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Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Corporate news from all over

Nestlé pays $200 a year to bottle water from Michigan

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Summer Vision

 The Guardian reported in 2017:

Despite having endured lead-laden tap water for years, Flint pays some of the highest water rates in the US. Several residents cited bills upwards of $200 per month for tap water they refuse to touch.

But just two hours away, in the tiny town of Evart, creeks lined by wildflowers run with clear water. The town is so small, the fairground, McDonald’s, high school and church are all within a block. But in a town of only 1,503 people, there are a dozen wells pumping water from the underground aquifer. This is where the beverage giant Nestlé pumps almost 100,000 times what an average Michigan resident uses into plastic bottles that are sold all over the midwest for around $1.

To use this natural resource, Nestlé pays $200 per year

(click here to continue reading Nestlé pays $200 a year to bottle water near Flint – where water is undrinkable | US news | The Guardian.)

How is this right? Nestlé should have to provide clean drinking water to Flint as part of their deal, or even better, pay to upgrade the water mains, especially since Nestlé is trying to increase the amount of water they pump out:

Now, Nestlé wants more Michigan water. In a recent permit application, the company asked to pump 210m gallons per year from Evart, a 60% increase, and for no more than it pays today.

Your Confidence Might Be Shattered

Access to clean water should be a human right, all over the world, including in Michigan. Private corporations shouldn’t be able to profit from a public good.

The fight continues:

 Michigan’s second-highest court has dealt a legal blow to Nestlé’s Ice Mountain water brand, ruling that the company’s commercial water-bottling operation is “not an essential public service” or a public water supply.

 The court of appeals ruling is a victory for Osceola township, a small mid-Michigan town that blocked Nestlé from building a pumping station that doesn’t comply with its zoning laws. But the case could also throw a wrench in Nestlé’s attempts to privatize water around the country.

 The fight to stop Nestlé from taking America’s water to sell in plastic bottles
Read more
If it is to carry out such plans, then it will need to be legally recognized as a public water source that provides an essential public service. The Michigan environmental attorney Jim Olson, who did not represent Osceola township but has previously battled Nestlé in court, said any claim that the Swiss multinational is a public water utility “is ludicrous”.

 “What this lays bare is the extent to which private water marketers like Nestlé, and others like them, go [in] their attempts to privatize sovereign public water, public water services, and the land and communities they impact,” Olson said.

 The ruling, made on Tuesday, could also lead state environmental regulators to reconsider permits that allow Nestlé to pump water in Michigan.

The Osceola case stems from Nestle’s attempt to increase the amount of water it pulls from a controversial wellhead in nearby Evart from about 250 gallons per minute to 400 gallons per minute. It needs to build the pump in a children’s campground in Osceola township to transport the increased load via a pipe system.

The township in 2017 rejected the plans based on its zoning laws, and Nestlé subsequently sued. A lower court wrote in late 2017 that water was essential for life and bottling water was an “essential public service” that met a demand, which trumped Osceola township’s zoning laws.

However, a three-judge panel in the appellate court reversed the decision.

 

(click here to continue reading Nestlé cannot claim bottled water is ‘essential public service’, court rules | Business | The Guardian.)

Written by Seth Anderson

January 17th, 2020 at 9:01 am

Boeing Employees Mocked F.A.A. and Clowns Who Designed 737 Max

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Poster Child For Corporate Welfare

The New York Times reports:

Boeing employees mocked federal rules, talked about deceiving regulators and joked about potential flaws in the 737 Max as it was being developed, according to over a hundred pages of internal messages delivered Thursday to congressional investigators.

“I still haven’t been forgiven by God for the covering up I did last year,” one of the employees said in messages from 2018, apparently in reference to interactions with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The most damaging messages included conversations among Boeing pilots and other employees about software issues and other problems with flight simulators for the Max, a plane later involved in two accidents, in late 2018 and early 2019, that killed 346 people and threw the company into chaos.

The employees appear to discuss instances in which the company concealed such problems from the F.A.A. during the regulator’s certification of the simulators, which were used in the development of the Max, as well as in training for pilots who had not previously flown a 737.
“Would you put your family on a Max simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn’t,” one employee said to a colleague in another exchange from 2018, before the first crash. “No,” the colleague responded.

In another set of messages, employees questioned the design of the Max and even denigrated their own colleagues. “This airplane is designed by clowns, who are in turn supervised by monkeys,” an employee wrote in an exchange from 2017.

