Tuesday, September 30, 2014

What the Ello?

When you sign onto Ello for the first time, you feel alone. The design is minimalistic, and you cannot import your friends from Facebook or Twitter. You have to start from scratch. You search for new contacts, and your internal compass needs to adjust to navigate its way around.
Still, many people are hopping on board. Thousands of them are signing up every hour, says Ello founder Paul Budnitz. But registering requires an invite from an existing user. Now, invitations to join are so sought after that people are selling them on Ebay for up to $100 (78 euros).
Facebook? Nobody goes there anymore it's too crowded with transparency;
This is quite enticing for many who don't want to adhere to Facebook's real-name policy. The latter's rule means that several drag queens who use performance names on Facebook could be blocked. Several American lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) activists have threatened to leave Facebook.
Just don't get together on Uber or Lyft to go someplace.


Too bad they didn't have this problem in 1939;
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has acknowledged major shortfalls in equipment for the Bundeswehr's military, especially in the air force. She said Germany is unable to deliver its defensive NATO promises.
Nor is Germany the only US slacker-ally;
At the last count, only three European NATO members - Estonia, Greece, and the UK - were reaching NATO's defense budget benchmark: two percent of GDP.
The end of the Cold War has clearly paid a part - in 1989, the European average was 3.1 percent, by 1996 this plummeted to 2.3 percent - but that is natural enough, considering that defending European territory has not been a priority in the intervening years. But the pressure has increased now with the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Barack Obama may have given the impression he wasn't interested in war, but war is interested in his allies.

Venezuela breaks the buck

Call it the uno percent solution;
The bolívar rate of 100.7 per US dollar on the black market — worth less than a single penny — highlights rampant inflation, given that one year ago it was 40 Bs. That comes after the Chavista regime eliminated three zeros from the currency in 2008 and called it the bolívar fuerte (strong), a label that did not stick for very long. It also places great pressure on President Nicolás Maduro, since the prime official rate of 6.3 Bs. overstates the underlying market value, as expressed on the street, by a factor of 16.
It's Zimbabwe...with oil.

DA Confidential

We're the law, and we say your competitors have more clout than you;
The district attorneys of San Francisco and Los Angeles on Thursday delivered letters to Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft Inc. and Sidecar Inc. accusing them of violating California business law following a joint investigation. The regulators threatened an injunction on their services if they don't make certain changes.
One of those changes to make the ride-sharers violate California law?
George Gascón, the district attorney of San Francisco, and Jackie Lacey, his counterpart in Los Angeles, allege the startups are misleading customers into believing they screen out drivers who have ever committed criminal offenses. The companies perform regular background checks, but by law cannot exclude people from becoming drivers if they were convicted of a felony more than seven years ago.
Also, stop offering such valuable services to customers;
The regulators are also asking the San Francisco-based companies to end their car-pooling services, all launched earlier this year, which allow passengers to share rides with strangers for cheaper rides. Those services violate a section of the public-utilities code which prohibits transportation providers charging multiple people for the same ride, the district attorneys say.
Iow, pretend that this isn't the 21st century, continue with the old tried and true. Progress need not apply. This is California.

What would a self-serving politician be without the BIG LIE;
"We value innovation and new modes of providing service to the public; however we need to make sure that the safety and well-being of consumers are adequately protected in the process," said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón.
Why the consumers can't make that decision for themselves goes unexplained.

Monday, September 29, 2014

No taxation without legislation

Nor, says Cato's Michael Cannon, with misrepresentation of the legislation we actually have, So the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has subpoenaed documents their investigators have seen at IRS and Treasury;
The federal government has established Exchanges within those states [that declined to set up their own], but the PPACA says the government can implement the law’s Exchange subsidies, employer mandate, and (to a large extent) its individual mandate only “through an Exchange established by the State.” Nevertheless, the IRS issued a regulation implementing those taxes and expenditures in states with federal Exchanges anyway. That regulation that is being challenged as illegal by taxpayers, employers, school districts, and states, who claim the IRS is taxing them without congressional authorization.
The subpoenaed documents could have a big impact on those cases [Halbig and King].... the Treasury Department and the IRS have refused to make the subpoenaed documents public. ....
According to the investigators’ account of those documents and interviews, in March 2011, IRS officials read a news article about how ObamaCare opponents were considering a constitutional challenge based on the fact that the PPACA offers subsidies only in states that establish Exchanges. Up until that point, the IRS’s draft regulations included the statutory requirement that subsidy recipients enroll in coverage through an Exchange “established by the State.” (The employer and individual mandates are tied to the availability of the subsidies.) That statutory requirement disappeared from the draft regulations at the same time IRS officials learned that opponents might challenge that feature of the law in court.
Our bold in the above.

It's why you write for a website, not a newspaper, Joel

The Seattle PI's wundercolumnist, Joel Connelly, mangles the facts, once again;
“The rich are not job creators . . . The job creators are not people at the top, but those at the middle and below,” said Reich, one of the nation’s highest profile and most progressive economists.
In fact Robert Reich is not an economist at all, but a lawyer like his friends Bill and Hillary Clinton. Here's a big fat clue that he isn't--as well as one that Connelly is less than a diligent fact checker;
Reich has formed a kind of troika with two local men — entrepreneur Nick Hanauer and Service Employees International Union leader David Rolf — in raining down criticism on the failed doctrine known as  “trickle down” economics.
There is no such doctrine. The term of abuse, trickle down economics, is purely an invention of socialists (who should, more legitimately, apply it to their own enthusiasms: Give us more of America's income in tax revenue and we'll see that it trickles down to the poor, the halt and the lame.).

Here's another clue;
Reich is a master at the art of argument.  He goes back a century to lionize auto maker Henry Ford, who raised wages to his workers — and pressured other manufacturers to pay a decent wage — out of the calculated self-interest that they would be able to buy his Model-T’s.
If Reich is a master of anything, it's duping ignorant and intellectually lazy columnists with deadlines to meet.
Henry Ford decided to pay his workforce more than they could get elsewhere--i.e., from his competitors--because he wanted to have the most productive assembly lines going. To do that he needed the most productive workers--another way he insured that was to hire private detectives to spy on their private lives, Joel.

