Pandora Papers Be Damned (Part 2): How to Bank Offshore

Source: American Consequences
by Kim Iskyan

“If you own assets abroad (a bank account, a trust, shares in a foreign brokerage, a company) you won’t get into trouble if you tell the right people what you’re doing. In the U.S., the IRS requires disclosure of foreign bank accounts and companies, for starters. If you hold more than $10,000 in a foreign bank account (or that sum in total across all of your foreign financial accounts), you need to tell the IRS about your foreign financial accounts through what’s called the Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR) form, also called FinCEN form 114. You’ll need to itemize and detail your accounts and provide a figure for the maximum balance during the year. … It’s a minor hassle … But going to prison or paying a nosebleed penalty for breaking the rules is a far bigger hassle, so pick your poison.” (10/26/21)

The Next Democratic Crusade: Taxing Hypothetical Income

Source: Commentary
by Noah Rothman

“In their ongoing struggle to write a reconciliation bill jam-packed with social reforms (which Democrats hope to send to the president’s desk in less than a week), the party is now toying with the idea of a tax on the ‘unrealized gains’ enjoyed by wealthy investors. That is to say, money that exists only on paper. The plan — to the extent that there is a plan — is to tax the liquid assets of people with more than $1 billion in assets based on the capital gains they would have paid if they had cashed out on their investments, including stocks and even real estate. … Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen insists that this is not a ‘wealth tax,’ per se, but merely a tax on the speculative investments of the very wealthy. The rhetorical brilliance is already blinding.” (10/25/21)

Your Cell Phone Is Spying on You

Source: Reason
by Brian Doherty

“It’s been nearly a decade since Reason informed you that ‘Your Cellphone is Spying on You.’ A 2019 document from the FBI’s ‘Cellular Analysis Survey Team’ (CAST) project, newly uncovered by the transparency group Property of the People, reminds us of some of the hows and whys. … We live in an age of concern over ‘domestic terrorism’ — and if there’s one thing the years since 9/11 have taught us, it’s that terror investigations often entail the harrassment and surveillance of Americans who have not actually committed a crime but are being probed for the company they keep. At such a time, it’s good to keep in mind what a squealer that little device in your pocket can be.” (10/25/21)

Settled Science

Source: Common Sense
by Paul Jacob

“Remember the blow-up last summer between Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Dr. Anthony Fauci over gain-of-function research? Paul charged that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) had supported such research in China. ‘Senator Paul,’ Fauci fired back, ‘you don’t know what you are talking about, quite frankly.’ … Last week, the NIH sent a letter to Congress admitting that its grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, laundered through the infamous EcoHealth Alliance, resulted in research that even the NIH acknowledges was gain-of-function. Sen. Paul knew what he was talking about; Dr. Fauci did not.” (10/25/21)

We Might Get Some Great [sic] Tax Policies for Very Dumb Reasons

Source: In These Times
by Hamilton Nolan

“In Washington, good things happen only rarely. But even when they do, they must happen for the dumbest reasons. In a nation like America where the middle 60% of earners hold less combined wealth than the top 1%, a wealth tax on the rich is a very good idea. And, against all odds, we are now on the precipice of maybe, just maybe, getting a wealth tax on billionaires signed into law. Have we come to this point because the democratically elected representatives of the citizens of America looked at some charts and said to themselves, ‘“Damn, those billionaires really have too much of the wealth?’ Not at all. We have come to this point for very dumb reasons. But we’ll take it.” (10/26/21)

Hezbollah Has No Choice but Escalation

Source: Foreign Policy
by Oz Katerji

“After a week of violence and bloodshed on Beirut’s streets failed to disrupt the investigation into Beirut’s port blast, Hezbollah’s bellicose leader, Hassan Nasrallah, had little more than intimidation and absurd exaggerations to offer in his televised speech last Monday evening. But with the militia leader having played nearly all of his cards with no success at stopping an investigation that threatens the heart of Hezbollah’s power, an already badly battered Lebanon is entering a deeply dangerous crisis. Nasrallah, himself, dubbed the violence on Oct. 14 that left seven people dead, including multiple gunmen and a mother of five children who was shot dead in her own home, a ‘dangerous and critical new stage’ for Lebanon. He should know, given his direct responsibility for this escalation.” (10/25/21)

Epistemic Minor Leagues

Source: Astral Codex Ten
by Scott Alexander

“Athletes understand that not everyone can be Babe Ruth. That’s why you have local baseball leagues, or Little League, or the Minor Leagues, so that everybody can satisfy their sports competition drive whether they’re a superstar or not. But what’s the intellectual equivalent of the minor leagues? The place where, even if you’re not a superstar, you can have the experience of generating new insights which get appreciated by a community of like-minded knowledge-seekers? You can create a minor league in sports by matching the less-than-stellar players against each other. You can’t do that with intellectual curiosity; there’s no way to match dull people against each other to see who discovers gravity first. The closest you can come is to pull a QAnon — secede from reality, and then you’ll only be competing with other secedees.” (10/25/21)

“The Public Good” Isn’t Mark Zuckerberg’s — or Congress’s — Priority

Source: Garrison Center
by Thomas L Knapp

“Facebook “whistleblower” Frances Haugen, the Washington Post reports, has ‘repeatedly accused [Facebook CEO Mark] Zuckerberg of choosing growth over the public good.’ The Post’s headline puts it a slightly different way: ‘Growth over safety.’ The meaning of ‘growth’ in this context is pretty obvious: Zuckerberg’s company makes a lot of money, and he wants it to make even more. The meaning of ‘safety’ is somewhat more nebulous. Facebook spokeswoman Dani Lever refers to ‘difficult decisions between free expressions and harmful speech, security and other issues’ before going to a place that should chill the blood of anyone listening: ‘Drawing these societal lines is always better left to elected leaders which is why we’ve spent many years advocating for Congress to pass updated Internet regulations.'” (10/25/21)

“We’re all criminals” redux

Source: The Price of Liberty
by Nathan Barton

“It is very easy to get on the wrong side of bureaucrats, including cops, and politicians. And if you ARE, then they will seek every opportunity to demonstrate their power over you, to show you up for a despicable person, and just plain to make life miserable for you, your family, and your friends. In the eyes of the enforcers, you are nothing more than an unindicted criminal, just overripe fruit waiting to be plucked, and they are eager to get on with the plucking, thank you! We must ask, is this yet another reason that so many young people are (a) cynical, (b) rejecting of any sort of ‘virtue,’ and (c) willing to try socialism and other disproven philosophies because the status quo is intolerable?” (10/25/21)

Americans Now Prefer Smaller Government, But May Not Get It

Source: Reason
by JD Tuccille

“Americans who notice an increase in the size and intrusiveness of government since COVID-19 first appeared in headlines may wonder whether this will be a permanent condition. The short answer: probably. History suggests that we’re unlikely to see government fully return to its preexisting constraints even after everybody agrees the pandemic has passed along with whatever debatable need there might have been for officials to expand their reach. But that lingering inflation of state power will continue over the objections of a public that has lost its taste for an activist state.” (10/25/21)