June 30, 2006

Kelo New London: It’s Over

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:16 pm

My reax: Less than satisfying, but probably as much as could have been hoped for in the circumstances.

_________________________

Go here for links to all previous
Kelo New London posts and a pre-
final settlement map of the area.

_________________________

Excerpts from The New London Day’s report on today’s final settlement (link will require registration after one day, and a paid subscription after seven days):

Kelo’s pink house to be relocated

Susette Kelo’s little pink cottage, the home that was the subject of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case and a national symbol of the fight over eminent domain, will be spared from the wrecking ball. In a compromise between Kelo and New London, the home will be saved and moved to another location, perhaps close to where it originally stood over a century ago, near Pequot Avenue.

….. “It is wonderful that Susette Kelo’s little pink house, which is a national symbol of the fight against eminent domain abuse, will remain standing,” said Scott Bullock, senior attorney for the Institute for Justice, which continues to represent the remaining two homeowners.  ”The home will continue to serve as a tribute to her brave struggle and as a powerful symbol of the fight to stop land grabs by cities and their developer allies.”

“I am not happy about giving up my property, but I am very glad that my home, which means so much to me, will not be demolished and I will remain living in it,” said Kelo, the lead plaintiff in Kelo v. New London. “I proposed this as a compromise years ago and was turned down flat.”

….. Faced with eviction and the destruction of her beloved home, Kelo put forward an idea that she had originally proposed when first threatened with eminent domain abuse: preserving the home and moving it.

Fewer details were available concerning the Cristofaro settlement. The Cristofaros will lose their current home, but under the agreement, the city has agreed to support an application for more housing in Fort Trumbull, and the Cristofaro family has an exclusive right to purchase one of the homes at a fixed price.

Here’s more from the Institute for Justice’s press release (HT to Steve who posted earlier at the SOB Alliance site; bolds are mine):

Susette Kelo Lost Her Rights, She Lost Her Property, But She Has Saved Her Home

….. “I will be able to continue living in the home that means so much to me, with a real title to my property,” said Kelo. “Also, I will once again live in a neighborhood rather than a demolition zone.”

….. While Kelo’s agreement today signifies her deep attachment to her home, the agreement reached with the other remaining homeowner, the Cristofaros, reflects the family’s deep affiliation with the Fort Trumbull neighborhood, where they have lived for over 30 years. Although the Cristofaros will lose their current home, under the agreement, the City and the NLDC have agreed to support an application for more housing in Fort Trumbull, and the Cristofaro family has an exclusive right to purchase one of the homes at a fixed price. Moreover, a plaque will be installed in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood to commemorate the loss of family matriarch Margherita Cristofaro, who passed away while the battle against eminent domain abuse occurred in New London.

“Neither the Kelo nor the Cristofaro family wanted to lose their homes, but they are each keeping some part of their homes,” added Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Dana Berliner.  ”Susette Kelo will keep her house, albeit in another location. The Cristofaros want to stay on the Fort Trumbull peninsula. This agreement gives them the right to own a home in Fort Trumbull when one is built. The City also has agreed to move the trees that father Pasquale Cristofaro transplanted 30 years ago, when the previous Cristofaro home was taken by eminent domain.”

“The New London case was history-making,” said Chip Mellor, president and general counsel of the Institute for Justice. “It is only fitting that the house that launched a grassroots revolt should be preserved.”

Amen.

Hats off to Susette Kelo for her perseverance, the Cristofaros for also hanging in, and to the Institute for Justice for staying with them through what had to be more than they ever thought they would have to go through in their worst-case scenario. Susette Kelo will own the title to her home, and in that sense, when you remember what the alternatives were, no one can deny that she in a major sense prevailed. I have to confess to strong disappointment that the Cristofaros did not get to keep their original home, but clean title to a newly-developed property in Fort Trumbull will at least mean that the last two holdouts will have held off the city for the right to own property in the neighborhood.

Now it’s up to the city and the NLDC to get cracking. They have a deadline to keep with the Cristofaros, as noted at this WTNH-TV report that has a totally wrong headline:

“We have the option to move back into the neighborhood which we will. That is something we will do,” Michael Christofaro said.

“If they develop?”

