15977282_10155104671320649_344545953734525921_n Ha ha, fooled you. That’s the director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics talking about Rex Tillerson. In more detail:

I’m especially proud of the ethics agreement we developed for the intended nominee for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson. Mr. Tillerson is making a clean break from Exxon. He’s also forfeiting bonus payments worth millions. As a result of OGE’s work, he’s now free of financial conflicts of interest. His ethics agreement serves as a sterling model for what we’d like to see with other nominees. He clearly recognizes that public service sometimes comes at a cost. The greater the authority entrusted in a government official, the greater the potential for conflicts of interest. That’s why the cost is often greater the higher up you go.

Note, FWIW, that WS is an Obama appointee. OTOH, you won’t be too surprised to learn that not all is roses on the ethics front. Indeed, he begins

I wish circumstances were different and I didn’t feel the need to make public remarks today. You don’t hear about ethics when things are going well. You’ve been hearing a lot about ethics lately.

(my bold). He continues

We can’t risk creating the perception that government leaders would use their official positions for
profit. That’s why I was glad in November when the President-elect tweeted that he wanted to, as he put it, “in no way have a conflict of interest” with his businesses. Unfortunately, his current plan 16299035_1404467419646308_1072039021676173513_n cannot achieve that goal. It’s easy to see that the current plan does not achieve anything like the clean break Rex Tillerson is making from Exxon. Stepping back from running his business is meaningless from a conflict of interest perspective. The Presidency is a full-time job and he would’ve had to step back anyway. The idea of setting up a trust to hold his operating businesses adds nothing to the equation. This is not a blind trust—it’s not even close… The only thing this has in common with a blind trust is the label, “trust.”… The idea of limiting direct communication about the business is wholly inadequate… <lots more critical stuff> Now, before anyone is too critical of the plan the President-elect announced, let’s all remember there’s still time to build on that plan and come up with something that will resolve his conflicts of interest. In developing the current plan, the President-elect did not have the benefit of OGE’s guidance. So, to be clear, OGE’s primary recommendation is that he divest his conflicting financial interests. Nothing short of divestiture will resolve these conflicts… I’ve been pursuing this issue because the ethics program starts at the top. The signals a President sends set the tone for ethics across the executive branch. Tone from the top matters… I’ve had to ask nominees and appointees to take painful steps to avoid conflicts of interest… Their basic patriotism usually prevails, as they agree to set aside their personal
interests to serve their country’s interests… buoyed by the unwavering example of Presidents who resolved their own conflicts of interest.

This is old news. I’m disappointed by Slate’s failure to cover the Tillerson angle; but CNN does better.

Poem

The poem for this post is no time ago by e e cummings.

Refs

* Memo To Trump – 20% Mexican Import Tariff Means Americans Pay For The Wall by Timmy. What is funny is how many of my left wing fb friends, who are ordinarily silent on tariffs, have suddenly realised that they’re paid by ordinary consumers.
* India’s Mistaken Policy Of The Day – Rs 1,000 Subsidy For Smartphones -Timmy again; also tariff related.
* China’s Ballpoint Pen Victory – Or Why American Wages Are Higher Than Chinese – guess who.
* Rex Tillerson, Exxon, And When An Oil Subsidy Isn’t Really An Oil Subsidy – bored yet?
* Bank Of England’s Mark Carney – Hard Brexit’s A Problem For The EU, Not Britain – last one.
* Outrage dilution by Scott Adams.
* The Singular Universe and the Reality of Time
* Give Rex a chance – the Econmist.
* A Brief Chat With Elon Musk About Climate Change, Rex Tillerson, and Donald Trump(worth reading for Musk’s views, which are indistinguishable from mine, and Gizmodo’s, which are traditional stupidity)

dt170128

Comments

  1. #1 Phil Hays
    Americanistan
    2017/01/28

    RE: Outrage dilution

    Is it better to go screaming into the night?
    Or quietly into the dark?
    Nightfall on the Republic.
    All of your base are belong to Trump.

