Archive for November, 2014

A Tax-Saving Plan For Businesses

November 13, 2014

With the election just barely over, so recent that the last Republican still hasn’t declared victory, those intimately tied to the outcome have already come calling, asking for their due. In an article entitled “Kochs target Republicans on tax breaks” (Politico 11-12-14) Brian Faler recounts “Powerful conservative groups including those backed by the Koch Brothers are pushing Republicans to take a hard line on a raft of expired tax breaks pending in the lame duck, an effort that could jeopardize party leaders’ hopes for a low-drama Congress. Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, Heritage Action for America and others want Republicans to capitalize on their election victory by killing some of the tax “extenders” they’ve long hated, such as a one subsidizing the wind energy industry.” Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the November 9, 2014 Newark Advocate ran some apparently disparate pieces on the local election income tax increase that “failed”. Their Opinion (editorial) reflects Analysis’s own pre election prediction – that the tax failed due to a lack of leadership marketing: “You could see it in the tepid push from Republican Mayor Jeff Hall, who seemed concerned about being tied to a tax increase a year before he must seek re-election. Outside a few sparsely attended meetings Hall hosted, there was no push by city leaders to show how paving money has been spent, what the needs are and how bad our streets will be very soon.” Ruing the loss, “That’s sad when you realize the successful flipping of 374 voters would have turned a loss into a win.” And ending with (the second to last line) “What’s perhaps most important though is for our leaders to become more willing to tell our community the stark truth rather even if it’s what they don’t want to hear.” Within that same edition, the paper tries to paint “the stark truth” a Joe Williams report “Roads face more decay without funds New tax not in plans for 2015, mayor says” In excruciating and painful detail, the funding of business street improvements that articulate with business interests is spelled out (downtown streetscapes, total west main rebuild from hospital to new fire station and North 21st St.) while residential streets will get winter cold patch at best, maybe some repaving in 2016. “Will that approach work at least long enough to get to the next round of more-permanent repairs? Some say it hasn’t worked so far, but city officials say they don’t know what other options they have right now. “There’s no magic out there for paving streets,” Hall said. “If there was, why would we go out and ask for more (money)?”” Immediately after the Opinion (editorial) promoting “tell(ing) our community the stark truth rather even if it’s what they don’t want to hear.” space is dedicated to a Guest Column from the community’s professional politician. “One way we have worked to revitalize Ohio’s economy is through the establishment of different kinds of tax credits.” Mr. Hottinger then goes on to recount all of the triumphant tax breaks of the last 4 years and the current bills for more. Ironically, this same paper that dresses itself with the stark truth that the populace does not want to hear printed a story by Chrissie Thompson for the Cincinnati Enquirer just the day before (11-8-14 “Leaders may join tax-bill challenge Cincy mayor says it attacks services”). In it Thompson writes of the initiative by Ohio’s local community leaders to restore their portion of state tax funding (lost over the past 4 years or threatening to be even more so by current House Bill 5). “Newark Mayor Jeff Hall said he would consider supporting a ballot initiative but would first have to see the final version of the bill that passes. “I would surely offer opposition (to the bill) if I thought it was not in the best interest of Newark,” he said. Hall, a former city treasurer, said he does not oppose simplifying municipal tax collections, “as long as it just doesn’t become revenue reduction.” “I question, at times, just how broken the tax system is,” Hall said. “(House Bill 5’s) intentions were to simplify taxes, but part of it has become a tax-saving plan for businesses.””

Now that businesses are persons, it certainly is the case that one person’s tax increase is another’s tax credit.

The Very Public-ness Of Democracy

November 11, 2014

“It’s the economy, stupid.” was the issue of elections in the 1990’s. No matter boom or bust, this has carried through as the case until the recent US Supreme Court Citizen’s United ruling. Since that decision, the focus has shifted widely, unpredictably and spasmodically. What is “the issue” is no longer being determined consensually.

The recent election, with its record low turn out and high stakes implications, was also the first post Citizens United mature exercise of money as speech. It was notably marked by a significant absence of any central consensual issue. It certainly wasn’t the economy, or national security, or jobs. Analysis finds that “non issue” was the predominant characteristic of the recent mid term election. This disparate but central (and ever present) “non issue” was primarily created and driven by the machinations made possible by the Supreme Court’s Citizen United ruling.

