To Accompany February 12, 2015 edition of Tidbits
Bob Jensen at Trinity University
Only those who
will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.
We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life
that is waiting for us.
If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.
George S. Patton
Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude
you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly
on your shoulder.
Henry David Thoreau
$755 for a box of condoms
Venezuelans getting rhythm
Op-ed: "Anti-Semitism Has Returned to Europe" ---
NBC execs were
warned a year ago that Brian Williams was 'constantly inflating his biography'
Maureen Dowd ---
Brian Williams left himself open to a RPG attack --- Rubout Progressives
Sources at NBC say that Brian Williams’ history of stretching the truth was well-known. NBC is also investigating Brian Williams' expense accounts. What tipped NBC off was his $24,457 claim for expenses on a trip to Yalta documented by the photograph below:
Trophy Case ---
United States kept
secret its chemical weapons finds in Iraq
Dana Ford, CNN ---
Taliban Is Not a Terrorist Group One Month After 132 Pakistani School Children
So what is the Whitehouse excuse for being at war with the Taliban all these years?
The Last 6 Years
Have Been Really Tough for This Country
Vice President Joe Biden, January 30, 2015
Al Sharpton and Newt
Gingrich Owe the IRS a Lot of Money ---
MSNBC Ratings Tank to Near-Decade Low ---
Daniel Doherty ---
replaced its only only nuclear reactor with fossil fuels obtained from fracking
Iraq is preparing a 'massive ground assault' on ISIS
An the Chicogo Cubs are planning to win the World Series in 2015 --- Yeah Right
We'd rather be obese on benefits than thin and
Janice and Amber Manzur
Moocher Hall of Fame --- https://danieljmitchell.wordpress.com/the-moocher-hall-of-fame/
Test Your News IQ: Pew Research Center --- http://www.pewresearch.org/quiz/the-news-iq-quiz/
"Veterans, Racial Disparities, Mortgage Fraud And Children’s Health
Insurance," by Ben Casselman and Andrew Flowers, Nate Silver's 5:38 Blog,
February 9, 2015 ---
This is a complicated posting that's difficult to summarize.
Here are some of the main takeaways:
Mortgage lending surged in low-income,
less creditworthy areas of the U.S. between 2002 and 2005. But systemic
differences between incomes reported on mortgage applications and incomes
reported to the IRS indicate that much of this “subprime” lending was
reliant on borrowers fraudulently overstating their income.
Key quote: “Looking past 2005, we find that zip codes with high overstatement perform terribly. Default rates in these zip codes skyrocketed from 2005 to 2007. Using a longer horizon, the zip codes with high overstatement from 2002 to 2005 experienced lower IRS income and wage growth from 2005 to 2012. They also saw lower median household income growth from 2000 to 2010 according to the Census. Finally, there was a jump in both poverty and unemployment rates from 2000 to 2010. Recall, these zip codes already had higher poverty and unemployment rates in 2000, and they increased further through 2010. These patterns are inconsistent with gentrification, but consistent with fraudulent income overstatement on mortgage applications.”
Low-income African-Americans who
had Medicaid health insurance in childhood had fewer hospitalizations in
adulthood, possibly offsetting 3 to 5 percent of the program’s annual cost.
The effects were especially pronounced for those with chronic diseases and
those from low-income areas.
Key quote: “Our results highlight the importance of evaluating these programs over a longer time period. Indeed, we find no impact of Medicaid coverage in our analysis of the ‘immediate’ effect at age 15, but do find effects later in life at age 25. These findings suggest that the benefits of insurance may only materialize over a long horizon.”
Read the Full Report from the National Bureau of Economic Research---
"38 Percent Of Women Earn More Than Their Husbands," by Mona Chalabi,
NPR via Nate Silver's 5:38 Blog, February 8, 2015 ---
I don't know how this study factored for misleading statistics, but here are a few considerations. It's quite common for women to support husbands who are students such as students or residents in medical school. For example, surgical residents get paid, but they get paid very little relative to what their wives may be still earning to support the completion of their husband's training requirements. Of course sometimes it is husbands who support aspiring female physicians.
Many men are in the USA military. Their wives who work are almost certain to have higher income, although the benefits of a military are substantial --- including free family medical care, base housing, base schools, and lifetime pensions commencing at a young age, sometimes before reaching 40 years of age.
Times are changing for professional women at work. The big CPA firms now hire more female accounting graduates than male accounting graduates. There are also cracks in the glass ceiling. Deloitte, one of the top Big Four firms, just appointed a woman CEO.
Bob Jensen's threads on the history of working women ---
"A Deficit Hawk Spots His Prey: A billionaire argues that the rich
should pay more in taxes, but their wealth may do more for the country than
government spending," by George Melloan, The Wall Street Journal,
February 8, 2015 ---
Peter G. “Pete” Peterson says that he has “lived the American dream.” And how! He began his business career during the Depression as the boy behind the cash register at the Kearney, Neb., all-night diner owned by his Greek immigrant parents. By age 37, he was chief executive of Bell & Howell Co., a Chicago-based audiovisual equipment maker. At 46, he was President Nixon ’s secretary of commerce.
And he was just getting started. He ran Lehman Brothers for 11 years. In 1985 he co-founded the Blackstone Group, cashing out part of his share of the investment house for $1.9 billion in 2007 and retaining a stake then worth $1.3 billion. In the meantime, he found time to serve on presidential study commissions, and from 2000 to 2004 he was chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He funded the Peter G. Peterson Foundation in 2008, and for some years has made public policy the object of his concern and the subject of several books—in particular, about the potentially dire effects of bad policy decisions.
Mr. Peterson is a debt hawk, which he attributes in part to the frugality that his boyhood circumstances demanded. “We traded meals for haircuts with the local barber, took our weekly baths in succession using the same bath water and dropped whatever Lincoln pennies or Buffalo nickels we could into a piggy bank to pay for a college education,” he writes in “Steering Clear.” Today, at age 88, he fears that the soaring national debt and open-ended entitlements threaten the nation’s future.
A great many readers will share his concerns at a time when the president and many members of Congress acknowledge little limitation on their power to tax, borrow and spend. Mr. Peterson fills “Steering Clear” with charts and statistics forecasting unbearable future economic burdens. Some of his numbers, such as those that show growing income disparities, need more interpretation, but his dismal forecast is well-founded.
Mr. Peterson makes the important point that excess borrowing curbs economic growth, a view supported by the nation’s subpar growth since 2008. Rising payments for debt service swell the deficit and divert money from productive endeavors. The book’s charts predict shortfalls in Social Security and Medicare funding as more baby boomers retire.
As its title suggests, “Steering Clear” has solutions to offer. That’s where Mr. Peterson’s treatise begins to look a bit shopworn—for example, his chapter on cutting defense spending. How to get more bang for the buck has been debated for decades, and his proposal for a leaner, meaner and more mobile fighting force is hardly new. Over a decade ago, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld set about to shape such a military and had some success, particularly in expanding the use of highly mobile special forces. But it’s not as easy as it sounds.
Mr. Peterson also wants to close loopholes and other “market-distorting special provisions” in the tax code, calling current tax breaks “tax expenditures.” His use of that bureaucratic term hardly does him credit. The tax code is indeed more than ripe for a major overhaul, but “tax expenditure” implies that all income belongs to the government and that what it chooses not to tax is an “expenditure.” It’s a politically charged term.
“Soak the rich” is another Peterson prescription, one that will go down well with Barack Obama . The author’s argument, that “billionaires like me” should pay more taxes, echoes the Warren Buffett proposal for a minimum tax of 30% on incomes of more than $1 million a year. But Mr. Peterson admits that the Buffett measure would generate only $100 billion over 10 years, a pittance compared with the further $7.2 trillion of additional debt optimistically projected for that period.
Billionaires could give the government all their earnings and hardly notice. Mr. Peterson is free to do so. But that idea misses the point. Men and women of great wealth don’t bury it in the backyard. It’s part of the nation’s pool of private capital, which on the whole does more to finance economic growth than government spending. What is more, the American tax system is already highly progressive, reaching deeply into the incomes of productive workers who are not rich.
So take your choice: reduced growth from excessive debt service or reduced growth from excessive taxation. Mr. Peterson argues that the 1993 Clinton tax increases that included raising the top marginal income-tax rate to 39.6% from 36% did not threaten the prosperity of the 1990s. Economist Charles Kadlec demolished that theory in a 2012 Forbes article, noting that the resurgence of economic growth occurred only after the Republican midterm victory in 1994 and Mr. Clinton’s decision to cooperate on welfare reform, on the Nafta free-trade agreement and on a cut in the capital-gains tax rate to 20% from 28%. In short, Mr. Clinton responded to the voters and the needs of the economy, something the present White House incumbent declines to do.
Finally, Mr. Peterson seems to have overlooked the true cause of the debt explosion. The administration and Congress have run up $9 trillion in new debt since 2007, as much as was amassed in all the 220 years prior to 2007. Could that be because the government is borrowing almost free of charge, thanks to the Federal Reserve’s zero-bound interest-rate policy and its massive purchases of government bonds? The Treasury is paying less than 2% for 10-year money and gets back some of what it pays when interest on Treasury bonds is returned to it by the Fed after deducting Fed expenses. Last year that amounted to almost $100 billion.
Pete Peterson has a great record of private achievement and public service. He could be of still more service if his next book addresses the Federal Reserve policies that didn’t make it into this one.
Mr. Melloan, a former columnist and deputy editor of the Journal editorial page, is the author of “The Great Money Binge: Spending Our Way to Socialism.”
Peter G. Peterson Website on Deficit/Debt Solutions --- http://www.pgpf.org/
Bob Jensen's threads on entitlements --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Entitlements.htm
Gallup --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallup_%28company%29
Jim Clifton --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Clifton
How to Mislead With Statistics
"The Big Lie: 5.6% Unemployment," by Former Gallup CEO Jim Clifton, LinkedIn, February 3, 2015 ---
Here’s something that many Americans -- including some of the smartest and most educated among us -- don’t know: The official unemployment rate, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, is extremely misleading.
