B12 Solipsism

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Archive for the ‘government’ Category

Our government in action, for good, and mostly for worse

Kentucky Hates Women 19RS HB 148

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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

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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

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

All Politicians Should Be Required to Release Their Taxes

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 I Am A Lonely Visitor

Kevin Kruse wrote about the history of presidents releasing their taxes:

On November 17, 1973, the president sought to reestablish his credibility in the fantasy-friendly confines of Disney World. In a televised Q&A session with 400 newspaper editors, he hoped to convince the nation of his honesty and integrity. He only made things worse.

Nixon grew increasingly angry and agitated at the podium when the Orlando press conference turned to questions about his finances. Reporters had been hounding him for weeks, asking how he could afford two separate private homes on his relatively meager presidential salary and whether he’d benefitted personally from administration dealings. There had even been rumors that the President of the United States was being bankrolled in some way by the eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes.

To prove that he wasn’t a crook – or at least not the particular kind of crook detailed in those allegations – Nixon reluctantly released his tax returns a week later.

The paperwork dispelled most of the larger suspicions about him, but also showed that Nixon had taken advantage of every possible deduction he could have used. (In 1970, for instance, he and his wife paid only $792.81 in taxes on more than $200,000 in income.) More damning, the president had claimed a deduction he shouldn’t have used, backdating the donation of his vice presidential papers. As a result, Nixon owed a considerable sum in back taxes. He paid up and the press moved on to the other “White House horrors.” Nine months later, Nixon was gone.

In the wake of Watergate, the United States embraced a wide array of reforms to make sure that nothing like that would rock the nation again. As part of this trend, it became standard practice for presidential candidates to release details of their tax returns. For a while, anyway.

(click here to continue reading All the Presidents’ Taxes.)

Look At All These People Who Care About Your Taxes

I believe that every politician seeking national office1 should be required to release multiple years of full tax returns. If that means that people like Howard Schultz, Michael Bloomberg and Donald Trump decide not to be politicians because they don’t want people to know how much the wealthy can avoid paying taxes, well, so be it. We as a country will recover from the loss.

Mitt Romney released a partial year return for 2010 and 2011, but in my estimation, that wasn’t detailed enough. Three years, full returns, no exceptions. If you are a thin-skinned plutocrat with political ambitions, take a few years off of your normal tax avoidance schemes and have a cleaner return that you can release. 

Footnotes:
  1. or even local office []

Written by Seth Anderson

February 13th, 2019 at 11:12 am

Posted in government

Tagged with , , ,

Farm Country Stood by Trump. But the Shutdown Is Pushing It to Breaking Point

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 Bucolic

The New York Times reports:

Farm country has stood by President Trump, even as farmers have strained under two years of slumping incomes and billions in losses from his trade wars. But as the government shutdown now drags into a third week, some farmers say the loss of crucial loans, payments and other services has pushed them — and their support — to a breaking point.

While many rural conservatives may loathe the idea of Big Government, farmers and the federal government are welded together by dozens of programs and billions of dollars in spending.

Now, farmers and farm groups say that federal crop payments have stopped flowing. Farmers cannot get federally backed operating loans to buy seed for their spring planting, or feed for their livestock. They cannot look up new government data about beef prices or soybean yields to make decisions about planting and selling their goods in an ever-changing global market.

(click here to continue reading Farm Country Stood by Trump. But the Shutdown Is Pushing It to Breaking Point. – The New York Times.)

Welfare is what the other guys get. 

How did the rural vote go to Trump in the first place? Having lived a portion of my life in farmlands, I know those people are not stupid, but they sure got suckered by Fox News and the GOP.

Will they vote for him again in 2020? That’s the real question, now that there is evidence of how Trump “governs” instead of just his talking points.

Written by Seth Anderson

January 11th, 2019 at 11:37 am

Posted in government

Tagged with ,

Low End estimates for Trump’s border wall – 18 Billion Dollars

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Talking About My Generation

One of the funniest stories of the month has been some MAGA rubes deciding they can self-fund Trump’s Stupid Fucking Wall™. As of this writing, the MAGAbots have pledged $7,146,127 of their self-stated goal of $5,000,000,000. This translates to slightly over 0.14% of the $5 billion number. In other words, not even one third of 1 percent of $5 billion. At this rate, the wall funds will be raised in time for Trump, Jr. to get out of prison. I think GoFundMe takes 2% of the total too, that’ll have to be factored in.

