Month: November 2013

The Libertarian Paradise in Just One Story

A couple in Utah was billed $3500.00 for a negative review of a vendor who never shipped what they ordered:

A Utah couple is facing an uphill legal battle after being slapped with a $3,500 fine by an online retailer for posting a negative review of the company years after it failed to ship the products they ordered.

CNN reported on Friday that John and Jen Palmer’s problems with Klear Gear began in 2008, when John canceled a purchase he made through the company after it failed to deliver his order within 30 days. The Palmers then panned the company in a review on the consumer-complaint site Ripoff Review, saying, in part, that it was impossible to reach someone at Klear Gear by phone.

But earlier this year, Klear Gear contacted the Palmers in writing, saying they violated the company’s “non-disparagement clause” and threatening them with the fine if they did not remove the negative review.

“This is fraud,” Jen Palmer told KUTV-TV. “They’re blackmailing us for telling the truth.”

KUTV also reported that the company’s terms of service stated, “To prevent the publishing of libelous content in any form, your acceptance of this sales contract prohibits you from taking any action that negatively impacts, its reputation, products, services, management or employees.”

However, Yahoo News reported that the clause seemingly only went into effect this year, only for the language to be removed from the website.

When Ripoff Report refused to remove the review, Klear Gear contacted major credit agencies and listed the $3,500 fine as a “failure to pay,” hampering the couples’ credit rating. The company told KUTV via email that its request that the Palmers erase their negative comment was “a diligent effort to help them avoid the fine.”

So, first, the provision of the contract is illegal, second, it wasn’t in force at the time that they made an order, and all the private entities involved, Klear Gear, Ripoff Report (which demanded a large payment to pull the post), and the credit rating agencies (’nuff said), have decided to f%$# the customer.

This is what happens when the contracts achieve primacy over basic human rights.

My only suggestion to the Palmers would be four letters, RICO, but I am an engineer, not a lawyer, dammit!*

*I LOVE IT when I get to go all Doctor McCoy!!!

Austerity for Greeks, Welfare for the Germans

Following elections, because Angela Merkel’s traditional partner, the FDP was shut out of the Bundestag, she had to form a coalition government with her traditional opposition, the SDP.

As a part of the coalition agreement she has agreed to create a minimum wage of €8.50 and a partial lowering of the retiring age to 63:

It was a “Six-Eye Negotiation” – in German, an “Unter Sechs Augen Gespraech”. Three leaders, and so three pairs of eyes, sat down together in the small hours in a private room and haggled amongst themselves, eyeball to eyeball.

In the 185-page agreement which resulted, the Social Democrats (SPD) came away with a minimum wage of 8.50 euros (£7.10) an hour, uniformly applied across the country. The counter-argument had been that insisting on the minimum wage in the old East Germany would dent the region’s ability to attract work.

The SPD’s chief negotiator Sigmar Gabriel also got a lowering of the retirement age and some extra public spending. That may be welcomed by those outside Germany, who have argued that the country is “beggaring its neighbours” by not increasing German spending to match the country’s amazing excess of exports over imports.

The SPD also secured the introduction of a minimum percentage of women on German company boards.

For her part, Chancellor Merkel got an acceptance from the SPD that its election demand of higher taxes on the rich would not happen. She also emphasised that the new government would continue to balance its budgets – there will be no move away from the belief that spending is tied to revenue.

I think that there is a fair amount consequences, some intended, and some not, to this.

First, a minimum wage of €8.50 will raise the wages of 17% of the workforce, with much of the effect in the service industry.

When one considers the impact on wages of people whose wages are just above the new minimum wage (probably about €10.00) it means that something like ¼ of the workforce will see a raise from this, which, in the long run may have negative political consequences for Merkel’s CDU.

On the other side of the political consequences, the SDP’s capitulation on higher taxes of the wealthy may play to the advantage of the left wing Die Linke, which is really the standard bearer of the democratic Socialism now eschewed by the “3rd Way” movement of the SDP in recent years.

One of the artifacts of German taxation is that it is fairly regressive, and wages of the bottom 90% have decreased in recent years:

According to a DIW study published last year, wages fell in real terms for all but the top 10 percent of earners in Germany between 2005 and 2010. This had a particularly acute effect on those earning the least. “As a rule, the lowest earners spend the highest portion of their income,” study co-author Karl Brenke explains.

