8/3/21

I’ve been trying to understand the rationale underlying people’s decision not to take a Covid-19 vaccination; and I can’t — except possibly for a tiny portion of the population of those eligible. I had been under the impression that anyone with a compromised immune system might legitimately be wary of the vaccine and elect to pass on it; but that caution may be overstated if I am to believe the CDC’s website.

Although I’m quite sure that some readers will dismiss the CDC guidance out of hand, I’m ready to ignore those partisans’ inclinations. Admittedly, the CDC’s messaging had…


7/13/21

I’ve been reading about the planned summit with 20 major countries scheduled for October. At that time, high on the US agenda will be the imposition of a 15 percent minimum tax rate, worldwide. Presumably, this measure is intended to address the problem of certain countries setting themselves up as tax havens, the consequences of which include (a) allowing multinational corporations to significantly reduce their tax liabilities and (b) fostering some incentives for businesses to offshore some portion of their economic activity. While such an adjustment might seem to address both concerns, in fact, it’s wrong-headed. …


7/7/21

Shortly before the July 4th holiday, the NY Times posted a video that chronicled the January 6th assault on the Capitol. If you haven’t viewed this video, I highly recommend it. It’s not easy viewing, and it requires 40 minutes of your time; but if you give a damn about the state of our nation, it’s worth watching.

I’ve heard many commentators express relief about how close we came to losing our democracy; but for me, in the aftermath of watching that video, the use of the past tense in this assessment seems premature. The mob mentality shown during…


6/29/21

Largely motivated to enhance US competitiveness with China, the Senate passed the Endless Frontier Act earlier this month. If signed into law, that bill would invest about $250 billion over the next five years in scientific research. The vote was 68–32 in support of the legislation. More recently, just this week the House passed its bill on science funding by a voice vote. This legislation provided funding for the Department of Energy to improve the competitiveness of the US by supporting research and development in a host of science and engineering disciplines. …


6/10/21

Recent investigative reporting by ProPublica revealed that some of the richest Americans lawfully avoided paying federal income taxes over multiple years, which highlights just how messed up the US tax system really is. An easy fix, however, is within reach.

As a prelude, it’s important to appreciate the distinction between income and taxable income. Taxable income is the amount upon which a tax rate is applied; and not all income qualifies as taxable. For instance, interest income on tax exempt bonds isn’t included in taxable income, and hence that category of income is exempt from taxation. Similarly, only realized


6/3/21

I find myself slipping into despair. The bookends of politics in the U.S. and politics in Israel have unmistakable similarities that portend a steady decline in the quality of life in these countries, as the two respective governments fail to address critical needs of their citizenries. In both cases, failures derive from political processes being hijacked by the most extreme elements of their respective societies, with the concurrence of an electorate that either tacitly or complicitly fails to constrain the extremes’ excesses.

Israel first: I come at this issue as a secular American Jew. I’m a champion of the…


5/29/21

Despite the majority of the Senate voting 54-to-35 in favor of establishing a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6th assault on the Capitol, the Senate rules overrode the will of the majority. In so doing, the Senate kiboshed the effort to better understand how this fiasco became a reality and what we might be able to do to avoid its recurrence.

I have to admit to being somewhat ambivalent about the outcome of this vote. I’m ambivalent because I feel like we shouldn’t need a bipartisan commission… but we do!

On one hand, given the partisan divide in…


5/25/21

The shortage of affordable housing is a problem afflicting many of our larger cities, and it’s an issue that’s also commanding considerable attention in the NYC mayoral race currently underway. I’ve been trying to get a better understanding about this problem and possible solutions in my effort to assess the various candidates’ positions.

I began my investigation by trying to find out how far-reaching current efforts are to subsidize housing in NYC. The NY Housing Authority (NYCHA) serves as a good start. …


5/18/21

The more I learn about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general, the more amazed I am that the population of participants and supporters has been growing.

In recent posts (“The Digital Currency Charade” and “The Future of Cryptocurrencies”), I’ve already expressed my distain for the fact that the most understandable use of cryptocurrencies is for criminal activity — a conclusion that was recently underscored with the allegation that the Colonial Pipeline paid a $5 million ransom using Bitcoin. Clearly, that usage hasn’t dissuaded speculators from sticking in their oars.

Concerns about criminal activity seem to be over-ridden by cryptocurrency supporters…


5/12/21

Largely fueled by explosive price appreciation, cryptocurrencies are getting a lot of attention these days, with a growing population of promoters joining the fray, including many who should know better. We now see a whole class of white-collar shills for this activity, trying to paint a patina of respectability on a product thats main function is to facilitate criminal activity or else enable speculators to pick each other’s pockets. Elon Musk, mugging on SNL, seemingly jokingly called cryptocurrencies a hustle. In fact, he got it right.

On the speculation issue: As one who has worked in financial markets for…

Ira Kawaller

Kawaller holds a Ph.D. in economics from Purdue University.

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