Thursday, March 31, 2011

Windy City Times - 25TH WARD Daniel Solis - 169


Daniel Solis is one of several current alderman facing a runoff election—but he is not lacking in confidence. Solis, who has represented the very diverse 25th Ward since 1996, talked about the election, crime, same-sex marriage and the very controversial Fisk Coal Plant.

Windy City Times: Let's talk about the runoff itself. Are you fine being in one, or do you think it should be that whomever has the majority of votes is the winner?

Daniel Solis: I'm have mixed feelings about it, but I think I lean more towards the runoffs. It's a good idea to get at least 50 percent of your voters' support, as opposed to the winner getting 30 percent or 22 percent.

WCT: You've been alderman since 1996.

DS: Right. I was appointed in '96 because my predecessor resigned, and then I had a special election in '97. Then I went through the regular cycle of elections in '99, 2003, 2007 and, now, 2015 ... I mean, 2011.

WCT: Looking ahead already, are we?

Read more story below....

DS: [Laughs] Yeah ... looking ahead.

WCT: OK. What are the biggest changes that you've seen in your ward since becoming alderman?

DS: I see my ward as a collection of great ethnic neighborhoods; it's a microcosm of Chicago. I have an Asian community; a Hispanic community; Eastern Europeans; ethnic groups especially in the southwest portion of my ward, especially in the Heart of Chicago area; Little Italy; African Americans; and young professionals. Also, there is a contingent of younger artists and hipster-type people in the east end of Pilsen.

So I've got everything—and each one of these neighborhoods has seen improvements in the key areas that are important to a city. Education has improved. Crime has declined 25 percent this past year. I've got about 10 more acres of green space in my ward. I've constructed new schools, added parks. I've got libraries. I've got a magnet school coming.

I've increased jobs: The Pilsen industrial quarter is where the great companies of the '60s and '70s were—General Electric and ComEd—but they left. When they left, they took jobs and tax revenue, and left contaminated land. That's when I introduced the TIF [tax-increment financing] in 2002, which allowed me to clean up the land, and improve and get more modern infrastructure. So that allowed me to attract new industries, and we were able to add 3,000 jobs and tax revenue. I can use revenue to help public institutions, like schools and parks.

Starting at the end of last year, they started construction of the first green street in Chicago, and that street will be intersecting my ward from east to west.

WCT: What exactly do you mean by a "green street?"

DS: What I mean is that the materials used to construct the street are made from recycled materials. The street and the sidewalks will be permeable—meaning the water will soak through, be collected and be reused. They are going to have kiosks across the new streets that will be powered by solar panels; these kiosks will give information in English and Spanish to individuals about the streets, and information about the neighborhoods.

Also, we'll have more green: For example, on one of the streets—on Cermak from Ashland to Halsted—the south side won't have sidewalks. It'll have green areas that are friendly to pedestrians and bicycle riders. It's expected to be completed by the summer or fall of this year.

WCT: There's a lot of controversy about the Fisk Generating System. According to an article at ChicagoNewsCoop.org, you switched positions about this coal plant—now supporting a clean-power measure—in order to get union support. Can you address this?

DS: I think that [the article] misrepresents me. Fisk is a coal-burning power plant in the southwest side of the city. The reason I say it's a misrepresentation is because years before this clean-power ordinance was introduced last year, I introduced a similar—and, in some aspects, stronger—ordinance in 2002. It was co-sponsored by Ald. Ed Burke.

When we introduced it, the same questions came up then that are [coming up] now, although I think we can get this one passed. The issue [involved] Chicago, or any municipality, being restricted regarding the regulation of power plants. The power plants are regulated by the EPA, the federal government, the state government [and] the attorney general. So because of that question, it languished in committee for four years, until 2006. But it drew attention to the EPA, so in 2006—four years after I introduced the measure—the state of Illinois, the EPA and Midwest Generation agreed to clean [Fisk and the other coal-burning plant in Chicago], with a time limit of 2015. If they weren't cleaned up in 2015, they would have to close.

The reason I think that information is important is that 10 months ago my colleague from the North Side, [49th Ward Ald.] Joe Moore, introduced his measure. I said, "We've already done this, and we have this agreement. I don't know how [this new ordinance] will be more successful."

It's not an easy explanation, and when my colleagues see this plant continuing to operate, they don't know how much cleaner that smoke is. I've talked with a number of voters, and some said, "I'll vote for you but I wish you would change your mind [about the plant]"—even after I explained it to them. And some voters who supported me in the past said, "Well, this is very important to me and because of this I don't think I'm going to support you."

So on election night, Andrew, I said, "Look, I think this is the issue that [prevented me] from getting my 50 percent plus one." My opponents did a fantastic job of attacking me on that issue; I think they had about nine mailers and robocalls. So I said, "I've heard my constituents. I'm going to sign on to this ordinance." That was election night, Feb. 22.

Less than a week later, I had a meeting with the head of the SEIU [Service Employees International Union], Tom Balanoff. He basically said, "I'm glad you're going to be on this. You're key and you have all this seniority and you have a lot of respect from your colleagues. We believe that, if you're on board, this has a better chance of passing." I said, "I am," and he made a commitment that the SEIU would support and endorse me. Now we're partners, and I think this is the partner we didn't have in 2002, when I first introduced the ordinance. I've talked with several people—including Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel—and I think we'll be able to pass it during the next administration.