Right now, we’re hearing much celebrating from the media, the White House and Wall Street about how unemployment is “down” to 5.6%. The cheerleading for this number is deafening. The media loves a comeback story, the White House wants to score political points and Wall Street would like you to stay in the market.
None of them will tell you this: If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently given up on finding a job -- if you are so hopelessly out of work that you’ve stopped looking over the past four weeks -- the Department of Labor doesn’t count you as unemployed. That’s right. While you are as unemployed as one can possibly be, and tragically may never find work again, you are not counted in the figure we see relentlessly in the news -- currently 5.6%. Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed. Trust me, the vast majority of them aren’t throwing parties to toast “falling” unemployment.
There’s another reason why the official rate is misleading. Say you’re an out-of-work engineer or healthcare worker or construction worker or retail manager: If you perform a minimum of one hour of work in a week and are paid at least $20 -- maybe someone pays you to mow their lawn -- you’re not officially counted as unemployed in the much-reported 5.6%. Few Americans know this.
Yet another figure of importance that doesn’t get much press: those working part time but wanting full-time work. If you have a degree in chemistry or math and are working 10 hours part time because it is all you can find -- in other words, you are severely underemployed -- the government doesn’t count you in the 5.6%. Few Americans know this.
There’s no other way to say this. The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.
And it’s a lie that has consequences, because the great American dream is to have a good job, and in recent years, America has failed to deliver that dream more than it has at any time in recent memory. A good job is an individual’s primary identity, their very self-worth, their dignity -- it establishes the relationship they have with their friends, community and country. When we fail to deliver a good job that fits a citizen’s talents, training and experience, we are failing the great American dream.
Gallup defines a good job as 30+ hours per week for an organization that provides a regular paycheck. Right now, the U.S. is delivering at a staggeringly low rate of 44%, which is the number of full-time jobs as a percent of the adult population, 18 years and older. We need that to be 50% and a bare minimum of 10 million new, good jobs to replenish America’s middle class.
I hear all the time that “unemployment is greatly reduced, but the people aren’t feeling it.” When the media, talking heads, the White House and Wall Street start reporting the truth -- the percent of Americans in good jobs; jobs that are full time and real -- then we will quit wondering why Americans aren’t “feeling” something that doesn’t remotely reflect the reality in their lives. And we will also quit wondering what hollowed out the middle class.
Jim Clifton is Chairman and CEO of Gallup. He is author of The Coming Jobs War (Gallup Press, 2011).
Part-time jobs, especially those without benefits, should be excluded from the calculation of the main unemployment rate --- especially since so many of the "new jobs created" are part-time jobs.
Review of the book entitled Believer: 40 Years of Politics by David
Axelrod *special advisor to President Obama)
by Daniel Henninger
The Wall Street Journal
February 9, 2015
. . .
Mr. Axelrod’s name will be yoked forever to that of Mr. Obama, though people often misconstrue his role. Mr. Axelrod was not the Obama campaign manager in 2008. That was David Plouffe. He was not President Obama’s first chief of staff. That was Rahm Emanuel.
A fair summary of Mr. Axelrod’s role would be to say that until he left the White House in February 2011, he was in charge of the Obama “message.” Normally in politics, “message” has a particular meaning—using media to promote a set of ideas and positions. Mr. Axelrod, however, believes (thus, the book’s title) that he was involved in something larger than the mere grubwork of political messaging. Describing his position in the 2008 presidential campaign, he writes: “My role was Keeper of the Message and, I believed, the idealistic flame.”
Mr. Axelrod describes how that idealistic flame ignited early in his life, at the age of five. He was taken to a John F. Kennedy campaign rally in New York City, where he says he “somehow” absorbed the message “we are masters of our future, and politics is the means by which we shape it.” At nine, he took himself to the local Manhattan Democratic club to volunteer for Bobby Kennedy ’s New York Senate campaign.
Politics pulled him in because he sensed “it was about big, noble ideals. It was about history and historic change.” Years later—by now a Chicago political consultant whose clients had included Sen. Paul Simon, Mayor Harold Washington and Gov. Rod Blagojevich—he was working to make Barack Obama president.
It has been said that Mr. Axelrod was Barack Obama’s Svengali. Reading “Believer” made me think you could as easily say that Mr. Obama was David Axelrod’s Svengali.
“Believer” is a hagiography, a life of what for Mr. Axelrod is a saint-like figure in American politics. On the cusp of announcing his run for the presidency, Sen. Obama is asked by an associate about his plans. Mr. Axelrod writes that Mr. Obama replied: “It may not be exactly the time I would pick, but sometimes the times pick you.”
Opening his account of the White House years, Mr. Axelrod says everything he saw in Washington “confirmed Obama’s campaign critique: most members of Congress are fundamentally concerned with winning and holding on to their seats and to power.” Closing the book, he says Mr. Obama has “limited patience or understanding” for officeholders and what Mr. Axelrod calls their parochial concerns, “which would include most members of Congress and many world leaders.”
In Mr. Axelrod’s telling, Mr. Obama brought to the presidency a set of goals for health care, the economy and the environment whose self-evident rightness should have been embraced because they transcended politics and ideology. Indeed, Mr. Axelrod only once calls Mr. Obama’s goals “progressive” and merely alludes to the “Netroots,” the left-wing activists who mobilized with great success for Mr. Obama in 2008. Both Mr. Axelrod and the president thought Republican opposition to the $800 billion stimulus and Affordable Care Act was utterly base. During the health-law battle, Mr. Obama says of Sen. Mitch McConnell and the GOP leadership: “These guys are so cynical. They would take the country over the side just to score some points.”
Mr. Axelrod’s account of the Obama presidency is basically Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, to the 10th power. Even in the smallest White House groups, Mr. Obama is constantly giving Jimmy Stewart speeches: “I know things are tough right now and a lot of pundits are saying that the presidency is at stake and all of that. I don’t care about any of that. I’m not thinking about reelection.” Rahm Emanuel appears to be the only one driven a little nuts by the atmosphere of political other-worldliness.
Along the way, Mr. Axelrod tells some notable anecdotes. At a New York dinner, for example, a frustrated Barbra Streisand says the president has to talk to people in simpler terms, for the Gruberesque reason: “I hate to say it, but people are stupid.”
Mr. Axelrod says it was his idea to appoint Elizabeth Warren , “a hero to the Left,” to run the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
He suggests amid the financial crisis that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner prevailed against White House economic advisers Larry Summers and Christina Romer (“who generally didn’t mix”), in their advice in favor of a government intervention that Mr. Axelrod calls “nationalizing the banks.”
In one of the memoir’s most intriguing moments, he recalls Mr. Obama’s ruminations on a second term. “I’ll be honest,” Mr. Obama says, “four years of this might be enough. I won’t be run out. But if we can turn the economy around and get some things like health care done, I could see walking away from it.”
Instead, as the author of “Believer” might say, Barack Obama and the United States are still in the hands of history.
Mr. Henninger, deputy editor of the editorial page, writes the Wonder Land column.
With all the horror publicity about taxes in Manhattan why aren't the wealthiest residents leaving for more tax friendly residences?
Why doesn't Wall Street move to Houston?
"New York’s $100 million penthouse is getting a 95% tax break," by
Megan Willett, Business Insider, February 2, 2015 ---
The wealthy have lots of good reasons to invest their money in New York's residential real estate market, panoramic views and strong returns among them.
But another perk, incredibly low taxes for some penthouse buyers, have people furious.
The latest, most egregious example is the penthouse at ultra-luxury highrise One57, which just sold for a record $100.5 million. That apartment will receive a 95% tax cut, saving the mystery buyer an estimated $360,000 in taxes annually, according to The New York Times.
The tax cut comes from a controversial housing program known as 421-a. It offers huge tax breaks for luxury properties that can last up to 25 years as long as the developers also build affordable and moderate-income apartments.
But the 44-year-old program has been criticized for only stimulating the luxury market, costing the city billions in lost taxes, and allowing developers to “double-dip” by receiving benefits for future luxury projects with previously-built affordable housing units.
In fact, the tax cuts are so extreme that US Attorney Preet Bharara launched an investigation into the 421-a program after a state investigation on whether developers were receiving tax breaks in exchange for political contributions was abruptly shut down by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Continued in article
And there are other ways to avoid personal income taxes, business income taxes, sales taxes, and property taxes in New York, including Manhattan.
New York Gives the Most Tax Breaks in the USA ---
New York may have among the highest taxes in the nation, but it also gives out the most tax breaks, too.
New York has 71,759 tax-subsidy deals worth $21 billion on its books — more than five times any other state, found a review Wednesday by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
"Corporate welfare is a significant problem at the state level, with New York state leading the rest," wrote Veronique de Rugy, a researcher for the conservative group based in Arlington, Virginia.
New York is one of the highest-taxed states in the nation, so political leaders have long relied on tax breaks to keep businesses and lure new ones.
It gives out about $7 billion a year in tax breaks, the largest being more than $1 billion to help clean up old industrial sites.
The biggest subsidy in the state was $5.6 billion awarded by the state Power Authority in 2007 to aluminum-maker Alcoa, the center's report said. The company received a 30-year break on energy costs for its plant in St. Lawrence County..
The deal ranks on a variety of lists as the second biggest subsidy a state has ever given to a private company; only the $8.2 billion in incentives Washington state gave in 2013 to Boeing through 2040 for the assembly of a new jet ranks higher.
