People in France have been protesting for the past few weeks over the pension reform bill. The reforms will raise the country’s minimum age for collecting a state pension from 60 to 62 if the person has paid 7.85% to 10.65% of each paycheck into the social security system for 40.5 years (and that number will raise from 40.5 to 41 in 2012). The bill also raises the age for collecting the full pension from 65 to 67 for those who haven’t worked 41 years (further explanation of the French pension system available in the sidebar here). Although the protests have brought much of France to a standstill (up to forty percent of the gas stations have been without fuel, for example), the French Senate has passed the pension bill in a vote of 177 to 153.
But enough about French stuff, have you heard about the “Dutch Sandwich” and the “Double Irish”? No, we’re not talking about the experimentation you did during college (well, we are talking about that, but not right now and only behind your back). The “Dutch Sandwich” and the “Double Irish” are unfortunately just ways to get out of paying taxes if you’re rich enough to lawyer up. And Google has done just that. Despite operating and profiting mostly from countries with corporate tax rates higher than 20%, Google has routed most of their profits through Ireland and the Netherlands to Bermuda, dropping their effective tax rate to 2.4%. They didn’t break any current laws doing this. By the way, taxpayer-funded research at Stanford helped Google exist, and cofounder Sergey Brin was involved in that research while on a taxpayer-funded scholarship. So, uh, can we get some of those tax breaks? We promise we’ll pump it all right back into the economy completing our Silly Bandz collection.
Another loophole was discovered by German mechanical engineer Siegfried Rotthaeuser and his brother-in-law, who found a creative way to get around the European Union’s recent ban on the sale of light bulbs over 60 watts. Yeah, the EU banned that, and so have other countries (the US may start phasing them out in 2012). Rotthaeuser noticed that 75 and 100 watt incandescent light bulbs kick off 95% of their output as heat and only 5% as light. He’s importing light bulbs as “small heating devices” and marketing them as “heatballs”. Sales have been good, and he says he’ll donate thirty cents from each bulb to save the rainforest, which he says does more good than manufacturing CFLs containing delicious mercury.
- Photos of the French strike (TheBigPicture)
- French Senate passes pension reform bill (NYTimes)
- Google uses tax loopholes to drop their tax rate to 2.4%, still profit from the countries they’re avoiding taxes in. “Don’t be evil” . . . unless there’s money involved. (Bloomberg)
- German markets banned light bulbs as mini heaters to get around ban. (Reuters via Arbroath)
- Two baby monkeys in Japan named Nehime and Rakan aren’t fighting the power; they’re joining it. They have been formally appointed as station masters of Hojo-cho. (JapanProbe, with videos)
- In other not-as-cute primate news, an escaped chimp in Kansas City attacked a patrol car. (KMBC, with videos)
- A bomb squad was sent to check out a box making suspicious tick tick meow noises. (Gizmodo, news footage at YouTube)
- In a poll of 3,000 bosses, 82% thought a having a cold wasn’t a good enough excuse for an employee to stay home. 44% didn’t think having a migraine was a good enough reason either. And a third said a broken arm or bout of diarrhea aren’t good sick day reasons either. Coincidentally, an informal poll I just conducted with my stuffed animals found that 100% of us would gladly dish out broken arms to at least one third of those bosses. (Newslite)
- Here are some more upsetting statistics: “In 2007, when the world was on the brink of financial crisis, U.S. income inequality hit its highest mark since 1928, just before the Great Depression. [...] During the last period of economic expansion, 2002 to 2007, the top 1 percent enjoyed 10.1 percent annual income growth, adjusted for inflation. For the other 99 percent, the growth rate was just 1.3 percent.” (Yahoo via Fark)
- I’m sure this will come as a huge surprise: people greatly overestimate the amount of total wealth held by the bottom 80% of Americans, estimating they hold about 40% of the wealth when they actually hold 15%. But at least our collection of Silly Bandz will be worth a fortune someday. (GOOD)