July 10, 2010

Excerpt of the Day: From the WSJ, on Ohio’s Big-Picture Problem and LeBron’s Departure

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:14 am

In an editorial today, as “King James” moves to Miami:

While LeBron’s departure got extraordinary media attention, it is hardly unique. In the early 1990s, Ohio was the home of 43 Fortune 500 companies. Twenty years later the number is 24. Census Bureau data show that from 2004-2008 Ohio saw a net outmigration of $6 billion of income and some 97,000 taxpayers. Even Ohio’s famously liberal Senator, the late Howard Metzenbaum, moved to Florida late in his life to reduce his estate taxes.

We feel for Cleveland fans, but maybe they should allocate some of their wrath to the state politicians who keep driving high-income individuals and their businesses to financially sunnier climes.

Whether or not you think taxes partially motivated LeBron’s relo decision (I think not, but watch whether he sticks to his stated intention to continue living in Akron), the fact is that Ohio’s taxes and lousy business climate clearly ARE influencing others’ decisions to go elsewhere. Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, a Democrat, has even wistfully mentioned retiring to Florida and selling T-shirts.

Yet the indefensible status quo’s defenders, who have NO credible solutions of their own, continue to ridicule the idea of phasing out the state’s income tax. The questions they can’t and won’t answer are: How do Florida, and Texas, and the several other states that don’t tax income get by? If they do, why can’t Ohio? Given the outmigration and the need to genuinely turn things around, what good reason is there not to give it a shot?

_______________________________________________

Separately: How is it that “King James” has a nickname, Kobe Bryant doesn’t, and Michael Jordan’s “Air Jordan” and less-often used “His Airness” faded as his career progressed? My theory: The prominence of a person’s nickname is inversely proportional to one’s ability to deliver NBA championships. Yeah, I think LeBron should have stayed, and his departure act was classless. This is not the same guy who at age 17 handled his team’s defeat at the hands of Cincinnati’s Roger Bacon High School in the 2002 Ohio State Championship game with exemplary sportsmanship:

James made a point of walking over to Roger Bacon’s bench during postgame ceremonies, where he slapped hands with Spartans coaches and players.

How sad that he’s so different.

_______________________________________________

Related Fun with Numbers: The net outmigration stats cited work out to over $61,800 per taxpayer — not the people you want to be losing in large numbers.

Hijacking Martin Luther King’s Image — and Outlook

Filed under: Economy,Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:50 am

Note: This went up at the Washington Examiner’s OpinionZone blog and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Thursday.

___________________________________________________

The picture seen here from yesterday’s news speaks volumes about the presumptive ignorance of the open-borders crowd. I first saw it at an Associated Press story which has since stopped using it. It’s still present at this story at the Arizona Republic.

Its caption:

Daniel Ortega (from left), a Phoenix lawyer and immigration advocate; Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox; and the Rev. Warren Stewart are among speakers at a Tuesday news conference discussing the federal suit challenging Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070.

In the background is a painting (probably a reproduction) of Martin Luther King. For those who question the resemblance, look here.

I suppose the law’s opponents carried on underneath the King’s image to not so subtly assert that King would have supported their drive and the Department of Justice’s lawsuit attempting to overturn Arizona’s immigration enforcement measure if he were alive today. What they’ve really revealed is their historical ignorance.

There is no doubt about the following three things:

  • United Farm Workers lead Cesar Chavez was opposed to illegal immigration, particularly the illegals in the late 1960s who were crossing the border, working for subsistence wages, and undermining his efforts to unionize grape pickers in California.
  • King’s successor, Ralph David Abernathy, agreed with Chavez.
  • In 1969, according to this chronology of events found at a UCLA web site, both men, along with then-Senator Walter Mondale of Minnesota, led “a march through the Coachella and Imperial Valleys to the United States-Mexico border to protest grower-use of undocumented immigrants from Mexico as strike breakers.”

