Tuesday, May 26, 2015

We have often walked down this street before

William McGurn of the Wall Street Journal sez, 'Why can't a politician be more like homo economicus?';
Take Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady.” In her role as Eliza Doolittle, she not only turned in a wonderful performance but also delivered a lesson about upward mobility that is particularly timely today in light of the latest war of modern progressivism: on nail salons.
It started, as these things often do, with a two-part exposé in the New York Times, one focusing on the lousy pay and the other on the health threats. This provoked howls of outrage, and was in turn followed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo invoking “emergency measures,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) citing federal legislation on product safety she’s introduced and of course New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio presiding over a “day of action.” The left-leaning Economic Policy Institute declares nail salon abuses a function of “national policy failures.”
Almost perfect textbook Public Choice Economics, this is. McGurn spells it out, Ms Doolittle turned to the private sector (Professor 'enry 'iggins) to lift herself out of poverty;
Eliza didn’t place her hope in new regulations for street-side flower mongering. For Eliza, upward mobility was about acquiring the skills she needed to get ahead, in this case proper English and the manners that went with it.
How different this is to the approach to nail salons now being worked out in New York and Washington. Like so many other bursts of progressive passion, chances are that while their bid for more government will make the pols and activists feel better about themselves, it will do little to improve the lives of these women.
We hope that George Bernard Shaw turns over in his grave.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Strictly from Hungary

In the past hundred years it's been World Wars, two Communist takeovers (1919 and 1945) Nazism and death camps. Today's troubles are a little different;
Several dozen young mothers breastfed their young children in the McDonald’s restaurant at Budapest’s Nyugati (Western) station on Friday.  The flashmob event was organized in response to a security guard requiring a nursing mother to leave the restaurant two days earlier.
 Remember the freedom fighters of '56?
One mother told the Beacon that while she herself never experienced a similar atrocity at a restaurant, she felt an obligation to be there in a show of solidarity.
Which brings us to what atrocities used to be in Hungary;

Even being a national hero and Olympics Gold Medalist wouldn't save your life then.

Don Draper remembers the military

From last year, former adman Donald P. Bellisario talks about his successes portraying the U.S. Military on the small screen. He himself served in the U.S. Marines during the peacetime 1950s--and came close to punching out the lights of one Lee Harvey Oswald, when he encountered him reading Pravda on a Marine base in California in 1958--but, that's another story (that can be accessed at the TV Legends website).

Bellisario decided to get out of the advertising business after almost two decades, and gamble on a Hollywood career. Fortunately, with his money running low, he met with Stephen Cannell who liked a script he'd submitted for the program Baa Baa Blacksheep, about the exploits of WWII fighter Ace Greg 'Pappy' Boyington.

Bellisario was responsible for Magnum PI (the first Vietnam Veteran portrayed in a heroic light over his military experience), JAG, Quantum Leap, NCIS and Airwolf among others.

Vast right wing conspiracy lives in NYC

Comrade Philip Guelpa, is convinced of it;
Over the course of May, New York City’s Democratic mayor Bill de Blasio announced a series of proposals he claimed were intended to address the crisis of affordable housing in the city. In reality these proposals, which cover public housing, homelessness, real estate development and rent regulations, are thoroughly right-wing, intended to open the door to privatizing public housing while squeezing more money from low-income residents.
 That's the same Bill de Blasio who admires Castro's Cuba so much he went there on his honeymoon in 1991. Well, the honeymoon's over, says Guelpa;
De Blasio’s public housing plan, dubbed NextGen NYCHA [NYC Housing Authority], is an open attack on the future of public housing. With federal cuts exacerbating NYCHA’s budget deficit, the mayor declared there is no way to fill the funding gap outside of squeezing more money out of residents and turning public housing over for private development.
With the current residents already suffering the usual indignities of living in socialist housing--including leaking pipes, rampant mold, and vermin infestations. Requests for repairs go unfulfilled for months or even years.

So what's De Blasio got up his sleeve? 
To start, approximately 11 acres of NYCHA land will be leased to developers to build condominiums. Half of the units would be set aside for low-income tenants, while the other half would go for market rates. Meanwhile approximately 14,000 NYCHA apartments allowed to deteriorate to an uninhabitable state will be removed from the public housing system and turned over for private investment.
Hmmm. Sounds uncharacteristically practical of De Blasio; the government has made a mess of things, let's let someone else try their hand at housing the poor. Egads! What if it works?
In a further threat to housing affordability, the city’s rent regulations, dating back to World War II, which have some limited effect in moderating the spiral of rent increases in older buildings, expire in June.
Yes, the 'temporary wartime measure' is about to expire only 70 years after WWII ended. Hey, give it some time.

Try to remember...the Eady Levy

And the role it played in great war movies, like;

As Wikipedia explains; The movie was filmed in Trinidad and Tobago allowing [director John] Huston and Fox to use blocked funds in the UK, receive British film finance and qualify for the Eady Levy. Clicking on that last one gets some details. The levy was a tax on the movie-going public, added to the box office ticket price, with half the amount rebated to the exhibitors of the film, and half to the producers of British films.

