Ruffling the kleptocracy

In other news – just started a subscription to the FT and wow, there ARE other stories out there. Boring, significant. Anyway, the U.S. is about to ban anonymous shell companies:

The Biden administration’s focus on corruption and money laundering may so far have attracted less notice than its other big policy decisions. But it is the most meaningful manifestation of the US president’s argument that making the economy work for ordinary Americans is intimately connected to US national security and foreign policy interests.

There are many reasons to cheer this turn in policy. First, it is an all-too-rare example of relative bipartisanship in a deeply polarised country. Days before the January 6 attack on the Capitol, the Corporate Transparency Act was passed by overwhelming majorities of the US Congress as part of the annual defence spending authorisation bill. This law will, when implemented, in effect ban anonymous shell companies in the US — a favoured conduit for the world’s corrupt to launder dirty money, as Yellen referred to in her remarks.

Second, the administration means it seriously. The Treasury has issued an implementation rule for the shell company ban. Too often, in the US or elsewhere, good laws on paper have been dead letters in practice, because of loopholes or a failure to put enough resources and political support behind enforcement. This time looks different.

So weird, and not to get/stay meta all the time, but this story even hits the mythical ‘bipartisan’ note somehow, and yet still never rises to the level of the local news. Sure, it was drowned out by a coup attempt, but as the article points out, corrupted government institutions are the very things that abet anti-democratic movements. So, striking back at corruption also strikes a blow in support of liberal democracy. Sounds so quaint, but that’s where we are.

Image: Nicobar spindle shell, typically not itself a threat to democracy.

Literalism, and three owl feathers

Versus say, parables or allegory. Some things are naturally compelling.

Okay, fine.

Taken to its logical extreme, watching National Geographic videos about a fragmented animal kingdom run amok – punctured at its edges by people and clothing [people with desires, clothing with labels] can get one’s mind off of walking to work or growing your own vegetables, at least for a while. But what does this have to do with the price of gas?

Speaking of $3.75 per gallon, what about $7.50? I wonder if that will get people’s attention. But… the animal kingdom: if we can be compelled into getting outside more (seems natural enough), perhaps we can break the cycle facilitating our isolation, the consequences of which seem to make it so easy to rule our own lives so corruptly. You know, the home-car-work-car-home cycle allows the kind of talk radio- and t.v.-insulation against ever letting one’s foot touch anything real that bears a non-trivial relation to not letting one’s brain encounter anything similarly natural. Reducing our environment to only that which re-enforces our world view, this many of us take quite literally. These things are connected – it doesn’t take Bertrand Russell to see that.

A family of owls has taken up residence in my neighborhood over the last couple of years. Huge birds that swoop down like the night but allow themselves and their offspring to be observed quite openly before twilight. Funny thing when people start gathering outside at dusk to look up at birds in trees. The things people don’t say.

Anyway, they are the likely source of some really bizarre night sounds of late – not the hooting that sounds so fake it could be a commando signal. This was some unearthly hissing, long and sharp shreaks of hisses coming unseen from up in the leafy canopy.

I’m left to wonder if these strange calls might augur some ecological inerrancy.