“Trucks were re-routed through Santa Teresa when Abbott’s inspections snarled commercial traffic at Texas border crossings, and now Mexico has decided to move a long-planned trade railway connection worth billions of dollars from Texas to the New Mexico crossing, The Dallas Morning News reported Sunday. “We’re now not going to use Texas,” Mexican Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier said. “We can’t leave all the eggs in one basket and be hostages to someone who wants to use trade as a political tool.””
“A tiny solar panel manufacturing firm with outsized political clout is poised to wreak havoc on the entire American solar energy industry.
And the White House, which at least theoretically supports expanding America’s green energy industries, might just go along with the madness. It’s a tricky situation for President Joe Biden to navigate, one that requires choosing between two of his top policy priorities: industrial protectionism and combatting climate change.
In February, the California-based company Auxin Solar submitted a petition to the U.S. Department of Commerce asking for a more expansive set of tariffs targeting imported solar panels and their component parts. The company alleges that American solar panel manufacturers are avoiding tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels and components—tariffs originally imposed in 2018 by the Trump administration but renewed earlier this year by Biden—by buying parts made in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam that are sometimes made with Chinese parts.
That is, of course, pretty much exactly what you’d expect any company to do. But Auxin argues that the federal government now has a responsibility to stop what it calls attempts to “circumvent” those tariffs on Chinese imports by imposing new tariffs on imports from those four other countries as well. In March, the Commerce Department launched an investigation to determine whether those tariffs are to be added.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), those prospective tariffs would target the source of about 80 percent of America’s supply of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, the fundamental building blocks of solar panels. In a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in March, dozens of the SEIA’s member companies warned that the tariffs would “stall both ongoing and planned U.S. solar projects and lead to the loss of over 45,000 American jobs, including 15,000 domestic solar manufacturing jobs.” It would also mean losing about 14 gigawatts of planned solar deployment—about two-thirds of the Energy Information Administration’s target for solar deployment this year
All that, the SEIA warned, “because a single company is seeking to inappropriately exploit the law for market advantage.”
It sounds like a typical story of big business using its political clout to shut smaller competitors out of the market. But the bizarre thing about this fight is that relatively unsuccessful businesses are holding the rest of the market hostage. Because they have friends in Washington”
“this offers a lesson about how protectionism creates perverse incentives in markets and politics. Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on Chinese solar parts and Biden’s decision to extend those tariffs have created a bizarre situation where a bankrupt solar manufacturer and an “artisanal solar boutique” might get to dictate the future of an entire industry.”
“Late last year, the owner of snowmobile rental business Canyon Adventures filed a complaint with the code compliance office of Gallatin County, Montana, against the nearby Corral Bar and Steakhouse. It alleged the bar’s own snowmobile rental business wasn’t allowed by the property’s zoning.
The county’s code compliance office agreed that the snowmobile business wasn’t allowed by the zoning code. But rather than slapping the Corral Bar owners with a fine or shutting them down, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported yesterday that the county closed the case without taking any enforcement action.
The reason? According to a sweeping law passed by the Montana Legislature in April 2021 aimed at prohibiting mask mandates, the county can’t compel “a private business to deny a customer of the private business access to the premises or access to goods or services.” It also can’t adopt ordinances that deny customers the same access to those goods and services.
Importantly, H.B. 257 also stops governments from applying fines, revoking licenses, filing criminal charges, or bringing “any other retributive action” against business owners for not complying with a law forcing them to reject customers.
The language of the new state law is broad. So broad that, in a number of instances, Gallatin County officials have interpreted it to mean they can’t penalize businesses for violating the county’s zoning code.
“Each individual circumstance is going to be judged on its own,” says Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert to Reason.
He declined to speculate on the full extent of H.B. 257. But, Lambert says, when there’s a county law or regulation that falls within the scope of H.B. 257 and has the effect of forcing a private business to refuse a customer, then the county can’t take “retributive action” against the business for servicing that customer anyway.
In those cases, the county is forbidden from using any “remedies that might be available under the ordinance,” he says. “[H.B. 257] is all-encompassing, and it was meant to be all-encompassing.”
In the Corral Bar case, county officials reasoned that they couldn’t punish the bar for running an unpermitted snowmobile rental because that would involve compelling it to deny customers a service in violation of H.B. 257.
The Chronicle reports that Gallatin County officials have declined to bring enforcement actions in at least eight zoning cases because of H.B. 257’s restrictions, including ones involving illegal Airbnbs and a summer camp that opened up in a residential zone.”
“Biden isn’t calling his proposal a wealth tax, of course. It’s the “Billionaire Minimum Income Tax,” and it imposes a minimum 20 percent tax on the income of households with more than—oddly—$100 million in wealth. Biden’s proposal is smaller and more pragmatic than the earlier variants from Sens. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.)—par for the course with Biden. Most notable is that even with implausibly optimistic estimates of the federal government’s ability to collect, the whole mess is supposed to raise an average of a mere $36 billion per year over the next 10 years.
The University of California, Berkeley, economist and Warren adviser Gabriel Zucman estimated what several billionaires would pay under the plan’s 20 percent tax on unrealized gains in illiquid assets, pinning Jeff Bezos’ bill at $35 billion, Warren Buffett’s at $26 billion, and Jim Walton’s at $7 billion.
Anyone who has been paying the slightest bit of attention to federal spending over the last several years knows that figures that begin with b instead of t are now considered rounding errors. The point of this wealth tax is not to raise revenue. It has two rather different aims.
The first is pure political calculus. A floundering, unpopular president seeks to demonstrate a willingness to punish a small, unpopular class of people. A Reuters/Ipsos poll last year found that nearly two-thirds of respondents agree that the very rich should pay more taxes: 64 percent either strongly or somewhat agreed that “the very rich should contribute an extra share of their total wealth each year to support public programs.””