Low-wage workers also end up spending a much higher proportion of their income on mandatory health insurance, as any income above €46,000 in annual salary is not subject to premium payments. Thus, while a senior engineer earning €150,000 a year is only required to pay 6.6 percent of his total income in social security contributions, a laborer who makes only a tenth as much ends up paying 20.7 percent.Low-wage workers also end up spending a much higher proportion of their income on mandatory health insurance, as any income above €46,000 in annual salary is not subject to premium payments. Thus, while a senior engineer earning €150,000 a year is only required to pay 6.6 percent of his total income in social security contributions, a laborer who makes only a tenth as much ends up paying 20.7 percent.

The collapse of the FDP was in part a reaction to this reality, as it is the most Thatcherite of the major parties.

Note also that this coalition agreement is exactly the opposite of the normal prescription to debt crises in the Euro zone: reductions in spending, increases in retirement age, and reductions in the minimum wage.

The next country to receive a demand of austerity from IMF and the Euro zone troika will likely highlight the inherent hypocrisy of such a demand.

Making Latkes for Thanksgivukah

Latkes from scratch at my mother-in-law’s.  (THANK GOD FOR FOOD PROCESSORS)

Unfortunately, because this is a collaborative cooking experience, there is a shortage of pans, so I am relegated to a tiny pan which can only handle 3 latkes at a time.

Chanukah in Thanksgiving, gotta love it.

No specific recipe for the latkes, just potatoes, onions, eggs, matzoh meal, salt, and pepper in proportions dictated by my gut.

My only specific advice is to grate the onions first, because the onions have a chemical that prevents the grated potatoes from changing color in the air.

Posted via mobile.

Linkage, Thanksgivukah Edition

Have some exquisite music.

The camera work is a bit busy though.

Bye Bye Silvio

Berlusconi has been expelled from the Italian parliament following his conviction for tax fraud:

The Italian Senate has voted to expel ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi from parliament with immediate effect over his conviction for tax fraud.

Berlusconi, who has dominated politics for 20 years, could now face arrest over other criminal cases as he has lost his immunity from prosecution.

He told supporters in Rome it was a “day of mourning” for democracy.

Ahead of the vote, he vowed to remain in politics to lead his Forza Italia in a “fight for the good of Italy”.

A defiant Berlusconi told supporters gathered outside his Rome residence that “no political leader has suffered a persecution such as I have lived through”.

He said: “It is a bitter day, a day of mourning.”

Central to Berlusconi’s success has always been his near monopoly on commercial TV in Italy, particularly when juxtaposed with his control of the state TV networks after he was first elected.

What the need to do now is to pass regulations preventing this ghastly intersection of monopoly media ownership and electoral politics from recurring.

Any Guess as to Which SEC Senior Official is About to Jump to the Private Sector

Because the Securities and Exchange Commission has delayed a revolving door regulation:

Months ago, bowing to concern about regulators who leave government and then work their former colleagues on behalf of industry, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that it was tightening restrictions on the revolving door.

Specifically, the SEC decided to close a loophole in the ethics rules that allowed some “senior” SEC personnel to lobby the agency immediately after leaving instead of staying on the sidelines for a year or more, as employees at other federal agencies must do. The change in the rules—revoking a longstanding exemption for some SEC officials—appeared to be a rare stand against the revolving door at an agency that has long blurred the lines between the regulators and the regulated.

But not so fast.

A notice published in Monday’s edition of the Federal Register said that the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) was withdrawing the new rule at “the request of the SEC” so that the agency could have more time to “effectively educate affected employees before the exemption revocation takes effect.”

The rule, which was published as “final” on October 3, had been scheduled to take effect on January 2.

The ethics office said it expects to republish the rule in January 2014, but it then would take another 90 days for the rule to go into effect, according to Monday’s announcement. As a result, SEC employees who would be affected by the rule change—including supervisory accountants, attorneys, economists, analysts, and administrative specialists—will have even more time to take advantage of the loophole. As long as they leave before the rule change takes effect, they’ll still be able to lobby the agency during their first year out.

For the ethics office to withdraw a rule after it had been adopted but before it could take effect appeared to be an unusual event. POGO searched the Federal Register going back to 1994 (the earliest year available in the Government Printing Office’s online archives) and found no other OGE notice containing the phrase “Withdrawal of Final Rule.” We asked an OGE spokesman how frequently this has happened, but he declined to comment.

Not feeling hope and change here.

