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2018-12-27, 15:58   #56
Dr Sardonicus

Feb 2017
Nowhere

25·33·5 Posts

Quote:
 Originally Posted by LaurV All these things are relative, they depend of the time you look at them, and they change from a period to the other. Not long ago it was immoral and illegal to (for example) marry out of your caste, but it was legal (and moral) to own slaves. Yow may not know how the future will change morality, legality, ethics, values. Those who "guess" right today are the leaders of tomorrow...
It's not just a matter of changing standards, or confusing criminality with immorality. There's also the issue of "money laundering." I don't think this really applies to the 19th Century "Robber Barons." There was no secret in where their money was coming from -- steel, oil, what have you. "Money laundering" usually refers to an attempt to make the proceeds of crime (drug dealing, bribery, racketeering, swindling, embezzlement, etc.) appear legitimate by running them through various transactions -- buying and selling stocks, or acquiring an interest in businesses, properties, etc. If you can describe how someone actually made their money (e.g. selling dodgy mortgage-backed securities), and there was no effort to disguise what they did, there's no "money laundering" going on there, at least as the term is usually understood.

I get a chuckle out of the following incident involving Herbert Spencer, the "father of social Darwinism," and one of his great admirers, Andrew Carnegie, as found here:
Quote:
 During the voyage, Carnegie used all his powers to convince Spencer to include Pittsburgh on his itinerary. The business tycoon argued that the Edgar Thomson Bessemer steel plant was evidence of the industrial order that Spencer had declared as the next and final stage of man's social evolution. Spencer finally agreed to the stop, and when he arrived in Pittsburgh, Carnegie and his partners met him at the station. Spencer, however, was not as impressed with Pittsburgh as was Carnegie. The visitor complained about the smoky, polluted air. The heat and noise of the mills almost forced the sickly Spencer to collapse at one point. When the tour was over and Spencer was about to leave, he gave his verdict of Pittsburgh, one that must have hurt the city's champion: "Six months residence here would justify suicide."
Another:
Quote:
 In his later years, the story goes, Carnegie sent a messenger down Fifth Avenue to the mansion of his old partner Henry Clay Frick. Carnegie had not seen Frick since the law suit and wanted to meet again and tidy up the past. Frick would not let him get away with it. The message came back from Frick, "Tell Mr. Carnegie I'll meet him in Hell where we are both going."

 2018-12-28, 04:39 #57 LaurV Romulan Interpreter     Jun 2011 Thailand 100100001110002 Posts Well, here you are right, "money laundering" is a very complex process, sometimes at the "limit" of legality. For example, here we walk in malls and supermarkets and see a lot of "luxury" shops, selling clothes, cosmetics, musical instruments, etc. They are "luxury" in the sense that they have the same products as other shops not further away, but they have nicer marketing (lights, ambiance, larger spaces) and of course, much higher prices. From the spaces they fill, I assume the rents they pay are also exorbitant. Nothing wrong here, but the problem is that, due to their higher prices and community of products (is this even a word? the idea is they sell common stuff, nothing "special", in general, with very few exceptions), they have no customers. We never see anybody buying anything. People go in, look around, ask a question or none, enjoy the air-cond and ambiance/music, then go. It is obvious they can't pay their salaries and rent with the money they make. But they are there, day after day, week after week, year after year, and continue to be there, when their neighbors come and go monthly or seasonal, or yearly. An obvious conclusion is that their owners are either stupid, losing money there, or either they have other sources of income, and the shop is only the "shield" to make the fiscal declarations for tax...
2018-12-28, 15:47   #58
Dr Sardonicus

Feb 2017
Nowhere

103408 Posts

Quote:
 Originally Posted by LaurV We never see anybody buying anything. People go in, look around, ask a question or none, enjoy the air-cond and ambiance/music, then go. It is obvious they can't pay their salaries and rent with the money they make. But they are there, day after day, week after week, year after year, and continue to be there, when their neighbors come and go monthly or seasonal, or yearly. An obvious conclusion is that their owners are either stupid, losing money there, or either they have other sources of income, and the shop is only the "shield" to make the fiscal declarations for tax...
Hmm. Obviously, they're paying the rent. They're paying their employees. [Or, they have some sort of special arrangement.] If there's turnover in the stock on display, they're paying their suppliers. Here in the USA, merchants also have to pay sales tax; if they don't pay for a long enough time, the state revenuers will seize their business.