“Yes. If they develop, but we have a nine year option. I hope they’re gonna do something. I mean, if they can’t turn that thing around in nine years why did these people lose their homes?”

This is New London we’re talking about, Mike. They’ve had eight years already, and all they’ve done is tear things down. Now we get to see if they can put something up.

__________________________________

UPDATE: Here’s more from the Associated Press report, including an opening sentence that unfortunately but accurately states the essence of the downside of the settlement:

The last two holdouts in New London’s Fort Trumbull neighborhood agreed Friday to give up their land to make way for private development, ending an eight-year battle that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

….. “I’m relieved, but it’s a sad day because the city doesn’t want us there,” said Michael Cristofaro, Pasquale’s son. “I’m going to have to see that house be torn down and you can bet I’ll be there when they tear that house down. I’m not going to let them get away with thinking that day is just going to come and go.”

Cristofaro credited Gov. M. Jodi Rell and a representative from the state Department of Economic and Community Development with getting involved in the final negotiations, treating the homeowners with compassion and understanding that small concessions were important.

“That’s what the city didn’t understand,” he said. “People have personal attachments to their property and money is not always what people want. These were concessions that the city didn’t even bother to try to make. They just wanted you out.”

….. Rell, in a written statement, said Friday that she was pleased the final agreements have been signed. She thanked Kelo and the Cristofaro for their willingness to “negotiate and responsibly settle this very difficult and painful issue.”

“Now these families can have some closure and the Fort Trumbull economic development project will go forward without delay, infusing new jobs and vitality into the region,” she said.

….. Rell said Friday that Connecticut should work to limit eminent domain when the next legislative session opens in January.

Cristofaro said he is not giving up on the issue.

“It’s a happy and sad day. I’m now able to get my life back, but the thing is, I will never stop fighting for people’s property rights across this nation,” he said. “There’s a lot of good things coming out because of our fight here in New London. People are uprising across the nation.”

I’d like to think that the fact that the city and the NLDC, armed as they were with their deeper-pocket legal advantage and even a Supreme Court ruling, were in the end still not able to simply roll over everyone involved, will give some comfort and encouragement to those resisting countless eminent-domain actions around the country. But it would be dangerous to think that the holdouts could have salvaged what they did without Governor Rell’s intervention. True, a referendum appeared to be headed for the ballot in New London, but how binding it would have been is at least somewhat debatable. The lesson for others trying to keep the eminent-domain monster at bay is that until meaningful legislation takes effect, the help of sympathetic politicians who follow through on their commitments will be essential to achieving any kind of success.

Mike Cristofaro is right, that the struggle against the tyranny of extra-constitutional eminent domain is far from over. I personally don’t think we’ll see a definitive end to it without either defining legislation from Congress or a Supreme Court reversal.

UPDATE 2: Apparently there has been no comment from the high-powered, politically-connected Italian Dramatic Club, which despite its location in the Fort Trumbull Peninsula, was exempted from eminent domain action by the city and the NLDC.

UPDATE 3: What is it with these weak headlines? Here’s The Washington Post — “Eminent Domain Case Holdouts Leave Homes.” Uh, no; Susette Kelo is keeping hers.

What Is it with EU Countries and Apple’s iTunes?

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:53 pm

Personal commitments mean I’m away from my computer Friday afternoon, and this post was done late Thursday night.

So by the time you read this, the law the French are considering may have passed.

The fight the French and, as you’ll see, other EU countries are picking with Apple is almost bizarre. It’s as if open-source digital music is some kind of entitlement:

France’s parliament is to vote Friday on a draft law which, if passed, could force Apple to make songs on its hugely popular iTunes Music Store compatible with players other than iPods.

But — after months of pressure from the US technology company — the law is also expected to include an amendment that might let Apple sidestep the measure and maintain the status quo.

Much rides on the outcome of the French bill’s passage.

Other European countries — Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and possibly soon Finland — are all considering similar legislation, and there are signs the battle to break Apple’s dominant position in the digital music marketplace could spread even further.

Look, I’m not a big fan of Apple’s proprietary format either. But whining is not the answer. Building a better business model with open source music is. Unfortunately, that would require work, so the music industry is attempting to have governments do the dirty work for them.

What Is It with EU Countries and Search Engines?

