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Michael Hiltzik: Why would the public miss Ed Kleinbard



Michael Hiltzik: Why would the public miss Ed Kleinbard

Some things set Ed Kleinbard apart from an army of taxation experts who spent hours studying the details of tax laws.

For one thing, he is smarter than others. But more importantly, after developing his knowledge store at an elite corporate law firm and then as the highest congressional adviser, he chose to disseminate it for the public benefit – as a law professor at USC, as a widely read commentator on taxes. policy and as an irreplaceable book writer on how to make the function of fiscal policy to improve American life.

We are flooded today by economic noise and haze that are designed to produce superficial rationality because what is basically just a jerk-like instinct.

Edward D. Kleinbard, 2015

Kleinbard died Monday at the age of 68, after a long battle with cancer. He has been my guide through taxation stacks since I first profiled it in 2014 and has been a source of dozens of columns since then. He was always friendly, clear, and funny when I bothered him because of his insight, even during his fight with illness to the end. His death will be greatly felt by his family, colleagues, my readers and a world that is much poorer because of that loss.

Let’s learn the reason.

We can start with the career trajectory. After graduating from Yale Law School in 1976, he moved to law firm, rising to a partnership at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. In 2007, he jumped into the public sector as chief of staff on the Joint Congressional Committee on Taxation, then joined the USC Gould Law School in 2009.

“Only people who practice law at a very high level know exactly how companies do things like move income to minimize taxes and other tax games played by big corporations,” said Kleinbard’s friend, biking friend, and USC Law colleague, Gregory Keating. “And most people who have that kind of knowledge work with companies. Ed has that expertise and is committed to providing solutions as academics and policy makers who are public minded and open minded. “

Coupled with that is the interesting personality that his colleagues remember as “funny, loyal, passionate, and acerbic,” as Daniel N. Shaviro of NYU Law School put it in valedictory speech on the TaxProf blog.

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Kleinbard has a way to clarify difficult concepts so that they can be better understood by policy makers. One that he wants to remember is the term “stateless income,” which he coined to define the foreign income of companies that are held by multinational companies in countries with low taxes.

Kleinbard estimates this amount to be $ 3 trillion by 2018, allowing “many well-known multinational companies (to) enjoy a single-digit effective tax rate on their foreign income.”

His formulation might have encouraged the Republican Congress to include provisions in the 2017 tax cut law aimed at encouraging companies to bring this money back home, even though it might not be as effective as he wants.

In any case, he refused to join the praise choir which was later sought after by companies like Apple for repatriating billions of their foreigners. When Apple boasted paying a “record” of $ 38 billion in taxes to bring home $ 252 billion in exiled foreign profits, he observed:

“Apple paid a record tax because for the past two decades, Apple has become a world champion in global tax avoidance. They … pay taxes that basically have no place to talk about that income. “

Kleinbard’s worldview can be obtained from the title of his 2015 book: “We Are Better Than This: How The Government Should Spend Our Money.”

This book is designed as a balance of learning about the sacredness and hypocrisy that infects fiscal policy making.

“My values ​​are old-fashioned progressive values,” he said in the introduction to the book. These values ​​stem from his awareness that much of what he has achieved in life – and what other special people have achieved – is a product not only of genuine talent but also of luck.

Those who “look at the scorn of people who have not yet achieved comparable success,” he wrote, see fiscal policy through the prism of “narcissism thinly veiled, or embracing the cartoon version of Calvinist predestination. Both are unpleasant and not American.”

That brings it to an important point that Kleinbard might make during our first meeting, namely that the conversation about government fiscal policy always understands the problem from the wrong end by focusing on taxation rather than spending.

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“We asked how much pain we wanted to cause to ourselves, and the answer was always ‘not too much,'” he told me. “Question Should what can we do together through investment and insurance to improve our lives – and how much can we pay? “

A tax-centered perspective, he wrote, was a trick to reduce the size of government in the interests of the rich. “We have arbitrarily set projections of tax revenues to levels that are too low, and are now debating which expenditure program should be cut to fit the income constraints we have imposed on ourselves.”

