Friday, February 24, 2017

Winners Take All : The Great Shame Of Higher Education

"A circle has no beginning or end." We can be acutely -- and heartbreakingly -- aware of the arrival and departure of the World's beautiful particulars, yet still feel a sense of constancy and continuity. Is it possible that nothing ever truly vanishes?

       In The Nation Faizan Javed reports on Poor places for rich literature -- wondering

G'Day! It’s a not-so-happy Friday for the many Aussies reeling over the decision to slash Sunday penalty rates for hospitality, retail, pharmacy and fast food workers. Public holiday rates will also be cut from 250 per cent to 225 per cent, and it’s been met with a furious backlash. In other news, Malcolm Turnbull and Donald Trump are reportedly planning to meet in New York on MEdia Dragon's 15 birthday in May...

Sydney's political geography revealed in seven maps

"What type of Aussie are you?".
Wealthy conservatives in the north, disillusioned pessimists to the south, social progressives in the east and traditionalists out west - this is the political geography of Sydney, according to the results of the Political Personas Project quiz:
"What type of Aussie are you?"

6 ways to spread facts

Ahmed Fahour's bizarre press conference to announce departure and defend his legacy

ANYONE who has tried to hold a conversation in a West London garden will wonder how it is possible to squeeze any more more flights into Heathrow Airport. On average, a chinwag is interrupted every minute or so by a Boeing or an Airbus rumbling overhead.
And yet each year more people manage to pass through.
Busiest Airports Where there is a will there is a way ...

The Washington Post's Erik Wempl calls the work of covering official misinformation these days "life-sucking tedium," and here's why

Trump unleashes fury after four long weeks Politico

Rodrigo Rato found guilty of misuse of corporate credit cards issued by banks whose near collapse sparked EU bailout
Former IMF chief gets four years in jail for embezzlement in Spain  

THE CIA AND THE MEDIA Carl Bernstein. Martha r: “From 1977. timely.” Moi: Some readers doubted my comment from Mark Ames that the CIA had assets at some major newspapers (and he knew of particular individuals and didn’t tell me who). This should assuage those doubts. And be sure to see what “the most valuable of these associations” had been.

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte 'has millions hidden in bank accounts

 These predictions have led some mainstream thinkers, such as Robert Reich, to warn that a future bereft of jobs may be looming. “Imagine a little gadget called an i-Everything,” Reich wrote last September. “This little machine will be able to do everything you want and give you everything you need.” He argued that, with fewer jobs, resources will need to be redistributed from those who own the technology of the future to the rest of us who want to buy it. According to Reich, a universal basic income “will almost certainly be part of the answer”.

Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed: 'The Great Shame of Our Profession', by Kevin Birmingham (Instructor, Harvard College Writing Program):
[T]o talk about adjuncts is to talk about the centerpiece of higher education. Tenured faculty represent only 17 percent of college instructors. Part-time adjuncts are now the majority of the professoriate and its fastest-growing segment. From 1975 to 2011, the number of part-time adjuncts quadrupled. And the so-called part-time designation is misleading because most of them are piecing together teaching jobs at multiple institutions simultaneously. A 2014 congressional report suggests that 89 percent of adjuncts work at more than one institution; 13 percent work at four or more. The need for several appointments becomes obvious when we realize how little any one of them pays. In 2013, The Chronicle began collecting data on salary and benefits from adjuncts across the country. An English-department adjunct at Berkeley, for example, received $6,500 to teach a full-semester course. It’s easy to lose sight of all the people struggling beneath the data points. $7,000 at Duke. $6,000 at Columbia. $5,950 at the University of Iowa.

