Links & comment: Things are looking up
November 14, 2012 3 Comments
Half Sigma reviews Damsels in Distress, the worst Whit Stillman movie (which I enjoyed very much).
I don’t know what everyone’s making such a fuss about. So I cussed out some construction workers near my flat in Singapore and got caught on a camera phone. So what. I have a knife and I have resources so you better drop it, you Chinese people, you.
The meme itself is probably a dead horse, but this is the first ‘Sh%t XYZ people say’ video that has actually endeared me to the category XYZ.
Why don’t free trade/low tariff arguments apply equally to income or sales taxes?
Why Argo is hard for Iranians to watch. The answer seems to be because it clashes with their brainwashing: “For years at school I was taught that the hostage-taking of American diplomats was an act of resistance, heroism on behalf of revolutionaries showing their anger at US interference in Iran’s internal affairs.” Awww. Single tear down my cheek. Also amusing is this analogy: “The whole experience is like asking an Iranian who has never been to the US to make a film (let’s say in Cuba) about the Columbine high school massacre. You’ll probably end up watching a film in which all Americans are crazy, have a gun at home and are ready to shoot their classmates.” But…but…doesn’t this more or less describe every movie made about the U.S. by non-Americans? Someone needs to familiarize himself with the ‘Lars von Trier’ catalog…
The economics of ‘senior people’ in banks: Senior employees at Goldman operate a lot like financial leverage for the firm: providing extra-upside juice in good times but imposing high fixed costs that can be problematic in bad times. [...] Only the most senior folks are actual capital. The ranks below them are the leverage, who provide greater returns to the equity in better times, but drain income when revenues are low. I question some of this. Do they really provide ‘extra-upside juice’ or is that an illusion? Are the ‘most senior folks’ really ‘actual capital’, or is that an illusion generated by the seats they happen to sit in and the backscratching contacts they are able to call upon? But the big-picture painted here, of senior employees as a drain, rings true. Sometimes GM or similar companies are described as pension or health-care plans that ‘also’ also sell cars; in a sense, big banks like Goldman strike me as locked-up investment vehicles (i.e., investment of their ‘deferred comp’) for a small number of very rich people (the ‘senior people’), that also happen to do some financial services.
I got a chuckle out of the fact that someone had to do neurological research to reach the conclusion that the reason people don’t like musical dissonance is because harmonies sound nice to us. I never would have guessed!
I finally understand what everyone means when they insist that Mexicans are ‘socially conservative’: they mean Mexicans are tacky. Makes total sense.
Stationary Waves on what ‘fairness’ means for taxes. My answer is that ‘fair’ just means ‘communist’. The easy proof of this is just to empirically observe that any change to the tax code that makes the results more communist is said to be ‘fairer’, and any change that doesn’t isn’t.