Open Thread

I’ve got lots I want to write about but I’m rather busy at the moment with school stuff. So let’s have another open thread.

To kick things off, I was at a conference yesterday where someone representing a large, influential supranational organisation known by its acronym said the following:

“Our global goals have been agreed between governments and private business.”

Is that good or bad?

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45 thoughts on “Open Thread

  1. So anyway, I’ve decided I’m with Tim, after seeing how Bardon misrepresented my opinion in my post to @Theophrastus. I’ve seen that behavior in the past from senior managers whose utterances I’ve learned not to trust.

    And I will preemptively say that anyone accusing me of deliberately derailing this thread for my own jollies is just humping Bardon’s leg!

  2. “Our global goals have been agreed between governments and private business.”

    Interpretation: “Our taxation allowance levels have been agreed between governments and private business.”

    Years ago someone in upper finance told me that a well-known UK High Street chain would wait until they got a tax-owed demand from HM Gubmint and if it was, say, 10 million the retailer would offer five million on a take it or leave it basis. As our betters in Whitehall didn’t want to see a major employer go down the pan (less future tax, more benefit payments and their future election hopes vanish too) they took the offered smaller amount.

    As far as I can see relationships between governments and big business comes down to money, given and received. The rest is just fancy decoration.

  3. There are lots of good economic reasons for having low corporate tax rates – largely around the response to higher taxes is to push wages lower and prices higher.

    The argument against a super low corporate tax rate is the abuse it opens up for people who can structure their affairs so that their income instead appears as a corporations income. 99% of people also think that companies should pay more tax not understanding that it comes out of the populations pockets.

    A very lax collection regime has low compliance costs (which are just value destroyed), creates an effective tax rate that is lower than the headline rate (which balances the economic desire for low taxes vs the population confusion on who pays corporation tax), and lax can be selective so you still have the laws against those who take the piss.

    There are plenty of stupid things that come out of the treasury in the UK but their are some big picture aspects of how they approach tax collection which do make sense.

  4. “Our global goals have been agreed between governments and private business.”

    Which private businesses? These public sector/ NGO organisations use weird tenses when talking about the private sector. We saw it with Hollande in France when he wanted to do a deal with the “private sector”, in exchange for (I think it was) tax breaks following the recession they had to create more jobs. These organisations do not see the private sector as millions of ordinary people making their own, personal (private) decisions and trades with each other but as some homogenous organisation with a leader that can be brought to a table for discussion, much like the PM or President could do for the public sector.

    When this organisation says their global goals have been agreed with “private business” they mean some big global corporation(s) have agreed with them. It seems they believe this somehow means everyone outside the public sector has given their approval, as if everyone not employed by a government or an NGO is a serf of one of these select global corps. Fundamental misunderstanding of how the real world works.

  5. “We consulted with society”

    “We chatted to a bunch of our friends who work for NGOs whose salaries are covered by grants that we provide”

  6. The first case the US supreme court has agreed to take since Kavanaugh was confirmed is potentially of massive importance – is a private company operating a public access network a State actor or not?

    https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-10-17/supreme-court-takes-case-could-end-internet-censorship-expand-first-amendment

    It has the potential for them to say that First Amendment rights apply, even though its a private network, thus preventing the like of Google/Twitter/Facebook from discriminating on political grounds.

  7. “Our global goals have been agreed between governments and private business.”

    Well, that doesn’t sound at all sinister. Great!

  8. isp001 – I didn’t understand all the words you used but I think I get the gist of it, and it sounds like how feudal kings used to run the show.

    They’d bill the lords for all sorts of things. Want to marry someone? Technically the king must approve, and his approval costs money. Etc.

    But they rarely actually collected this money – they just let the debt hang over their lords head. If a lord stepped out of line, calling in the debt was one way the king could punish him.

  9. Mal Reynolds, agreed.

    I also assume that, (like the regulations which benefit the larger companies who can afford to deal with them while potential smaller competitors are hobbled), some levels and types of tax are easily coped with by the big boys while smaller potential competitors struggle or go out of business altogether.

  10. Oxfam, FoE, WWF…. All acronyms designed to strike fear into the hearts of normal people. Ostensibly charities but mainly funded by governments. Able to act like government agencies but with zero democratic oversight. Travelling the world imposing fatuous policies on countries too weak to resist their money and financial clout. They act like Genghis Khan while being fawned over by the SJW NPC brigades

  11. Lax enforcement of laws is often the right strategy. Though you do want it to be uniformly lax. And you don’t want a too strict law that only works because it is imperfectly enforced. Fair laws appropriately imposed.

    Take speeding. Pretty soon your car would be able to report if you were breaking the speed limit and an automatic fine issued. Would this be a good thing to implement?

    The original claim was that it was bad that only some fraction of the corporate tax liability was being collected. Partial enforcement has both good and bad sides.

  12. Benito Mussolini talked about this sort of governance. I think he might have had a snappy word for it,

  13. “Our global goals have been agreed between governments and their cronies in large multinational corporations.” – That’s better.