I hope this long story gives you a broader picture than I just "flip-flopped." I like to think that I have been a strong environmental activist, and that I've made a difference in my ward.

WCT: You mentioned Rahm Emanuel. How smoothly do you think you'll able to work with him?

DS: Well, I know Rahm from a long time ago. I met him in the 1992 campaign for President Clinton, and I worked with him when I was developing the naturalization campaign that started in Chicago and went national under the Clinton administration. [Emanuel] asked me if I would endorse him, but I had made another commitment to [one of his opponents]. But I told him that if he got into a runoff and my candidate wasn't there, that I would endorse him. I think we'll be able to work well together.

WCT: Where do you stand regarding marriage equality?

DS: I support it. I have family members and I have friends who are gay. I spent time talking to them and listening to their frustrations that they don't have the same rights as heterosexuals—and I agree with them.

WCT: Knowing that you're a big advocate of education, I want to get your thoughts on a school that is only for LGBT students—or do you feel that there should be more LGBT-friendly programs, etc., in schools now?

DS: I can see both things happening but my happening. However, my preference would be—just like you have schools with representation from different genders, ethnicities, communities—to have gay students to be part of one big community. So if I had a child or a friend who asked for my counsel, I'd say, "He or she is just as good as everybody else. Put [that child] in with everybody else. He or she should be exposed to the differences in our community."

Now, I know that some people prefer for their children to go to, say, military school, Catholic school, an all-boys school or an all-girls school. I do respect that, I would prefer for gay children to attend school with everyone else and maybe have special programs [in that school].

WCT: What do you feel is the biggest problem facing the LGBT community?

DS: I think the biggest problem is that people see them as too different or outside the norm, and they don't realize that LGBT people [are like everyone else}—with the same concerns, same needs, same fears and same aspirations as anyone else.

See http:// www.DanielSolis.org .

Posted via email from Brian's posterous

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How Newark Mayor is using Twitter to engage residents, reduce isolation, in the community

Added On March 30, 2011 Newark, NJ, mayor Cory Booker says he uses Twitter to motivate residents to get more involved in the community. Piers Morgan - CNN.com Blogs Newark mayor Cory Booker using Facebook to lose weight – American Morning - CNN.com Blogs

Posted via email from Brian's posterous

Bill Gates and Paul Allen: The raw truth, as told by Allen - GeekWire

The first excerpt from Paul Allen’s upcoming memoir, Idea Man, was published online by Vanity Fair tonight. After reading it, I can’t wait to get my hands on the actual book.

More than three decades later, it might have been easy for Allen to put a nice gloss on his partnership with his childhood friend Bill Gates. And he clearly has great memories of what they did together. But he doesn’t romanticize it.

The excerpt offers a frank and unvarnished look at the early days of Microsoft — including the behind-the-scenes financial maneuvering by Gates that initially left Allen with a lower stake in the company, and the shenanigans that ultimately contributed to Allen’s decision to leave Microsoft after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease.

Particularly revealing is a passage about Allen catching Gates and Steve Ballmer talking behind Allen’s back about diluting his equity in the company because they weren’t happy with his contributions.

A few days later, I received a six-page, handwritten letter from Bill. Dated December 31, 1982, the last day of our last full year together at Microsoft, it contained an apology for the conversation I’d overheard. And it offered a revealing, Bill’s-eye view of our partnership: “During the last 14 years we have had numerous disagreements. However, I doubt any two partners have ever agreed on as much both in terms of specific decisions and their general idea of how to view things.”

Bill was right. Our great string of successes had married my vision to his unmatched aptitude for business. But that was beside the point. Once I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s, my decision became simpler. If I were to relapse, it would be pointless—if not hazardous—to return to the stresses at Microsoft. If I continued to recover, I now understood that life was too short to spend it unhappily.

This sentence from that passage is especially telling: “Our great string of successes had married my vision to his unmatched aptitude for business.”

Allen clearly has great respect for Gates, and he has always referred to him as his friend. But judging from the excerpt, the book also aims to set the record straight about Allen’s role in creating Microsoft, and his place in technology history. In that way, it’s the rebuttal to the “accidental zillionaire” rap that has long dogged the man often called the other Microsoft co-founder.

It remains to be seen if history will agree. But Allen deserves credit, at least, for not pulling any punches in telling the story. “Idea Man” is due out April 19.

Posted via email from Brian's posterous

SELF EMPLOYMENT EXPO April 2, 2011

Self Employment Expo Promo with Darlene & Ranoule ENTER FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN $500! Do you have a great business idea? Enter the "Build Your Business Challenge" and you could win $500 Cash on the spot! Darlene Tate and last years WINNER Ms. Victoria Knox Register NOW! Click button below Who knows your business better than you? What if you only had 3 minutes to convince and impress a panel of Investors? Polish your pitch because here's your chance to describe your business or business idea. Tell us your business's goals, target market, financial projections and needs. The winner will take home $500 cash! Advance registration is required. You do not have to be a business owner to enter. Good Luck, Darlene Tate-Author Of "Take Off Your Pajamas" and President of Employ Yourself Events 712 E. 47th St. 303E Chicago, IL 60653; 773.340.9008; Toure Muhammad, Chief Marketing Consultant Sparking new life in your marketing, PR, and sales efforts.

