Archive for April, 2011

After SC Tax vote, Amazon says UP YOURS!

Posted in Economy, FAIL, Government Folly, UGH! on April 29, 2011 by DaMook

Amazon logoAmazon.com is the largest and most successful on line marketplace with 33,700 employees and over $34B in revenue. One of the biggest reasons most people shop on the internet is the lack of sales tax on purchases – in most instances. Of course, state governments lament this “loss of revenue” and they have been looking hard at legislating this advantage away from internet merchants (more here). Amazon has been the obvious #1 target of the taxers and they have vowed to fight efforts to tax on-line purchases (more here).

One of the ways states can currently collect sales taxes from internet purchases is if the seller has a presence in the buyer’s state. For example, if you purchase an item from Amazon that comes from one of their affiliates and that affiliate has an outlet in your state, you pay the sales tax. One of the ways Amazon has fought this is to simply close their affiliate program in the states that enact on-line taxing legislation. According to this story Amazon has upped the ante with the state of South Carolina. After the legislature approved an internet tax, Amazon cancelled a project for a distribution center in Midlands. The plant is under construction and was anticipated to provide over 1200 jobs.

South Carolina lawmakers’ decision to deny a sales tax break for online retailer Amazon.com will cost Lexington County more than 1,200 jobs, but the effects could ripple across the state.

Some say the incentives were unfair to established brick-and-mortar retailers while others maintain the reneged deal will cause other industries to pause before bringing their business to South Carolina.

Amazon.com decided after the vote to cancel $52 million in procurement contracts and remove all job postings from its website for the Midlands plant, effectively saying goodbye to South Carolina.

Newly-elected republican governor Nikki Haley applauded the decision, saying that South Carolina wants to “level the playing field” for business. Ugh!

That did little to change Gov. Nikki Haley’s stance, and she applauded the House’s 71-47 decision in a visit to Charleston on Thursday.

‘When you come to South Carolina, we’re going to give you a fair competitive marketplace to do business, and we’re always going to take care of businesses that are in town,’ she said. ‘By allowing Amazon to get a tax break that we’re not giving to any other business in our state destroys what I am saying.’

Haley said retail is different from manufacturing because its jobs are subject to higher turnover and lower pay. ‘It is not a Boeing. It is not a BMW,’ she said during the Free Enterprise Foundation’s awards luncheon at The Citadel.

Amazon is not a Boeing or BMW so we don’t need their business? Those 1200 jobs are low-paying with high turnover – you know, the kind that Americans won’t do but Mexicans will. Great job, governor!

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Hope & Change update

Posted in Culture, FAIL, The Regime, UGH! on April 27, 2011 by DaMook

Two of the promises of Hope&Change was that the US would pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq and close GITMO. During the presidential campaign I had (briefly) discussed our dear comrade candidate with several good friends – people who I respect and like immensely. Their reasons for wanting to vote for the dear comrade were that he would get us out of the wars that Bush started and stop the torture at GITMO.

Just a reminder – after two years, here’s where we are:

If you’re tempted to say that we’re not actually at war with Libya, I pose this question: If a foreign power launched cruise missiles and air strikes on US soil, would you not consider that an act of war?

Well friends, how’s that hopey changey thing working out for you? Why are you strangely silent about this now?

Mini crossbow – I want one!

Posted in Cool Stuff, Humor, Thumbs Up! on April 25, 2011 by DaMook

Not sure if you can actually order one of these, but I WANT ONE!

How long before the government steps in and squashes this guy?