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:36 pm

First it was France. Now Germany is jumping into regulating search engines, and toying with the idea of creating its own:

German experts want search engines regulated
28 June 2006

BERLIN – German experts demanded on Tuesday that internet search engines be brought under regulation to ensure that they appoint humans to exercise editorial control over search results.

Marcel Machill, a lecturer in journalism at Germany’s Leipzig and Dortmund universities, told a seminar in Berlin: “It is important that their power not be allowed to develop without monitoring.”

He said he was concerned that web users typing in the words “Nazi Party” had been led to a neo-Nazi website until they were warned that funnelling under-18 web users to such sites breached German law.

He said he hoped that Germany would establish a public corporation to build its own search engine with “editorial responsibility” to compete with the likes of Google, Yahoo and Microsoft MSN.

The idea that a government could build, maintain, and keep current a search engine that anyone would be interested in using and that would generate objective results without political intervention is truly absurd.

Oh, and raise your hand if you think bureaucrats and law enforcement will be able to resist normally disallowed snooping into the search habits of their citizens. Didn’t think so.

How Will China Use the Tibet Railway?

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:11 am

Its completion is an impressive accomplishment, but the question, as is the usual case in the mainland, is whether it will be used constructively or as a tool of oppression:

China’s Tibet railway raises criticism from exiles
June 30, 2006

BEIJING — China unveils an engineering marvel this weekend — a railway to Tibet that features high-tech systems to stabilize tracks over permafrost and cabins enriched with oxygen to help riders cope with high altitudes.

Yet, as with so much else in China’s often harsh 56-year rule over Tibet, the 710-mile-long railway to the Tibetan capital has drawn controversy even before the first train departs Saturday.

Tibetans loyal to the exiled Dalai Lama and other critics say the $4.2 billion railway is part of a campaign by Beijing to crush Tibetan culture by encouraging an influx of Han Chinese, China’s majority ethnic group.

And environmental groups worry about the railway’s impact on the Tibetan highlands.

….. Pro-independence groups plan to wear black armbands in protest and demonstrate outside Chinese embassies Saturday, a campaign they call “Reject the Railway.”

Railway official Zhu Zhensheng defended the railway, saying it will boost the Tibetan region’s economy and help people learn about its unique culture. Zhu said few Tibetans will work on the train at first, though “we hope to increase those opportunities.”

Railway Ministry officials noted it’s the world’s highest train, taking the 16,500-foot passes at speeds up to 60 mph.

Matt at Students for a Free Tibet referred me to a post that, among other things, expresses the fear that Tibetan culture would be diluted and overwhelmed by the influx of Chines migrants. (Aside: It would be nice if our country grasped the possibility that The United States’ unique culture could be similarly overwhelmed.)

The Chinese appear to be taking a softer but nevertheless similar approach to what Stalin did in the 1920s and 1930s in the Soviet Union. Stalin attempted to destroy native loyalties and cultures by forcibly moving large numbers of people around. China seems to be doing it by “encouraging migration” while continuing to oppress native Tibetans.

If there was true economic and political freedom in China, the railway would be a clear economic win-win for Tibet and the rest of the mainland. But the way the Chinese government conducts itself makes it very likely that whatever economic benefits accrue will be more than offset by the dilution and perhaps loss of Tibet’s uniqueness.

June 28 Was the National Center’s 3rd Blogiversary

Filed under: News from Other Sites — Tom @ 9:12 am

Congrats (two days late — apologies to Amy Ridenour) to one of the blogosphere’s pioneers.

Bizzy’s AM Coffee Biz-Econ-Life Links (063006)

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:59 am

Requires Free Registration

  • Making up a scary headline — “Growing evidence of real-estate ‘bust’.” Trouble is, the article doesn’t address a real-estate bust directly at all, only “asset values,” which include any number of things besides real estate (stocks, bonds, etc.)

Free Links:

  • The AP Got the Headline Right. It really is an AP headline, as it gets repeated here. Will wonders never cease? –

    Senate Rejects Regulating Internet Access

    A massive effort by Internet users to prohibit telephone and cable companies from providing better service and prices to preferred customers failed to get through a Senate committee on Wednesday.

    After three days of debate, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved a bill intended to let phone companies and other telecommunications providers better compete in video markets now monopolized by cable companies.

