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

Sports, John Oliver’s inspiration to say NO!

This is just so perfect.  Yet again, our comedians have to do what journalist are supposed to do.  And, he does it with facts!  Considering here in RIland some rich dude (who just died) paid $20 million for the Pawtucket Red Sox (the Boston’s farm team) and has proposed moving it to Providence on the water front…for $120 million over 30 years in tax free land along with other stuff, Mr. Oliver could not have been more timely.

Unfortunately, the sense I’m getting is that the people are giving a rather large NO!  But, of course our legislators are giving the “Let’s hear them out” line.   One idiot, happens to be representing my home town actually used the phrase “loss leader” as the reason why we should spend the public money this way.   Had the nerve to ask a person if they knew what it means?  F’n idiot!  Our senate leader: Afterward, in a one-on-one interview with NBC 10 News, Sen. M. Teresa Paiva Weed said hopes of keeping the team at McCoy Stadium may be a lost cause.

Watching John Oliver here, he could be talking about our Paw Sox situation.  It is exactly what is being played on the people of RI.  It’s a tried and true game plan used against the people.

Make sure you check out 3 points in the video.  The first is 8:35 onward.  It’s so funny.  The next is 11:00 where he talks about the economic findings and one economist suggested better plan.  The last is the end at 15:37 where he gives the inspirational halftime speech.

Tags: , , , Comments (1) | |

Big Business believes in taxpayer subsidies, not "free markets"

by Linda Beale

Big Business believes in taxpayer subsidies, not “free markets”

David Cay Johnston, former NY Times reporter and now Syracuse professor, writes about the thing that most journalists don’t bother to (or are told not to) write about–the way that Big Business successfully lobbies legislators and regulatory agencies to write the rules to favor Big Business, at the expense of ordinary Americans, all under the false claim that they are pushing de-regulation for the good of competition and ordinary consumers.  Johnston, Missing the Story, American Journalism Review (March 2013).

Johnston describes a number of ways that state legislatures, Congress and state and federal regulatory agencies have made life easy-street for Big Business at the cost of ordinary consumers.  He notes it is often discussed as “deregulation” but that “is a misnomer because, literally, no such thing exists in commerce….Everything in business is regulated in some fashion, and has been since long before the first nearly full set of laws we have….  [Thus, d]eregulation typically means reregulation under new rules that favor business interests.”  Id.

Businesses claim that the ‘deregulation’ they seek is just another step towards their ideal of “free markets” to help competitiveness.  Not so, Johnston replies.  The regulatory climate that results is almost always one that creates “moats” making competition much harder for small businesses and allowing duopolies or monopolies to arise that can set prices as high as they wish. And often the captured regulatory agencies allow the most absurd subsidies imaginable.

The Bush Treasury did that in spades.  One example is the changes the pro-business Treasury under Paulsen made in the regulations under section 368 governing corporate reorganizations, in which the Bush Treasury (many officials of whom are still part of the Obama Treasury) promulgated rules that provide, for the first time, the possibility of a loss recognition by shareholders in the nonrecognition reorg exchange.  Settled law at the time said no such loss could be recognized.  And the Bush Treasury also did it in setting up (through regulations) yet  another tax subsidy of Big Oil (as an add-on to an already ridiculous subsidy enacted by Congress when it allowed Big Oil to operate as limited partnerships).

Here’s how Johnston describes this.

The simple story is that Congress in 1986 exempted monopoly pipelines from the corporate income tax if they organized themselves as Master Limited partnerships. The George W. Bush administration then let these pipelines include the nonexistent tax in the rates they charge.

The cost of this fake tax is both tiny and huge.

