C.R.E.A.M. Open Thread: Senator Warren, Leading the Way Again

“Identity politics”, assuming (part of) the average voter’s identity is taxpayer

Using a surtax, rather than raising the corporate rate, would allow the tax code to target larger, more profitable companies.

Warren said the tax code is “so littered with loopholes that simply raising the regular corporate tax rate alone is not enough” to combat the “armies of lawyers and accountants” that large businesses have to lower their tax bills. The tax code has an array of breaks for corporations to lower their liability — by, say, depreciating their buildings and machinery, deducting interest on debt and taking tax credits for research costs…

The 2017 Republican tax overhaul slashed the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent. Democrats have criticized the overhaul for reducing the levy too much.

Warren’s tax plan would effectively increase that rate for many publicly traded companies on profits of more than $100 million to 28 percent, a rate that other prominent Democrats, including former President Barack Obama, have backed.

Amazon has faced public criticism for using the U.S. tax code to get a refund for 2017 and 2018, even as it made hundreds of billions in revenue and about $10 billion in profits in 2018. The online retail giant gets both the benefits usually used by technology companies — deductions for paying employees in stock — as well as the write-offs for companies that rely heavily on building physical infrastructure…

The 2017 tax law also eliminated the corporate alternative minimum tax, a calculation that prohibited companies from taking too many tax breaks to reduce their liability. Warren’s plan would be a backstop for savvy corporations who are now able to use the full force of the tax law to cut down their tax bills…

(Should’ve posted this earlier in the day, but at least the left-coast Amazon stans will be able to have their say… )








Late-Night Movies Open Thread: Scammers All the Way Down (The Theranos Grift)

I haven’t paid much attention to the Theranos scandal, because marketing a literal version of the classic Magical Money Box con to Silicon valley ‘edgelords’ hardly seemed innovative. Of course they knew it was almost certainly fraudulent, but like the medieval barons buying papal indulgences, just getting the offer was a mark of social status (to these marks.). And they figured they could always leverage it regardless, by selling the deed to a more gullible investor, or one looking to them for a favor.

(Besides, most ‘educated’ Americans know as much about medicine / medical technology as a feudal lord knew about actual Catholic theology. Throw your money in the offertory basket at Easter and Christmas, and be proud you can afford to pay for a private pew!)

Getting Henry Fekkin’ Kissinger hooked into her grift, though — that’s genuine craftsmanship. Like having the Papal nucio put his personal seal on those prettily-illuminated parchments…

A review, from Matt Zoller Seitz at RogerEbert.com:

Theranos sounds like a creature of myth, and in the end, that’s what the company was. Appealing to the common fear of having blood drawn invasively in large amounts, Holmes spun an enticing pitch about building a compact, portable analysis machine named after Thomas Edison and able to perform 200 different kinds of tests quickly, using a pinprick’s worth of blood. Holmes styled herself as a Mozart-caliber wunderkind. She started her company when she was barely old enough to drink. Within a matter of years, it employed 800 people and was valued at $10 billion.

Unfortunately, Holmes’ machine couldn’t do what she promised. She wasn’t a scientist, and her own experts had warned her that it was physically impossible to build the device she’d envisioned. …
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Late Night Sercon Industry Story: How Much Trouble is Boeing Really Facing?

This… does not sound great. But is there liable to be any action taken, apart from grieving families suing the company?

As Boeing hustled in 2015 to catch up to Airbus and certify its new 737 MAX, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) managers pushed the agency’s safety engineers to delegate safety assessments to Boeing itself, and to speedily approve the resulting analysis.

But the original safety analysis that Boeing delivered to the FAA for a new flight control system on the MAX — a report used to certify the plane as safe to fly — had several crucial flaws.

That flight control system, called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), is now under scrutiny after two crashes of the jet in less than five months resulted in Wednesday’s FAA order to ground the plane…

The safety analysis:

– Understated the power of the new flight control system, which was designed to swivel the horizontal tail to push the nose of the plane down to avert a stall. When the planes later entered service, MCAS was capable of moving the tail more than four times farther than was stated in the initial safety analysis document.