    The measure faces an uncertain future because of the controversy over “net neutrality” – how to ensure that consumers and Internet content providers continue having open and nondiscriminatory access to the Internet.

    ….. The vote was 11-11, and ties defeat proposed amendments.

    Headlines at other outlets are along the lines of this one: “Senate panel rejects Net neutrality in tie vote.”

    The closeness of the vote raises the possibility of a Senate filibuster.

  • Google Is Doing Credit transaction processing. Go to the link for more.
  • I am so not surprised (HT Conservative Culture) — Val Verde County in Texas built a better border wall, and crime went down 76%.
  • If you’re an old customer of Cinergy or UHL&P, get ready for two utility bills — Duke Energy is splitting into separate companies for gas and electricity.
  • James Joyner delivered some pleasant news about the cancer-fighting capabilities of coffee, pizza, and beer a couple of weeks ago. Now there’s more good news about beer — and a chance for a free shot at the arrogant ones among wine afficionados (nyah, nyah):

    29/06/06 Contrary to popular opinion, beer is as healthy—if not more healthy—than wine, according to a university professor with an academic title any Joe Six-pack would relish.

    Charles Bamforth, chairman of the food science department at the University of California at Davis and an Anheuser-Busch endowed professor, told food scientists assembled at the IFT Annual Meeting that beer contains valuable B vitamins, such as B12, folic acid and niacin, as well as antioxidants, such as polyphenols and ferulic acid.

    Bamforth, author of the book Beer: Health and Nutrition says beer also has soluble fiber, which is good for digestion, and the active ingredient in alcohol—whether from beer or wine—helps counter blockage of the arteries.

    “People say red wine is key to that,” Bamforth said. “But beer, if you looked at it holistically, is healthier than wine. But it is not perceived that way.”

    Despite their actions against KFC and Starbucks, The Food Police are having the equivalent of a bad hair month. I’m sure they’ll be taking their shots at who endowed Mr. Bamforth’s chair, but what they need to refute is his science. My guess is they can’t.

    Pizza, coffee, and beer are good for you. Who says that you can’t create heaven on earth? I propose a toast to “holistic healthiness.”

Positivity: 11 Year-old Is Back from the Dead

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:01 am

Dylan Silva was lifeless when rescued, but is fine now:

Family calls 11 year old boy a miracle child
Updated: 6/28/2006 11:35:48 PM

Grandville-His family is calling 11 year old Dylan Silva a miracle child.

“No two ways about it, he’s a miracle kid,” says Dylan’s aunt Julie Horlind.

The 5th grader at Grandview Elementary was trapped underwater for over 5 minutes while swimming at Ludington State Park last Friday.

He had no pulse and was not breathing when he was pulled from the river.

By all medical measurements he was dead.

“He was completly lifeless,” says Horlind. “Just gone. He was not breathing. His head was hanging.”

“The doctor in the trauma area and the Aero-Med doc both came in and said it wasn’t looking good,” says Dylan’s mother Pam Silva. “He had been without oxygen for a very long time. And I just kept saying you’re wrong. You’re wrong. Dylan is a fighter.”

Dylan was swimming with at least 10 other children in the river at Ludington State Park when he became tangled in a rope they were playing with.

He was pulled under the water.

A Kalamazoo Public Safety Officer and an Ohio Firefighter on vacation led a desperate rescue effort. They used CPR to restart his heart.

“Had those people not been there this would have been a totally different outcome,” says Horlind. “Nobody gave up. They kept going and going.”

Dylan is recieving treatment at Mary Free Bed Clinic in Grand Rapids for the residual effects from his ordeal.

He has some weakness on the left side and some short term memory issues.

But he is already able to shoot baskets with his brothers and cousins on the outside court at the clinic.

“His personality is starting to come back,” says his mother, Pam. “He’s walking around here like nothing is the matter. He’s laughing, singing in the shower like his old self. He’s just there. He’s a miracle.”

Dylan recalls going into the river but does not remember his brush with death. Only waking up in the hospital.