Not, as Connelly has it, because the wanted his workers to buy his cars--that would have sold, at most, only a few thousand Model Ts, of the half million he produced each year. Exercise for the reader: How many Boeing workers, with their high wages, can afford to buy their own 777s?
The economics professor served four years as Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton.  He has been a Friend of Bill since the two men met on a boat carrying both to England where they were Rhodes Scholars.  Clinton brought chicken soup to a seasick Reich.
That paragraph above is a twofer. Reich is not an 'economics professor', but more laughably; you treat seasickness with chicken soup!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Another Pot, Kettle, Black Award

for the all time champion, economics division, Prof. Paul Krugman;
New classical macro was and still is many things – an ideological bludgeon against liberals, a showcase for fancy math, a haven for people who want some kind of intellectual purity in a messy world. But it’s also a self-promoting clique.
I don’t think this clique could have formed and grown powerful in the first place without the intellectual and ideological foundations. Economics as a discipline being what it is, attacks on Keynesian economics as being inconsistent with rational behavior were bound to get some traction, and the stagflation of the 1970s certainly helped that attack, even if it was less relevant than claimed.
We like that sly concession to reality.
Animus against government activism also played a key role, both in motivating the new classical economists themselves and in guaranteeing them external support.
'Animus' toward private consensual exchange--i.e. market behavior--being absent in the post WWII era?
Once the thing had gotten going, however, I think you understand its dynamics much better if you stop assuming that the motives of the movement’s leaders were pure.
We're on board with that one! For one reason, the fact that Prof. Krugman (and his lovely wife) are still, in their best-selling textbook, peddling a theory of market failure that they (he at least, admitted it was false in 1998 to WSJ reporter Lee Gomes) know to be non-existent. As we put it last year;
The Krugmans' confidence being in inverse proportion to the evidence they offer for the actual existence of the 'QWERTY problem'.
Perhaps we should call it the QWERTY Clique.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


As in the Alan Ladd movie, 'the air will be filled with gunsmoke' graphics, when McShane rides in to help the decent people have a decent education.

Thanks to Jay P. Greene.

Salad Day

When the UK and Danish populations will be green with envy over the less green days when they still had ferries;
The route between Harwich, Essex and Esbjerg in Denmark, run by DFDS Seaways, has been in operation for nearly 140 years.
The company said the route "has been struggling for a long time" and would not be able to take on costs associated with a new environmental law.
The final ferry is to sail on Sunday.
So from then on they'll have to fly.
From 1 January 2015, a European Union directive aimed at reducing sulphur dioxide emissions from ships will come into force.
DFDS said this would have resulted in a £2m a year increase in the cost of the Harwich to Esbjerg ferry route.
Mr Smedegaard said the company had not been able to reduce costs enough to enable the route to bear the extra charges.
No such thing as a free launch.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Where the rubber meets the interstate

And could legitimately be called banking deregulation, Karthik Krishnan, Debarshi Nandy and Manju Puri find that it works to produce greater efficiency;
In our forthcoming paper in the Review of Financial Studies (Krishnan et al 2014), we study how the interstate expansion of banking and bank branching  allowed by the Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act (IBBEA) of 1994 affected firm-level productivity of small and large firms. Various regulations in the US restricted intra as well as interstate banking dating back to the 19th century. The McFadden Act of 1927 restricted cross-state banking and state-level regulations prevented banks from intra-state expansions. .... states gradually dismantled these restrictions and many states had laws in place allowing interstate banking by 1992, which primarily took the form of allowing out-of-state banks to buy in-state banks. However, interstate bank branching was still not allowed until the passing of the IBBEA in 1994.
The passing of the IBBEA effectively permitted bank holding companies to operate branches across state lines.
.... we find that firms located in states that allowed a greater degree of deregulation (i.e., imposed fewer restrictions) on the entry of out-of-state banks experienced a greater increase in their productivity following banking deregulation in that state.
Especially for small, credit constrained businesses.

And we stress, this is actual deregulation, not changed regulation.

The French don't have a word for it

But this Sunday Brigitte Bardot--whom Paris-Match once called "immoral, from head to toe"--turns four*twenty;

These days her passion is confined to saving animals and blocking immigration, but in the 1950s;
The innocent jeune fille grew [from a teenage ballerina], in just a few years, into a sex symbol. In 1957, age 23, she made cinematic history in And God Created Woman, her husband Roger Vadim's seminal film, where her exploding sensuality is as graceful as ever, and never lewd. In a famous scene, she dances as if in a trance, barefoot, her skin glowing with sweat, her hair wild and loose. Her thighs, that of a dancer, are tanned, strong and muscular. She is so far from the neat and constructed image of Hollywood stars of the time that, when the film was released in America, it provoked outrage on a continental scale. When they saw those pearls of sweat, American men went wild. Movie managers daring to show such a film were prosecuted, the film was banned in some states and newspaper articles denounced the depravity of it all. As a result, the film proved an even greater box-office success and the furore travelled back to Europe.
"Ban Bardot!" advocated the morality leagues as if she were some kind of illegal drug.
Today it's her political opinions that are illegal in France, she's been fined for 'incitement to hatred' by the courts and;  In 2012, she supported the Front National leader Marine Le Pen in the French presidential election.

Kim Jong-unperson?

North Korea watchers notice some changes being made today, maybe even a big one;
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was conspicuously absent from a legislative session of the Communist regime, fueling speculation about his health.

The Supreme People’s Assembly held a session in Pyongyang Thursday and the North’s Korea Central Television aired a report about the meeting of the rubber-stamp legislature at 8 p.m. The report showed the podium where North Korea’s powerful leaders sit, but Kim was nowhere to be seen.
A few other chairs were shuffled;
The Supreme People’s Assembly dismissed Choe Ryong-hae from the post of vice chairman of the National Defense Commission and replaced him with Hwang Pyong-so, director of the General Political Bureau of Pyongyang’s Korean People’s Army. Hwang replaced Choe to head the bureau in May.

Choe was also replaced on the National Defense Commission only five months after his appointment. He was named to the vice chairman post in April after Kim’s powerful uncle, Jang Song-thaek, was executed in December 2013.
The National Defense Commission also had other reshuffles. Jang Jong-nam, former minister of the People’s Armed Forces, was removed from the commission while the incumbent minister, Hyon Yong-chol, and Ri Byong-chol, North Korea’s air force commander, joined the commission. 