The pipelines raise prices to cover the cost of the tax, which in turn means they have to raise prices even more to cover the taxes on the extra earnings, known as “grossing up.” A 42 percent tax on profits, grossed up, means a pipeline gets to earn its profit plus 75 percent for taxes. These higher costs are then built into prices people pay for gasoline and natural gas to heat homes. Paying this fake tax costs each American less than three cents per day, about $10 per year, I calculate. That is the tiny part. The huge part is that collecting just a penny a day from everyone in America adds up to $1.1 billion in a yearor $3.3 billion at three cents per day per American. Id.

 (emphasis added).

Note, folks.  That’s an unnecessary $3.3 billion subsidy provided to already-profitable businesses that comes entirely at the cost of ordinary Americans.  It is a subsidy put into law entirely through Big-Busienss-friendly tax administrators in ways that most Americans do not see it–or, if they see it, they believe it is a “real” tax cost of the businesses rather than just another theft subsidy.

This is another aspect of the problem of the way the media treats any discussion of “free markets.” The fundamentalist approach to free markets (that I have sometimes labeled “free marketarianism” or “friedmania”) claims to believe that deregulation helps people by increasing competition and opening up markets.  In fact, it is usually the opposite.  Deregulation helps Big Business by decreasing competition and allowing the development of powerful oligarchs and powerful monopolies or near-monopolies.  Brute capitalism, that is, allows those who hold capital to hold power, and those who hold power act against the interests of ordinary people in order to consolidate their power.  Another blog addressed this well:

A free market requires that everybody plays nice and follows the rules. Guess what. There’s always someone who will do whatever evil they think is required to make money. Once you realize that, you know there can be no such thing as the free market.

***

That’s one of the primary reasons that uncontrolled capitalism has been such a gross failure since the Reagan/Thatcher “revolution”, leaving us with record inequality and damaged democracy, and bringing the world economy to the brink of total collapse that simply evaporated trillions of dollars. Random Notes from the Exasperation File, Class War In America.

I have often noted that the media treat the daily ups and downs of the stock market as though it is an accurate reflection of the entire economy.  It is not.  When the stock market is up, it is likely that one or another segment of Big Business is doing well or exceptionally well.  That means the affluent–those in the top 30% who own most of the financial assets of this country, including Big Business’s CEOs and board members, are doing well.  So as the stock market has resurged after the 2007 financial crisis brought on by the excess of Big Financial Businesses, the wealthy who run and own those Big Businesses are doing mighty well indeed.

This is corporatism at its worst–the takeover of the economy and all of its institutions by a corporate mindset that favors the wealthy and the managers/owners of Big Business over ordinary people, leaving ordinary people’s views unheard.  It often is associated with class warfare, wherein the rich ensure that their money buys laws and regulations written by, for, and of the rich.  Corporations pay less in taxes and ordinary workers pay more–either in direct taxes or in the indirect tax of wage and benefit loss that is a tax subsidy for the wealthy.

Those at the bottom of the economic distribution are of course the ones most hurt by the decline and by the class warfare policies of the rich.  They are most likely still doing poorly or just barely getting by, mostly because those big profits at Big Business are taken at their expense–through constantly rising prices not reflected in increased quality or costs of production, or through increasingly unfair worker wages and benefits that have been cut in order to increase the rents to the owners/managers.  And usually with the assistance of legislators and regulators.

Take a friend of mine, who was laid off from an auto parts manufacturer for almost three years and has been struggling to make a full-time living at it since he was reinstated–at a much lower salary then before the crash (conveniently for the company but not so good for the workers).  He bought a new truck about a year before the financial crash.  The payments were supposed to be around 250 a month.  In the first months of the layoff he couldn’t find any substitute work, and he fell behind in payments on the truck (his family depends on him as the sole breadwinner; his family has almost no assets and no liquid assets; he depends on the truck to allow him to take odd jobs when his job at the factory is on hiatus–often landscaping, mowing, etc.).  The interest rate on the loan went up to 32% almost immediately.   That would once have been treated as illegal usury.