Former Liberal MP Ross Cameron – who said the NSW division of the party was "basically a gay club" – looks likely to be banished from the party for up to five years, potentially turning him into a free-speech martyr. But Mr Cameron received support from an unexpected figure, former High Court judge Michael Kirby, who said gay people had learnt that being unfairly punished reinforced feelings of exclusion and social stigma. The NSW Liberal Party state executive is scheduled to decide next Friday if Mr Cameron should be suspended for saying on television last year that NSW Premier Mike Baird was threatened with his job if he supported internal voting changes that would undermine the power of the Liberal's dominant left faction
'Gay club' jibe likely to cost Liberal ex-MP

Dubai, a city that sometimes seems to inhabit a time zone five years ahead of the rest of the planet, has embraced another improbable travel innovation, to go alongside its enthusiasm for hyperloop trains and long driverless metro lines. This week, the Emirati metropolis announced it is to test passenger-carrying drones in its skies by July.
The unpiloted drone taxis won’t exactly replace the traditional earthbound sort, since they will be able to carry only one passenger, who together with luggage cannot weigh more than 100 kilograms (220 pounds). And it will have a range of just 50 kilometres (31 miles), or half an hour of flying time. But if it works, the long-term implications are huge not only for Dubai, which has among the world’s  Drones 

Australian Business Review, Tax Agents’ Future Questioned as AI Finds Answers in Seconds:
It’s Siri for lawyers and accountants. Ask “Ailira” a question about Australian tax law and she will scan through millions of uploaded documents and use her artificial intelligence nous to deliver an answer.
Ailira, or “Artificially Intelligent Legal Information Resource Assistant” is so clever at tax that her creator believes she could help prompt the end of human tax agents. And within two months, she will answer questions in other areas of Australian law.
Ailira is the brainchild of Adelaide-based tax lawyer Adrian Cartland. The story goes that with no professional tax background, his girlfriend Sarah, a speech pathology student, scored 73 per cent on a first-year university tax exam with just 30 minutes’ training and Ailira at her side.
“Your tax agents will probably be gone within five years,” said a confident Mr Cartland, who added that their demise was ­already happening with the Australian Taxation Office pushing to automate tax returns, technology issues not withstanding.

Obamacare’s Original Sin Jacobin. Great on the history. Here’s a terrific quote from Ezekiel Emanuel, in 2014:

[O]nce the websites are fixed and working smoothly — certainly by 2016 — the exchanges will generate positive branding . . . That means the websites need to provide an engaging, ‘Amazon-like’ shopping experience . . . By 2016 the insurance exchanges will provide an attractive, informative, and engaging insurance shopping experience with an adequate variety of choices.

“[A]n adequate variety of choices.” Now there’s a hill to die on!

World and Empty Houses Tax: The Future of Tax Administration and Enforcement

Regulatory Capture” occurs when special interests co-opt policymakers or political bodies — regulatory agencies, in particular — to further their own ends.  Capture theory is closely related to the “rent-seeking” and “political failure” theories developed by the public choice school of economics.  Another term for regulatory capture is “client politics,” which according to James Q. Wilson, “occurs when most or all of the benefits of a program go to some single, reasonably small interest (and industry, profession, or locality) but most or all of the costs will be borne by a large number of people (for example, all taxpayers).”  (James Q. Wilson, Bureaucracy, 1989, at 76). Revolving Doors: Milton Friedman

Please listen to the February 2017 Taxcast on youtube here:

Featuring: Professor Avinash Persaud, chair of Intelligence Capital and author of Improving Resilience, Increasing Revenue: the case for modernising the UK’s stamp duty on shares, David Hillman of the Robin Hood Tax Campaign and John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network. Produced and presented by Naomi Fowler for the Tax Justice Network.


Report on the 33rd Annual National Institute on Criminal Tax Fraud and the Sixth Annual National Institute on Tax Controversy
By Derek B. Wagner, Pro Bono Counsel, ABA Section of Taxation, Washington, DC
This conference—now in its thirty-third year as the National Institute on Criminal Tax Fraud, and its sixth year since combining with the National Institute on Tax Controversy—brings together tax practitioners, judges, and representatives from the IRS and the Department of Justice for three days of workshops and programming topics related to tax controversy, tax litigation, and criminal tax prosecution and defense.