“The second aim, which has more far-reaching consequences, is to establish the principle that the U.S. government can tax based on wealth at all. If such a tax were to be put into law—and found constitutional by the Supreme Court, which would be no mean feat—it would be the thin end of a very large wedge. Biden’s proposal will spin up the huge bureaucratic, legal, and accounting support systems, public and private, necessary to support the formal tracking of wealth alongside income.
The utility of permitting individuals to accumulate large amounts of money varies from person to person, of course. There are many billionaires whose fortunes are extractive or confiscatory—that is, they have seized a larger slice of an unchanged pie. But in the U.S. in particular, we specialize in billionaires whose fortunes are clearly related to value creation—that is, they have taken a healthy slice of a pie that they also made much larger.
Sanders and others seem determined to conflate these two groups, applying the term oligarchs to, among others, people whose houses have an excessive number of bathrooms, people who build rockets, and people who own Major League Baseball teams.
People do not need to have been wholly self-made to somehow deserve to keep their money. No billionaire is an island, even if many of them own one. In fact, vanishingly few of us have fates that are wholly self-determined.
As a moral matter, if not a legal one, we might ask what the very rich do with their money as a way of evaluating whether they should keep it. As famously rich person Elon Musk recently tweeted: “Working hard to make useful products & services for your fellow humans is deeply morally good.” Many who support wealth taxes seem to hold the belief that the government would use the resources that the very wealthy command toward more valuable ends. Of course, most of the fortunes of billionaires such as the Waltons, or Musk, or Bezos are tied up in the large and extremely productive firms that made them rich in the first place.”
“As part of a $33 billion funding request for Ukraine, the Biden administration last week proposed sending $500 million to American farmers with a goal of boosting production of wheat, soybeans, rice and other commodities, in order to make up for some of Ukraine’s food exports that have dried up since the Russian invasion.
But some agricultural economists say they’re unsure why the administration would move to boost subsidies for crops that are already fetching high prices, our Meredith Lee reports.
“I don’t think that this sort of intervention from the government makes any sense, other than to read it in a pure political sense, that this is something they feel like they need to do,” said Joe Glauber, former chief economist at USDA during Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s previous tenure during the Obama administration.
The funding request includes food aid programs that buy U.S. commodities and send them to countries in need, including many in Africa and the Middle East that relied on Ukraine and Russia for staples like wheat and sunflower oil and are now reeling from shortages and price spikes.
By the numbers: Under the Biden administration’s proposal, $100 million would go toward providing a $10-per-acre payment to farmers who plant a soybean crop after a winter wheat crop in 2023. Another $400 million would fund a two-year increase in loan rates for U.S. producers to encourage them to grow more select food commodities, including wheat, rice and oilseeds like soybeans, sunflowers and canola.
The Agriculture Department claims the proposal would help stabilize rising U.S. food prices and provide food for foreign countries in need, by helping American farmers grow 50 percent of the wheat normally exported by Ukraine, among other things. That plan, however, would probably also require the U.S. to step up funding for federal aid programs that buy and ship U.S. commodities abroad. Otherwise, wealthier countries like China would likely buy up the extra supply on the open market.
Biden’s proposal comes despite prior statements by key White House and USDA officials that high commodity prices alone would encourage U.S. farmers to increase their crop production and help meet global demand in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The president on Thursday described the plan as “good for rural America, good for the American consumer and good for the world.””
I used to support legalizing all drugs. Then the opioid epidemic happened. German Lopez. 2017 9 12. Vox. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/4/20/15328384/opioid-epidemic-drug-legalization Dopesick Reinforces These Pernicious Misconceptions About Opioids, Addiction, and Pain Treatment Jacob Sullum. 2021 11 17. Reason. Two Courts Debunk Widely Accepted Opioid
Substance Use and Intimate Partner Violence: A Meta-Analytic Review 2016. Bryan M. Cafferky, Marcos Mendez, Jared R. Anderson, and Sandra M. Stith. Psychology of Violence. https://d1wqtxts1xzle7.cloudfront.net/59511278/Cafferky_201820190604-60960-qtu1qv-with-cover-page-v2.pdf?Expires=1643220750&Signature=JmFWS~QkCg86Icul9oqw-3Sz9j5uO~LzKP~HsVRSKQtNbZcNthwDy3nCgpG9yKXqPN2J2hs4tBs5pXVaD7cqLr9OXk9MDuEs37O1A0-c1-ZxX7EWjD16pZdSF3uKci5vDn4Geu2DhSduZ-Jqd~qkfmjK~NJybrESL7vvuiyszzVMhd~XjwQUQKw-PDdYiOY8qMD4oA~ecbZKCSVF~Rmxm5aFaYmnHAtWJb6Xc221n2SG5db3vXeECkCW3Ym09t7YAkY2b-Sg~sjKhHe3vGbUVcPkSj3aMKjsjBuA~mGK6xynPEQkGlmRJ0Htg22yJsh02QBtbqf51KqlGMKsk0L4uA__&Key-Pair-Id=APKAJLOHF5GGSLRBV4ZA ALCOHOL USE IN FAMILY AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE Ashlee Curtis et al. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/am-pdf/10.1111/dar.12925 The Role of Illicit
Comparative risk assessment of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and other illicit drugs using the margin of exposure approach Dirk W. Lachenmeier and Jurgen Rehm. 2015. Scientific Reports. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4311234/ Margin of exposure European Food Safety Authority. https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/topics/topic/margin-exposure What Are Margin of Exposure (MOE) and