There have been a fair number of businesses our family traded with over the years, that wound up being seized for non-payment of sales tax. My theory is, if a business is not making enough to pay all its bills, stiffing the revenuers gives them more time to try to recoup than stiffing just about anyone else.

Maybe these places are some kind of tax dodge, or a front for some other operation, as you indicate.

I remember this one local storefront from when I was a kid (it predated malls) which was purportedly a furniture store. It had chairs, lamps, etc on a display floor inside. But the place looked like nobody had set foot inside in years. Everything -- as best you could see -- looked like it had been gathering dust for ages. But the seeing was not very good. There was a yellow plastic film over the inside of the big display window along the sidewalk which had become so dusty and begrimed it was hard to see through it. But it had deteriorated to the point where sections were peeling and flaking off the glass. There was also some sort of shade which rolled upward, but was sitting there cockeyed, covering a triangular area near the top of the window. Everyone assumed it was some mob-owned property, used for what purpose nobody knew. But obviously someone was paying the real-estate taxes, or the property would have gone to auction.

Last fiddled with by Dr Sardonicus on 2018-12-28 at 15:53

2018-12-30, 20:33   #59
ewmayer
2ω=0

Sep 2002
República de California

3·53·73 Posts

The 25 Worst Headlines of 2018 | Current Affairs

The snarky commentary is of course hilarious, and while most of the cited articles really are awful, I did appreciate the humor in a few, e.g. the Scrabble one:
Quote:
 Sorry, feminists. I know it’s always been a central plank of the feminist movement, this strident demand that everyone accept the equality of the sexes at word-based board games. But when it comes to competitive Scrabble, a sport that relies on a pedantic knowledge of rare words and the best configuration of triple word and triple letter bonuses, I’m afraid men are simply better. You see, men evolved to be more tedious than women, and to derive smug satisfaction from high skill at extremely unimportant pursuits. It’s an evolutionary strategy that allowed some men to appear too pathetic to kill even when they had nothing useful to offer the tribe, which allowed them to partake in communal meals hunted and gathered by more interesting individuals. Once in a while, these superfluous men were even able to breed, passing along their obnoxious genes to future generations of pedants.
As for a select few of the cited perpetrators (you need to read the article for context on a couple of these):

"19. The Wall Street Journal: Ken Langone Wants You to Know He Loves Capitalism: Alarmed by what he views as some young people’s tilt toward socialism, the Home Depot co-founder has written a book defending capitalism" -- And I'll bet the non-chump (nor chimp) Ken Langone wrote said literary epistle in far less than 40 hours pre week, to boot.

