Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Two Monuments

The Colfax Massacre occurred during Reconstruction when Republicans, many of whom were black, won the election. The White League and kukluxklan joined forces to take back the Parish Court House. 300 armed white militia faced black and white defenders of the court house. When James Hadnot was shot by his own men, the attackers started to shoot the black defenders who had surrendered. 48 were killed that day and the white militia turned its anger on the black residents.

Villifying Black Republicans. Colfax Riot, 48 Black Americans massacred after surrendering and another 100 residents killed by the white mob.

Sign erected by the Colfax Chamber of Commerce in 1951 commemorating the Colfax Riot. The exact count of Black Americans shot to death after surrendering is uncertain. It ranges anywhere from 80 to 300. Three White Americans die.

Heroes Fighting for White Supremacy

Honoring White Supremacists. The greatest travesty was the SCOTUS decision by the Waite court.

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On the erection of Confederate memorials: in which I have to get this off my chest

(Update…Dan here…I erroneously posted this post under Barkley”s name but it is NDd.)
On the erection of Confederate memorials: in which I have to get this off my chest

Below is a photograph of the World War Two Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Keep it in the back of your mind. I’ll return to it.

I am a data nerd, and leaping to conclusions about data is a pet peeve of mine. I really hate it when anyone, and particularly my own side, falls for groupthink, jumping to instant conclusions which then become the only acceptable opinion. In the last 48 hours, without consideration of other possibilities, or looking for contrary vs. corroborating data, it seems that just about everyone on the center and left has become an instant expert on the fact that Confederate statues were erected because of Jim Crow.

In support of that, a number of graphics, such as this one, have been used:

So, has it occurred to nobody that there might be a more straightforward reason why there would be a huge spike in Memorials (cough, cough, hint, hint) ***50*** and ***100*** years after the Civil War?

Yes there were a number of racial incidents that occurred in the 1910s.  But before the last 48 hours, the general consensus was that there was a resurgence in violence associated with white supremacy in the 1920s, not the 1910s.

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Donald Trump’s White House

Newspaper Editorial Cartoonists are having a field day with Donald Trump’s comments condoning the Charlottesville’s supremacists rioting, killing one person, and injuring many more. Living his father’s legacy of racism and supporting ku klux klan. Trump 2015: “ My legacy has its roots in my father’s legacy.”

Trump’s staff is complaining Trump went rogue and David Duke kkk member is applauding. If Trump finds himself alone as more people abandon the White House, I doubt he will care and sink into another unintelligible bombastic rage.

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Woodie Guthrie, Racism, Trump, and Beach Haven

From an old sixties coffee house person, just a little history. In 1950, Woodie Guthrie signed a two year lease to reside in a Fred Trump’s Brooklyn development. Having wandered around the countryside for a number of years, he knew the North did not have any special claim to racial enlightenment. One event of a shooting at a bus terminal in Freeport, Long Island stuck in his mind. “Ferguson Brothers Killing” by Woody Guthrie.

“The town that we ride through is not Rankin, Mississippi,
Nor Bilbo’s Jim Crow town of Washington, D. C.
But it’s greater New York, our most fair-minded city
In all this big land here and streets of the brave.

Who’ll tell these three boys that their Daddy is gone?
(He helped whip the Fascists and Nazis to death)
Who’ll tell these three sons that Jim Crow coffee
Has killed several thousand the same as their dad?”

Fred Trump used federal funding to build what became known as Beach Haven and what Woody would call “Bitch Havens” in time and after discovering the racism of Fred Trump. Fred methodically blocked black Americans from taking resident in his development. Woody responded with a song called “Old Man Trump.”

“I suppose
Old Man Trump knows
Just how much
Racial Hate
he stirred up
In the bloodpot of human hearts
When he drawed
That color line
Here at his
Eighteen hundred family project ….”

Fred Trump was arrested in 1927 for participating in a Ku Klux Klan rally in Queens. The Beach Haven apartment complex was built afterwards and it was was intended to give returning WW II veterans affordable housing. With his words to the public about the Charlottesville riots by white supremacists, Donald could have changed what his father left as a legacy for him. Instead, he purposely chose not to do to placate them. As David Duke said publically. . . . “remember who put you in office.”