In several instances, Boeing employees insulted the F.A.A. officials reviewing the plane.

In an exchange from 2015, a Boeing employee said that a presentation the company gave to the F.A.A. was so complicated that, for the agency officials and even himself, “it was like dogs watching TV.”

Several employees seemed consumed with limiting training for airline crews to fly the plane, a significant victory for Boeing that would benefit the company financially. In the development of the Max, Boeing had promised to offer Southwest a discount of $1 million per plane if regulators required simulator training.

(click here to continue reading Boeing Employees Mocked F.A.A. and ‘Clowns’ Who Designed 737 Max – The New York Times.)

Approaching Dusk Over Boeing

Boeing has a real mess on its hands. Any future aircraft malfunction already has plenty of evidence of malfeasance ready to be presented in court. 

Would you feel comfortable flying a Boeing 737 Max? I know I wouldn’t.

Nothing’s Happened In A Million Years

Boeing “expresses regret” about the communications being made public. Err, their PR team told them to say this:

Boeing on Thursday expressed regret over the messages. “These communications contain provocative language, and, in certain instances, raise questions about Boeing’s interactions with the F.A.A. in connection with the simulator qualification process,” the company said in a statement to Congress. “Having carefully reviewed the issue, we are confident that all of Boeing’s Max simulators are functioning effectively.”

 
“We regret the content of these communications, and apologize to the F.A.A., Congress, our airline customers and to the flying public for them,” Boeing added. “The language used in these communications, and some of the sentiments they express, are inconsistent with Boeing values, and the company is taking appropriate action in response. This will ultimately include disciplinary or other personnel action, once the necessary reviews are completed.”

Ok. Crisis solved!

Written by Seth Anderson

January 10th, 2020 at 12:24 pm

Posted in Business,Chicago-esque

Tagged with ,

Life sciences labs, offices planned in Fulton Market

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Fulton Market Lineup

Speaking of corporate additions to Fulton Market, Crain’s Chicago reports:

A Texas developer is making a bold bet on the future of Chicago’s life sciences sector, planning what it hopes will become a major hub for the industry in the city’s hottest corporate neighborhood.

In an ambitious move meant to address a dire shortage of high-quality local lab space, Dallas-based Trammell Crow today announced its vision for Fulton Labs, a 400,000-square-foot life sciences laboratory and office building it wants to build at 400 N. Aberdeen St. in the former meatpacking district.

The project has the potential not only to draw biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies to Fulton Market, the gritty-turned-trendy home of corporate giants like Google and McDonald’s, but it may also mark a critical step toward solving a cultivation problem in the city: Homegrown life sciences companies often move to markets like Boston and San Francisco to scale their businesses because they have facilities to help them mature.

The developer, which has two other office projects under construction farther west in Fulton Market, submitted plans in September for a large office and retail building along Kinzie Street between Aberdeen and May streets. That followed more than a year’s work planning Fulton Labs in partnership with Chicago life sciences entrepreneur John Flavin, who will help oversee the design and marketing over the building.

Trammell Crow is rolling the dice on a type of property that most developers have avoided, despite overwhelming demand. Life sciences facilities are expensive to build, requiring special ventilation, electrical and safety systems to accommodate chemical reactions, and extra security to protect highly valuable intellectual property. They’re risky, because what may be suitable for one tenant may require a massive overhaul for a future one after a lease expires.

The 16-story building would be “designed to the highest possible laboratory standards by some of the world’s most respected life sciences architects, lab designers and engineers,” the company said in a statement.

Floors would be column-free and laid out to accommodate lab space as well as offices, and the building would include a slew of amenities such as a rooftop lounge and patio. One floor would be designated as a shared lab and office space to help lure startups.

(click here to continue reading Life sciences labs, offices planned in Fulton Market.)

In Need of A Few Good Windows

Nothing Permanent

Fulton Market is already unrecognizable from when I first walked its streets, circa 2000. In another ten years, it will have no resemblance to its former status as a food processing district.

Greater Fulton Market

I’m beginning to feel nostalgic for the smell of bleached chicken parts, and dodging the entreaties of sex workers.

Grant Park Packikg

Written by Seth Anderson

January 10th, 2020 at 12:17 pm

Posted in Business

Tagged with

Vienna Beef moving HQ to Near West Side

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Give the Gift of Chicago

Crain’s reports:

Vienna Beef’s nearly 50-year run on Chicago’s North Side is coming to an end.

