Government Ruins Everything

Grind for August 3rd, 2018
“It’s paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them.”

– Leo Buscaglia

Unnecessary Interference

The Headline

Lawmakers consider nationalizing the music industry

The Grind

Senators are considering a bill that would hand control of the music industry to the federal government.

The bill, backed by Amazon and other Silicon Valley powerhouses, would establish a “collective” responsible for paying out to certain companies (like Amazon).

Those companies would have control over (and would profit from) music production. The collective, which would fall under the purview of the US Copyright Office, would be funded by a new fee on music services.

Pro-Trump author Bryan Crabtree describes the bill as a “solution in search of a problem” that would “pull the rug out of the marketplace, kill competition, and establish yet another monopoly in the music industry.”

The Details

The Music Modernization Act passed successfully through the House, but Senators have proposed a handful of amendments designed to encourage competition and avoid propping up a few companies.

As radio host Andrea Kaye points out, music licensing is a complicated issue most people don’t understand. “The intricacy of the issue benefits the corporate stakeholders, who use their lobbyists and advisers to shape legislation in their favor by working with congressional staff who often have little expertise in these complex issues. That appears to be the sleight of hand used in the Music Modernization Bill, and someone is going to profit handsomely if the bill is not amended by the Senate.”

Even if it passes the Senate, the bill would still have to be signed by President Trump (who we know isn’t a huge fan of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos).

“The president was irate when he heard about this,” said an anonymous source close to the president. “He’s calling it ‘The Amazon Bill.’ There is no chance he will sign the bill that passed in the House.”

Side Effects

The Headline

How China’s retaliatory tariffs are harming the almond industry

The Grind

Until very recently, China was the second-largest importer of California almonds. Now, in response to a 50% import tax on US almonds, Chinese buyers are looking elsewhere for their favorite snack.

The Chinese government has also closed an important trading loophole which for years allowed imported nuts to flow into China through Vietnam with no import tax.

The Implication

China’s tax on US almonds is one of several retaliatory tariffs intended to harm American farmers following President Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods.

“China is very, very important,” says Jim Jasper, owner of Stewart & Jasper Orchards in California. “No one wants to take an advanced position on the contract because they’re afraid that there will be another tariff down the line that they didn’t account for.”

China’s demand for almonds has “increased tremendously” in recent years, and growers were looking forward to what is expected to be a record harvest.

The price of almonds has dropped 10% in the past two months and exports to China are about 50% of what they were last June. Growers have pre-sold just 156 million pounds of almonds for next season – down from nearly double that at the same time last year.

Did you know… The former New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, went to a doctor and a vet to confirm that he is a human being and not a shape shifting lizard from space.