Posted via email from Brian's posterous

Emanuel, Preckwinkle Suggest New Approaches to City, County Collaboration | NBC Chicago

Get Adobe Flash player

To view this video you must to have Flash Player 9.0 or later installed. Click to download the most recent version of Flash.

View more videos at: http://www.nbcchicago.com.

'); //so.addVariable('embeddedPlayerHTML', '

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcchicago.com/video.

'); so.addVariable("skinURL", "http://media.nbcchicago.com/designvideo/skinGlass-413.swf"); // !! This has to be added to the CMS !! so.addVariable("layoutURL", "http://www.nbcnewyork.com/templates/nbc_video_player_meta_layout?syndicationAllowed=y&feastvenue=n"); so.addVariable("backgroundColor", "0x131313"); so.addVariable("controlBackgroundColor", "0x3d3d3d"); so.addVariable("controlColor", "0xbfbfbf"); so.addVariable("controlFrameColor", "0x4c4c4c"); so.addVariable("controlHoverColor", "0xffffff"); so.addVariable("controlSelectedColor", "0xffffff"); so.addVariable("frameColor", "0xE0E0E0"); so.addVariable("loadProgressColor", "0x7C7C7C"); so.addVariable("pageBackgroundColor", "0x131313"); so.addVariable("playProgressColor", "0xE0E0E0"); so.addVariable("scrubberColor", "0xF2F2F2"); so.addVariable("scrubberFrameColor", "0xF2F2F2"); so.addVariable("scrubTrackColor", "0x131313"); so.addVariable("textBackgroundColor", "0x383838"); so.addVariable("textColor", "0xffffff"); // so.addVariable("overlayImageURL", "http://oimg.nbcuni.com/b/ss/nbculimdivisionprod,nbculimchicagoprod/1/H.20.3/1?gn=County, City Looking at Collaborating, Streamlining Services"); so.addVariable("width", 416); so.addVariable("height", 234); so.addVariable("playerURL", "http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/County__City_Looking_at_Collaborating__Streamlining_Services_Chicago-118862189.html"); so.addVariable("autoPlay", false); so.addVariable("plugin0", "type=plugin|URL=http://objects.tremormedia.com/embed/swf/tpacudeoplugin4.swf|progId=4b69cf866259c|videoDescriptionUrl=http://www.nbcchicago.com|site=chi|zone=blogs_ward-room|sect=blogs|sub=ward-room|pid=uncategorized|contentid=118862189|contentgroup=Ward-Room|hascompanion=nocompanion|companionexists=false|pt=art_fw"); so.addVariable("plugin1", "type=tracking|URL=http://media.nbcchicago.com/designvideo/omnitureMedia-413.swf|account=nbculimdivisionprod,nbculimchicagoprod|visitorNamespace=nbcuniversal|dc=122|host=oimg.nbcuni.com|secureHost=osimg.nbcuni.com|trackVars=prop2,prop3,prop6,prop19,prop20,eVar19,eVar36,prop37,eVar39,eVar40,prop48,eVar48,prop49|prop2=VideoPlayer|prop3=Video|prop6="+document.location.href+"|prop19=Ward-Room|prop20=|prop37=uncategorized|eVar19=Ward-Room|eVar39=VideoPlayer|eVar40=County, City Looking at Collaborating, Streamlining Services|prop48=ArticleFullWidth|eVar48=ArticleFullWidth|prop49=County, City Looking at Collaborating, Streamlining Services|frequency=25%25"); function onMediaStart1(e) { U.log("onmediastart!! 1 http://oimg.nbcuni.com/b/ss/nbculimdivisionprod,nbculimchicagoprod/1/H.20.3/1..., City Looking at Collaborating, Streamlining Services"); //alert("testing onmediastart http://oimg.nbcuni.com/b/ss/nbculimdivisionprod,nbculimchicagoprod/1/H.20.3/1..., City Looking at Collaborating, Streamlining Services"); G.doVideoPixelTracking("http://oimg.nbcuni.com/b/ss/nbculimdivisionprod,nbculimchicagoprod/1/H.20.3/1?gn=County, City Looking at Collaborating, Streamlining Services"); } tpController.addEventListener("OnMediaStart", "onMediaStart1",["playerwidget1"]); so.write("playerDiv1");

As millions of Chicagoland residents struggle with their own household budgets, Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel sent signals Tuesday that he is serious about reining in city costs.

During a joint appearance with County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Emanuel announced formation of a six-member city-county committee, charged with identifying areas where the two governments duplicate each other’s services, with an eye toward slashing millions from the public coffers.

"We can’t keep doing business as usual," Emanuel said.  "There are things that are being done, where one entity is better at delivering the services, at a cheaper cost."

Both identified health care as an area where there is too much duplication.  While the County operates an extensive health care system, the city runs a network of community based clinics.

Preckwinkle noted that while the city specializes in education, the criminal justice system and the courts are a county function.  And both would benefit from greater efficiencies.