New York has given out some other big ones in recent years: $1.2 billion in 2006 went to AMD, now GlobalFoundries, for its semiconductor plant in Saratoga County. That ranked 14th on the center's list. Another was $660 million to IBM in 2000 for its Dutchess County plant. IBM now appears close to selling the plant to GlobalFoundries.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January started one of the largest tax-break programs in state history: Start-Up NY, which offers tax-free zones for 10 years to businesses. About two dozen small businesses have already signed up. Earlier this month, Cuomo launched Global NY to promote the state's improved tax climate internationally.
"With companies already thriving and creating jobs on the heels of programs like Start-Up NYSTART-UP NY, the Empire State has quickly become a top choice for companies of all kinds," Kenneth Adams, president of Empire State Development, the state's business arm, said in a statement Oct. 7.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive, has blasted Cuomo's tax policies.
He has proposed cutting income-tax rates and lowering business taxes further, arguing that Cuomo's strategy picks certain industries for tax breaks.
Astorino said he would get rid of the $420 million a year the state provides in tax breaks for film and movie productions — one of the largest incentives offered to any industry in New York and one of the most generous tax breaks for films.
"Why are we giving tax breaks to an industry that doesn't need it?" Astorino said in a radio interview Wednesday.
A lot of wealthy people live in or move to New York for the tax breaks. The little guys, however, move to Florida when they retire. Of course one of the reasons is sunshine. And another reason is to be closer to older friends and relatives. But NY taxes on the little guy are more onerous, including such things and state income taxes and state inheritance taxes for those whose estates are just large enough to get hit by NY.
Would you believe any study, even one pushed by the The Washington Post, that concludes that there is no racial difference between teenage crime in the USA?
How to Mislead With Statistics
'Another Bogus Academic Study Creates Bogus Headlines," by Colin Flaherty, The American Thinker, February 2, 2015 ---
Thanks to the Washington Post, we have new entry in what is surely the fastest-growing industry in academia: bogus studies that purport to show there is no difference between black and white rates of crime. The only difference comes from the big bad racist police, prosecutors, parole officers, judges, juries, reporters, editors and others who are also in on The Big Fix and relentlessly pick on black people, For No Reason What So Ever.
Even in black cities with black mayors, black police chiefs and black prosecutors -- like Washington.
This latest headline from the Post tells a shocking story: “Black teens who commit a few crimes go to jail as often as white teens who commit dozens.”
Or it would be shocking if it were true. But it is not.
This headline, of course, flies in the face of numbers that show violent crime for black people is astronomically out of proportion: 5, 10, 50 times greater than crime rates for white people. Throw Asians into the mix, and you can multiply that by 10 times more.
Turns out, they are also in on The Big Fix: “Although there were negligible differences among the racial groups in how frequently boys committed crimes, white boys were less likely to spend time in a facility than black and Hispanic boys who said they'd committed crimes just as frequently, as shown in the chart above,” quoth the Post.
“Negligible differences among the racial groups?” What? Where did that come from?
That gem of disbelief is contained in a study from Tia Stevens Andersen of the University of South Carolina and Michigan State University's Merry Morash.
And where did they get it? “Surveyors (from the Department of Labor) asked youth whether they had stolen, destroyed property, attacked someone or sold drugs in the last year.”
Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2015/02/another_bogus_academic_study_creates_bogus_headlines.html#ixzz3QdPFINSN
Political Correctness --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_correctness
"What the Hell Does 'Politically Correct' Mean?: A Short History The many
meanings of 'political correctness," by Jesse Walker, Reason Magazine,
January 30, 2014 ---
Amanda Taub's Vox piece denying the existence of political correctness does get one thing right: The phrase political correctness "has no actual fixed or specific meaning." What it does have, though Taub doesn't explore this, is a history of meanings: a series of ways different people have deployed the term, often for radically different purposes. Unpack that history, and you can unpack a lot of the debates going on today.
People have been putting the words "politically" and "correct" together in various contexts for ages, but for our purposes the story begins in the middle of the 20th century, as various Marxist-Leninist sects developed a distinctive cant. One of the terms they liked to use was "politically correct," as in "What is needed now is a politically correct, class-conscious and militant leadership, which will lead an armed struggle to abolish the whole system of exploitation of man by man in Indonesia and establish a workers state!" It was a phrase for the sort of radical who was deeply interested in establishing and enforcing the "correct line," to borrow another term of the day. If you were the sort of radical who was not interested in establishing and enforcing the correct line, you were bound to start mocking this way of talking, and by the end of the '60s the mockers were flinging the phrase back at the drones. In 1969, for example, when Dana Beal of the White Panther Party defended the counterculture against its critics on the straight left, he argued that freely experimenting was more important than trying "to be perfectly politically 'correct.'" A year later, in the seminal feminist anthology Sisterhood is Powerful, Robin Morgan derided male editors who had "the best intentions of being politically 'correct'" but couldn't resist butting in with their own ideas. In the new usage, which soon superceded the old Leninist lingo pretty much entirely, "politically correct" was an unkind term for leftists who acted as though good politics were simply a matter of mastering the right jargon.
Meanwhile, a similar but slightly different approach to the phrase emerged. In '80s issues of magazines like Mother Jones or Ms., "politically correct" could describe a consumer good or a lifestyle choice. The tone here was usually lightly self-mocking, as you'd expect when words once associated with a shifting Maoist party line were now being applied to an exercise book or a fake fur. But some people did use it earnestly, perhaps because they weren't in on the joke, perhaps because they just thought the term was too good to go to waste. In the early '90s, a woman told me that she and her friends had often said "politically correct" without any irony when she was an undergraduate at Bryn Mawr. She wasn't happy when she started hearing people use the expression disdainfully.
My favorite mid-'80s manifestation of the phrase has to be this ad that Mother Jones ran in 1985—mostly because I'm not entirely sure if it's being partly ironic or completely sincere. It's clearly one of the funniest things anyone wrote that year, but I'll be damned if I know whether the person who produced it knew that:
Exhibit not shown here
By then the term was fairly well-established on American campuses. When future Clinton speechwriter Jeff Shesol debuted his comic strip Thatch in Brown's student newspaper in 1988, he included a faux superhero called Politically Correct Person, a character forever correcting people's language and consumer choices. "Yes, I'm familiar with Doonesbury. Why do you ask?"Jeff Shesol The phrase persisted in the more radical segments of the left as well. When I was attending the University of Michigan, one of my colleagues at the student radio station edited a queer/punk zine called P.C. Casualties, which ran this righteous rant in 1991: "As if bullying prank phone calls from those young Republican shitheads weren't enough, now we have half-assed, pseudo-radical academics playing the same old power games as well. Yeah, you've got all the 'correct' answers, and even a little power in your corner of this political ghetto. But you're all fake....All you've managed to do is torture and maim those you really ought to be caring for—your own brothers and sisters. The bodies of P.C. Casualties lay strewn all over, ghosts of dreams too afraid to materialize, and whispers too fearful to make a sound."
That piece was published near the end of the 1990-91 academic year, which also happened to be the year the phrase had its national coming-out party. The December 24, 1990, Newsweek featured the words "THOUGHT POLICE" on its cover; inside, a Jerry Adler article argued that "where the PC reigns, one defies it at one's peril." A month later, John Taylor's cover story "Are You Politically Correct?" appeared in New York magazine. The Wall Street Journal ran a series of pieces attacking political correctness. And around the same time that issue of P.C. Casualties appeared, President George Herbert Walker Bush warned the graduating class at Michigan that "the notion of political correctness" was replacing "old prejudices with new ones."
"Politically correct" had now entered the mainstream lexicon—and, maybe more important, the conservative lexicon. But what did people mean when they said it? When that jeremiad in P.C. Casualties got down to specifics, it invoked "women banned from the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival for practicing S&M." You weren't likely to see that mentioned in a George Will column. So what were the conservatives upset about?
To a large extent, it was the same things critics on the left had been upset about. But there were other complaints here too. While Newsweek's cover story included anecdotes about censorship and other heavy-handed attempts to impose an orthodoxy, it also veered off periodically into discussions of deconstruction, the Great Books canon, and other subjects that didn't have much to do with civil liberties. Taylor's New York story went even further in that direction, including a whole section on Afrocentrism. From 1990 onward, a bunch of longstanding conservative complaints about campus life, particularly its arguments about what was taught in the English departments, were framed as debates about political correctness.
Continued in article
Cities Where Crime Is Soaring ---
There do not appear to be obvious underlying causes. One cause of higher crime is unemployment' Another is racial tension. These might account for high crime rates in Monroe, Michigan but these are not obvious factors in Bismark, North Dakota where both unemployment and racial tensions are almost nonexistent. And why should there be high crime rates in Medford, Oregon?
Sometimes there's just no accounting for statistical aberrations.
One Minute Audio on How Humans Contribute to Global Warming But Cannot Stop
Archaeological Climate Perspectives
Air pollution in Asia may be changing weather patterns in the
United States ---
"Harvard Law Pushes Back: Even liberals
objected to Obama’s lack of due process in sexual misconduct cases," The
Wall Street Journal, January 30, 2015 ---
The University of Virginia held a two-day conference last February on “Sexual Misconduct Among College Students.” One of the speakers was the Education Department’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Catherine Lhamon, who touted her office’s efforts to compel colleges and universities, under pain of losing federal funds, to adopt draconian policies on sexual harassment and assault.
These policies have raised serious concerns about due process and basic fairness for the accused, and an audience member asked Ms. Lhamon how she planned to deal with such “push-back.” Her reply: “We’ve received a lot of push-back, and we need to push forward notwithstanding.” The recent experience of Harvard Law School demonstrates the value of pushing back.
Both Harvard Law and Harvard College, the university’s undergraduate division, were on the Office of Civil Rights’ list of 55 institutions under investigation for violations of Title IX, the law that is the basis for the OCR’s sexual-misconduct mandate. Effective with the 2014-15 academic year, Harvard’s administration instituted universitywide “Interim Policies and Procedures” designed to satisfy the OCR’s demands.