Trump 2015: “ My legacy has its roots in my father’s legacy.”

In the age of Trump, we need another Woodie Gunthrie to remind us of our history. Then too, Trump would probably tie him up in court.

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Why subsidize protectionism motivated investors?

The already infamous case of Foxconn in Wisconsin illustrates a dynamic we are likely to witness more before we are rid of the illegitimate Trump regime. One of the regime’s hallmarks has been a set of unpredictable trade policies with a definite protectionist tilt. The United States was withdrawn from the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement on January 23. On May 19, the regime officially announced it would renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

If you’re a company dependent on exports to the United States, these are worrisome developments. Given that the country had $2.7 trillion in imports and an overall trade deficit of $502.3 billion in 2016, there are quite a few companies dependent on exporting to the United States. Therefore, the environment is threatening for them at present.

The classic response, as I wrote before, is to protect access to the U.S. market by making your product in the United States. This is what foreign automakers did in the 1980s, in the face of so-called “voluntary export restraints” on Japanese cars. Being committed to a particular site means that a company’s bargaining power with the host government is sharply reduced. However, thanks to U.S. federalism, all is not lost for a company that really needs to locate in the United States.

Since each state has access to large revenues and budgets, and because the U.S. Constitution has not been interpreted to mean that location incentives violate the Commerce Clause (read: Cuno v. Daimler-Chrysler), state and local governments are able to reward companies for doing something they would have done anyway: Come to the United States. Even in the Foxconn case, where the firm obviously wanted to be in House Speaker Paul Ryan’s district, it created the illusion that it might go elsewhere, which was all it had to do to get Wisconsin to cough up an obscene $3+ billion subsidy. (We won’t know how much in total until we find out the cost for local tax increment financing.)

How can this happen? Probably the two biggest reasons are that the company is mobile, especially when it hasn’t committed any money yet, and that there is a tremendous information asymmetry working against governments. Lots more information is available on governments and their officials than is available about a company and its true preferences. Even when a corporation is strongly telegraphing its preferred site, you never can be 100% sure that site will be the winner, or that it will be the winner even if it gives no investment incentives. Corporations make up competing sites even when there aren’t any (a site location consultant tells me he always recommends that; see Competing for Capital). They exploit their information advantage well. As a result, governments give them investment attraction subsidies and the average taxpayer pays for it.

How do we know that Foxconn is coming to the United States because it is worried about protectionism? Because it made no economic sense for Foxconn to build here otherwise. There are good reasons Foxconn makes all iPhones in China: land, labor, and just about everything else are way less expensive than in the United States, *and* provincial and municipal governments will give them generous location incentives to favor one over the other. You can’t beat that with a stick. But you can beat it if market access is in question.

As long as U.S. protectionism remains ascendant, a growing number of foreign companies will follow Foxconn and hedge their bets to guarantee access to the U.S. market. Due to fiscal federalism, however, the potential advantages from foreign investment (which may not be that great, depending on job losses at existing competitors’ facilities) will be diluted or even overwhelmed by the amount of subsidies the newcomers receive. State and local governments need to resist temptation — to be more precise, we need to find a way politically to make them resist temptation.

H/t to Greg LeRoy for suggesting this article.

Cross-posted from Middle Class Political Economist.

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The Democrat’s “Better Deal”

In a recent email exchange with Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism: “This is not going to work with voters. Tom Frank has been all over this topic, saying again and again, the Dems are refusing to give up on their losing strategy of focusing on the 10%, and are trying to cover for their abandonment of middle and working class people with identity politics.”

What Yves is commenting about is a recent post and the “ Better Deal” proposed by Schumer and Pelosi.

Schumer: “When you lose to somebody who has 40 percent popularity, you don’t blame other things — Comey, Russia — you blame yourself,” In speaking on the Dems new plan, he continues; “So what did we do wrong? People did not know what we stood for, just that we were against Trump, and people still believe that.”

Pelosi: In a separate interview, the House Minority Leader says the new focus “is not a course correction; but, it is a presentation correction.”

Yves Smith again; “Pelosi is upfront that all the Dems are doing is trying a new PR strategy.”