"We have an education system that is failing our young people and feeding our jails," Preckwinkle said.  

The two mentioned other areas, such as highway maintenance and job training, where there is too much duplication and waste.

"To continue to operate in separate silos, or to provide duplicative services, is no longer a responsible option," Preckwinkle said.  "I think there’s a way in which it’s possible for us to save money."

One area where the city and county operate virtually parallel services, is in the administration of elections.  For years, there has been discussion about whether it would be appropriate to consolidate those operations under the Cook County Clerk, rather than maintaining a separate Chicago Election Board.  Currently, Chicago administers its own elections, while County Clerk David Orr oversees the vote in suburban Cook.

"Wherever this goes, whether it’s under the County Clerk, or under a new board, I think it’s the right direction," says Orr, who has long maintained his office should oversee all election operations.

"It’d be much easier if there was one election authority in Cook County.  Secondly, you’d save a lot of money."

Not everyone is enthusiastic.

"We can’t imagine taking a step backward," said Chicago Election Board spokesman James Allen, suggesting the voters would not want their elections overseen by an elected official.  

"A bi-partisan, non-elected official oversight of the entire apparatus is the best model for transparent election information."

Orr shrugs off the suggestion that his office could not fairly administer elections for Chicago.   

"I don’t care, because I’ll be gone by the time they get it done,” he said.  “I do think it would be nice for efficiency’s sake, if you didn’t spend so much money on that board, and you had elected officials.”

He noted that county clerks administer elections throughout Illinois.

"All around us they do that.  And they may be a Democrat or they may be a Republican.  If they’re going to do a good job, they’re going to be fair.  If they’re not, they’re going to lose the election."

Posted via email from Brian's posterous

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wal-Mart Discrimination Dispute Reveals Gender Gap at the U.S. High Court - Bloomberg

A gender gap emerged at the U.S. Supreme Court as the court’s three female justices tussled with their male colleagues over a nationwide discrimination suit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT)

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan all voiced at least qualified support yesterday for the class-action suit, which claims women across the country were victimized by Wal-Mart’s practice of letting local managers make subjective decisions about pay and promotions. The dispute marks the first gender-bias case the court has considered with three women on the bench.

The three took the lead in questioning Wal-Mart’s attorney, Theodore Boutrous. Ginsburg spoke about how corporate decision- makers tend to hire people like themselves, while Sotomayor endorsed the use of statistical analysis in discrimination cases. Kagan balked when Boutrous said the workers’ case was based on an “incoherent theory.”

“I guess I’m just a little bit confused as to why excessive subjectivity is not a policy that can be alleged” as the basis of a job-discrimination suit, said Kagan, the newest justice.

Their queries put them at odds with Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy, who questioned whether the women had pointed to a corporate policy that violated their rights under the main federal job-bias law, known as Title VII. The justices are considering whether potentially a million female employees at Wal-Mart have enough in common to warrant allowing a single nationwide suit against the company.

Against Discrimination

Scalia said the company had an “announced policy against sex discrimination” and expressed disbelief when the lawyer representing the women argued that the reality was just the opposite.

“Do you think you’ve adequately shown that that policy is a fraud and that what’s really going on is that there is a central policy that promotes discrimination against women?” Scalia said.

Ginsburg, who was a leading anti-discrimination advocate before she became a judge, left little doubt that she took a different view about the pervasiveness of gender bias in the workplace. She likened the case to a successful suit in the 1970s against American Telephone and Telegraph Co. over the use of a “total person” test to make promotion decisions.

“The idea wasn’t at all complicated,” Ginsburg said. “It was that most people prefer themselves and so a decision-maker, all other things being equal, would prefer someone that looked like him.”

The Wal-Mart case “sounds quite similar,” Ginsburg said.

Sotomayor Interjects

Sotomayor interjected more than a dozen times, often focusing on technical questions and at one point suggesting a middle ground that would allow a more narrow class action to go forward.

She challenged Boutrous when he argued that the plaintiffs hadn’t shown a nationwide pattern of lower pay for women. The justice said the plaintiffs’ expert witness had concluded that the pay disparity between men and women at Wal-Mart was much higher than at 10 competitors.

“Why is that kind of statistical analysis inadequate to show that a policy of some sort exists?” Sotomayor asked.

Each of the three female justices “had a very different style,” said Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center. Having three women on the bench for a gender-discrimination case “in and of itself was extraordinary to see,” she said.

Breyer Alone Concurs

Justice Stephen Breyer was the lone male justice who suggested he agreed with his female colleagues. He joined Sotomayor in asking Boutrous why the justices couldn’t at least allow a limited class action seeking an injunction against the company. “We’ve got a common issue,” Breyer said.

The case ultimately may divide the court along familiar lines, leaving those four in dissent.

Kennedy, often the court’s swing vote, suggested the workers could press a nationwide class action only if they could show the company tolerated gender discrimination through “deliberate indifference.”

He also told the workers’ lawyer that the complaint “faces in two directions.”

“You said this is a culture where Arkansas knows, the headquarters knows, everything that’s going on,” Kennedy said. “Then in the next breath, you say, well, now these supervisors have too much discretion. It seems to me there’s an inconsistency there, and I’m just not sure what the unlawful policy is.”

