Special Favors For Businesses Don’t Benefit Taxpayers

shutterstock_439358455Interesting story here.

This election cycle has stunned even the most seasoned political prognosticators. Voters are clearly fed up with the “Washington Way,” lashing out like never before. If voters truly want to shake up the political landscape, they should start by demanding separation between big government and big business.

Corporate favoritism is when government takes taxpayer money and gives it to big businesses in the form of handouts, a practice that is rampant in America. Almost every day of the year, you can find a story about government at some level—be it federal, state, or local—doling out hardworking taxpayers’ money to a big corporation. The aim is to convince that company to relocate to, expand, or simply stay in their area. Some have coined this “press release economics,” where politicians cut ribbons and deliver statements about the jobs they are creating with these handouts.

But the consequences of corporate favoritism are dire. Since 2005, Tennessee taxpayers have handed over $1.75 billion to big businesses via handouts. All too often, corporate favoritism lines the pockets of millionaires with the tax dollars of the middle class. But most Americans would agree a company’s success should rely on what good or service it provides, not who its executives know.

These corporate handouts also mean we have less money for true government services. Every dollar forked over to a massive company is one less dollar that can be invested in maintaining our roads, educating our children, or keeping the public safe. It’s not the role of government to prop up large businesses with taxpayer money, yet more and more dollars are being redirected from other government services to do just that.

Every dollar forked over to a massive company is one less dollar that can be invested in maintaining our roads, educating our children, or keeping the public safe.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, sometimes those big businesses even take the money and run. We all remember Solyndra, a name that has become synonymous with failed corporate bailouts. In 2009 the solar company misled the federal government to obtain more than half-a-billion in federal stimulus grants, only to go belly-up two years later.

via Special Favors For Businesses Don’t Benefit Taxpayers

All true, and indeed it’s always been true to some extent, at least as long as there has been big business. Not that it is entirely their fault, as someone said during the Credit Mobliér scandal in the nineteenth century, we paid the bribes but we aren’t the ones that accepted them.

But just how widespread is this bad, antithetical, and anticompetitive practice? Well, James Bessen has some information on that, and a chart.

Profits are up. …is it good news for society?

…the rise in profits might represent a decline in…economic dynamism. …Firms engage in political “rent seeking”—lobbying for regulations that provide them sheltered markets—rather than competing on innovation. If so, then high profits portend diminished productivity growth. …In a new research paper, I tease apart the factors associated with the growth in corporate valuations.

I find that investments in conventional capital assets like machinery and spending on R&D together account for a substantial part of the rise in valuations and profits, especially during the 1990s. However, since 2000, political activity and regulation account for a surprisingly large share of the increase.

I find that investments in conventional capital assets like machinery and spending on R&D together account for a substantial part of the rise in valuations and profits, especially during the 1990s. However, since 2000, political activity and regulation account for a surprisingly large share of the increase.

[And the chart]

w1056

via: A Very Depressing Chart on Creeping Cronyism in the American Economy

How’s that for depressing, corporate America is making nearly as much money, playing the regulatory system, as they are from using their own money. And this is nearly part of the damage. A lot of what they do in the regulatory system is to use the government to stifle competition. We’ve said many times, and if you have any sense, you know it as well, that a large elephantine corporation can’t change direction quickly enough to respond to a dynamic market. But if they can use the government (and their guns) to suppress competition, it no longer matters. But the lost profits to the suppressed companies, and whatever they might have done with the profits (which we simply can’t quantify) are completely lost to us.

And so we have a triple loser here, from the standpoint of the individual taxpayer.

  1. We have the wasted tax dollars (like Solyndra)
  2. We have unresponsive, too big to fail corporations (yes, banks as well)
  3. We lose whatever products and payroll those other competitors (who were suppressed) might have provided.

Hard to see how we taxpayers could get a worse deal, it would literally be better for us, if they burned $100 bill to heat the capitol.

St Mary’s Appoints New Pro Vice-Chancellor, and a Friend of Ours

johncharmleyOne of the nice things about having a blog, and some very good friends it can make you, is that you get to recognize those friends when something really good happens to or for them such it is here. Professor John Charmley, as regular readers will know, is a very old (no not that way, he’s younger than I am) friend of this blog, and a very close friend of both Jessica and I. I’ve personally found John to be simply a “Man for All Seasons”.

Since this is effectively a press release, I’m simply going to republish the whole thing.

St Mary’s University, Twickenham is pleased to announce that Prof John Charmley is to join the institution as Pro Vice-Chancellor for Academic Strategy in September 2016.

