Category Archives: Business

Still no time table on re-opening the U.S.-Canada border

The Republican sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas on Thursday citing how Canadians can fly into the U.S. but the opposite is not true for Americans. She says the current restrictions are not “fully synchronized or equitable for U.S. citizens.”

“I urge you to unilaterally begin easing the restrictions for non-essential travel into the U.S. across the northern border. Immediate actions should include expanding the list of exempted travelers to include family members and extended family members; Canadians with property, boats, or leased campsites in the U.S.; and business representatives with business dealings in the U.S., while beginning a phased reopening to the broader public,” Stefanik said in the letter.

Source: Stefanik: Canadian border closure not ‘equitable’ for US citizens

I have been aware of this asymmetry for some time. Canadians can fly to and from the U.S., but almost all U.S. citizens are banned from entering Canada.[1]

  • Just 20% of Canadians are vaccinated – yet they can come to the U.S. In fact, many Canadians flew to the U.S. to get vaccinations for Covid-19 that were not yet readily available in Canada!
  • About 65% of Americans have at least one dose – but they cannot travel to Canada.

Why?

This is a political restriction based arbitrarily on nationality and has nothing to do with the disease. Nothing at all.

I have seen many Youtube travel videos from people who seem to go through border restrictions around the world.

But most U.S. citizens have been prohibited from travel to the EU and are barred from entry to Canada.

Yet Canadians can readily fly to the U.S., while Americans can not do the opposite.

I have a friend who is a U.S. airline captain – his girlfriend is in Montreal and he’s been barred from traveling up there for over a year.

I know a young dual nationality individual (U.S. and Germany) who moved last year to the Netherlands (for marriage) at a time when U.S. citizens could not (and still cannot) travel. But since she had an EU passport (also a U.S. passport) she could freely travel to the EU, and then back to the U.S. on her U.S. passport.

Meanwhile, others figured how to game the system.

Continue reading Still no time table on re-opening the U.S.-Canada border

Paper: Shelter in place Orders “had no detectable health benefits”

We study the health, behavioral, and economic effects of one of the most politically controversial policies in recent memory, shelter-in-place orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Previous studies have claimed that shelter-in-place orders saved thousands of lives, but we reassess these analyses and show that they are not reliable. We find that shelter-in-place orders had no detectable health benefits, only modest effects on behavior, and small but adverse effects on the economy. To be clear, our study should not be interpreted as evidence that social distancing behaviors are not effective. Many people had already changed their behaviors before the introduction of shelter-in-place orders, and shelter-in-place orders appear to have been ineffective precisely because they did not meaningfully alter social distancing behavior.

Source: Evaluating the effects of shelter-in-place policies during the COVID-19 pandemic | PNAS

Their study says their explanation for “why” these Orders had no effect is conjecture – they do not know.

Related: A stunning 38.9% of small businesses in the U.S. are no longer open (select Businesses : Small Businesses Open) due to the actions of public health.  Reminder, in spite of all those actions, 600,000 people died.

In my town’s downtown, I estimate about 30% of local businesses were gone. Future historians will not look kindly on the year 2020 and the government/public health response.

Fast-food industry accelerates use of automation as wages go higher

I have written about this trend on many occasions for several years: Source: Former McDonald’s CEO warns $15 minimum wage directly contributing to fast-food industry’s automation push | Fox Business

Automation was always going to happen – but the push for higher minimum wages accelerates that trend.

We’ve seen the trend in self service fill-your-own-drinks, self-order entry, and the use of phone apps to place orders. A very few places have experimented with mostly automated services without any visible human interactions.

The push for higher wages occurred as the price of automation went down, and the capabilities of automation have gone up. We will end up with a smaller number of higher paid workers, likely belonging to a union. The workers without jobs will get no union representation, unfortunately.

Apparently IRS tax returns are not secret anymore?

Perhaps we should all just publish our returns on the Internet and be done with the pretense of privacy?