"21. The Spectator: It is time we civilised the Sentinelese people" -- I'm picturing such a process of civilizing ending up with a new wildly popular breed of purse dog carried around by rich Asian ladies, said dog being named, of course, a "Sentinelese". "Gosh, stop your tiny-voiced yipping, little Jessica - it's just not civilized! Here, let me retie your precious little forelock hair-bow, and here's a tiny little doggie-treat for you by way of reward. Now what say we girls buy a few more $10,000 purses?" And for some odd reason I'm picturing the late flamboyant-defense-attorney-extraordinaire Johnny Cochran representing one of the folks afflicted by the above article in a libel suit and waxing loquacious in his inimitable manner: "That article was outrageous, egregious, inflammatory and defamatory!" Last fiddled with by ewmayer on 2018-12-30 at 20:35 2019-01-14, 22:23 #60 ewmayer 2ω=0 Sep 2002 República de California 2D5716 Posts Elwood, Illinois (Pop. 2,200), Has Become a Vital Hub of America's Consumer Economy. And It's Hell. | The New Republic Quote:  An opportunity as great as the [CenterPoint Intermodal freight terminal development] came with a cost. First, to help seal the deal, the town had to offer the developer, CenterPoint, a sweetener: total tax abatement for two decades, until 2022. Second, the town would have to put up with an influx of truck traffic. No matter: With large-scale manufacturing shifting to the Pacific Rim at the turn of the millennium, the warehousing and logistics industry offered a chance to get back in the good graces of a global economy that had, for decades, turned its back on rural America. Elwood yoked its hopes to warehousing, which would carry the town to the forefront of America’s new consumer economy. In a few short years after the Intermodal opened, Elwood became the largest inland port in North America. Billions of dollars in goods flowed through the area annually. The world’s most profitable retailers flocked to this stretch of barren country, while the headline unemployment rate plunged. Wal-Mart set up three warehouses in Will County alone, including its two largest national facilities, both located in Elwood. Samsung, Target, Home Depot, IKEA, and others all moved in. Will County is now home to some 300 warehouses. A region once known for its soybeans and cornfields was boxed up with gray facilities, some as large as a million square feet, like some enormous, horizontal equivalent of a game of Tetris. Fifteen years before Amazon’s HQ2 horserace, Elwood had won the retail lottery. “Nobody envisioned what we have out here,” said Jerry Heinrich, who sat on the board of the planning commission that first apportioned the land for development in the mid-1990s. “It was never anticipated that every major business entity would end up in the area,” said Jerry Heinrich. But this corporate valhalla turned out to be hell for the community, which suffered a concentrated dose of the indignities and disappointments of late capitalism in the 21st century. Instead of abundant full-time work, a regime of partial, precarious employment set in. Temp agencies flourished, but no restaurants, hotels, or grocery stores ever came, save for the recent addition of a dollar store. Tens of thousands of semis rumbled through Will County every day, wreaking havoc on the infrastructure. And as the town of Elwood scrambled to pave its potholes, its inability to collect taxes from the facilities plunged it into more than$30 million in debt.Get the latest from TNR. Sign up for the newsletter.And that was before Big Tech rolled in...
And some sobering statistics re. the state of the ever-growing economic 'Precariat':
Quote:
 While Will County’s reliance on temp labor force may seem extreme, it’s part of a larger national trend. A 2016 study by Harvard and Princeton researchers dug into federal employment numbers and found that “94 percent of the net employment growth in the U.S. economy from 2005 to 2015 appears to have occurred in alternative work arrangements,” which include temp workers, on-call workers, independent contractors, and freelancers.
The article goes on to explain how much of the temping is done via layers of subcontractors, preventing any possibility of union organizing by the laborers - no accident, that. The self-naming of these often-fly-by-night staffing outfits is unintentionally hilarious:
Quote:
 The only thing more common in Will County than the “No Trucks” signs are the hiring notices from temp agencies. The county is home to 99 in all—one of the highest concentrations of staffing agencies in the country. They share lofty, aspirational monikers, like Paramount, Accurate, and Elite. Amazon has its own preferred staffing agency: Integrity. ... With nearly 100 staffing agencies promising access to the same low-wage workforce, offering a competitive cost advantage to warehouses looking to staff up is nearly impossible. That pressure leads to corner-cutting of all sorts, which often includes wage theft, in the form of paying piece rates, skimping on hours, or having workers pay for their own drug tests, a process that was only recently outlawed. “How else are you going to cut costs?” posited Clack. “It’s this race to the bottom mentality.” McDonald ultimately filed a suit against Reliable Staffing for wage theft and won a couple thousand dollars in a settlement—but not before the agency tried to declare bankruptcy to avoid a payout. “That’s what they do,” he said, “they file bankruptcy so they don’t have to pay people.” (None of the staffing agencies contacted for this article responded to request for comment.) Reliable eventually rebranded: It’s now called Dependable Staffing Group.
The crooked CA state pension fund CalPERS and avuncular klepto-capitalist Warren Buffett also feature in the story. The local citizens' alliances emerging to try to push back against the exploitation are also interesting, in that they feature both strains of populism which featured in the 2016 presidential election; in the article's words, "an explicitly nonpartisan coalition that include[s] both avowed progressives and MAGA-hat wearers." Common cause is a powerful thing.

 2019-01-15, 21:14 #61 Dr Sardonicus     Feb 2017 Nowhere 25×33×5 Posts It's dead, Jim... The House of Commons has voted on the proposed Brexit deal. There were 202 votes in favor, 432 against. Tomorrow, there will be consideration of a Motion of No Confidence...
2019-01-16, 21:20   #62
Brownfox

Dec 2017

778 Posts
It's not dead, it's only sleeping

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Dr Sardonicus The House of Commons has voted on the proposed Brexit deal. There were 202 votes in favor, 432 against. Tomorrow, there will be consideration of a Motion of No Confidence...