All three men clearly opposed illegal immigration over 40 years ago. The only remaining question is whether King himself would have opposed it. Those who want to claim that he would have been okay with it have a heavy burden of proof. I believe they can’t meet it.

In 1966, as detailed here, after Chavez’s group won an organizing election and turned back the Teamsters, “Martin Luther King sent them a congratulatory telegram, saying, ‘The fight for equality must be fought on many fronts.’” The likelihood is that King was aware of Chavez’s position on illegal immigration, that he agreed with it, and that Abernathy inherited that agreement.

At a more practical level, it’s hard to imagine that King would have been okay with millions of illegal immigrations competing with lower-skilled American workers, many of them black, and either driving citizens to accept unacceptable wages and working conditions, or driving them out of work entirely.

If Arizona 1070′s opponents’ are using King’s image to pretend he would have supported them, they simply don’t have history on their side.

Positivity: Washington state lawyers acknowledge pharmacies’ right to not stock Plan B

Filed under: Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:57 am

From Olympia, Washington:

Jul 8, 2010 / 08:20 pm

In a major reversal of their previous position, attorneys for the state of Washington have acknowledged the right of local pharmacies not to stock or dispense the emergency contraceptive pill Plan B.

On July 7, the state’s attorneys told a federal judge that the Washington State Board of Pharmacy would begin revising its rules, to allow pharmacies to act on their conscientious objections to the controversial drug.

The state attorneys’ new position may signal an end to a legal battle between the State Board of Pharmacy and owners of the local drugstore Ralph’s Thriftway.

In 2006, the board initially granted all pharmacies the right not to stock or prescribe medications to which they objected on religious or moral grounds. However, the board later changed these rules after publicly coming under fire from Washington’s governor, Christine Gregoire.

The subsequent change in policy attempted to force pharmacies to stock and dispense Plan B or other drugs regardless of religious or moral objections, prompting a legal challenge from Ralph’s Thriftway. Its owners sued the state of Washington in 2007, asserting that their right to refuse to sell Plan B, in accordance with the state’s original rules, was a matter of religious freedom.

In 2009, a federal judge sided with the store’s owners, but had his ruling struck down on appeal.

On Wednesday, however, the board’s lawyers acknowledged that pharmacies with religious or moral objections could refer those seeking Plan B to another drugstore, without interfering with patients’ “timely access” to a “lawfully-prescribed medication.”

Eric Rassbach, the National Director of Litigation for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the firm representing Ralph’s Thriftway, interpreted the reversal as “a clear signal to Governor Christine Gregoire that her bullying tactics are not acceptable.”

“First,” Rassbach reported, “she threatened to fire the members of the State Board of Pharmacy if they did not agree with her; then, she tried to pressure the pharmacy by joining a boycott against Ralph’s Thriftway.”

“It may come as a surprise to her, but conscientious and principled people like the owners and pharmacists of Ralph’s Thriftway are the backbone of this country,” he said. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

Same AP Reporter Produces Two Decidedly Different Reports on Retail Sales Within Seven Hours

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 2:34 am

SaleI was quite surprised to see the difference in tone between two different Associated Press reports on retail sales Thursday.

The earlier article, unbylined and time-stamped at 10:43 a.m. at MSNBC (HT Hot Air), has the headline “Nation’s retailers post tepid June sales” and this subheadline: “Concerns about back-to-school shopping, health of recovery.” It is decidedly downbeat.

The later AP item, with Anne D’Innocienzio’s byline and time-stamped at 4:59 p.m. at the AP’s main site, is headlined “Retailers post choppy June, deepen discounts.” Compared to the morning story, this account is largely sanitized of macroeconomic negativity and dour words.

Imagine my surprise when I found a bylined version of the earlier report — time-stamped at 9:37 a.m. Mountain Time (11:37 ET) at an Idaho TV station’s web site — and learned that Ms. D’Innocenzio also wrote that report. Who fed this woman happy pills during the afternoon?