The case is Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes, 10-277.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Stohr in Washington at gstohr@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net.

Posted via email from Brian's posterous

Warren faces Dimon, hostile Chamber agency

Hostile chamber

By MARK DeCAMBRE

Last Updated: 1:13 AM, March 29, 2011

Posted: 12:18 AM, March 29, 2011

Give the consumer watchdog teeth!

That's one of the key points gutsy consumer watchdog Elizabeth Warren is expected to voice when she appears before a potentially unfriendly crowd tomorrow at the US Chamber of Commerce -- and battles two of her toughest critics.

The brainy Harvard professor, battling back after a few tough weeks, which included reprimands from lawmakers and bankers over her role in trying to hammer out a deal on toxic mortgages, is scheduled to speak in front of the anti-regulation Chamber for the first time -- and will find herself sandwiched between two of the staunchest critics of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau she's been charged with getting off the ground.

House Financial Services Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-AL) is expected to serve as the opening act in the Chamber's fifth annual summit, entitled "Ensuring Competitiveness in a Post-Regulatory Reform Environment."

Headlining the event is JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, perhaps Wall Street's most outspoken critic of the CFPB.

When all is said and done, the summit will be more than words from a dais. Banks claim overregulation, from the CFPB and other agencies, will ramp up costs -- everything from credit and debit cards to mortgages and checking accounts.

Warren says regulation will bring clarity to financial services. Although Warren won't be speaking at the same time as Bachus or Dimon, the summit will give the tenured Ivy League intellectual a chance to make her strongest case yet in support of the new agency that she helped birth.

Sources also say that Warren, 61, is expected to aggressively petition for a CFPB that isn't watered down and has enough funding to give its regulatory and enforcement functions bite.

She'll be talking to a tough crowd -- the US Chamber has made financial regulatory rollbacks one of its top priorities.

Bachus recently introduced a bill that could potentially dilute the power of the consumer agency and convert its leadership from a single person, something Warren favors, to a five-member panel.

Dimon, 55, isn't expected to talk about the CFPB directly but has been openly critical of the agency. The JPMorgan CEO is a proponent of beefing up consumer safeties but views Warren's CFPB as largely overkill given the number of regulators already focused on mortgages and credit cards.

"If we had had this agency six years ago, eight years ago, we would not be in the mess we are today," Warren told a Republican-controlled House two weeks ago.

The Washington face-off between the consumer watchdog and her detractors comes during a week that promises to bring a regulatory sea change to the banking industry.

Today, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. releases for comment details of new rules that would require financial institutions to keep more of the riskiest mortgage assets on their own balance sheets in order to mitigate the spread of toxic loans.

Posted via email from Brian's posterous

Monday, March 28, 2011

NO SUNSHINE Lyrics - KID FROST

No Sunshine lyrics [intro - Prince Teddy] What is time? Time is when a man is trying to make time with your woman, but you're doing time behind bars and your time is standing still Yo Frost, kick it to these people for real you know what I'm saying? [verse 1 - Frost] Time, sifts through the hourglass, through night and day and I watch as the games people play It's like do unto others than split and if you can't back up what you say then you ain't shit (yeah) I've seen the manifestations of the street So I can manifest what I've seen on a drum beat like just last night (yo what happened) I watched these two vatos get in a crazy fight one of them was quick to pull a knife he stabbed him in the heart and now he's doing life in prison at the age of 21 (yeah) living on death row cause he couldn't let go caught in the web of violence (damn) roll deep when they creep, and move in silence of the lambs (yo) a tattooed tear dropped as the iron gates slam [chorus - Bill Withers & Frost] Ain't no sunshine - Bill Withers Ain't no sunshine - Frost Ain't no sunshine - Bill Withers Ain't no sunshine - Frost Ain't no sunshine - Bill Withers Anytime, hey - Frost Ain't no sunshine - Bill Withers Ain't no sunshine - Frost Ain't no sunshine - Bill Withers Ain't no sunshine - Frost Ain't no sunshine, Anytime - Bill Withers [verse 2 - Frost] Damn, damn ain't that a shame? you're lost so take the caution don't play the game should've listen to the Frost when I was trying to come across to you but no you didn't think (sucker) you just keep getting yourself more deep until you sink so there's no one else to thank but yourself so go ahead take bow for a job well done but you'll never see the day of the sunshine or the fun times just the old days and your old ways corrupt and wicked out there doing dirt, instead of just kicking it pow pow bang bang and all that noise (yeah) [ From: http://www.elyrics.net/read/k/kid-frost-lyrics/no-sunshine-lyrics.html ] yeah you and all your homeboys take time to read between the lines cause ain't no sunshine [chorus] [verse 3 - Frost] (yo kid) I know about being macho Callin the shots the big time head honcho (yeah) But here's something even more gacho One of my homeboys is your old lady's Sancho Yo shit happens A number lights up on his beeper right as I'm rappin While you sit in a cell writing a letter saying when you get out, your things will be better (right) but man she couldn't wait so she's going out on a date with every Tom, Dick, and Harry and if you ask me, your shit's getting scary so how you gonna handle this When your ho's in Los Angeles, acting so scandalous Yo, you can't blame her you didn't take the time and now, ain't no sunshine [chorus] Ain't no sunshine - Bill Withers Ain't no sunshine - Frost Ain't no sunshine - Bill Withers Ain't no sunshine - Frost Ain't no sunshine - Bill Withers That's for you, '92 you know what I'm saying? - Prince Teddy Anytime, yeah - Frost Ain't no sunshine - Bill Withers Ain't no sunshine - Frost Ain't no sunshine - Bill Withers Ain't no sunshine - Frost Ain't no sunshine, Anytime - Bill Withers Damn - Frost [interlude - Prince Teddy] So if you don't wanna do no time, you better take time to try to draw the line you know what I'm saying? Or you're gonna be the next fool in line doing time, you know what I'm saying? Like my man said... [chorus] Ain't no sunshine - Bill Withers Ain't no sunshine fool - Prince Teddy Ain't no sunshine - Bill Withers Ain't nothing happening up there you know what I'm saying? - Prince Teddy Ain't no sunshine, Anytime - Bill Withers Yo, me and Frost is out of here, Peace - Prince Teddy There just ain't no sunshine - Bill Withers (laughing)