Amid a slew of new developments proposed along the North Branch of the Chicago River, the hot dog maker is set to move its headquarters early this year from its longtime home to a renovated industrial building on the Near West Side.

Chicago-based developer Dayton Street Partners said the meat company has signed a long-term lease for all of 2501 W. Fulton St., a nearly 40,000-square-foot building in the Kinzie Industrial Corridor where it will move its main office and warehouse.

The move will end a run at 2501 N. Damen Ave. that began in 1972. Vienna Beef moved its manufacturing plant away from there in 2013 to the Bridgeport neighborhood on the city’s South Side but kept its headquarters and a warehouse along a rerouted portion of Elston Avenue at Damen and the river.

Vienna Beef, meanwhile, will bring its 127-year-old company and prominent Chicago food brand to a corridor running west of Ogden Avenue between Lake Street and Grand Avenue that is rife with industrial companies like it. 

While the City Council last summer opened the eastern end of that Kinzie Industrial Corridor—the portion that borders the now-trendy Fulton Market District—to new zoning uses, it renewed its commitment to keep most of the corridor as a planned manufacturing district.

(click here to continue reading Vienna Beef moving HQ to Near West Side.)

Murph's Hot Dog

On the other hand, corporations moving into existing buildings doesn’t bother me at all…Welcome to the neighborhood, Vienna Beef.

I wonder if they will have a museum and a cafe? I would certainly check that out, if so.

Duks Vienna Red Hots

Written by Seth Anderson

January 9th, 2020 at 9:03 am

Posted in Business,Food and Drink

Tagged with ,

Wine Business Fears a Possible Disaster in Potential Trump Tariffs

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In Honor of National Drink More Wine Day

Eric Asimov, The New York Times, reports:

the last month has passed in a blur of fear and dread as the industry contemplates the Trump administration’s threat to impose 100 percent tariffs on all wines imported from the European Union, along with a variety of other goods including foods, spirits and clothing.

Make no mistake, a tariff of that size, or any number close to that, would be catastrophic for Americans in the beverage and hospitality industry. A 100 percent tariff would double the price of wines in shops and restaurants, with disastrous ripple effects.

Consumers may be furious if confronted with a $25 bottle of Fleurie that has doubled in price to $50. They will have to adapt, or drink wines from somewhere else. But that hardly matters when compared with the American jobs that may be lost and the businesses that could be threatened if the tariffs go into effect.

The fear does not stop with importers. An entire chain of businesses are built around the acquisition and sale of European wines and foods, from distributors to retail shops and restaurants, and all the associated workers — not to mention dock labor, forklift drivers and others.

(click here to continue reading Wine Business Fears a Possible Disaster in Potential Trump Tariffs – The New York Times.)

The Dotard is about to fuck up another industry. Granted, he claims to have never had a drink, but I imagine Trump properties like Mar-A-Lago and Trump Hotel etc. make a lot of their annual profits on selling 1%ers and hangers-on overpriced bottles of European Union wine.

Thinking With A Dirty Glass (Variations on A Theme - Vernal Equinox)

A favorite local independent grocery (Green Grocer Chicago) said this in their newsletter yesterday:

Please be aware that the current administration is considering putting 100% tariffs on wine imported from the European Union on JAN 14 (next week!)

If this actually is enacted, it will change the wine industry in fundamental ways for all companies in the space (producers, distributors, and retailers like us).

If this comes to be we will have to tilt our portfolio towards wines from other areas such as South Africa, South America, and of course the good old USA that offer affordable wines at prices our customers like to purchase at.

My suggestion: stock up on Rioja, Chianti, Bordeaux, and other good wines from Europe this weekend!

Hmm, probably Cognac too. Damn it.

Season's Greetings!

Written by Seth Anderson

January 8th, 2020 at 3:11 pm

Posted in Business,Food and Drink

Tagged with , ,

Farmers Are Buying 40-Year-Old Tractors Because They’re Actually Repairable

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Tractor tale

VICE reports:

John Deere makes it difficult to repair its new tractors without specialized software, so an increasing number of farmers are buying older models.

By Matthew Gault 

When a brand new John Deere tractors breaks down, you need a computer to fix it. When a John Deere tractor manufactured in 1979 breaks down, you can repair it yourself or buy another old John Deere tractor. Farming equipment—like televisions, cars, and even toothbrushes—now often comes saddled with a computer. That computer often comes with digital rights management software that can make simple repairs an expensive pain in the ass. As reported by the Minnesota StarTribune, Farmers have figured out a way around the problem—buying tractors manufactured 40 years ago, before the computers took over.