Not now, since “deregulation” has allowed financial firms to rip off their customers coming and going for their own profits.   Now his payments are around $400 a month and he owes as much on the truck as he did several years ago in spite of all the payments he has worked hard to make since then.  This Thursday he missed the payment again, after keeping up for most of the year.  He missed it because his company began selectively laying off workers for a week or 3 days at a time during the winter, and he didn’t work for about ten days of the month before the payment was due.  On Wednesday he talked to his adviser at the financial firm that gave him the loan.  It was a new “adviser”. They replaced a more understanding one with one who was considerably harsher.  The adviser told him on Wednesday that he would give him til Friday to make the next payment.  On Thursday, however, he sent a repo man who took the truck.  Friday my friend got a paycheck and could have made the payment (as he’d told the adviser on Wednesday).  Instead, when he went to make the payment thinking he could get the truck back that day, the financial firm advised him that he now had to pay off the truck in full–as well as a bunch of additional charges due to the repossession.

What would that be, he asked?  He assumed he owed about $3500, in his calculations the amount still due on the original loan.  Oh, no, the finance guy told him.  You will have to pay $4975 on Monday, and that amount will increase by $25 a day for every day you do not pay.  It’s that much because of all the late fees we added on the bill.  Oh, and we are charging you $400 for repo-ing the vehicle on Thursday (even though we had promised we would not do so)…..
Again, deregulation of financial institutions has made these rent-seeking add-on charges customary for anyone in the lower part of the income distribution.  Big Business sells it as competitive services for the underprivileged but it is really deregulated excess profits for the financial firms for acting like modern equivalents of plantation owners with a captive workforce unable to ever build up financial assets and always dependent on the firms’ calculations as to what they owe or are owed.

How is my friend (who happens to be an African American) supposed to ever advance beyond the near-serfdom in which he currently exists?   Lucky for him, we are willing to offer him a personal loan at market-rate interest so that he can finally pay off his overseer and begin to dig himself out of the hole that our deregulated, GOP-ideology-driven state puts most Detroit low-income residents in.   Mass transit hardly operating and not permitted to expand as it should to permit low-income residents to commute easily to work in the region.  White suburbs that cannot be annexed into the city, so continue their oblivious lives exploiting Detroit’s assets while pitying the poor black residents that just can’t seem to do anything right.  Businesses that charge white folks in the suburbs less than black folks in the city.  Insurance companies that rip off their Detroit clients.  And on and on.

This is all happening in a world where white folks with money set all the rules and now, in Michigan, have made it very hard for any union to form and exert some worker-power on behalf of the employees. Michigan’s new, so-called “right-to-work” law that the religiously right-wing Republican party of Michigan passed with no input at all from the people and with misinformation galore–all of the newspaper coverage talked about workers being “forced” to join a union unless you have “right-to-work” and how “right-to-work” would free them not to have to pay for the union and encourage more economic growth and more jobs.  None of the newspaper articles or the legislators reported the fact that right-to-work states tend to have lower wages for their workers, less good jobs, and poorer economies.  Of course, the information was wrong to start with–no one was forced to join a union without right-to-work laws–they were merely required to pay some amount (less than union dues) for the services that the union provides.  Now, they can demand the same services and pay nothing.  No Republican business would provide services on that basis, but Republican legislators serving their oligarchic base ensure that no true freedom exists for anybody without money.

