Archive for December, 2012

The Destruction from Local Tax Abatements

December 19, 2012

A great new post over at Bacon’s Rebellion looking at the problem of tax abatements and tax incentives for the purposes of local economic development. Randy Salzman wraps the issue of tax abatements around the required rise in property values required to cover the losses realized in tax abatements. This, in turn, directly affects the funding of school systems, roads and highways, parks and recreation facilities, etc., etc.

The Catch 22 of Growth | Bacon’s Rebellion.

Thinking and the Federal Deficit.

December 19, 2012

Thinking and the federal deficit mat be two concepts that won’t often appear together – and from the public discourse one could say mutually exclusive – but if we get to the heart of the matter, both concepts are in critical need of being tied together. The days of believing we can simply throw more money at a social or economic issue are over.

In TSr Institute’s paper on Google Drive, The American Republic, I discuss the need for more engagement with our political system, but that engagement must come from an informed opinion. Informed = Education = Thinking. Dr. Derek Cabrera, of the Cabrera Research Labs at Cornell, mentions this critical aspect of maintaining a democracy in his TED talk at Williamsport on thinking.

While I confess I have little patience watching many video links that come my way, Cabrera bursts out of the gate on this one… he has to, since TED speakers have a very strict time limit in which to give a presentation.

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So Much for the Healthcare Savings from ACA

December 11, 2012

I never attended a town-hall meeting when the Affordable Care Act was making its way through the legislative process, nor turned red in the face screaming at my district’s House representative over death panels. But I did drink a large cup of skepticism over how much control over healthcare costs the ACA would render.

I wonder no more. In fact, it looks like we’re going to take a big step backwards in healthcare cost control.

Over at the Christian Science Monitor this morning, the Associated Press reports:

“Your medical plan is facing an unexpected expense, so you probably are, too. It’s a new, $63-per-head fee to cushion the cost of covering people with pre-existing conditions under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.” (more…)

Money in Politics – Innovation and Employment Suffers

December 10, 2012

After the Federal government’s debt-ceiling debacle in the summer of 2011, I posted a very brief white paper outlining some suggested reforms, aimed at reducing the massive dysfunctionality that seems to have taken root in D.C. One of those suggestions involved campaign financing:

“All organizations, profit or non-profit, should be banned from donating to campaigns; only individuals should be permitted to donate to campaigns, $1,000 maximum per individual per year.”

I was simply interested in returning good governance, and my proposal stemmed from a realistic assessment of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision: If we cannot take exception with corporations’ right to free speech – based on a legally thin contention of a corporation’s personhood – then we should simply ban all organizations from donating money. While this proposal will take out the good along with the bad organizations, this should allow it to withstand legal challenges, since all organizations are banned equally. This proposal will serve two purposes; 1) remove a major source of money from the U.S. political system along with its corrupting influence and 2) drastically decrease the cost of funding campaigns, thus allowing more third-party candidates to mount credible campaigns, and keep our elected officials back at their desk, doing their jobs rather than spending most of their time raising money. The latter, of course, operates under the assumption that extravagant campaigns will disappear, and so will the need for large war chests. (more…)

Tax Abatements Killing Cities

December 2, 2012

At the New York Times, Louise Story can, from time to time, crank out a devastating investigating piece on some aspect of our economy, and Saturday’s edition was no exception. “As Companies Seek Tax Deals, Governments Pay High Price,” Story investigates the high price being paid by local governments for providing tax abatements to companies, damn the long-term costs.

Here in my home state of Indiana, the story resonates. Local officials will provide tax abatements of such extended periods to small- to mid-cap companies with shaky financials, only to find the abatement period outlasts the company. For large companies, local officials will acts like dogs, trying to outdo the dog in the next county in their barking contests, and placing school budgets and property-tax rates at risk. In all cases, abatements are often provided in return for present and future job growth, only the job growth promised rarely materializes and, to add to the pathetic, neither local nor state officials track the promised job growth not link abatements to outcomes. (more…)


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