Financial Review

Mar. 13, 2019 Links

What we are reading today:

Trump Announces Ban of Boeing 737 Max Flights – New York Times. When pilots in the US start to express safety concerns, it changes the equation for liability.

Ex-Trump aide Manafort hit with 3-1/2 more years in prison, new charges – Reuters.  Consecutive with last week’s 47 month sentence, plus good time, minus time served and Manafort is looking at just over 5 years. But wait, there’s more…

Paul Manafort indicted in New York state on 16 charges – Vox.  Previous convictions were federal; this is state; presidential pardons do not apply to state charges.

New York Attorney General Opens Investigation of Trump Projects – New York Times. NYAG issues subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank for records relating to the financing of four major Trump Organization projects and a failed effort to buy the Buffalo Bills.

U.S. core capital goods orders rebound; inflation muted – Reuters. Smallest increase in 1-1/2 years, indicating business spending remains soft.

Venezuela’s Deadly Blackout Highlights the Need for a Negotiated Resolution of the Crisis – The Nation. No food, no medicine, no electricity but they still have Maduro.

MPs reject no-deal Brexit by majority of 43 in second vote – The Guardian. MPs voted against May’s deal on Tuesday but they don’t want a no-deal Brexit. Extension is a possibility. The whole thing is a hot mess. Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick.

The Moral Center of Meritocracy Collapses – The Atlantic. Most people who have achieved success should thank their lucky stars. Plain old luck is a huge determinant, even though most people find that claim insulting. Allowing for luck can tarnish our self-conception. Luck betrays the myth of the self-made man or woman. It can diminish our sense of control. It opens all kinds of uncomfortable questions about obligations to other, less lucky people. And the parents who perpetrated this scheme have insulted their own children, admitting, in essence, that their own offspring are too stupid and lazy to gain admission to a good school, even with all the benefits their wealth affords.

The concept of equality of opportunity in education, where everyone has fair and equal access to a good quality education regardless of social background, zip code, race, gender or religion, and where people achieve success in education according to their efforts and ability, free of any form of discrimination, is considered a basic human right.  Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations, 1948) states that “everyone has the right to education”, that “education shall be free, at least in the elementary or fundamental stages” and that “education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality…” Several states have included in their constitutions free, or nearly free, higher education opportunities as well. Equality of opportunity in education has been the justification for those who argue that poverty is a moral failing; a lack of personal responsibility on the part of the impoverished. This argument falls apart when equality of opportunity in education is eliminated from the equation of personal responsibility.

Corporations and wealthy families also receive judicial advantage, using their wealth to wage court battles that ordinary citizens could never afford. The result is that corporations and wealthy families frequently break the law without serious penalty. A secondary result is that the advantaged often reach settlements without admitting or denying guilt.

In almost every struggle to improve the human condition, one of the main objectives has been to achieve equality of opportunity. One of the chief factors in progress is the destruction of special privilege. The essence of the struggle boils down to taking from some person, class, or group of people the right to enjoy power, or wealth, or position, or immunity which has not been earned by service to their fellows. The conflict between people who possess more than they have earned and the people who have earned more than they possess is the key factor in progress. The eternal struggle for progress pits ordinary citizens struggling for the right of self-governance against special interests, who corrupt the workings of free government into machinery for defeating the popular will. The essence of the struggle is to equalize opportunity, destroy privilege, and afford the highest possible value to each individual life as possible.

Equality of opportunity means every man or woman will have a fair chance to make of himself all that he or she has the inherent capacity to achieve; the opportunity to reach the highest point that their capacities can carry them, unassisted by special privilege of their own, and unhampered by special privilege of others; the opportunity to get for himself/herself and his/her family substantially what he or she has earned. Equality of opportunity also means the country gets the highest service each citizen is capable of giving. The welfare of all of us is fundamentally dependent on the welfare of all of us. When the wealthy elite steal opportunity, what they are really stealing is hope.

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