Most institutions yield to OCR’s pressure without significant dissent. But at Harvard, 28 law professors—including liberal luminaries Elizabeth Bartholet, Alan Dershowitz, Nancy Gertner, Janet Halley, Duncan Kennedy and Charles Ogletree —signed an open letter, published in the Boston Globe, in which they described the new policies and procedures as “inconsistent with many of the most basic principles we teach.”
Among their complaints: “the absence of any adequate opportunity to discover the facts charged and to confront witnesses and present a defense”; the designation of a Title IX compliance officer, “rather than an entity that could be considered structurally impartial,” as investigator, prosecutor and judge; “the failure to ensure adequate representation for the accused,” especially for lower-income students.
The professors also faulted the university for having “apparently decided simply to defer to the demands of certain federal administrative officials,” and law-school administrators listened. They adopted new procedures, independent of the university’s and far friendlier to due process.
Accused students will now have the right to a lawyer and access to financial assistance if they need it. Cases will be adjudicated by an independent panel rather than by the Title IX compliance officer. On Dec. 30 the OCR accepted the new procedures in a settlement agreement with Dean Martha Minow.
The resolution does not address all of the law professors’ concerns. Although the law school has improved its procedures, it is still subject to the university’s policies.
The professors are concerned that these policies define sexual harassment in a way “that goes significantly beyond Title IX and Title VII law” and impose “rules governing sexual conduct between students both of whom are impaired or incapacitated” by alcohol or other drugs, which are “starkly one-sided as between complainants and respondents.” Such impairment vitiates an accuser’s consent but is not a defense for the accused.
Dean Minow also agreed to OCR’s demands to modify the procedures in ways that raise further due-process concerns. The law school must include “a statement that complainants have a right to proceed simultaneously with a criminal investigation and a Title IX investigation,” which could make it impossible for an accused student to defend himself in the university proceeding while preserving his right against self-incrimination.
And it must adopt an “explicit prohibition of public hearings in cases involving sexual assault or sexual violence,” so that it will be difficult for the public or the press to monitor the process for abuses.
Still, the law school’s new procedures are a significant improvement over the university’s, and they promise more fairness than the kangaroo-court systems many universities have adopted under OCR pressure. The investigation of Harvard College is still under way, and the university could do far worse than to follow the lead of Harvard Law, the school that pushed back.
This is where college gang rapes should end up
--- the police and the courts
Vanderbilt Football Trial: Alleged Rape Details Emerge ---
Vanderbilt Football Players Found Guilty of Rape ---
"Charges Are Dropped Against 5 Accused of Rape (and expelled) at William
Paterson U.," by Charles Huckabee, Chronicle of Higher Education,
January 30, 2015 ---
2nd College Student Charged With Rape Sues - Columbia // Males Suing
Private Universities, Others ---
At least it is in the hands of the police and the courts where it belongs
Stanford ex-student denies raping woman outside a fraternity ---
Tiger Woods --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_Woods
A Toothless Tiger
The golf world has never seen anything like the meltdown Tiger Woods is going through ---
Don't count Tiger out. His work ethic, like that of his good friend Lindsey Vaughn, is beyond what many people other than Navy Seals are capable of in terms of determination and risk taking.
"America's Worst School System (in Camden) Will Soon Be Dead. Will What
Replaces It Be Any Better?" by Jim Epstein, Reason Magazine, January
27, 2015 ---
. . .
The 2012 Urban Hope Act authorized the state to open four new public schools in Camden, and three opened this year, which are run by the charter school operators KIPP, Uncommon Schools, and Mastery Charter Schools. Over the next several years, these three schools will gradually expand their enrollment until they serve the majority of kids in Camden.
These schools enjoy the same autonomy as charter schools in selecting their teachers and managing their budgets, but they also have one major thing in common with traditional public schools: They're attached to specific neighborhoods, so most of their students were assigned to attend them. Charter schools, on the other hand, generally accept kids from an entire city, and parents make a choice to send their kids to them.
Drew Martin, 34, who’s the school leader at KIPP Cooper Norcross, says this provides an opportunity to rebut critics who claim that the only reason charter schools perform so well is that they attract the most involved parents willing to make the effort to look for better options for their kids, and that they push out the most difficult students.
"So that's no longer going to be able to apply to us because we'll be using the same tactics that we've always used," says Martin, "but we're going to be required to take kids from our sending zone so nobody can say that we're creaming."
As-Sidq Davis was part of the first class at KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy, but Shantella Davis’ continued to have difficulty getting him to school—and she even withdrew him after a dispute with the administration. Davis is planning to reenroll As-Sidq, and since KIPP Cooper Norcross is his zoned school, Drew Martin says the door is open when he’s ready to return. And that’s what’s different: If the school were a charter, Martin wouldn’t be required to take him back.
Derrell Bradford, an education reform advocate who spent ten years working in Camden, says that the lack of parental choice is a major shortcoming of these new schools. "It removes the most powerful and fundamental element, which is that a parent wakes up one day and wants something better and has a right to go get it," he says.
Coincidentally, NYU Professor Diane Ravitch, who is the best-known policy analyst to make the charge that charter schools don’t serve kids from the most trouble homes, suggested on her blog in 2012 pretty much exactly what’s happening in Camden today, challenging KIPP "to put an end to suspicion that they [sic] were skimming students and excluding low-performing students by taking over an entire district.” adding: "Camden looks like a perfect candidate for the challenge.”
"I don't think KIPP has anything to prove to Diane Ravitch," says Bradford. "If there were no residential assignment someone would be out in the home of the neediest person in Camden trying to recruit their kids into a school because of the economics of it."
"I'm excited about what's going on there," Bradford adds. "Camden is monumentally better off today than it was event two years ago because who runs the schools matters. But I think in an ideal world their would be open enrollment everywhere."
This story is part three in a three-part video series on Camden's public schools. Click here to watch part one, which looks at how dramatically boosting per pupil spending didn't fix the public schools in Camden and New Jersey's other poorest cities. Click here watch part two, which is a profile of LEAP, Camden's first and most successful charter school.
In Germany and other parts of Europe less than 25% of the college aged students are allowed into college. Children are tracked early on as to which which ones will be prepared for college. The Camden experiment could possibly evolve along similar lines --- but certainly not in the early years. In the USA we are not as prepared for making great career opportunities for the other 75% who are not college bound. Instead, contrary to what Tom Hanks would have us believe, we have inferior colleges to give inferior college diplomas.
But if the Camden charter schools become the tough grading and touch curriculum alternatives for preparing the top students for the top universities in the USA Camden may evolve toward a German model.
Greece has spent 90 of the past 192 years in financial crisis ---
Could there be a work ethic problem here
European Leaders Rule out Forgiveness of Greek Debt
"Greek Banks May Lose ECB Credit, Says Policy Maker Liikanen," by Juhana Rossi, The Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2015 ---
HELSINKI—The European Central Bank will stop lending to Greek banks if there is no agreement to keep the country’s bailout program in force, an ECB policy maker said on Saturday.
In parallel with the bailout program, the ECB has exempted Greek banks from its collateral requirements and allowed them to access central bank liquidity that is vital for a functioning banking system.
New Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has taken a defiant stance toward Europe, insisting on debt relief from fellow eurozone members.
The Greek government has made clear its intention to roll back a series of overhauls—from privatizations to cuts in the minimum wage—undertaken in exchange for the European-led €240 billion bailout.
The government and Greece’s international lenders, led by the European Union, are now locked in a standoff over the current program that will expire at the of February.
This disagreement “has to be resolved somehow, or else we don’t have the possibility to continue extending credit [to Greek banks],” said Bank of Finland Governor Erkki Liikanen, who is also a member of the ECB’s governing council.
"Why Syriza's win is good for the euro," The Economist, January
30, 2015 ---
It was in Greece that the infernal euro crisis began just over five years ago.
So it is classically fitting that Greece should now be where the denouement may be played out--thanks to the big election win on January 25th for the far-left populist Syriza party led by Alexis Tsipras.
By demanding a big cut in Greece's debt and promising a public-spending spree, Mr Tsipras has thrown down the greatest challenge so far to Europe's single currency--and thus to Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, who has set the austere path for the continent.
The stakes are high. Although everybody, including Mr Tsipras, insists they want Greece to stay in the euro, there is now a clear threat of Grexit. In 2011-12 Mrs Merkel wavered, but then decided to support the Greeks to keep them in the single currency. She did not want Germany to be blamed for another European disaster, and both northern creditors and southern debtors were nervous about the consequences of a chaotic Greek exit for Europe's banks and their economies.
This time the odds have changed. Grexit would look more like the Greeks' fault, Europe's economy is stronger and 80% of Greece's debt is in the hands of other governments or official bodies. Above all the politics are different. The Finns and the Dutch, like the Germans, want Greece to stick to promises it made when they twice bailed it out. And in southern Europe centrist governments fear that a successful Greek blackmail would push voters towards their own populist opposition parties, like Spain's Podemos (see Charlemagne)
It could all get very messy. But there are broadly three possible outcomes: the good, the disastrous, and a compromise to kick the can down the road. The history of the euro has always been to defer the pain, but now the battle is about politics not economics--and compromise may be much harder.
Tantalisingly, there is a good solution to be grabbed for both Greece and Europe. Mr Tsipras has got two big things right, and one completely wrong. He is right that Europe's austerity has been excessive. Mrs Merkel's policies have been throttling the continent's economy and have ushered in deflation. The belated launch of quantitative easing (QE) by the European Central Bank admits as much.
Mr Tsipras is also right that Greece's debt, which has risen from 109% to a colossal 175% of GDP over the past six years despite tax rises and spending cuts, is unpayable. Greece should be put into a forgiveness programme just like a bankrupt African country. But Mr Tsipras is wrong to abandon reform at home. His plans to rehire 12,000 public-sector workers, abandon privatisation and introduce a big rise in the minimum wage would all undo Greece's hard-won gains in competitiveness.
