2015 has been a remarkably busy year for me so far, almost the exact opposite of 2003, when I first made a blog presence.
I am currently working on the returns of a client tax base of my own, and teaching as an affiliated professor (read: adjunct) at a regional college.
Social media ranked a bit higher than blogging, and so that sucked up quite a bit of time that I meant to dedicate to talking about the issues that matter to me. I am a creature of the editorial page, back when they were universally read. I best do my editorializing out in the wide open—although I don’t know what the blog format is morphing into these days.
In the past couple months, I am fairly convinced that social activism has to be a real people, face-to-face thing. As a result, I am looking to connect with the people who can send a message to the State Department about the issues I’ve written about that have meaning. As I do more overseas tax returns, I’m discovering that there is a serious problem with U.S. expat pension coverage in Japan. They really need to escalate that, and it can’t be done blogging about it.
I got into the dynamics of wine selling last fall. Our own state of Pennsylvania here is a “control state”, where you buy alcohol from public stores. Our former governor, Tom Corbett, tried to sell off the state store system (as well as the state lottery and the Pennsylvania Turnpike). Our new governor, Tom Wolf, is not of a mind to do that sort of thing. Calling and talking around with various distributors last year, they confirmed what I heard in political circles, that the “trouble” being made was by a huge, private liquor intermediary called Southern Wine & Spirits. In my view, I can’t figure out why antitrust issues aren’t raised when giant intermediaries appear. This was one of the reasons for the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, which effectively stopped being enforced in the Reagan Administration. Small is beautiful. Many small businesses (read here: wineries) serve the public better than these huge monstrosities operating outside of the public eye.
So to pick up on the related note: is Tesco’s accounting scandal mostly attached to its wine and spirits division? To those who began following me on Twitter as an add on that, have you noticed the general silence in the media as it relates to that aspect of the scandal? The executive in charge disappeared from the story, the other, well-respected one, quickly found greener pastures promoting Australian wine in Europe. From the control-state perspective, it would be interesting to finally learn how the unregulated free market works when it comes to the wine business. Do you really think that the big company, and the big government office investigating it, don’t even have some preliminary answers yet? It’s like the New Jersey bridge scandal. The responsible people in charge of investigating are so busy thoroughly investigating, that some fine day the whole issue drops off the public radar and even the media radar.
Lastly, one project that has been just a sticky note is one I’m hoping to find a name. I know I wrote about an article that appeared in the New York Times last September, concerning how foreign countries buy influence at U.S. based think tanks. Here is the money quote:
Andrew Schwartz, a spokesman for the center, said that language in the agreements the organization signs with foreign governments gives its scholars final say over the policy positions they take — although he acknowledged those provisions have not been included in all such documents.
“We have to respect their academic and intellectual independence,” Mr. Otaka, the Japanese Embassy spokesman, said in a separate interview. But one Japanese diplomat, who asked not to be named as he was not authorized to discuss the matter, said the country expected favorable treatment in return for donations to think tanks.
“If we put actual money in, we want to have a good result for that money — as it is an investment,” he said.
Foreign governments bribe influential entities here in America in order to get the results those foreign governments want—-not what is best for America and Americans. I sure would like to know who the diplomat who sought anonymity really is. Don’t you?