Posts filed under Taxes

Billionaires for Bing or Orr

Here’s some fiscally responsible conservative government from the state-appointed Emergency Management of the city government of Detroit. Whoever is running the city government in Detroit — whether it’s elected city officials, or appointed Emergency Managers, or the direct intervention of the state government — and no matter how much they may protest that they can’t pay the bills when it comes to roads, or firefighters’ pensions, or schools — nothing will prevent a taxpayer-subsidized stadium from being built. Got to keep your priorities straight; and priority number one is, of course, taking money out of the pockets of Detroit taxpayers and giving it to billionaire developer and CEO Mike Ilitch.

Mike Ilitch holds the cup

New Red Wing Arena Should Be Unaffected By Detroit Bankruptcy

Michigan’s state legislature approved Wednesday a $450 million bond offering that would form the public backbone of [Ilitch Holding’s] $650 million entertainment center and development district near the heart of downtown Detroit.

The bonds will be floated by the Michigan Strategic Fund, which handles all of the state’s private development funds. The public, $283 million portion of the bonds will come from the Downtown Development Authority, which earmarks a slice of downtown property taxes for reinvestment there. They both have investment-grade credit ratings and function independently of Detroit’s city government, which makes their involvement in the deal important. Detroit’s credit rating is somewhere between junk status and radioactive.

— Melvin Blackman, New Red Wing Arena Should Be Unaffected By Detroit Bankruptcy
Wall Street Journal MoneyBeat (July 25, 2013)

Most of the Development District is going towards demolishing several buildings north of downtown, and building a new stadium, at taxpayer expense, for the Red Wings, which Mike Ilitch also owns and profits from.

The public will pay nearly 60 percent of the cost of the proposed $450 million Detroit Red Wings arena in downtown Detroit under a plan disclosed Wednesday.

Property taxes would pay for $261.5 million (58 percent) of the building’s construction cost while the team’s ownership would provide $188.4 million (42 percent), according to details provided by the state. . . . Those are July 2013 dollars based on bonds with a 5.91 percent interest rate. Critics have blasted the arena deal as unnecessary subsidies for a billionaire pro sports team owner in a city in municipal bankruptcy. Detroit’s state-appointed emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, has said the city’s recent Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection filing won’t affect the arena project.

— Bill Shea, Detroit taxpayers to fund 60 percent of Red Wings arena, plan shows
Crain’s Detroit Business (July 25, 2013)

It does not matter who’s in charge of city government, and it doesn’t matter what political or legal constraints are supposedly put on them: the political machine always produces output to certain specifications, and part of the spec is what needs to keep running, and who needs to stay paid. In case you were wondering, citizen, that’s not you, or anyone else small enough to fail. (If you don’t get the reference in the title of this post, it’s probably because you kids today, etc. etc. Here’s something from the last century to remind you.)

Also.

Wednesday Lazy Linking

  • Marketplace (May 9, 2013): Does fair trade clothing help the consumer and the retailer?: NPR’s Marketplace features a short story on Fair Trade certification for clothing, and efforts to address the working conditions in Bangladesh sweatshops. Along the way, there’s a couple quotes from my co-editor on Markets Not Capitalism, Gary Chartier, about the supply-chain practices that many clothing-industry TNCs use to displace responsibility and insulate themselves from accountability for lethal working conditions in their factories.

  • Cathy Reisenwitz @ Sex And The State (May 15, 2013): Fighting Sexism, Sexily I’ve long contended that libertarians have a habit of downplaying or denying certain problems when they don’t like the proposed solutions. For example, when people talk about sexism, or the wage gap, it’s common for a libertarian to retort that the wage gap isn’t real, or can be explained by individual choices. I understand this desire to avoid the coercive solutions many people suggest for fighting sexism . . . The thing is, Rothbard was super bothered by a state monopoly on force. We libertarians need to get really bothered by sexism. And then we need to come up with cultural, and not state, solutions. . . . (With an example of creative thinking and guerrilla theater, featuring a cheesecake pin-up poster of Bro-sie the Riveter.)

  • Marja Erwin (May 2, 2013): Trans Politics and Colonialism: A Few Questions?. Read the whole thing.