    That will encompass less than 1% of private business in the global economy. For example in the UK 99,3% of businesses are SMEs.

    Connected: the goals of the so-called Chequer’s Deal is what is agreed between Government and less than 1% of businesses in UK and Pan- Europa.

  14. So two companies with average profit margins (around 5%). One manages to pay 10% tax the other pays 20%. Their tax bills are 0.5% of sales and 1% of sales respectively – a difference of 0.5% on the selling price in order to be equally profitable after tax.

    A tax system can be strict and punitive or lax. I think lax is better and the implication is that one company might have a 0.5% pricing advantage to win customers. Not sure how we jumped from that to fascism.

  15. I quite like Tim, he reminds me of Athos, full of shadows, intelligent, courageous; precise in his sword fighting.

    Others may not see it that way, but they don’t count.

  16. So I have been handed over the group insurance portfolio, our broker is a joke, and I know fuck all about insurance portfolios, I terminated them yesterday and went for a bunch of poms that at least understand our sector, and can explain things in simple terms to me, yes let’s see how they go.

    Called sacked broker yesterday morning, as a courtesy, he never returned my call, I then wrote to him about the change of appointment and later in the day he sent me an email which amongst other things said:

    “It is disappointing to hear XXX have made alternative arrangements”

    Is it just me or does anyone else think that a supplier is not permitted to feel “disappointed”, especially a shite one, that doesn’t perform or call their client?

  17. It has the potential for them to say that First Amendment rights apply, even though its a private network

    And nothing could possibly go wrong with that.

    The sheer amount of entitled, grasping greedy stupidity on this issue among soi-disant conservatives is staggering.

  18. Someone mentioned the NPC meme on here the other day. 90% of the population doesn’t play video games and has no idea what an NPC is. It comes across as an entitled millennial whine, which is ironic really.

  19. “And nothing could possibly go wrong with that.”

    Whats going right about it now? Private companies controlling what have become the de facto Public Space for debating politics etc are censoring people whose views they disagree with. They have become the Thought Police, doing the State’s dirty work for them. If the ability of social networks to ban users merely for uttering WrongThink is revoked, I for one would be very pleased.

  20. “Someone mentioned the NPC meme on here the other day. 90% of the population doesn’t play video games and has no idea what an NPC is. It comes across as an entitled millennial whine, which is ironic really.”

    I’m 47 and haven’t played a computer game since my BBC micro gave up the ghost and I could no longer play Elite. But I found the NPC meme very on the money – it skewers the robotic like posturing and rote regurgitation of ideology of the Left very well. I did have to look up what NPC meant, but that’s not difficult these days is it?

  21. I’m going to rant here, because my wife will get angry if I do it at home.

    Trump is being harassed for not going hard on the Saudis for this Koshoggi shit. By people who completely ignore St Obama’s similar track record.

    I don’t like Trump very much, but what do his US opponents think they would do in the same situation? Ditch their main Arab ally? It’s not like we haven’t known for half a century that the Saudis are uber-religious dictators.

    Why are Macron and Trudeau and the other media darlings not getting the same pressure? Because they also aren’t going to do anything substantive about it.

    It’s the hypocritical nature that pisses me off. I’d vote for Trump just to make them realise that that. He should be judged on the same standards as everyone else.

    I’m actually for the West ditching their alliances with the Saudis. But because the regime is dangerous, not because a single example of their behaviour, out of the thousands, makes us go suddenly into melt down.

  22. The Streetwise Professor has a good post up about the Khashoggi affair.

    The more I read and hear about it the more I’m inclined to think than MBS will get away with it by using the “who will rid me of this turbulent journalist” defence and a couple of low level numpties will take the fall.

  23. I imagine a supplier’s response might vary between disappointment and relief at being fired. The latter, certainly, if my customer is just out to screw me rather than doing mutually beneficial business.

    The German car companies certainly know it is better to pay a little more short term than to screw a supplier on price so hard they stop supplying (Or go out of business), because then they are beholden to the pricing of fewer suppliers.

  24. @Jim on October 18, 2018 at 11:24 am

    imho a slam dunk case. Twitter have used the phrase “a Public Square” to describe themselves when testifying to congress/senate.

  25. The argument against a super low corporate tax rate is the abuse it opens up for people who can structure their affairs so that their income instead appears as a corporations income.

    That’s easily fixed: don’t tax income. Sales taxes and import tariffs are much fairer. Easily avoided by not purchasing imports, or minimized by purchasing necessities in bulk.

  26. @Tim N

    In a PM/email I mentioned a good book I read in 1987/8 which prepared me for MBA workload.

    It might (50/50) be this – cover looks familiar.

    The Official MBA Handbook OR How to Succeed in Business Without a Harvard MBA Paperback – 1982; by Jim; Barron, Robert Fisk

    Try one of the ebook torrent sites (eg https://ebooks-shares.org)

  27. If the ability of social networks to ban users merely for uttering WrongThink is revoked, I for one would be very pleased.

    For about five minutes, and then the Unintended Consequences kick in. Big Social Media is not a public space by any sensible legal definition. Demanding the government use its monopoly on the use of force to compel a private entity to provide free services against their will is the literal definition of WWII fascism.

