B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Why Can’t States Just Say No to Corporate Giveaways?

Crop Circles in Colorado

The New York Times reports on a topic near and dear to our interests:

No place better illustrates the absurdities of the proliferating use of tax incentives for job creation than the Kansas City metro area, which straddles the Missouri-Kansas state line.

Over the past decade, Missouri and Kansas have offered more than $330 million in tax breaks to lure companies back and forth across State Line Road. More than 100 companies and more than 12,000 workers have moved to new offices, some headed east, some headed west. Missouri poached Swiss Re and Applebee’s; Kansas got JPMorgan Chase and AMC Entertainment.

The net result? No increase in economic activity; no improvement in the lives of workers. Just a few more jobs in Kansas, a few less in Missouri — and a big loss of tax dollars.

Corporate tax incentives are a dubious business. The giveaways frequently serve no higher purpose than rewarding businesses for moving where they already plan to move or creating jobs they already plan to create. And even when incentives prove motivational, there is often reason to question whether governments are getting value for the money.

The black comedy of corporate relocation across State Line Road is an extreme example, but it is by no means unique. Half of the nation’s 10 most populous metropolitan areas — New York, Chicago, Washington, Philadelphia and Boston — include portions of multiple states. So do smaller metro areas such as St. Louis; Charlotte, N.C.; Portland, Ore.; Cincinnati; and Memphis. And all are struggling to limit a practice that amounts to paying your furniture to rearrange itself.

(click here to continue reading Opinion | Can States Just Say No to Corporate Giveaways? – The New York Times.)

Fog Over Boeing HQ

A variant of the sports ball stadium boondoggle which we’ve also covered ad nauseam, corporate tax giveaways rarely, if ever, make sense in the long term. The politicians who vote for the tax giveaways are usually long gone, but the bill remains, payable by taxpayers. Consultants have raked in their consulting fees, businesses continue doing what they would have done, albeit with a slightly improved quarterly profit for a several years.

Salugula Pool

Not to mention, sometimes the corporation moves to somewhere else:

But the success stories tend to be celebrated while the failures are forgotten — and studies find that over time, the recipients of tax incentives are no more likely to create jobs or to drive investment than companies that don’t get a break. The plain truth is that governments have no special ability to predict which companies will thrive. Recipients of tax incentives aren’t even guaranteed to stay put. Missouri used $12.9 million in tax breaks to lure Applebee’s corporate headquarters from Kansas in 2011. Four years later, the company moved to California.

Why do politicians still lavish money on corporations for dubious reasons? Who knows, perhaps there should be a study of how many people involved in these sorts of decisions directly benefit from them within a decade. 

Written by Seth Anderson

July 9th, 2019 at 8:35 pm

Swim At Your Own Risk was uploaded to Flickr

No Lifeguard On Duty, Salungula Pool, Inarajan, Guam

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I took Swim At Your Own Risk on June 25, 2019 at 07:56PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on July 08, 2019 at 11:51PM

Written by eggplant

July 9th, 2019 at 8:43 am

Swim At Your Own Risk was uploaded to Flickr

No Lifeguard On Duty, Salungula Pool, Inarajan, Guam

embiggen by clicking
https://flic.kr/p/2guBnF9

I took Swim At Your Own Risk on June 25, 2019 at 07:56PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on July 08, 2019 at 11:51PM

Written by eggplant

July 9th, 2019 at 2:43 am

Swim At Your Own Risk was uploaded to Flickr

No Lifeguard On Duty, Salungula Pool, Inarajan, Guam

embiggen by clicking
https://flic.kr/p/2guBnF9

I took Swim At Your Own Risk on June 25, 2019 at 07:56PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on July 08, 2019 at 11:51PM

Written by eggplant

July 9th, 2019 at 12:43 am

Guam

 

Going to Guam in a few days, if United Airlines doesn’t re-route me to Guatemala by mistake. Time zone changes as drastic as this (plus 15 hours, per my iPhone’s clock) are weird. Should I be sleeping now? Or getting up for the day?

The flight itself is quite a sojourn, I leave at 6:40 or so, and even in the best of times, travel to the airport takes about 30 minutes.

In other words, I’m already cranky and I’m not leaving for a few days.

Am so looking forward to seeing the Queen of Guam though, it’s been too long. For all of the 21st century’s shrinking of the planet, Earth is still a big place.

Per WebMD, I should be attempting to live on Guam time already, that’s probably impossible however.