By the way, the figure of $5 billion is not enough to build the entire SFW™, but only a small portion of it. It also doesn’t include eminent domain litigation, construction overruns, graft, and terrain challenges. Nor does it include subsequent maintenance costs – if the SFW™ only lasts 3 years before collapsing, that won’t make the MAGAbots happy.

The USA Today reported earlier this year:

The cost of President Donald Trump’s promised U.S.-Mexico border wall could be much higher than previously thought because the administration has not fully accounted for factors that can add to the price, a new report from a congressional watchdog agency says.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office report, published Monday, found the agency overseeing the planning and construction of border barriers, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, has identified 17 priority areas for wall construction without doing a cost analysis for each area. The cost to construct 722 miles of barriers in those priority locations was estimated at $18 billion.

But costs vary widely depending on topography — increasing with the steepness of the terrain — and the price of land, especially in Texas, where most parcels along the border are privately held, the report states.

“Without assessing costs as part of the prioritization process, CBP does not have complete information to know whether it is prioritizing locations that will use its limited resources in the most cost-effective manner,” the report said.

A USA TODAY Network analysis found some 5,000 parcels of private land are within 500 feet of the border in Texas, and legal action to acquire them could add years to the project. During the last round of construction, stemming from the 2006 Secure Fence Act, the government initiated 300 condemnation cases against Texas landowners. About 85 of those cases remain in litigation.

(click here to continue reading Cost estimates for Trump’s border wall too optimistic, report says.)

If we use the government’s low-ball number of $18,000,000,000 to build only 722 miles out of the 1,900 total US/Mexico border, that’s roughly a cost of $25,000,000 per mile. Keep giving away your money, MAGAbots…

I'm With Stupid

Also, unless we adopt a new Constitutional Amendment changing how Congress works, private citizens cannot dictate what Congress does with funds. The Congress could take the money and spend it on something crazy like homeless veterans, or hand it out in suitcases stuffed with $100 bills to the children being kept in cages on the border. Or hold a big, big party inviting everyone born on a Monday. Whatever Congress chooses. 

Huge

Power of the Purse:

“All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.” — U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 7, clause 1

“No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.” — U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 9, clause 7

 

(click here to continue reading Power of the Purse | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 20th, 2018 at 4:08 pm

Posted in government

Tagged with , ,

Trump backs off demand for $5 billion for border wall, but shutdown still possible after Democrats reject new GOP offer

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Declaration of Immigration

The Washington Post reports:

President Trump on Tuesday retreated from his demand for $5 billion to build a border wall, as congressional Republicans maneuvered to avoid a partial government shutdown before funding expires at the end of Friday.

But Democrats immediately rejected Republicans’ follow-up offer, leaving the two sides still at impasse as hundreds of thousands of federal workers await word on whether they will be sent home without pay just before Christmas.

Sen. Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) told McConnell Tuesday that Democrats would not accept the deal, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) criticized the plan to reprogram the funds.

“Leader Schumer and I have said that we cannot support the offer they made of a billion-dollar slush fund for the president to implement his very wrong immigration policies,” Pelosi said. “So that won’t happen.”

(click here to continue reading Trump backs off demand for $5 billion for border wall, but shutdown still possible after Democrats reject new GOP offer – The Washington Post.)

World’s worst negotiator. Like much (all?) of Trump’s bluster, the truth is the exact opposite of his claim. “The best people” translates into the worst people, “so much winning” equals consistently losing, “Best negotiator” means “nobody has ever encountered such a poor negotiator”…

Written by Seth Anderson

December 18th, 2018 at 3:10 pm

Posted in government

Tagged with , ,

A Shutdown Looms. Can the G.O.P. Get Lawmakers to Show Up to Work

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 Asleep at the Post

The New York Times reports:

Just days before a deadline to avert a partial government shutdown, President Trump, Democratic leaders and the Republican-controlled Congress are at a stalemate over the president’s treasured border wall. But House Republican leaders are also confronting a more mundane and awkward problem: Their vanquished and retiring members are sick and tired of Washington and don’t want to show up anymore to vote.

