Monday, November 24, 2014

China's Military, More Bang for the Buck

In China, as in most of the rest of the world, Less is More, a Lot More--the inconvenient Truth of the US Defense Budget is that Most of it is spent on Waste, Excess, Political Pork--

China's Military Gets More Bang for the Buck - Bloomberg View: "... in recent years the military appears to have wasted huge amounts of money on programs of dubious value, like the F-35 Lightning jet fighter. That program has seen its costs balloon to $400 billion -- about 2.5 percent of one year of U.S. GDP -- and will undoubtedly see costs go much higher. But the plane still does not work. Nor is the F-35 particularly unique. Programs like the F-35 have provided Americans with jobs, but have often been of dubious value to our military while costs greatly exceed initial estimates. Meanwhile, new Chinese weapons systems continually exceed U.S. expectations...."

Monday, November 17, 2014

California, Bankruptcy, Public Pensions, Nothing is Sacrosanct

In the end, all the political "rigging" was for naught--

Bankruptcy Judge in California Challenges Sanctity of Pensions - "A federal bankruptcy judge on Wednesday upended the widely held belief that public workers’ pensions have a special status in California that makes them impossible to cut, further chipping away at the idea that pensions are sacrosanct in a municipal bankruptcy. The ruling, which came during a hearing on a plan by the City of Stockton to exit bankruptcy, did not order the city to cut its pension plan or take any specific action. The judge said that he needed more time to reflect on Stockton’s situation and that he would decide Oct. 30 whether the city could emerge from its two-year bankruptcy or whether it still had more work to do. But the decision, by Judge Christopher M. Klein of the Eastern District of California, dealt a blow to California’s giant state-led pension system, known as Calpers, which has been leading efforts to preserve defined-benefit pensions nationwide..."


Monday, November 10, 2014

21st Century Death Chamber?

The 21st century death chamber: $100,000 for a civilised execution | World news | "State officials refused to discuss any aspect of the new execution protocols other than bare construction issues, on grounds that the matter was “being litigated”. When, for instance, the Guardian pointed to an entry among the renovation expenses listed as “electrode snap FM Wetgel 50s” and asked for a plain English translation, Crow replied: “That’s part of the protocol. I’m not at liberty to discuss that.”"


Monday, November 3, 2014

Ireland, The Double Irish, Corporate Tax Inversions, Aversions or Avoidance?

Ireland Phases Out Tax Break as Overseas Pressure Mounts - Bloomberg: "... The “Double Irish,” which allows companies to avoid paying tax on much of their income, will be closed to new entrants from January, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said in parliament in Dublin today, as he laid out the 2015 budget. Companies already enjoying the tax break can continue to do so until 2020...."

Aversion to Inversions: "In the face of inaction on comprehensive reform, and fearing that the Obama administration might crack down on inversions, corporations may be rushing to complete them as a form of “‘self-help’ territorial taxation,” according to Philip Cohen, a tax professor at Pace University’s Lubin School of Business. “Companies are witnessing other companies engaging in transactions that get around [Section 7874 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986], often by merging with a smaller foreign target, and asking, ‘Why not consider it, given the upside?’” he says."