June 29, 2006

Those “Worthless” WMDs

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:49 pm

I missed this last week from Jim Geraghty at TKS (HT “S.O.B.er” Brain Shavings, who has many more links and a nice table at his post) as he dressed down Alan Colmes’ intellectual complete dishonesty about the state of mustard gas shells found in Iraq:

A 94 to 97 percent purity after seven years (cited in a UN inspectors’ 1999 letter about mustard gas) strikes me as pretty long lasting. Presuming that the rate of degradation is stable (is there a reason deterioration would accelerate in year eight or later?) the year 2003 would mean that at the time of the invasion, these shells had a purity of 88 to 94 percent. Sounds pretty potent to me.

Try researching, Alan. Mustard gas keeps its toxicity for a long time. Stop telling your viewers and listeners that the weapons were “degraded” — which, without context, sounds like “harmless.”

______________________________

Previous Posts:

  • June 22 — MORE WMD Findings Revealed (Adding to Richard Miniter’s October 2005 List)
  • June 13 — The “No WMD” Lie: An Addendum
  • March 18 — Weekend Question 1: When Will We Hear the “Never Mind” on the “No WMD” Claim?
  • March 3 — Why Isn’t There a Groundswell of Media and Other Protest about This “Coverup”?
  • Feb. 15 — The Saddam Tapes, If They Prove WMDs, Will Be Icing on an Already-Baked Cake
  • Feb. 8 — The “No WMD” Lie (Yet Again) at Coretta Scott King’s Funeral — And a Challenge
  • Nov. 2, 2005 — The “No WMD” Lie (with LINKED Proof)
  • Oct. 27 — The “No WMD” Lie

Why Electric Cars Have Always Failed

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:31 pm

Ralph Kinney Bennett at TCS Daily boils it down to one word:

Like strange, silent techno-zombies EVs keep rolling back into the public eye, earnestly appealing to us to ignore basic economics and fall under the sway of their swift, silent, non-polluting mobility. But despite the most ardent labor of various entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers; despite some of the most ingenious inventions, adaptations, modifications and applications of all sorts of technology, EVs have not been able to become the car the public wants them to be.

They have succeeded as purpose-built vehicles — fork lifts, golf carts, “city cars,” airport shuttles and the like. But they have never become the car for the open road, the let’s-drive-over-to-the-shore-for-the-weekend car.

Why?

Let’s go over this one more time, class: Range. Range is the problem. Electric cars do not have sufficient range to be the practical, versatile, every day car most people want.

They don’t have range because they operate on batteries — those mysterious sealed devices that convert chemicals into stored electrical energy. And batteries can’t store enough energy to keep an EV going more than 50 or 60 miles, or in rare cases (with experienced drivers and the latest and very expensive nickel-metal-hydride battery packs) 150 miles, before they have to be recharged.

Put it this way. I can drive my wife’s big Lexus 55 miles on two gallons (about 16 pounds) of gasoline that cost me six bucks. An electric car like the one featured here could travel the same distance by exhausting its 1000-pound battery pack (lead-acid, costing $2000) which would then have to be recharged. The recharging would take about four hours. I could replace the two gallons of gasoline in about 30 seconds, but I wouldn’t have to because my wife’s car can easily go another 450 highway cruising miles on a tank of gas.

….. No matter what high hopes one may have for them, electric cars are cars of low expectations. They are, at their best, “only” cars — cars for people who expect to drive only a few miles, only on generally flat roads, with only themselves or perhaps one passenger, with only light cargo, and only in moderate weather.

In the “urban environment” so cherished by enlightened folks, EVs are adequate to the task. Electric propulsion is wonderful in a closed and somewhat predictable environment like, say Catalina Island. You just silently glide along, accelerate instantly, and have a general feeling of well being. But, alas, we can’t all live on Catalina Island.

….. But I have also found that too many EV enthusiasts seem to be a little bit contemptuous of ordinary folk who want to pack everyone in the van and go to the gymnastics competition a couple hundred miles away, or throw their dirt bikes into the back of the truck and head for the mountains.

These votaries of the EV religion get real heartburn when they see people barreling around in SUVs and pick up trucks that appear to be empty most of the time. They don’t seem to grasp the fact that millions of motorists do not see their cars as spare and ascetic tools to get them from point A to point B. Like it or not, American motorists see their cars as full of potentialities and possibilities, some of which may seldom or never be fulfilled.