Among the programs that undervalued a tax-centered perspective, he observed, were public education, social insurance and infrastructure development. All of them produce immediate and long-term benefits, especially in contrast to tax-cutting policies that place more money in the pockets of the rich but erode the ability of the federal government to provide for its citizens.

“Which is better for the wealth and happiness of our nation,” he asked in his book: “A small number of very wealthy Americans are using the lower classes as dog makers and pruners, or a greater commitment to publicly financed infrastructure that results in both improved stronger direct and middle class productivity, through the work created by the projects? “

Kleinbard likes to poke the arguments of academic theorists who bring water to the rich. “We are flooded today by economic noise and haze that are designed to produce superficial rationality because what is basically just an instinct like a jerk” for the preservation of rich people’s resources, as he wrote in the introduction to his book.

He found their work morally blunt and economically bad. Among his targets was Milton Friedman, a god among conservatives for his statement that “capitalism and freedom of association,” as Kleinbard said, adding, “This world view leaves little for governments to articulate shared values ​​beyond what is needed for masters home of the laissez-faire economic tournament. “

Kleinbard withered about Milton Friedman who was so “confused by the existence of a national park” that he could write: “If the public wants this kind of activity to pay for it, private companies will have every incentive to provide such a park.” Because Friedman himself does not feel the excitement in depth from public parks or their contribution to shared national pride, he concluded that no such values ​​could exist.

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For this and other similar crab visions from a market-dominated world, Kleinbard rightly calls Friedman a “politically and socially stupid person.”

It would be very interesting to have Kleinbard’s view of conservatives who just couldn’t be contacted for the purpose of eliminating or cutting unemployment benefits provided for victims of business closures related to the corona virus. The argument is that the added benefit makes people not want to go out and get a job.

It may be that Kleinbard’s disease prevented him from discussing this argument directly, but fortunately we have his comments about the same argument in general: He thinks it is nonsense.

Kleinbard’s discussion of the argument in his book uses conservative economist Casey Mulligan of the University of Chicago as a whip. Mulligan argues, basically, that programs such as unemployment insurance and food stamps should be cut to the end because they encourage laziness at the expense of responsible taxpayers.

As Kleinbard digested Mulligan’s message, “Hardworking Americans who work well now find their income ‘redistributed’ to others who choose not working, because the federal government has made laziness so comfortable that they have no reason to find work. “Mulligan’s recipe is to cut programs to give ordinary people an incentive to get out of their clothes.

This is a variation on the “poor unworthy” image that conservatives love. As Kleinbard explained, it is full of flaws. The truth that long-term income earned from work far exceeds the short-term income from unemployment benefits, which most Americans are not burdened with the work of concocting the theory from behind the desk at a large university is well understood.

Ed Kleinbard left us with a standard of public spirit that all those who have learned to make policies and laws from within should aspire to do so. His contribution to my understanding of public policy will not just stop, because his book stays close to my bookshelf. But he will be missed.

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Language policy in party election programs



Language policy in party election programs

Opening the last week of the election campaign and having voted in advance, I decided to share the results of my reading of the electoral programs (or similar) of the main parties in relation to official languages ​​(Portuguese) and with official recognition (Portuguese Sign Language, LGP and Mirandese). I limited the analysis (but not the reading) to the four most voted parties in 2019: PS, PSD, BE, and PCP; I used “língua”, “português”, “gestual portuguesa” (LGP), “mirandês” and their synonyms as search expressions. The goal is to understand the importance that each side attaches to language(s) and language policy.

PCP Presents Electoral Commitmentwhere it shapes the 2022 elections and resumes Election program for 2019, of 114 pages. In this “language” appears five times, twice in support of “learning [gratuito] Portuguese as mother tongue among expatriate communities” and three in “Valuing the Portuguese language and culture”. LGP and Mirandese do not occur. The documents use the spelling standard of 1945 (as well as CDS-PP Electoral Commitment, 14 pages).

Not Election program 2022-2026, from the British Empire, on 203 pages, “language” occurs six times, which is associated with increased teaching and access to LGP, with immigrant communities (Portuguese and native languages, in bilingual education) and once with reference to the free teaching of Portuguese for second generation immigrants.