Hence this newspaper's solution: get Mr Tsipras to junk his crazy socialism and to stick to structural reforms in exchange for debt forgiveness--either by pushing the maturity of Greek debt out even further or, better still, by reducing its face value. Mr Tspiras could vent his leftist urges by breaking up Greece's cosy protected oligopolies and tackling corruption. The combination of macroeconomic easing with microeconomic structural reform might even provide a model for other countries, like Italy and even France.
A very logical dream--until you wake up and remember that Mr Tsipras probably is a crazy leftwinger and Mrs Merkel can barely accept the existing plans for QE. Hence the second, disastrous outcome: Grexit. Optimists are right that it would now be less painful than in 2012, but it would still hurt.
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/why-syrizas-win-is-good-the-euro-2015-1#ixzz3QOsOCUC2
From the standpoint of the best interest of the Greeks a whole lot rides on whether Tsipras will allow the Greeks to revert to their old bad habits of growing a bloated and unproductive public sector combined with the bad habits of allowing tax laws to go unenforced.
Tsipras would do better for the Greeks by letting Ireland become the economic model of encouraging capitalism and outside investing in Greece. This is not likely to happen since he's a socialist at best and a communist at worst. Russia has voiced an interest in partnering with Greece. Yeah right! Where's all that underground Greek oil?
Top 5 NFL Hits...to Taxpayers --- http://reason.com/reasontv/2015/01/30/the-top-5-nfl-hits-to-taxpayers
Bob Jensen's Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm
Two Days Before Super Bowl, The NFL’s Status As A Nonprofit Is Challenged
Elo Rankings --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elo_rating_system
Elo Rankings Deflate the Patriots (by epsilon) Before the Super Bowl
Here's what statistical guru Nate Silver and his technical friends predicted in advance of the 2015 Super Bowl
"The Patriots And Seahawks Are The Best. This Could Be The Worst Super Bowl Ever" ---
What happens when you develop a genuinely
almost nearly perfect society in which there is nothing left to achieve, nothing
to kick against, or work?
"Actually, the Danish don't have the secret to happiness," Michael Booth, The Atlantic, January 31, 2015
The American Dream Versus the Danish Dream ---
The Atlantic article below is too long but is accompanied by great photographs
Moral of Story
Maybe the best way to be happy is to set expectations low. Reminds me of the Bloomington High School girls basketball team that recently lost 161-2. Think of how happy this team will be next year when they only lose 98-12 ---
What happens when you develop a genuinely
almost nearly perfect society in which there is nothing left to achieve, nothing
to kick against, or work?
"Actually, the Danish don't have the secret to happiness," Michael Booth, The Atlantic, January 31, 2015 ---
Cars are very, very expensive in Denmark. Maybe they would be happier if they did not have to ride bicycles all the time and could save up enough money to own and operate cars.
Denmark's Welfare State is On the Rocks In
Spite of (or because of) High Taxes
"Scandinavia�s Weakest Nation Finds Welfare Habits Too Costly," by Peter Levring, Bloomberg, August 30, 2013 ---
Marginal Tax Cuts in Denmark --- http://www.asb.dk/en/aboutus/newsfromasb/newsarchive/article/artikel/feature_article_what_can_we_expect_from_the_spring_tax_reform-1/
The media regularly feature stories about how Danes are unwilling to work extra hours, even if taxes are lowered. The Danish Economic Council and the Danish Ministry of Finance say the opposite is true, while the public debate swings in both directions.
By Associate Professor Anders Frederiksen, Department of Marketing and Statistics, Aarhus School of Business, University of Aarhus
(This article was published in the Danish daily Berlingske Tidende on Monday 16 November 2009.)
This spring will see the implementation of a comprehensive tax reform that will reduce the marginal tax rate for most people in Denmark. We are becoming quite well versed in concepts such as financial 'carrots' and 'hammocks', and we have been inundated with all manner of studies of the willingness of the Danish people to work more if taxes are cut. Most of these studies find that the Danes are willing to work more, but there are always some that present the opposite conclusion; and the media has a tendency to call more attention to the latter. Perhaps it makes for a better story when people contradict the Economic Council and the Ministry of Finance.
Let's nail the point home once and for all: the supply of labour in society will increase if the marginal tax rate (the tax on the last krone earned) is cut. This outcome is so certain that not a single economist contradicts it. But that is where the consensus ends, and opinions on the scope of this effect differ greatly, because the change in the supply of labour that will follow a cut in the marginal tax rate is generally considered relatively small � a conclusion that has also been confirmed by Danish research. This means that if the marginal tax rate is lowered by, e.g. 1 per cent, a good estimate is that the supply of labour will increase by 0.05 per cent for men and 0.15 per cent for women. In other words, after a marginal tax rate cut of 10 per cent, an average woman working full time will be willing to work approx. 30 minutes more a week.
But exactly who can we expect to work longer hours? The spring tax reform will abolish the middle-bracket tax, shift the tax basis for the top-bracket tax and reduce the bottom-bracket tax rate. This will increase the incentive for nearly every worker in Denmark to work more, although the consequences for the supply of labour depend on the level of income. Workers with a bottom-bracket tax as their marginal tax will experience a moderate reduction in taxes, and thus we can only expect a moderate increase in the supply of labour within this group. In contrast, people who are no longer charged top-bracket tax and who also experience the reduction in the bottom-bracket tax as well as the abolishment of the middle-bracket tax will have a significantly reduced marginal tax rate, and this will have a major impact on their willingness to work more. Thus, one of the consequences of the tax reform is an increase in the supply of labour among those workers earning around DKK 400,000.
But what do the Danish people say when asked whether they would work more if taxes were cut? To obtain a better understanding of this key question, we asked the members of the unemployment insurance fund FTF-A what they would be willing to do if the top-bracket tax were abolished? Their response was clear � they would work more. More precisely, 17 per cent responded that they would work more, while 77 per cent responded that they would not change their working hours and only 6 percent believed that they would reduce their working hours. Thus, these responses confirm the findings found in the specialist literature.
Overtime or another job?
The spring tax reform will increase the supply of labour, but how is that possible when everyone works 37-hour-a-week jobs? The idea of inflexible working hours is actually a misconception. According to our study, the majority of the unemployment insurance fund members who responded that they would work more would do more overtime, while nearly a third would increase the supply of labour by taking an additional job. A small share would exchange their part-time job for a full-time job. And those who are not in employment would spend more time looking for work. In other words, you and I may not see any possibilities for earning extra money, but there is a large group of people who would see these possibilities and would be willing to make an extra effort if the incentive were greater.
Less attractive to moonlight
One thing is the supply of labour, but what other consequences will the tax reform have? Unintended consequences of taxation, such as the existence of a black labour market, will also be affected by the reform. The specialist literature documents that the supply of labour in the informal labour market (especially for men) will be significantly affected by the pay that can be brought home from the regular labour market. We also know from previous studies that a large share of the population moonlights � a finding that is also confirmed by FTF-A's members, where approximately 10 per cent say they moonlight. If the top-bracket tax were abolished, 18 per cent of those who moonlight would reduce the amount of work they do on the black labour market, while only 1 per cent would go against that trend and moonlight more. In short, lower taxes also contribute to a more honest labour market.
Pamper pension savings
The tax reform will also have interesting consequences for the financial sector, the retail sector and other areas of society with an interest in the economic priorities of Danes who have more money in their pockets. We know that the retail sector will experience a boost resulting from the increase in disposable income, but not all the money will go towards extra consumption. Some of it will also be put into savings, but what kind? The high marginal tax rate in Denmark has turned increasing pension payments into something of a national pastime in an effort to avoid and postpone paying taxes. If the top-bracket tax were abolished, this hobby would become less interesting, even though the higher disposable income would make it possible to increase savings. The responses from FTF-A's members show that 20 per cent of people with pension savings would increase their payments if the top-bracket tax were abolished, while only 8 per cent would decrease payments to their pension savings. This illustrates that the tax reform will not only have consequences for the labour market, but for many other sectors as well. For instance, people will spend more money in shops, and the financial sector can expect to experience an increase in demand for pension-related products.
Expensive in the beginning
Naturally, the many positive effects of the tax reform described here do not stand alone, and the observant reader is probably wondering whether there are any negative consequences of the tax reform. One problem is that the reform will not be self-financing in the short term. Consequently, the state will have less money in its coffers as a result of lower taxes next year, even taking into account the fact that a number of people will work more. However, this does not mean that the tax reform cannot be self-financing in the medium or long term. The changed behaviour patterns that we will see in the Danish people as a result of the lower tax on work will contribute to this. For example, higher pay after taxes will encourage young people to exploit their potential better, e.g. by obtaining a higher education, which will contribute in the long term to better pay conditions and growth in the economy.
How skewed can Denmark be?
One of the more negative consequences of the tax reform stems from the fact that the tax cut primarily affects the upper levels of the income distribution, leading to greater inequality in society. While the question of how much inequality can be tolerated is a political issue, it is naturally an important aspect that should be considered. But with that said, Danish society generally has a very high level of equality compared to other countries.
Could it be that tax revisionists in Denmark are beginning to anticipate value added from something like an American Dream being introduced in Denmark?
The American Dream Versus the Danish Dream ---
Obama is releasing his budget Monday — Here's what to expect ---
CBO Projects Tepid Economic Growth, Rising Deficits Despite Rising Revenues
The Budget and Outlook 2015-2025
Congressional Budget Office
The USA, like Greece, thinks it can spend its way out of debt. It can't!
Bob Jensen's threads on entitlements
The Numbers Behind Food Stamps: Top 5 States for Food Stamp Participation
Mississippi, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, and West Virginia have the largest amount of food stamp participants in the country. According to SNAP each month about 47.6 million people living in 23.1 million U.S. households participated in the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), on average, per month.
