Including: America poised on the edge, why it’s in Obama’s interest to just take the plunge, Airlines want to go back to less pricing disclosure, and the inequality of French taxes gets them struck down.

Good morning, and Happy New Year’s Eve Day

The headlines:

  1. Still nothing.

    Link: bring on tomorrow.

    So talks “faltered” yesterday. Which leaves less than 16 hours for the good gentlemen and women in Washington to pull themselves toward themselves and stop-gap sh*t.

    According to this brilliant article in the Economist (Barack Obama’s Dual Agenda), Obama has some great incentives here. If he lets the Fiscal Cliff kick in, he may get a better deal; and, he’ll break the Republican Party under the weight of its own conservatism. And in a wave of negative public opinion – because the Democrats are trumpeting the “we are being reasonable and offering concessions but can’t do anything if the Republicans don’t budge in the House” line.

    And the brilliant closing line:

    “Either Mr Obama is going to break the Republicans on taxes, or he’s going to try break the Republicans. On taxes.”


  2. Why most airlines have nationalised.

    Link: fee disclosure.

    And while I was playing around on the Economist, I found this piece on Airline Fee disclosure disgruntlement. That is: the airlines are generally disgruntled (and suing) over the fact that they have to disclose their pricing process.

    As a consumer – I’m a fan of comparative pricing. The only time that the airlines are in control occurs when the the flight is urgent and unexpected*. But the airlines, for obvious reasons, are not such fans. The murkier the pricing process, the harder it will be to compare ticket prices across the board, the wider the airline profit-margins will become.

    The fun part is the airline argument for suspending price disclosure: “a desire by airlines to move to a new marketing model in which customers don’t buy tickets based on price alone“. This “new marketing model” means that they want to “mine personal data about customers” in an attempt to sell customised packages that don’t disclose the pricing break-down.

    I’m not sure why customised packages can’t disclose the pricing break-down?

    *How it hurts.

  3. The French Constitutional Council.

    Link: your tax rate is theft.

    The Constitutional Council has struck down the 75% tax rate as unconstitutional, because “it fails to guarantee taxpayer equality”. Which I think is a slightly strangely rule to have in a welfare state (as a general observation), but which I think is a good rule to have anyway.

    The crux of the issue is that the french tax system taxes households rather than individuals. And the 75% tax rule was only applied to individual incomes in excess of €1 million. An example: two households both earning €1.6 million collectively. In the first, the income comes from two individuals each earning €0.8 million – the 75% tax rule won’t apply. In the second, the income comes from one individual earning €1.2 million and a second earning €0.4 million – the 75% tax rule applies.

    Hence: a lack of taxpayer equality.

    There were a number of other new tax increases that were struck down as unequal or excessive.

    The government has promised to review and revise to bring in line with the Constitutional Council requirements.

    My question: how could Hollande and his advisors have missed such an obvious flaw in their proposed tax code? Unless the idea was to attract attention to these dramatic but largely symbolic tax changes while letting the more insidious changes (like a change in sales tax rate – which affects everyone) flow through under the radar…

That’s all for now.

Have a good day.