  • Marja Erwin (April 23, 2013): I still think market anarchism has a lot to contribute to the rest of anarchism. This too. I think it’s important to have a system where people can communicate what they need, and what they want, and what they don’t need, and what they can do to help, and I think it’s important to have systems where people can work things among themselves, if for some reason they can’t work things out through the community or union or federation orgs. . . . (Against all monopolizations of social capital.)

  • Mark Stoval @ On the Mark (May 7, 2013) claims that he is going to take A look at Mutualism. In comments, Roderick Long points out that he ought to have looked harder. Or, really, tried looking at any mutualist writing at all, rather than just doing what he seems to have done, which was to scan ahead until he reached a fixed phrase (labor theory of value, occupancy and use) that convinced him that he already knows everything that he needs to know about the rest of the book. Nearly everything that Mark claims about Mutualists is a ridiculous travesty of Kevin Carson’s views; and evidence that he knows nothing about Mutualists other than Kevin Carson. But Roderick’s intervention in the comments section is right-on.

  • Forbes (May 15, 2013): Suit Alleges IRS Improperly Seized 60 Million Personal Medical Records. You know what the worst part of this story is? The part about having an Internal Revenue Service, to surveill daily expenses and seize personal data, all in order to investigate and police tax payments. Seriously, there is no possible way to square that with basic civil liberties, and it ought to be abolished.

  • BBC (May 6, 2013): Lauryn Hill jailed for tax evasion. Partly this is a story about the government’s tax-policing. Partly it’s a story about the financial traps that are imposed by the structure of state capitalism, and the ways in which tax structures systemically confine people — both very wealthy people, like Hill, and very poor people as well — to high-liquidity, cash-producing business and employment. The Grammy-winning singer, 37, also faces three months of home confinement, after pleading guilty last year. Hill failed to pay taxes on about $1.8m (£1.2m) of earnings between 2005-07. In a statement to the judge, Hill said she had intended to pay the taxes but could not after withdrawing from public life and ending her music career to raise her children. . . . I am a child of former slaves who had a system imposed on them, Hill said in court. I had an economic system imposed on me. Free Lauryn Hill and all political prisoners.

  • Dominic Gover, International Business Times (May 7, 2013): Lauryn Hill Blames Slavery as She’s Jailed for $500,000 Unpaid Tax Bill. Oh by the way, did I mention that the judge is also forcing Lauryn Hill to undergo counselling because of her conspiracy theories [sic] as a condition of her plea? Where conspiracy theories means political dissent from the status quo.

  • Jim Epstein @ reason.com (May 7, 2013): Government Assault on the Chinatown Bus Industry Fueled By Bogus Federal Study. In which the government takes care of Greyhound’s competitors for them, using an error-ridden bogus safety study, which uses Greyhound’s own crashes to prove that their curbside competitors are less safe. The study is like a matryoshka doll of clumsy errors and statistical malpractice; every time you spot them one error and set it aside for the sake of argument, you find another error, just as atrocious as the last one, nested inside of it.

  • Home School Legal Defense Association (May 14, 2013): German Family Denied Asylum, HSLDA Appeals. The judge’s decision to deny asylum is appalling. From the press release: The court said that the Romeikes had not made a sufficient case, and that the United States has not opened its doors to every victim of unfair treatment. Well no, no they haven’t. But they say that like it ought to be a problem for the victims of unfair treatment. Actually, it is a problem with the United States, which needs to stop acting as a gatekeeper and get out of the way. It is appalling that any peaceful immigrant should be turned away, for any reason. Solidarity with all people without papers, and all immigrants without status.

  • Free Adam Kokesh (May 20, 2013): Adam Kokesh Accused of Felony Assault on Federal Officer — No Bail Yet: It looks pretty clearly like he is being held on a vacuous detained-by-will-of-the-cop charge — in this case, resisting arrest and assault on a federal officer — for getting himself shoved by a Federal Officer and then grabbing the arm of the dude who was physically attacking him. His hearing is set for Thursday; in the meantime he is in contact with his attorney but has been denied the opportunity to make phone calls (content warning: Alex Jones links, feh).