Posted via email from Brian's posterous

Friday, March 25, 2011

Corporate Profits At All-Time High As Recovery Stumbles

NEW YORK -- Despite high unemployment and a largely languishing real estate market, U.S. businesses are more profitable than ever, according to federal figures released on Friday.

U.S. corporate profits hit an all-time high at the end of 2010, with financial firms showing some of the biggest gains, data from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis show. Corporations reported an annualized $1.68 trillion in profit in the fourth quarter. The previous record, without being adjusted for inflation, was $1.65 trillion in the third quarter of 2006.

Many of the nation's preeminent companies have posted massive increases in profits this year. General Electric posted worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, while profits at JPMorgan Chase were up 47 percent to $4.8 billion.

Corporate profits steadily increased last year as companies continued holding onto record amounts of cash and other liquid assets while cutting costs, laying off workers and wringing more productivity -- defined as the amount of output that comes from an hour of work -- from remaining staff, even as the recession eased.

To put that in perspective, said Lynn Reaser, the chief economist at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, it's important to note that companies were able to bring production back up to pre-recession levels without hiring any more workers.

"We have now recovered all of the output lost in the recession, but we are still down by 7.5 million workers," she said.

In addition to layoffs, some companies continued to cut wages and benefits last year. Sub-Zero, the freezer and refrigerator manufacturer, told workers last year that factories in Wisconsin would have to be shut down, with 500 employees losing their jobs, unless staff took a 20 percent pay cut, The New York Times reported.

Story continues below

Advertisement

Workers were expected to put in more hours without overtime pay, while staff facing fewer hours of work due to furloughs were expected to do as much as they would have in a full workday, according to NPR.

But, economists said, companies may have squeezed as much as they can out of workers, with a decline in profits for non-financial companies in the fourth quarter of last year suggesting that to improve production, companies will have to start hiring seriously again.

On the whole, Reaser said, corporations have significantly improved their balance sheets since the financial crisis. "It's helped pave the way for a significant gain for corporate capital spending, dividend payouts and corporate buybacks, as well as the significant rise in stock prices," she said.

But while the financial sector continued to recover from its 2008 meltdown -- with profits jumping some $51 billion in the fourth quarter, a gain of 51 percent over the previous quarter -- non-financial firms actually saw profits fall by roughly $10 billion, according to the BEA figures.

Part of the reason, said Reaser, was that although high productivity drove down labor costs, persistent unemployment and pinched consumers left companies unable to charge the higher prices needed to boost profits. More companies will start pushing more aggressively to improve profit margins this year, she said.

In order for those efforts to pay off, she said, many companies will have to start hiring -- and keep hiring.

Until the end of last year, companies were able to boost productivity by squeezing their remaining workers, who were eager to prove they were worth their paychecks. "But," said Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics, "you can't keep getting more out of workers quarter after quarter after quarter."

To ramp up production this year, Ashworth said, companies have already started hiring modestly. Federal figures show the economy added total of 192,000 jobs in February, the most in nearly a year. The unemployment rate fell to 8.9 percent last month, the lowest since April 2009.

Economic growth figures released on Friday also suggested firms were slowly stepping up production. The Commerce Department revised upwards its projections for gross domestic product growth in the fourth quarter of 2010, to 3.1 percent from 2.8 percent.

The new projection, BMO Capital Markets senior economist Sal Guatieri said, is "consistent with an economy growing fast enough to gradually reduce the unemployment rate." But, he said, most of the increase was in business inventories -- companies producing and stockpiling more -- rather than consumer confidence.

Despite positive signs, economists warned that economic growth could be hit by the twin shocks of high gas prices and the impact of events in Japan, which has hampered auto and electronic supply chains. "There are mild headwinds that will slow growth a little bit," said Nariman Behravesh, an economist at IHS Global Insight, an economic and financial analysis firm. "They're not going to derail the recovery, and we're guessing they'll be temporary."