All local politics is global

Or so Benjamin Barber would have you believe;
Prof Benjamin Barber is the author of an intriguing book called If Mayors Ruled the World.
They can only do so by collaborating with one another to...lobby national governments;
Now, mayors and local politicians the world over have taken up his call to arms and are on the verge of organising the first ever Global Parliament of Mayors.
The aim is to bring together some 600 mayors from around the world to London as early as next year, where they will announce themselves as a new political force - global in reach, local in experience and achievement.
Except for the local problems of traffic congestion--easily resolved using the pricing mechanism to ration road space during rush hours--potholes and crime. Those are the opportunity costs of globe trotting mayors.

All the rage

But, John Lott would probably point out that more guns mean fewer beheadings;

A woman has been beheaded by her co-worker at a US food distribution centre.

A second woman at the distribution center was saved from the same fate because an off-duty policeman who also worked there, was armed. He shot the murderer before he could claim another victim.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

What's in an acronym?

This thing we call an ISDS (investor state dispute settlement)--which has been working between Canada, Mexico and the U.S. in NAFTA for twenty years--smells to high heaven, for some German politicians;
Provisions allowing companies to sue governments to protect their investments must be taken out of an EU-Canada trade agreement (Ceta), German chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition partners have said.

Speaking in the Bundestag on Thursday (25 September), Sigmar Gabriel, who leads the centre-left SPD [Socialist Party Deutschland], noted that "the chapter regarding investment protection is not approvable," adding that "the last word hasn't been spoken yet".
Might spoil your regulatory fun, if you were held accountable for your actions,eh? Especially if it sets a precedent for a trade agreement with the United States;
At the weekend, the SPD party congress agreed to support the continuation of negotiations with the US on a transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP), but also conditioned their support for TTIP on investor protection clauses being left out.
Sounds like a PPP (political power play) to us, and they may have it;
Ceta faces an uncertain path when it comes before MEPs [Members of the European Parliament] in the coming months. Deputies from the centre-left Socialist and Democrat group and the Liberals have indicated that ISDS would have to be left out in order for them to support Ceta, while the Green and far-left GUE [Commies] factions have already come out against the treaty.
"My group would find it much easier to put its weight behind Ceta if ISDS was removed from the text," said Socialist group trade spokesman David Martin at the parliament's session in Strasbourg earlier this month.
In a statement on Thursday, the European trades union congress (ETUC) said that it would not support Ceta if ISDS remained part of the agreement.

My fare ladies

They may be pretty in pink, but can they lawyer-up when the inevitable troublemakers challenge their discriminatory behavior?
Dozens of female cab drivers in New York City donned pink scarves and cheered as they lined City Hall’s steps Monday morning to help announce the launch of SheRides, a women-only car service that will connect female riders and drivers through an app.
The service was conceived by Stella Mateo, an entrepreneur who is married to Fernando Mateo, founder of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers.
“This ride matching service intends to empower women to take the wheel,” said Mateo, adding the service is also for women who might not be comfortable riding with male drivers.
Less than 3 percent of taxi and livery drivers in New York City are women, and women riders make up some 60 percent of those hailing a cab or requesting a car in the city, said Tamika Mallory, SheRides spokeswoman and civil rights activist.
“That’s a major disparity,” Mallory said, adding the company will allow women to become their own bosses, keep the money they earn and not face a pay gap that women in other industries face.
The app, originally set to launch this week, has been pushed back due to high demand, Mallory said. Mallory said the company planned to start with 50 drivers, but after testing out the app last week, found they would need at least 500 drivers to meet demand. The number of women drivers on board has risen from 50 to 100 in the last week, and the app will launch when 500 drivers are ready. No date has been set.
- See more at: http://www.metro.us/newyork/news/local/2014/09/15/women-ride-matching-service-launch-later-expected-500-drivers/#sthash.ODI6pROL.dpuf
 Dozens of female cab drivers in New York City donned pink scarves and cheered as they lined City Hall’s steps Monday morning to help announce the launch of SheRides, a women-only car service that will connect female riders and drivers through an app.
The service was conceived by Stella Mateo, an entrepreneur who is married to Fernando Mateo, founder of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers.
She wanted to call it, SheTaxi, but there's (naturally, in NYC) a law against using 'taxi'. So, this seems like whistling in the dark;
Hazel Dukes, president of the New York State NAACP, said the new service isn’t about “discrimination,” but “inclusion” of women in a male-dominated field. Civil rights lawyer Andrew G. Celli, Jr., who is representing the company, said that even though men cannot request a car, he doesn’t anticipate any legal issues pertaining to discrimination.
Because they're only discriminating against men. The beasts!
Dozens of female cab drivers in New York City donned pink scarves and cheered as they lined City Hall’s steps Monday morning to help announce the launch of SheRides, a women-only car service that will connect female riders and drivers through an app.
The service was conceived by Stella Mateo, an entrepreneur who is married to Fernando Mateo, founder of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers.
“This ride matching service intends to empower women to take the wheel,” said Mateo, adding the service is also for women who might not be comfortable riding with male drivers.
Less than 3 percent of taxi and livery drivers in New York City are women, and women riders make up some 60 percent of those hailing a cab or requesting a car in the city, said Tamika Mallory, SheRides spokeswoman and civil rights activist.
“That’s a major disparity,” Mallory said, adding the company will allow women to become their own bosses, keep the money they earn and not face a pay gap that women in other industries face.
The app, originally set to launch this week, has been pushed back due to high demand, Mallory said. Mallory said the company planned to start with 50 drivers, but after testing out the app last week, found they would need at least 500 drivers to meet demand. The number of women drivers on board has risen from 50 to 100 in the last week, and the app will launch when 500 drivers are ready. No date has been set.
- See more at: http://www.metro.us/newyork/news/local/2014/09/15/women-ride-matching-service-launch-later-expected-500-drivers/#sthash.ODI6pROL.dpuf

Here come the bribes

In War on Women news, from India;
Village bachelors in northern India are demanding brides for votes in state polls next month because of a shortage of women after decades of illegal abortions of female foetuses, the Mail Today reported on Thursday.
The men in Haryana state's Jind district say they cannot find wives and have formed the "Jind Kunwara Union" (Jind Bachelors Union) to formalise their demand to politicians campaigning for state elections on Oct. 15, the paper said.
Wha' happened?
Decades of illegal abortions in this deeply patriarchal society have led to a fall in the female population in some parts of India, and this in turn has resulted in a rise in rape, human trafficking and polyandry, experts say.
....A May 2011 study in the British medical journal the Lancet found that up to 12 million Indian female foetuses were aborted over the last three decades.
We await the promises from Indian politicians.

