License to Work – Institute for Justice

Source: “License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing” – Institute for Justice, by Dick M. Carpenter II, Ph.D., Lisa Knepper, Kyle Sweetland and Jennifer McDonald

The share of American workers needing a license to work has climbed steadily in recent decades, from 1 in 20 workers in the 1950s to roughly 1 in 4 today, … Research suggests this growth is not primarily due
to more workers leaving the farm and the factory for traditionally licensed fields like medicine and law. Instead, the main driver is new laws expanding licensing into previously unlicensed occupations.

The U.S. Constitution protects the right to earn an honest living free from unreasonable government interference, yet courts have often been reluctant to enforce this right by striking down arbitrary or irrational licensing laws. In fact, under the prevailing legal standard, licensing laws are presumed valid when challenged in court, and individuals must prove that they are unconstitutional. This gets it exactly backward. Governments should have to prove that licensing laws advance legitimate health and safety concerns to justify restrictions on the right to earn a living.

The End of Generation Rent?

Source: Say Hello to $3 Trillion in Forgotten Debt | Bloomberg Gadfly, by Chris Bryant Andrea Felsted

New accounting rules called IFRS 16 will force companies to include operating lease commitments as part of their reported debt and assets. U.S. companies will apply a new FASB standard that’s broadly similar to IFRS 16, albeit not in all respects.

At the very least, the rule change should give armchair investors, not to mention a company’s customers, employees and suppliers, a much better idea of how risky a business is compared to rivals.

Accounting reform can also affect corporate behavior. When British companies had to start recognizing the full liability for defined benefit pensions on financial statements, a lot of those “final salary” plans ended up closed.

It’s conceivable therefore that IFRS 16 will affect corporate decisions on whether to rent or purchase an asset. Consider sale and lease-back arrangements. These were once a popular way for companies to get their hands on some cash and a quick chance for executives to make themselves look like geniuses. All of a sudden, return on assets improved.

Now, if all that rented floor space has to sit on the balance sheet anyway, selling off the corporate silverware might become less attractive. Buying big ticket assets, rather than leasing, is also cheaper now because of low interest rates.

A state Supreme Court justice’s open letter to AI

Source: A state Supreme Court justice’s open letter to AI

Once we overcome some technical problems…we’re in for more than just a world of change and evolution. We’re in for some discussion of what it means to be human.

Consider a world of relatively sophisticated AI. Human cohesion will depend in no small part on how well society will fare when those who worship emerging AI share the planet with those who feel some AI applications making claims on us deserve recognition, those who feel this is essentially an animal-welfare issue, those who think any concern for the “welfare” of an inanimate object is insane, and those who could care less.

Today’s biggest threat to democracy isn’t fake news—it’s selective facts

Source: Today’s biggest threat to democracy isn’t fake news—it’s selective facts

Can you believe everything you read if you’re not reading everything?

Selective facts are “true” facts that only tells us part of the story, and they influence our views on every issue from gun control to Islamic terrorism to free trade. … Selective facts are worse than outright fake news because they’re pervasive and harder to question than clearly false statements.

news has to engage us for us to read it. Selective facts occur because news and social media companies focus predominantly on their readers’ interests. Media organizations maximize readership and increase profits by creating and sharing content that their readers want to read. … The publisher and social media algorithms learn what the audience wants to hear, gives it them, and the selective cycle continues.

this coverage imbalance leads to a deep empathy gap across countries and religions. It’s especially hard to have empathy in either population when the content you read consistently heralds your side as the victim and ignores extreme actions by your own members.

Just because you think you’re a well-reasoned person doesn’t mean you haven’t accidentally cocooned yourself in an algorithmic bubble. If your goal is to make good decisions for your family, your community, or your country, you must consciously work to get a representative set of facts.

Why You Should NEVER Buy an Amazon Echo or Even Get Near One | naked capitalism

Source: Why You Should NEVER Buy an Amazon Echo or Even Get Near One | naked capitalism

Why Amazon’s Echo, Google’s Home, and other “home assistants” are a threat to your privacy.

At some time in the not too distant future, analysts will be able to make queries like, “Tell me who was within 15 feet of Person X at least eight times in the last six months.” That will produce a reliable list of their family, friends, lovers, and other close associates.

Although voice identification has a margin of error that would make it unacceptable for legal identification and non-repudiation, it still has useful utility for intelligence and “user experience” applications, especially when paired with other available data.