TM has won the vote of No-Confidence, so she is still PM. No-one knows what will happen next but at some point someone is probably going to go back to the EU and ask for an extension.

2019-01-16, 23:16   #63
Dr Sardonicus

Feb 2017
Nowhere

25·33·5 Posts

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Brownfox TM has won the vote of No-Confidence, so she is still PM. No-one knows what will happen next but at some point someone is probably going to go back to the EU and ask for an extension.
Apparently the Tories didn't want a general election just now.

The folks at the EU have already said they weren't going to renegotiate the deal that was just voted down, so it looks like that deal is indeed dead.

I'm not sure how long an extension is possible, but my impression is, "not long." IIRC the Article 50 process has a deadline. I'm also not sure what the point would be. They've had two years, and now it's down to about two months, and they're back at square one.

Also IIRC some of the folks at the EU did indicate that the UK could rescind its Article 50 filing. I suppose they could hold a second Brexit referendum to try and undo the first one, but absent that, rescinding the filing might be iffy.

2019-01-17, 09:45   #64
xilman
Bamboozled!

"𒉺𒌌𒇷𒆷𒀭"
May 2003
Down not across

295B16 Posts

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Dr Sardonicus I'm not sure how long an extension is possible, but my impression is, "not long." IIRC the Article 50 process has a deadline. I'm also not sure what the point would be. They've had two years, and now it's down to about two months, and they're back at square one.
Elections are due to the European Parliament this summer. Having the UK still in the EU would be awkward ...

2019-01-17, 20:25   #65
ewmayer
2ω=0

Sep 2002
República de California

3·53·73 Posts

Brexit Chaos | naked capitalism
Quote:
 In November, we said that Brexit look destined to produce a state change, when so much energy had been pumped into the system that it became chaotic, like water becoming steam. The jaw-dropping 230 vote magnitude of the defeat of May’s Withdrawal Agreement was worse than even the pessimistic score-keepers expected. This was a Napoleon-goes-to-Moscow level defeat, the worst loss a Government has ever suffered on a major vote. Despite this epic defeat, May is expected to survive a no-confidence vote today, which she pressed the opposition to lodge. It was the one fillip she could get. The Tories aren’t about to hand power to Labour and the DUP will vote with them. But the spectacle of a complete failure as a leader still soldiering on is without precedent in the UK. The UK is in the midst of a legitimacy crisis. Reader David summed it up well: …. can I suggest that non-UK (and non-European) readers pay attention over the next week or so, at least? You’re about to see the unfolding of a political crisis the like of which happens in the Western world once a generation, if that. The combination of an essentially insoluble problem, an incompetent government, an enfeebled civil service, a bitterly divided political system, and government by convention and precedent rather than constitution, has produced a situation in which almost any outcome, including the most extreme, is possible. The effects on the British political system (and whether, indeed, it survives at all) are the real issue here, not Brexit, no matter how important that objectively is. Whilst I think the “sleepwalking” idea from the Grauniad is overstated, a more dangerous, related, worry is that Britain has had hundreds of years of political stability, and people assume that such stability (itself preceded by violence and revolution) will just go on forever. It may, but it also might not. And whereas in France, Spain or Germany, say, violent changes of political system are understood and lived with, that’s not the case in Britain.
[EWM: 'sleepwalking' is a historical reference to the behavior and ignoring-of-worst-case-scenarios of the major European powers in the months prior to the outbreak of WW1.]

Paul, does your second-domiciling in the Canaries have anything to do with Brexit, or was that unrelated? If the latter, you may find that to have been a fortuitously timed undertaking.

 2019-01-17, 22:31 #66 Dr Sardonicus     Feb 2017 Nowhere 25·33·5 Posts Geez, what an utter shambles. The following whimsical notion comes to mind: The Queen summons May, Corbyn, et al to the palace. When they arrive, they are ushered into an empty room. The ushers tell them to wait, then leave. A loudspeaker comes to life. The Queen's voice says, "You can leave this room when you have agreed on a course of action for Brexit." The people in the room find that the doors have been locked from the outside. There are no toilet facilities. No water. No food. Fun fact: The word conclave, used for the election of a new Pope, is from the Latin "with key," and means a locked room, or a room that can be locked.

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