The subject of tax inversion, in which American firms avail of lower tax rates in foreign countries by merging companies in those countries, has become very topical in the last couple weeks thanks to a decision by Abbvie, a drug company, to merger with Shire, an Ireland-based firm and move its headquarters overseas. One of at least 47 tax inversions in the last decade, the Abbvie-Shire deal is the largest such action yet, worth $54 billion. Perhaps unsurprisingly, President Obama and Democrats in Congress have become apoplectic with rage at the audacity of a business making a prudent decision to escape bloodsucking taxes.
At the Examiner, Gene Healy writes about why the Rand Paul/Rick Perry initial sparring is good for the foreign policy debate on the right. Whether it’s good or bad in the long run, I do believe it illustrates a number of challenges Republican candidates in 2016 will have to deal with, and the difficulty of assessing where the Republican base is headed at a time when few leaders have run in tandem with its shifting views on national security and foreign policy.
When asked to imagine the birthplace of our contemporary republican democracy, most educated people point to the democratic traditions of ancient Athens and to the institutions and offices of the Roman Republic. Yet, Athens was destroyed and its democracy destroyed centuries before the birth of Christ, and the Roman Republic succumbed to imperial despotism in 27BC. These shining examples continued to burn as embers of remembrance long after their practical extinction, thanks to a political and intellectual class dedicated to the preservation of ancient documents and knowledge. But while preserving the records, the successor states of both Athens and Rome were neither democratic nor republican in character.
Most Americans would agree that liberty and freedom are values fundamental to our nation, but, if questioned, do they really know the intent of their meanings, or have they changed through time? David Hackett in his book,Liberty and Freedom: A Visual History of America’s Founding Ideas, shows how liberty and freedom form an intertwined strand that runs through the core of American life. But like DNA, liberty and freedom have been transformed and recombined with every generation. Hence, the earliest colonies shared ideals of liberty and freedom may have evolved into different meanings today.
Prominent libertarians have been making the news with various proposals to build libertarian paradises free of government control. Venture capitalist Peter Thiel has perhaps been the most vocal, with his support for building floating free cities in international waters well known. While such grand visions may be possible to achieve, they are still a ways off from fruition. If you are looking for a libertarian refuge in the here-and-now, however, there is a place for you to go: New Hampshire.
Panel 17 of the 9th International Conference on Climate Change was on the subject of “Peer Review, Herding, and the Reliability of Climate Science.” Anyone interested in the way science is actually conducted and the problems with the prevailing peer-review system can find a lot of interesting material in the discussion.
A cautionary tale about the pitfalls of bureaucratic incompetence played out in Ireland over the last several days. American country music star Garth Brooks was scheduled to play five concerts in the Croke Park arena, one of the largest venues in the country. In all, 400,000 tickets were sold. That is an astonishing number, considering Ireland’s population is just under 4.6 million. Close to one in ten citizens was planning to attend!
The 6th Panel of the International Conference on Climate Change was based around three men who worked with NASA. The group called, The Right Climate Stuff, focused on the actual facts and data related to the climate change debate. This information filled panel is a can’t miss for ICCC9.
This summer’s elections to the European Parliament, the legislative body of the European Union, marked a radical swing against the greater centralization of power in the hands of Eurocrats in Brussels. A great many of the Euroskeptic parties that had big wins were the French National Front and the British United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). Other Euroskeptic parties on the continent, in Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Greece, and elsewhere, also made out quite well. It was a wake-up call to many European leaders who had been complacent and tried to label Euroskeptics as fringe or extremist. The performance of UKIP in particular, which beat all three mainstream parties in the election, made those labels ridiculous.
There is value in citizens informing themselves about the basics of science, particularly science that is having a major impact on public policy. When science is high on politicians’ agenda, it has to be high on citizens’ agenda too. That is often difficult in the realm of science, which often requires specialist knowledge and a large amount of time to dedicate to the pursuit. However, there are useful primers readily available and written for public consumption that can serve as a solid basis on which voters can develop learned opinions.
