May 30, 2010

Sloppy, Erroneous AP Reporting Supports Schumer’s Proposed Foreign Call Center Tax

schumer4The federal government saw its tax collections fall by almost 20% in fiscal 2009 compared to fiscal 2008. Through the first seven months of the current fiscal year, year-over-year collections were down by another 4.5%.

New York Senator Charles Schumer (pictured at right; obtained from wbng.com) is desperately searching for another way to fleece taxpayers (because cutting spending is of course out of the question), and has come up with a “brilliant” idea. An unbylined Associated Press story gives Schumer’s idea, a foreign call center tax, undeserved cover by going back to seven year-old information about industry job losses that doesn’t reflect current conditions..

Here are the first five paragraphs from the AP story, followed by a later paragraph containing the outdated information:

Schumer wants to slow exodus of US call centers

In an effort to slow the exodus of U.S. telephone work to overseas services, Sen. Charles Schumer is introducing legislation that would impose an excise tax on companies that transfer calls with American area codes to foreign call centers.

The measure would also require telling U.S. customers that the call is being transferred and to which country.

Companies use call centers to give customers technical product support, answer billing questions or provide other information. They often use several operators.

The fee would be 25 cents for calls transferred to foreign countries. There would be no fee for a domestic call center. Companies would have to report quarterly their total customer service calls received and the number relayed overseas.

“If we want to put a stop to the outsourcing of American jobs, then we need to provide incentives for American companies to keep American jobs here,” Schumer said last week. The New York Democrat said the excise tax would “also provide a reason for companies that have already outsourced jobs to bring them back.”

… From 2001 to 2003, the United States lost 250,000 call center jobs to India and the Philippines, according to Technology Marketing Corp., a Norwalk, Conn.-based company specializing in call centers and telemarketing.

If AP’s alleged journalists had done research that took yours truly all of about 10 minutes, it could have informed readers that the “exodus” to which Schumer refers hasn’t been happening for at least five years.

Three executive summaries available at the National Association of Call Centers (NACC) inform us that U.S. call center employment has generally grown, even through the severe nationwide recession.

First, here’s a bit of the Fourth Quarter 2008 Executive Summary (bolds are mine throughout; links are to small PDF files):

In the fourth quarter of 2008 more call center jobs were lost in the United States than were gained for the first time since the data was collected going back to 2005. This loss of jobs in the call center industry was tied directly to the recession within the United States economy.

In case the AP needs to buy a clue, the excerpted paragraph tells us that the industry gained jobs for three or more years until its job growth finally succumbed to the recession.

Next, there’s the following from the Second Quarter of 2009:

In the second quarter of 2009 more call center jobs were added in the United States than were lost suggesting a continued recovery from the recession low of fourth (4th) quarter 2008.

So despite the fact that the economy as a whole lost hundreds of thousands of jobs a month during the first six months of 2009, call centers showed net employment gains.

Finally, this is from the Fourth Quarter 2009 Executive Summary:

In the fourth quarter of 2009 more call center jobs were gained in the United States than were lost creating a three quarter long job recovery from the recession low of fourth (4th) quarter 2008.

The NAAC only makes its Executive Summaries available to the public, generally providing specific employment numbers only to members. But I suspect the organization would have been glad to give AP reporters some details if only someone had called them. Maybe the wire service should set up an outbound call center that will do the follow-up work its reporters seem incapable of doing.

The bottom line is this: Exodus, schmexodus. Senator Schumer’s interest in a foreign call center tax has almost nothing to do with jobs. His primary interest is to create yet another ongoing money pot for a government that will not control itself.

Shame on the insufferably lazy AP for giving the New York senator argumentative cover.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Six Months Late to a Game That’s Long Been Over: NYT, Newsweek Acknowledge ClimateGate’s Damage

GlobalWarmingParts of the U.S. establishment press have acknowledged “climate science” reality, six months late.

The fallout from ClimateGate (link is to the NewsBusters tag), the name eventually given to the scandal resulting from the unauthorized posting of over 1,000 emails and dozens of documents obtained from University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) in the UK, goes back a full six months to November of last year.