Michigan, of course, has also just taken over the City of Detroit, with Gov. Snyder’s appointment of an emergency manager.  This is as undemocratic as it gets, given the state vote rejecting the last EM law and the fact that the EM will have dictatorial power to ignore the Mayor, the City Council and all other elected officials.  Snyder is a right-wing tool, in office backed by a majority-GOP legislature that reflects the racism of most of the “upstate” part of Michigan and blames Detroit’s problems on its predominately black residents.  The legislature passed right-to-work to retaliate against unions for trying to get protection for workers’ rights in the constitution.  Apparently, the GOP thinks the constitution should only protect the wealthy, as it does by prescribing a flat tax, ensuring that the wealthy in Michigan get to choose what they support but are hardly taxed at all by the State. The rabid right in this state forget that what condemned Detroit was the “white flight” to the suburbs and Michigan’s foolish state constitution which does not allow Detroit to take the suburbs into the city.  So Royal Oak’s mayor a few years ago could refuse to fund metropolitan buses because he didn’t want Detroit’s black population able to cross the border into Royal Oak and pollute the city by taking jobs there.  And the wealthy residents of the 90% white suburbs of 80% black Detroit come into the city for its amenities–opera, plays, sports, museums–and its work, but take their pay out of the city to maintain their schools and shops and amenities while complaining about how awful Detroit is.  We Detroit residents are very worried that the GOP’s takeover of the Democratically elected city government will result in the rape of the city’s assets–Belle Isle is a jewel in Detroit’s crown that the state covets; Detroit’s water system is another asset that the state–and the white suburbs–covet and want to control.  The EM will be pressured by Snyder and the rest of the upstate Detroit haters to take over those assets and make Detroit pay for being a center of unionism and Democratic voters.

The Michigan passage of the so-called “right-to-work” law and the renewal of the emergency manager law AFTER it was defeated by the people in November are perfect illustrations of the contempt that the current Republican party shows for ordinary people when it is in power in a state.  And it also illustrates well the capture of legislators and agencies by oligarchs, monopolies and duopolies.  This is, as Johnston notes, a sad state of affairs that will only get worse unless the press reinvigorates itself to inform rather than kiss Big Business’s ass.

cross posted with ataxingmatter

Tags: , , , Comments (1) | |

Build it anyway, and some of them may come

 “Build it anyway, and some of them may come” probably won’t sell bonds and loan programs to voters.

If you build it they might not come

But if the city and its residents are desperate to keep the Coyotes in town, they have to understand that doing so comes at a cost that likely won’t be replaced — not by sales tax revenue, not by economic growth, and not by outside spending. When the city subsidizes hockey, it reduces its ability to pay for public safety officials, public transportation, and services upon which its citizens rely.
That’s a choice the city is free to make, of course, but it shouldn’t pretend that the mere presence of the Coyotes is an economic investment. Doing so simply enables a further transfer of public dollars to a private enterprise, without much hope for a return.

I suppose there is a difference between a corn field and a stadium, and I think Costner didn’t ask for special loans and tax status.   But a thrity year loan is not as flexible as jobs.

Oakland funds stadium, fire police

Oakland was no different, laying off 200 police officers, despite the city having the fifth-highest crime rate in the country. However, the city chose to fire those officers while preserving a $17 million payment to the National Football League’s Oakland Raiders and Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics:

Oakland, California, the fifth-most crime ridden city in America, faced a $32 million budget deficit last year. It closed the gap by dismissing a fourth of its police force, more than 200 officers.
Untouched was the $17.3 million that the city pays to stage 10 games a season for the National Football League’s Oakland Raiders and to host Major League Baseball’s Athletics in the O.co Coliseum. The funds cover debt financing and operations and are supplemented by $13.3 million from surrounding Alameda County, based on data compiled by Bloomberg from public records.

Nearly every single NFL stadium was built with public money or benefits from public infrastructure built specifically nearby. This money, as many studies have shown, does not provide much economic benefit to the surrounding community.

Tags: Comments (0) | |

New Report Highlights Flaws of North Carolina Mega-Incentives

by Kenneth Thomas

New Report Highlights Flaws of North Carolina Mega-Incentives

My new report for the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center, Special Deals, Special Problems–An Analysis of North Carolina’s Legislature-Approved Economic Development Incentives, has just been published. It covers a range of issues I’ve emphasized here before as well as some basic considerations reporters really need to pay more attention to.