Sounds like Schumer recognized the issue; but as Yves and Pelosi said, it “is not a course correction; but, it is a presentation correction.” In other words, we are going to say the same “stuff,” but it will be said in a different way. That is not going to work for urban and rural dwellers alike who are worried about everyday life. .

Progressives and activists both believe the repackaging of a failed message in 2016 is going to miss the targeted middle and lower income constituents needed to win the 2018 elections. Paul Ryan and his caucus speak of specifics such as “proposals to revamp poverty programs, health care and taxes, and a hawkish national security stance” which plays well to rural constituents who are fed news from conservative sources. In contrast, the Democrat party’s establishment economics addressing the 10% again fails to talk about the everyday life of the rest of voters with a progressive message addressing quality of life improvements. Democrats have to rebut Repub ideology with sound proposals reinforcing and improving healthcare, jobs, education, retirement, long term care, etc. which are attacked in Ryan’s message.

In a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, 37 percent of Americans said the Democrats currently stands for something, while 52 percent said it just stands against Trump. With Trump being one of the most unpopular Presidents early in his first term, Democrats miss the opportunity to define what they stand for specifically capitalizing on Trumps 36% rating with a strong countering economic message. Where is the loud rebuttal by Democrats to Trump’s attacks on progressive healthcare, student loan forgiveness, and minorities. Where is Democrat pushback to tax repeal for those making >$200,000 annually and tax cuts largely going to the 1% of the household taxpayers and large corporations?

Republicans talk in headlines; Democrats speak in fine print,” In his Brooklyn town hall meetings, Democrat Congressman Hakeem Jeffries heard the messages about “pocketbook issues, housing challenges, crime, public safety, failures of the public schools,” and little about the “existential threat to our democracy by Trump and the Russians or what is going on at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” It is here the Democrat message fails with its sole concentration on Trump the person rather than attack on Trump administrative fubars, what the Republican economics means, and Republican policies. There is not enough of a loud outrage in the new Democrat party message. Instead of a new brew of political coffee to sip upon and savor like one would a Starbuck’s French pressed serving of Veranda, we are being served yesterday’s warmed over and weak political brew.

And in the end we will not turn 2018 into a resounding rebuttal of Republican policies and Trump.

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Missouri Travel Advisory

At a conference on Wednesday, National delegates voted to adopt the advisory for Missouri It is the first time the NAACP has issued a travel advisory for a state. The “extreme caution” notification is not exclusive to high crime areas such as may be found in cities. The notification is meant to make minorities more aware of surroundings while traveling in Missouri and to be cautious with encounters with police. What is sad about this is it is telling minorities do not give the white man any reason to take issue with you such as what you wear, being in a heavily white populated areas, a broken tail light, not signaling, rolling stops or going through lights on the yellow, etc. Jim Crow has emerged again and heavy force will be applied to put you into the role expected of you.

The advisory is as follows:

(Jefferson City, MO – Missouri NAACP State Conference Office – edited) Unlike seasonal weather advisories where unnecessary travel on city streets or parking might be directed; the NAACP wants to make Missourians and visitors alike aware of a looming danger which could include the following examples of what has happened to some residents and visitors in the past.

– Tory Sanford was never arrested and yet died in a jail cell. He ran out of gas when he traveled into the state accidentally.
– On campus racist attacks on University of Missouri students after the university system spoke in favor of Romine’s Jim Crow Bill.
– Black high school students in St. Louis have been attacked with hot glue and racially denigrated.
– Two foreign born men were gunned down in Kansas City after their killer thought them to be Muslim.
– African Americans are 75 percent more likely to be stopped and searched than Caucasians according to the Missouri Attorney General.
– Public threats of shooting ‘Blacks’ by an alleged racist and others have terrorized University of Missouri students and members of the public.

Individuals traveling in the state are advised to travel with extreme CAUTION. Race, gender and color based crimes have a long history in Missouri. The home of Lloyd Gaines, Dredd Scott, and the Missouri Compromise gives Missouri the distinction of being one of the last states to lose its slaveholding past.

The Missouri State Conference of the NAACP will follow Governor Greitien’s review of this Jim Crow Bill – SB 43 and will update the NAACP advisory for the State of Missouri if this measure is vetoed. SB 43 legalizes individual discrimination and harassment in Missouri and would prevent individuals from protecting themselves from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in Missouri.