“There’s an affinity factor if you grew up around these tractors, but it goes way beyond that,” Greg Peterson, founder of the farm equipment data company Machinery Pete told StarTribune. “These things, they’re basically bulletproof. You can put 15,000 hours on it and if something breaks you can just replace it.”

(click here to continue reading Farmers Are Buying 40-Year-Old Tractors Because They’re Actually Repairable – VICE.)

Interesting, and I understand exactly the impulse. I am still using older version of Adobe’s Photoshop suite because the newer version requires an annual license. Meaning I wouldn’t really own the software, and Adobe’s lawyers could change the terms on a whim, and I wouldn’t be able to open my 30 years worth of Photoshop images (theoretically, there would most likely be a work around, but still).

Farmers want to be able to tinker with equipment that they feel like is theirs, and they should have the right to repair their own tools.

Canadian Gothic1

Hmm, there is an old Ford tractor sitting in the workshop in Frostpocket, manufactured sometime in the 1930s if my memory is correct. It would need to be repaired before use, but last I saw it, the body was still solid. There is not even the whiff of specialized software installed on it either. Wonder if it is sellable? Per the Vice article, the Frostpocket tractor might be a little old to be useful, but people use vintage typewrites, why not vintage tractors?

The tractors manufactured in the late 1970s and 1980s look and run like modern tractors, but lack the computer components that drive up costs and make repair a nightmare.

Smiling Tractors Sometimes

Written by Seth Anderson

January 7th, 2020 at 12:45 pm

Posted in Business

Tagged with ,

Whale Oil, Horse & Buggies Will Never Again Be The Driver of US Economy

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Tourist Trolley Ketchikan

Coal mining, lumber, whale oil extraction: none of these industries are going to be resurrected to save the working classes of the United States, those eras are over, and are not returning. No amount of new regulation or removal of existing regulation is ever going to bring those jobs back.

Sadly for all of us, many Trump voters expect him to be able to magically recommission steel plants, to make coal a cost efficient means to create energy, and so on.  

To see where things get more tangled, head into the damp woods of the Cascade Range in central Oregon, and the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, where a long economic decline began in the late 1980s as international trade shifted timber markets to places like Canada, and automated mills eliminated tens of thousands of jobs. Those computer-run mills are not going away even if more logs start arriving.

“We really don’t have a clear and easy path to go back to the good old days when natural resource extraction was driving our economy,” said Sean Stevens, the executive director of Oregon Wild, a conservation group. “It is not as easy as just logging more,” he said.

But the hopes, and the fears, about how that system might now change are boundless.

“My big hope is that people would be able to go back to work in San Juan County and these rural areas,” said Phil Lyman, a county commissioner in southern Utah, where antigovernment feelings run as deep as the slot canyons. “You just feel like everything has been stifled with regulations.”

Robot, living in the future
Robot, living in the future

Republicans in Congress have proposed bills weakening federal laws that protect wilderness, water quality, endangered species or that allow presidents to unilaterally name new national monuments. Some conservatives hope Mr. Trump will support their efforts to hand federal land over to states, which could sell it off or speed up drilling approvals.

Uranium mines around the Grand Canyon. Oil drilling rigs studding the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. New coal and timber leases in the national forests. States divvying up millions of acres of federal land to dispose of as they wish.

To environmental groups, it would be a nightmare. To miners, loggers, ranchers and conservative politicians in resource-dependent areas, it would be about time. Either way, Donald J. Trump’s election presages huge potential change on America’s 640 million acres of federal public lands, from the deep seas east of Maine to the volcanic coasts of Hawaii.

(click here to continue reading Battle Lines Over Trump’s Lands Policy Stretch Across 640 Million Acres – The New York Times.)

 This Tree Is Older Than You

This Tree Is Older Than You

and on that topic from D Watkins:

A common theme that’s being tossed around is that Trump’s election was the white working class’ chance way to say “F**k you!” to the political elites who forgot about them, sucked up their factory jobs and left them out to dry. I take issue with this for a number of reasons.