North Carolina has some of the best economic development practices in the country, in terms of online transparency, performance requirements, use of clawbacks for non-performance by companies, sunset clauses for tax expenditures, hard caps for many tax credit programs (see my report on these points), etc. The state publishes an economic development inventory I consider to be of very high quality and consistent with international definitions of a subsidy. The most recent edition shows that in the 2008-9 fiscal year the state spent about $1.2 billion on economic development, enough to hire 24,000 people at $50,000 a year in wages and benefits.

At the same time, however, the state has persistently had problems in overvaluing potential investments and consequently offering wildly excessive subsidies for them. The best known case is Dell in 2004, when Virginia offered the company a $37 million incentive package, while the state and local bid from North Carolina came to almost $300 million on a nominal basis ($174 million present value). Other deals discussed in the report are Google ($260 million nominal value, $140 million present value), Apple ($321 million over 30 years nominal value, no present value calculation available), and a provision in a 2011 special incentives bill to allow Alex Lee Inc. to keep $2 million it should have forfeited for not keeping job promises. This last case illustrates how special legislative deals weaken the state’s performance requirements; this case will make future companies think that there may be no penalty for non-performance.

Reporters take note! This publication describes useful techniques for comparing the size of incentive packages regardless of project size or payout period of the incentive. From the European Union I borrow the term “aid intensity,” which measures the size of the incentive relative to the amount of the investment or the number of jobs created. The idea is that a $1 million incentive would be large for a call center but a rounding error for an automobile assembly plant. As a result, we need a standardized way of comparing incentives.

While in this country one can sometimes find cost per job analyzed for some subsidy packages, the EU actually uses the subsidy/investment metric as its primary measure of aid intensity. In my last post I discussed a mall redevelopment which could conceivably have an aid intensity of 96%. For comparison purposes, we should note that the highest aid intensity allowed for large firms anywhere in the European Union, is 50%, and that is only allowed in the poorest regions of the EU, mainly in eastern Europe. (Richer regions have lower allowable maxima.) A region’s maximum is cut by half for large projects over 50 million euro, and by 66% for spending over 100 million euro.

The other important concept is present value, a familiar one to accountants and economists, but not widely understood among the general public. The basic idea is simple: receiving a dollar today is worth more than receiving a dollar next year, which is worth more than receiving a dollar in two years, etc. Since incentive packages can pay out immediately (with a cash grant) or over a period of 30 or more years, we need to use present value to properly compare the size of incentives with different payout periods. This requires finding a a “discount rate” by which to reduce future payments. We then use the present value as the numerator in calculating aid intensity to be able to compare across different sizes of projects.

Using Google as an example, this $600 million project will receive $260 million over 30 years and create 210 jobs. As mentioned above, this is its nominal cost, before discounting the future dollars. Following the practice of a 1990s study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to compare subsidies among its then 23 members, I used a discount rate equal to the 10-year Treasury bond yield to come up with a present value of $140.6 million. Then the aid intensity is $140.6 million/$600 million, or 23%, and the cost per job at present value is $669,489.

We can then use these two measures of aid intensity to compare the incentive to that given for other projects and inform our judgment of whether it was a better or worse deal than other states have made, in the current context where states make such deals all the time. Of course, I believe there should be limits placed on state and local governments so we can sharply reduce net incentive spending, which has few national benefits–but that is a long time in the future.

North Carolina provides an intriguing case study because it does so much right in economic development, but it makes special deals outside its statutory incentive programs. The result is high costs and weakened bargaining position in the future. It’s a case we can learn a lot from.

crossposted with Middle Class Political Economist

Tags: , , Comments (14) | |

David Cay Johnson and taxed by the boss

Reuters brings us a post from David Cay Johnson on a less well known funding mechanism from state coffers to private businesses. Granted there are a lot of others as well. See this post by Kenneth Thomas    (link repaired) on how competition between government is different than between private businesses:

Across the United States more than 2,700 companies are collecting state income taxes from hundreds of thousands of workers – and are keeping the money with the states’ approval, says an eye-opening report published on Thursday.

