Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Golfing Con

"A golfing coup for Wisconsin," or so the Journal Sentinel declares.

Erin Hills, of Hartford, will host the PGA's 2017 U.S. Open.

The Journal believes this will encompass, "Gobs of television exposure and folks seeing the sights and spending lots of money in the state." For years the Journal has been backing any sporting event and/or stadium as a win-win situation. No questions asked.

Sadly, they don't mention the costs incurred by the public in hosting such an event. Which, alongside the economic principle of substitution, means sporting events are rarely economic-winners for their host.

I'm all for promoting the state and our many amenities and sites, and I'm an avid golfer, but blind boosterism does not equate to sound economic development analysis nor policy. This is great for Erin Hills, but the devil will be in the details as we get closer to the event and see what is required of the taxpayers in preparing (paying) Hartford and the golf course for this experience.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

College Degrees

The states with the lowest proportion of college graduates are all red states. Coincidence?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

One Man, So Much Evil

Looks like the numero uno evil curmudgeon - Dick Cheney - has his imprint all over the BP disaster. Not only did he formerly run Halliburton (with a record of shoddy work and fraud), which cemented the deep water drill hole improperly, he also decided precautionary oil well shut-offs were too expensive and allowed oil companies to ignore this safeguard.

Seems as though the, "It's Bush's fault" mantra still holds.

For Further Reading:
Beyond Petroleum or Beyond Preposterous?
Halliburton Corporate Crimes
Halliburton/Cheney Chronology
Halliburton Exec on Fraud Charges
Halliburton Get $70 Million Despite Fraud
Halliburton Scandal
Halliburton Sex Slave Scandal
KBR Linked to $13 Billion in Fraud
Making of Halliburton
War Profiteering

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Inequitable Interchange

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is going to use eminent domain to obtain non-blighted land and spend millions on an interchange for Whistling Straits golf course. "The interchange, which will be open for a week or so every few years, " Tom Daykin reports.

The blatantly private beneficiary and the use of eminent domain for such are highly problematic. Especially for something that will rarely be used and of utilization to such a select few.

For those who are going to trot out the line, "But sports grow the economy and add jobs." No, they don't.

For Further Reading:
A Closer Look At Stadium Subsidies
Stadium Swindle

The Lies of Austerity

Sheldon Lubar seems to feel The Age of Austerity Lies Ahead. He claims, "The county is spending, and agreeing to spend, very much in excess of its revenues and ability to meet its promises to current employees and retirees...What is causing this crisis is overgenerous entitlements such as health care, Social Security and other benefit spending."

He then uses the worn and mistaken comparison between household debt and government debt. "Can you continue to spend beyond your income and borrow money forever to pay for this deficit? Of course not." But, especially during economic downturns, government needs to spend to stabilize aggregate demand. And, lets not forget, two-thirds of homeowners have a mortgage. Meaning - they are in debt; their budget is not balanced. Some will say, "But that mortgage is an investment." I retort, just as government spending - sewers, roads, energy, etc. - is an investment is America's future.

And, his reforms are way off the base. As I and many others have written, Social Security is not a problem. Plus, the savings from extending the retirement age would be minimal, not to mention, the economic impact such a change would have on seniors would be negative.

He then says we need to reduce health care benefits. Um, no. We need to reduce health care costs. All other advanced nations have universal health care and they spend half as much (per capita) as we do.

Lubar's next idea is to cut public workers' benefits. But as recent research has shown, when compared with similarly aged and experienced workers, public workers make less than private ones. Instead, how about we put a cap on CEO compensation? Since Mr. Lubar is so concerned with our budgetary situation, I'm sure he's behind this idea, and is more than willing to do his part.

He, next, calls for an overhaul of the tax system. "To produce sufficient revenue to balance the various government budgets." But, he wants any new spending to be tied to budget cuts. Which, during a recession, as we're in now, would reek havoc and prolong suffering. These blanket prescriptions superficially sound good, but are unworkable in reality - unless, of course, we truly wish to see: more people unemployed, more out of their home, crime increasing, roads crumbling, etc.

His next point, reducing the military budget, is long overdue. On this point, we agree. Why we need a military budget as large as all other advanced nations combined is unjustifiable.

Sheldon's closing, "Let's throw the rascals out," may go over well with the Tea Party crowd, but is really just the rallying cry of the obtuse. Sure, we have bad politicians (just like we have greedy, self-serving businessmen), and by all means, elect officials more willing to work for citizens. But lets not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Why don't we just reinstate higher tax rates, as we had during our post-WWII era of high growth? There are simpler and more equitable ways to balance budgets and restore growth. Higher taxes on the wealthy, historically, have helped, not hurt the economy. Does Mr. Lubar really want to solve budget problems and grow the economy, or is he more concerned with his own wealth and quarterly returns?

For Further Reading:
Breaking Down The U.S. Military Budget
CEO-to-Worker Pay Imbalance Grows
Our View On Defense Spending
Post WWII Golden Age
Republican Resurrect Welfare Charge For Tax Day
Republicans Heart Irish Taxes
Tax Cuts
The Bounteous Wisdom of High Marginal Tax Rates
The Budget Deficit Crisis
The Great Tax Con Job