Sunday, August 31, 2014

About that 'least dangerous branch'

 The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government....
After  2-1/4 centuries, word of the U.S. Constitution's idea of co-equal branches of government seems not to have gotten to the Pacific Northwest;
When citizens or companies disregard court orders or decorum, judges aren’t shy about sanctioning them.
But the Washington Supreme Court could make history if it finds the entire state Legislature in contempt for not making enough progress toward fully funding public education.
The court will hold a special hearing Wednesday to hear arguments about whether it should do so.
In 2012, the justices found Washington’s education system was not properly funded, ruling that lawmakers were violating the constitutional rights of the state’s one million school children. They gave lawmakers until 2018 to come up with billions of dollars of additional money.
  Government by judicial fiat!
 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Temps libre, égalité, fraternité

As Maynard G. Krebs put it, Work...work! 

While others say, We want a Maggie in our future;
The choice to replace [Economy Minister Arnaud] Montebourg was telling. The veteran left-wing firebrand has made way for 36-year-old former banker Emmanuel Macron, another move aimed at sending out a clear pro-business message.
Xavier Galezowski, a senior consultant at Ernst and Young, believes the government’s change of heart is a “clear signal that the left is reconsidering the fact that they have to be pragmatic” when it comes to businesses and the economy.
....“I think that in many ways we are hoping to have someone like Margaret Thatcher in France,” he says, referring to the Britain’s “Iron Lady” Prime Minister famous for her policies of economic deregulation, privatisation and decreasing the power of trade unions.
France does resemble a Peter Sellers movie these days;


NEW ECONOMY minister Emmanuel Macron has sparked a political row after saying that he would be in favour of relaxing the rules on the 35-hour working week in France. - See more at: http://www.connexionfrance.com/france-politics-valls-2-government-macron-economy-minister-working-hours-16132-view-article.html#sthash.QiAO0XeD.dpuf
NEW ECONOMY minister Emmanuel Macron has sparked a political row after saying that he would be in favour of relaxing the rules on the 35-hour working week in France.

In an interview with Le Point, conducted before his elevation to the “Valls II” cabinet and published today, the former investment banker said that he was in favour of businesses being able to set their own working hours in agreement with the unions.

Mr Macron, who helped draw up the €50bn Responsibility Pact, said: “We could allow businesses, under majority agreements, to waive the rules of working hours and pay.

“It is already possible for companies in trouble. Why not extend it to all companies provided that there is a majority agreement with the employees.”

He said that France faced two major economic problems - the budget deficit and decreased competitiveness, and argued that “key to recovery is to liberate the energies that create activity”.

Unions reacted angrily to Mr Macron’s comments. Lawrence Berger, secretary general of the CFDT, said that waiving the 35-hour rule was "not a good idea”.

France’s Secretary of State for European Affairs Harlem Désir told iTele this morning that the government had no formal plans to challenge the 35-hour law.

"There is no project of this nature," he said. "There is, however, a desire to develop social negotiation in business.” - See more at: http://www.connexionfrance.com/france-politics-valls-2-government-macron-economy-minister-working-hours-16132-view-article.html#sthash.QiAO0XeD.dpuf
NEW ECONOMY minister Emmanuel Macron has sparked a political row after saying that he would be in favour of relaxing the rules on the 35-hour working week in France.

In an interview with Le Point, conducted before his elevation to the “Valls II” cabinet and published today, the former investment banker said that he was in favour of businesses being able to set their own working hours in agreement with the unions.

Mr Macron, who helped draw up the €50bn Responsibility Pact, said: “We could allow businesses, under majority agreements, to waive the rules of working hours and pay.

“It is already possible for companies in trouble. Why not extend it to all companies provided that there is a majority agreement with the employees.”

He said that France faced two major economic problems - the budget deficit and decreased competitiveness, and argued that “key to recovery is to liberate the energies that create activity”.

Unions reacted angrily to Mr Macron’s comments. Lawrence Berger, secretary general of the CFDT, said that waiving the 35-hour rule was "not a good idea”.

France’s Secretary of State for European Affairs Harlem Désir told iTele this morning that the government had no formal plans to challenge the 35-hour law.

"There is no project of this nature," he said. "There is, however, a desire to develop social negotiation in business.” - See more at: http://www.connexionfrance.com/france-politics-valls-2-government-macron-economy-minister-working-hours-16132-view-article.html#sthash.QiAO0XeD.dpuf
NEW ECONOMY minister Emmanuel Macron has sparked a political row after saying that he would be in favour of relaxing the rules on the 35-hour working week in France.