U.S. consumers appear to be growing nervous, thanks to events in Japan, fears over nuclear power, and unrest in the Middle East and north Africa. That anxiety could take an economic toll, with consumer sentiment falling this month to its lowest level since November 2009, according to the Reuters/University of Michigan index.

"The sharp drop in consumer confidence and Japan-related supply chain bottlenecks will likely translate into real GDP growth of only around 2.4 percent in the first quarter, with a bounce back to the 3.5 percent to 4 percent range in the second quarter," Behravesh said, revising his quarterly GDP growth estimate down from 4.2 percent.

FOLLOW HUFFPOST BUSINESS
ON
Facebook:

6K

Follow us on Facebook
Get updates from HuffPost posted directly to your News Feed.

'; var coords = [-5, -72]; // display fb-bubble FloatingPrompt.embed(this, html, undefined, 'top', {fp_intersects:1, timeout_remove:2000,ignore_arrow: true, width:236, add_xy:coords, class_name: 'clear-overlay'}); });

Twitter:

Get HuffPost Business On Twitter and Facebook! --> Subscribe to the HuffPost Money newsletter! Know something we don't? E-mail us at huffpostbiz@gmail.com -->

Posted via email from Brian's posterous

Min. Farrakhan speaks on Libya


Subject: Min. Farrakhan speaks on Libya

Posted via email from Brian's posterous

New milestone: 1 in 6 US residents is Hispanic - US news - Life

WASHINGTON — In a surprising show of growth, Hispanics accounted for more than half of the U.S. population increase over the last decade, exceeding estimates in many states as they crossed a new census milestone: 50 million, or 1 in 6 Americans.

  1. Only on msnbc.com
    1. Updated 60 minutes ago 3/25/2011 11:10:22 AM +00:00 The brewing civil war no one is talking about
    2. Another nail in the coffin of price tags
    3. US officials: Yemeni president may resign
    4. Latino population boom will have 2012 election echoes
    5. List of NRC nuclear documents you want to see
    6. Medical pot ranks as blockbuster drug
    7. China’s nuclear policy: 'Build, baby, build!'
    8. ConsumerMan: Who's tracking you online?

Meanwhile, more than 9 million Americans checked more than one race category on their 2010 census form, up 32 percent from 2000, a sign of burgeoning multiracial growth in an increasingly minority nation.

Story: Latino population boom will have 2012 election echoes

The Census Bureau on Thursday was releasing its first set of national-level findings from the 2010 count on race and migration, detailing a decade in which rapid minority growth, aging whites and the housing boom and bust were the predominant story lines.

The final count: 196.8 million whites, 37.7 million blacks, 50.5 million Hispanics and 14.5 million Asians.

Hispanics and Asians were the two fastest growing demographic groups, increasing about 42 percent from 2000.

Story: Population growth slowest since 1940, census shows

Immigration status not tracked
Census takers do not differentiate between respondents based on immigration status, spokesman Tom Edwards told msnbc.com.

"It's a population count, so we don't ask about citizenship," he said. "They're just counted. We don't ask whether they're legal or illegal."

Based on a Pew Hispanic Center analysis, the 2010 count of Hispanics was on track to be 900,000 higher than expected as their ranks surpassed census estimates in roughly 40 states. Many of their biggest jumps were in the South, including Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina and Louisiana, where immigrants made large inroads over the last decade.

Geographers estimate that the nation's population center will move southwest about 30 miles and be placed in or near the village of Plato in Texas County, Mo.

"There is excitement," said Brad Gentry, 48, of Houston, Mo., who publishes the weekly paper in Texas County, noting that the U.S. population center typically carries symbolic meaning as the nation's heartland. "It is putting a spotlight on a corner of the world that doesn't get much attention. Most residents are proud of our region and like the idea that others will learn our story through this recognition."

'Transformational decade'
Asians for the first time had a larger numeric gain than African-Americans, who remained the second largest minority group at roughly 37 million. Based on the 2010 census results released by state so far, multiracial Americans were on track to increase by more than 25 percent, to about roughly 8.7 million.

Story: Census: Detroit's population plummets 25 percent

The number of non-Hispanic whites, whose median age is now 41, edged up slightly to 197 million. Declining birth rates meant their share of the total U.S. population dropped over the last decade from 69 percent to roughly 64 percent.

"This really is a transformational decade for the nation," said William H. Frey, a demographer at Brookings Institution who has analyzed most of the 2010 data. "The 2010 census shows vividly how these new minorities are both leading growth in the nation's most dynamic regions and stemming decline in others."

"They will form the bulk of our labor-force growth in the next decade as they continue to disperse into larger parts of the country," he said.

The final figures come as states in the coming months engage in the contentious process of redrawing political districts based on population and racial makeup, with changes that analysts believe will result in more Hispanic-majority districts.

The population changes will result in a shift of 12 House seats and electoral votes affecting 18 states beginning in the 2012 elections. Most of the states picking up seats, which include Texas and Florida, are Republican-leaning, even as most of their growth is now being driven largely by Democrat-leaning Hispanics.