Moreover, overzealous enforcement of routine traffic violations in Missouri against African-Americans has resulted in an increasing trend and has resulted in increased traffic fines, senseless searches of vehicle and persons, and on occasion unnecessary violence.

The advisory is in effect until August 28.

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“We Need You to Cooperate . . .”

Go to 1:30 minutes into this clip and please watch the whole event.

Jail and/or prison is not a fun experience and it was never meant to be. People are taken there for court determined reasons. I have heard my share of stories from reliable sources of what goes on there and how some who are charged with guarding the population take it to the next level. There is much talk about prison reform and I applaud the thought of it. However, the action must come before people even get into jail or prison.

85% of all cases are plea bargained. In some instances a person signs away their right to appeal a conviction because of a plea bargain. The AEDPA also makes it difficult for a federal court to rule on, reverse a state court’s decision, or remand back to state courts for a different ruling.

The man in the later part of this is suing Cheatham County Correction Deputies of deprivation of civil rights, citing the use of excessive force and failure to protect after he was repeatedly Tasered in the jail. I guess this goes along with Trump telling the police not to be so gentle with suspects.

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Wisconsin Buys Foxconn Facility for Kenosha

FoxconnI picked up this version 4 BS lies of Trump and Scott Walker’s Imaginary Foxconn Factory on Tom Bozzo’s facebook page where I stopped to see what he had to say as of late. While it is a great attention grabber, a link caught my eye in Wonkette’s article leading to this America and the Foxconn Dream . This morning Ken Thomas has his very thorough analysis Foxconn Cashes in for $3 Billion-Plus: Analysis up. The first being the wonkier, the 2nd is a Bloomberg discussion, and Ken’s is an analysis on a topic he pursues, government subsidizing business. And this one ??? I am not sure yet.

You look at the picture and you see Ryan smirking in the background, a smug looking Trump smug face, and Mr. Terry Gou in a slight bow looking directly at Trump. I have seen the look before. Typically, this look comes from an Asian associate when they have taken what they want at your expense. Trump has been beating the protectionist drum loudly these days when talking to our neighbors Mexico and Canada. He has threatened China and other countries as well.

Mr. Terry Gou the CEO of Foxconn said he would only come to the US if the chosen location met Foxconn’s demands, which of course Walker with the aid of Paul Ryan did do. The facility is located in Paul Ryan’s backyard. And the threat of having tariffs placed on Foxconn products has dissipated. Foxconn will invest $10 billion in a factory some say will be 20 million square feet and create 3000 jobs of roughly 6600 square feet for each US worker. Sounds more like a warehouse to me even if they stuck 160 foreign made robotic manufacturing cells (Tesla did such) in it. More than likely, this will be an assembly operation with components and assemblies coming from Foxconn and Foxconn suppliers. The value-add will be out of country.

So what does all of this get Wisconsin for shelling out $519 per Wisconsin constituent and the US also?

According to Bloomberg’s Tim Culpan; “Wisconsin is paying as much as $1 million per job, which will carry an average salary of $54,000. The state’s economic development corporation is selling the project to taxpayers with a claim that it will create 10,000 construction jobs for building the facility and another 6,000 indirect positions. It is expecting $3.3 million of investment per employee from the Taiwanese company”.

Foxconn does not have a history of doing what it says and agrees to do. In Pennsylvania, Foxconn pledged $30 million to build a plant and hire 500 workers. It never happened. A pledge of $1 billion to build a plant in Indonesia dissipated also. Foxconn’s division Hon Hai has not spent 10 billion in any single year on infrastructure nor has it spent as much if one combines the last five years. Walker’s boondoggle may be mostly hype and a way to insure he is reelected in 2018.

I wonder why Walker is not in the picture with Ryan and Trump? Maybe out building his used car business for when he is not reelected?