Call it the revenge of the lame ducks. Many lawmakers, relegated to cubicles as incoming members take their offices, have been skipping votes in the weeks since House Republicans were swept from power in the midterm elections, and Republican leaders are unsure whether they will ever return.

It is perhaps a fitting end to a Congress that has showcased the untidy politics of the Trump era: Even if the president ultimately embraces a solution that avoids a shutdown, House Republican leaders do not know whether they will have the votes to pass it.

The uncertainty does not end there. With funding for parts of the government like the Department of Homeland Security set to lapse at midnight on Friday, Mr. Trump and top Republicans appear to have no definite plan to keep the doors open. It is clear that as Democrats uniformly oppose the president’s demand for $5 billion for his border wall, any bill that includes that funding cannot pass the Senate, and might face defeat in the House, too.

But the odd lull with a shutdown looming was disturbing to some senators. “I don’t understand why people don’t come to work and work all the way through December when the taxpayers are paying them,” said Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia, who is a former House member. “I mean, finish your job.”

(click here to continue reading A Shutdown Looms. Can the G.O.P. Get Lawmakers to Show Up to Vote? – The New York Times.)

Wow, way to spend taxpayer money wisely – don’t even bother showing up to work. They should not be paid if they don’t work, right? Like the work requirements the GOP insist upon including in eligibility for social service programs like SNAP…

Trump: Eventually We Will Get Something Done

But then the lazy mofo in the White House sets such a strong example:

Mr. Trump himself is scheduled to leave on Friday for a 16-day vacation at his Florida estate.

Written by Seth Anderson

December 17th, 2018 at 1:44 pm

Posted in government

Tagged with , , ,

Legal experts rip judge’s rationale for declaring Obamacare law invalid

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 Department of Health And Human Services

The Washington Post reports:

The 2,000-page law, however, covers a vast array of other health-care issues, touching almost every part of the health-care industry in the United States.

For that reason, if the ruling were to take effect, it could create major disruptions across the U.S. health-care system — affecting which drugs patients can buy, preventive services for older Americans, the expansion of Medicaid in most states and the structure of the Indian Health Service.

“There’s really no American that’s not affected by this law,” said Yale law professor Abbe Gluck, who filed an amicus brief with other lawyers in the Texas case.

The judge’s ruling, she said, flouts settled legal doctrine and places key acts of Congress in reverse order.

By ignoring that Congress specifically declined to strike down the ACA in 2017 when it chose to alter only one portion of the bill, she said, the judge decreed that the 2010 Congress, which first passed the law, has more authority than the same legislative body in 2017.

(click here to continue reading Legal experts rip judge’s rationale for declaring Obamacare law invalid – The Washington Post.)

But because of this activist Republican judge, the country will be unsettled until his ruling gets studied by the next level of judicial review. Crazy. And who is supporting the ACA in court? Certainly not Trump’s Justice Department, they want the bill to be overturned as well.

The Justice Department, which had been defending the law in court for years, announced in June that it would no longer argue for the mandate, and, as a result, the Trump administration said, a separate requirement that insurance companies cannot reject people who have preexisting conditions was also invalid.

But we won’t know for a while. Lovely.

Medicare For All, anyone?

Written by Seth Anderson

December 16th, 2018 at 11:04 am

Posted in government,health

Tagged with , ,

Democratic senators have introduced a big new data privacy plan

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Sewer Cleaning and Data Management

The Verge reports:

One day after Google CEO Sundar Pichai was questioned on data privacy during a House hearing, a group of 15 Democratic senators has proposed a new bill for protecting personal information online.

The Data Care Act, proposed by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and more than a dozen co-sponsors, including Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), would create new rules around how companies that collect user data can handle that information.

Under the act, data collectors would be required to “reasonably secure” identifying information, to not use that information in a harmful way, and to give notice to consumers about breaches of sensitive information. The requirement extends to third parties, if the data collectors share or sell that data with another entity, and the plan would also give the FTC new authority to fine companies that act deceptively with users’ data.

(click here to continue reading Democratic senators have introduced a big new data privacy plan – The Verge.)