Somewhere in Hell, J. Edgar Hoover is Laughing

Because Glenn Greenwald’s latest scoop is that the NSA has been running the equivalent of Hoover’s COINTELPRO program of spying and blackmail:

The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches, according to a top-secret NSA document. The document, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, identifies six targets, all Muslims, as “exemplars” of how “personal vulnerabilities” can be learned through electronic surveillance, and then exploited to undermine a target’s credibility, reputation and authority.

The NSA document, dated Oct. 3, 2012, repeatedly refers to the power of charges of hypocrisy to undermine such a messenger. “A previous SIGINT” — or signals intelligence, the interception of communications — “assessment report on radicalization indicated that radicalizers appear to be particularly vulnerable in the area of authority when their private and public behaviors are not consistent,” the document argues.

Among the vulnerabilities listed by the NSA that can be effectively exploited are “viewing sexually explicit material online” and “using sexually explicit persuasive language when communicating with inexperienced young girls.”

Note that notwithstanding the claims from an NSA spokes bot that, “Without discussing specific individuals, it should not be surprising that the US Government uses all of the lawful tools at our disposal to impede the efforts of valid terrorist targets who seek to harm the nation and radicalize others to violence,” these people are not accused of being terrorists, planning terrorism, or offering material support of terrorism.

They are simply called, “Radicalizers,” people who say things that they don’t like. People who hold up a mirror to the actions of the United States, and show that we as a society do not comport to our stated ordeals.

In other words, people like Martin Luther King, who was a major target of COINTELPRO.

They went through his sex life, and, after he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, attempted to convince him to commit suicide.

Note also, that at least one of the targets was a, “US Person”.

So, we are now targeting citizens or legal residents for blackmail from the state security apparatus with No Finding of Wrongdoing or Support for Terrorism.

Our state security apparatus is completely out of control.

Toronto Has Officially Jumped the Shark

You know that it’s true, because Florida, home of the hanging chad and governor Batboy, is now looking down on Canada’s largest city:

A north Florida sheriff has filed drug charges against a local mayor, saying Bradford County “isn’t Toronto.”

Hampton Mayor Barry Layne Moore was arrested Monday afternoon in Polk County on a Bradford County warrant.

Bradford County Sheriff Gordon Smith appeared to draw a comparison between Moore and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who has admitted to smoking crack cocaine while he was in a drunken stupor.

Authorities say Moore faces charges of possessing and selling Oxycodone.

Congratulations Toronto, you are now the butt of jokes from Floridians.

Your fall is complete.

Today’s Must Read

It’s, “Here’s why Wall Street has a hard time being ethical,” in the Guardian, and here is the money quote:

That’s the paradox at the core of the settlements we’re seeing: where is the real responsibility? Others were doing it, yes. Banks should be fined, yes. But somebody should be charged. Yet the people who really should be held accountable have not. They are the bosses, the managers and CEOs of the businesses. They set the standard, they shaped the culture. The Chuck Princes, Dick Fulds, and Fred Goodwins of the world. They happily shepherded and profited from a Wall Street that spun out of control.

A precedent needs to be set, to slow down Wall Street’s wild behavior. A reminder that rules are there to be followed, not exploited. The managers knew what was going on. Ask anyone who works at a bank and they will tell you that.

The excuse we have long accepted is ignorance: that these leaders couldn’t have known what was happening. That doesn’t suffice. If they didn’t know, it’s an even larger sin.

Go read the rest.

F%$# Him. Walk Away, and He Will Be Hanging from a Lamp Post in 9 Months

It looks like Hamid Karzai is issuing new demands for a status of forces agreement:

Efforts by the United States and Afghanistan to finalize a long-term security arrangement appeared on the brink of collapse Monday as Afghan President Hamid Karzai made a new set of demands, and the Obama administration said it would be forced to begin planning for a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces at the end of 2014.

In a two-hour meeting here, Susan E. Rice, President Obama’s top national security adviser, told Karzai that if he failed to sign the bilateral security agreement by the end of this year, the United States would have “no choice” but to prepare for withdrawal, according to a statement by the National Security Council in Washington.

Karzai told Rice that he would sign only after the United States helps his government begin peace talks with the Taliban and agrees to release all 17 Afghan citizens being held in the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.

In addition to those new demands, the Afghan leader reiterated that he will not sign if “another [U.S.] soldier steps foot into an Afghan home,” Karzai spokesman Aimal Faizi said. The United States has already promised to show “restraint” in “home entries” by U.S. troops and to carry them out only in conjunction with Afghan troops, but the tactic remains a part of U.S. operations against some insurgents here.