State Data Lab provides data on SNAP programs in all 50 states and you can find where your state stands here.
SNAP households consist of a diverse group because benefits are available to most low-income households with few resources regardless of age, disability status, or family structure. SNAP participants represent a broad cross-section of the nation’s low-income families. In 2013, most participants were children or elderly with 44% of participants under age 18 and 9 percent age 60 or older.
Continued in article
Click here to see how your state compares in food stamp participation to these states ---
Three of the Top 5 come as no surprise, by why Oregon and Tennessee?
I thought the big fraud states like Florida and Illinois (read that Chicago) would top the list.
"Obama and Congress offer bogus rhetoric on tax reform: Tax proposals favor political donor class at the expense of ordinary Americans ," By David Johnston (University of Syracuse), Al Jazeera, February 9, 2015 ---
A good article, but I'm not sure why it was published in Al Jazeera.
Meet Your New Boss: He Lives and Works in Brazil
"How Obama’s Tax Plan May Not Work as
Intended," by Victor Fleisch, The New York Times, February 6, 2015
Companies’ offshore cash holdings are a tempting target for American tax writers, as President Obama’s proposal this week to tax deferred offshore earnings proves. Those same offshore earnings may attract foreign buyers as well.
A Bloomberg article on Wednesday by David Kocieniewski rightly identifies an unintended consequence of the president’s proposal: It provides companies with an additional incentive to hurry up and move their headquarters overseas before the rules change.
I think the more formidable concern is an increase in foreign acquisitions of companies in the United States. Unlike a corporate inversion, where a larger American company is “acquired” by a smaller foreign one, I am speaking here of acquisitions by foreign companies that are the same size or larger than their American targets.
The Treasury Department issued guidance last year that makes it more difficult for American companies to reap some of the benefits of an inversion. In particular, the guidance makes it more difficult for inverted companies to get access to deferred offshore earnings (the same deferred offshore earnings that would be the subject of a 14 percent tax under the White House proposal).
Paper inversions were a threat mainly because of the erosion of the corporate tax base. The inversions involving pharmaceutical industry companies in recent years may not have an important effect on home country jobs, according to a recent paper by Omri Marian of the University of Florida. Mergers and acquisitions by foreign companies, by contrast, pose a threat beyond just revenue effects. In these transactions, jobs follow headquarters.
Consider what Mihir A. Desai, a professor of law and finance at Harvard, refers to as the “call and response” pattern that has brought us to where we are. An inversion, technically, is a foreign company acquiring an American company. Before Congress began changing the rules in 2004, an American company could invert merely by shuffling paper around. Later rules made it necessary to add some substance to the deal. An American company had to find a foreign acquirer of 25 percent or more of its size, sometimes fattening up the foreign company or reducing its own size to fit the rules.
The hunt for suitable merger partners continues, only somewhat abated by the Treasury guidance last fall. But in response to increased regulation, the next logical move is even more substantive: a merger with a real foreign acquirer, not just a post office box in an exotic location.
Mr. Kocieniewski correctly notes that although smaller companies may continue to hunt for inversion partners, the largest companies with offshore foreign holdings, like Pfizer, Eli Lilly & Company, Microsoft, General Electric and Apple, may be too big to engage in inversion transactions.
But there is a sweet spot where companies with substantial offshore cash holdings may be tempting targets for a foreign company. And companies that are too large to invert or be acquired may be tempted to sell off divisions to foreign buyers.
The rules on inversions do not apply in a merger of equals or where the foreign company is larger than the domestic target. And so the offshore cash trapped by the Treasury’s inversion guidance is unlocked — and avoids the White House proposal – if and only if the company is acquired by a larger foreign company.
The ideal size for a target is a company that is large enough to have accumulated significant offshore cash holdings, but not so large that it’s bigger than potential buyers.
Just last year, for example, Chiquita’s planned inversion deal with the Irish banana producer Fyffes was scuttled in favor of a takeover by the Brazilian orange juice producer Grupo Cutrale and its investment partner, Safra. Chiquita had $1.7 billion in undistributed foreign earnings as of the end of 2013 — cash and investments that can now be accessed by its Brazilian owners without paying any tax in the United States.
Continued in article
"The Tax-Cutting Boon Sweeping the
States With 31 governorships and dozens of statehouses in GOP hands, millions of
Americans are finally getting tax relief," by Stephen Moore, The Wall
Street Journal, January 29, 2014 ---
Recall that there are now 30 USA states that are totally Republican in terms of governorships and both state houses. In nearly all cases the Republicans made campaign promises to lower taxes and reduce spending.
New Hampshire is a blue state with a Democratic Party loyalist for Governor. But Governor Maggie Hassan ran on a stringent promise that she would never support the introduction of either a sales tax or a state income tax in New Hampshire. She probably did not like this, but she faced the reality that it was literally impossible to be elected as Governor if she supported either of these taxes. She has over the years, however, increased other taxes, although she herself avoids property taxes by living with her family on the school grounds of Phillips Exeter Academy where her husband is a teacher ---
Technically, New Hampshire has a 5% flat tax on cash interest and dividends after a $5,000 exemption. But there's no tax on non-cash interest received in retirement checks and non-cash accruals such as interest accruals in TIAA accounts. New Hampshire also has a sales tax on restaurant meals, hotel lodging, and real estate sales. The tax on real estate transfers is a whopping 1.5% shared by buyers and sellers. I also get hit with a whopping view tax tacked on to my property tax bills.
There also is a saying in New Hampshire --- "Candy's a keeper but liquor's cheaper." New Hampshire State Liquor Stores have the cheapest booze outside of Washington DC. But cheap liquor does not do me much good. Cheap liquor does attract shoppers from surrounding states, including Canada. On I-95
near the state borders there are special exits that only lead to the state's liquor stores. On I-91 the distances to bordering state liquor stores are very short.
People from Quebec pour into NH for cheap
liquor. People from NH pour into Quebec for cheap prescription drugs.
Is this how we define "fair trade?"
Dartmouth College is hoping that its new ban on hard liquor on campus will make a significant dent in state revenues. I suspect lines will be shorter at liquor stores located in Hanover and Lebanon. The bars off campus may be more crowded, but the bars have to be more careful about underage drinking. And from hotel bars the rooms upstairs are only an elevator ride away.
The real test of Dartmouth's new policy will be the spirit of the policy more than the literal interpretation of banning booze "on campus." Hopefully times are changing with respect to binge drinking among students all across the USA. Of course in Colorado booze is being replaced by something more harmful to young brains. It may not be more dangerous to aspiring young alcoholics.
Can Israel Survive? ---
Legendary Marine General James Mattis Ripped Into Obama's Foreign Policy
During Senate Testimony ---
How to Mislead With Statistics
"Computational Linguistics Reveals How Wikipedia Articles Are Biased Against Women," MIT's Technology Review, February 2, 2015 ---
The biggest complaint I have with this article is that it does not explain or even fully appreciate that Wikipedia is crowd sourced. Articles about a man or about a woman cannot be written or edited by that man or woman featured in the module. They modules have to be written by others such as friends or colleagues. Consider the following quotation from the BOVE article:
But there are other signs of a more insidious gender bias that will be much harder to change. “We also find that the way women are portrayed on Wikipedia starkly differs from the way men are portrayed,” they say.
. . .
Wagner and co say that articles about women tend to emphasize the fact that they are about a women by overusing words like “woman,” “female,” or “lady” while articles about men tend not to contain words like “man,” “masculine,” or “gentleman.” Words like “married,” “divorced,” “children,” or “family” are also much more frequently used in articles about women, they say.
There is no Wikipedia author or editorial board that writes the entries about a man or a woman, although Wikipedia editors may modify the article for slander or obviously inappropriate portrayals. But I deeply doubt that the Wikipedia reviewers deliberately slant the article on gender issues. That slant, if it exists, for a given entry was most likely put in by the person who wrote or edited the entry, and there are millions of people writing the entries about millions of men and women. My point is that there's no single author or small group of authors who are writing these entries.
Also virtually every biographical entry about a man or woman has a "personal history" section that covers the history of marriages, divorces, and children, and parents of the person in question. The words "married" and "children" appear for virtually every person that was married and had children irrespective of whether the person is male or female.
I'm not saying that there's not gender bias on
occasion in Wikipedia.
What I am saying is that the gender bias over tens of millions of biographies in Wikipedia are not the result of a gender-bias conspiracy. That bias, when it appears in a module, exists is the result of culture itself across tens of millions of authors of those biographies.
For example, I hypothesize that it's a culture thing when authors are more apt to use the term "feminine" when writing about a woman versus "masculine" when writing about a man. For centuries, authors about young women frequently mention "tom boy" behaviors of young girls. How often do authors talk about "girlie" features of young boys? It happens, but we've read a lot more about "tom boys" in history than "girlie boys." --- Arnold Schwarzenegger excepted.
The the fact that gender bia is cultural does not make it right or wrong. It is simply there, and perhaps we should applaud analysts trying to gather data and change those cultural biases. Or perhaps we should applaud efforts to keep those biases. As the saying goes "Viva Les Difference!"
Sometimes I think analysts go too far in misleading the public with their statistics or in suggesting underlying causal intentions of those outcomes.
One of the best video clips from an American
Accounting Association annual meeting was the plenary speech of Jimmy Wales at
the August 2014 annual meeting. I think this video is available only to AAA
members (but I could be wrong) ---
You can learn a lot about Wikipedia by watching this video.
Jimmy Wales is the leading cofounder of Wikipedia ---
And yet it describes how he was married three times. He is not described as being "masculine" or "feminine."
Bob Jensen's threads on the history of
professionalism and women ---
"Tape: Scientist offers to build nuke bomb targeting New York," by
Russell Contreras, Yahoo News, January 28, 2015 ---
Perhaps China could provide one cheaper and a whole lot sooner. This is how Pakistan and North Korea got their early bombs.
