Sunday Basket O’ Questions

by Noni Mausa

Sunday Basket O’ Questions

1. The Climate Change memos have opened up some interesting questions. Like, who are the thieves, and when will we see them in court? And if the thieves are shown to be employees of Big Oil or Big Coal, are the Bigs profiting from this crime? The proceeds of crime can be seized by the government — I will be interested to see how the amount of extra profit might be measured, and how a fungible asset is seized.

A criminal conviction might not be necessary, either. Wiki tells us: “In civil forfeiture cases, the US Government sues the item of property, not the person; the owner is effectively a third party claimant. Once the government establishes probable cause that the property is subject to forfeiture, the owner must prove on a “preponderance of the evidence” that it is not. The owner need not be judged guilty of any crime.”

If the data thieves don’t end up in court, then does this mean e-mail archives in general are fair game for worldwide publication?

We’ve been told that there is no real privacy on the Internet — what if it’s true? “If you could read anyone’s complete email archives, completely safe from legal punishment, which archives would those be?” The question is bound to bring a dreamy expression to the thoughtful person’s face. It’s even rather Biblical: Luke 12:3 “Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.” Hackers, start your engines.

2. A financial “bubble” is usually thought of as a thin skin of substance surrounding … nothing. But no real-world bubble surrounds nothing — if there was nothing inside, it would be a droplet, not a bubble.

So what inflates a financial bubble? And when the bubble collapses, what happens to the “filler?”

3. The missing phrase in discussing taxes is “for what?” High taxes in themselves are no burden. Low taxes in themselves are no comfort. Arguing tax size without addressing its use is like knitting with only one needle.


Update: Russia and the KGB? Curiouser and curiouser.
by Noni Mausa