The Money That Never Was

They were like the ant, which can see small objects but not large ones. (1984)

At this point there is $3.439 in the system. The bank has $271.

When those Social Security thresholds were originally established in 1984, they were designed to include only a small number of higher-income taxpayers. But the thresholds weren’t indexed for inflation, and so over more than 30 years, the number of Americans affected by the provision has risen dramatically.

We have to distinguish between particular price movements (caused by demand and supply of particular commodities), movements corresponding to waves, and general price movements (caused by demand and supply of money), movements corresponding to tides.

About Altruism

Volunteers in the Calais Jungle have been accused of sexually exploiting refugees and even child migrants. The issue came to light after a bitter online discussion between volunteers on a Facebook group for Jungle workers called Calais People to People Solidarity. The exchanges were started by a male volunteer who wrote: “I have heard of boys, believed to be under the age of consent, having sex with volunteers. I have heard stories of men using the prostitutes in the Jungle too. I have heard of volunteers having sex with multiple partners in one day, only to carry on in the same vein the following day. And I know also, that I’m only hearing a small part of a wider scale of abuse.” Others agreed with him and acknowledged that volunteer-refugee relationships were a serious issue in the camp that should not be covered up. Others meanwhile called for the group’s admin to remove the thread over fears a news outlet would gain access to it. The post was deleted within several hours of it being posted. Maya Konforti, who volunteers for Auberge des Migrants, told The Independent about another case in which a volunteer had built up a bad reputation in the camp by sleeping with multiple refugees: “I know one British woman who had a very bad reputation in the Jungle. If she had been volunteering with Auberge she would be thrown out, but she did it on her own, she was here independently. She found the right refugee and now she’s with him. That’s what I hear. She’s back in the UK and lives with a refugee.” –

And when the population no longer wants it?

Like the mood in August 1914, that of 1933 represented the actual power base of the coming Führer state. There was a very widespread sense of release and liberation from democracy. What is a democracy to do when the majority of the population no longer wants it? There was a desire for something genuinely new: popular rule without parties, a popular leader figure. – Sebastian Haffner, 1987

Pawel Kuczynski

Erdogan and Putin represent an unusual view quite different from liberal democracy, far closer to the alternative form of authoritarian democracy. For them democracy is a form of government where the will of the popular majority is fully represented by an individual, to be implemented by that individual without regard for institutional or legal constraints. – Alexander Woolfson


We have to defend ourselves from ideological colonization.
Pope Francis

Martin Luther King’s central hope was that people someday would be judged by the content of their character rather than the colour of their skin. But the 2016 US election is far from being colour blind. It is littered with references to college-educated Whites or Black women or Hispanics, as if what mattered was skin colour. Back in 1964, the then Republican candidate Barry Goldwater agreed with the sitting president Lyndon Johnson that they would keep race out of the campaign and not exploit it for electoral purposes. They were different times. – Gavin Hewitt

The creator of the television show Black-ish is tired of people only seeing his show as a symbol of diversity. Kenya Barris said all anyone wants to talk about regarding his show about an African-American family is diversity and how many of its viewers are black. “I will be so happy when diversity is not a word,” Barris said. “It doesn’t matter who’s watching our show. The fact is that they’re watching it. I get so tired of talking about diversity, these are amazing, talented actors and amazing writers who give their all and they don’t have to do this. It’s crowding the conversation. Why is that important, who watched the show, why does it matter? Why do we keep having to have these conversations?”

An elite Manhattan school is separating whites in classes where they’re made to feel awful about their “whiteness,” and all the “kids of color” in other rooms where they’re taught to feel proud about their race and are rewarded with treats and other privileges. The program, these parents say, deliberately instills in white children a strong sense of guilt about their race. Some kids come home in tears, saying, “I’m a bad person.” They say white kids are being brainwashed into thinking any success they achieve is unearned. Indeed, a young white girl is seen confessing on a Bank Street video: “I feel guilty for having a privilege I don’t deserve.”

My novel The Mandibles was taken to task by one reviewer for addressing an America that is “straight and white”. The implication of this criticism is that we novelists need to plug in representatives of a variety of groups in our cast of characters, as if filling out the entering class of freshmen at a university with strict diversity requirements. You do indeed see just this brand of tokenism in television. In the world of identity politics and cultural appropriation, fiction writers better be careful. If a character happens to be black, they have to be treated with kid gloves, and never be placed in scenes that, taken out of context, might seem disrespectful. But that’s no way to write. The burden is too great, the self-examination paralyzing. The natural result of that kind of criticism is that next time I don’t use any black characters, lest they do or say anything that is short of perfectly admirable and lovely. I confess that this climate of scrutiny has got under my skin.Lionel Shriver

Frequency of the word ‘Racism’ in New York Times articles, 1851-2016

Portugal e a Sua Paralisia

Se existem paraísos fiscais é porque existem infernos fiscais. E Portugal é um deles. (André Abrantes Amaral)

Segundo os números mais recentes da Pordata em 2016, existem em Portugal mais de 3,6 milhões de pensionistas. Mais de 650 mil funcionários públicos. Outros tantos desempregados. Perto de 300 mil beneficiários do rendimento social de inserção. Somando estes quatro números deparamo-nos com 5,2 milhões de pessoas. E se a estes 5,2 milhões somarmos filhos menores e familiares dependentes, ultrapassamos facilmente os 6 milhões que Medina Carreira costuma citar com regularidade. Fixem bem o número, porque ele é o mais importante para explicar Portugal e a sua paralisia: num país com 10 milhões de habitantes, pelo menos 6 milhões beneficiam de transferências directas do Estado central.

Entre o que a empresa regista na folha de remunerações e aquilo que cada um leva para casa ao fim do mês pode haver diferenças muito significativas. Em 2016, um trabalhador a ganhar o salário médio, e sem filhos, só recebeu 58,5% da remuneração bruta. Ou seja, 41,5% dos seus custos laborais totais foram para IRS, Segurança Social a cargo do patrão e a seu cargo. No escalão mais elevado, o cenário é ainda pior. Em 2015, a parte do rendimento no escalão mais elevado que é apropriada pelo Estado já passou a barreira dos 60% e era a mais elevada entre os países da OCDE. A retenção no país de trabalho muito qualificado não se compadece com punções desta grandeza sobre o seu rendimento. E sobretudo: que quem tal defende e propõe não venha, depois verter lágrimas de crocodilo, sobre a emigração da “geração mais qualificada de sempre”.

IRS – Um Imposto Que Nunca Será Suficientemente Progressivo