Prof Charmley is currently Head of the Interdisciplinary Institute for the Humanities, Associate Dean for Enterprise and Academic Director for Employability at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.

His role at St Mary’s is a senior leadership position and will be particularly focussed on developing, communicating and delivering the University’s strategy for teaching, learning and the wider student experience.

Educated at Pembroke College, Oxford, he obtained a first class degree in History in 1977 and was awarded his DPhil in 1983. He is the author of eight books on modern British politics, including the acclaimed Churchill: The End of Glorypublished in 1993.

Prof Charmley said, “I am looking forward to joining St Mary’s in September, meeting new colleagues and helping Britain’s premier Catholic University to build on its proud reputation for teaching excellence and student experience”

Vice-Chancellor Francis Campbell said, “I am delighted that Prof Charmley will be joining our senior team. He brings a wealth of experience from his roles at University of East Anglia and I am confident that he will make a significant contribution to our academic community.”

For those that don’t know (mostly American, I suspect) this is a very senior post at a very good Catholic University in the UK

Ramblings of an Antiquated Mind

This, all of it. remember it!

Practically Historical

Madison rolls over edition…

  • A US Congressman publicly proclaimed the US Constitution was written so the Federal government could expand its power- Madison rolls over…twice
  • So much time and effort is expended trying to refute Original Intent, considering all of our trouble lately, maybe it’s time to embrace it?
  • The Bill of Rights is not negotiable
  • Nine of the first ten amendments restrict government and enumerate individual rights- but gun control advocates want you to believe that the Second Amendment empowers government through a collective privilege?
  • Government did not give us the Bill of Rights- it was the creator
  • Instead of simply taking a selfie with Thomas Jefferson….visitors to Monticello should read some of his words.
  • Democrats unhappy with the current legislative agenda should try winning more elections, rather than wrinkling their $1,000 suits sitting on the floor.
  • So very sad when France deals with domestic terrorism in more forceful…

View original post 93 more words

And the last Word, for our British Friends and Cousins.

Out brexit

This was Tweeted by Elizabeth Hurley, and I’m inclined to give it credence. http://images1.fanpop.com/images/photos/1500000/Elizabeth-elizabeth-hurley-1548027-1024-768.jpg

This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,–
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

We’ve talked here about all the reasons you should vote leave, and I will not rehash them, yet again. But Thomas Paine was speaking to you, even as he was us, back on 23 December 1776 when he wrote this:

THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but “to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER” and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.

And mind you, that is exactly what is at stake in this referendum, the heritage you built (and passed on to us) of a free people in a free land. Great Britain or Britannia as the Romans called it. A mere outpost of a nondemocratic empire.

Soon we will know what you have decided, we Americans, like your own writers have told you what we see, and what we think you should do. But, as it should be, it is up to you, the people of Great Britain, especially England, which will decide the issue. Vote as you think right.

But we will always remember the Great Britain that inspired us, and fought by our side throughout the last century, with awe and thanks, and we will always remember that your bequest to us was our freedom, and power, and ability to mostly do the right thing. You know, this Great Britain.

You may choose, of course, the temporary safety of the German Zollverein, that is your privilege, but the world needs Great Britain to help lead it to ‘the broad sunlit uplands’, of freedom and peace, and so do we.

And so, as Charles James Fox during the Revolution wore the buff and blue of the Continental Army into Parliament, today I shall be wearing, the Union Jack in my lapel.

I Tweeted this morning a comment from The Conservative Woman because it says it all, and besides, there is nothing little about England, it’s freedom and language is the aspiration of the entire world.

 

 

Monday Miscellany

w1056This is interesting:

If the data is any indication, most of us use our phones more than we think: Participants estimated an average of 37 uses throughout the day (anything that turns on the screen, from hitting snooze to making a call), but the actual number was around 85. The slight majority took less than 30 seconds. (Participants also underestimated duration of use by about an hour — the real total was 5.05 hours — which included phone calls and listening to music when the screen was off.)

If you are awake for 16 hours, turning on or checking your phone 85 times means doing so about once every 11 minutes (and doesn’t account for internet use on a computer), and 5.05 hours is over 30 percent of the day. What might be the effect on reflection of this compulsive behavior?

In 2010, researchers led by Dr. Stephen Fleming at the Wellcome Trust Center for Neuroimaging at University College London published a paper in the journal Science in which they correlated introspective ability with the amount of gray matter in the prefrontal cortex. (Introspective ability was defined for the study as the accuracy of measuring one’s own performance on a visual-perception task, a sign of metacognition, or “thinking about thinking.”)

via The End of Reflection – The New York Times

I think they may be on to something here, when’s the last time we really thought something through?