Bennett also has some well-deserved scorn for those who insist that electric cars haven’t made it because of some grandiose oil company-car company-Dick Cheney conspiracy:

People who go around grousing and moaning about who killed the electric car are people with a schooled ignorance about markets and the realities of physics — and an intellectual arrogance — not only about what you and I should drive, but about how we should live.

Lucky Break of the Year

Filed under: Privacy/ID Theft,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:18 pm

Well, it’s more than luck, because there has obviously been a large-scale effort to recover the laptop stolen from the Veterans Administration, but the luck has to do with what was done with the data on it — nothing:

The government has recovered the stolen laptop computer and hard drive with sensitive data on up to 26.5 million veterans and military personnel. The FBI said Thursday there is no evidence that anyone accessed Social Security numbers and other data on the equipment.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson, in announcing the recovery of the computer, said there have been no reports of identity theft stemming from the May 3 burglary at a VA employee’s Maryland home.

The FBI, in a statement from its Baltimore field office, said a preliminary review of the equipment by its computer forensic teams “has determined that the data base remains intact and has not been accessed since it was stolen.”

I would hope that the privacy organizations and others who are tracking and listing data breaches update their records accordingly. I have updated my posts on this matter here, here, and here.

Up, Up, Up: Final 1st Quarter GDP Growth Was 5.6%

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 10:12 am

….. But The Associated Press feels compelled to throw cold water on the news.

________________________________

Wow — This is from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) announcement:

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 5.6 percent in the first quarter of 2006, according to final estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

….. The increase in real GDP in the first quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), exports, equipment and software, and federal government spending.

The original estimate in April was 4.8%, and the revision in May was to 5.3%. Reuters notes that Wall Street economists had predicted a final revision of 5.5%.

Here’s the obligatory cold water thrown by the Associated Press in the 5th, 6th, and 7th paras of their first report on the GDP news (cold-water words in bold):

Fresher barometers, however, suggest the economy is shifting into a lower gear in the current quarter.

Economists predict that economic growth in the April-to-June quarter probably slowed to a pace of around 2.5 percent to 3 percent. High energy prices and a more moderate housing market will play roles in the expected slowdown in overall economic activity.

If that turns out to be the case, the economy will have registered a seesaw-like pattern of growth in the last few quarters.

The opening quarter’s energetic performance followed a lethargic showing in the closing quarter of 2005 when the economy grew by a feeble 1.7 percent pace.

Here’s how the past 12-quarter period of the Bush 43 economy compares to the previous four best seven-year prosperities:

1Q06GDPcomp

As you can see, the 4.0% growth is not as good as what was achieved during the prosperous Reagan-Bush 41 years, and is slightly better than during the prosperous Clinton years.
__________________________

UPDATE: A later AP report adds this jaw-dropping paragraph:

President Bush, coping with low job-approval ratings, hopes Goldman Sachs chief Henry Paulson — the man who has been confirmed to be the next treasury secretary — will breath(e) new life in(to) the administration’s economic agenda.

Putting aside the noted grammar corrections, since when does an economic agenda that has led to current growth of over 5% and a three-year growth record of 4% need to have “new life” breathed into it?
__________________________

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Bizzy’s AM Coffee Biz-Econ-Life Links (062906)

Free Links:

  • Germany does something right:

    The German government is about to trigger a new crisis in Europe’s flagship climate policy, the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

    BBC News understands the German cabinet is likely to agree a deal that will reduce carbon emissions from industry by only 0.6% between 2004 and 2012.

    The decision is likely to influence other EU countries, including the UK, which still have to set their own caps.

    Environmental groups describe the target as “pathetic and shameful.”

    I would replace “shameful” with “sensible.”

  • The University of Cincinnati can’t make it on $500 more from every student:

    Budget shortfall means cuts at UC

    The University of Cincinnati has said it will have to make cuts, and possibly lay off staff, due to a $27 million budget shortfall.

    The university’s board of trustees on Tuesday approved a $1 billion budget for 2006-07 school year, and raised tuition by $498 per year, but said that won’t be enough to break even.

    After 10% tuition increases in each of the past three years, the idea that UC can’t get by without what it considers to be major cuts proves that they’ve been wasting the extra money they have received all these years.