We can hope at least…

 

Written by Seth Anderson

December 12th, 2018 at 6:23 pm

Posted in government,News-esque

Tagged with ,

Half the land in Oklahoma could be returned to Native Americans. It should be.

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Albert Einstein with a group of Hopi Indians 1922
Albert-Einstein-with-a-group-of-Hopi-Indians-1922

The Washington Post:

Half the land in Oklahoma could be returned to Native Americans. It should be. A Supreme Court case about jurisdiction in an obscure murder has huge implications for tribes.

On the morning of June 22, 1839, the Cherokee leader John Ridge was pulled from his bed, dragged into his front yard and stabbed 84 times while his family watched. He was assassinated for signing the Cherokee Nation’s removal treaty, a document that — in exchange for the tribe’s homelands — promised uninterrupted sovereignty over a third of the land in present-day Oklahoma. That promise was not kept.

Sixty-seven years later, federal agents questioned John’s grandson, William D. Polson. They needed to add him to a list of every Cherokee living in Indian Territory to start the process of land allotments. Through allotment, all land belonging to the Cherokee Nation — the land John had signed his life for — would be split up between individual citizens and then opened up for white settlement. And by this grand act of bureaucratic theft, Oklahoma became a state.

If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, the land that John Ridge not only died on, but for, could be acknowledged as Cherokee land for the first time in more than 100 years. John signed the treaty of New Echota knowing he would be killed for it but believing that the rights of the Cherokee Nation enshrined in that blood-soaked document were worth it.

One hundred and seventy-nine years later, the grass is still growing, the water is still running and, in eastern Oklahoma, our tribes are still here. And despite the grave injustice of history, the legal right to our land has never ended.

(click here to continue reading Half the land in Oklahoma could be returned to Native Americans. It should be. – The Washington Post.)

Fascinating. I hope the Muscogee (Creek) Nation wins, though I’d be surprised if there weren’t further tricks in store…

The Bowman

Written by Seth Anderson

November 28th, 2018 at 1:41 pm

Posted in crime,government

Tagged with , ,

Why Amazon’s HQ2 Search Backfired

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 More Spare Change

WIRED posits:

The search was largely a success for CEO Jeff Bezos, who can use valuable data from the losing cities to inform Amazon’s business and future expansion. But in at least one respect, Amazon’s Hunger Games-style civic competition backfired: It’s shined a spotlight on how Amazon and companies like it have benefitted enormously from taxpayer funds.

Each year, local politicians spend up to an estimated $90 billion to lure corporations like Amazon to their states, which The Atlantic points out is “more than the federal government spends on housing, education, or infrastructure.” Most companies broker these deals in private.

In the end, Amazon says it will collectively receive $2.2 billion from the three cities where it plans to open offices. In an unusual move, the company disclosed that figure in its own press release. Information about incentives typically comes from government, not the corporations awarded the funds. Others have noted that Amazon might also benefit from existing tax credits, like a New York City program worth up to an additional $900 million, which were not part of the deal.

Over the course of Amazon’s year-long pursuit of new offices, researchers and journalists intensified their examination of not just the money Amazon might receive, but also what it has collected already. The company regularly receives public incentives to open facilities like warehouses and data centers, which Good Jobs First estimates have totaled $1.6 billion. An investigation from the nonprofit New Food Economy found that some Amazon warehouse workers are paid so little that they often qualify for another type of public benefit: food stamps. In some cases, taxpayers may even be subsidizing Amazon’s electricity costs, according to a Bloomberg report from August.

(click here to continue reading Why Amazon’s HQ2 Search Backfired | WIRED.)

Corporate welfare is certainly a drag on the US economy, but I’m not so sanguine as to think it will end anytime soon. Sad. I would guess that the $90 billion number cited above is a bit low.

Not to mention that $3,100,000,000 is a lot of money for a government to shower on to a rich, successful corporation like Amazon. Money that won’t be spent to improve roads, infrastructure, help with college debt, pay salary of teachers, police, EMT, etc. A lot of taxpayer money thrown at Jeff Bezos so he can have a helipad…

I’m so glad Amazon didn’t choose my city. 