#Don't quit your day job

Talk about making a hashtag out of it;
"I'm tired of seeing Muslims rip themselves apart in apologies to prove their humanity to Islamophobes with campaigns like #notinmyname," said one.
Soon enough, the hashtag's satirical counterpart emerged. On Tuesday #MuslimApologies appeared, and quickly gathered pace. It has been used almost 30,000 times in the last 48 hours.
To reveal how backward Islam really is? Because this isn't exactly a list of recent accomplishments;
"Sorry for Algebra, cameras, universities, hospitals, oh and coffee too," wrote one. "I'm so sorry for coffee, cheques, parachutes, chemistry, inoculations, soap, shampoo, cameras," said another, and "I'm sorry it was a Muslim woman, Fatima Muhammad Al-Fihri, that established the world's first university," said a third.
They soon spun out into the absurd. "I'm sorry he took his shoes off," and "Sorry for inventing /discovering everything you can't imagine living without," were both retweeted hundreds of times.
Not too surprisingly; The conversation is now growing fastest in French speaking countries.  But, here's the real knee-slapper;
..."has anyone asked the Christians to apologize for Hitler?"
Christian? Not Adolph, he was closer to paganism. But, if we were Muslim, we wouldn't want to talk about the Arab-Nazi affinities. I.e., they both hated Jews, and were allied during WWII.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rencontrez le nouveau boss

Like Captain Renault in Casablanca, French officials will change their attitudes with a change in the wind;

A corruption probe involving former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been temporarily suspended, a judicial source said Wednesday. The case relates to Sarkozy's alleged attempt to seek inside information from a magistrate investigating him.

Nothing to do with the possibility that Nick might soon be back in charge;
The announcement of the case's suspension comes days after Sarkozy announced his intention to seek the leadership of his conservative UMP (Union for a Popular Movement) party in a political comeback that many believe will help pave the way for him to launch a renewed bid for the presidency in 2017. 

We're waiting for one that votes in city council meetings

Can a burger flipping robot be far away?
At Panek Precision Inc., a Northbrook, Ill., machine shop, 21 shiny new robots hum as they place metal parts into cutting machines and remove the parts after they are done. It's a tedious and oily task once handled by machine operators who earn about $16.50 an hour.
One new robot doubled the output from a machine that was previously operated by a worker "because robots work overnight and don't take lunch breaks and they just keep going," says Gregg Panek, the company's president. In some cases, the robots, which are single articulated arms, can even hold a part while it's getting cut since there is no danger of injury.
And the new generation robots don't cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, some are as little as $20,000.

Ball, your court, Kshama.

They're playing our song

Cuban born, Venezuelan citizen-no-more (if Presidente Maduro has his way), singer María Conchita Alonso testifies to the obvious before the U.S. Congress;
“I wish that the US would intervene militarily,” she said, “to remove all of the unwelcome communists from Venezuela, since Cubans have already invaded and were handed Venezuela without a fight.”
Don't hold your breath, Maria. We don't do boots on the ground.

Thomas and the magic Capital

We suppose that much of the intellectual confusion apparent in Thomas Piketty's self-defense at EconTalk could be because he's forced to speak in a language in which he's not completely fluent--with which situation we can sympathize. Still, that confusion seems to be more than a language barrier. Consider what one of the commenters had to say;
I don't intuitively see how we go from rate of return on capital being greater than the overall economic growth rate to a pervasive concentration of wealth.
Oddly enough, Piketty concedes this point when he tells Russ Roberts, at about 16:00, that;
So, r is the rate of return on capital, which is what is the return that you get in one year on your capital investment. .... The growth rate of the economy is a completely different concept.
However that doesn't stop him from comparing them as if they WERE the same thing. But eventually Piketty switches to a different argument (about 32:00);
So, according to the data we have from Forbes's global wealth ranking...
Our bold. Note that Piketty is now talking not about income (return on investment), but wealth.
...these very top groups have been rising at 6-7% per year for that period. Now, world GDP has been rising at 3, 3.2% per year over the period.
He's switched back to comparing growth of wealth of the 'very top groups' to GDP growth--most of which will be consumed.
So if you take per capita income at the world level and per capita wealth at the world level...
We pause to let that conflation of two different things sink in, before we have Piketty saying;
... it has been rising at 1.5-2% per year.
So in other words your top is rising 3 to 4 times faster than the average.
Income, or wealth? Regardless of which he's talking about, he sees that what he claims to fear will be self-correcting;
Now of course this cannot continue forever. And I'm not saying this will continue forever. You can see that if it was to continue forever--if the top was to rise 3 to 4 times faster than the size of the world economy forever, then 30 years from now you will have close to 100% of world wealth belongs to a little group of billionaires.
Which is clearly impossible, since capitalists will need labor to man their factories, sit on their forklifts, operate their drill presses, enter data into their computers....
So, what's he worried about?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Can't even give it away

Though the owners would like to. What kind of a country forces a business to charge for its products? Can you guess;
French broadcaster TF1 plans to lay off 148 of the staff at news channel LCI, or 60 percent of the total, in response to a July regulatory decision not to allow it to shift the channel from paid to free-to-air.
TF1 also said it had filed an appeal to the country's highest administrative court to overturn the ruling made by the CSA broadcast regulator.
LCI, which launched 20 years ago as France's first 24-hour news channel, is trailing behind its free-to-air rivals iTele, owned by Canal+, and BFM TV from NextRadioTV. TF1 had hoped for permission to stop charging for the channel so as to attract more viewers and advertisers.
Because the regulators know better. Wonder what the staff at the news channel would have to say about that.

Death Panelist sez; 'Geezers go away.'

Sarah Palin's least favorite physician, concedes she was right about him all along;
Americans seem to be obsessed with exercising, doing mental puzzles, consuming various juice and protein concoctions, sticking to strict diets, and popping vitamins and supplements, all in a valiant effort to cheat death and prolong life as long as possible. This has become so pervasive that it now defines a cultural type: what I call the American immortal.
I reject this aspiration. I think this manic desperation to endlessly extend life is misguided and potentially destructive. For many reasons, 75 is a pretty good age to aim to stop.
Not that he's a death panel kinda guy. Not at all.

