Archive for August, 2017

Subsidies, Foxconn, and the Clergy

Sunday, August 27th, 2017

Aug 28, 2017

If you are a member of the left-liberal Clergy (see Bill’s Blogs, pp.  74, 78, 103) you probably can’t stand Donald Trump. If you also live in Wisconsin it’s probably a safe bet you don’t approve of the subsidies the state is planning to grant to the Taiwan company, Foxconn, in exchange for building a 10 billion dollar campus and creating close to 35,000 jobs.

As a conservative libertarian, I too am suspicious of this kind of subsidy to a private company. But let’s face it, there are subsidies and there are subsidies.

If you Google the word subsidies you will get a lot of info on ACA (aka: Obama Care). And then there are of course the very generous subsidies of the States and Federal Government to renewable energy! These two dwarf any subsidies Foxconn is going to get. The subsidies to renewable energy companies and to Obama care are all real subsidies because in many cases they are paid in cash, bond guarantees, or reduction of expenses.

(The solar company, Solyndra, ended up costing taxpayers 355 million for just 3000 jobs—over !00,000 per job. It went bankrupt in 2011). In the case of ACA millions of citizens get billions of dollars in reduced prices for health care.

And then there are the alleged subsidies for the fossil fuel industry and Foxconn. I write alleged because they are all really only tax credit subsidies. In other words the companies don’t actually get cash or loan guarantees; they get tax credits on their profits. Instead of paying taxes on profits that might not occur or simply reducing the tax bill on profits they do get credits on future profits. Foxconn does get a break since the credits are refundable even if profits are not earned! On the other hand they are paying their newworkers an average of $53,000 a year.

Libertarians like me think the corporate tax bill for job-creating corporations should not be the highest in the civilized world—but zero. That would be a big deal! It would also result in millions of new jobs! After all, it is profits, not taxes, that finance new jobs, increases in tax revenue, and a boom in national progress and wealth (GDP). More taxes simply encourage the government to create more programs, many of which are woefully inefficient in doing what they are supposed to do.

So no, I don’t consider tax credits like most subsidies that take from Pete to pay Paul. Tax credits are more like exemptions on religion and non-profit property, or interest exemptions on your income taxes. They are a subsidy but not that much of one.

The liberal press makes a big deal out of complaints that the lost revenue from the tax credits (theoretical revenue) will not surpass the actual tax revenue for up to 25 years! This is like saying your hoped for income next year may not equal your actual income! This mostly phony calculation doesn’t even count the income taxes of individual employees (the expected wage of the new 25,000 jobs—tax credit subsidized at nearly $16,000 per job—that will average $53,000 a year!) It also doesn’t count the increased income and sales taxes of construction workers and the income and sales taxes of the thousands of suppliers and merchants who sell goods and services to the new workers!

The Chicago Tribune published an editorial heaping fault on Illinois legislators for not doing enough to get Foxconn to build in Illinois instead of Wisconsin. Presumably the editorial writers, in this case, did do their homework.

The Green Clergy are also complaining about the environmental privileges Foxconn is getting to build in Wisconsin. Supposedly Foxconn can escape some of the stringent environmental regulations that Wisconsin enforces on other private individuals and companies to keep our water safe and plentiful, our wetlands wet, and our lakes and rivers clean and pristine.

This is the most serious charge against the deal. I am suspicious of exceptions to the law for any group or individual. But I am also suspicious of many environmental laws and regulations.

For instance, the powerful Green lobby has pushed legislators in all states, especially in Wisconsin as well as the federal government, to pass laws that relate more to power and control of individuals and companies than to the safety and protection of the public. State and federal bureaucrats have extended these laws into truly oppressive regulations that not only cost jobs but also cut tax revenues.

The biggest examples are and in the nuclear and fossil fuel energy.

Nuclear power plants are so strictly regulated that any advantages of cost, efficiency, reliable energy production, safety, and no carbon pollution are lost.

Fossil fuels are away and by far the biggest assets we have for getting energy, communication, transportation, health, comfort, pleasure, and wealth in this Modern Age. But you wouldn’t know this if you listen to the mainstream media—or indeed the advertising of some fossil fuel companies themselves!

All these worthies have fallen hook, line, and sinker for the Climate Change myth.

And the truth is most laws and regulations on food, farms, organics, water supplies, wetlands, welfare, recycling, and drugs are nearly as severe and ridiculous.

In the end, my reservations on making exceptions for Foxconn collide with my views on environmental and regulatory abuse and cancel each other out. Were I a Wisconsin legislator I would not hesitate to vote yes on the Foxconn deal. Potentially it will bring nearly 35,000 needed high-paying jobs to our state with a minimum of environmental damage if any. Despite the gloomy reports by liberal Democrats it will mean more money in the bank for individuals and for the state—and more progress for Wisconsin over the next 25 years.

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President and sole employee of Hawkhill

P. S. For any who want to know more details on my life-long journey through the idea swamp from devout Catholic to left-liberal clergy to conservative libertarian, I suggest you buy, curl up on the couch, and read any of my recent books (they are all cheap in money)—Twilight or Dawn? A Traveler’s Guide to Free-Market Liberal Democracy, East Gilman Street, or Bill’s Blogs. Or view some of my ideas on science and society, streamed free on YouTube.

