July 13, 2006

Movie Work in LA Is Up. I Wonder Why?

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:24 pm

A quite unlikely group owes George Bush a thank-you card:

Study: Show Biz Jobs Up in L.A. into 2008
July 12, 2006

Runaway production remains an economic drag on Los Angeles, but the entertainment industry will add 3,000 jobs in the area, and work here rose for the second consecutive year in 2005, according to a study set for release today.

In Los Angeles, the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County and three smaller, nearby cities, “production days” on feature films rose from 8,707 in 2004 to 9,518 last year, according to a midyear update from the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.

Until 2004, location production days had fallen for seven years in a row, a function of runaway production, LAEDC chief economist Jack Kyser said. Even after two years of rebound, feature film production days are well off the 13,980 in the peak year of 1996.

….. Nevertheless, the entertainment industry, comprising TV, radio and cable broadcasting and motion pictures, appears poised to add 3,000 jobs this year, 2,400 in 2007 and 2,600 in 2008. In 2005, the industry lost 1,500 jobs.

The turnaround that began in 2005 and that is expected to continue wouldn’t possibly have anything to do with the entertainment business’s favorite president’s tax cuts, especially those on capital gains, would it?

Citgo’s US Retrenchment: Strategic Reaction by Hugo Chavez, or a Strictly Business Decision?

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:35 am

The dry Fox report tells us the news:

Citgo to Stop Selling Gas to 1,800 U.S. Stations
Wednesday, July 12, 2006

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela-owned Citgo Petroleum Corp. has decided to stop distributing gasoline to some 1,800 U.S. stations, shedding a lackluster segment of its business while forcing the owners of those stations to find other suppliers.

While it may create some logistical headaches for gasoline retailers in the short term, the move should not have any impact on the nation’s overall fuel supply.

Citgo, which is wholly owned by Venezuela’s state oil company, currently has to purchase 130,000 barrels a day from third parties in order to meet its service contracts at 13,100 stations across the U.S. This is less profitable than selling gasoline directly from its refineries.

Instead, the Houston-based company has decided to sell to retailers only the 750,000 barrels a day that it produces at three U.S. refineries in Lake Charles, La., Corpus Christi, Texas and Lemont, Ill., according to a statement late Tuesday.

….. The states where Citgo will stop selling gasoline are: Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Dakota. A limited number of stations in Illinois, Texas, Arkansas and Iowa will also be affected.

Hugo Chavez is essentially forcing what remains of Citgo in the US to be self-sufficient, and may be doing so to ensure that he will be unaffected by any attempts in the US to embargo his native Venezuelan production.

It could also be that enough consumers are aware of Citgo’s Castro-sympathizing ownership and have stopped buying the company’s products because of Mr. Chavez’s increasing belligerence. If so, by doing so American consumers have forced Citgo to do the kind of retrenchment any company in a similar situation would consider doing.

It will be interesting to see, as much as we can (difficult because the company has taken steps “go dark” [last item at link] to avoid public reporting and disclosure requirements), how Citgo’s remaining American operations fare in the next few years.

Carnival Barking

Filed under: News from Other Sites — Tom @ 10:15 am

Newshound’s Carnival of Ohio Politics No. 31 Is Up!

So is Boring Made Dull’s Carnival on Economics and Social Policy III.

Bizzy’s AM Coffee Biz-Econ-Life Links (071306)

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:56 am

Free Links:

  • Hey, gee, Rachel C,
    How many
    died without DDT?
    (HT Redhawk Review)
  • Florida’s crime rate is at its lowest level since 1971, decreasing 3.7% last year while crime nationwide went up (though the Florida and FBI national stats may not be strictly comparable). Florida passed a concealed-carry law last year, and though statistics show that the presence of such laws has reduced crime elsewhere, it’s too early in my opinion to declare concealed-carry a factor in Florida’s improvement.
  • Microsoft has officially ended all support for Windows 98 (this also includes Windows ME). The company estimates that there are still 70 million users. From visiting remote locations of well-known companies, I would guess that this estimate is low. I suppose if the computers involved don’t access the Internet it’s not a big deal, but how many such computers can be out there? Any Win 98 or 2000 computer connected to the Net is a sitting duck for viruses and spyware.
  • I think it’s legitimate to worry that 20 years from now we’ll still be dealing with stories like this one (“Teen sues district after ‘Ave Maria’ silenced”; HT Return of the Conservatives) and the other examples cited later in the article. That’s because all too many public school systems will not only continue to pursue a “Godless” curriculum, but will also never own up to the fact that they see doing so as a part of their mission. Side note: Consider me a skeptic that a saxophone (held by Kathryn Nurre in the picture at the link) works in “Ave Maria.”
  • If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t miss yesterday’s OpinionJournal.com piece (may require e-mail registration, but after 24 hours, maybe not) on how the best way to “soak the rich” is to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. My preferred language, since the current tax system has been in place for three years, is “make the current tax rate structure permanent.”
  • The Land of 1,000 Subsidies, World Cup runnerup France, has come up with Number 1,001

    France to Offer Low-Cost PCs to Families
    Jul 11, 4:14 PM (ET)

    PARIS (AP) – Low-income French families will be equipped with a computer and an Internet connection for 1 euro ($1.27) a day under a new government proposal.

    Families who sign up will receive a computer, a high-speed connection, software and a class on how to use the equipment, officials said Tuesday after an inter-ministerial meeting.

    The program is expected to start early next year. Later this year, officials will announce which incomes qualify.

    About half of French homes have a home computer – a figure that Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin wants to boost to 68 percent in three years.

    Families in the program will contribute financially for three years, the government said. The program will have both state and private funding, with the state guaranteeing bank loans for families, while Internet providers give sharp discounts for access.

    Many details were still being worked out.

    Though there’s always a chance that this time a government program will actually pan out, I’d say the odds are that it will be an underachieving boondoggle like the USA’s Universal Service Fund (USF) has been. Even if it accomplishes something in its initial stages, there is a high chance of repeating the type of mission creep the USF has experienced. The whole enterprise reflects a nation that thinks it can subsidize its way to wealth instead of freeing up the engine of private enterprise and growing its way there.

Positivity: A Walking Medical Miracle

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

It seems more correct to call Karl Nagy a walking advertisement for having a positive outlook on life (HT Good News Blog):

Meet a walking medical miracle
July 7, 2006

MIRACLE man Karl Nagy has survived seven bouts of cancer, the loss of a kidney and two heart attacks.

Nine years ago doctors told him he had only three months to live, but Karl, 69, is still here and manages to keep smiling even though he has to take 59 tablets a day to cope with his many conditions.

Karl was first diagnosed with bone cancer in his hip in 1997 and because it spread to his kidney that had to be removed.

The cancer in his hip recurred and he has since been treated for prostate cancer, cancer in his shoulder, his windpipe and his other kidney.

Incredibly he looks quite healthy and says he has never looked any different ever since he was first diagnosed. He lives at Abington Place, Haverhill, with Joy, his wife of 47 years. He still drives a car and enjoys getting out and about, as well as visiting their five children and 11 grandchildren.

Doctors have described him as a medical miracle, but Karl believes it is his positive attitude which has allowed him to defy their diagnosis and he hopes to inspire others to do the same.
He said: “I saw the consultant last year and he said: ‘You made them look a fool nine years ago and I hope you make me look a fool as well.’ They could not believe me in the hospitals and I would like to thank them all because they are brilliant.

“I must be mad because I am still smiling with all the problems I have had. I think I just have a different outlook on life, I just take whatever it throws at me.

You have just got to get on with it.

When they said I had only three months to live, I did not think it was possible. I did not think it was my time to go.

“I am telling my story to encourage other people who get ill to fight and do something about it.

You have got to keep going out otherwise it is just too depressing. I have known a lot of people with cancer and when you give up, within two or three months you are dead. Fifty-nine tablets a day is an awful lot, but if that is what it takes what choice do I have?”

Karl came to England 50 years ago after fleeing the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and worked at Bell Precision Engineering in Haverhill for more than 30 years.