Regime threatens Boeing over new SC plant

Posted in BIG Government, FAIL, The Regime, UGH!, Unions Suck on April 25, 2011 by DaMook

dreamlinerIn an effort to meet increasing demand for its new 787 Dreamliner, Boeing needs to expand its production capacity. In 2009 the company concluded that they needed to ramp up production in the face of stiff competition from Airbus (380) for the jumbo jet market. So Boeing went to the largest employee union to negotiate terms for the additional manufacturing capacity, even though it was not required to do so. After losing $1.8B to a 2008 strike, Boeing wanted some assurances that the unions wouldn’t cause problems for the new production lines. The union balked on the no strike terms, demanded a seat on Boeing’s board of directors and a guaranty that all future aircraft production remain in the Seattle area. Since the union refused to bargain in good faith, Boeing decided to move the new production lines to South Carolina – a Right To Work state. They bought a Vought production facility and began constructing the plant.

This story should have ended right there. Boeing tried to negotiate with the union for the new production lines and the union wouldn’t budge so the company decided to go elsewhere. Boeing announced their decision 18 months ago. The new production facility is scheduled to start running in July and there are currently 1000 new employees in South Carolina. Last week the story took a new and dangerous turn as the NRLB, part of the regime, decided to sue Boeing in an effort to block the new facility. Their reason for the suit? That Boeing did this in retaliation against the union (stories here, here, and here).

This week, the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint over Boeing’s plans to open a plant in South Carolina. Boeing is not seeking to outsource work to a foreign country. Boeing has chosen a manufacturing location in the U.S. based on cost and risk factors. It plans to open a second production line of its 787 Dreamliner plane there. The plant has been built.

Boeing executives have acknowledged that they were reluctant to expand in Washington state because of the risk of a labor strike. Boeing’s workers in Washington belong to the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Its plant in South Carolina would be nonunion.

Seizing on the words of Boeing executives, the NLRB inferred that the decision to choose South Carolina was retaliation against the union. The labor board demands that Boeing open the second production line in Washington.

Retaliation? Sounds more like the U.S. government — the NLRB — is retaliating against Boeing for seeking a better business climate in South Carolina. Appointments by President Barack Obama have given the five-member NLRB a pro-labor tilt.

Boeing tried to negotiate with the union – two years ago. The company is not moving all Dreamliner production, just the new capacity. No union jobs in Seattle are affected. If Boeing really wanted to stick it to the union, they could have moved the whole shebang to South Carolina.

The question here is this: Does the federal government have the authority to prevent a company from opening a plant wherever they choose? Apparently they believe they do. And, according to this piece (from the Washington Examiner), Boeing might be facing an uphill battle.

Boeing is not free to make its jets at the factory of its choosing, according to the National Labor Relations Board — it must make them in Washington state, using union labor.

This extraordinary abridgement of economic freedom might suggest an anti-Boeing vendetta from President Obama, except that this administration’s Export-Import Bank has subsidized Boeing with nearly $15 billion in loan guarantees in the past two years — roughly three-quarters of all of Ex-Im’s guarantees during that time.

This puts Boeing in an awkward position. The NLRB is surely overreaching in trying to block Boeing from making some of its 787s in South Carolina, a right-to-work state (NLRB calls this illegal retaliation against the machinists and aerospace workers union for its 2005 and 2008 strikes). In its effort to fight back, Boeing could be defanged by its reliance on big government. It’s a cautionary tale for Obama’s other corporate allies — from the drug industry that benefits so much from Obamacare to the tech, agrichem, coal, and other industries that have benefitted from the president’s corporatism.

Boeing and Obama, both based in Chicago, have a real political friendship. In 2008, Obama was by far the biggest recipient of campaign contributions from Boeing employees and executives, hauling in $197,000 — five times as much as John McCain, and more than the top eight Republicans combined.

So Boeing could be talking out of both sides of its mouth here. If you suck up to the government and politicians for benefits, don’t complain when they call in their chips.

In Boeing’s situation, it’s not only Uncle Sam who has leverage purchased with corporate welfare.

Washington state, Illinois and Chicago have given Boeing billions in favors. Do you think these Democratic governors wouldn’t squeeze Boeing, too? Does anyone doubt the new mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, would play politics with Boeing’s subsidies in order to help his old boss, Obama? (Of course, the disputed Boeing factory in South Carolina got hundreds of millions in state subsidies, too.)