If I were a cynical son of a bitch, I would be thinking that he is deliberately trying to encourage the Taliban to mount attacks to against the Afghan Presidential Elections in the Spring, so that he can hang onto power.

Wait ……… I AM a cynical son of a bitch.

Seriously. Just call his damn bluff, and either he capitulates, or the Taliban plays piñata with his mutilated corpse.

Either way, it is a win for the United States, and for the Afghan people.

Sounds Good, but I do not Expect Anything Meaningful to Come of This

We’ve seen this before.

The White House puts out a potentially significant rule, or rule change, and the right wing noise machine cranks up, and they back off.

This is why I’m dubious that their place greater restrictions on tax-exempt political groups will amount to much:

The Obama administration proposed new rules on Tuesday to rein in tax-exempt groups that have transformed the U.S. political landscape in recent years by harnessing hundreds of millions of dollars in anonymous donations to influence elections.

The proposal would alter definitions in the tax code that allow limited campaign and fundraising activities by the tax-exempt groups, some of which have been at the center of allegations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny.

These tax-exempt “social welfare” groups, organized under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, mushroomed after a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that relaxed campaign finance rules. Part of their appeal is that the groups do not have to disclose the identities of their donors as long as they spend less than half their time and money on political activities.

Critics say the relaxed rules have opened the door to the abuse of campaign finance rules meant to curb the influence of wealthy donors in U.S. politics.


U.S. government officials have struggled for years to determine what qualifies as political activity. The proposed rules would more clearly define “candidate-related political activity” and also ask for public comment about how much political spending these groups should be allowed to do. The proposed rules introduce several bright-line tests that would determine when a 501(c)(4) is doing too much campaign activity and is violating its tax-exempt status.

Among these new definitions, advertising that names a candidate 60 days before a general election would count as political activity. Certain contributions that can now be made anonymously by these groups may need to be reported. Any “voter guides” that refer to a candidate would be considered political activity.

Also, any event within 60 days of a general election at which a candidate appears as part of the program would be a political event.

“This proposed guidance is a first critical step toward creating clear-cut definitions of political activity by social welfare organizations,” Mark Mazur, Treasury assistant secretary for tax policy, said in a statement.

If they implement this, it would be good first step, but I expect it to be watered down beyond recognition.

I Guess that You Get il Papa Buono About Once Every 50 Years

Pope Francis just went rhetorically postal on Anglo-Saxon hyper capitalism:

Pope Francis on Tuesday sharply criticized growing economic inequality and unfettered markets in a wide-ranging and decidedly populist teaching that revealed how he plans to reshape the Catholic Church.

In his most authoritative writings as pontiff, Francis decried an “idolatry of money” in secular culture and warned that it would lead to “a new tyranny.” But he reserved a large part of his critique for what he sees as an excessively top-down Catholic Church hierarchy, calling for more local governance and greater inclusiveness — including “broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church.”


On Tuesday, he showed a willingness to use tough language in attacking what he views as the excesses of capitalism. Using a phrase with special resonance in the United States, he strongly criticized an economic theory — often affiliated with conservatives — that discourages taxation and regulation.

“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world,” Francis wrote in the papal statement. “This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacra­lized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

“Meanwhile,” he added, “the excluded are still waiting.”

Although Francis has previously raised concerns about the growing gap between the wealthy and the poor, the direct reference to “trickle-down” economics in the English translation of his statement is striking.

The phrase has often been used derisively to describe a popular version of conservative economic philosophy that argues that allowing the wealthy to run their businesses unencumbered by regulation or taxation bears economic benefits that lead to more jobs and income for the rest of society. Liberals and Democratic officials have rejected the theory, saying it is contradicted by economic evidence.


Francis’s language on the economy has been far more accessible than that of Benedict, a theologian who wrote primarily in thick books hard to untangle for the regular lay­person. And Pope John Paul II’s warnings on economic inequality were swallowed at times by his war on Communism, a far more dangerous problem in the church’s eyes because of its anti-religious bent.

John Paul II’s “war on Communism” was a reactionary war against the idea that the church was to be a countervailing force against the excesses of capitalism.

It’s nice to see that some of the less antediluvian members of the Catholic clergy managed to avoid JP II’s purges.

It Could Not Happen to a More Deserving Bunch of Rat F%$#ers

It appears that all is not well at the Heritage Foundation,*.

Former Senator DeMint has taken the helm, and in addition to making its so-called scholarship secondary to its electoral litmus tests, DeMint has embraced his MBA ethos, and started to enforce rigorous performance standards and metrics on its employees.

