Welcome to the weekly roundup of great articles, facts and figures. These are the weekly finds that made our eyes pop.
Hurricane Hype for Advertising Bucks
In the wee hours of Saturday morning, MSNBC had some knuckle head reporter position himself on the Outer Banks so it gave the illusion waves were lapping at his back. Stay Safe was said during every interview in a voice of dire concern, the reporter would be swept out to sea, live on air. With that, we bring you Get Real: Hurricane Irene Should Be Renamed Hurricane Hype:
Because it is prudent to not respond to every little tropical cyclone twitch (such as Gloria’s jog or Thursday’s wind drop), the Thursday evening forecast was virtually unchanged, the Internet went thermonuclear, and the Weather Channel’s advertising rates skyrocketed. From that point on, it became all Irene, all the time. With this level of noise, the political process has to respond with full mobilization. Hype begets hype.
A day later, the smart money is still riding a very Gloria-like track, but with a cyclone that will be weaker than projected. It is doubtful that Irene will even cough up eight bodies (the number killed by Gloria), though power outages east of where the center makes landfall (probably on Long Island) may be extensive.
As I complete this, there’s another tropical depression out in the Atlantic, and a couple more on the way in the very near future. Suppose one of these takes a similar path, except that it improbably threads the needle of the Mid-Atlantic Bight and makes landfall immediately to the west of New York City as a Category 3 storm. How many people will the hyping of Irene have killed?
That’s how Hurricane Hype followed by Hurricane Insanity leads to hurricane death.
Hapless Negotiations That Don't Make Economic Sense
Slate Magazine has an article on the insanity of Democrats fighting for a worker side payroll tax cut of 2%.
The White House's big idea right now is extending, and maybe expanding, the temporary payroll tax cut that knocked FICA down from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent.
Why do Democrats like this idea? Because it has worked so well so far? According to Jared Bernstein, who was Joe Biden's chief economist when the White House got this cut included in the 2010 tax deal … sort of.
"We don't have great evidence," he says. "But, jeez, another 2 percent on your paycheck has got to help strapped families. In aggregate it was about $110 billion, and many of us believe it helped to offset the increase in gas prices this year."
Republicans for Tax Hikes
This is great. Ya know the GOP, Grover Norquist no tax pledge? Well it goes out the window when it comes to taxing poor people.
IRS Postpones Offshore Tax Evaders From Filing
Will wonders never cease. A Taxing Matter reports the IRS delayed an deadline due to the Hurricane (cough) for offshore accounts to voluntarily disclose their tax haven amounts.
The Top 1% Whine
Angry Bear is pretty sarcastic about workplace meritocracy being an illusion in investment firms.
More than 80 percent said they don’t believe that their compensation is mainly predicated on performance. Instead, [Capstone managing partner Rik] Kopelan said, young investment bankers worry that it’s "based on the profitability of the firm, based on how powerful the group heads were, based on capricious things." [emphases mine]
Gosh, really? That would never happen in the real world.
Congress has 13% Approval
Congress always has low approval rates according to polls. Why then, can't we get some real representation?
Obama Just Now Figures Out the Economy was REALLY BAD in 2008 and 2009
Economist Dean Baker asks where is the ridicule on the administration claiming they didn't realize just how bad the economy was. Baker takes out a metric, the employment to civilian non-institutional population ratio, as the key indicator. Good for him, we've amplified this statistic over and over and believe this or not, there are a host of people trying to dismiss the employment to population ratio historic lows.
London Sells it's Soul
Tax Justice overviews the absurd UK-Swiss Deal to stop using Swiss banks to avoid taxes.
As Reuters notes: "British authorities are investigating hundreds of HSBC (HSBA.L) customers suspected of tax evasion after it obtained details of around 7,000 Swiss accounts at the bank from another tax authority, Why has the UK chosen to suddenly let all these people off the hook? The deal explicitly prevents the UK from acting on this data now.