Forever, business has been seduced by the promise of free money from government, along with regulation to clear out competition. Boeing has been the foremost among businesses partnering with Uncle Sam.

This is what our system of “Crony Capitalism” is all about…

Government wants to regulate icemakers (sigh)

Posted in BIG Government, Climategate, FAIL, Goin' Green, Government Folly, UGH! on April 25, 2011 by DaMook

Remember the “old” refrigerators before ice makers? You had those 2 ice trays that you had to keep refilling and you never had enough ice if you had more than 3 people at a party. As someone who loves a glass full of ice with my drink, I appreciate the convenience of the ice maker. Most of us don’t even think about it any more – we just put the glass under the ice dispenser and enjoy a cold drink. Well, in an effort to save you from “climate change,” your government is about to do something about that horrible, wasteful ice maker (story here).

In its latest effort to save the planet from global warming, the U.S. government is on the verge of regulating ice makers commonly found in many refrigerators because they increase energy consumption by a good 12 to 20%.

This could be detrimental to the environment since there are more than 100 million refrigerators across the nation and they devour a substantial chunk of the electricity used by all households. Energy consumed by refrigerators as a whole has long been documented but not what the ice makers inside their freezers use individually.

Americans can finally sleep soundly through the night because government scientists have completed the ice maker study and the findings have been beautifully laid out in a 79-page report titled Energy Consumption of Automatic Ice Makers Installed in Domestic Refrigerators. The information is being used to make a case for regulating the popular little machines that are contributing to the planet’s destruction.

In a nutshell, the culprit is the tiny motor inside the freezing system that’s used to release ice from the mold and into a tray. Because the motor is specially built to function in a cold setting, it requires an internal heater to keep it from freezing up. Here’s where it gets serious; heating elements require a lot of power and that’s where the extra energy consumption kicks in.

OK, I get it – refrigerators consume a lot of power (we have 3 of them). But what if I’m OK with that and am willing to pay for it? What if I don’t mind paying a little extra for the convenience of having as much ice as I want, whenever I want it? It’s a simple matter to disconnect the ice maker if you don’t want to use it. The salient question is this: Do we really need some government apparatchik controlling the use of our refrigerator?

The Obama Administration has been quite active in its campaign to enlighten Americans about the ills of global warming. A few months ago a group of esteemed scientists from several public universities warned that climate change will make food “dangerous” and add to the malnourishment of millions worldwide.

Before that separate government evaluations revealed that global warming causes mental illness and cancer and that it creates national security threats by spreading disease among people and animals. Authored by government scientists from various agencies, the mental illness/cancer report claims global warming is one of the “most visible environmental concerns of the 21st century” The separate national security assessment, made by intelligence and health officials, says climate change will destabilize developing nations as well as the U.S. economy and military.

Mental illness? I guess that explains this nonsense. SHEEESH!

Spending cuts – how about this approach?

Posted in Culture, Economy, Heros, Thumbs Up! on April 14, 2011 by DaMook

Thomas Sowell is a brilliant economist and social commentator. His commentary rarely contains invective and he generally presents a common sense, libertarian point of view. With all the talk (and no action) about spending cuts and getting the federal budget under control, Sowell presents a more rational approach. While his suggestions won’t eliminate the deficit, they present a path of least resistance to beginning the process that is so desperately needed. (more here)

My plan would start by cutting off all government transfer payments to billionaires. Many, if not most, people are probably unaware that the government is handing out the taxpayers’ money to billionaires. But agricultural subsidies go to a number of billionaires. Very little goes to the ordinary farmer.

Big corporations also get big bucks from the government, not only in agricultural subsidies but also in the name of “green” policies, in the name of “alternative energy” policies, and in the name of whatever else will rationalize shoveling the taxpayers’ money out the door to whomever the administration designates, for its own political reasons.