The employees are not amused. They see themselves as professionals, and they find it demeaning that they will be treated in the same way that they insist that the professionals who teach our children:

Julia Ioffe has a piece in the New Republic explaining the recent history of the Heritage Foundation, once the most influential conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. — perhaps the most influential think tank of any kind anywhere, for a few years — and now essentially a very large email list and activist PAC/pressure group.

Many people noticed how much the organization had changed during the recent government shutdown/”defund Obamacare” fight, a giant waste of everyone’s time and general self-inflicted disaster engineered and designed by Heritage Action, the 501(c)(4) “pressure group” Heritage launched in 2010. On the right, there was much consternation over the direction this once-respected think tank had taken. Truth be told, Heritage was always mostly political hacks, they just used to be effective political hacks with a realistic agenda. What was different now was the cheerful absense of any coherent and/or achievable goal — beyond fundraising and image-boosting for Heritage Action itself. Many blamed this on new Heritage president Jim DeMint, a former congressman not particularly known for his intellect, but Ioffe says the new tone at Heritage, and the tactics of Heritage Action, were both largely directed by Michael Needham, a 31-year-old former Giuliani staffer brought on to be the CEO of Heritage Action when it launched.

It seems that the folks at Heritage do not feel that they are being properly respected:

“I was always struck at how they felt absolutely no intellectual modesty,” says the former veteran Heritage staffer. “They felt totally on par with people who had spent thirty years in the field and had Ph.D.s.”

 Kind of like how turning over public schools to hedge fund managers, and the results are the same, MBA morons using the skills that blew up our financial system to f%$# their latest endeavor:

Since Needham and Chapman and DeMint have been in charge, a number of scholars and academic think tank types have left the organization, presumably distressed by the new regime’s management methods. Those methods do sound quite annoying, though:

DeMint also shared another bond with the two men: unlike the Heritage ruling class of yore, none of them had Ph.D.s. All three, however, had MBAs. Their preference for incentivizing behavior on the Hill with scorecards and primary challenges was “a very MBA approach to politics,” the former scholar noted ruefully. “There’s really no room there for deliberation or argument.”

Once he took the helm, DeMint set about reorganizing the business. Under Feulner, the Heritage Foundation ran as a decentralized confederation of so-called research silos—health care, national security, education—whose staffers each focused on a specific area. DeMint instituted a system of multidisciplinary teams that sprung up depending on the issue of the day that Heritage happened to be pushing. Moreover, now a Heritage staffer’s career trajectory was tied to the success or failure of that team.

You mean … compensation and advancement were tied to performance? That sounds like standard corporate management best-practices to me. It also sounds like something Heritage has spent years trying to implement in public schools.

You know, the Heritage Foundation just loved private equity pump and dump before it was applied to them.

My f%$#ing heart f%$#ing bleeds f%$#ing borscht for these bastards.

F%$#ing sauce for the f%$#ing gander.
*Full disclosure, a friend of mine was fired for having cancer from the Heritage Foundation, so I am not favorably inclined toward these bastards.


Breaking Bad alternate ending:

I’ve never watched the show, and I LOLed.

H/t Crooks and Liars.

*Yes, this is fart humor.

Fed Judge Rules Parsonage Tax Exemption Unconstitutional

The Freedom From Religion Foundation prevailed in their challenge:

The Freedom From Religion Foundation and its co-presidents Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker have won a significant ruling with far-reaching ramifications declaring unconstitutional the 1954 “parish exemption” uniquely benefiting “ministers of the gospel.”

“May we say hallelujah! This decision agrees with us that Congress may not reward ministers for fighting a ‘godless and anti-religious’ movement by letting them pay less income tax. The rest of us should not pay more because clergy pay less,” Gaylor and Barker commented.

U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb for the Western District of Wisconsin issued a strong, 43-page decision Friday declaring unconstitutional 26 U.S. C. § 107(2), passed by Congress in 1954. Quoting the Supreme Court, Crabb noted, “Every tax exemption constitutes subsidy.” The law allowed “ministers of the gospel” paid through a housing allowance to exclude that allowance from taxable income. Ministers may, for instance, use the untaxed income to purchase a home, and, in a practice known as “double dipping,” may then deduct interest paid on the mortgage and property taxes.

“The Court’s decision does not evince hostility to religion — nor should it even seem controversial,” commented Richard L. Bolton, FFRF’s attorney in the case. “The Court has simply recognized the reality that a tax free housing allowance available only to ministers is a significant benefit from the government unconstitutionally provided on the basis of religion.”