Written by Seth Anderson

June 21st, 2019 at 2:28 am

Posted in Personal

Tagged with ,

Kentucky Hates Women 19RS HB 148

One Track Mind

The Kentucky General Assembly is considering this bill (with at least 40 co-sponsors):

Create a new section of KRS Chapter 311 to provide that if the United States Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade, or an amendment is adopted to the United State Constitution restoring state authority to prohibit abortion, no person shall knowingly administer to, prescribe for, procure for, or sell to any pregnant woman any medicine, drug, or other substance with the specific intent of causing or abetting the termination of the life of an unborn human being and no person shall use or employ any instrument or procedure upon a pregnant woman with the specific intent of causing or abetting the termination of the life of an unborn human being; any person who violates the prohibition is guilty of a Class D felony; provide an exemption for a licensed physician to perform a medical procedure necessary in reasonable medical judgment to prevent the death or substantial risk of death due to a physical condition, or to prevent the serious, permanent impairment of a life-sustaining organ of a pregnant woman; specify that this Act shall also be effective to the appropriation of Medicaid funds that set forth the limited circumstances in which states must fund abortion to remain eligible to receive federal Medicaid funds; repeal KRS 311.710; provide that this Act may be cited as the Human Life Protection Act.

(click here to continue reading 19RS HB 148.)

Here But Now Gone

and Representative Mary Lou Marzian has tongue-in-cheek proposed the following amendment:

On page 3, between lines 3 and 4, by inserting the following:
“SECTION 2. A NEW SECTION OF KRS CHAPTER 311 IS CREATED TO READ

AS FOLLOWS:

All women who are Kentucky residents, and of child bearing age, shall acquire a signed and notarized statement from a practitioner licensed pursuant to this chapter each month that states whether she is pregnant or not pregnant. If pregnant, the signed and notarized statement shall provide the status of the pregnancy. The woman shall submit the signed and notarized statement to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services each month. Any woman who fails to provide this monthly signed and notarized statement to the cabinet shall be subject to arrest and fines. Any woman who is pregnant and fails to provide this monthly signed and notarized statement to the cabinet will be fitted with an ankle monitor for the duration of the pregnancy in addition to any arrest and fines.”; and
Renumber subsequent sections accordingly.

Is this real? Or an elaborate prank? I’m guessing this amendment will not pass, but maybe it should. If the government can dictate what women can do with their bodies, why not take this to its logical conclusion?

Written by Seth Anderson

May 22nd, 2019 at 11:08 am

Nevada Considering Joining National Popular Vote compact

Voting Elevators to 5th

NPR reports:

According to the National Popular Vote organization, which oversees efforts to persuade states to join the compact, 14 states and the District of Columbia have agreed to pledge their 189 electors to the winner of the national popular vote — regardless of which candidate won the state. Nevada, with its six electoral votes, would bring the total to 195. Once 270 electors are pledged, the compact would kick in.

The effort is part of a national movement to neuter the Electoral College and give more weight to the popular vote. Democrats in particular have been stung by the Electoral College, which effectively gives disproportional voting power to smaller, rural states that tend to vote Republican. In addition to President Trump, George W. Bush also won the White House without winning the popular vote.

Nevada’s Senate vote to join the agreement was 12-8, entirely along party lines. Every Republican voted against the proposal. Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, has not indicated whether he will sign the measure into law.

As NPR has reported, the popular vote movement seems to be gathering steam. In February, 11 states were on board. Since then, Colorado, Delaware and New Mexico have signed on.

(click here to continue reading Nevada May Break Up With The Electoral College : NPR.)

I’m ok with circumventing the Electoral College. We’ve changed many things about elections over the decades since 1776, and the Electoral College is another relic from our racist past, and should be set aside.

Video explainer…

Here’s a longer explanation via:

The National Popular Vote interstate compact would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The bill ensures that every vote, in every state, will matter in every presidential election. The bill is a constitutionally conservative, state-based approach that preserves the Electoral College, state control of elections, and the power of the states to control how the President is elected.

The National Popular Vote bill has been enacted by 15 jurisdictions possessing 189 electoral votes, including 5 small jurisdictions (RI, VT, HI, DC, DE), 6 medium- size states (MD, MA, NM, WA, CT, CO), and four big states (NJ, IL, NY, CA). The bill will take effect when enacted by states with 81 more electoral votes.  The bill has passed at least one chamber in 9 additional states with 82 more electoral votes (AR, AZ, ME, MI, MN, NC, NV, OK, OR).  A total of 3,357 state legislators from all 50 states have endorsed it.

The shortcomings of the current system of electing the President stem from “winner-take-all” laws that have been enacted by state legislatures in 48 states. These laws award all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate receiving the most popular votes in each state.