Eclipse and Memes

Sunday, August 20th, 2017

Aug 21, 2017

This is the day for a full eclipse of the sun in the USA. It’s also time to take seriously memes (mental habits and practices inherited from the distant past). Again.

Strange combination! No.

Not nearly as strange as the more common coupling of eclipses with eye safety! How about brain safety! Meme safety! (Caution; you do need to take care of your eyes and not look directly at the sun without appropriate glasses!)

I like to watch my favorite baseball team on TV, the Milwaukee Brewers. On occasion a Brewer hits a home run. This happens fairly often since the team is a leader in home runs. Often as the home run hitter rounds the bases he points to the sky, presumably to thank God for this unlikely but blessed event.

I don’t really deplore this gesture. (The truth is I’m too busy applauding the rare and needed home run! So long as it was a Brewer and not a Cardinal or Cubs player that hit the homer!) I do think it’s kind of an insult to the Almighty to imagine He cares that much about home runs (or touchdowns) in a ball game.

The gesture also displays a common ignorance about science and religion! God is not up there! There really is not anything “up there“ except clouds, moon, and stars, and more space of course.. In other words the earth is a sphere surrounded by a whole lot of empty space and there is no god up there. Ball payers are not alone in thinking this meme from the distant past describes reality. Most ordinary citizens, including me, still think more or less that we are living on a flat earth with the sky “up there” and a solid earth “down here.”

Over six hundred years ago Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton proved beyond a shadow of doubt this is not true. But most of us still don’t believe it.

At least ordinary language has not caught up. Most people, including me, still say when we go “up” in a airplane or go “up” the stairs. We are not really going “up” or coming “down.” If scientific reality is strictly followed we should say we are going ”out” from the earth or coming “in” to a spherical planet whether it is in an airplane or going up a simple staircase.

I can almost hear some readers objecting, “Come on Bill, you’ve made your point, don’t push it!”

My real point is memes from past ages like this minor example are severely damaging our Modern Age. The sooner we recognize the memes and admit that they are memes and not harmless, the sooner we can devise effective ways to escape from these harmful beliefs from the long ago past. (I’m talking now about major memes like: thinking wealth is land, gold, and slaves; sexism; imperialism; wars; political correctness; racism; inequality; diversity; honor; violence and riots, whatever the cause; charity and compassion as cures; etc.; etc.).

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President and only employee of Hawkhill

P. S. For any who want to know more details on my life-long journey through the idea swamp from devout Catholic to left-liberal clergy to conservative libertarian, I suggest you buy, curl up on the couch, and read any of my recent books (they are all cheap)—Twilight or Dawn? A Traveler’s Guide to Free-Market Liberal Democracy, East Gilman Street, or Bill’s Blogs. Or view some ideas on science and society, streamed free on YouTube.

Fighting Bob LaFollette

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

Aug 14, 2017

Sorry about the technical faults recently. My computer has suddenly been taken over by commercial jerks that insert unwanted advertising with my blog. I don’t know how cure this virus yet, but I am doing my best to get rid of the pesky ads and other stuff that shouldn’t be there. (As before please ignore the twice underlined ads.)

In that process I appreciate all the more the old fashioned virtues of real books. I did read, slowly, a real book over the last few weeks—a biography of Fighting Bob LaFollette, The Righteous Reformer, by Nancy Unger. LaFollette is still revered by progressives in Wisconsin and elsewhere. Her book has a glowing plug on the back cover from Howard Zinn, the radical Boston College historian, writer, and progressive hero and guru.

I learned a few facts I had not known before. Fighting bob was indeed very righteous as was his wife, Belle Case. As with other righteous people neither Bob nor his wife, Belle Case, had much use for humor or any other frivolous activity. Bob himself was also very long-winded. A typical campaign or political speech lasted 3 to 6 hours (shades of Fidel Castro! Bob once talked on the Senate floor for 19 consecutive hours to support his propoaed laws on labor and anti-trust legislation. Rumor has it 11 hours into his speech some Senators tried to end it by giving him a poisoned glass of milk!). Whatever, both Fighting Bob and Belle Case were dead serious in their hatred of big corporations as well as any and all profits from business.

They also had chronic personal money troubles and both suffered from overwork and poor health, especially Fighting Bob. In the early years of the 20th century LaFollette was elected Governor of Wisconsin for three consecutive terms, twice as a US Senator. He ran for president against Cal Coolidge in 1924. In all that time Bob worked long hours for progressive causes but was forced by ill heath to spend a great deal of that time in bed from depression and overwork.

His son, Robert Lafollette Jr., also a senator from Wisconsin, was very close to his father in political views and personal life. Bob Jr. was also plagued by depression, overwork, and ended up committing suicide He did have a lonely childhood (his parents were often busy with political tasks. Bob Jr. and his siblings suffered). Losing a primary election to, of all people, Joe McCarthy, may well have been the last straw.