Crabb wrote: “Some might view a rule against preferential treatment as exhibiting hostility toward religion, but equality should never be mistaken for hostility. It is important to remember that the establishment clause protects the religious and nonreligious alike.”

The benefit to clergy is huge — saving an estimated $2.3 billion in taxes in the years 2002-2007 alone, according to a statement by Congressman Jim Ramstad in 2002. Clergy are permitted to use the housing allowance not just for rent or mortgage, but for home improvements including swimming pools, maintenance and repairs. They may exempt from taxable income up to the fair market rental value of their home, particularly benefiting well-heeled pastors. The benefit extends to churches, which can pay clergy less, as tax-free salaries go further.

The 1954 bill’s sponsor, Rep. Peter Mack, argued ministers should be rewarded for “carrying on such a courageous fight against this [godless and anti-religious world movement].”

“I agree with plaintiffs that §107(2) does not have a secular purpose or effect,” wrote Crabb, adding that a reasonable observer would view it “as an endorsement of religion.”

Given the decades of Republican court stacking, I would expect this to be overturned on appeal, but I hope that it isn’t.

I do not know about the general makeup of the 7th circuit court of appeals, but if it does not get shut down at that level, it will be by the Supreme court.

H/t Cthulhu at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

What? You Mean that Taxpayer Funded Stadiums Don’t Create Growth?


Boosters of Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards, built at taxpayer cost of $210 million, promised the baseball stadium would lead an urban renaissance, revitalizing blighted neighborhoods and bringing jobs and tax revenue to the city’s struggling downtown.

More than two decades later, the pledge stands unfulfilled. Baltimore is burdened with 16,000 vacant properties and some of the highest taxes in Maryland. The neighborhoods around Camden Yards have fewer businesses than they did in 1998. And the ballpark and a National Football League stadium nearby will require state and local debt service of about $24 million in 2014.

Baltimore’s lesson is one that Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has taken to heart. He said Nov. 11 that Georgia’s capital city wouldn’t pay to build a new stadium for the Atlanta Braves — regardless of the team’s promises to bring thousands of jobs and pump tens of millions of dollars into the local economy. So the franchise said it would relocate to suburban Cobb County, which agreed to pay $300 million of the facility’s $672 million cost.

“It’s wrong to take money from taxpayers and hand it to millionaires and billionaires,” said Arthur Rolnick, a senior fellow at the University of Minnesota who has studied the public cost of professional sports stadiums. “If you try to justify it on economic development, the arguments dissolve pretty fast. The public would be much better off if they invested in things that would improve the quality of life, like roads and bridges, education and lowering crime.”

It ain’t just stadiums. It’s all the corporate welfare out there.

It is a losing proposition for governments.

Just wait until Cobb County gets hit with the real bill for the Braves’ ballpark.

The French Call for Germany to Leave the Eurozone

It’s not the French government, but it is as close as it can get without a governmental imprimatur:

Suddenly, there’s the next solution. This one is attractively presented with graphs and in simple economic terms that even a politician might understand. It’s seemingly well-reasoned and has no visible partisanship attached to it. And it came from one of the largest megabanks in France, Groupe BPCE, that hardly anyone knows.

It was established in 2009 through a government bailout and a near-simultaneous merger between the Caisse Nationale des Caisses d’Épargne and the Banque Fédérale des Banques Populaires. These vast cooperative bank networks continue to exist with their separate brands. And that’s what consumers see. BPCE has €1.15 trillion in assets and owns about 20% of the retail banking market. It’s huge.

And now, its asset management and investment banking subsidiary, Natixis, released a zinger of a study designed to influence policy. It’s titled, “On a purely macroeconomic basis, Germany should leave the Eurozone.”

Germany should get out of the way so that the remaining countries can devalue in a big way what would remain of the euro. France, Italy, Spain, Greece, etc. have always done that, one way or the other, before the euro took that nifty tool of sudden money destruction away from them. It would be the ideal solution for France.

After conceding that there may be non-economic reasons to form a monetary union, the report lays out five reasons why Germany needs to exit. But it offers an alternate solution: if Germany wants to stay, it needs to pay.

  1. Asymmetries in the economic cycles.
  2. Weakening economic ties between Germany and the rest of the Eurozone.
  3. Structural asymmetries.
  4. Different needs in exchange rates.
  5. Incapacity in the rest of the Eurozone to impose “internal devaluation.”

Read the rest.