So is this:

The eight-hour workday is an outdated and ineffective approach to work. If you want to be as productive as possible, you need to let go of this relic and find a new approach.

The eight-hour workday was created during the industrial revolution as an effort to cut down on the number of hours of manual labor that workers were forced to endure on the factory floor. This breakthrough was a more humane approach to work 200 years ago, yet it possesses little relevance for us today.

Like our ancestors, we’re expected to put in eight-hour days, working in long, continuous blocks of time, with few or no breaks. Heck, most people even work right through their lunch hour!

This antiquated approach to work isn’t helping us; it’s holding us back.

The Best Way To Structure Your Day

A study recently conducted by the Draugiem Group used a computer application to track employees’ work habits. Specifically, the application measured how much time people spent on various tasks and compared this to their productivity levels.

via Why The 8-Hour Workday Doesn’t Work

Maybe that’s why I tend to be more productive when I need new glasses, in about an hour the headache gets started.:)

In an article on boredom, my friend Amyclae note that Evagrius said this about the ‘demon of acedia’.

Is the most oppressive of all the demons. He attacks the monk about [10 A.M.] and attacks the soul until [2 P.M.]… He makes it appear that the sun moves slowly or not at all, and that the day seems to be fifty hours long. Then he compels the monk to look constantly towards the windows, to jump out of the cell, to watch the sun to see how far it is from [3 P.M.]… he instills in him a dislike for the place and for his state of life itself… He finds it would be better if he were not there.

via But Boredom

I resemble that remark all too often, I fear, sometimes even when I’m doing things.

‘Merica, or why we lead:

Hey, if it’s crazy and it works, is it really crazy? Randy Wagner’s neighbors in Rosharon, Texas, thought he was crazy when he started walling off his house with a big rubber tube:

“I was the crazy guy. Everybody was kinda going by, laughing at me. But today they are really impressed with this AquaDam,” said Wagner.

The Brazos River, known to most Americans only as a geographical feature in the Westerns of the thirties through the sixties, became a real threat to many Texans’ homes and even lives when it flooded. When the people of Rosharon and Brazoria County were warned to be prepared to evacuate, Randy Wagner had a different idea: could he prepare to save his home?

via “Crazy Guy” Saves his House from Flood

I’ll have more to say about Orlando, perhaps tomorrow, but for now, I want you to think about this. The best friends the gay community has are those whom Obama characterized as “It’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” Why? Because they’re the ones who will on their own initiative regardless of anything else, defend themselves and others. That too is the American Way.

Mike Rowe “Don’t follow your Passion, Live it”

There are only a few guys or girls that you see on TV that I really like. Leading that group is Mike Rowe. Why? because he tells us all the common sense things that many of us know. But there is a difference when I say it or Mike does. I suspect a fair number of you have seen this video from Prager University, but let’s watch it again together.

 

He’s right you know, the world doesn’t really need another gender studies major, but we do need people to keep the lights on and the toilets working, and you know, they get paid pretty damned well, if they’re good at it. I’m a fair example, I think, when I was in school, I had a pair of passions, first to fly Air Force bombers, and secondly to be an engineer. Well, I had hay fever and the Air Force (with good cause, once I understood it) didn’t want me anywhere near the cockpit of a B-52. You’ll understand if you’ve ever flown with a head cold. As for the engineering, well my brother in law was dead on when he said, he can do the work, but he’ll never make it through school. Maybe if I’d had better math teachers, but well, I didn’t.

But you know, I got my journeyman card as a power lineman on my 18th birthday, and by the time I was twenty-five, I was a master electrician. As an aside, it worked out for the best, I would’ve gone crazy stuck in an office when I was in my twenties, even my thirties. And I’ve made a pretty good living all these years, some better and some worse, of course. And I’ve turned into a near engineer as well. I’m one of those guys that can figure out how to do almost anything.

But Mike also did an interview lately that doesn’t have the 300K + views that the video above does. In it, he tells how he got to where he is today. I think it, although a bit longer, is even more powerful. Here it is. See if you don’t agree

And you know, that’s important. Look at everything around you in our civilized world, and think about this, most of what you (and I) take for granted, every day, was beyond the dreams of King George III, or Thomas Jefferson, or even the Pope. We have it because people, mostly without degrees, figured out how to do each and every step to get us here. I’d call that a pretty damned noble calling, especially when at oh dark thirty in the middle of a Nebraska blizzard, I don’t have to use a whale oil lantern to find the outhouse.

But somebody has to keep all this stuff working, and they get paid (usually well) to do it. Do you have what it takes to make it in my world?

Not many do.

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