OUR Electoral program 2022 PSD, 165 pages, never mentioned Mirandese or LGP; the Portuguese language is mentioned seven times, and the document contains a theme called “Language”, which proclaims: “Portuguese is an expression of our collective identity and of Portugal’s presence on a global scale, as well as differences in the use of the Portuguese language. don’t impoverish it (…) The attempt at orthographic standardization offered no advantage in the face of a globalized world, so PSD advocates assessing the real impact of the new [??!!] spelling convention” [sic] (CDS-PP is strongly in favor of abolishing it, and I would like to see some of the studies evaluating its impact.) In another paragraph, starting with the words “Portugal can never neglect lusophony”. [sic], advocates “concrete efforts (…) to raise the status of Portuguese to an official language of the United Nations” (only PSD uses the term “lusophonia”). The remaining references refer to basic education and immigrant communities, as well as to Portuguese-speaking African countries.

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Not PS campaign program, 122 pages of compact text, the search expression “language” occurs 26 times. There is talk of LGP dissemination and interpretation in government services; “Mirandes” is not found. The role of the Portuguese language in establishing Portugal in the world is clearly appreciated through its internationalization in the context of strengthening the CPLP, namely in connection with the International Portuguese Language Institute, relations with UNESCO and OEI. , under the control of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Culture. The teaching of Portuguese as a native and non-native language (for emigrants and immigrants) is carried out at all levels of education. The text contains several concrete proposals for action.

Of course, much more can be said, and reading this text is not intended to devalue (rather, promote) the reading of election programs. The choice is up to everyone. Voting is free and voting is an act of citizenship.

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The Portuguese government plans to double spending on research and development



The Portuguese government plans to double spending on research and development

The leaders want national R&D spending to be 3% of GDP by 2030.

The Portuguese government has agreed to nearly double the country’s spending on research and development by 2030, the EU’s long-term goal of 3% of GDP.

The December 29 resolution called for government spending on R&D to reach 1% of GDP by 2030, with the remaining 2% added to private spending.

In 2020, public and private spending on R&D was 0.66% and 0.96% of GDP, respectively, which means that public spending will more than halve and private spending will double.

With rising costs, the government has promised reforms and modernization of the R&D sector in Portugal. He said the resolution would support the promotion of a culture of innovation and science and help stimulate the restructuring of the knowledge-based economy.

Last year, Government says Portugal’s spending on research and development has increased five years in a row, reaching a record 3.3.2 billion by 2020. He said the growth was mainly driven by the business sector.

The EU as a whole has set a goal of spending 3% of its GDP on research and development, but for decades it has struggled for more than 2% to cover real costs. By 2020, R&D spending has decreased by $1 billion., but it increased to 2.3% of GDP as the economy contracted due to the government-19 epidemic.

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Former Portugal international Lima Pereira dies at 69



Former Portugal international Lima Pereira dies at 69

Lima Pereira, the Portuguese international who distinguished himself in the 1980s with Porto, died this Saturday at the age of 69 after a long illness.

At one time he was one of the best Portuguese players in the central defender position. António José Lima Pereira was born in Povoa de Varzim on February 1, 1952. He graduated from Varzim and played there in the early years of his senior career. In 1978 he moved to Porto and his journey was very successful. His name is associated with some of the most brilliant moments in the history of the dragon emblem, such as winning the European Cup and Intercontinental Cup in 1987 and the European Super Cup in 1988. In 11 seasons (265 games), he also won 4 championships. , three national Supercups and 2 Portuguese Cups. He ended his career with Maya in 1991. “I knew how to exemplify the values ​​of Porto,” Pinto da Costa wrote in a social media post.

Lima Pereira, who represented the national team 20 times, suffered a stroke in 2006.

Jorge Amaral, former Porto player
“He personified the spirit of Porto and the North. He was a friend of his friends and had an enviable sense of humor. A loss he regrets.”

Octavio Machado, former player and coach of FC Porto
“A champion who celebrated all who had the honor of living with him. We already miss him.”

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