On November 20, Australia’s Andrew Bolt crisply described the contents of the aforementioned items as providing substantial evidence of: “Conspiracy, collusion in exaggerating warming data, possibly illegal destruction of embarrassing information, organised resistance to disclosure, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more.”

Six long months later, as the American Thinker’s Marc Sheppard observed, both the New York Times and Newsweek have recognized the fallout while still not conceding the argument. The Times does so in an article by Elisabeth Rosenthal about crumbling public support in Great Britain and elsewhere, while Newsweek’s Stefan Thiel addresses “The backlash against climate science.”

What a difference three years makes, says Sheppard:

Of greater note — the same powerhouse publication that in its August 2007 cover story — The Truth about Denial — described climate skepticism as “an undermining of the science” now challenges the same AGW orthodoxy it once preached.

The Times’s Rosenthal bitterly clings to settled-science silliness in her first paragraph, and shortly thereafter notes a plunge in public support that has been present for three months:

Last month hundreds of environmental activists crammed into an auditorium here to ponder an anguished question: If the scientific consensus on climate change has not changed, why have so many people turned away from the idea that human activity is warming the planet?

… A survey in February by the BBC found that only 26 percent of Britons believed that “climate change is happening and is now established as largely manmade,” down from 41 percent in November 2009. A poll conducted for the German magazine Der Spiegel found that 42 percent of Germans feared global warming, down from 62 percent four years earlier.

Of course the claimed scientific consensus has never really existed. But the CRU e-mails showed that there wasn’t even confident consensus among scientists who presented a public front of being entirely in lockstep. This is best illustrated in a memorable passage from a Kevin Trenberth e-mail (Trenberth is head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado):

Well I have my own article on where the heck is global warming? We are asking that here in Boulder where we have broken records the past two days for the coldest days on record. We had 4 inches of snow. The high the last 2 days was below 30F and the normal is 69F, and it smashed the previous records for these days by 10F. The low was about 18F and also a record low, well below the previous record low.

This is January weather (see the Rockies baseball playoff game was canceled on Saturday and then played last night in below freezing weather). …

The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.

Newsweek’s Thiel is even harsher on the warmists’ conduct and temperament:

The backlash against climate science is also about the way in which leading scientists allied themselves with politicians and activists to promote their cause. Some of the IPCC’s most-quoted data and recommendations were taken straight out of unchecked activist brochures, newspaper articles, and corporate reports—including claims of plummeting crop yields in Africa and the rising costs of warming-related natural disasters, both of which have been refuted by academic studies.

Just as damaging, many climate scientists have responded to critiques by questioning the integrity of their critics, rather than by supplying data and reasoned arguments. When other researchers aired doubt about the IPCC’s prediction that Himalayan glaciers will melt by 2035, the IPCC’s powerful chief, Rajendra Pachauri, trashed their work as “voodoo science.” Even today, after dozens of IPCC exaggerations have surfaced, leading climate officials like U.N. Environment Program chief Achim Steiner and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research head Joachim Schellnhuber continue to tar-brush critics as “anti-Enlightenment” and engaging in “witch hunts.”

In a delicious piece at the American Interest, Walter Russell Mead asserts how totally unacceptable the Times’s attempt at “better late than never” is. In a critique that could equally be applied to Newsweek and the vast majority of the establishment press, Mead writes:

Who knows, in a few more months or years, somebody may write a story about the damage that the culture of cocooning and coddling did to a movement that only slowly learned that it had lost the public trust. Somebody might even interview the editors and journalists involved to find out why the collapse of the climate change movement’s political momentum was too unimportant to print while the news was still fresh. Somebody else might look at that journalistic culture and write a story about how failures of aggressive reporting and news editing undermined the credibility of some of the greatest news gathering organizations on earth.

But I wouldn’t publish any of that stuff too quickly. Stories this big and this rich need to be properly aged.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Immigration Reform … in Massachusetts?

Filed under: Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:35 am

massachusettsNote: This post went up at the Washington Examiner’s OpinionZone and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Friday.