Poor timing, Thomas

So, if r>g, then why does an insurance firm in Germany say that;
German insurance group Allianz has found the world is getting richer again. The rise of the middle class is pivotal.
Rather than the horror show we've been told to expect from M. Piketty;
Adjusted for population growth factors, almost half a billion people worldwide succeeded in rising to the middle-income category, defined by Allianz as citizens owning between 5,300 and 31,800 euros.
Researchers at the insurance group pointed out that this middle class doubled in Latin America since the year 2000. Over the same period, it even tripled in eastern Europe and grew sevenfold throughout Asia.
Thanks to the triumph of capitalism over socialism. Or, the opposite of what Capital in the Twenty-first Century has it. A book way too boring to be read in its entirety, but the conversation between Piketty and Russ Roberts--linked to above--is anything but. If only for the logical gaffes in Piketty's claims, which include a near pure example of the Broken Window Fallacy.

Another being;
...if anything I think top managers are getting even more nontaxable perks like, you know fancy jet or big officers or fancy cars or beautiful hotels and restaurants today than what they did in the 1960s or 1970s. So the view that there was as much inequality in the 1960s than you have today but that people were getting it through fancy cars where at least today they are just getting cash but they have become very virtuous regarding nontaxable perks and fancy jets, I think this is just wrong.
 In the 1960s and 1970s cars didn't come any fancier than a Rolls Royce. Which clogged the streets of London and were so obvious that Milton and Rose Friedman used them as an example, in their best-selling Free To Choose, of the distortionary effect of high tax rates on capital income.

Listen to the Friedmans' discussion of that in this 1976 tape. The subject of the excessive number of Rolls Royces on the streets of London, begins about 13:30.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Depression and War, what they're good for!

According to Thomas Piketty speaking to Russ Roberts;
Russ [Roberts]: How do average people get wealthy or better off by rich people doing badly? What happened there? What's the mechanism?
Guest [Piketty]: Oh, you seem to ask me--[?] if you have a destruction of wealth, the rate of return to wealth is going to increase, and you know, this creates space for accumulation from people who start from less wealth or 0 wealth and that work[?] for labor incomes they can invest.
Frederic Bastiat, call your office.

Ne suis pas!

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (and some Germans) believe jaw-jaw is better than...something;
Valls said at the press conference that "I understand the doubts and questions of the German people," its political representatives and sometimes its press.
However, he stressed that France "is not the sick child of Europe".
Claire Demesmay of the German Council on Foreign Relations think tank earlier said that Berlin understands it is counterproductive to publicly criticise France.
"It's been very well understood that when Germany raises its voice, it mostly serves the National Front," she said.
Or, Sarkozy l'Americain?

'My daddy's in oil.'

If I never had a cent
I'd be rich as Rockefeller
Gold dust at my feet
On the sunny side of the street
Fortunately for Dorothy Fields, John D. was made of sterner, and wiser, stuff than his heirs;
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund is joining a coalition of philanthropists pledging to rid themselves of more than $50 bn...in fossil fuel assets.
....Rockefeller Brothers Fund director Stephen Heintz said the move to divest from fossil fuels would be in line with oil tycoon John D Rockefeller's wishes, "We are quite convinced that if he were alive today, as an astute businessman looking out to the future, he would be moving out of fossil fuels and investing in clean, renewable energy," Mr Heintz said in a statement.
Failing to mention that, had John D. Rockefeller not gone into the oil refining business in the 19th century--to produce kerosene for home lighting--there would be no Rockefeller fortune for him to direct in the first place. Which doesn't seem to have exactly performed splendidly under Mr. Heintz, as the Fund is worth less than a billion dollars today. AKA, peanuts.
"There is a moral imperative to preserve a healthy planet," Valerie Rockefeller Wayne, a great-great-granddaughter of Mr Rockefeller and a trustee of the fund, is quoted by the Washington Post as saying.
Her great-great-grandfather was, by all reports a morally upright human being. He made his fortune by rationalizing the refining and transportation of petroleum, which resulted in the cost of kerosene, for purchasers, being driven down by something like 80%.

Nor were the consumers the only beneficiaries, as Rockefeller bought out his less efficient small competitors with Standard Oil stock. Making many a small businessman wealthy too. By serving your fellow man, you can prosper.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

If it's September, this must be Oktoberfest

The origin of the Oktoberfest dates since 1810, when the prince Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig I, was married to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on 12 October 1810. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the happy royal event. The fields were renamed Theresienwiese ("Therese Fields") to honor the Crown Princess, although the locals have since abbreviated the name simply to "Wiesn".
....Every year around six millions of visitants attends to the Oktoberfest, it lasts between sixteen and eighteen days....

Sick of this guy yet?

Venezuelans aren't dying...but, if they were, it's the fault of the imperialists;
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has countered reports of an incipient epidemic in the country by accusing the opposition of engaging in underhand tactics.
“They tried to impose a campaign of psychological warfare on Venezuela, a combination of alarmism and war,” said Maduro. “There is no other term for this but psychological warfare.”
What’s more, the Bolivarian leader – who is the political heir of the deceased former president Hugo Chávez – went further and asked the World Health Organization to help investigate alleged attempts to introduce “some sort of virus” into the country as part of “biological warfare.”
Because of what's happening in Maracay Hospital outside Caracas.
 “We don’t know what it is we are facing,” said Angel Sarmiento, president of the Medical Association of Aragua, the state where the hospital is located. “We don’t know if it is a virus or a bacteria.”
The physician added that patients were dying in the space of 72 hours due to a massive hemorrhage, and he recommended that people avoid going to that hospital.
Naturally, the enemies of Raul, Fidel and Nicolas are behind it.
The government reacted to this statement by calling Sarmiento “a fascist” and “a terrorist.” The governor of Aragua, Tareck El Aissami, filed a complaint against him before the Attorney’s Office, claiming that there are no dangerous bacteria at the hospital and discrediting Sarmiento because he is a member of the opposition.
Finally, some in Venezuela are fed up. Such as popular singer-actor José Luis Rodríguez (El Puma), who has just called for the Venezuelan army to live up to its constitutional role;
The National Armed Forces constitutes a necessarily professional institution, without allegiance to politics, organized by the state to guarantee the independence and sovereignty of the nation … To fulfill its duties, it is at the exclusive service to the country, and not to any one person or political affiliation of any kind.
And overthrow Maduro! But, that army is controlled by Maduro's Cuban minders (who learned a valuable lesson from Chile in 1973). It will be interesting to see how much longer El Puma remains outside a cage.