And, to be a British film--and qualify for the lucrative subsidies--it had to be shot in Britain or the Commonwealth, and having only three non-British actors, directors and technicians. Or so says Wikipedia. Now, for the rest of the story we turn to Jonathan Stubbs' The Eady Levy: A Runaway Bribe? Hollywood Production and British Subsidy in the Early 1960s;
...the Eady levy encouraged Hollywood companies to use their British subsidiaries to produce films which actually offered representations of Britain [or British experiences overseas], thus further complicating the distinction between British and American film-making.
It also encouraged some creative accounting schemes to hide the true origin of films like the blockbuster Lawrence of Arabia. The movie moguls had to convince the British Board of Trade that the film met the criteria to qualify as British. Which wasn't easy for a film that was financed by an American like Sam Spiegel using the resources of Columbia Pictures, even though technically the producer of the film was Horizon Pictures (GB) Ltd, which Spiegel founded in 1952.

As the Board of Trade was aware, Columbia paid the salaries of many of the people involved in the making of Lawrence and then loaned them out to Horizon Pictures. As a member of the BoT put it, 'this engaging of staff by a foreign company...even though loaned or assigned to a British company, seems to me to be pretty close to direct participation by a foreign company.'

Further, the film's 202 minute running time was comprised of exactly 40 seconds shot in British film studios--Shepperton, and Goldhawk, Shepherds Bush--and 3 minutes, 2 seconds on locations on British soil. The bulk of the film was shot in (then dirt-poor) Spain (116 minutes) and Jordan (65 minutes).

But the Brits are nothing if not stiff upper lipped, so the BoT ruled that, 'there is no doubt that this film is essentially British in the light of the rather wider interpretation which...we allow to American sponsored films'. Which settled matters. Until Lawrence was entered in the Acapulco Film Festival in 1963...as an American film.

Which required a re-evaluation of the BoT's earlier decision to classify it as British. But, millions of dollars of investment by Hollywood was at stake, so the Board was up to the task of re-affirming Lawrence as a product of the Empire. It was decided that the Mexicans who'd classified it as an American film were in error. And when it won the first prize in the festival, the honor of accepting it went to the British Ambassador to Mexico.

Whew! The coast was clear again. So clear that in 1969 another American film officially registered as British, Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, was able to compete in the Moscow Film Festival as the official American entry. Again, the British film board took it like her majesty's men they were.

Other films labeled as British--and collecting subsidies from the British taxpayers--were, over the years of the Eady Levy; The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Guns of Navarone, Tom Jones, Treasure Island, The African Queen, Captain Horatio Hornblower and Ivanhoe.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

It could happen to EU

Europe's answer to Jackson Hole, Wyoming is, this year, in Sintra, Portugal. According to the AP's David McHugh, Mario Draghi came out with guns blazing;
European Central Bank head Mario Draghi started things off with a sharp call for pro-business reforms by governments.
Such reforms "are about unleashing an untapped potential for substantially higher output, employment and welfare," Draghi said in his opening remarks.
Draghi wasn't the only one worried about Europe's sclerosis;
"There is no way the central bank all on its own can solve all of Europe's problems, and there has been a tendency for policy makers to sit back and let the ECB do it all, and that is both unreasonable and unconscionable" said Dennis J. Snower, president of the Kiel Institute of the World Economy in Germany.
Snower advocates active measures to help people get back into work, such as retraining workers whose skills don't fit employer needs, or subsidies to companies that take on the long-term unemployed. "Find the disadvantaged people and give them maximal incentives to get into the labor force, and give employers maximal incentives to hire them," he told The Associated Press on the conference sidelines.
Naturally that didn't sit well with the Euroway or the highway types;
Paul De Grauwe from the London School of Economics — a former member of the Belgian parliament — said the central bank put its legitimacy at risk.
He said restrictions on layoffs existed "because people want them. ... And in democracies, people will obtain protection from their governments."
"And when a central bank then comes out and says we should do structural reforms, it really says we should break down this system of protections. And in doing so the central bank sets itself outside the democratic process.
"The danger is that people will reject such a central bank."
Or the central bank will reject them. As may be dawning on Greece.

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2015/05/23/3805553/what-will-get-europes-economy.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2015/05/23/3805553/what-will-get-europes-economy.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2015/05/23/3805553/what-will-get-europes-economy.html#storylink=cpy

Friday, May 22, 2015

Look on the bright side, guys

Unlike most countries, Japan worries about running out of lawyers;
The government plans to make sure that at least “1,500 or more” aspiring lawyers pass the national bar exam each year after successful applicants sank to a record low of 1,810 in 2014.
The figure for 2014 is 239 lower than in 2013, and the lowest since the current exam debuted in 2006.
Wasn't that long ago that Japan's target was much higher;
In 2002, the Cabinet set a goal of gradually increasing successful applicants to 3,000 a year by roughly 2010.
So, sue us.