Here are some key paragraphs from the AP retail writer’s morning offering (bolds and number tags are mine):

Americans didn’t go on many shopping sprees in June, resulting in sluggish sales [1] for many retailers. It often took deeply discounted clothing to get shoppers to spend – and then only if they needed it.

The lackluster performance [1], being compared with a weak June 2009, is raising concerns about the back-to-school shopping season [2] and the health of the economic recovery [3].

The International Council of Shopping Centers’ index of June retail sales saw a 3 percent increase, the low end of its growth forecast that ranged from 3 to 4 percent. But that’s compared with a 5.1 percent decline in the year-ago period.

The figures are based on revenue at stores open at least a year and are a key indicator of retailers’ health.

… After ramping up spending surprisingly in the first quarter, shoppers have hunkered down since April. Some worry they’ll continue to be tight-fisted through the holiday shopping season [2].

… June is a time when stores clear out summer goods to make room for back-to-school merchandise. But analysts say discounting was heavier than expected as stores had to work hard to pull in shoppers continuing to grapple with a deluge of financial issues [4]. Such deeper-than-planned discounting resulted in some stores, including American Eagle Outfitters and Wet Seal, trimming profit forecasts Thursday.

Uncertainty is growing as evidence mounts – from disappointing housing data to sluggish hiring – that the recovery is stalling heading into the second half of 2010 [5]. And that is when the benefits of most of the government’s stimulus spending will begin to fade.

Now compare the previous excerpted verbiage to what follows from D’Innocenzio’s afternoon item:

Stores deepened discounts more than planned in June to draw recession-scarred shoppers to buy summer tops and other merchandise. But shoppers bought mostly items they needed, resulting in small revenue gains.

The mixed results [1] from June, released Thursday, are raising concerns about the back-to-school season [2] and consumers’ ability and willingness to hit the accelerator on spending.

… The third straight month of modest sales gains [1] after a surprisingly solid start to the year underscores the choppiness of the economic recovery [3] and puts more pressure on retailers to come up with innovative tactics to get shoppers to spend in the critical months ahead, instead of just resorting to price slashing.

… Merchants’ come-ons are great news for deal seekers – if they have the means to spend. [4]

… After ramping up spending surprisingly in the first quarter, shoppers have hunkered down since April, going out to stores only to buy necessities. The volatile economic environment has made business uneven from week to week, and economists don’t see that changing until American businesses start making significant hiring.

Uncertainty is growing as evidence mounts – from disappointing housing data to sluggish hiring – that the recovery is stalling heading into the second half of 2010 [5]. And that is when the benefits of most of the government’s stimulus spending will begin to fade.

Here’s how the tagged items compare in the two reports:

[1] – D’Innocenzio went from “sluggish sales” and “lackluster results” to “mixed results” and “modest sales gains” with the same information. That’s a pretty good trick.

[2] – The AP reporter’s concerns went from being concerned about the back-to-school and holiday (really “Christmas”) shopping seasons to only back-to-school.

[3] – She went from being worried about “continued health of the recovery” to merely noting “the choppiness of the recovery,” which implies that there’s little if any doubt about is continuance.

[4] – Going from “shoppers continuing to grapple with a deluge of financial issues” to “if they have the means to spend” is a significant water-down. The latter description also ignores the fact that a lot of shoppers, specifically the 20% of affluent folks who do 40% of the spending, have “the means to spend,” but are holding on to their money because of economy- and government-induced uncertainty. How do I know this? An AP report on July 7 — also written by D’Innocenzio (“New retail data: Luxury shoppers pull back in June”) — told me. Seriously. Those happy pills must do something to short-term memory.

[5] – Give the AP reporter props for keeping this accurate verbiage consistent and its placement (from paragraph 12 of 22 in the earlier reports to 16 of 24 in the latter) reasonably equivalent.

All in all, it’s clear that D’Innocenzio’s reports on the same news went from decidedly downbeat to mixed in a matter of less than seven hours. As is typically the case at the AP’s main site, the latter report survives, and earlier ones go down the memory hole.

How convenient.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.