Democrats use obscure 1920s law to try to force Donald Trump to release tax returns

Panama Papers investigation wins Polk Award

The governance of global wealth chains

Making housing affordable: Vancouver’s new 'empty homes tax'. “Highly targeted fiscal policy of the EHT kind can have two effects, one behavioural and the other revenue raising. Changing behaviour was certainly the main objective, however any excess tax revenue over and above program costs is intended to fund local affordable housing initiatives.” (MEdia Dragon IDEA Implemented in Canada - Empty House Tax - Pearls and Irritations)

New York Times (2016)New York Times, Special Tax Section:

Art makes us conscious of what we are and what we can hope to be, and it does so through moments of revelation in which all our being is aroused. Surely, we are tempted to think, it is better that the world contains people who are in that way alert to their condition 

Chris Jordan defends tax office workers over hours
Shu-Yi Oei, When Leaks Drive Tax Law (a.k.a. our new paper!) (Surly Subgroup). ”
We especially were interested in the possibility that—while leaks might appear useful on the surface from a tax enforcement and informational standpoint—there are unexplored pitfalls and downsides to relying on leaks to direct lawmaking and policy priorities.”

The Mark Zuckerberg Manifesto Is a Blueprint for Destroying Journalism The Atlantic

Today’s Tax Notes reports [No Substantive IRS Guidance Coming for a While, Official Says] that the IRS has announced that it will not release pretty much any new formal guidance (including revenue rulings and revenue procedures) for the foreseeable future. [Fn: It will continue to release routine guidance, like updated interest rates and updated mileage allowances.]

Why not? A confluence of an Executive Order and a January 20 memorandum. The EO,Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Cost, requires that, for every new regulation issued, two existing regulations be eliminated.

Christopher J. Walker (Ohio State), Surly Subgroup Mini-Symposium on The Future of Tax Administration and Enforcement, Yale J. on Reg.: Notice & Comment (Feb. 11, 2017):
TaxGrrrl, Tax Refund Chart Can Help You Guess When You’ll Receive Your Money
Elaine Maag, Delayed refunds? Looks like delayed filing, too. “While we don’t know if the delay did reduce fraud, it may have discouraged people from filing their tax returns early.”

"“Fact checking is difficult. Everyone thinks it’s a matter of yes or no, but it’s not that simple. It’s complex, it requires a lot of nuance – something that computers aren’t good at." – Full Fact's Mevan Babakar in The Register's story, "Humanity's bulls*** is too much for software" 

Tony Nitti,Woman Sues Howard Stern, IRS For Airing Private Tax Information:

As many callers do, he went about his daily routine while he waited for Stern to pick up. Unlike most callers, however, Jimmy from Long Island was Jimmy Forsythe, a man who plied his trade as an IRS Agent, and on this particular day, going about his daily routine meant talking to Judith Barrigas about her 2014 tax liability.
When Stern Show producers picked up on Forsythe only to hear he and Barrigas talking taxes, they found it fascinating, particularly because neither Forsythe nor Barrigas had any idea that Stern had picked up, and was now airing their call to millions of listeners.
It’s rare to violate taxpayer confidentiality in real time to a nationwide audience

Gregg Polsky (Georgia) presents Elite Tax Professionals Behaving Badly: The Sad and Sordid Management Fee Waiver Saga at UC-Irvine today as part of its Tax Law and Policy Colloquium Series hosted by Omri Marian:
For at least the past 15 years, many private equity fund managers have used a technique—known as a management fee waiver—to try to claim what is effectively their weekly paycheck as a capital gain. Recently, the Treasury and IRS explained that, at least in the government’s view, the vast majority of fee waivers do not actually provide the claimed tax result. Recent reports of significant audit activity relating to fee waivers suggest that the fee waiver saga may finally be coming to an end, but not before billions of tax revenues that are beyond the statute of limitations have been lost forever.
Problems with Destination-Based Corporate Taxes and the Ryan Blueprint, by Reuven S. Avi-Yonah (Michigan; moving to UC-Irvine) & Kimberly A. Clausing (Reed College)