– Failed to account for how the system could reset itself each time a pilot responded, thereby missing the potential impact of the system repeatedly pushing the airplane’s nose downward.

– Assessed a failure of the system as one level below “catastrophic.” But even that “hazardous” danger level should have precluded activation of the system based on input from a single sensor — and yet that’s how it was designed…

Both Boeing and the FAA were informed of the specifics of this story and were asked for responses 11 days ago, before the second crash of a 737 MAX last Sunday


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Excellent Read: “Does Journalism Have A Future?”

I’m looking forward to reading Jill Abramson’s Merchants of Truth — I’d suggest it for a Balloon Juice Book Club post, except I doubt there’s room for such in the current era. A semi-review from historian Jill LePore, in the New Yorker:

By some measures, journalism entered a new, Trumpian, gold-plated age during the 2016 campaign, with the Trump bump, when news organizations found that the more they featured Trump the better their Chartbeat numbers, which, arguably, is a lot of what got him elected. The bump swelled into a lump and, later, a malignant tumor, a carcinoma the size of Cleveland. Within three weeks of the election, the Times added a hundred and thirty-two thousand new subscribers. (This effect hasn’t extended to local papers.) News organizations all over the world now advertise their services as the remedy to Trumpism, and to fake news; fighting Voldemort and his Dark Arts is a good way to rake in readers. And scrutiny of the Administration has produced excellent work, the very best of journalism. “How President Trump Is Saving Journalism,” a 2017 post on Forbes.com, marked Trump as the Nixon to today’s rising generation of Woodwards and Bernsteins. Superb investigative reporting is published every day, by news organizations both old and new, including BuzzFeed News.

By the what-doesn’t-kill-you line of argument, the more forcefully Trump attacks the press, the stronger the press becomes. Unfortunately, that’s not the full story. All kinds of editorial decisions are now outsourced to Facebook’s News Feed, Chartbeat, or other forms of editorial automation, while the hands of many flesh-and-blood editors are tied to so many algorithms. For one reason and another, including twenty-first-century journalism’s breakneck pace, stories now routinely appear that might not have been published a generation ago, prompting contention within the reportorial ranks. In 2016, when BuzzFeed News released the Steele dossier, many journalists disapproved, including CNN’s Jake Tapper, who got his start as a reporter for the Washington City Paper. “It is irresponsible to put uncorroborated information on the Internet,” Tapper said. “It’s why we did not publish it, and why we did not detail any specifics from it, because it was uncorroborated, and that’s not what we do.” The Times veered from its normal practices when it published an anonymous opinion essay by a senior official in the Trump Administration. And The New Yorker posted a story online about Brett Kavanaugh’s behavior when he was an undergraduate at Yale, which Republicans in the Senate pointed to as evidence of a liberal conspiracy against the nominee.

There’s plenty of room to argue over these matters of editorial judgment. Reasonable people disagree. Occasionally, those disagreements fall along a generational divide. Younger journalists often chafe against editorial restraint, not least because their cohort is far more likely than senior newsroom staff to include people from groups that have been explicitly and viciously targeted by Trump and the policies of his Administration, a long and growing list that includes people of color, women, immigrants, Muslims, members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community, and anyone with family in Haiti or any of the other countries Trump deems “shitholes.” Sometimes younger people are courageous and sometimes they are heedless and sometimes those two things are the same. “The more ‘woke’ staff thought that urgent times called for urgent measures,” Abramson writes, and that “the dangers of Trump’s presidency obviated the old standards.” Still, by no means is the divide always or even usually generational. Abramson, for instance, sided with BuzzFeed News about the Steele dossier, just as she approves of the use of the word “lie” to refer to Trump’s lies, which, by the Post’s reckoning, came at the rate of more than a dozen a day in 2018.
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Open Thread: Fake Wall, Real Suffering


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