Because of these state winner-take-all statutes, presidential candidates have no reason to pay attention to the issues of concern to voters in states where the statewide outcome is a foregone conclusion. In 2012, as shown on the map, all of the  253 general-election campaign events were in just 12 states, and two-thirds were in just 4 states (Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Iowa). Thirty-eight states were completely ignored.

The U.S. Constitution (Article II, Section 1) gives the states exclusive control over awarding their electoral votes: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors….” The winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes is state law. It is not in the U.S. Constitution. The winner-take-all rule was used by only three states in 1789, and all three repealed it by 1800. It was not until the 11th presidential election (1828) that even half the states used winner-take-all laws.

The National Popular Vote interstate compact will go into effect when enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough to elect a President (270 of 538).  At that time, every voter in the country will acquire a direct vote for a group of at least 270 presidential electors supporting their choice for President.  All of this group of 270+ presidential electors will be supporters of the candidate who received the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC—thus making that candidate President.

In contrast, under the current system, a voter has a direct voice in electing only the small number of presidential electors to which their state is entitled.  Under NPV, every voter directly elects 270+ electors.

National Popular Vote’s Advisory Board includes former Senators Jake Garn (R–UT), Birch Bayh (D–IN), and David Durenberger (R–MN); former Congressmen John Anderson (R–IL, I), John Buchanan (R–AL), Tom Campbell (R–CA), and Tom Downey (D–NY). Other supporters include former Governor Howard Dean (D–VT), House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R–GA), and Governor Jim Edgar (R–IL).

Written by Seth Anderson

May 22nd, 2019 at 10:48 am

Why aren’t Trump and Republicans pilloried for failing to ‘reach out’?

Lichen Lower Yurtistan

The Washington Post’s Paul Waldman writes:

The presidential campaign has begun, which means that Democrats are being asked again and again why they aren’t doing more to “reach out” to Republicans. But there’s something important missing from this discussion: any acknowledgement that we treat this subject with an absolutely ridiculous double standard.

…The only problem with that as a reason for appearing on a network that is a propaganda organ for the White House is that it implicitly assumes that there’s just no other way to talk to conservatives besides going on Fox.

But consider this: When was the last time you heard some chin-scratching pundit say that President Trump will never be able to reach liberals if he doesn’t go on MSNBC?

The fact that you’ve never heard anyone say that isn’t just because of how we think about the media choices politicians make. It’s because of something even more fundamental. Nobody asks whether going on MSNBC is the best way for Trump to talk to liberals because nobody even suggests that Trump should talk to liberals in the first place.

And while it’s true that we’ve never seen a president more contemptuous of people who didn’t vote for him and more singularly focused on pleasing his base than Donald Trump, this applies to the whole Republican Party. We may discuss the demographic challenges the GOP faces as the party of white people in an increasingly diverse America, and what effect it might have on the next election.

(click here to continue reading Why aren’t Trump and Republicans pilloried for failing to ‘reach out’? – The Washington Post.)

This is such a good point. I saw statistics about how often Democrats appear on Fox vs. Republicans appearing on MSNBC, and while that is not a perfectly balanced comparison1 the numbers are quite significant. I don’t have the exact numbers, but I recall it was something to the order of Democrats being 300% more likely to appear on Fox than Republicans on MSNBC.

Do Republicans even give interviews to left-leaning comedy hosts like Stephen Colbert or John Oliver? Nope, rarely, they only speak to the Fox nation, and are not criticized for this decision.

Sit And Listen To The Rain

Elizabeth Warren is right to call out Fox:

In the harshest criticism to date from a presidential contender against Fox News, Ms. Warren used a series of Twitter messages to accuse the network of giving “a megaphone to racists and conspiracists” and providing cover for corruption. She also returned to one of her campaign’s central themes, framing the channel as the sort of corporate “profit machine” she has railed against.

“Hate-for-profit works only if there’s profit, so Fox News balances a mix of bigotry, racism, and outright lies with enough legit journalism to make the claim to advertisers that it’s a reputable news outlet,” Ms. Warren wrote. “It’s all about dragging in ad money — big ad money.”

“A Democratic town hall gives the Fox News sales team a way to tell potential sponsors it’s safe to buy ads on Fox,” she continued. “I won’t ask millions of Democratic primary voters to tune into an outlet that profits from racism and hate.”

(click here to continue reading Warren Calls Fox News a ‘Hate-for-Profit Racket’ and Refuses an Appearance – The New York Times.)