Moochers are Losers
Moody's: Default rates show government aid didn't solve corporate financial problems
"Repeat Default Rates Rise Since Great Recession, Says Moody’s," by Vipal Monga, The Wall Street Journal, January 29, 2015 ---
Kicking the can down the road doesn’t seem to work for many distressed companies.
The percentage of repeat defaulters since the Great Recession is more than double the historical average. That suggests that lax credit markets allowed troubled companies to paper over their problems without fixing them, according to a report Thursday by Moody’s Investors Service MCO -0.56%.
Nearly 39% of companies that defaulted between Sept 1, 2010 and Sept. 30, 2014, did so more than once, according to Moody’s. That’s more than twice the 17% historical average of repeat defaulters, going back to 1987.
Many companies that either sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection or missed bond payments during the Great Recession used the wide-open credit markets to borrow more money or restructure their debt.
“They were pushing off the inevitable,” said David Keisman, a Moody’s analyst.
Moody’s tallied 72 companies registering a default during the 2010 to 2014 timeframe.
Repeat defaulters include casino operator Caesars Entertainment Corp.CZR -1.79%, formerly Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., which filed for Chapter 11 bankrupt protection earlier this month, after several debt exchange offers.
Texas power company Energy Future Holdings Corp., the former TXU Corp., which is reorganizing under Chapter 11, was another repeat defaulter, after making a series of deals to exchange existing debt for other bonds with longer maturities and higher rates
"Shelly Silver’s Asbestos Gold A case study in the links between politicians and the plaintiffs bar," The Wall Street Journal, February 1, 2015 ---
The recent corruption charges against New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver reveal the rot that has long plagued Albany. But the story deserves more national attention for exposing the links between politicians and the asbestos-plaintiffs bar.
The 70-year-old Mr. Silver, among the state’s most powerful Democrats, stands accused of five counts of extortion, fraud and conspiracy. But the core of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s 35-page complaint is the allegation that Mr. Silver engaged in an asbestos kickback scheme for more than decade. He allegedly used his Albany power to steer taxpayer money to an asbestos doctor, who in return gave him the names of patients for high-dollar asbestos lawsuits.
As some courts have grown more skeptical about asbestos claims that are often bogus, the trial bar has focused on mesothelioma cases. Mesothelioma is a cancer linked to asbestos and has long been considered a legitimate tort claim. The Silver complaint is a case study in how lawyers, doctors and politicians conspire to recruit mesothelioma victims and pump up court payouts.
Prosecutors say Mr. Silver recruited plaintiffs through Robert Taub, who until recently led a research center for mesothelioma at Columbia University. Mr. Silver used his discretionary power over state funds to direct $500,000 in grants to Dr. Taub’s center. He also sent $25,000 to a nonprofit associated with Dr. Taub’s wife, sponsored a state Assembly resolution honoring the doctor, and helped get the doctor’s son a job, according to the complaint.
In return, the complaint says, Dr. Taub gave Mr. Silver names of mesothelioma patients who could be plaintiffs in asbestos lawsuits. Mr. Silver passed the names to Weitz & Luxenberg, a powerhouse asbestos firm where Mr. Silver worked as a lawyer and was paid a salary of $120,000. Weitz & Luxenberg also paid Mr. Silver a fee for mesothelioma patient referrals, totaling $3.2 million.
Mr. Silver has resigned as Speaker but says he will be “vindicated.” Dr. Taub is serving as a witness in the government’s case against Mr. Silver and hasn’t been charged, though he resigned from the Columbia center after the Silver complaint became public. Weitz & Luxenberg says it is “shocked” by the charges against Mr. Silver, who has taken a leave of absence from the firm. Prosecutor Bharara says the firm was unaware that Mr. Silver directed state money to Dr. Taub in return for referrals.
But it’s important to recognize that a contributions-for-patients arrangement isn’t rare. The complaint against Mr. Silver refers to “law firms” that have contributed to mesothelioma researchers. The complaint also refers to “the Other Asbestos Firm” whose affiliated foundation donated to Dr. Taub’s center and also received the names of potential plaintiffs. News reports have identified that other firm as the Simmons Law Firm of Illinois and the donation amount as $3.2 million. The Simmons firm has not been charged and the New York Times reports the firm said in a statement that it is proud to fund research at Columbia.
Though it is not part of the criminal case, Mr. Silver also used his political influence to promote judges who look favorably on asbestos claims. Mr. Silver appointed Arthur Luxenberg, a founder of Weitz & Luxenberg, to a state judicial screening committee that vets candidates for appointed judicial posts.
One state judge who has advanced during Mr. Silver’s tenure is Sherry Klein Heitler, now chief judge of New York City Asbestos Litigation (NYCAL). More than half the cases in the NYCAL docket are Weitz & Luxenberg’s. In the past four years the firm won $273.5 million of the $313.5 million (87% of the total) awarded in 15 mesothelioma verdicts—$190 million in 2014.
The American Tort Reform Association’s most recent report on “judicial hellholes” notes that this windfall was aided by Judge Heitler’s ruling last year, made at the request of Weitz & Luxenberg, to reverse a 20-year policy deferring punitive damages in asbestos cases. Judge Heitler’s predecessor had explained in a legal paper that punitive damages for wrongs committed 30 years ago serve no corrective purpose, and money could be better used to compensate genuine victims.
Judge Heitler’s ruling opened the cases to fatter verdicts and settlements that allow bigger paydays for plaintiffs firms. Judge Heitler has said that only the legislature can “deny plaintiffs the opportunity to seek punitive damages.”
NYCAL judges have also allowed the consolidation of cases, which stacks the deck against defendants who feel compelled to settle rather than risk a jackpot verdict. The consultants at Bates White report that the average NYCAL asbestos award is now $16 million—two to three times the average in courts nationwide. Sixty percent of Weitz & Luxenberg’s revenue comes from asbestos cases, much of it from mesothelioma patients.
Media commentary about the Silver case is playing as a familiar morality play about money in politics. But the real problem is a New York state government that protects incumbents with gerrymandered seats and provides enormous and largely unchecked power to bestow political favors. The link between politicians and the asbestos bar is one example that is ripe for further investigation. The Silver case isn’t an aberration.
Bob Jensen's fraud updates ---
MediCal is California's Version of Medicaid free medical services for poor people. MedicCal also has a price-fixing program that is preventing many doctors and hospitals from providing services to patients insured by MediCal. This is an example of where price fixing either results in either having no goods and services or inferiors goods and service.
"Medi-Cal a waiting game for many
low-income Californians," by Tracy Seipel, San Jose Mercury News, February
7, 2015 ---
Julie Moreno felt lucky to be among more than 2.7 million previously uninsured Californians to be added to Medi-Cal, the state's health care program for the poor.
Until she needed cataract surgery.
For three months after her November 2013 diagnosis, the 49-year-old Mountain View resident said, she tried to get an appointment, but each time she called, no slots were available. Desperate and worried, she finally borrowed $14,000 from her boyfriend's mother to have the procedure done elsewhere last February.
One year into the explosive, health law-induced growth of Medi-Cal, it appears one of the most alarming predictions of critics is coming true: The supply of doctors hasn't kept up with demand. One recent study suggests the number of primary care doctors in California per Medi-Cal patient is woefully below federal guidelines.
"If you're pregnant, you get help," Moreno said. "But if you're 49 and not pregnant, you have to wait for everything."
In fact, seven months after Moreno's surgery, her original surgeon's office called just to say they still couldn't fit her in.
At least 1.2 million Californians have signed up for a private insurance plan since enrollment began in October 2013 under the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. But it's Medi-Cal that has witnessed the largest growth -- 2.7 million since the controversial law opened the program up to many more recipients in January 2014.
By mid-2016, more than 12.2 million people -- nearly a third of all Californians -- will be on Medi-Cal, state health officials say.
Those officials continue to insist that the current delays to see a doctor and crowded emergency rooms are all part of to-be-expected growing pains. But many experts say the problems are so widespread they shouldn't be ignored.
"California did a good job of getting people signed up, but they basically stuck their heads in the sand and assumed that California physicians would just jump right on board and want to take more Medi-Cal patients," said Dr. Del Morris, president of the California Academy of Family Physicians, which represents many of the first-line doctors who treat Medi-Cal patients. "It's unacceptable to say, 'We are not ready for you yet, you'll just have to suffer with your disease.'"
Morris and other experts say the situation is about to get worse, in part because of Medi-Cal's health care reimbursement rates.
For years, the rates paid by Medi-Cal -- called Medicaid in the rest of the country -- have been among the nation's lowest. A provision of Obamacare hiked the rates for primary care doctors to the substantially higher Medicare rates for two years, but those increases ended on Dec. 31. A second blow came last month when the state cut the Medi-Cal reimbursement rate by another 10 percent, a reduction approved by California lawmakers in 2011 but delayed in a court battle that doctors ultimately lost.
Even before the latest cuts, Medi-Cal doctors -- particularly specialists -- in California's rural areas often seemed nearly impossible to find. And the shortage of Medi-Cal physicians appears to be causing spikes in the number of Medi-Cal patients being treated in hospital emergency rooms around the state. Data from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development show that in the first three quarters of 2014, "treat and release" visits to emergency rooms by Medi-Cal patients jumped 30 percent from the same period the year before.
At least once a week at the MayView Community Health Center in Mountain View, the clinic is so swamped that it is forced to send Medi-Cal patients to hospital emergency rooms "because they cannot go anywhere else," clinic operations director Harsha Mehta said.
Since January 2014, Axis Community Health in Pleasanton has added about 1,700 new Medi-Cal patients to its five facilities that serve the Tri-Valley area, bringing the total to about 14,000. While 700 of those patients were already being treated at Axis before they enrolled in Medi-Cal, the overall jump in new patients is forcing Dr. Divya Raj, Axis' medical director, to hire more hard-to-find doctors.
