne Helen Peterson noticed a bunch of reports about fast food & retail businesses around the US having trouble finding employees, which difficulty the business owners are blaming on lazy American workers whose unemployment benefits have been extended/expanded during the pandemic. But what if, she writes, those benefits are actually providing a safety net to American workers so that they do not need to take terrible jobs for low wages at terrible companies under terrible management? The ‘Capitalism is Broken’ Economy:

Stick with me here, but what if people weren’t lazy — and instead, for the first time in a long time, were able to say no to exploitative working conditions and poverty-level wages? And what if business owners are scandalized, dismayed, frustrated, or bewildered by this scenario because their pre-pandemic business models were predicated on a steady stream of non-unionized labor with no other options? It’s not the labor force that’s breaking. It’s the economic model.

Unemployment benefits have offered a steady paycheck while you figure out your options. Put differently: a version of the safety net that’s been missing from most American employment, and, by extension, the ability to say no. No, I don’t have to work for a restaurant that only gives me my hours three days ahead of time, thus making it nearly impossible to find reliable childcare. No, I don’t have to work clopen shifts. No, I don’t have to expect a job without sick leave or paid time off. No, I don’t have to deal with asshole customers or managers who degrade me without consequence. No, I don’t have to work in a job with significant, accumulating health risks.

Her question near the end of the piece is worth considering: “If a business can’t pay a living wage, should it be a business?”

FRANCE:  Twenty French generals implore the government to take a firm hand against chaos.

In France this week, 20 retired military generals, 80 officers, and 1,000 lower-ranking soldiers signed an open letter expressing concern over “mortal dangers” they say face the Republic. President Macron’s government has instructed the army chief of staff to discipline the signatories for inciting insurrection.

The letter bears close attention on several grounds. Although the signatories warn they wish to act only after the outbreak of civil conflict, Macron’s response shows the government understands the situation has already deteriorated to a point where a true coup or uprising—an event quite unlike the shambolic ordeal in Washington on January 6th—might erupt at the slightest provocation.

At the same time, the letter itself shows just what failures of statecraft and betrayals of representation run the inexcusable risk of provoking the kind of civil breakdown the signatories decry.

The weaker the regime, the more sensitive it is to criticism. The letter (translated) is at the link.

UPDATE:  Paris mayor says she AGREES with military chiefs who threatened to seize control of the country and warned of the ‘disintegration’ of France – as 18 of the officers are fired.

FIREARMS FUTURE:  Firearms Sales Reached Record Numbers in 2020 and Aren’t Slowing Down.