Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Separate money and the state

  The United States once had the finest monetary system in history. It was a system that the U.S. Constitution established. It was a system in which the official money of the United States consisted of gold coins and silver coins.

  We often hear that the “gold standard” was a system in which paper money was “backed by gold.” Nothing could be further from the truth. There was no paper money in the United States. That’s because the Constitution did not empower the federal government to issue paper money. It also expressly prohibited the states from issuing paper money.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

North Korea signals more provocations, tensions

  North Korea has issued a series of truculent missives warning of dire, though unspecified, military actions in an attempt to intimidate the U.S. and its allies into canceling planned military exercises.

  Pyongyang responded strongly last year when Washington and Seoul restored large-scale military exercises and resumed deployment of nuclear-capable strategic assets after a four-year hiatus.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Federal judge rules that Alabama laws criminalizing homelessness are unconstitutional

  A federal judge has issued a permanent injunction against the enforcement of Alabama statutes that criminalize soliciting donations and begging, ruling that the laws violate the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.

  “We are pleased that the court chose to permanently enjoin the state’s solicitation statutes,” said Micah West, senior staff attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Economic Justice Project. “Criminalizing people for asking for help further disenfranchises those who are already facing economic hardship. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment covers ‘charitable appeals for funds.’”

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Why it’s hard for the US to cut or even control Medicare spending

  President Joe Biden’s 2024 proposed budget includes plans to shore up the finances of Medicare, the federal health insurance program that covers Americans who are 65 and up and some younger people with disabilities.

  His administration aims to increase from 3.8% to 5% an existing Medicare tax that’s collected on the labor and investment earnings of Americans who make more than US$400,000 annually. It also aims to reap some savings from having the government negotiate prices on more prescription drugs.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Here’s what to do when you encounter people with ‘dark personality traits’ at work

  Have you ever suffered through tales of greatness from a self-absorbed “friend” who reminds you of Michael Scott from “The Office” – and not in a good way? Have you been betrayed by a colleague out of the blue, undermined on a project by the office mean girl, or had a work friendship dropped altogether without explanation?

  If any of these scenarios sound familiar, you may have been dealing with someone who has what psychologists term a “dark personality.” These people score higher on three socially undesirable traits: narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Should the US ban TikTok? Can it? A cybersecurity expert explains the risks the app poses and the challenges to blocking it

  TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on March 23, 2023 amid a chorus of calls from members of Congress for the federal government to ban the Chinese-owned video social media app and reports that the Biden administration is pushing for the company’s sale.

  The federal government, along with many state and foreign governments and some companies, has banned TikTok on work-provided phones. This type of ban can be effective for protecting data related to government work.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Why SVB and Signature Bank failed so fast – and the US banking crisis isn’t over yet

  Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank failed with enormous speed – so quickly that they could be textbook cases of classic bank runs, in which too many depositors withdraw their funds from a bank at the same time. The failures at SVB and Signature were two of the three biggest in U.S. banking history following the collapse of Washington Mutual in 2008.

  How could this happen when the banking industry has been sitting on record levels of excess reserves – or the amount of cash held beyond what regulators require?

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

I went to CPAC to take MAGA supporters’ pulse – China and transgender people are among the top ‘demons’ they say are ruining the country

  In early March 2023, I mixed with the Make America Great Again faithful at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference – a popular meeting, often known as CPAC, for conservative activists and political figures.

  I walked, ate, and sat with the attendees at the National Harbor in Maryland over the course of four days. Many of them were dressed in MAGA and pro-Trump gear such as sequined hats and shirts that said things like “Trump won” the 2020 election. A few had tattoos of Trump’s face.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Overclassification overkill: The US government is drowning in a sea of secrets

  The U.S. faces far more threats to its national security than from spy balloons or classified documents discovered in former and current presidents’ homes.

  About 50 million more threats every year. That’s the estimated number of records annually classified as confidential, secret, or top secret by the U.S. government.

  The U.S. has an overclassification problem, which, experts say, ironically threatens the nation’s security.

Monday, March 20, 2023

School choice proposals rarely go before voters – and typically fail when they do

  Arizona lawmakers decided in late 2022 that the state will pay tuition, related education expenses, or both for children at any school parents select, including private and religious schools.

  It’s the latest step in an effort to provide public funds for private schools that in Arizona began in 2011. And that step was taken along what I have discovered to be a familiar route.