________________________________

Excuse me for questioning the sincerity of ultraliberal Massachusetts Democrats’ sudden interest in reforming the state’s immigration laws.

At first glance, what the Bay State’s Senate did Thursday afternoon is stunning. A seemingly shellshocked Boston Globe began its story as follows:

The Massachusetts Senate passed a far-reaching crackdown yesterday on illegal immigrants and those who hire them, going further, senators said, than any immigration bill proposed over the past five years.

In a measure of just how politically potent illegal immigration has become, the Senate, on a 28-10 vote, replaced a far milder budget amendment it had passed Wednesday. The sweeping provision, if it makes it into law, would toughen or expand rules that bar illegal immigrants from public health care, housing, and higher education benefits.

The amendment would also clear the way for courts, the state attorney general, and even average citizens to get new tools, including an anonymous hot line, to report illegal immigrants or companies that employ them to the government.

This seems way too easy.

The state’s upper chamber has 35 Democrats and only five Republicans. In the House, Dems have a 141-19 majority. The Bay State’s Governor is Democrat Deval Patrick.

Senate passage is only one step in the legislative sausage-making process. The Globe noted that the bill not only would have to “make the final budget plan lawmakers approve for next fiscal year, but it would also have to survive a possible veto by Governor Deval Patrick, who has been cool to such initiatives.”

I would love to be proven wrong, but it seems that if the Senate’s action quietly disappears from the state’s final budget, Senators up for reelection will be able to run to voters and say, “See, we’re tough on illegal immigration, but that darned House forced us to either drop our bill or shut down state operations. But don’t worry; we’ll get to it next year, after we’re safely reelected.” Sure.

Massachusetts Democrats could be going for a twofer, wherein the House and Senate both pass the bill and get bragging rights, only to see Patrick exercise his line-item veto power to surgically remove it from the state budget. Veto-override attempts in one or both chambers would “somehow” fall just short of the two-thirds threshold necessary to succeed. In the Senate’s case, only two of yesterday’s 28 supporters would have to change their minds. In such situations, the legislators will caucus and decide who the vote-flippers will be, selecting among those who are not up for reelection, have announced their retirement, or are in seats that are so safe they can’t possibly fall victim to voter backlash.

The Globe article quotes a Massachusetts Tea Party activist who shares in the cynicism: “Whoo hoo! They voted for it. Must be an election year.”

That it is. Voters need to cast their ballots based on candidates’ lifetime records and statements. They must avoid being fooled by clever posturing over contrived unsuccessful efforts.

Newman Center bicycle race promotes evangelization on wheels in North Dakota

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:36 am

From Fargo, North Dakota:

May 29, 2010 / 01:14 pm

When it comes to evangelization, the Newman Centers in Fargo and Grand Forks put forth a lot of effort and cover a lot of ground. During a bicycle race last month, more than 500 people actively demonstrated their faith by riding 40 miles to raise awareness of the Newman Centers and their role in bringing the Catholic faith to others.

In addition to being a successful evangelization tool, the race generated more than $150,000 that will support the work of the North Dakota Newman Centers.

“The people were so generous,” Deacon Sam Pupino said from St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center in Grand Forks. Their financial donations ensure that “we can do the evangelization that we need to do on these campuses.”

The stories of participants are as varied as they are. Some participants wore costumes. One participant stopped to fix other racers’ bicycles, lending them another bike so they could continue the race while he made repairs. One rider has ridden in all of the 25 races that have been held throughout the years. Two children in elementary school raised more than $150 each in pledges. A ninth grader raised $1,000.

The evangelization reached well beyond North Dakota’s borders. The parents of one student traveled from Illinois to participate, and took home with them information about how to coordinate bike races at their local Newman Center.

This annual visible and physical evangelization effort is also a friendly competition between the two Newman Centers. This year St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center earned the trophy with 233 racers and more than $85,000 in donations. St. Paul’s Newman Center in Fargo had 283 racers and raised more than $72,000.

Go here for the rest of the story.