ProPublica said it is not disclosing how it obtained the data, which was given to it in raw form. It is illegal for the IRS to give out the personal returns of any individual. ProPublica says it has the tax returns of thousands of the nation’s wealthiest people, covering more than 15 years.

Source: Billionaires including Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk avoided paying federal income taxes in some years, report says – MarketWatch

Do they have their medical records too?

Considering the Experian leak or numerous retail credit card leaks, it seems that privacy no longer exists. What does this mean, long term, if everything we have ever done, bought, used, paid as taxes, used as health care, or discussed on line, in text messages, is no longer private?

In the case of Experian, the leak itself was the story. Now, the media itself gleefully participates in the leak and ignores their ethical lapse in participation as a party to this leak.

UPDATE: This story isn’t going over well for Propublica. First, some question the media’s use of stolen, private tax records – that is a real story. Second, Propublica uses a tax calculation they invented – as if unrecognized gains should be taxed and compared to income taxes. Third, it is an agenda-driven propaganda piece pushing a “wealth tax”. This is not journalism – this is advocacy.

Propublica cherry picks data, confuses wealth versus income, invents their own tax calculations, and says 25 tax returns are representative of everyone[1] thereby creating an effective propaganda hit piece.

[1] “Is anecdotal evidence reliable? One reporter says ‘Yes'”

American Airlines will not sell alcoholic drinks on board until mask mandate ends

Fort Worth-based American Airlines told crew members that it won’t reintroduce the sale of beer, wine and spirits to main cabin class passengers until at federal government officials drop the mask mandate aboard aircraft and airports. The mask mandate is currently set to expire Sept. 14. American was scheduled to bring back alcohol sales Tuesday.

Source: American Airlines joins Southwest in delaying alcoholic beverage sales due to bad passenger behavior

Next: Bans on flying

Before the pandemic, a “flying shame” movement, which aims to discourage air travel in favor of greener options like rail, was gaining ground globally thanks to Greta Thunberg, a Swedish climate activist. There were early signs that it may have reduced air travel in Germany and Sweden. Now French lawmakers are considering a ban on short flights that can be replaced by train travel.

Source: Flying and Climate: Airlines Under Pressure to Cut Emissions

Covid-19 was apparently a trial run, Britain’s Speaker of the House of Commons said

Sir Lindsay Hoyle told a gathering of counterparts from some of the world’s most powerful countries that the pandemic shows people are prepared to accept limitations on their lifestyles – if they recognise it is for the greater good.

He was surprised by the willingness of millions of people to wear masks and accept new rules, and said the urgent response the world has shown to deal with Covid-19 should now be harnessed to address climate change.

A U.S. government official:

“So let me say that again, 60% of our emissions that need to be reduced come from you, the person across the street, the senior on fixed income, right … there is no bad guy left, at least in Massachusetts to point the finger at, to turn the screws on, and you know, to break their will, so they stop emitting. That’s you. We have to break your will. Right, I can’t even say that publicly.”

After a while, real life becomes indistinguishable from conspiracy theories.

DHS secretary: ‘We’re taking a very close look at’ vaccine passports

I’ve said for a long time that vaccine passports are inevitable:

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Friday that the U.S. is taking “a very close look” at vaccine passports for international travel.

Source: DHS secretary: ‘We’re taking a very close look at’ vaccine passports

Some what scary: once these take hold, we can foresee future tracking of all vaccinations or diseases you’ve had – which may add to expense of obtaining past records or having serology tests to prove you have immunity.

A Third Of California Restaurants Close Permanently Due To Lockdowns

A little more than a year after Governor Gavin Newsom instituted the lockdowns, nearly a third of California restaurants have closed permanently. A little more than a year after Governor Gavin Newsom instituted the lockdowns, nearly a third of California restaurants have closed permanently while two-thirds of the industry’s workers have lost their jobs.

Source: A Third Of California Restaurants Close Permanently Due To Lockdowns

Small businesses, espresso cafes and restaurants have been gutted in my small town in Oregon. The harms of the public health Orders have been immense, often exceeding the benefits, but talk of that is forbidden.