Slowly but surely, Washington is waking up to the idea that the current surge in populism is not some flash in the pan, but a real and sustained trend in politics on the right and left. Distrust and frustration with an economic and political system that rewards, defends, and bails out the wealthy, powerful, and well-connected while leaving the middle and working class to get squeezed by stagnant wages and the higher costs of the basic staples of life, has made things which were once considered humdrum politics as usual suddenly controversial.
Our current immigration rules outline acceptable reasons for border agents to follow, when deciding whether undocumented aliens can cross into the United States. What has and is continuing to happen with the unprecedented 60,000 currently asking for entry is an example of how our laws are being violated by “gaming the system”. The aliens were given a “cheat sheet” (see above), which has been found at the border, with prepared instructions on how to answer designated questions asked by border agents how to provide the right answers, which will in turn guarantee them entry. One of the more important questions they are being asked is their reason for wanting to leave their country of origin. The aliens were told to claim it was due to poverty and/or fear of their government or gangs. Those answers are the “triggers” or the “loop holes” in our immigration law, which were originally written and intended for specific purposes (such as preventing sex trafficking) and certainly not for qualifying half the world’s population for entry into America.
This Telegraph interview with Chelsea Clinton reveals a number of facets of the once and future first daughter which make her the perfect representative of her Millennial generation. She has the fickle but sincere flightiness over everything from career to diet, the waywardness of the overeducated and underchallenged, the comfort of comprehensive knowledge of the new sins, the inner child of Bart Simpson, the gluten allergy … but of course the gluten allergy.
So much blood and treasure was wasted during the long occupation in Iraq that there was a sigh of relief across America when the troops finally left. Yet the end of the American presence has resulted in chaos. Islamist extremists in recent days have been making gains against the Iraqi military, seizing several towns, including the city of Mosul. The sheer rapidity of the collapse of law and order in Iraq led to a lot of hand-wringing in the White House. President Obama finally decided to send a few hundred troops to bolster the beleaguered regime of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. This choice will only serve to further diminish the status of the United States in the region.
One of the world’s oldest and most important political conferences celebrated its 60th anniversary this month. The Bilderberg Group met in Copenhagen, Denmark from May 29th to June 1st to discuss matters of global import. Named after the Hotel Bilderberg where the first conference was held in 1954, Bilderberg has held meetings every year since then between many of the world’s top political, economic, and business leaders.
One of the few simple joys I have in life, shared with Camille Paglia, is listening to sports radio. She describes it as one of the few arenas still safe for an old-fashioned sort of masculinity – I think of it more as a respite from reading and thinking about politics and policy, second only to leaning back in an easy chair with a good simple future-noir detective story about hunting Chinese Martians or a word that could end the world. There is a simple rhythm and cadence to good sports talk radio which allows for an undercurrent of wit and humor juxtaposed with statistical argumentation, hitting the high and the low.
The emphasis on a single government policy strays far from the flowery rhetoric found at the traditional graduation ceremony—especially in light of the timing. While the president was speaking, all of the progress made by America’s investment of blood and treasure in Iraq was under immediate threat. And, as I pointed out last week, what is taking place right now in Iraq has the potential of an imminent impact to our economic security. Instead of addressing the threat now, why is he talking about “a threat to the future” that might happen in the next 100 years?
President Barack Obama demeaned the dignity of the presidency by ridiculing tens of thousands of scientists for simply disagreeing with his lay opinions on global warming. While the political left throws shrill temper tantrums against anybody who “disrespects” the Office of the Presidency by asking Barack Obama a challenging question (something they had no qualms about during the Bush administration), Obama himself is setting the applicable ground rules for disrespectful political discourse and climate McCarthyism.
For more than two hundred years, practically all of the leading advocates of individual liberty and free markets have assumed that money and banking were different from other types of goods and markets. From Adam Smith to Milton Friedman, the presumption has been that competitive markets and free consumer choice are far better than government control and planning – except in the realm of money and financial intermediation. They have been wrong on this important issue.
It seems fitting that after such a momentous political evening, the Washington, D.C. area woke early this morning to the thundercrack of a summer storm, with a furious arrival and just as quickly faded and gone. The crushing and unexpected defeat of Eric Cantor – the first defeat of a sitting House Majority leader since 1899, which also happens to be the creation of the position – is sending ripples through a Republican Party which will have ramifications for this cycle and beyond.