    [Do not go gentle into that good night -W]

  2. #2 Fergus Brown
    Somewhere over the rainbow
    2017/01/28

    Now that Jesus is playing for Manchester City, your heart can flop at least on a weekly basis, assuming he doesn’t get injured.
    Meantime, whilst it’s reassuring to me that some of the players in that other game seem willing to at least pay lip service to the rules of conduct, it’s disconcerting that young Webb-Ellis hasn’t quite grasped the handball rule. Maybe the new game will be, well, maybe…

    [We were 105; the division was headed by Jesus, chased by Christ’s -W]

  3. #3 Everett F Sargent
    United States of The Shaved Orangutan
    2017/01/29

    Pumpkinhead. Trumpkin.

    I give it two years then say bye bye to the ginger douche nozzle.

    But hey, it’s now nine days in a row of Trumpkin teevee
    (only 1452 more days in a row of this stoopit crap to go, maybe less). Look at the childlike ape sign something, look at the childlike ape phone someone, look at the childlike ape with a person with a VERY dark tan, …

    Constitutional crisis in 3 2 1 0 -1 -2 -3 (it’s already happened).

  4. #4 Everett F Sargent
    United States of 247
    2017/01/29

    I might add that some of us are watching all of this in realtime 247, so Tammy Worstofall scribbling’s are already very stale news.

    Also, the 20% tariff in Trumpspeak would apply to all trade partners, not just Mexico, oh wait, America has had a trade deficit for about as long as we’ve also significantly run up the national debt (now over 100% of GDP), about 40 years and counting.

    Trumpkin math theorem sez magically balance trade with each and every kuntry.

    To all those outside Ameritrumpski, boycott American made goods.

    According to the DSM-5, Trumpkin suffers from paranoid personality disorder (just the 1st of too many to count Trumpkin mental disorders) …

    excessive sensitivity to setbacks and rebuffs;

    tendency to bear grudges persistently, i.e. refusal to forgive insults and injuries or slights;

    suspiciousness and a pervasive tendency to distort experience by misconstruing the neutral or friendly actions of others as hostile or contemptuous;

    a combative and tenacious sense of personal rights out of keeping with the actual situation;

    recurrent suspicions, without justification, regarding sexual fidelity of spouse or sexual partner;

    tendency to experience excessive self-importance, manifest in a persistent self-referential attitude;

    preoccupation with unsubstantiated “conspiratorial” explanations of events both immediate to the patient and in the world at large.

    God blast America!

  5. #5 Kevin O'Neill
    United States
    2017/01/29

    Worstall: “We add 20% in import duty and now they cost $120. OK, so, now American consumers must pay $120 for their widgets. ”

    Wrong. Jesus this guy is an idiot. Import tariffs are based on wholesale value which is typically much less than retail value. For items like apparel it’s 25% or less than retail value. At $25 wholesale and a 20% import tariff the $100 widget would cost $105 not $120 and that’s *only* if the entire cost is passed along to the consumer — which of course is rarely ever the case.

  6. #6 Phil Hays
    Americanistan
    2017/01/29

    In my opinion:

    Mr. Tillerson would be a far better President than Trump. Yes, the likelihood he would sign a carbon tax if it arrived on his desk and more importantly the cleaner ethics. A feeling that I might disagree with him and still trust him. The perception of cleaner ethics comes not just from recent news coverage, but past history.

    I know that “far better than Trump” is a low bar that worms cross with ease. I’m not intending on damning with faint praise.

    #5 Timmy isn’t very careful with wording and numbers. The key point where Timmy is correct is that consumers in the USA will very likely pay more, both directly to the tax to “pay for the wall”, and indirectly to US suppliers due to higher US costs and prices. How much more is hard to say. Think of it this way: Wholesale pays for the goods. Retail markup pays for the distribution. It is a bit more complex than that… But that is a better place to start. What happens to wholesale prices?