The report from Good Jobs First, a nonprofit taxpayer watchdog organization funded by Ford, Surdna and other major foundations, identifies 16 states that let companies divert some or all of the state income taxes deducted from workers’ paychecks. None of the states requires notifying the workers, whose withholdings are treated as taxes they paid.

General Electric, Goldman Sachs, Procter & Gamble, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors and AMC Theatres enjoy deals to keep state taxes deducted from their workers’ paychecks, the report shows. Foreign companies also enjoy such arrangements, including Electrolux, Nissan, Toyota and a host of Canadian, Japanese and European banks, Good Jobs First says.

Why do state governments do this? Public records show that large companies often pay little or no state income tax in states where they have large operations, as this column has documented. Some companies get discounts on property, sales and other taxes. So how to provide even more subsidies without writing a check? Simple. Let corporations keep the state income taxes deducted from their workers’ paychecks for up to 25 years.

The snappier You tube version is here.

Tags: , , , Comments (7) | |

Agribusiness, Food, Vegetarianism—-and Taxes

[cross-posted on ataxingmatter--see posting there for additional comments]

As some of you may know, I am one of the many people who eat a vegetarian diet. I don’t eat cows, pigs, fish, whales, sharks, chicken, turkey, sheep, wild game, tame game… As I sometimes say when people ask me about my diet, I eat everything you eat, except for a very short list of items–the critters that can move themselves from one place to another (or move their appendages) under their own propulsion.

(Note that we often have two words for animals that we eat–their live-form word –e.g., cow, sheep, pig– and their edible-corpse form word –e.g., beef, mutton, pork. That evolved when we borrowed the Romance language word for what we ate but kept the Germanic language word for the animals.)

It started when I was a child–I was one of those who would cut the meat into tiny pieces and then spread it all over my plate so it looked like I’d eaten it. The idea of eating a cow, with those beautiful liquid brown eyes, was repulsive. (My father came from a family with thirteen kids in the hills of Tennessee, so I’d seen cows up close.) I even took a whole piece of veal once and hid it behind the dining room cabinet (taking it out to the wastebasket after it dried)! I refused to eat the squirrel and venison that my dad brought home from hunting trips (mostly, if not always, somebody else’s kill). I even refused to let my cocker spaniel share in that dead stock.

But now that I’m an adult, why do I maintain that diet? I get asked that a lot.

Funny, nobody says (with shocked exression)–”Gee, you eat meat? Why would anyone ever want to eat a toxins-laden dead corpse of an animal that lived a horrendous life and suffered an agonizing death? ” But they do often ask–usually treating it as a good-natured tease about a wacky alternative diet–why I’d want to avoid eating corpses.

James McWilliams got me thinking about this again this morning, when I read his “Bellying up to environmentalism” in the Washington Post for Nov. 16, 2009, where he noted that we should be asking questions in the reverse, that make meateaters feel uncomfortable at defending their own meateating. After all, there’s really no good reason for eating meat other than that someone is so addicted to its taste that he or she can’t exert the willpower to do without it.

The whys for not eating meat, on the other hand, are legion. Let me just list a few here, from the mundane to the truly significant:

1. cooking is easier–throw veggies in a pot and steam them; throw veggies in a pot and make soup, throw veggies in a fry pan and fry them, throw beggies in a pot and bake them; and variants thereon

2. clean-up is a lot easier–none of that icky clinging greasy layer of animal fat on every pan

3. refrigerated leftover use is easier–throw the leftovers in a pot and steam them (etc. from one above) and there’s none of that congealed lard on top of the leftovers in the fridge

4. rotten vegetables in the fridge are less disgusting than rotten corpses in the fridge

5. a decent diet is generally considerably cheaper

6. the more people who adopt a vegetarian diet, the more people who are currently going hungry could be fed

