WHEN ROBERT G. LYNCH'S PHONE RINGS, the call could be from a company that wants to relocate. An economics professor at Washington College in Maryland, Lynch advises businesses facing the many factors involved in moving. He helps them evaluate workforce size and training, wages, transportation infrastructure, heathcare and energy costs and other key factors in different regions.
Once the company has settled on a site, Lynch advises his client to inform city officials there that it's considering a move. Ask about site-specific costs, he tells the company, then taxes. Suggest that tax breaks could help close the deal. Then sit back and watch as the politicians -- eager to claim credit for bringing new jobs to their constituents -- offer abatements and waivers and other goodies.
It's a game that elected officials probably don't even know they're playing, Lynch admits. What's worse, the game is fixed.
After reviewing more than 400 studies on the matter, Lynch confidently debunks the widely held notions that taxes have a significant impact on the bottom line, or play an important role in a company's decision to relocate.
"Contrary to all the heated political rhetoric, there isn't much impact [from tax cuts]," Lynch says. "A lot of state and local politicians think taxes are a huge cost of doing business, but really they amount to 1.2 percent of total costs, on average." It can be even less after firms deduct state taxes from what they owe the federal government.
And the U.S. already has among the lowest rates of overall corporate taxation of any industrialized democracy, according to Greg LeRoy, the director of Good Jobs First, a watchdog group on business subsidies and the author of The Great American Jobs Scam: Corporate Tax-Dodging and the Myth of Job Creation.
But the axiom that high taxes swamp economies permeates the American psyche. City and state officials around the country -- Democrats and Republicans alike -- invoke the cause of economic growth to slash corporate taxes and provide breaks to select companies.
The above is from Charu Gupta's "We Don't Need No Stinkin' Taxes: Desperate for 'growth,' cities and states eagerly hand out tax incentives without considering the costs" (Cleveland's Free Times) and was sent in by Brad. It's Thursday (barely) and it's our Indymedia roundup.
Lynette e-mails to note Lance Tapley's "Greens under attack?" (The Portland Phoenix):
Now that the ashes have begun to settle on our Democratic attorney general's much-publicized, just-before-the-2004-election indictment of four Green Independent Party campaign workers in Biddeford for absentee-ballot fraud, it's easier to try to judge whether it was a legitimate prosecution or a politically timed persecution, as Green leaders claim. In the past several months, three of the four cases have resulted in acquittal on the major charges, though there have been a couple of convictions on misdemeanors. The remaining case probably will never go to trial because the elderly defendant has developed lung cancer.
To begin to determine what really happened in the case of the Green workers some are calling the Biddeford 4, let's look at the questions raised by the Greens:
Given that the investigation of the alleged crimes took place in the winter and early spring of 2004, following a February special election to fill a vacant House seat, why did Attorney General Steven Rowe's office wait until October, a few weeks before the general election, to seek indictments from a grand jury?
Given that most of the charges did not make it past judge or jury, and that according to the AG's office it had not prosecuted anyone for absentee-ballot fraud in 17 years, why were significant resources thrown into what proved to be weak cases?
Given that those indicted had pretty clean records (two people had some old, minor offenses) and given that two were quite elderly, why was the AG’s office so tough -- insisting, for example, on six months in jail in a plea-bargain offer to one of the elderly people accused, Fred Dolgon, a man whom even the judge in his case complimented for being "an honorable guy"?
TR e-mails to note Lloyd Hart's "The Great Lie Meets Katrina" (Philadelphia Indymedia):
The great lie that is the war on terrorism has just taken a very serious blow. A category 5 hurricane named Katrina. The hurricane that is looking to be America's worst natural disaster. Yet the composite of people that control George Bush's ear piece could not cancel the speech that makes the most publicly ridiculous comparison between wars that a politician has ever made. While civil authorities are failing to cope with the reality left in Katrina's wake the Bush regime decided to do P.R. for the war on terror by flying right past the disaster so that Bush could give a speech in L.A. comparing the war on terror to World War Two instead of aiding the survivors of Hurricane Katrina.