The first and most obvious reason is this: How do you buck a system ruled by elites by electing a billionaire who was born rich, employed the Mexicans he blamed for taking jobs away and could never possibly understand someone else’s struggle? Next, I don’t fully understand the term “hard-working whites.” I come from the blackest community in one of the blackest cities, and I don’t know how not to have 10 jobs. Everybody I know has 10 jobs, even the infants. Black people, Asians and Mexicans alike work their asses off, so why is the “hard-working white” class even a voting bloc?

What’s sad is that these angry, hard-working white people don’t understand that they saw more economic gains under President Obama than they did under George W. Bush. Unemployment went down across the board except among African-Americans — the rate actually doubled for us — so those folks should be praising Obama, not championing Trump or subscribing to all this alt-right B.S.

Then there’s the myth of returning factory jobs. It’s not a real thing! And trust me, I used to subscribe to the same ideas, all caught up in the nostalgia of the old dudes from my neighborhood. My friend Al’s grandpa used to park his Cadillac on Ashland Avenue, hop out and roll up on us nine-year-olds like, “Finish high school, get a job at Bethlehem Steel and your future is set!” He’d spin his Kangol around backwards, pull out a fistful of dollars, give us each a couple and continue, “I made so much money at the steel factory, my lady ain’t worked a day in her life! I bought a house that I paid off and that shiny car right there! Yes sir, life is good!”

 Those jobs were long gone by the time we came of age, at Bethlehem Steel and almost every place like it across the country. They weren’t taken by Mexicans or sent overseas — industries changed, new products were made and robots were invented that could do the job of 10 men and work all night without complaining. Those beautiful factory positions for uneducated hard-working whites (or anybody else) aren’t coming back, and I don’t care what Trump says. What’s even weirder is that we have created a generation of people complaining about jobs that they have never had and will not see in their lifetime — and again, for what?

(click here to continue reading Dear hard-working white people: Congratulations, you played yourself – Salon.com.)

Satanic Gift
Satanic Gift

Written by Seth Anderson

December 30th, 2019 at 1:38 pm

AT&T and Verizon collude to keep you from switching cellphone carriers–allegedly

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 Zoey Getting Ready to Vote in the Nature Photo Contest

The Washington Post reports:

The Department of Justice is investigating potential efforts by AT&T and Verizon to hamstring a technology that could someday make it easier for consumers to seamlessly switch their wireless carriers, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The probe appears to focus on whether those companies — perhaps in a bid to stop their subscribers from jumping ship to rivals — colluded to undermine so-called eSIM cards, a technology that could someday allow the owners of smartphones, smartwatches or other devices to change their service provider on their own, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity to speak freely about the probe, which has not been made public.

If the U.S. government ultimately determines that AT&T and Verizon harmed competitors or consumers, it could result in major fines or other penalties.

(click here to continue reading Did AT&T and Verizon collude to keep you from switching cellphone carriers? The Justice Department is investigating. – The Washington Post.)

Operative word being “if”…

In the Trump/GOP era of government, corporations are encouraged to run rampant over any rules or laws they don’t like, all that is needed is a nice campaign contribution, and issues miraculously vanish! Poof! 

Written by Seth Anderson

December 30th, 2019 at 11:53 am

Posted in Business,crime

Tagged with , ,

Equifax to Pay Some Fines and Laugh All The Way To The Bank

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Safe - Chicago Board of Trade

 The New York Times reports on the latest slap on the wrist regarding corporate malfeasance and indifference:

The credit bureau Equifax will pay at least $650 million … to end an array of state, federal and consumer claims over a 2017 data breach that exposed the sensitive information of more than 147 million people. The breach was one of the most potentially damaging in an ever-growing list of digital thefts.

The settlement, which was announced on Monday and still needs court approval, would be the largest ever paid by a company over a data breach. The deal requires Equifax to put a minimum of $380.5 million into a restitution fund for American consumers who file claims showing that they were financially harmed.

A portion of that money will pay for lawyers’ fees, but at least $300 million must go to victims, according to settlement documents filed in federal court in Atlanta. If the initial cash is depleted, the company will add up to $125 million more to settle consumers’ claims, bringing the total fund size to more than $500 million.

Equifax will pay an additional $175 million in fines to end investigations by 50 attorneys general. Forty-eight states — all except Indiana and Massachusetts, which separately filed their own lawsuits against Equifax — are part of the deal, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico

(click here to continue reading Equifax to Pay at Least $650 Million in Largest Data-Breach Settlement Ever – The New York Times.)

