Quick Roundup 168

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Repeal Sarbanes-Oxley

Alex Epstein makes a good case for repealing Sarbanes-Oxley over at Principles in Practice.

That America's honest, productive businessmen are spending their time and shareholder money to "prove" they are not criminals — when they could be spending those hours and dollars on R&D, new product launches, or mergers and acquisitions — is a monumental injustice. Is it any wonder that misery among top executives is reported throughout corporate America, that top executives are departing at record rates, that more and more public companies are going private, that only a small fraction of the largest IPOs last year took place in the United States?
I completely agree. And let's not forget that on top of this fundamental injustice is the fact that the law may have the unintended consequence of deputizing attorneys, thanks to some very unfortunate creative prosecution by the Feds....

Calendar Day!

Radio Dismuke is today's entry in Page-a-Day's 2007 Wacky Web Sites: 365 For The Weird & Wired calendar. That and more over at Dismuke's blog.

Tipping Point

There is an interesting discussion about tipping going on over at Night Watchman. My position is somewhat like the Inspector's. I have agreed for years with Judith Martin (better known as "Miss Manners") that tipping should be abolished in favor of service workers being paid appropriately by their employers.
The fact is that what we have here is an incoherent system. In what sense do the servers work for the restaurateur if he does not pay them wages? Is it that he provides a venue and situation in which the servers can try to impress -- or press -- the customers into giving them handouts? And is that a dignified way to do business?

The just solution is to have employers pay the employees, passing on the cost to customers frankly, by building the amount into the cost of the dishes ordered.
There is nothing I find more uncomfortable than situations in which there are undefined and conflicting expectations and fears held by all parties. Tipping is not a huge deal, but it definitely falls under that same unpleasant category.

[Note: Myrhaf does bring up something I will clarify, in the name of erring on the side of being too clear: I most certainly do not think that tipping should be outlawed. Having said that, I refer the interested reader to the comments below regarding Myrhaf's example, which I think differs in kind from essentially mandatory tipping for standard service.]

A Day of Infamy

The Los Angeles Times noted yesterday that McCain-Feingold has turned five. Although blogger Brian Doherty wrongly agrees with the premise that political contributions are somehow inherently "corrupt", he does cite a prediction that I think is accurate:
While the Supreme Court has so far upheld the patently anti-Constitutional ban on advertising by citizens' groups 30 days before a primary and 60 days before a general election, the rise of Internet politics may eventually supercede this atrocity. Witness the anti-Hillary Clinton "1984" ad that caused such a stir on YouTube just last week. Such ads, cheaper than dirt (it costs money to distribute dirt, YouTube's free), will only be more important with every election cycle.

For this reason, look for Congress to start taking an interest in "unregulated" Internet speech any day now. Money has never been the issue. Cleansing our speech of impure thoughts about politicians is the real agenda. [bold added]
This law should have been overturned and ought to be repealed. But barring that, it would be poetic justice of a sort (and potentially a major disaster averted by accident) if this very law somehow caused John McCain to lose the Presidency.

But let's work to keep from having to depend on such luck!

-- CAV


: Added note to section on tipping.


Galileo Blogs said...

Inspector is busy. I have been engaged with him in the tipping debate at Objectivismonline.com. I am especially proud of my post #70 on that thread, called "Pizza Delivery".

For the record, I disagree with Inspector and you, Gus, on this one. I am wholeheartedly with Myrhaf in his response to Inspector on the thread you cited.

It is a fun, if not an earthshaking, topic to debate. In fact, debating it is making me hungry. I think I will go to my favorite restaurant where they know me and I get good service because I tip well... Or, I'll order a pizza that is delivered quickly because I am known as someone who tips...

Ha, ha. Meanwhile, here's to a piping hot pizza or a great restaurant meal!!

Gus Van Horn said...

I'll check it out when I have more time. I seem to remember having stumbled across that when it was just starting some time ago.

Enjoy your pizza!

Anonymous said...

Hi, love your page. I just followed your sidebar to George Reisman's blog and found a great article on a point that I've never seen anywhere else in the debate, talking about rational ways to cool the earth. So thanks for that, i didn't know he had a blog. But seriously, get to talking with an environmentalist about other ways to cool the earth, and it will become apparant that the industry-crippling, lower-standard-of-living effect of their plans, not the global-warming cause, is their real chief concern.

Gus Van Horn said...

Thank you.

Your point on the actual motivation of most environmentalists holds true in other areas. Just look at how "upset" some of them get when the windmills they've been pushing for so long turn out to be good at killing birds.

Any form of alternative energy -- especially if it might actually be a decent source of energy (I wouldn't say that wind is in most cases.) -- will provoke their ire sooner or later simply because extracting energy requires us to do something that changes the environment in some way.

Inspector said...


I agree especially with your sentiment here:

"There is nothing I find more uncomfortable than situations in which there are undefined and conflicting expectations and fears held by all parties. Tipping is not a huge deal, but it definitely falls under that same unpleasant category."

Myrhaf's response makes it clear, however, that I'm not being clear enough on exactly what I am against, which isn't tipping as such so much as it is automatic tipping, even for average or sub-par service.

I'm going to have to write a follow-up.

Gus Van Horn said...

I'm with you there.

I was about to say something like "I don't want to become embroiled in a debate about tipping", but from Myrhaf's backlink below, I see that it's too late.

On that subject, (1) Myrhaf is obviously correct that I would not advocate a legal ban on tipping, and (2) I don't see, off the top of my head, a reason tipping for exceptional service could not continue.

I liked Myrhaf's example at first, but all the "trimmings" Diamond Jim wants for his restaurant service are a far cry from today's normal standard of service, which is: having someone schelp food to my table, then ritualistically annoy me to Hell and back by asking me "Is everything all right" -- while my mouth is full or I am talking to a companion -- every five minutes so he can punch the "deserves 20 per cent mandatory tip" card.

What Diamond Jim is really doing is temporarily hiring people to do his bidding. A restaurant that pays its workers could certainly allow them to clock out or give them a small cut for the "service" of exposing them to a higher chance of encountering a Diamond Jim. Or it could just allow the occasional largesse as part of the job.

That will have to be it for now.

Vigilis said...

Gus, the very concept of repealing Sarbanes-Oxley is now as infeasible as its original enactment was totally unnecessary.

Lawyers are so deeply entrenched in federal government that their class benefits from every "reform" whether contrived (global warming) or real (corporate fraud).

There is a much simpler, less expensive method of rooting out large-scale, corporate fraud that Enron's auditor, Arthur Andersen & Co had blinded itself to at the time.

The method is used in Europe and helps protect shareholders. What is it, you ask? Require rotation of independent audit firms witha frequency based on capitalization (the greater the capitalization, the faster the rotation).

Will audit fees rise? Yes, to reflect the degree of independent surveillance that should have been present all along. Would this be excessive? No, it would still be competitive.

Just a thought from an experienced fraud fighter and CPA.

Gus Van Horn said...

Two thoughts on the "infeasibility" of repealing SARBOX.

(1) Which is more difficult: (a) a rebellion conducted largely by backwoods militias against one of the world's great powers; or (b) revoking a still relatively-new law through existing mechanisms? You know where I'm going with this....

American freedom did not happen because men kept silent and failed to act in the face of "infeasibility". And we won't keep it by doing that, either.

(We had an interesting discussion about this particular type of objection here the other day, FWIW.)

(2) Your suggestion, so long as it is not forced by the government, does not sound particularly objectionable.

Inspector said...

Low tech backlink for you, Gus.