In an interview with Le Point, conducted before his elevation to the “Valls II” cabinet and published today, the former investment banker said that he was in favour of businesses being able to set their own working hours in agreement with the unions.

Mr Macron, who helped draw up the €50bn Responsibility Pact, said: “We could allow businesses, under majority agreements, to waive the rules of working hours and pay.

“It is already possible for companies in trouble. Why not extend it to all companies provided that there is a majority agreement with the employees.”

He said that France faced two major economic problems - the budget deficit and decreased competitiveness, and argued that “key to recovery is to liberate the energies that create activity”.

Unions reacted angrily to Mr Macron’s comments. Lawrence Berger, secretary general of the CFDT, said that waiving the 35-hour rule was "not a good idea”.

France’s Secretary of State for European Affairs Harlem Désir told iTele this morning that the government had no formal plans to challenge the 35-hour law.

"There is no project of this nature," he said. "There is, however, a desire to develop social negotiation in business.” - See more at: http://www.connexionfrance.com/france-politics-valls-2-government-macron-economy-minister-working-hours-16132-view-article.html#sthash.QiAO0XeD.dpuf
NEW ECONOMY minister Emmanuel Macron has sparked a political row after saying that he would be in favour of relaxing the rules on the 35-hour working week in France.

In an interview with Le Point, conducted before his elevation to the “Valls II” cabinet and published today, the former investment banker said that he was in favour of businesses being able to set their own working hours in agreement with the unions.

Mr Macron, who helped draw up the €50bn Responsibility Pact, said: “We could allow businesses, under majority agreements, to waive the rules of working hours and pay.

“It is already possible for companies in trouble. Why not extend it to all companies provided that there is a majority agreement with the employees.”

He said that France faced two major economic problems - the budget deficit and decreased competitiveness, and argued that “key to recovery is to liberate the energies that create activity”.

Unions reacted angrily to Mr Macron’s comments. Lawrence Berger, secretary general of the CFDT, said that waiving the 35-hour rule was "not a good idea”.

France’s Secretary of State for European Affairs Harlem Désir told iTele this morning that the government had no formal plans to challenge the 35-hour law.

"There is no project of this nature," he said. "There is, however, a desire to develop social negotiation in business.” - See more at: http://www.connexionfrance.com/france-politics-valls-2-government-macron-economy-minister-working-hours-16132-view-article.html#sthash.QiAO0XeD.dpuf
NEW ECONOMY minister Emmanuel Macron has sparked a political row after saying that he would be in favour of relaxing the rules on the 35-hour working week in France.

In an interview with Le Point, conducted before his elevation to the “Valls II” cabinet and published today, the former investment banker said that he was in favour of businesses being able to set their own working hours in agreement with the unions.

Mr Macron, who helped draw up the €50bn Responsibility Pact, said: “We could allow businesses, under majority agreements, to waive the rules of working hours and pay.

“It is already possible for companies in trouble. Why not extend it to all companies provided that there is a majority agreement with the employees.”

He said that France faced two major economic problems - the budget deficit and decreased competitiveness, and argued that “key to recovery is to liberate the energies that create activity”.

Unions reacted angrily to Mr Macron’s comments. Lawrence Berger, secretary general of the CFDT, said that waiving the 35-hour rule was "not a good idea”.

France’s Secretary of State for European Affairs Harlem Désir told iTele this morning that the government had no formal plans to challenge the 35-hour law.

"There is no project of this nature," he said. "There is, however, a desire to develop social negotiation in business.” - See more at: http://www.connexionfrance.com/france-politics-valls-2-government-macron-economy-minister-working-hours-16132-view-article.html#sthash.QiAO0XeD.dpuf
NEW ECONOMY minister Emmanuel Macron has sparked a political row after saying that he would be in favour of relaxing the rules on the 35-hour working week in France.

In an interview with Le Point, conducted before his elevation to the “Valls II” cabinet and published today, the former investment banker said that he was in favour of businesses being able to set their own working hours in agreement with the unions.

Mr Macron, who helped draw up the €50bn Responsibility Pact, said: “We could allow businesses, under majority agreements, to waive the rules of working hours and pay.

“It is already possible for companies in trouble. Why not extend it to all companies provided that there is a majority agreement with the employees.”

He said that France faced two major economic problems - the budget deficit and decreased competitiveness, and argued that “key to recovery is to liberate the energies that create activity”.

Unions reacted angrily to Mr Macron’s comments. Lawrence Berger, secretary general of the CFDT, said that waiving the 35-hour rule was "not a good idea”.

France’s Secretary of State for European Affairs Harlem Désir told iTele this morning that the government had no formal plans to challenge the 35-hour law.

