October 3, 2021

Posted by orrinj at 4:34 PM


Austria announces carbon tax, offset by reduction in other taxes (Deutsche-welle, 10/03/21)

Austria's governing coalition announced tax reforms on Sunday including the introduction of a new carbon tax and declining health care contributions for low-income individuals which will help offset a reduction in the corporate tax.

At a news conference with several ministers from his cabinet, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz labeled the reforms "eco-social" and said the country is following the example of Germany in taxing carbon dioxide emissions.

We all know where we're headed. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:27 PM


Afghanistan: Bomb targets mosque holding memorial for Taliban spokesman's mother (Deutsche-Welle, 10/03/21)

A bomb struck near the entrance of the large Eidgah mosque in Kabul Sunday during the memorial service for the mother of Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman.

AFP news agency reported at least two people were killed, citing Qari Sayed Khosti, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry. The Italian-run NGO Emergency, which operates a hospital in Kabul, said on Twitter it was treating four people wounded in the blast. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:20 PM


Trauma and Trump make Asian American voters a more cohesive bloc, new poll reveals (RISHIKA DUGYALA and BEATRICE JIN, 10/03/2021, Politico)

In 2020, amid a year of violence and fear, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders were hypervisible -- and that changed the way they look at themselves and politics, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.

As the global pandemic took hold, former President Donald Trump started using xenophobic terms to blame Chinese people for spreading Covid-19. Anti-Asian hate crimes spiked, with people self-reporting more than 9,000 incidents to the advocacy organization Stop AAPI Hate. A shooter in Atlanta killed eight people, six of them East Asian women, and sparked national outrage. Then came a shooting in Indianapolis that had Sikhs mourning.

All of these events created a political solidarity unlike anything the community has seen before. The POLITICO/Morning Consult poll -- one of the most extensive surveys across nearly 50 ethnic groups that make up the diaspora -- shows that two in 10 adults are now more likely to identify with the broader "AAPI" label than they were pre-pandemic, a notable shift for a racial group that tends to be "nationality-first." This movement in identity, on the heels of a massive voter turnout jump from 2016 to 2020, is key to building electoral clout, experts say.

The heightened solidarity promises to change both the way Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders vote and the way campaigns reach out to them, according to interviews with numerous people involved in AAPI politics or campaigns that made overtures to AAPI voters.

It takes a whole lot of racism to achieve such results.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Climate Is Germany's Top Issue No Matter Who Governs After TalksAs politicians negotiate to form a ruling coalition, it's clear that fighting global warming has officially become a cross-party issue. (Laura Millan Lombrana and Vanessa Dezem, October 1, 2021, Bloomberg)

"This was a climate election. All major parties promised more ambitious climate policy during the campaign," said Christoph Bals, policy director at Bonn-based nonprofit Germanwatch. "Whoever will form the next coalition government, voters and civil society will hold them to account for delivering on these promises."

That the Greens managed to shift the conversation so strongly is an encouraging signal to advocates around the world, who have made climate change a top issue in elections from Norway to Canada. 

It's completely anodyne economics that costs should include externalities. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


How Critical Race Theory Became a Political Target (Claire Suddath and Shera Avi-Yonah, October 2, 2021, Bloomberg)

1. What is critical race theory?
Critical race theory, or CRT, proposes that any analysis of American society must take into account its history of racism and the role race has played in shaping attitudes and institutions. In some ways, it can be seen as an extension of other academic approaches that developed in the 1970s and 80s, such as gender studies, that seek to investigate the power relationships embedded within laws and customs. Critical race theory often overlaps with discussions of systemic racism -- the ways policies, procedures and institutions work to perpetuate racial inequity even in the absence of personal racial animus.

2. What's an example? 
The typical White U.S. household has seven times the amount of wealth of the average Black one. That gap can be traced back to, among other things, the U.S. government's practice of "redlining" Black neighborhoods, ostensibly as poor credit risks, denying mortgages to many residents of those neighborhoods over four decades. The effects of that discrimination are still felt today, as home ownership has been the biggest source of wealth accumulation for the middle class.

Yeah, but they're black. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


A German Power Plant Just Ran Out of Coal in Latest Energy Shock (Jesper Starn, October 1, 2021, Bloomberg)

The global energy crunch forced a German electricity producer to halt a power plant after it ran out of coal.

Steag GmbH closed its Bergkamen-A plant in the western part of the country this week due to shortages of hard coal, it said by email. The closure is the first sign that Europe may need to count on mild and windy weather to keep the lights on as the continent faces shortages of natural gas and coal is unlikely to come to rescue.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


REVIEW: of Welfare for the Rich By Phil Harvey and Lisa Conyers: The scope of corporate grift may be astonishing, say the authors of this informative work, but voters aren't powerless to combat it. (Reviewed by Linda Nemec, October 3, 2021, Washington Independent Review of Books)

The first chapter lays out how farm subsidies and supports introduced during the Great Depression have morphed into the current $867 billion farm bill -- up from the previous $489 billion bill, which ended in 2018. According to the authors, "Ninety percent of farmland in America is covered under a farm program subsidy and most of the money goes to big farming operations."

The top recipient, Alamo Freight Lines, "received over $5.6 million in 2014 alone, qualifying for subsidies because of farmland it leases in West Texas, even though its primary business doesn't involve farming or farm property." The authors point out that those in the top 1 percent in terms of farm income received an average of $1.5 million in annual farm subsidies in 2015.

Subsequent chapters highlight what one would hope are other unintended consequences of state subsidies and tax incentives. Many were designed to create more jobs. By comparing the number of jobs promised to the loss in tax revenue or subsidy provided, the authors make clear the lengths to which local governments will go to create a few jobs.

Clean Coal Power Options, for instance, promised to create 830 local jobs for $500 million in tax rebates in McCracken County, Kentucky. And Ector County, Texas, was promised 100 local jobs in return for $91 million in property tax abatements for a carbon-capture coal gasification plant.

The authors point out that the job argument is often just window dressing: The number of jobs actually created is usually lower than promised. The benefits accrue to the investors instead.

Subsidize nothing.