Digital Cabinet

Polevaulter Donkeyman's rants, raves musings and flame wars

Dear New York Times, You Need to Try Harder

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From a New York Times article on the staggering wealth generated by casinos run by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Indian tribe in Minnesota:

Alan Meister, an economist who compiles tribal gambling data, said Minnesota’s 18 tribal casinos earned a combined $1.4 billion in 2010, although the Shakopees’ portion of that is unclear. But even if the tribe accounted for nearly the entire $1.4 billion, its philanthropy would compare well with corporations, even though the tribe receives no tax write-offs for giving.

For example, the tribe’s $28.5 million in charitable cash contributions in 2010 was more than those of several Minneapolis-area Fortune 500 companies, including the 3M Corporation, which had 2010 revenue of $23 billion, and U.S. Bancorp, which had $19.5 billion in revenue in 2010, according to the Minnesota Council on Foundations.

The New York Times of course fails to mention:

Indian tribal businesses do pay a wide variety of taxes, including taxes on wagering, occupational taxes, and employment taxes. For federal income tax purposes, however, Indian tribes are governmental entities and, as such, are not required to pay taxes on the income generated by the Indian tribes, including income generated by commercial activities.

State governments have no control or authority over Indian tribes unless specifically authorized by Congress.
  • In 2011, 3M was on the hook for USD 1.674 B (USD 331 M deferred) in corporate income tax.


The NYT does though thankfully concede:

tribal facilities do not pay direct state taxes because of the tribes’ status as sovereign nations.


And why have the Shakopee Mdewakanton been so spectacularly successful? From the NYT article

The primary anxiety is competing casinos being hurriedly opened by states in pursuit of new revenue. But more menacing, tribes say, is a sophisticated and growing movement to legalize Internet gambling under state laws that would give those states the potential power to regulate and tax online gambling even on reservations.


Monopoly profits being made due to laws which previously banned internet gambling and restricted casinos? Somehow I don’t have much sympathy for the Indian casinos.


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Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

August 13, 2012 at 20:20

Grauniad and Nick Cohen, Your Bias is Showing

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Nick Cohen of The Observer has a column up on the prosecution of Simon Walsh for the possession of extreme pornography. A quote:

Charges of possessing extreme pornography are enough to destroy any man. When the Crown Prosecution Service added the allegation that the pornography included an image of child abuse, Simon Walsh’s disgrace seemed complete. He was a barrister, a City of London alderman, a magistrate and one of Boris Johnson’s appointees on the London Fire Authority. The mention of paedophile porn, and gay porn at that, sent these venerable institutions running.

I know it is hopeless to seek to dent Boris Johnson’s self-portrait of a carefree British patriot in this moment of Olympic euphoria, but it’s all an act. In the 1930s, a journalist confronted Brendan Bracken, Churchill’s bumptious sidekick, and bellowed: “You’re phoney! Everything about you is phoney! Even your hair that looks like a wig – isn’t!” Bracken had a mop of red hair to match Johnson’s mop of blond. If Johnson were a true, plain-speaking patriot, he would have stood by Britain’s best principle that a citizen is innocent until proven guilty. But he is a phoney, and his officials fired Walsh without a second’s thought.


Given that Cohen has taken, the requisite Guardian mandated, potshots at a Tory politician, what he chooses not to mention in his column is illuminating:

  1. The law under which Walsh was prosecuted, the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, §63 was passed by a Labour controlled Parliament.
  2. The law was heavily promoted by then Labour MP Martin Salter
“No-one is stopping people doing weird stuff to each other but they would be strongly advised not to put it on the internet. At the end of the day it is all too easy for this stuff to trigger an unbalanced mind. These snuff movies and other stuff are seriously disturbing. Many police officers who have to view it as part of their job have to undergo psychological counselling. [The Act] simply plugs a hole in the law because the Obscene Publications Act is about as much use as a chocolate fireguard as far as the internet is concerned. This new law is designed to meet the challenge of the internet.”[1]

“I am absolutely thrilled this law has been passed. But most of all I am delighted for Liz. If we can reduce some peoples’ temptation to watch violent images, including rape and mutilation, then that is a good thing. It is also important we protect the women who are in these videos.”[2]


But of course, no mention of Labour or any Labour MP anywhere in the article.


Footnotes


[1] ‘Extreme’ porn proposals spark row

[2] Justice for Jane as bill becomes law

Chik-fil-A knows its consumers

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Seems relevant given the shenanigans over Chik-fil-A:



Source


Moral of the Story: Make sure the people you support actually do buy your products?


Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

August 11, 2012 at 12:56

I Would Do Anything for My Country, But I Won’t Pay a 75% Marginal Income Tax Rate

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Will Smith (while promoting Men in Black III in France):

I have no issue with paying taxes and whatever needs to be done for my country to grow. I believe very firmly that my ability to sit here—I’m a black man who didn’t go to college, yet I get to travel around the world and sell my movies, and I believe very firmly that America is the only place on Earth that I could exist. So I will pay anything that I need to pay to keep my country growing.


Interviewer:

Do you know how much in France you would have to pay on earnings above one million euros [under new French President Francois Hollande’s proposal]? Not 30%. 75%.[1]


Will Smith:

75?! Yeah, that’s different, that’s different. Yeah, 75. Well, you know, God bless America.


(Interview at 0’20”)



Hat tip: Ed Krayewski at Reason


This Meat Loaf fella seems to have multiple disguises.


Footnotes


[1] Indigestion for ‘les Riches’ in a Plan for Higher Taxes.

Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

August 10, 2012 at 23:52

“Beware of Greeks Bearing an Olive Oil Surplus” or in this case “Beware of Greeks Bearing Balance Sheets Showing Deficits of Below 3% of GDP”

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Part III in why Yes (Prime) Minister is the Greatest Political Show Ever!
If only the Eurozone had remembered Laocoön’s warning.

As always Yes Minister also anticipated this nearly 30 years ago


Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

August 9, 2012 at 23:57

Posted in Uncategorized

“The Ship of State is the Only Ship that Leaks from the Top”, or Why “Yes (Prime) Minister” is the Greatest Political Show Ever!

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Thanks to Brian Doherty at Reason, Wired on the US government’s mounting campaign against leakers:

The NCIS’ continued interest in an unclassified document posted over five years ago comes amid a new push by the Obama administration to crack down on leakers. The effort has been Kafka-esque from the start. It started when a pair of books revealed that the White House is intimately involved in approving drone attacks and cybersabotage operations against its foes. Days after the leaks, President Obama scolded the secret-spillers — even though the books’ authors were granted officially access to the highest levels of the administration. Congress has also stepped in with its own legislationthat would punish leakers of classified information. But the bill, recently passed by the Senate Intelligence Committee, exempts from reprisal most senior White House and administration officials — and, of course, members of Congress, as well.

As always Yes Minister anticipated this nearly 30 years ago

The Ship of State, Bernard, is the only ship that leaks from the top.


Ideological Turing Test

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Who said the following:

How does one argue with someone convinced that the routine massacre of our children is the price we must pay for our freedom?

In the Red Corner:

John Yoo, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General and author of the Torture Memos, who wrote (emphasis mine):

we understand that al Qaeda seeks to develop and deploy chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction. Under these circumstances, a particular detainee may possess information that could enable the United States to prevent imminent attacks that could equal or surpass the September 11 attacks in their magnitude. Clearly, any harm that might occur during an interrogation would pale to insignificance compared to the harm avoided by preventing such an attack, which could take hundreds or thousands of lives.[1]

In the Blue Corner:

Adam Gopnik, of The New Yorker, who said on the occasion of [Osama Bin Laden’s] death:

Fear is the terrorist’s best weapon … [The fear] is so out of proportion, very often, to the real threat.[2]

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An Economic Case Against Immigration? Durka Dur

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Came across this article in @TRISH00L’s twitter feed

The author, Jaideep Prabhu (who also tweets as @orsoraggiante lays out an economic case against immigration to India of unskilled labour in response to an article by Nitin Pai in the Business Standard

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Your Lobbying Bad, My Lobbying Not … So Bad?

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Tamasin Cave, of the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency on the Today in Parliament for March 2, 2012:


Note:

  1. Tamasin Cave neatly sidesteps the lobbying by the BMA and the Royal College of Nursing
  2. Ms. Cave correctly points out the first order relationship between the lobbying for NHS reforms and the size of the NHS budget (around 100 B GBP).
  3. However Ms. Cave then fails to see the second-order relationship i.e. lobbying is directly related to and caused by the power of the government to grant special favours. As long as government has the power to dispense such special favours, groups will continue to lobby it.
  4. If you want to reduce lobbying, if you want to control it, then reduce the power and size of the government to dole out special favours.


Because of the enormous benefits that can be won from the political process, it is rational for interest groups to spend large sums on lobbying for special privileges – an activity known as ‘rent seeking’.[1]

[1] Butler, E., Public Choice — A Primer, The Institute of Economic Affairs, 2012, p. 16

The Greatest Generation

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There is a reason why they are called The Greatest Generation

Written by Polevaulter Donkeyman

August 4, 2012 at 02:35