  • Ho-hum1,000 new jobs:

    UnitedHealth to Add 1,000 Jobs

    HOWARD, Wis. — UnitedHealth Group Inc. plans to hire 1,000 full-time workers at a call-center near Green Bay, Wis., the company said Wednesday.

    The Minnetonka, Minn.-based health insurer said it will remodel the former American Medical Security headquarters into a state-of-the-art call center.

    A shareholders’ revolt at the New York Times? — As I’ve mentioned on a few occasions, the family that owns The New York Times has set up a dual-stock structure that enables it to be minority investors while having a majority of the votes for the board of directors and shareholder-related initiatives. A major shareholder is not happy with that

    Morgan Stanley Investment Management said Tuesday it withheld votes for the Times’ director nominees because it believes the company’s board and management have become unaccountable to shareholders.

    The firm, which says it owns more than 5% of the Times’ Class A stock, called for the elimination of the dual-stock structure that leaves control of the board with minority shareholders led by the founding Sulzberger family.

    Yesterday, NYT stock closed at $23,73, only $1.11 above its 8-year low of $22.62 that occurred in mid-June, and is down over 50% in the past four years.

Positivity: Identical Twins Become Priests

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:04 am

This is very neat:

Identical twins ordained to the priesthood

Erie, PA, Jun. 28, 2006 (CNA) – James and Joseph Campbell have always been close, but last Friday, the identical twin brothers took a lifetime step together that will bond them in an eternal way; the Erie, Pennsylvania brothers were both ordained to the priesthood at the city’s St. Peter’s Cathedral.

Both 26 now, the brothers grew up “playing Mass” with wafers fashioned from bread in their parent’s home. They also voluntarily attended 6:30 a.m. daily Mass growing up.

According to the Associated Press, Father Joseph Campbell said that “It wasn’t an obligation for us, but rather something we saw as cool.”

The boys, who share 11 other siblings, were named after the family’s late pastor, Monsignor James Joseph Gannon.

June 28, 2006

New Honda Plant Will be in Greensburg, Indiana — NOT in Ohio

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:45 pm

Here’s the news.

Why?

Here’s one theory:

  • Indiana eliminated its gross receipts tax on businesses a few years ago.
  • Ohio just established and is the process of fully phasing in a Commercial Activities Tax (CAT), which is in essence a gross receipts tax.
  • If it had located the new plant in Ohio, shipments from the Honda plant to dealers would be CAT-taxable sales. The tax would have to be paid regardless of whether the plant, or the company, was earning a profit.
  • Indiana does have a corporate income tax (which Ohio is phasing out), but it would only have to be paid if the plant is making money.
  • Honda is probably already unhappy that shipments of cars from its existing Ohio plants to dealers are CAT-taxable, and didn’t want to add any more to what they will have to pay in the coming years on Ohio shipments.

Advantage: Indiana.

Message to Ohio: Kill the CAT.
______________________________

UPDATE (HT NixGuy): The Columbus Dispatch article on Honda’s decision mentions workers’ comp costs as a possible factor. Ohio’s WorkComp benefits are more generous than Indiana’s. That’s not surprising, as it’s a government agency, and “more generous” probably means “too generous.” Solution: Privatize Workers’ Comp, and have private insurers sell varying degrees of coverage (with mandated minimums, of course).
______________________________

Previous Post: Nov. 14, 2005 — This CAT Should Be Killed

Stat of the Day: India’s Middle Class

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:22 pm

Val McQueen at TCS Daily has a great column on India today.

India has discovered capitalism, and its economy has broken relatively free of statist shackles and backward thinking. As one might expect, India’s middle class continues to swell:

In the mid-1980s, India’s middle class comprised just 10 percent of the population. Today, it’s larger than the entire population of the United States and is predicted to grow to 445 million by the end of this decade.

That is roughly 40% of India’s total population of 1.1 billion. Continued progress in the same direction would mean that the world’s former poster child for poverty may be able to eliminate it in roughly 40 years — and perhaps faster, if I am right that most of the growth in the middle class has occurred in the past decade.

Decades of socialism in India failed to bring about what has been achieved in only a couple of decades of free-market capitalism. Who wants to argue about which system is better?