"There is no project of this nature," he said. "There is, however, a desire to develop social negotiation in business.” - See more at: http://www.connexionfrance.com/france-politics-valls-2-government-macron-economy-minister-working-hours-16132-view-article.html#sthash.QiAO0XeD.dpuf
NEW ECONOMY minister Emmanuel Macron has sparked a political row after saying that he would be in favour of relaxing the rules on the 35-hour working week in France.

In an interview with Le Point, conducted before his elevation to the “Valls II” cabinet and published today, the former investment banker said that he was in favour of businesses being able to set their own working hours in agreement with the unions.

Mr Macron, who helped draw up the €50bn Responsibility Pact, said: “We could allow businesses, under majority agreements, to waive the rules of working hours and pay.

“It is already possible for companies in trouble. Why not extend it to all companies provided that there is a majority agreement with the employees.”

He said that France faced two major economic problems - the budget deficit and decreased competitiveness, and argued that “key to recovery is to liberate the energies that create activity”.

Unions reacted angrily to Mr Macron’s comments. Lawrence Berger, secretary general of the CFDT, said that waiving the 35-hour rule was "not a good idea”.

France’s Secretary of State for European Affairs Harlem Désir told iTele this morning that the government had no formal plans to challenge the 35-hour law.

"There is no project of this nature," he said. "There is, however, a desire to develop social negotiation in business.” - See more at: http://www.connexionfrance.com/france-politics-valls-2-government-macron-economy-minister-working-hours-16132-view-article.html#sthash.QiAO0XeD.dpuf
NEW ECONOMY minister Emmanuel Macron has sparked a political row after saying that he would be in favour of relaxing the rules on the 35-hour working week in France.

In an interview with Le Point, conducted before his elevation to the “Valls II” cabinet and published today, the former investment banker said that he was in favour of businesses being able to set their own working hours in agreement with the unions.

Mr Macron, who helped draw up the €50bn Responsibility Pact, said: “We could allow businesses, under majority agreements, to waive the rules of working hours and pay.

“It is already possible for companies in trouble. Why not extend it to all companies provided that there is a majority agreement with the employees.”

He said that France faced two major economic problems - the budget deficit and decreased competitiveness, and argued that “key to recovery is to liberate the energies that create activity”.

Unions reacted angrily to Mr Macron’s comments. Lawrence Berger, secretary general of the CFDT, said that waiving the 35-hour rule was "not a good idea”.

France’s Secretary of State for European Affairs Harlem Désir told iTele this morning that the government had no formal plans to challenge the 35-hour law.

"There is no project of this nature," he said. "There is, however, a desire to develop social negotiation in business.” - See more at: http://www.connexionfrance.com/france-politics-valls-2-government-macron-economy-minister-working-hours-16132-view-article.html#sthash.QiAO0XeD.dpuf

Summer econ movie round-up

We've been meaning to catch-up on our viewing of films that econ professors could show in their classes to illustrate lessons from the textbooks their students are required to read, and found--from 2012;


Which is a subtle gem, written by someone called Michael Walker (of whom, little is known other than this film). Anton Chekhov probably never had an actress at hand as dynamic as Parker Posey, but he'd have appreciated the craftsmanship in this comedy-drama (what the Russian playwright thought his works were).

Which is more than can be said for the nation's film critics. We can't find a single one of whom who has a clue as to what this movie is about, even in the prestige press. The role played by the wife of slacker Pete Cozy--also a missed irony by most critics--is pretty much ignored. We'd have thought the counterpoint to Posey's brash, aggressive character couldn't have been clearer--especially with the movie's ending where the wife is happy as a clam, living within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean, while her husband has to go inside, on a Sunday afternoon, to catch up on his work. But, hey, it's only half the movie.

Also, most critics slammed the grocery economics as 'eyes glazing over' stuff. Fortunately, the writer/director Walker knew what he was doing;
Did you research the supermarket business?
I did. Shelving strategy isn’t that glamorous, but when you hear about it from someone who’s really articulate, it becomes very interesting. Also, it’s a very private business. It’s secretive stuff. Surprisingly, I couldn’t even get access to a lot of their offices.
He got enough to make the point that needed making about economic reality. See for yourself though and judge it both for the off-color of its characters AND the content of its economics.

