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InsiderOnline Blog: December 2006

News You Might Have Missed

Uncle Sam wants you (to pay taxes): There have been a lot of tax cuts in the past three years, including some just this past week. But one group that’s been left out is Americans living abroad. In fact, earlier this year Congress increased taxes on U.S. citizens living in foreign countries. According to the New York Times, international tax lawyers now are reporting a rising demand for renunciation of  U.S. citizenship. The United States is the only developed country in the world that taxes its citizens abroad.

Taxes induce labor: Staying with the theme of “tax incentives matter,” some economists have found evidence that the timing of childbirths is influenced by tax breaks. There’s nothing like becoming eligible for a tax break on December 31, and these days drugs can bring about labor sooner than would nature. New York Times writer David Leonart estimates that 5,000 babies who would otherwise be born in the first week in January are born in the last week of December instead.

Handing out money not a new idea: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a plan for tackling poverty. The Mayor, it seems, wants to pay people for behaving well. Manhattan Institute’s Harry Siegel is not impressed.

Some indecency is protected, some isn’t: A judge hearing a challenge to the Federal Communications Commission’s indecency policy wanted to know how the FCC could rule a reality show exempt as news, but not a music awards show. An FCC lawyer explained simply that the network airing the awards show never claimed the show was news. The judge: “Are you telling the networks to make some cockamamie claim and they will survive?” Bloomberg reports that at least “10 four-letter words or variations of four-letter words were used by lawyers and judges during the hearing.” C-Span General Counsel Bruce D. Collins stated: “It’s good news to have the FCC state in open court that C-SPAN's coverage of this event is not subject to liability.”

A trade-off for consumers, not regulators: The market for light, environmentally friendly, high-gas mileage cars is booming, in part because of concerns about gas prices (which have abated slightly since the summer). Just one problem with the new mini-cars: They’re not as safe as bigger cars. That’s what the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found when it assessed the new breed. IIHS President Adrian Lund: "People traveling in small, light cars are at a disadvantage, especially when they collide with bigger, heavier vehicles. The laws of physics dictate this." Before anybody jumps on the ban-the-SUV bandwagon again, keep this in mind: Single-vehicle crashes, too, are more deadly for drivers of small cars than for drivers of big cars.

A job well done: Members of Brazil’s Congress gave themselves a 90 percent pay raise. Just think how good the raise could have been if one in five members wasn’t being either investigated by the police or prosecuted in the courts.

Posted on 12/21/06 09:48 AM by Alex Adrianson

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