The Shadow Investigates Barton Springs 

Footnotes:
  1. meaning that MSNBC is not Democratic “State TV” in the way that Fox News is []

Written by Seth Anderson

May 22nd, 2019 at 9:19 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

Before Trump’s purge at DHS, top officials challenged plan for mass family arrests

No Alien is Illegal

The Washington Post reports:

In the weeks before they were ousted last month, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and top immigration enforcement official Ronald Vitiello challenged a secret White House plan to arrest thousands of parents and children in a blitz operation against migrants in 10 major U.S. cities.

Senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller and ICE Deputy Director Matthew Albence were especially supportive of the plan, officials said, eager to execute dramatic, highly visible mass arrests that they argued would help deter the soaring influx of families.

The arrests were planned for New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and the other largest U.S. destinations for Central American migrants. Though some of the cities are considered “sanctuary” jurisdictions with police departments that do not cooperate with ICE, the plan did not single out those locations, officials said.

ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations branch had an initial target list of 2,500 adults and children, but the plan, which remains under consideration, was viewed as a first step toward arresting as many as 10,000 migrants. The vast majority of families who have crossed the border in the past 18 months seeking asylum remain in the country, awaiting a court date or in defiance of deportation orders.

(click here to continue reading Before Trump’s purge at DHS, top officials challenged plan for mass family arrests – The Washington Post.)

Legality ≠ Morality

How much of a villain are you when you make Kirstjen “Children in Cages” Nielsen pause? Stephen Miller is an evil man, and proud of his evil. One wonders how did he turn out that way, coming from a liberal Jewish family in liberal Santa Monica, California? Per Wikipedia, a teen-aged Miller read a book by Wayne LaPierre, NRA gun nut, and became a member of the Conservative Clan of Perpetually Angry Curmudgeons.

Immigration was ok for Miller’s ancestors though:

His mother’s ancestors Wolf Lieb Glotzer and his wife, Bessie, immigrated to the United States from the Russian Empire’s Antopol, in what is present-day Belarus, arriving in New York on January 7, 1903, on the German ship S.S. Motke and thus escaping the 1903–06 anti-Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire. When his great-grandmother arrived in the US in 1906, she spoke only Yiddish, the historical language of the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe.

Declaration of Immigration

Or as Rob Eshman of Jewish Journal puts it:

And for Miller to say his family came to America “legally” is simply a ruse. There was no illegal immigration at the turn of the century, because all non-Asian immigration was essentially legal until the 1920s.

Then, as now, angry voices fought to keep these immigrants out. They organized the Immigration Restriction League, focused on shutting the ports to swarthy Italians and Jews.

“The floodgates are open,” wrote one anti-immigrant newspaper editor as the Eastern European Jews docked in New York. “The horde of $9.60 steerage slime is being siphoned upon us from Continental mud tanks.”

Such sentiments led to the Immigration Quota Act of 1924 — which effectively shut the door to Jewish immigration on the eve of the Holocaust.

(click here to continue reading Stephen Miller, meet your immigrant great-grandfather | Jewish Journal.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 14th, 2019 at 8:57 am

Don’t Know Where To Finish was uploaded to Flickr

Wolf Point somewhere

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I took Don’t Know Where To Finish on August 31, 2014 at 04:51AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on May 09, 2019 at 05:52AM

Update: apologies for multiple posts (IFTTT messed up again)

Written by eggplant

May 9th, 2019 at 5:58 am

Dreaded First Pair of Glasses was uploaded to Flickr

I guess I made it this long on the planet before needing them, but still…

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I took Dreaded First Pair of Glasses on April 26, 2019 at 06:06AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 26, 2019 at 01:46PM

Written by eggplant

April 26th, 2019 at 11:48 pm

Hedge-Fund Ownership Cost Sears Workers Their Jobs. Now They’re Fighting Back

Valleys outside of Neptune

The Nation reports:

The bill, introduced by State Senator Joseph Cryan, a Democrat, aims to bolster financial security for employees in the state by making them less disposable. Currently, there is no law anywhere in the country that guarantees severance for workers after a layoff. His bill would mandate that laid-off employees of large companies in the state be paid a severance equal to one week of wages for each full year of employment. “It is critical for holding Wall Street accountable…to the retail employees they take over,” Ryan told assembled media and lawmakers, sporting a purple vest with the Babies “R” Us logo stitched in yellow.

The bill would also require companies to give employees more notice before layoffs, including at least 15 days’ warning ahead of a bankruptcy filing or change in ownership, and would prohibit mass firings for 180 days after such an upheaval. It would ensure that Wall Street firms—like KKR, Bain, and Eddie Lampert’s hedge fund—are responsible for severance claims by classifying them as joint employers along with the executives who run their portfolio companies, and would classify severance as wages so that such payments would get top preference in the bankruptcy process alongside creditor claims.