She who is ignorant of economic history

Is condemned to repeat the same old nonsense for the San Francisco Chronicle;
"We're anticipating displaced families and individuals, and we're anticipating a shortage of homes," said Pablo Zatarain, a program manager at Fair Housing Napa Valley. "The rental market in Napa was already very short on housing, and we expect this to be a problem in the short term while people search for temporary solutions."
Ho hum, another earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area. Another newspaper reporter--Vivien Ho--who missed the famous 1946 article by George Stigler and Milton Friedman--Roofs or Ceilings, that begins with the story of the housing non-shortage in San Francisco after the April 1906 massive earthquake and fire that destroyed roughly half the housing stock in that city.

The two economists point out that the first edition of the San Francisco Chronicle published after the earthquake (in May), contains not a single mention of a housing shortage!

The reason (obvious to an economist) is that housing markets were unhindered by government regulation back then. So, even without Craig's List, the people of San Francisco re-allocated their housing amongst themselves. Even the poor found lodgings, without the kind of wailing and gnashing of teeth today's Chronicle readers have to suffer through;
"Trying to find a new place at an affordable price, it's a huge concern for us. And now we've got to compete with everybody else needing immediate housing."
Exactly as San Franciscans had to over a century ago. Without;
If federal disaster assistance comes through, homeowners can apply for cash aid. Renters without insurance will only be eligible for low-interest loans.
"A loan!" [Sarah] Sandbek [the 38-year-old owner of a touring company called Sommelier on Wheels.] scoffed, gesturing toward the destroyed building. "This wasn't even our fault. But now we can go into debt over it."
Thank California politics for that, Sarah.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Yo soy lo que soy

And there are plenty more just like me, says Popeye the Columbian Hitman;
During an interview last year, Popeye said the drug war was unwinnable, because there would always be people like him.
“People like me can’t be stopped. It’s a war,” he told Jochen-Martin Gutsch and Juan Moreno of Der Spiegel.
“They lose men, and we lose men. They lose their scruples, and we never had any. In the end, you’ll even blow up an aircraft because you believe the Colombian president is on board. I don’t know what you have to do. Maybe sell cocaine in pharmacies. I’ve been in prison for 20 years, but you will never win this war when there is so much money to be made. Never.”
And Pablo Escobar's favorite murderer should know;
Popeye confessed to killing 300 people and also claimed he had a hand in the deaths of up to 3,000 people during the 1980s and 90s. He even murdered his own girlfriend at the request of his capo. In an interview last year, Popeye said Escobar’s orders came down after he learned she had tried to become an informant for the US government. He described her murder as one of the most painful episodes in his life.
The costs of good intentions (attempting to keep drugs away from American teenagers).

Like a toll bridge on a rainy day

Someone should feel so bad about this, because taxpayers were done a dirty deal, and can't just shake their heads and walk away;
The cost of repairs and unfinished work on the $6.4 billion Bay Bridge eastern span is likely to exhaust what is left in the project's contingency [rainy day] fund for overruns, a Caltrans official warned Thursday.
....The bridge contingency fund - money collected from toll payers' wallets - totaled $900 million when it was created in 2005. At the time, bridge officials portrayed it as far more than they were likely to need.
Now, however, the fund is down to $90 million, and "a bunch of" pending payments for finishing work on the new bridge and demolishing the old span will probably "eat up" that money and more, [risk manager Rick] Foley said. He pegged the likelihood of exhausting the fund at 80 percent.
80% and rising, is more like it.
Steel grit that embedded in the paint when grinding was being done during construction is rusting, which had already required an extra $2.5 million in work before the committee approved the new money [$4 million] Thursday. The misaligned steel rods have created the risk that steel cable strands will rub against metal on the bridge, potentially weakening the cable.
This on top of the cost overruns from the 1998 estimate of $1.4 billion to build the span. The final total will be at least $6.5 billion.

Meanwhile the French Communists who authorized the privately financed Millau Viaduct can chuckle.


Mountain hikes

Spain raises the incentives for recreationists;
Faced with growing numbers of casual day-trippers who end up stranded on a mountain, several regional governments have announced that they will charge for the work involved in getting people home safe. Besides Asturias, the Basque Country, Castilla y León, Catalonia, Navarre, the Canary Islands and Cantabria have also set hourly fees that range from €30 for a 4x4 vehicle to around €2,000 for a fully equipped medical helicopter. And then there is the price of the manpower: between €30 and €40 per officer sent out to help.
Though their hearts aren't in it;
But the truth is these fees are rarely charged because they are meant more as a deterrent than as a way to collect money, notes José Luis Villaverde, director general of the Asturian justice and home affairs department. What’s more, it is very hard to prove that negligence was involved. Castilla y León has yet to charge anyone. Navarre and the Basque Country have been more aggressive, and have collected the fees 10 times each.
 Now, about the running of the bulls...