What a Card! Wants overtime after nine innings!

Don't they call it playing baseball, not working at baseball?
During his days as a minor-league pitcher, Garrett Broshuis figured that the long bus rides, late-night workouts and meager pay were trade-offs for a chance to someday pitch in the big leagues.
He also believed those working conditions might be illegal.
Five years after hanging up his glove and spikes, Mr. Broshuis is putting that theory to the test. Earlier this year, the 32-year-old, now a lawyer in St. Louis, filed a lawsuit against Major League Baseball and its 30 teams on behalf of several dozen former minor-league players. The allegation: Farm-club players make less than required by state and federal laws governing minimum wage and overtime.
And if Mr. Broshuis gets his way in court there will be fewer chances for guys who'd kill for the same opportunities he had. I.e. to hone their baseball skills in the minor leagues--of which there will be fewer--so they can one day get paid big bucks to play a kids game in front of tens of thousands of fans in the stands.

So why does Broshuis want to deny those who come along after him, the shot at the show?

Poor sport.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Doing the People's Business

And business is good, judging by the Census Bureau's latest report. The nation's capital has the highest median household income of any populous metropolitan area in the country by a wide margin.

D.C.'s  figure of over $90,000 per year is more than $10,000 over second place San Francisco's $79,600--that's 13% higher. Also, the Federal Capital's earnings are approaching double the median of all metropolitan areas (~ $52,000).

Who's afraid of the big bad Bolivarian?

Apparently not Barack Obama (who keeps hooking his tee shots to the left?);
The United States will not stand in the way of Venezuela securing a temporary seat on the U.N. Security Council in 2015-16 after Latin American and Caribbean states unanimously endorsed its bid, U.N. diplomats and U.S. sources say.
The U.S. stance is in sharp contrast to its position in 2006, when Washington successfully campaigned against Venezuela's drive to join the 15-nation council, the only United Nations body that can authorize sanctions or military force. At that time, Venezuela failed to secure the requisite two-thirds majority of votes in the General Assembly for its bid after dozens of rounds of secret-ballot voting.
The U.S. campaign against Venezuela came after late President Hugo Chavez compared former U.S. President George W. Bush to the devil, saying on the podium of the 2006 General Assembly in New York that he could still "smell sulfur" a day after Bush addressed member states.
What could go wrong?
Venezuela will likely use the council seat as a platform to aggressively back allies such as Syria and Russia in their diplomatic wrangling with the United States, part of its broader effort to continue the anti-Washington foreign policy of late socialist leader Chavez.
It has even named the Chavez's daughter, Maria Gabriela Chavez, as its alternate ambassador to the United Nations.
The OPEC nation of 29 million has consistently opposed U.S. diplomatic initiatives. It backed Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, which was formerly part of Ukraine, and it provided fuel to Syria amid its battle against insurgents. Venezuela has also built up cooperative ties with Iran despite strict sanctions imposed by Western nations.
Wonder what they think of ISIS[L]?

Votre cœur inconstant

Carla's boy is back. And France can have him;
“I am a candidate for the presidency of my political family,” [former President Nicolas] Sarkozy said.
The announcement ends months of local media speculation that Sarkozy, 59, would someday return to politics after his 2012 defeat to Socialist François Hollande in 2012.
A divisive figure reviled by many left-wing voters, Sarkozy is seen by his supporters as the politician with the best chance of rallying the fractured centre-right UMP (Union for a Popular Movement) party to a presidential victory in 2017.
If the French electorate is indifférent to alleged scandals from yesteryear;
Sarkozy was placed under formal investigation in July over corruption allegations. Investigators are seeking to establish whether Sarkozy, with the help of his lawyer, attempted to pervert the course of justice by seeking to obtain inside information about a probe into possible misdeeds in the financing of his 2007 election campaign.
Investigators suspect that Sarkozy was tipped off that his mobile phone had been tapped by judges looking into allegations that his campaign had been financed in part by former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Sarkozy has denied the claims that he received up to €50 million ($70 million at the time) from Gaddafi.
Judges last year obtained the unprecedented authorisation to tap the phones of a former president in connection with the investigation, which is ongoing.
As they are to other kinds of scandal;
Sarkozy broke a longstanding taboo of French politics by putting his private life on display. His second wife, Cecilia, divorced him while he was campaigning for the presidency in 2007. Soon after, he wooed and wed Italian supermodel and singer Carla Bruni.
Or maybe it's that Francois Hollande has his own problems.
Compounding Hollande's troubles is a recently published memoir by his estranged former partner Valérie Trierweiler. In her now-bestselling book she says France’s Socialist leader secretly despises the poor, contemptuously calling them the "toothless".

Scots vote Nae! on becoming lab rats

The world's economists will be denied a laboratory experiment, again, as Scotland hasn't enough loons to go completely socialist yet;
Voters in Scotland chose to stay in the U.K. by a convincing margin [55% No] in a historic independence referendum, a major relief for a British government that offered big concessions to hold the 307-year-old union together.
They were bought, will they stay bought?
"The people of Scotland have spoken. It is a clear result," British Prime Minister David Cameron said. "They have kept our country of four nations together. Like millions of other people, I am delighted."
Odd that, since Cameron's party would have dominated a Parliament shorn of Scots of the Labour persuasion.

Alibaba and the 40 thieves (of Harry Dexter White) foiled again

Alibaba opens--not 'sesame', but Nasdaq--today. Foiling, at last, the machinations of FDR and Harry Truman's favorite economists (White, Frank Coe, Sol Adler, Lauchlin Currie et al.) who managed to turn China over to Mao Tse Tung. We hope the Communists are revolving uncomfortably in their graves--after tens of millions of Chinese paid with their lives, for their enthusiasms--to find, as the WSJ says, that one Chinese company may be worth more than Amazon.com, and is in the world's top 40;
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. 's shares priced Thursday at $68 apiece, putting the Chinese company on track for an initial public offering that will raise at least $21.8 billion.
The price was at the top of the company's expected range of $66 to $68, which was increased from an initial $60 to $66.
The price gives the e-commerce company an initial market value of $168 billion, making it one of the 40 biggest public companies globally....
Because the company can deliver prosperity to the masses (unlike Mao and friends);
Alibaba's founder and executive chairman, Jack Ma, Alibaba's top managers and their bankers have pitched the company over the past two weeks as an opportunity to invest in the growth of China's middle class, as more Chinese buy goods and services via the Internet and mobile phones, and to enjoy the profits generated by the company's "platform" model. The company connects buyers and sellers without the cost of holding inventory on its own.
Marx and Engels could not be reached for comment.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tiene que bailar. ¡No pregunte!

