John Oliver is right that “corporate greed” and “Putin’s tax hike” are poor answers when it comes to explaining inflation.
• Saturday, August 13, 2022 •
Funnyman John Oliver recently offered a confused message on what’s driving rent prices sky high. This week he moved onto inflation, and his analysis was much sounder—though he still made one critical mistake.
The British-American comedian and host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver begins by noting everyone is pointing fingers over inflation. President Joe Biden blames Vladmir Putin. Republicans are blaming Joe Biden and his Build Back Better spending agenda. Democratic lawmakers Sheila Jackson Reid and Elizabeth Warren say it’s “corporate greed,” while other commentators have cited supply chain disruptions.
Raymond J. March
• Friday, August 12, 2022 •
Even as Covid-19 infections and deaths decrease globally, the World Health Organization warns that “the pandemic is not over.” The Biden Administration seems to feel the same. Earlier this month, the federal government extended the Covid-19 public health emergency again.
Why the concern? As WHO Director Tedros Ghebreyesus stated, “A new and even more dangerous variant can emerge any time and vast numbers of people remain unprotected.” Covid’s BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants could be an example.
K. Lloyd Billingsley
• Thursday, August 11, 2022 •
“All I have ever done—and go back and look at everything I’ve ever done—was to recommend common-sense, good CDC-recommended public health policies that have saved millions of lives.” That was Dr. Anthony Fauci in late July. The declaration will come as a surprise to Drs. Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford, Sunetra Gupta of Oxford, and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University.
As we noted in January, these medical scientists of the Great Barrington Declaration, expressed “our grave concerns over the inadequate protection of the vulnerable and the devastating harms of the lockdown pandemic policy adopted by much of the world.” Instead of engaging in any debate with these scientists, Dr. Fauci sought to shut them down, at the request of Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.
Raymond J. March
• Wednesday, August 10, 2022 •
The Centers for Disease Control now tracks the confirmed number of monkeypox cases across the country. As of August 3rd, the agency reports about 6,600 cases across the country. The first confirmed monkeypox infection in the US was reported on May 19th. Monkeypox cases have followed a similar trajectory across Europe.
As cases increased, several states declared monkeypox a public health emergency. Most recently, the Biden Administration issued a public health emergency and enlisted the help of public health agencies to address recent outbreaks.
Caleb S. Fuller
• Tuesday, August 9, 2022 •
Without important regulations, we risk higher prices, lower quality, and worst of all, recessions. Yes, you heard me—deregulation was responsible for the 2007-2008 financial crisis.
Regulation is a set of penalties and rewards associated with certain actions.
Central to regulation is the notion of feedback loops. Some actions are rewarded and therefore encouraged; others are punished and therefore discouraged. Regulation that works “well” for consumers will trigger a set of penalties for high prices, shoddy quality, or excessively risky loans, to take just three examples.
The IRS would more than double its workforce under this legislation.
• Tuesday, August 9, 2022 •
Americans love their fast-food supersized. But supersizing the Internal Revenue Service?
Probably not so popular.
That’s evidently of little concern to a majority of Congress. Lawmakers are poised to pass a large tax-and-spending bill, which Biden is eager to sign, that would increase IRS funding by an astounding $80 billion. The legislation “provides 14 times as much funding for ‘enforcement’—as in fishing expedition audits—than it does for ‘taxpayer services’ such as answering the phone,” according to Ben Susser of Americans for Tax Reform.
• Monday, August 8, 2022 •
Let’s play a game. What do you think the fastest growing category of spending for the U.S. government will be over the next 30 years?
Here are your choices:
- Social Security
- Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Obamacare Subsidies
- Net Interest on the National Debt
- Everything Else
K. Lloyd Billingsley
• Thursday, August 4, 2022 •
“After decades of failure, California dusts off controversial Delta tunnel water project,” headlines a July 27 Modesto Bee report. As author Dale Kasler explains, the administration of Governor Gavin Newsom has unveiled “a downsized version of the controversial, multibillion-dollar plan to re-engineer the fragile estuary on Sacramento’s doorstep that serves as the hub of California’s over-stressed water-delivery network.”
As we noted in 2015, Governor Jerry Brown proposed to drill two massive tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, at an estimated cost of $25 billion. As Katy Grimes of the California Globe notes, each tunnel would be 150 feet below ground, 40 feet in diameter and 30 miles in length. All told, Brown’s original “Waterfix” project was “bigger than the English Channel Tunnel.”
• Wednesday, August 3, 2022 •
As expected, the United States posted negative growth for the second consecutive quarter, according to government data released on Thursday.
“Real gross domestic product (GDP) decreased at an annual rate of 0.9 percent in the second quarter of 2022, following a decrease of 1.6 percent in the first quarter,” the US Bureau of Economic Analysis announced.
The news prompted many outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, to use the R word—recession, which historically has been commonly defined as “economic decline during which trade and industrial activity are reduced, generally identified by a fall in GDP in two successive quarters.”
Well produced action movie saved from a thin plot by an excellent, experienced cast
Samuel R. Staley
• Tuesday, August 2, 2022 •
Netflix just dropped its high octane action movie The Gray Man on its streaming service. The streaming service reportedly dumped $200 million into the film’s production budget. While the money shows in its production values and top-flight acting, the storyline and plot don’t quite measure up.
This is surprising since the movie is directed, written, and produced by the Russo brothers (and others). The Russos are the dynamic duo of filmmaking: Their commercially released films have grossed nearly $6.7 billion worldwide on combined production budgets of $1.2 billion. Netflix is betting big on The Gray Man.