  • one of the many articles I’ve read said something that stuck with me (sorry, don’t have the cite)–that it takes the same resources to feed one meat-eater that it takes to feed about 80 vegetarians.
  • That’s because of the huge waste as you use up primary foodstuffs to feed the animals that will be slaughtered, then use up primary energy stuffs to slaughter, process, ship and deliver the meat to the meat eater, compared to even transported vegetables (localvore, with vegetables, is even more saving of resources)

7. without meat-eating, there are no feedlots where animals literally eat and sleep out the remainder of their short lives in their own shit

8. you can have a small flock of hens who live out their natural lives with nice living conditions (indoor/outdoor)

  • disclosure: I had one hen who lived to be 22; she was still laying eggs up until the week or so before her death from natural causes

9. Hens lay bigger and bigger eggs each year that they live past the first year w(hen most are slaughtered) and they still lay fairly regularly

  • disclosure: 6 eggs every 7 days was typical in my experience

10. Even hens have personalities

  • disclosure: when I lived in upstate New York, I had one named Gumption who loved to fly up to the top of a two-story house and survey her domain, and another named “kiss me” who would follow me around all day like a pet dog

11. Animals that we eat are as smart as–or smarter than–animals that we keep for pets (pigs compared to dogs, for example)

12. Animals care for their young and suffer when their young are taken from them (think dairy cattle and the young that are bred so that the mothers will give milk)

13. Some eating of animals is even more obnoxious than the norm (think “veal calves” that are taken and put in tiny sheds to they can fatten without any musculature development or “foie gras” where geese are fattened by having food stuffed down their throats with a tube)

14. Life is precious: there is no reason to sacrifice animal lives to lead a decent human life, so why do it?

15. Agribusiness–the main way that animals are raised and sold for meat–is an environmental nightmare

  • use of fertilizers to grow the grain that is fed to the cattle that are fed to the humans results in polluted land, water and air and uses up petroleum and other resources
  • consolidation results in long transportation (inhumane to animals; wasteful of oil and gas resources)
  • the subsidies (including some tax expenditures) for agriculture have gotten out of control–costly, misdirected, ill-conceived, and essentially now a form of corporate welfare for huge agribusiness enterprises

16. A meatless diet is healthier for humans than a meat-based diet, so we could cut health-care costs by simply cutting out meat

17. The process of butchering animals is a cruel leftover from the dark ages–people who work in slaughterhouses are inured to suffering, and that may well spill over into their “normal” lives outside work

18. The process of butchering animals is itself a source of harm–

  • sick animals are slaughtered, making it possible that eaters of that dead flesh will be sickened as well (mad cow disease);
  • animals are slaughtered in the midst of their own excrement, and some of that excrement gets into the food chain (making people sick as well);
  • the leftovers from the animal slaughter have to be gotten rid of somehow, leading to even more water, land and air pollution
  • workers are exposed to awful conditions–not just the process of mercilessly killing animals day in and day out, but also the risk of infection and injury on the line

19. The use of antibiotics in animal feed (given to healthy and unhealthy animals alike) ensures that resistant strains will develop even more rapidly, while leaving excess antibiotics not absorbed by the animals to pass out in their urine and excrement and into the land and water to act as toxins to others (including fish and birds and humans) leading to additional environmental nightmares…

20. Agribusiness pig farms and cattle feedlots are a blight on any humans within their vicinity (as well as a disaster for the natural world, noted above under environmental problems) from the stench of the manure (that can pollute the countryside for miles around) to the ugliness of the barren, treeless manure-laden fields.

So what to do? Maybe we should enact an excise tax on all meat products, like a”sin” tax for sodas and sweets and cigarettes. Comments, anyone?

PS Arthur C. Clarke has a great sci fi short story, taking place some time in the future, when a more advanced civilization than ours is aghast at the purported discovery that their ancestors used to–cover the young ones’ ears–eat dead corpses of animals…..Clarke’s ideas were way ahead of his time in lots of ways.

Tags: , , , , , , , , Comments (31) | |