So the government gets a ‘taste’, but individual consumers get spit in their eye. $300,000,000 to be distributed to a portion of 147,000,000 people who Equifax screwed. $2 each. Whooo hooo! Lawyers get plenty of money, average people, not so much.

The fine print is that you have to prove that Equifax harmed you by giving away your social security number, bank info, drivers license, date of birth and whatever else. 

You Wanted Some Privacy

Fortune reports:

Equifax will also pay $20,000 to consumers who can prove that they suffered “fraud, identity theft, or other misuse” because of the data breach. Equifax will also pay them $25 per hour for up to 20 hours of time they had spent trying to safeguard their data. Equifax will also reimburse them for out-of-pocket losses and up to 25% of the cost of Equifax credit or identity monitoring. Exactly how Equifax will require consumers verify their costs is unknown.

 

(click here to continue reading Equifax Settlement: How to Get the Money You’re Owed | Fortune.)

What are the odds that 10% of the consumers who lost their data due to Equifax’s negligence will be able to jump through the proper hoops and reclaim any cash? 

Written by Seth Anderson

July 22nd, 2019 at 4:13 pm

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

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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

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

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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

Trump Crackdown Unnerves Immigrants, and the Farmers Who Rely on Them

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!!!PMURT KCUF

The New York Times reports:

Last fall, Victor Pacheco, the foreman on Ms. Raby’s family farm for 23 years, was detained by ICE agents and deported to Mexico.

Ms. Raby has struggled to find a foreman skilled enough to manage her vineyard, where the grapevines are now dusted in a light coat of snow and in need of winter pruning. This has left her uncertain about the future of their family farm and the president she helped vote into office.

“I still agree with Trump in a lot of ways, but I’m more on the fence about him now,” Ms. Raby said. “I don’t want to lose the immigrants who are working here and growing our food.”

(click here to continue reading Trump Crackdown Unnerves Immigrants, and the Farmers Who Rely on Them – The New York Times.)

I hope someone is planning on writing a book based on the numerous Trump voters who ended up getting screwed by Trump-enabled GOP orthodoxy, like this woman. It’s basically a cliché by this point.

I Am Going To Eat You - Paul Noth

But I’m also firmly of the belief that Trump-bots like Ms. Raby don’t deserve much sympathy. Trump isn’t subtle, he said what he was going to do, and then he did it. His announcement that he was running for president was built upon racist demagoguery, but Ms. Raby was ok with that, and all the subsequent racism was fine, up until her own business got decimated. Then she has doubts.

As to the bigger story, American agriculture depends upon low paid workers from other countries, mostly Mexico. If Trump and Stephen Miller get their way, we won’t be able to eat anything other than processed meat from McDonald’s because there won’t be anyone to pick the crops.

HOMER, N.Y. — The fears weigh on Mike McMahon: If one of his undocumented workers gets a traffic ticket, it could prompt an immigration audit of his entire farm. If another gets detained by immigration agents at a roadside checkpoint or in a supermarket parking lot, the rest may flee. And if his undocumented work force disappears overnight, there is no one to replace them.

“It keeps me up at night,” said Mr. McMahon, who owns a dairy farm south of Syracuse. “There are people out there who just say, ‘Send them all back and build a wall.’ But they would be facing empty shelves in the grocery store if that were to happen.”

It has long been an open secret in upstate New York that the dairy industry has been able to survive only by relying on undocumented immigrants for its work force. Now, this region has become a national focal point in the debate over President Trump’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants and their role in agriculture

Written by Seth Anderson

March 18th, 2019 at 10:05 am

Posted in Business,politics

Tagged with ,

Poster Child For Corporate Welfare was uploaded to Flickr

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Boeing depends upon taxpayer dollars more than most corporations.

See for instance:
The top welfare recipient of them all is aerospace giant Boeing, which has operations spread all across the country building aircraft and working on numerous Department of Defense projects. The amount of work Boeing does for the federal government no doubt plays a part in the amount of subsidies the company has been able to secure, but Boeing has also played hardball with local jurisdictions to get enormous tax breaks. With more than $13 billion coming in from 148 handouts, Boeing has thoroughly entrenched itself in the interest of the government and taxpayers.

Despite the immense amount of money the company receives, it has still gone on to hold cities hostage in tax negotiations, threatening to remove jobs and open up shop in friendlier climates. In 2013, Boeing secured the highest ever tax break at the state level when it cornered the Washington legislature into ceding to its demands, lest it move its production plants to another part of the country. The legislature granted Boeing its wish, but Boeing went on to announce drastic layoffs anyway, angering many locals.