Written by Seth Anderson

November 14th, 2018 at 9:51 pm

Texas voting machines changing some straight-party selections

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Tomorrow We Vote
Tomorrow We Vote

ABC reports:

Texas voting machines changing some straight-party selections.

Voters are reporting odd problems on both the Republican and Democratic side of straight-party voting in Texas.

Mickey Blake was one of the voters in those early voting lines in Houston earlier this week.

“I hit straight Democratic ticket,” Blake said.

She says she expected all Democrats to come up on her screen, especially Rep. Beto O’Rourke, but when she got to the last screen to review her choices, she noticed a problem.

“It’s all Democratic except for Ted Cruz was checked,” Blake said.

So she backed up and did it again. And again.

“I tried it a third time and the same thing happened,” she said.

(click here to continue reading Texas voting machines changing some straight-party selections | abc13.com.)

Fired up and ready to vote
Fired up and ready to vote

Anecdotal evidence, sure, but enough people are complaining that the Texas Secretary of State issued a statement.

It’s popped up across Texas often enough for the Secretary of State to put up a statewide advisory on Monday to every Texas election advisor.

The Secretary of State calls it ‘operator error.’

A little disturbing, but perhaps the short term answer is don’t use electronic ballots, if you have a choice, and don’t vote straight ticket even though it is more convenient.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 27th, 2018 at 8:40 am

Posted in government

Tagged with , , ,

Where Chicago Trounces New York: Fixing Mass Transit

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Waiting For My Connection Back To You 

The New York Times:

Like New York’s subway, it is another century-old system struggling to keep up with the transit demands of a booming city. It, too, has been plagued by crumbling tracks, antiquated signals and unreliable trains that turn routine commutes into nightmares.

But the difference is that Chicago’s L has made a comeback, reversing decades of cost-cutting and neglect.

Today, nearly one-third of its tracks have been rebuilt for faster and smoother rides. Rail cars from the 1970s have been replaced with the latest models. More than three dozen stations have been overhauled, many rebuilt into sleek, steel-and-glass outposts. There are new elevators, wider platforms, high-definition security cameras and works by Chicago artists.

“We’ve had a pretty impressive turnaround,” said Joseph P. Schwieterman, a professor of public service at DePaul University. “It’s still an old system — and we still have delays — but the problems are staying out of the headlines and that’s quite an achievement.”

(click here to continue reading Where Chicago Trounces New York: Fixing Mass Transit – The New York Times.)

Government investing in infrastructure?! What a novel idea!

Chicago’s public transit is not the best in the world by a long shot, but it is certainly among the best in the US. Better than Austin, better than NYC, better than Dallas. Instead of tax cuts for billionaires, the federal government ought to invest in transportation infrastructure. I assume the impediment is Koch Brothers related, and that urban environments are more liberal than rural areas and thus the GOP mouth-breathers don’t want to divert funds from air craft carriers and the like.

Chicago is not Toronto, or London, UK, but it is possible to live in Chicago without having to own a car.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 18th, 2018 at 3:34 pm

Posted in government

Tagged with , ,

With Illinois medical pot market poised to expand, high-profile national chain is buying Oak Park dispensary

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Best Buddies
Best Buddies

MedMen buying into Illinois.  But to me the bigger story is that the upcoming gubernatorial race is about cannabis legalization in Illinois…

Chicago Tribune:

The sale is timely because Gov. Bruce Rauner last month signed into law a measure allowing any patient who would qualify for an opioid painkiller prescription to also qualify for medical marijuana. The new law also eliminated requirements for fingerprints and criminal background checks. Those changes are expected to greatly expand a market that had about 44,000 certified customers and $12 million in monthly sales as of August.

In addition, industry leaders expect Illinois lawmakers to legalize marijuana for recreational use next year if Democrat J.B. Pritzker wins this November’s election for governor. Pritzker supports allowing and taxing adult use, while Rauner, a Republican, opposes it.

(click here to continue reading With Illinois medical pot market poised to expand, high-profile national chain is buying Oak Park dispensary – Chicago Tribune.)

J.B. Pritzker is not my favorite politician by any metric, but Rauner is horrible, and he doesn’t deserve another term.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 3rd, 2018 at 12:38 pm

Posted in government,health

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