  • DinoGoss (May 11, 2013): The Validity of Lambeosaurus — Anybody Know A Good Lawyer? I Am Not A Taxonomist, but I’m inclined to think that if your system would throw out Lambeosaurus at this point in favor of Didanodon altidens that’s probably a problem with your naming system not a problem with current use of Lambeosaurus.

  • Lucy Cooke @ Vimeo (February 8, 2013): BUCKET OF SLOTHS. Exactly what it says on the tin.

Have you seen what they do with that stuff?

In a conversation over on Facebook about the quarrels among the governing politicals parties over fiscal policy and deadlines, Keith Taylor summoned the spectre of repudiating the US government’s debts. This is as you may know the course that I favor for moral reasons; I also think that it is, rhetorically and strategically speaking, the best demand for radicals to make. (Any other demand, any bit of reformism, is always going to entangle you in an inescapable, and ultimately ridiculous trap: it’s not a radical’s job to try to find a way to keep the apparatus of government or the apparatus of global finance capital running efficiently. Our only job is to demand that people be freed of the coercive and exploitative demands of both.) Anyway, in reply to Keith’s comments, David Miller replied:

As the resident non-radical, there’s a lot I could say here, but I’ll just ask — how do you just cancel the debt? Investors and foreign governments buy up our debt because they see the U.S. as a trustworthy investment (a fact that eludes the people who endlessly try to terrify people into thinking we’re on the brink of financial collapse). If you just declare that it doesn’t exist, how do you not topple the global economy in the process?

Here are my answers to David’s questions and comments.

Q1. How do you just cancel the debt?

A. By not paying it anymore.

C1. Investors and foreign governments buy up our debt because they see the U.S. as a trustworthy investment … .

A. Right, and if the government repudiates its debts then they may no longer be willing to buy up government bonds in the future. Now, this might seem like a bad thing if you think it’s important to make sure that the US government is always able to issue more bonds in order to raise more money. But how desirable or even acceptable that is is going to look will depend (in part) on how desirable or even acceptable you think it is for the US government to have lots of ready cash. Since the major function of US government debt has always been to fund the US government’s imperial foreign policy and its repeated capital-intensive wars; and since the ready cash it has is constantly put into merciless bombing, war machines, atom bombs, international sanctions, drug prohibitions, prisons, ICE raids, border patrols, detention centers, warrantless wiretaps and surveillance, assassinations, military incursions, and the whole apparatus of massive global violence — along with the occasional multitrillion dollar banking bailout to preserve the habitats of endangered capitalists — I really have trouble seeing the loss here.

Q2. If you just declare that it doesn’t exist, how do you not topple the global economy in the process?

A. I think there’s a big and important difference between toppling the government’s account books and toppling the global economy. That said, toppling the present economic system would also be a massive improvement for the overwhelming majority of people in the world.

I didn’t mention this on Facebook, but I will add here that the fundamental flaw in most pragmatic discussions of fiscal policy, debts, and repudiation is that they are pervaded by an unargued presumption that government offers services that benefit the people it governs. In fact the overwhelmingly dominant function of government, in everything it does, is overwhelming dominance; it is characteristically an institution of violence against the governed, not a service to them. It would be better for us to take all the cash that government takes in through credit issues or through taxes and pile it up on the White House lawn, douse it in gasoline, and set all that money on fire than for it go towards keeping the U.S. Treasury running.

Also.

Change You Can Believe In (Vol. III, No. 10)

From Adam Serwer, in Mother Jones (18 Oct 2011):

Barack Obama Deported More Immigrants This Year Than Any Other President in American History.

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement announced Tuesday that it has reached a new record number of deportations for Fiscal Year 2011: 396,906 removals of unauthorized immigrants.

The numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. Last year ICE miscounted the number of deportations, and the number was revised down to 387,790, still a record. Or at least it was a record, until today. ICE has previously stated it has the resources to deport about 400,000 people a year, which means that Tuesday’s number puts ICE around 3,000 people shy of the total number of people the agency says it has the capacity to deport.