Happy feet are, as happy feet do. And that's an order;
Government authorities this week called on all employers to respect Chile’s “Dieciocho” celebrations Thursday and Friday and urged workers to denounce any employer that insists they show up for work by filing a complaint.
In Chilean legalese, these two days... are “mandatory holidays,” or holidays that may not be voluntarily renounced by workers, or workers’ employees.
This means that malls, supermarkets and almost all businesses must be closed from 9 p.m. Wednesday evening until 6 a.m. Saturday morning. Excepted, however, are workers employed at gasoline stations, pharmacies, restaurants, clubs, movies, nightclubs, pubs and casinos, as well as people who are self-employed.
Labor Minister Javiera Blanco told press that 160 “enforcers” from her ministry will be spread out “from Punta Arenas to Arica” on Sept. 18 and 19 to assure that the mandatory holiday law is respected.
There's even a website for the dancin' fools to report non-compliant businesses.

They may be Phds in economics

But UCLA's Andy Atkeson, Andrea Eisfeldt and Pierre-Olivier Weill are also masters of understatement;
In conclusion... market participants and regulators are still in disagreement about whether the private profits that large dealer banks gain from intermediating trade in OTC [derivative] markets encourage socially optimal market structures.
But that hasn't exactly stopped the regulators from doing something...anything;
While efforts to promote centralisation and transparency in OTC markets should help to shed light on the surplus that is created and its distribution across participants, they will also change this surplus in ways that may not be anticipated.
Our bold.
Many of the proposed and implemented regulations effectively reduce the surplus accruing to dealers [large banks], and so reduce their incentives to participate in OTC markets.
We pause, for effect.
Clearly, this hurts dealers; however, the overall change in value may either increase or decrease...
Again, our bold, and our pause.
...depending on whether there was previously too much or too little dealer activity. Our model shows that typically in equilibrium some reduction in dealer rents is warranted. However, one should be careful not to reduce rents so much as to discourage socially valuable intermediation.
Or, as Edward Teller once said, apropos some scientific controversy; Sometimes we have to do that which is very difficult. Sometimes we have to think.
Our work also suggests that particular care should be given not to reduce rents when dealer participation costs are high, such as during times when negative shocks drive exit.
AKA, recessions.

Clemson 2000

The kids these days!
“How many times have you had sex (including oral) in the last 3 months?” asks one question.
“With how many different people have you had sex (including oral) in the last 3 months?” asks another.
In a campus-wide email, the South Carolina university announced that all students, faculty, and staff would be required to complete a mandatory, one-hour long Title IX training course by November 1.
“We believe you’ll enjoy the assignment,” the email, provided to Campus Reform, reads. “It is an engaging and informative online course, created with students for students. It will provide you with useful information regarding sexual violence and relationships. The course promotes a healthier and safer campus environment.”
 Just like their elders.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Party like it's not 1707

Friederich Schiller had Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland, say;
It is an ancient saying, that the Scots
   And England to each other are unjust;
   And hence the rightful custom that a Scot
   Against an Englishman, or Englishman
   Against a Scot, cannot be heard in judgment.
   Necessity prescribed this cautious law;
   Deep policy oft lies in ancient customs:
   My lord, we must respect them. Nature cast
   Into the ocean these two fiery nations
   Upon this plank, and she divided it
   Unequally, and bade them fight for it.
They are still at it, with tomorrow being the big day. One almost hopes the Ayes have it, just to see if it plays out the way independence did in the former Czechoslovakia. That was a battle between socialists and free marketeers too, and had interesting repercussions, says Cato's Marian Tupy;
The Czechoslovak federation was dissolved on January 31, 1993. In the Czech Republic, [Vaclev]Klaus introduced his far-reaching economic reforms. The Czech Republic pulled ahead and became one of the early post-communist success stories. Even better, the Czechs no longer had to feel that they were subsidizing their “younger [socialist] sibling.”
Slovakia, in contrast, suffered years of economic and political decline. [Former Communist Vladimir] Meciar’s style of government became increasingly authoritarian, leading the U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright refer to Slovakia as the “black hole in the heart of Europe.” The Slovak economy remained unreformed. .... By 1998, when Meciar left office, Slovakia was near bankruptcy. 
And Slovakians grew up and voted for a change;
Following the change of government, Slovakia returned to a full-fledged democracy and embraced far-reaching economic reforms. The Slovaks partially privatized their pension system, introduced a flat income tax and reduced regulation. In recognition of those improvements, the World Bank’s “Doing Business in 2005” report declared Slovakia the world’s leading reformer and ranked it among the top 20 countries with the best business conditions. By 2006, the Slovak economy was growing at 10 percent per annum and Slovakia was the world’s largest exporter of cars per capita. 
The moral of the story;
Independence forced Slovaks to realize that they had no one to blame for their misfortunes but themselves.
Of course, Scots might blame those Polish lacquerers.

Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown

At least the people can get music lessons.