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Foxconn cashes in for $3 billion-plus: Analysis

Foxconn hit the jackpot with Wisconsin on Wednesday, when CEO Terry Gou and Governor Scott Walker signed a memorandum of understanding for the company to invest $10 billion in southeastern Wisconsin in return for $3 billion in state subsidies and an undetermined amount of local incentives in the form of tax increment(al) financing (TIF).*

The basic outline of the deal, sent to me by John Haynes of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, is pretty simple: Foxconn is required to invest $10 billion and employ 13,000 workers within six years at an average pay rate of $53,875 a year plus benefits. In return, the state will give Foxconn $1.5 billion in tax credits for the 13,000 new jobs, $1.35 in tax credits for the $10 billion investment, and $150 million in sales tax breaks on construction materials for the plant. The tax credits are refundable, so Foxconn will receive a check if it doesn’t owe much or anything in state income tax in any given year. The state credits will total $200-$250 million a year for up to 15 years, or until Foxconn has received the entire $3 billion. All this must be approved by the state legislature by September 30. According to the state, if Foxconn does not create all the jobs or make the entire investment, it does not get the full subsidy.

In addition, the legislature must also amend the state’s TIF law by lifting the 12% cap on the ratio of TIF’d property value to a municipality’s total property value, and extending the allowable life of TIF bonds. Together, these would make larger TIFs and greater municipal debt possible. It is unclear exactly how much more this will add to the subsidy package, since a final site hasn’t been chosen in the Kenosha-Racine area. But Kansas City has certainly managed to give hundreds of millions of TIF dollars to companies in the past, so a large local component to the incentives package is certainly possible.

Is this a good deal for Wisconsin? As the state’s press release points out, it’s better than the deals Boeing has gotten in Washington state, including a much lower cost per job — but that’s a pretty low bar. As I discussed last time, Foxconn wanted desperately to locate in the United States due to its fear of U.S. protectionism, so the country as a whole was actually in a very strong bargaining position. However, the possibility of a bidding war between different states negated this, even though the individual states (Wisconsin at 3.1%) had very low unemployment rates and thus greater bargaining power than otherwise. Without EU-style rules to restrict bidding wars, there was a high probability of Foxconn hitting the jackpot.

With EU-type rules, it would be impossible to give a $3 billion investment incentive, since $9.9 billion of the $10 billion would only be eligible for 34% of any region’s maximum aid intensity. The maximum conceivable subsidy would be a little over $1 billion.** We might say this consideration is the high bar, but it’s worth knowing what is already achievable with a different set of rules.

On a strict cost basis, if the deal works out as claimed, you still have a cost per job of $231,000 and an aid intensity of 30%. These would be normal numbers for an automobile assembly plant, but Foxconn will only be paying a tiny bit over the Wisconsin average wage, certainly less than auto assembly pays. So these are basically just average jobs getting a lot of money. Many average jobs, certainly, but there is a good argument that you have diminishing returns. The more jobs there are, the more pressure that gets put on schools and infrastructure as people move to southeast Wisconsin, and the greater the number of jobs that will likely go to Illinois residents (indeed, Greg LeRoy of Good Jobs First says Illinois is the biggest winner of this deal after Foxconn itself). So you really shouldn’t be spending 10 times the incentive dollars for 10 times the jobs.

What seems worst to me is that not only did Foxconn definitely need to be in the United States, but it probably wanted to locate in the Congressional District of House Speaker Paul Ryan all along. This was a very short bidding war. Wisconsin municipal officials were only notified about two months ago, and we have seen no stories about competing bids, nothing about other governors making a pilgrimage to Asia. This seems like it was never much of a competition. If that’s true, Wisconsin got taken to the cleaners. Even if there was a genuine competition, the deal was way too rich.

 

* In Wisconsin and a few other states, the program is known as tax incremental financing, but in most of the country, it is simply tax increment financing.

** According to EU rules, the maximum aid intensity of 50% of investment is only allowable in regions with less than 45% of EU average per capita income. These areas are unlikely to be the site of an advanced manufacturing facility. The next highest maximum is 35% (down from 40%, such as Dresden, Germany, which has quite a bit of high-level manufacturing, such as microchip fabrication), and 34% of that is 11.9%. 11.9% of $10 billion is obviously $1.19 billion, which is why I say the maximum conceivable subsidy is just over $1 billion, and $3 billion is simply impossible under these rules.

Cross-posted from Middle Class Political Economist.

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