A recent report by the California HealthCare Foundation that tried to determine if the state has enough doctors to handle the influx of Medi-Cal patients reinforces Raj's trepidation.
The report found the ratio of patients to full-time primary care doctors participating in Medi-Cal -- including family medicine physicians, general internists, pediatricians and ob/gyns -- was 35 to 49 physicians per 100,000 enrollees, well below the federal guidelines of 60 to 80.
"We had a shortage of primary care doctors before this flood (of Medi-Cal enrollees) came about," said Dr. Steven Harrison, a veteran primary care doctor who directs a residency program for such physicians at Natividad Medical Center in Salinas. "Now we have a dire shortage."
Bait and Switch for Primary Care "Doctors"
Nationwide there was an enormous shortage of primary care doctors before Obamacare. Obamacare greatly increased the demand for such doctors, thereby, making the shortage much worse. This has led to nationwide bait and switch primary care that is similar to three of the medical clinics in Littleton, New Hampshire. Each clinic has one MD and one or more added "physicians assistants" who are not medical doctors but can examine patients and prescribe common medications.
The bait and switch part is that patients in each clinic are not allowed to see the MD at all or must wait much longer for an appointment to see the the MD. In the meantime they are encouraged to be examined by only the physicians assistant or to go to emergency rooms.
Another sad part of the bait and switch tactic is that many specialists such as those at the Dartmouth medical center will only see patients referred by an MD or osteopath. Without such referrals patients are not allowed to make appointments with such specialists such as dermatologists, psychiatrists, and surgeons.
One other clinic up here has a really lousy and uncaring foreign-trained MD and an osteopath. My primary care doctor is the osteopath. He seems pretty good to me, but then my medical needs are fairly simple and routine. Our Littleton Regional Hospital does have an outstanding emergency room, although it's not a trauma center and has to send a relatively large number of patients by helicopter to the Dartmouth medical center about 50 miles away.
Of course patients with serious problems have discovered how to get referrals. The go directly to emergency rooms and maybe wait the better part of a day to be examined. But they eventually leave with a referral to see a specialist provided that specialist will accept their insurance.
The huge problem in New Hampshire is that nearly half (slightly less this year) of the hospitals and specialists will not accept ACA insurance.
Teaching Case on ACA Health Care Tax Issues
From The Wall Street Journal Weekly Accounting Review on February 6, 2015
The ACA and Other Changes to Watch Out for This Tax Season
by: Tom Herman
Feb 02, 2015
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com
TOPICS: Individual Taxation
SUMMARY: Before firing off a 2014 income tax return, taxpayers should take some time to master a few important, but easily overlooked, deductions, credits and other breaks-including a few that were revived at the end of last year. Even if a taxpayer considers him or herself a tax wizard who loves studying the Internal Revenue Code, it's increasingly easy to make costly bloopers. Also, taxpayers should watch out for a few new wrinkles in 2015, notably those stemming from the Affordable Care Act. The article offers some areas that deserve extra attention.
CLASSROOM APPLICATION: This article offers insight on some areas of individual taxation, especially areas that have experienced recent changes.
1. (Advanced) What are the tax issues involving health insurance for 2014 tax returns? Will the changes affect all taxpayers, some, or just a few? Why is health insurance a part of tax returns?
2. (Introductory) What is the income ceiling for the Social Security tax? How could this be a problem for people who have more than one job?
3. (Advanced) How is income taxed if capital losses exceed capital gains? How does that differ from when capital gains exceed capital losses? How are gains and losses from a personal residence different from other capital gains and losses?
4. (Advanced) What is the standard deduction? How many taxpayers elect to claim it? What is the other alternative? Why do the majority of the taxpayers choose the option they choose?
5. (Introductory) What taxpayers should choose to deduct sales taxes? What is the other option?
6. (Introductory) What is the simplified calculation for the home office deduction? Why did the IRS develop this calculation? What is the other option?
Reviewed By: Linda Christiansen, Indiana University Southeast
Before firing off your 2013 income tax return, take
some time to master a few important, but easily overlooked, deductions, credits
and other breaks—including a few that were revived at the end of last year.
"The ACA and Other Changes to Watch Out for This Tax Season," by Tom Herman, The Wall Street Journal, February 2, 2015 ---
The complexity and questions that arise from the nation’s ever-changing tax laws are as certain as taxes themselves. So we introduce a new column, written by Tom Herman, a former tax columnist for The Wall Street Journal, that will look at developments affecting taxpayers and individual investors. We welcome your thoughts and questions about tax issues, big and small. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Early birds, be careful.
Before firing off your ... income tax return, take some time to master a few important, but easily overlooked, deductions, credits and other breaks—including a few that were revived at the end of last year.
Even if you consider yourself a tax wizard who loves studying the Internal Revenue Code, it’s increasingly easy to make costly bloopers. Also, watch out for a few new wrinkles this year, notably those stemming from the Affordable Care Act.
Here are some areas that deserve extra attention:
HEALTH INSURANCE Get ready for some new lines on this year’s forms because of the Affordable Care Act. For most, this should be fairly simple. “The majority of taxpayers—more than three out of four—will simply need to check a box to verify they have health-insurance coverage,” the IRS says. Others will face trickier issues. Some may be eligible to claim an exemption from the coverage requirement. But those who don’t have qualifying coverage or who don’t qualify for an exemption will need to make “an individual shared responsibility payment.” Others may qualify for a “premium tax credit.” See irs.gov/aca for details. For some “this will be very complicated,” warns Mark Luscombe, principal federal tax analyst for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting U.S.
SOCIAL SECURITY TAX Some people who worked for two or more employers last year may have paid too much in Social Security tax. The maximum amount that should have been withheld by all your employers for 2014 was $7,254. (That’s 6.2% of $117,000, the maximum amount of wages subject to the Social Security tax.) If you had too much withheld, you typically can claim the excess as a credit. See IRS Publication 17 for details.
INVESTMENT LOSERS Did you lose money on stocks, bonds and other investments you sold last year? Use your capital losses to offset capital gains. But what if your losses exceeded your gains? You can deduct as much as $3,000 a year ($1,500 for married taxpayers filing separately) of net losses against your wages and other ordinary income. Carry over excess losses into future years. Warning: You can’t deduct a loss on the sale of your personal residence.
IRA CHARITABLE TRANSFERS Late last year, lawmakers revived a provision that allowed many people age 70½ or older to transfer as much as $100,000 directly from an IRA to charity, tax-free, during 2014. The transfer counted toward the taxpayer’s required minimum distribution. You’re supposed to report your “qualified charitable distribution” on your return even if it’s tax-free. Just make sure you don’t put it on the wrong line. For example, if you file Form 1040, report your “QCD” on Line 15a. Don’t include any of that distribution on the line for “taxable amount” (Line 15b). Instead, write “QCD” next to the line.
HIGHER STANDARD About two out of every three returns typically claim the standard deduction. For 2014, the basic standard deduction is $12,400 for those married and filing jointly, or $6,200 if single or married and filing separately. There are additional amounts for people who were 65 or older, or blind. Before taking the standard deduction, check to see if you might be better off itemizing.
SALES TAXES Late last year, Congress revived a law that gives taxpayers who itemize an important choice: They can deduct either state and local income taxes paid in 2014—or their state and local sales taxes. (But they can’t deduct both.) The sales-tax option offers welcome relief for people in states with no income tax, such as Texas and Florida. But taxpayers in other states may benefit from taking the sales-tax deduction, says Mr. Luscombe, including those who paid large amounts of sales tax on major purchases such as cars or boats or those who reside in states with high sales-tax rates.
HOME OFFICE Many people who work at home don’t bother deducting their home-office expenses because the rules can be fiendishly complex and because of fears it would increase their chances of getting audited. But if you qualify to deduct home-office expenses, you may benefit from a simplified calculation method allowed by the IRS. Multiply the square footage of the home used for your home office (but not more than 300 square feet) by an IRS-approved rate of $5 a square foot. Thus, the maximum deduction in this case would be $1,500.
Mr. Herman is a writer in New York City. He was formerly The Wall Street Journal’s Tax Report columnist.
IRS ACA Health Insurance Site --- http://irs.gov/aca
Bob Jensen's universal health care messaging --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Health.htm
Tidbits Archives ---
Jensen's Pictures and Stories
Summary of Major Accounting Scandals --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accounting_scandals
Bob Jensen's threads on such scandals:
Bob Jensen's threads on audit firm litigation and negligence ---
Current and past editions of my
newsletter called Fraud Updates ---
Enron --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudEnron.htm
Rotten to the Core --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm
American History of Fraud --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudAmericanHistory.htm
Bob Jensen's fraud
Bob Jensen's threads on
auditor professionalism and independence are at
Bob Jensen's threads on
corporate governance are at
Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave ---
· With a Rejoinder from the 2010 Senior Editor of The Accounting Review (TAR), Steven J. Kachelmeier
· With Replies in Appendix 4 to Professor Kachemeier by Professors Jagdish Gangolly and Paul Williams
· With Added Conjectures in Appendix 1 as to Why the Profession of Accountancy Ignores TAR
· With Suggestions in Appendix 2 for Incorporating Accounting Research into Undergraduate Accounting Courses
Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave ---
By Bob Jensen
wrong in accounting/accountics research? ---
The Sad State of Accountancy Doctoral Programs That Do Not Appeal to Most
AN ANALYSIS OF THE EVOLUTION OF RESEARCH CONTRIBUTIONS BY THE ACCOUNTING REVIEW:
Bob Jensen's threads on accounting theory
Tom Lehrer on Mathematical Models and Statistics
Systemic problems of accountancy (especially the vegetable nutrition paradox)
that probably will never be solved
Bob Jensen's economic crisis messaging http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm
Bob Jensen's threads --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/threads.htm
Bob Jensen's Home Page --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/