… In the twisted bizarro world of Washington politics, media conventions have obliged journalists to report with equal “balance” the Republican claim that Obama is pursuing a policy of “backdoor amnesty” even as he racks up more deportations than any president ever before… . What you won’t hear about, however, is the human cost to the families, citizen and non-citizen, impacted by the sheer volume and efficiency of the Obama administraton’s immigration removal policy

— Adam Serwer, Open-Borders Obama Sets New Deportation Record, in Mother Jones (18 Oct 2011)

But of course once the U.S. government has stormed your home, locked you in a hellhole detention camp, separated you from your family, and cast you out thousands of miles from your home, they’re not really done with you. Because the United States government hardly stops at United States borders — our Progressive Peace President is a humanitarian and his campaign for peace, democracy and human rights will bring Hope and Change to you in whatever land you may be exiled to. For example, by forcing your former neighbors to subsidize governments that draft child soldiers and send them to kill you:

Barack Obama Forces U.S. Taxpayers To Subsidize Armies That Use Child Soldiers In Conflict Zones

President Barack Obama has decided to waive almost all the legally mandated penalties for countries that use child soldiers and provide those countries U.S. military assistance, just like he did last year.

The White House is expected to soon announce its decision to issue a series of waivers for the Child Soldiers Protection Act, a 2008 law that is meant to stop the United States from giving military aid to countries that recruit soldiers under the age of 15 and use them to fight wars. The administration has laid out a range of justifications for waiving penalties on Yemen, South Sudan, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all of which amount to a gutting of the law for the second year in a row.

… In a meeting with NGO representatives on Tuesday afternoon at the White House, State Department officials, led by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Dan Baer, explained this year’s reasons why the White House will continue to give military funding to countries that use child soldiers.[1]

Fo r South Sudan, State Department officials argued that since the country didn’t exist when the latest report on child soldier abuse came out, that country doesn’t fall under the law. Their reasoning is that the report in question, known as the 2011 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, came out June 27. South Sudan was declared independent 12 days later on July 9. They will receive $100 million in U.S. military aid this year.

“South Sudan may be a new country, but it’s not a blank slate here,” one attendee at the White House meeting told The Cable. “There’s been two decades of child soldier use and unfulfilled promises by the [Sudan People’s Liberation Army].”

For Yemen, the administration’s argument is simply that counterterrorism cooperation with that country is too important to suspend. Yemen is set to receive $35 million from the United States in foreign military financing. What stunned activists in the room, however, was State Department officials’ admission that they don’t know who actually controls the Yemeni military these days.

“The officials said, ‘We don’t even know day by day who we’re even talking to,’” one attendee reported.

— Josh Rogin, Obama waives penalties on countries that employ child soldiers — again! in Foreign Policy: The Cable (4 October 2011)

But I am sure that their collaboration is vital to defeating terror and safeguarding human rights throughout the world. Whoever the hell they are.

Oh well, close enough for government work, anyway. The more things Change….

See also.

  1. [1] Sic. Actually the announcement from Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Dan Baer — since the White House has nothing to give and countries don’t use soldiers, is that the White House will continue forcing U.S. taxpayers to give multimillion-dollar subsidies to war criminals.

Tertium Non Dant

From Tim Cavanaugh, Steven Chu, Oh Where Are You? (Solyndra Roundup), at Reason.com:

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that a new poll indicates few Americans are paying attention to the Solyndra scandal, and most still support so-called clean energy initiatives … . More surprising than the continued support for solar power is the apparent support for spending taxpayer dollars on it, which the report from Public Opinion Strategies has at 62 percent, versus 31 percent opposed. However, I’m a little skeptical of the strongly leading questions:

There are thousands of successful and profitable clean energy and clean technology companies all across America; the failure of one California company should not stop us from continuing to make targeted public investments to help create American clean energy jobs. 62%
The collapse of Solyndra shows that investing taxpayer dollars in so-called green jobs is a waste of money; these businesses cannot compete or succeed on their own without government assistance, and we cannot afford to prop them up with government funding. 31%

I hope the remaining 7 percent answered, as I would have, Both of these options are stupid. I don’t want my taxes subsidizing private companies of any kind, and I’m aware that the amount of energy conventional solar power generates is modest. But how the hell should I know whether solar businesses can compete or succeed without government assistance?

The only way to find out whether these companies can work in the marketplace is to let them compete without government assistance.

— Tim Cavanaugh, Steven Chu, Oh Where Are You? (Solyndra Roundup), at Reason.com, 29 September 2011

See also.