Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Tax Evasion by the High Income

Washington Equitable: Tax evasion at the top of the U.S. income distribution and How To Fight it.

There is another version of the issue starting off with Senior fellow (Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center of the Urban Institute), Steven M. Rosenthal taking on the issue;

“If Congress Wants the IRS To Collect More Tax from The Rich, It Needs to Pass Better Laws.”

Or you can go to NBER version of the Washington Equitible Working Paper; Tax Evasion at the Top of the Income Distribution: Theory and Evidence, March 2021.

Your Choice.

The question?

“How much tax do high-income Americans evade? And what kinds of evasion tactics do they use?”

Random audits miss two of the more common methods used to minimize taxes. The audits underestimate tax evasion capturing little of the investor tax evasion by those using offshore accounts and pass-through businesses. Both methods present opportunities unlikely to be captured by the audits of income taxes and are significant to the top income brackets or the 1% of household taxpayers making greater that $500,000 annually (TPC).

In a July 2009 NYT article, it was determined Swiss bank UBS helped US citizens hide $20 billion. This is an old article and certainly later administrations did little to stifle tax avoidance.

4-Day Work Week

From Treehuggers; “Spain To Try Nationwide 4-Day Workweek”

A shorter workweek has been suggested s a means of improving work-life balance and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Freelance Writer, Olivia Rosane. The topics of a shorter work week and climate control was brought up by Sandwichman at Econospeak with the former being touted numerous times by Sandwichman.

Íñigo Errejón, a representative from the new leftwing party Más País, tweeted that the government had agreed to launch a pilot project to trial a four-day workweek.

“We have agreed with the Government to promote a pilot project to reduce working hours. European funds must also serve to reorient the economy towards improving health, caring for the environment and increasing productivity, ”

That Prices were up the most since 2012 is probably also noteworthy . . .

CPI Rose 0.6% in March on Higher Prices for Energy and Transportation Services, R.J.S, MarketWatch 666

The consumer price index rose 0.6% in March, the largest monthly increase since August 2012, as higher prices for fuel, utilities, transportation services, financial services, and used vehicles were only slightly offset by lower prices for clothing and for communication commodities…the Consumer Price Index Summary from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that seasonally adjusted prices averaged 0.6% higher in March, after rising by 0.4% in February, 0.3% in January, 0.2% in December, 0.2% in November, 0.1% in October, 0.2% in September, 0.4% in August, by 0.5% in July and by 0.5% in June, but after falling by 0.1% last May, by 0.7% last April and by 0.3% in March of last year….the unadjusted CPI-U index, which was set with prices of the 1982 to 1984 period equal to 100, rose from 263.014 in February to 264.877 in March, which left it statistically 2.6198% higher than the 258.678 reading of March of last year, which is reported as a 2.6% year over year increase, up from the 1.7% year over year increase reported a month ago….with higher prices for energy a major factor in the overall index increase, seasonally adjusted core prices, which exclude food and energy, were only up by 0.3% for the month, as the unadjusted core price index rose from 270.696 to 271.713, which left the core index 1.6464% ahead of its year ago reading of 267.268, which is reported as a 1.6% year over year increase, up from the 1.3% year over year core price increase that was reported for February, but still little changed from the 1.6% the year over year core price increase that was reported for December of 2020 . . .

It is Ok to Lick Your Counter Top . . . Again

A few notes catching you up on stuff.

I would not recommend licking the counter top as it does not taste very good. In any case, the transmission of COVID-19 does not come from touching surfaces. And I am reiterating what I had read approximately a year ago.

The Atlantic‘s Staff Writer Derek Thompson reiterates what is pretty much known since the advent of COVID and ignored by many.

Deep Cleaning Isn’t a Victimless Crime” brings the point home in its content on surface contamination.

The USPS 10-year plan may have future rate increases

What the USPS 10-year plan may have to say about future rate increases

What the USPS 10-year plan may have to say about future rate increases, Steve Hutkins at “Save The Post Office

The mailers were probably disappointed that the Postal Service’s new 10-year plan released yesterday, “Delivering for America,” did not reveal how big of a rate increase the Postal Service intends to make using the new authority it was granted by the Postal Regulatory Commission. While they wait in suspense, here’s a guess: 3.6 percent.

We already know that the calculations the Postal Service submitted to the PRC in February indicate the hike could be as large as 5.56 percent (on top of the CPI increase), but the new system allows some of the rate authority to be banked for future years, so the increase could be smaller. And that is just what the following analysis suggests.

This analysis is based on two tables and a couple of comments that appear in the 10-year plan. The tables show revenue and expenses under two scenarios, a base case using the status quo and an alternative that uses the revenue and cost savings under the Delivering for America plan. The tables contain numbers for projected volumes and revenues over the next ten years that can be used to estimate what the Postal Service is planning for future price increases under the new rate authority.

US Trade Deficit Rises 4.8% in February to Record High

US Trade Deficit Rises 4.8% in February to Record High,” Commenter R.J.S. at Marketwatch 666

Our trade deficit rose 4.8% February, as both our exports and imports decreased, but the value of our exports fell by almost three times as much as the value of our imports did….the Commerce Department report on our international trade in goods and services for February indicated that our seasonally adjusted goods and services trade deficit rose by $3.3 billion to $71.1 billion in February, from a January deficit that was revised down to $67.8 billion from the $68.2 billion deficit reported a month ago…in rounded figures, the value of our February exports fell by $5.0 billion to $187.3 billion on $4.8 billion decrease to $131.1 billion in our exports of goods and a $0.2 billion decrease to $56.1 billion in our exports of services, while our imports fell $1.7 billion to $258.3 billion as a $2.0 billion decrease to $219.1 billion in our imports of goods was partially offset by a $0.3 billion increase to $39.2 billion in our imports of services….export prices averaged 1.6% higher in February, which means our real exports fell more month over month than the nominal decrease by that percentage, while import prices rose 1.3%, meaning that the contraction in real imports was greater than the nominal decrease reported here by that percentage…

The decrease in our February exports of goods resulted from lower exports of capital goods, consumer goods, soybeans, and of automotive vehicles, parts and engines…referencing the Full Release and Tables for February  (pdf), in Exhibit 7 we find that our exports of capital goods fell by $2,451 million to $39,094 million, led by a $738 million decrease in our exports of industrial machines other than those itemized separately, a $459 million decrease in our exports of civilian aircraft, and a $409 million decrease in our exports of semiconductors, and that our exports of consumer goods fell by $937 million to $15,049 million on a $470 million decrease in our exports of gem diamonds; in addition, our exports of foods, feeds and beverages fell by $727 million to $13,166 million on a $889 million decrease in our exports of soybeans, and our exports of automotive vehicles, parts, and engines fell by $703 million to $11,899 million on a $319 million decrease in our exports of parts and accessories of vehicles other than tires, engines and chassis and a $280 million decrease in our exports of new and used passenger cars, while our exports in other goods not categorized by end use fell by $372 million to $4,968 million . . . partially offsetting the decreases in those end use categories, our exports of industrial supplies and materials rose by $352 million to $46,448 million as a $2,399 million increase in our exports of natural gas and a $503 million increase in our exports of non-monetary gold were partly offset by a $824 million decrease in our exports of crude oil, a $326 million decrease in our exports of plastic materials, and a $300 million decrease in our exports of natural gas liquids…

Risk of Being Killed by Police Varies by Your Ethnicity

A Healthcare Issue

Derek Chauvin trial live: Paramedic who responded to George Floyd told partner.

‘I think he’s dead.’

When paramedics arrived, Bravinder saw multiple officers on the side of the road on top of “our patient lying on the ground next to a squad car. He said he

“assumed there was potentially some struggle still since they were still on top of him.” 

“Prosecutor Erin Eldridge played a clip of officer Thomas Lane’s body camera video, which shows Floyd lying handcuffed, flat on the ground, on his stomach and unmoving as the paramedics bring over a stretcher. 

Bravinder is seen making a gesture with his hand, indicating that Chauvin needs to move his knee so that Floyd can be put on the gurney. Bravinder also tries to ensure Floyd’s head doesn’t slam into the ground while he’s moved because his body is limp, according to the video.”

You can only kill or murder a person once. Anything afterwards is a lack of respect for the humanity.

The link will take you to the article from which these snippets are taken from and leading off this post. What I wish to do today is post on the risk of confrontations and the resulting impact with the police. In most cases, a conversation with a police officer is a matter of intimidation.

Risk of being killed by police use of force in the United States by age, race–ethnicity, and sex”

Being a numbers oriented person, I approach detail in a different manner. There are writers at AB who are far more nuanced (?) than I am. I am direct and I follow the numbers.

Whether cause related or not, police violence is a leading cause of death for young men in the United States. Over a life time, an approximate “1 in every 1,000″black men will (or can expect to) die from police intervention. “


The risk of dying from police intervention peaks between the ages of 20 and 35 years of age for men and women. This includes racial and ethnic groups. Separate from Black women and men, Latino men, American Indians, and Alaska Natives are more likely to die from police intervention than white women and men.

Race and Gender

An Incomplete Letter

Dear Senator Joe McConnell, Joe McManchin, Joe Manchin:

I write to you not as a constituent because I am not one of your constituents; but, I am confused. It is difficult to align with a politician who changes his persona various times.  I am confused by your series of stances on the filibuster and what you believe it to mean with regard to the Senate and its procedures.

The filibuster was never meant to be the sole action available as taken by a minority within the Senate. It did have a counter which fell by the wayside when suggested such was unneeded due to Senators being more astute and gentlemanly in their manner during Senate sessions.

After a debate was begun, the “Previous Question Motion” was used in the Senate to end debate if needed.  It required a simple majority of voting members to pass. Being such institution was peopled by gentlemen, debate might last a long period of time as party allegiance was not as strict as it is today with one Senator controlling what can and can not be presented to the Senate body for debate. The last 4+ years of control of the Senate have been dictated by one person.

Construction Spending Fell 0.8% in February

Commenter RJS at MarketWatch 666

Construction Spending Fell 0.8% in February after January & December Figures Were Revised Higher

The Census Bureau’s report on February construction spending (pdf) reported that “Construction spending during February 2021 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,516.9 billion, 0.8 percent (±0.7 percent) below the revised January estimate of $1,529.0 billion. The February figure is 5.3 percent (±1.0 percent) above the February 2020 estimate of $1,441.1 billion. During the first two months of this year, construction spending amounted to $213.2 billion, 4.9 percent (±1.0 percent) above the $203.2 billion for the same period in 2020. “…the January annualized spending estimate was revised 0.5% higher, from the $1,521.5 billion reported a month ago to $1,529.0 billion, while December’s construction spending was revised from $1,496.5 billion to $1,510.4 billion annually, which together meant that the January construction spending increase was revised down from +1.7% to +1.2% . . . the $13.9 billion upward revision to December’s annualized spending would mean we’ll see a upward revision of about 12 basis points to 4th quarter GDP when the annual revisions are released later this summer . . .

A further breakdown of the different subsets of construction spending are provided in a Census summary, which precedes the detailed spreadsheets below:

VA Study: How Long Does COVID-19 Vaccine Immunity Last?

This popped up in my email box today. I am not a member of any particular group representing veterans; but, I do use the VA for healthcare as a discharged Marine Sergeant. At times, I have written in support of various actions by different military groups supporting veterans.

With regard to healthcare, Medicare has started to use the VA Pharmaceutical formulary due to their pricing. In some cases such as Metoprolol, Medicare has changed from one version to another as a result of cost saves.

Groundbreaking VA Study Shows How Long COVID-19 Vaccine Immunity May Last

26 Mar 2021 | By Patricia Kime

Among the great unknowns of the COVID-19 vaccines now in use against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is how long immunity lasts and whether booster shots will be needed over time.

Scientists at the VA’s Office of Research and Development in White River Junction, Vermont, have found that the vaccines can provide immunity for at least seven to nine months, a time frame similar to the immune response generated in people who have had COVID-19.