Analysis reveals various materializations from this recent “non issue” exercise in democracy. Labor (organizations and unions), the great bug-a-boo equalizer of the pro Citizen United argument, played a practically non existent role within the non issue midterm election. This is (and was only obviously) to be expected. It is impossible and illogical to believe that those whose labor exists solely to benefit and produce wealth for business ownership could ever “outspend” ownership itself. The NFL Player’s Association can never outspend the NFL owners who ultimately make union funding possible. Money, as speech, pretty much pre determines who is speaking (and being heard) now. Much of the ALEC driven legislation that fostered the candidacy and issues meant to undermine and eliminate labor organizations, public or private, was and is central to the recent election outcome (like right to work legislation). Why are organized employees such a threat to business ownership and its associations? Analysis finds that, with money legitimated as speech and the creation/predominance of “non issues” within the publicly accessible but privately owned media of recent elections, compelling reasons emerge. Organizations such as the AARP, NRA, or NAACP, etc. usually involve the exercise of free speech and communication within the organization itself (as well as outside). Newsletters and internal communiqués function to relay, reproduce and reinforce information and outlooks critical to the maintenance of the members’ interest. By eliminating employee based organizations, owners eliminate this communication, this exercise of free speech. Individual teachers, bus drivers, EMT’s, laborers, electricians, etc. become cut off from any speech or communication regarding their particular interests and needs. Employees become totally subservient to whatever issues are created, determined and broadcast by privately owned media. As recently witnessed by the “non issue” election, their genuine interests and needs will not be communicated at all.

Analysis articulates this degradation of democracy with its sibling, the emphasis on restricting access to the ballot box through personal ID requirements. Privately, within the sphere of what is today taken as essential social exchange (communication), an email address is a given presumption. Yet obtaining an email address is not a given. Without an ISP or some form of mobile communication service contract, an email account is not. Be it for reasons of super cookies or just plain old advertising mailing list, account providers (owners) need to know how to keep track of (and be able to contact) the account holder. The same applies for anyone entering the rolls of verifiable electorate. From there it is only a hop and a skip to requiring that the voter’s official ID be regularly “updated and stay current”. Given the Freedom of Information Act and the wonders of computer programming, exclusive and customized communication access to potential voters (customers) is virtually guaranteed. As the recent election just showed, with money as speech, “non issues” can readily be communicated as not only essential but central to upcoming elections. Without access to any alternate communication that is not privately owned (and determined by sale to the highest bidder), election results can be more easily managed by those with the most money. Analysis finds the image of an electorate having its heads bent, preoccupied by smart phones or tablets, totally absorbed within their own private “personal” communications to be rather derogatory of the very public-ness of democracy.

Post Halloween Horror

November 6, 2014

Well the election has come and gone. Reminds one of those so glibly criticized by the American press. You know, the ones showcased in totalitarian regimes where the voters get to say yea or nay to the party choice. We got to do just about the same with no pre-election recognition of opposition, in debate or critical response, let alone any discussion of issues, differences, directions and outlook. One designation, one determination, run with by all the major commercial media sources. Closer to home this blog can do nothing but step back and admire itself profusely. Back in the June 19, 2014 posting entitled “Well Versed” Analysis showed that unless the mayor and his administration donned cheerleading outfits and pom-poms with lusty “pass the tax!” cheers, it wasn’t going to happen. The mayor chose to eschew the pom-poms and short skirts for more rational informational discourse. True leadership. Let the electorate decide through rigorous community outreach. Kind-a like the ones held at the downtown hotel, before it was a Hilton, to get community input on the predetermined redevelopment of the courthouse square. As pointed out in the Sept. 19, 2014 posting (The Role Of Government Being Something Other Than The Welfare Of Its Citizens), full funding for the business district courthouse square renovation having been approved (a literal and actual fait accompli) while the infrastructure of average folks crumbles without revenue creates a post Halloween horror. Not to worry, sans pom-poms and short skirts, leadership was exercised through information sessions by which average folks could decide, take the lead (democracy in action). Besides, precedent had been set when the Licking County Transit Director opted to cut service and no one demanded he resign on account of his gross incompetence. In this day of government acting at the speed of business – and if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and poops like a duck, well it is a business! – the Director came across as the model of management. Unfortunately, in ditto situations, other state/county/city run “businesses” meant to benefit the citizens (directly or indirectly) have acted more like, well, private businesses. When lottery sales are down, the lottery commission promotes new games, advertises, etc. to promote sales. When the turnpike was losing car and truck traffic, speed limits, tolls, etc. were changed to promote more travel. When sports arenas aren’t drawing (and most are owned by government entity), advertising is used to promote events. Even COTA promotes ridership when numbers are down. No competent business manager cuts the product or service, their reason of business, what they rely on as essential. And yet that’s exactly what the Transit Board opted to do. What the mayor chose to do likewise. Average folks don’t get it that the business district will receive new streets, lights, etc. fully funded while their own roads languish. The post Halloween horror is that the city administration, like the county commissioners, simply don’t wish to put their money where it benefits the welfare of its citizens. Operating at the speed of business, they prefer keeping it with business.