In other words the pain and suffering of Americans in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama is not going to prevent George Bush from staying the course on the great lie. But just as the Bush regime has ignored calls for resignations of Karl "Ebola" Rove, Donald "One-Celled" Rumsfeld and Condalisa "Balls In a Vise" Rice. Ignored international symposiums of the world's most renowned scientists warning us about global warming and climate change as well as ignoring absolutely everything that contradicted the Bush regimes' agenda, they were obviously not counting on a category 5 storm devastating a highly populated area and one of America's most popular cities.
I find very interesting that by ignoring one woman, Cindy Sheehan has caused the Bush regime to ignore probably the most important woman of the day, Katrina. And by ignoring Katrina the Bush regime showed its true colors on National TV to the American public. A cynical pushing of the great lie agenda at a crucial turning point in the disaster that is New Orleans and the surrounding area.
Ned notes Jill Raygor's "The Passing Grade" (Ithaca Times):
The Living Wage Coalition/Workers' Rights Center and educators from throughout the region have banded together to take a different tactic in persuading local big box retailer Wal-Mart to offer a living wage and competitive benefits for its employees.
The group and local educators as well as the unions (National Education Association, and New York State United Teachers) and national group such as the Wake Up Wal-Mart Campaign hope to change Wal-Mart's business practices by pointing out the company's "failing grades."
"Our position is that Wal-Mart is failing key subjects. These failures are harmful to children and working families in our community and other communities around the country," said organizer Carl Feuer. "We think a company like Costco shows that you can have low prices and provide living wages and be an extraordinarily profitable business. Wal-Mart has the power and resources to both provide decent pricing for working people and provide these same working people with decent living wage jobs."
Living Wage activists contend that, in every subject important to them, Wal-Mart has failing grades. Citing providing a living wage, providing affordable and accessible health benefits, treating all of its employees equally, easing the burden on taxpayers and obeying federal and state child labor laws, these activists say Wal-Mart has some catching up to do.
Lynda e-mails to note Nichali Ciaccio's "August 26th Critical Mass Draws 2005 High for Milwaukee" (Milwaukee Indymedia):
If the Critical Massers who received tickets in July ( see http://mke.indymedia.org/en/2005/07/203873.shtml ) were worried about a lowered turnout from police harassment, their fears were heartily assuaged Friday when over 80 people turned out for Milwaukee’s largest 2005 Critical Mass. They were not alone: multiple police followed, "herded," and directed them around Milwaukee before shutting the mass down de facto style by threatening anyone to ticket anyone without "proper bicycle lights." What follows is a first person account of Friday's mass as well as some thoughts. Other viewpoints and accounts are encouraged.
Attendees knew it would be big early on. On most Fridays, our little corner of Riverside Park doesn’t fill up with cyclists until nearly 6, right before typical take-off time. Over thirty were present by 5:30, and the numbers gradually increased. Two participants counted 88 altogether. The police presence was also high with cops at the park by 5 o’clock. Near Riverside High School, a small cluster of police hid out until two cyclists went to photograph them; they attempted to hide their faces before leaving the area altogether. As this was taking place, another cyclist mediated with other police, who promised a safe ride so long as we don’t interrupt traffic.
At 6:00pm, before the ride began, a mass meeting was called to discuss tactics. The large group reached general consensus on a prudent, non-aggressive tactic: stick to the right, take up one lane, do as the police say, hope to not be arrested en masse. Ultimately it was a successful tactic in avoiding tickets in arrest; how successful the conciliatory will be in promoting future critical masses has yet to be determined.
It seems, however, that police harassment and repression is a good tactic (for us, anyway) to build critical mass: this mass nearly doubled last months. For a good number of people, perhaps up to half, this was their first ride. Indeed we had two small children, double last month, attended; luckily (or perhaps by design--could the police not be cognizant of the possible ramifications of another baby flipping?) both children stayed firmly on the ground this ride.
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