The usual political counter-attacks against spending cuts will not work against this new kind of spending cut approach. How many heart-rending stories can the media run about billionaires who have lost their handouts from the taxpayers? How many tears will be shed if General Motors gets dumped off the gravy train?

It would also be eye-opening to many people to discover how much government money is going into subsidizing all sorts of things that have nothing to do with helping “the poor” or protecting the public. This would include government-subsidized insurance for posh and pricey coastal resorts, located too dangerously close to the ocean for a private insurance company to risk insuring them.

This approach would not only circumvent the sob stories, it would also circumvent the ideological battles over whether to cut off money to Planned Parenthood or National Public Radio.

The money to be saved by cutting off agricultural subsidies to the wealthy and the big corporations is vastly greater than the money to be saved by cutting off Planned Parenthood or National Public Radio, much as they both deserve to be cut off.

And what about the 3rd rail programs like Social Security and Medicare? Most politicians have declared these “off the table” as far as discussions of budget cutting. But they can be modified as well.

Social Security and Medicare are supposed to be among the most difficult programs to cut without ruinous political consequences. However, it is not necessary to attack all the spending on these programs in order to make big savings.

Instead of attacking these programs as a whole, what is far more vulnerable is the compulsory aspect of these programs. If Medicare is so great, why is it necessary for the government to force people to be covered by Medicare as a precondition for receiving the money they paid into Social Security?

Many people with private health insurance would rather continue to rely on that, instead of being trapped in Medicare red tape. It is not a question of taking away Medicare but allowing people to opt out, saving the taxpayer from having to subsidize something that many people don’t want.

It is not a question of forcing people off Social Security either. But private retirement accounts can offer a better deal.

Even someone who retires when the stock market is down is almost certain to get a bigger pension from a decent mutual fund than from Social Security.

By giving young people the option, while continuing to honor commitments to retirees and those nearing retirement age, the sob story defense of runaway spending can be nipped in the bud.

Sounds simple. You have to wonder why no one is thinking in these terms.

Politician: Detroit “deserves” bailout or something

Posted in BIG Government, Culture, Economy, FAIL, Government Folly, Government Waste/Fraud/Abuse, Huh? WTF?, UGH! on April 13, 2011 by DaMook

Detroit Packard PlantDetroit, home of the “Big 3” US auto manufacturers (2 of which are on government life support), is the epitome of failed government social policies. Mired in political corruption (more here and here), with an abysmal school system (more here) and fleeing population, the city has become an economic and industrial wasteland (more here and here). While mayor Dave Bing deserves some credit for at least trying to turn things around, others in the city government believe that Detroit deserves a taxpayer bailout (story here from the Detroit News). Huh? WTF?

Councilwoman JoAnn Watson is reiterating her call for a government bailout of Detroit, saying the city that built the middle class deserves as much help as Wall Street or General Motors.Addressing the City Council today during Mayor Dave Bing’s budget presentation, Watson gave a spirited pitch for federal funds to help the city whose population declined 25 percent since 2000 to 713,777.

“We are worth it. We are worth at least as much as General Motors or Chrysler or the Wall Street bankers,” Watson said. “It was this city that built military vehicles for World War II. It was this city that (invented) the middle class and the five-day work week.

“We should not be in a position to be victims. We are victors. And we should demand respect.”

General Motors received $52 billion in government aid, while Chrysler received $12.5 billion, according to published reports. Mayor Dave Bing has traveled to Washington, D.C., repeatedly seeking more federal funds for Detroit.

Watson has floated the idea for years. The liberal magazine the Nation named Watson one of its 14 MVPs in 2009 for promoting a “multifacted Detroit Marshall Plan to revitalize her economically battered city.”

In the past, Watson has said the city deserves at least $1 billion.

Declared a “Model City” by the LBJ administration in the 1960’s, Detroit has received hundreds of millions in taxpayer funding. And now Detroit demands “respect.” How sad…

For a pictorial view of this disaster see these photo essays: