Posts Tagged ‘New York Times’

Fake News at the NYT

December 6, 2016

It is conveniently forgotten – now – by the main-stream media that they are themselves experts in the art of publishing “Fake News”.

Lest we forget, this was one of the articles at the time claiming the presence of WMD in Iraq before the invasion.

NYT:

AFTEREFFECTS: PROHIBITED WEAPONS; Illicit Arms Kept Till Eve of War, An Iraqi Scientist Is Said to AssertAPRIL 21, 2003


 

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To pay tax you don’t owe is just incompetence

October 2, 2016

I note that the NY Times is busy attacking Trump for offsetting tax on profits against past losses. Which of course is something the NY Times is itself very quick to do when it can. As Forbes reported in January this year:

New York Times Hypocrisy On Corporate Taxes Reaches Record High

……. More recently, for tax year 2014, The New York Times paid no taxes and got an income tax refund of $3.5 million even though they had a pre-tax profit of $29.9 million in 2014. In other words, their post-tax profit was higher than their pre-tax profit. The explanation in their 2014 annual report is, “The effective tax rate for 2014 was favorably affected by approximately $21.1 million for the reversal of reserves for uncertain tax positions due to the lapse of applicable statutes of limitations.” If you don’t think it took fancy accountants and tax lawyers to make that happen, read the statement again. …….

There is much hypocrisy about taxes and tax-paying. To pay more tax than the tax code demands is all about incompetence – not about ethics.

I wrote in December 2015;

Tax avoidance is a measure of the incompetence of the lawmaker and the competence of the taxpayer

…. As law-abiding individuals and companies, we calculate and pay our taxes according to the rules that prevail. We use all available rules of allowable deductions and off-sets and deferred taxes and tax-breaks to minimise the amount of personal assets that are to be confiscated by the State. We use accountants and experts to navigate the complexities and intricacies of tax legislation. No individual is ever expected to pay more than the prevailing rules require. Any individual who does pay more than required, and assuming his perfectly rational objective is to minimise the tax to be payed, is fundamentally incompetent. Any company which pays more tax than it should also demonstrates incompetence and is not demonstrating due care of its investors’ assets.

Individuals and corporations are not required or expected to pay more than what is due under the rules prevailing. The issue of ethics is in play when the rules are formulated and is also involved in the following of the rules. The act of payment is an ethical issue but minimisation of tax due is a matter of competence, not of ethics. Paying more taxes than are due demonstrates incompetence and gains no ethical credits. So when there is criticism of companies for “not paying enough tax”, the real failure is with the politicians who have made the deficient rules – not with the individuals or companies who have followed the prevailing rules to their own best advantage.

Back in January 2015 I was also exercised about the sanctimonious clap-trap that wealth inequality gives rise to:

Wealth inequality: The poor are not poor “because” the rich are rich

Most people on the left of the political divide want more to be taken from the rich to be “given” to the poor. The Robin Hood syndrome. Note that when the intention is to “give to the poor” and not for “making the poor greater creators of wealth”, the driving force is mainly envy. It is when the desire to deprive the rich is more important than any desire to improve the lot of the poor. Concern is over-ridden by envy. Sometimes it seems to me that the real difference between left and right is that the left wants to spread the consumption of existing wealth (and hope that total wealth increases), while the right want to focus on creating wealth (and hope that it trickles down and gets equitably distributed).

But there is a fundamental fallacy in the view that the poor are poor because the rich are rich. There may well be some of the rich who are exploiting some of the poor and where the poor are not getting a just opportunity to be creators of wealth. There may well be members of the rich who create no wealth but remain rich because of inherited wealth. But by far the greatest majority of the rich are rich because they created more wealth than others. The real question is whether each individual gets an equitable opportunity to create wealth and then gets to retain an equitable portion of the wealth he has created. (It is a different matter but I still do not understand why it is the creation and the retention of wealth that attracts more penalties in the form of taxation than the destruction or consumption of wealth).

I incline to the view that taxation as it is practiced today by most states is fundamentally immoral. It is in fact an act of confiscation. This I wrote in February 2015.

On the legitimacy and morality of taxation

I am persuaded that the concept of taxation as practised today is immoral. It is fundamentally a coercion of an individual by a larger (stronger) society. It is an enforced confiscation (by threat of legal action) of an individual’s property or wealth. It cannot be seen as a membership fee for being a member of the society because leaving (or being expelled from) the society is not an option. It is closer to the extortion of “protection money” than to the membership dues for a golf club. The use to which the funds are put is irrelevant. The key point is whether the payment is voluntary or coerced. When early Christians paid a “tithe” to the Church voluntarily it was not immoral. But when the payment was coerced and no longer voluntary, the system became immoral. Similarly Islam requires the payment of zakat on individual wealth over the minimum nisab and this also shifted from a quite unexceptionable and moral voluntary payment to become an obligatory and immoral coercive confiscation.

I don’t quarrel with the need for any society to generate “common funds” to improve the well being of that society. But the legitimacy of appropriating the funds lies only in that the society (state) is stronger than the individual. Might becomes right. I come to the conclusion that a tax code by which the amount a “good citizen”should contribute to society is calculated is quite moral as long as the payment is then voluntary. There would be no moral issue if all taxation was voluntary. The immorality lies in the use of threat or force to confiscate the payment. It is the oppression of the minority by the majority which is immoral. (I observe that all democracies use the very fact of being a “democracy” as being a justification for the oppression of minorities when that is the will of the majority. As if being in the majority – by and of itself – ensures proper behaviour). But, the good socialist will argue, compulsory payment of tax is necessary to ensure the funds for the common good. Without coercion society as a whole would suffer. The common good – as seen by the majority – is worth the oppression of the minority who do not pay their dues.

And so we come full circle. The end justifies the means. Oppression of the minority by a majority is acceptable for the good of the majority. A society must be able to use force and coercion against its own minorities for the greater good. Taxation is made legitimate only because the state is stronger than the individual.


 

Why is the New York Times publicising fraudster Stapel’s book?

April 30, 2013

I would not have expected the New York Times to be an apologist and a publicist for a fraudster.

The case of Diedrik Stapel and all the data he faked by just making them up to fit his pre-determined results will always bring discredit to the field (not science) of social psychology. But Stapel is now busy creating a new career for himself where his fraud itself is to be the vehicle of his future success. He has written a book about his derailment and the adoring media have not only forgiven him but are now playing an active part in his rehabilitation: in  humanising him and publicisng his book. The con continues and the media are (perhaps unwitting) partners to the con.

The New York Times ran a long “analytical” article about Stapel and his fraud a few days ago. A long interview with Stapel and ostensibly a “neutral” piece the article is entirely concerned with humanising the “criminal”.  It seems to me that Stapel is very successfully continuing to manipulate the media which earlier used to idolise him for his ridiculous “studies” (eating meat made people selfish!). But if you look at the NYT piece as a piece of marketing material for a book written by a discredited author it all makes sense. In fact the NYT article might just as well have been commissioned by the publishers of the book

NYT:  …. Right away Stapel expressed what sounded like heartfelt remorse for what he did to his students. “I have fallen from my throne — I am on the floor,” he said, waving at the ground. “I am in therapy every week. I hate myself.” That afternoon and in later conversations, he referred to himself several times as tall, charming or handsome, less out of arrogance, it seemed, than what I took to be an anxious desire to focus on positive aspects of himself that were demonstrably not false. ….. 

Stapel did not deny that his deceit was driven by ambition. But it was more complicated than that, he told me. He insisted that he loved social psychology but had been frustrated by the messiness of experimental data, which rarely led to clear conclusions. His lifelong obsession with elegance and order, he said, led him to concoct sexy results that journals found attractive. “It was a quest for aesthetics, for beauty — instead of the truth,” he said. He described his behavior as an addiction that drove him to carry out acts of increasingly daring fraud, like a junkie seeking a bigger and better high. ….

The report’s publication would also allow him to release a book he had written in Dutch titled “Ontsporing” — “derailment” in English — for which he was paid a modest advance. The book is an examination of his life based on a personal diary he started after his fraud was made public. Stapel wanted it to bring both redemption and profit, and he seemed not to have given much thought to whether it would help or hurt him in his narrower quest to seek forgiveness from the students and colleagues he duped.

The New York Times : The mind of a con man Published: April 26, 2013

“The book is an examination of his life based on a personal diary he started after his fraud was made public.”  writes our intrepid NYT reporter.

Really? – and how much of this self-serving “diary” was faked or just made up?

Willingly or otherwise, the New York Times (and the reporter Yudhijit Bhattacharjee) are being duped and manipulated by a consummate fraudster.

Another plagiarising “churnalist” resigns – this time at Politico

October 15, 2011

There would seem to be a plagiarising epidemic – but it is just that with the world wide web there is nowhere to hide.

After Johann Hari, and Steven King this time a reporter from Politico – Kendra Marr – has been found regurgitating material from the New York Times and Associated Press among others. The Media Decoder blog of the NYT has the story:

A reporter for the news Web site Politico resigned on Thursday after allegations that she had used content in a number of her stories from articles that had been published in The New York Times, The Associated Press, NJ.com and other sources.

John F. Harris, Politico’s editor-in-chief, and Jim VandeHei, the site’s executive editor, published an editor’s note Thursday night after an e-mail inquiry by Susan Stellin, a freelance reporter for the New York Times, which prompted Politico editors to review work by reporter Kendra Marr. …. 

Seven articles have since been updated with editor’s notes explaining that earlier versions of the stories used reporting from other sources without attribution. Editors at Politico would not comment on the matter.

What is a little strange is the Politico has not or will not provide any details as to the extent of the plagiarism (for example by giving examples of what was plagiarised). But her profile is still on the Politico website. Her articles have been laundered and the plagiarised versions have been deleted. An editors note is added.

Kendra Marr

Kendra Marr

Kendra Marr is a national political reporter for POLITICO. She spent a year reporting out of the White House briefing room and is now tracking the 2012 presidential contenders.

Marr previously covered financial news for The Washington Post, where she followed Detroit’s automakers through bailout and bankruptcy. Her work has also appeared in the San Jose Mercury News, The Orange County Register and The Miami Herald.

Marr grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and international studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

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