“The genesis point for this legislation,” Cryan said, “was me standing with hundreds of Toys ‘R’ Us workers, listening to stories of folks who dedicated 27, 28, 31, 32 years and were basically getting nothing.” Democratic State Senator Nellie Pou, who backs the bill, noted that when Toys “R” Us laid off employees with little to no warning and refused to give them severance, it wasn’t “doing anything technically illegal, but they did something I believe to be reprehensible.”

The measure would be “game-changing,” said Carrie Gleason, the policy director of United for Respect. It would mean more than giving workers money to help after a layoff. It could change the calculation that companies make when deciding to cut workers in the first place, by putting a price on it. Right now, it’s “virtually costless” to fire employees, Appelbaum said. Private-equity firms in particular tend to turn to layoffs quickly after taking over a company. “Squeezing labor is the fastest way to increase cash flow to be able to make payments on the debt,” Appelbaum explained. This measure could “cause companies to think twice about whether laying off workers is their go-to solution for every problem that they face.”

(click here to continue reading Hedge-Fund Ownership Cost Sears Workers Their Jobs. Now They’re Fighting Back. | The Nation.)

I don’t know what the chances are of this bill passing, but I whole-heartedly support it. Hedge funds bleeding a company dry of its assets then laying off employees is a frequent occurrence, it isn’t right.

Even better would be a national bill with these same general parameters. Maybe Elizabeth Warren could propose it? 

Two is a Magic Number

Written by Seth Anderson

April 23rd, 2019 at 10:03 am

Posted in Business,government

Tagged with

Not Wasted A Single Penny was uploaded to Flickr

Construction, West Loop

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I took Not Wasted A Single Penny on March 21, 2016 at 04:16AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 16, 2019 at 10:32AM

Written by eggplant

April 16th, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Trump Erroneously Says the U.S. Is ‘Full.’ Much of the Nation Has the Opposite Problem

Shrieks and Secrets

The New York Times reports:

President Trump has adopted a blunt new message in recent days for migrants seeking refuge in the United States: “Our country is full.”

To the degree the president is addressing something broader than the recent strains on the asylum-seeking process, the line suggests the nation can’t accommodate higher immigration levels because it is already bursting at the seams. But it runs counter to the consensus among demographers and economists.

They see ample evidence of a country that is not remotely “full” — but one where an aging population and declining birthrates among the native-born population are creating underpopulated cities and towns, vacant housing and troubled public finances.

Local officials in many of those places view a shrinking population and work force as an existential problem with few obvious solutions.

(click here to continue reading Trump Says the U.S. Is ‘Full.’ Much of the Nation Has the Opposite Problem. – The New York Times.)

East 44

This is among the most ridiculous assertions to base a governmental policy upon that I can recall. Immigration should be stopped completely because there is no room for new people? Trump and his Rasputin, Stephen Miller, base this on what exactly? Trump has a history of flying in to a city to “perform” one of his patented rallies, then flying back home the same night. 

In other words, Trump has not apparently spent much time in places that don’t have airports large enough to accommodate his plane. If he ever took a driving trip through rural America, he’d find there is a lot of empty space, in pretty much every state in America. Even New York/New Jersey has plenty of farmland and small towns! 

I’ve been lucky to have visited nearly every state in the US (missing the North East – Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire – and inexplicably, Colorado and Utah), hard-working immigrants could boost America’s economy in all sorts of ways, if racism and fear didn’t intercede, obviously.

Even downtown Manhattan, which Trump knows well, and is quite crowded, seems to do well with immigrants. Or what about Detroit? Or Chicago? Lots of room for new, vibrant communities. 

Ready for the Open Road

Ready For The Open Road

America is a vast country, mostly empty, on average, which is why I like John Lettieri’s idea of a “Heartland visa”:

A particular fear, said John Lettieri, president of the Economic Innovation Group, is that declining population, falling home prices and weak public finances will create a vicious cycle that the places losing population could find hard to escape.

He proposes a program of “heartland visas,” in which skilled immigrants could obtain work visas to the United States on the condition they live in one of the counties facing demographic decline — with troubled counties themselves deciding whether to participate.

Although some of the areas with declining demographics are hostile to immigration, others, cities as varied as Baltimore, Indianapolis and Fargo, N.D., have embraced the strategy of encouraging it.

Hay Bales

Written by Seth Anderson

April 9th, 2019 at 9:43 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

Did Not Draw A Conclusion One Way Or The Other was uploaded to Flickr

Albany Park somewhere

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I took Did Not Draw A Conclusion One Way Or The Other on May 03, 2015 at 11:04AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 24, 2019 at 06:31PM

Written by eggplant

March 25th, 2019 at 1:32 am