Growth industry

The rain in Spain is just another factor of production;
Over the last five years, a silent drug-trafficking revolution has taken root, fostering an internal European market with its own flow of imports and exports.
Spain has not remained untouched by this phenomenon. Spanish marijuana production has increased at least fivefold in the last five years....
Genetic improvements in seeds, advances in hydroponic growing techniques (which don’t require soil) and the existence of small plants able to produce four to six top-quality harvests a year have all given a competitive edge to what one expert has termed “eurocannabis.” And there is already significant proof that Spain has not just positioned itself among the group of the producers but also among the exporters. One indication is the number of confiscated plants. Another is the fact that the police operations that started out discovering small homemade greenhouses are now uncovering almost industrial installations, operated by people with a business plan.
Displacing hashish from North Africa, since it avoids the costs of smuggling it in from across the Mediterranean Sea. Nor is it only in Spain that business is business;
Experts agree that the two biggest marijuana producers are the Netherlands and the UK, where the biggest numbers of plants have been found. Behind them are Poland and Belgium, where between 1,200 and 1,500 production centers were discovered in 2012. 
No word on how many Euros the taxpayers had to put up to discover those production centers. Nor these;
The marijuana consumed in Hungary comes from Vietnamese distributors who have spread production to parts of Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland. In this way, both Slovakia and the Czech Republic have become exporters to, among other places, Germany. Vietnamese organizations have also been found in Belgium, Germany, France and the UK. They have very closed and hierarchical structures with their own specialists, including electricians, plumbers and gardeners, and exploit illegal immigrant labor for other tasks.
Under prohibition, man exploits man. Under freedom to market, the reverse will be true.

Yugo, Greek guys

Pony up the drachmas, like it was 1974;
Production of the new generation light-passenger-utility Pony vehicle will begin by the end of the year, NAMCO (National Motor Company of Greece) has announced according to a report in Eleftherotypia newspaper on Wednesday.
Petros Tzanetos-Kondogouris, owner of the Thssaloniki-based company, told the newspaper that after more than two years of bureaucratic obstacles, just a few final formalities were left before production can begin. He said 150 workers would originally be assigned on the project.
First introduced at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) in the early 1970s, the Pony was hailed by the German press as a car “so ugly it's beautiful.” The new version will reportedly be powered by a 1300 cc (75 hp) or a 1400 cc (80 hp) engine. Tzanetos-Kondogouris said the goal was to keep the price of the car below 7,000 euros.
One word...plastics.

Big Brother enters from back door

Russians need protecting from foreign devils, says Vlad;
Russian lawmakers proposed cutting foreign ownership in Russian media assets to 20 percent in an attempt to limit outside influences and protect Russia's "information sovereignty", a copy of a draft law showed on Wednesday.
...."(It) is directed first of all at guaranteeing Russia's information sovereignty and decreasing the influence from abroad on events in the country which is an information war launched against our country."
Usually suspected;
The bill was introduced by deputies from Russia's Communist Party as well as Just Russia and the nationalist LDPR. They were not available for comment.
No, but anyone challenging the official party line will find themselves being available for comments to the authorities.

Who's happy now?

John Goodman reviews Doctored by Sandeep Jauhaur, which finds that neither patients nor their doctors are exactly pleased with the way medical care is delivered;
Only 6 percent of doctors are happy with their jobs, according to one survey. They commit suicide at twice the rate of the general population. Over half are unsure they would recommend the practice of medicine to young people.
“Patients today are increasingly disenchanted with a medical system that is often indifferent toward their needs. Patients used to talk about “my doctor.” Now, in a given year, Medicare patients see on average two primary care physicians and five specialists, working in four separate practices. For many of us it is rare to find a primary care physician who can remember us from visit to visit, let alone come to know us in depth or with any meaning or relevancy... Insensitivity in patient-doctor interactions had become almost normal.”
Maybe, it's because medical care is now, for most people, essentially free. In the sense that one party receives the product/service, a second provides, yet a third--a government or an insurer--pays for it.

Which is a system only a politician would come up with, because it gives politicians power over their fellow man. Fortunately, some places are not yet colonized;
“I briefly worked in a clinic in Macau where patients paid for everything out of pocket. I had patients ask to postpone tests I had ordered until they got paid, forcing me to have a better conversation about what they needed and when, and why they needed it (or in some cases, didn’t really need it at all). As a consequence, they were more engaged in the process, and I believe they received better care.”
Which is the way medicine, in living memory of some, used to be delivered in the good ol' US of A.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Why aren't you cutting out the middleman?

If you're so smart that you're U of California, and you're already rich, why not go for more;
The University of California is planning a $250 million venture-capital fund to finance startup companies stemming from research conducted by its faculty and students.
The fund, seeded with money from the UC endowment, would be one of the largest of its kind, targeting work done at the university's 10 campuses, five medical centers and three national laboratories. A proposal to establish the fund is set to be presented to the governing UC Board of Regents on Wednesday. The plan was posted online Monday.
No ivory tower academics, these. Though there are still some of those too;
The shift to a more entrepreneurial approach hasn't enjoyed unanimous support—particularly when assistance comes directly from the university. Some faculty members have expressed concern that such investment activity favors certain departments over others and fosters a competitive, market-driven atmosphere that isn't conducive to pure academic research.
Where there's no competitive pressure at all. Sure.

C'est Wonderful, C'est Marvellous, C'est Ortolan

And c'est illégal. As it was in December 1997,
IN a darkened room one evening this month in Bordeaux, many of the world's most famous chefs and restaurateurs sat with napkins over their heads and faces. The crunching sounds from under the napkins was unmistakable: the guests were eating.
Sworn to secrecy, they were chewing the skin, flesh, bones and entrails of one of France's greatest delicacies, the ortolan, a tiny songbird whose declining numbers led the French Government to forbid its sale anywhere in the country. The napkins are part of the ritual, as is the method of eating the bird: it is held by its head and devoured in a single bite.
The secret did not keep. Though the chef who served the birds denies he served it, five of that evening's 120 diners, some of whom had eaten ortolan before, acknowledged that they had it on this occasion and described in detail the thrill of the gustatory experience -- an experience that, come autumn each year, some French find irresistible.
''You know the French,'' said Maguy Le Coze, a Frenchwoman who owns Le Bernardin in New York and was at the dinner in Bordeaux. ''French people like to break the law.''
Or, seek a waiver--like so many unionists with Obamacare--for their dining pleasure;
Four French chefs are requesting a waiver to serve a long-banned delicacy - a small songbird called the ortolan that fans including late President Francois Mitterrand used to devour, bones and all, while wearing a napkin over their heads.
The request for the once-a-year waiver is being lodged among others by Alain Ducasse, the internationally acclaimed chef with a top 3-star rating from the Michelin gourmet dining guide, Le Parisien newspaper reported.
....Said to have been part of Mitterrand's last meal before he died in 1996, one customary French way of preparing ortolan consists of force-feeding it until fat and dousing it in Armagnac alcohol before roasting it whole in the oven.
C'est magnifique, what they seek (to eat).