    Resign your commission in the Free Shit Army and learn how to pay for the things you use.

    Twitter have used the phrase “a Public Square” to describe themselves when testifying to congress/senate.

    North Korea calls itself a Democratic Republic, and for the same reason. Do we say “oh, okay then” and accept the results of their “elections”?

    Some of this disconnect may come from the fact that the US and the UK have very different notions of the distinction between public property (owned by the state) and private (owned by individual citizens). The Queen technically owns everything in your country and just lets you peons use it; in the US the government is constrained by foundational law from taking private property away. Which means that the definition of private vs. public property is a lot more stark.

  28. @Daniel Ream

    Okay, smart guy, give me a right-leaning alternative to Twitter, Facebook, and Patreon/Indiegogo. Oh wait, you can’t. The insurgents who have tried to create their own platforms have been denied the ability to do so. What do you want someone who wants to post right-wing political speech online to do? Start their own bank, DNS server farm, international payment processor, app store..?

    It’s not a case of someone being forced to print something on their own printing press, a issue of property rights. It’s a coalition of a technocratic cabal denying anyone else the ability to purchase printing press parts. In any other industry this would be seen as a trust, a monopoly.

    If your principles lead you to say that “Yes, Mark Zuckerberg deserves to censor my speech in whichever way he desires, because it’s his company and his private property”, they’re stupid principles. If Silicon Valley is going to destroy any ideologically opposed competitors with anti-competitive practices, then they deserve what’s coming. Their property rights are only one kind of right, in this situation, free speech is the more important principle to be observed.

  29. @BIG – “The latter, certainly, if my customer is just out to screw me rather than doing mutually beneficial business.”

    Yep and the worst bit for the ex broker is that we will more than likely renew all of our policies with the same underwriters, no changes there, no saving to me, plus I am paying the new mob a much higher management fee. Quite happy to pay for quality service and I know that it doesn’t come free either.

  30. “Demanding the government use its monopoly on the use of force to compel a private entity to provide free services against their will is the literal definition of WWII fascism”

    What has free got to do with it? Its Facebook’s choice whether they charge for their services. They could go down a subscription route if they want, no one is saying that they have to provide free services to anyone, if they want to charge they can. What is being said is that they cannot discriminate between users on grounds of ideology, because they have become de facto public utilities, like gas, electric and phones. The Gas company can’t turn your gas off because you like Trump, and neither should Twitter be able to ban you purely for your political views.

    There’s a legal principle that protects companies like Facebook etc, I can’t remember the exact name, but it basically works on the same idea that the phone company isn’t liable if you conspire to murder someone over the phone. They’re a carrier, not a publisher, they just carry every phone call regardless of content, legal or not. And Facebook et al are benefiting from this law, but are now more acting like publishers, because they’ve choosing who can and can’t be on their platform. And as such should therefore be liable for everything published on it, because they’re no longer a universal carrier.

    I wouldn’t mind if that was the case – Facebook were considered publishers because of their censoring antics and therefore legally liable for every post anyone puts up – they’d soon have to stop censoring voluntarily and make damn sure they were just a carrier, otherwise they’d be bust in short order.

    By your principle above, I assume you’re in favour of Facebook being allowed to ban users for being black, gay, left handed, anything they so choose? After all making them provide their services (for free) to someone they don’t want to would be literal fascism, no?

  31. I don’t want to contribute to a pile-on, but I would like to ask Daniel Ream whether he thinks Silicon Valley’s thought policing is a serious problem, and if so, what he might do about it? I’ve gotten into this argument before, and the libertarian solution wasn’t proffered.

    I think the bloke who mentioned fascism was referring to the UN flunkey’s statement, not a lax tax regime.

    Re: Oxfam and various fake charities: if gov’ts are going to fund this kind of activity, is it too much to ask that they run it via a proper gov’t department? This is probably a rare case where the gov’t wouldn’t actually be less efficient, plus they wouldn’t be able to duck responsibility for it.

  32. Oh, and Khashoggi: surely there must have been an easier, less provocative way for his enemies to neutralise him? Which makes me wonder how much of any of that story we can believe. Wikipedia says Khashoggi used to be an agent of Saudi intelligence: it all sounds a bit spy vs spy to me.

  33. @Jim on October 19, 2018 at 12:19 pm

    +1

    The Carrier defence is invalidated by their editing/censoring/reviewing which makes them a Publisher.

  34. The Queen technically owns everything in your country and just lets you peons use it;
    She owns everything from the high water line down, mute swans that aren’t owned by the dyers or vintners and whale carcasses.

    I’m fairly sure that for heathen southern nancies, if they have miserably failed to get a will sorted, it eventually reverts to Brenda but none of this has any impact on normal humans.

  35. Big ears illegitimate son that he didn’t sire is out here with his actress missus, getting into uniform to open the Invictus Game in Sydney, which is not my cup of tea.

    But out of respect, let’s say a little prayer for Aretha and those that never made it home.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtBbyglq37E

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