One other fact sticks in my mind after reading this biography—the UW Faculty has changed dramatically! When Fighting Bob was running for President in 1924 he was still stung by his unpopular stand on WW1. Senator LaFollette bitterly, and in the end hopelessly, opposed the US participation in that war. (Even I, not a progressive but aided by hindsight, agree with this Progressive Republica—WW1 was futile and unwise.)

The surprise was that the UW Faculty at the time went further and voted 421 to 2 to censure LaFollette as well, claiming that he was “unwise and shamefully dishonest…[in] his failure to actively and earnestly support the government in the prosecution of the present war.” I don’t really know for sure how similar faculty votes today would turn out on LBJ and the Vietnam War (or on support for Donald Trump’s. I suspect it would be quite different.

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President and sole employee of Hawkhill

P. S. For any who want to know more details on my life-long journey through the idea swamp from devout Catholic to left-liberal clergy to conservative libertarian, I suggest you buy, curl up on the couch, and read any of my recent books (they are all cheap)—Twilight or Dawn? A Traveler’s Guide to Free-Market Liberal Democracy, East Gilman Street, or Bill’s Blogs. Or view some of my ideas on science and society, streamed free on YouTube.

One meme leads to another

Sunday, August 6th, 2017

Aug 7, 2017

I wrote two weeks ago, “I do reserve the right to return occasionally if I so desire.” I so desire. For a short time. And a short blog.

The cause for my quick retreat is our local newspaper, The Wisconsin State Journal. As I recall it used to be middle of the road. The Cap Times, an afternoon more left-lieaning paper, came on hard times and switched to a free weekly tabloid version slipped into the Journal every Wednesday. I think quite a bit of the leftist bent has rubbed off on the Journal with the change. (Pay no attention to the double-underlined clips. I don’t know how to get rid of them. Some jerk virus is adding them!)

Briefly, since most of my readers are not local and can’t be expected to have much interest in this city. Madison is actually so left-leaning it may fall into its lakes, all of which are clogged with algae in one of the most environmentally-aware, science-talented, and sophisticated cities in the world.

In writing for newspapers, magazines, and TV it’s a matter of memes and tone. The headlines often tell the tale.

For instance, last Sunday’s headlines in our State Journal were: “FOXCONN | WORTH THE PRICE” (all caps but small light type, followed by larger, darker, and more readable type) “Proposal has huge tradeoff in jobs, taxes.” The article was a mostly negative take on a current story about a Taiwan firm planning to invest $10 billion dollars and bring up to 35,000 jobs to SE Wisconsin. Next to it on the front page and in larger type with a big photo, “Curtain rising soon on auditorium renovation.” A feature story about a local high school theater in a school with minority students. To complete the front page (with type midway in size between the high school story and the Foxconn one), “Championship CrossFit Games coming to Madison.” A feature story about a new sport.

So what?

The guy who pays the piper gets to call the tunes. Madison is a city many left-liberal clergy (see Bill’s Blogs, pp. 74, 78, 103). To succeed here you must play to the clergy’s PC tunes.

I do question the moral tone and the effectiveness of the clergy’s Politically Correct faiths, believed on very little evidence. Among these are: we should favor policies that advance a radical agenda of equallity of talent (some would claim superiority) and subsequent wealth equality for “people of color.” Despite the fact that Madison has the same convincing tale of disproportional crime, wealth and poverty, intellectual and educational achievements, and low IQ in bell curve science for that “people of color” minority that so many other cites have. And yes, despite the historical examples of failure in Cuba, Venezuela, Mao’s China, North Korea, and the entire Soviet bloc. When these socialist countries tried to follow this meme).

Then there is the progressive’s long-standing meme against profit-making despite the fact that profits are needed for any progress in the Modern Age; and the related meme that says non-profit and government work is somehow more uplifting and moral than work in the for-profit sector, especially when it rcomes to large corporations; and the alleged need for diversity in all sectors (with exceptions for a few professional and college sports); and last but not least, memes of the major progressive green issues (hypocritically ignored in practice by both leading activists and the public, but still firmly held by the clergy) that claim the country and the world is: (1) overpopulated, (2) with dwindling resources, (3) increasing pollution, and above all, (4) faced with catastrophic Climate change.

The evidence for all of these faiths is slim and spotty to put it gently. But the fervor with which they are held is close to the religious faith of fundamentalist Christians (or Muslims) who believe the Bible (or the Quran) is the source of all wisdom.

Need I point out these memes are amply shown by everyday headlines in our local Journal? Or for that matter in the NY Times, The Washington Post, The LA Times, CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, CNN, MSBC, and most local papers and TV stations? The President, in short, may well be right! The media is an enemy.

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President, Hawkhill

P. S. For anyone who wants to know more details on my journey through the ideas swamp from devout Catholic to left-liberal clergy to libertarian, I suggest you buy, curl up on the couch, and read any one of my recent books—Twilight or Dawn? A Traveler’s Guide to Free-Market Liberal Democracy, East Gilman Street, or Bill’s Blogs. Or view some of my ideas on science and society streamed free on YouTube