    Much of what we import from Mexico is food. For an example, consider the onion. Trade of onions was close to balanced: the USA buys and sell onions to and from Mexico seasonally. Onions are grown when and where the weather for growing onions is best, which moves with the seasons. An advantage of free trade. With less trade due to “border taxes”, wholesale onion prices in both countries might average higher, with more seasonal variations.

    So do the consumers in both the USA and Mexico just pay more for onions and cut back on other goods? Or cut back on onions? Or buy more, like the famous example with potatoes? Competition for water, land, labor in both countries between onions and for production of other goods makes this even more complex. How the wholesale price in Mexico and in the USA changes requires predicting all of the above. This is just one of many goods crossing the border.

  7. #7 crandles
    2017/01/29

    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/171928
    Prevent Donald Trump from making a State Visit to the United Kingdom.
    third of a million and growing rapidly. Wonder if anyone will tell Trump.

  8. #8 Raymond Arritt
    Under the double eagle
    2017/01/29

    Why is it that reading Scott Adams’ blog always makes my mind turn to Lucky’s soliloquy in Waiting for Godot?

  9. #9 Nick Stokes
    South
    2017/01/29

    “He clearly recognizes that public service sometimes comes at a cost.”
    And of course, when someone makes such a painful sacrifice, it would be far too cruel to mention capital gains tax. When Trump’s billionaires wipe away the tears, they may find that forced divestment was actually a pretty profitable option. Which, being billionaires, may actually have occurred to them previously.

    [Do you think Tillerson is a billionaire? Why? -W]

  10. #10 Tom C
    2017/01/30

    The questions to Musk by the Economist were ignorant.
    “Carbon pollution is an acceptable business practice?” This perpetuates the idea that it is the “fault” of the company that supplies FF to consumers that it ends up in the atmosphere. If it is anyone’s fault it is the fault of the consumers. On top of that is the inconvenient fact that manufacturing industries rely on FF to as great an extent as do consumers.

    [Maybe. I think you’re being too picky. From this height, that’s but a detail. Note, however, that they were Qs from Gizmodo, not the Economist -W]

  11. #11 Fergus Brown
    sat on my F A
    2017/01/30

    Tillerson: (Wikipedia) In 2012, Tillerson’s compensation package was $40.5 million.[36] It was $28.1 million in 2013, $33.1 million in 2014, and $27.2 million in 2015.[1] Tillerson holds $245 million of Exxon stock.[37]

    Not quite a (dollar) billionaire, not poor.

    [Or more directly A mid-December report by NBC News pegged the former Exxon Mobil chief executive and chairman’s net worth at about $150 million. But a 38-page financial disclosure form from the Office of Government Ethics revealed Tillerson’s assets to be about triple that estimate -W]

  12. #12 Hank Roberts
    at the reference desk again
    2017/02/04

    Former NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says he’s concerned about the future of NASA’s climate programs.

    In an interview, Bolden said he was worried the Trump administration “seems to be curtailing the availability of valuable data to decision makers” in the areas of climate and other environmental research.”That’s what I think is threatened if we’re not careful with the policies of the new administration,” he said.

    [New Orleans Times-Picayune]
    http://spacenews.com/bolden-says-hes-concerned-about-nasas-climate-programs/

  13. #13 Hank Roberts
    at the reference desk again
    2017/02/04
  14. #14 Brian A Schmidt
    United States
    2017/02/10

    Taking guidance from the President, I went to Twitter to express skepticism that A. Tillerson will continue to express belief in climate science now that what he says isn’t under legal review by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and B. that Exxon will continue to express belief in climate science when in the near future the SEC is controlled by Trump appointees.

    Time will tell.

  15. #15 Kevin O'Neill
    2017/02/10

    From Fortune:

    “Tillerson’s move into government has given him a one-time opportunity to diversify his investment portfolio out of Exxon stock without facing immediate tax consequences. That is an undeniable, and an undeniably large, benefit to him.”

    Large benefit. To the tune of $70 million.