Boeing has become the king of corporate handouts, and other corporations have a long way to go to catch up.
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www.cheatsheet.com/money-career/high-on-the-hog-the-top-8…

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I took Poster Child For Corporate Welfare on March 02, 2018 at 05:07AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 17, 2019 at 12:24PM

Written by eggplant

March 17th, 2019 at 1:08 pm

The Loophole That Lets Boeing Get Cozy With Congress

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Boeing - El Segundo

The New York Times reports:

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, its decision was based solely on its evolving understanding of the evidence. But critics have suggested that the delay in joining the international consensus may have been the result, at least in part, of the close relationship that Boeing, a major political force in Washington and a large government contractor, has with American officials.

Boeing receives more federal money than any corporation other than Lockheed Martin, its main competitor in the defense contractor industry. Boeing took in over $23 billion in con tracts from the government in the 2017 fiscal year — near its annual average. (Just this fall, the company won a $9.2 billion contract to make a new generation of jets for the Air Force.)

Senator Elizabeth Warren publicly questioned whether the government had “put lives at risk” to protect Boeing’s bottom line. She and a bipartisan group of her colleagues requested congressional hearings to investigate.

In the Turning of the Twilight

In 1940, Congress passed a law barring individuals and firms from making federal campaign contributions while they negotiate or perform federal contracts. The intent was to prevent companies from trying to bribe politicians for lucrative deals and to prevent lawmakers from extorting money from companies with business before the government.

So how do campaign donations that appear to be connected with Boeing manage to avoid violating this law? The answer is a loophole, cemented in the law in the 1970s, that permits government contractors to set up “separate segregated funds,” or political action committees, to make political contributions using money typically pooled from the contractors’ executives and major shareholders. Such funds are legal even if the parent company pays for their operating and fund-raising costs. This exemption — whose ostensible justification is the free-speech rights of contractors’ employees — is why political action committees like Boeing’s can exist.

“It’s a huge loophole,” said Craig Holden, a government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen who has helped states write pay-to-play laws more restrictive than the federal-level bans.

There is also, in effect, another even larger loophole for contractors looking to influence national politicians: the inaugural committee for a president-elect. Because inaugural committees are technically not connected to the political campaign, “all bets are off,” as Mr. Fischer put it. Boeing gave a million dollars to Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee — a giveaway now under scrutiny as a possible conflict of interest for the president.

Thanks to this maze of loopholes and legal niceties, federal contractors are able to effectively spend or direct the spending of money on political campaigns, despite the original intent of the law against contractor contributions. One clear result of this system is the widespread suspicion, warranted or not, of the government’s initial decision not to ground Boeing’s plane.

(click here to continue reading Opinion | The Loophole That Lets Boeing Get Cozy With Congress – The New York Times.)

Boing and Lockheed Martin and similar companies slurping up tax payer dollars is why Flint still doesn’t have clean water, why college education isn’t basically free, why millions of people don’t have health insurance, and so on. Corporate welfare is like a black hole, distorting our entire economy.

Wintry Moon Rise over Boeing

Written by Seth Anderson

March 15th, 2019 at 5:20 pm

How Amazon could change the country’s grocery game

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 Bok Choy and Shanghai Bok Choy

The Washington Post reports:

On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon plans to open its first grocery store in Los Angeles, possibly by year’s end. The Journal reported that Amazon had signed leases for at least two other grocery locations that could open early next year. Sources told The Journal that the company was looking into locations in San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

Amazon is also reportedly looking to buy regional grocery chains.

The Journal reported that the new Amazon grocery stores wouldn’t compete directly with Whole Foods stores, and that they would sell a wider selection of products.

(click here to continue reading How Amazon could change the country’s grocery game – The Washington Post.)

Whole Foods, even though owned by Amazon, still doesn’t sell a lot of products that Amazon would sell in a differently oriented mass-oriented grocery chain. Products like Coca-Cola, Kraft American Cheese, personal grooming products that contain all sorts of chemicals, and so on. Amazon.com sells these items, so they have data regarding how popular cases of Cheetos would be. 

I was amazed (and pleased) that these kinds of items did not suddenly appear at Whole Foods once Amazon bought them, actually. 

Written by Seth Anderson

March 4th, 2019 at 2:50 pm