Story: South gains electoral clout in Census tally

Among other findings:

  • In at least 10 states, the share of children who are minorities has already passed 50 percent, up from five states in 2000. They include Mississippi, Georgia, Maryland, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, California, New Mexico and Hawaii.
  • Over the last decade, Latino population growth was most rapid in the South, where many states have seen their Latino populations double since 2000. For the first time, Hispanic population growth outpaced that of blacks and whites in the region, changing the South's traditional "black-white" image.
  • More than half of the cities with the largest African-American concentrations showed black population declines in the last decade, including Chicago and Detroit. In contrast, the suburbs of growing southern metro areas like Atlanta, Dallas and Houston saw some of their highest gains.
Story: Black and white and married in the deep South: A shifting image

The Census Bureau calculates the mean U.S. population center every 10 years based on its national head count. The center represents the middle point of the nation's population distribution — the geographic point at which the country would balance if each of its 308.7 million residents weighed the same.

Plato, with a population of 109, is roughly 30 miles southwest of the present mean center in Phelps County, Mo. Based on current U.S. growth, which is occurring mostly in the South and West, the center of population is expected to cross into Arkansas or Oklahoma by midcentury.

The last time the U.S. center fell outside the Midwest was 1850, in the eastern territory now known as West Virginia. Its later move to the Midwest bolstered the region as the nation's cultural heartland in the 20th century, central to U.S. farming and Rust Belt manufacturing sites.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Posted via email from Brian's posterous

Thursday, March 24, 2011

ThinkProgress » Buried Provision In House GOP Bill Would Cut Off Food Stamps To Entire Families If One Member Strikes

Apple, Google May Profit on a Tax Holiday - BusinessWeek

Apple, Google May Profit on a Tax Holiday

Those companies and others say they'll bring home billions in earnings—but only if they get a big tax break

By Peter Coy and Jesse Drucker

Google (GOOG) Ireland is not a branch office of the U.S.-based search giant. It's a separate corporation, and the IRS can't touch a dime that Google Ireland earns from its core business until it sends profits back home to the mother ship. The term of art for bringing the money back is repatriation—the same as for a soldier captured abroad.

U.S. multinationals have more than $1 trillion in profits stashed in overseas subsidiaries. Some of the companies with the most money squirreled away say they're prepared to bring a big chunk of it home. All they want in return is a temporary tax break that wouldn't cost the U.S. Treasury anything, since it's money that would otherwise be kept abroad and not taxed at all. The tax break would actually raise billions of dollars from applying the reduced tax rate to the money that's been repatriated.

What's not to like? John T. Chambers, Cisco's (CSCO) chief executive officer, told securities analysts in February that "you're now seeing political leaders at all levels understand" the case for a tax holiday on repatriated foreign profits. "I think this one has well over a 60 percent probability of being resolved in a positive way," he said. Although a lobbying campaign is just getting under way, Representative Brian P. Bilbray (R-Calif.) has already introduced a bill that would let companies bring home money tax-free if they used it for research and development or facilities expansion.

Aside from Cisco, the growing coalition for repatriation relief includes Adobe (ADBE), Apple, CA Technologies (CA), Duke Energy (DUK), Google, Microsoft (MSFT), Oracle (ORCL), Pfizer (PFE), and Qualcomm (QCOM)—powerhouses all. The group is seeking fundamental changes in tax law, but if it can't get them right away, it still wants the tax holiday. Its opening position is that there should be no conditions on how the money is used. Chambers argued in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last October that a repatriation might create as many as 2 million jobs.

It's a seductive argument—reap billions in tax revenue from money that's currently untaxed and generate economic growth to boot. On closer inspection, though, the coalition's argument has some logical loopholes. A nearly identical holiday passed by Congress in 2004 and taken mostly in 2005 did little to boost jobs or investment, according to several independent economic studies. Some economists say a holiday today might be even less effective because cash isn't a constraint in 2011—it's bountiful, thanks to the Federal Reserve's loose-money policy. U.S. nonfinancial corporations have $1.9 trillion in liquid assets, the Fed says. No more than half of that—probably significantly less—is offshore. (An unknown portion of the $1 trillion-plus in foreign-held profits isn't cash. It's tied up in foreign factories, offices, and the like and can't easily be repatriated.)

"The problem is lack of demand or lack of investment opportunities" in the U.S., says Dhammika Dharmapala, an economist and law professor at the University of Illinois. Plus, granting another holiday so soon might induce companies to stash even more money abroad, convinced that if they wait long enough another holiday will arrive, says Thomas J. Brennan, a professor at Northwestern University School of Law.

Lawmakers have thus far been cool to the idea of a repatriation holiday. Passing one without reform "makes a farce out of the whole system," says Kent Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee. Even corporate America isn't unanimous in its support. "A one-time repatriation of profits is a bad idea," says United Technologies (UTX) Chief Financial Officer Gregory J. Hayes. "My fear is that we'll have a repeat of 2004. If companies repatriate these profits and spend it on things like share buybacks, that will create such negative connotations around tax reform with the public."

Still, the idea lingers. Congress and the Obama Administration are turning over trash cans in search of ways to accelerate growth and bring down the unemployment rate without stimulus measures that increase already-huge budget deficits. Hence the appeal of what looks like a free lunch. For government, the challenge is to choose emergency fixes that won't end up causing long-term harm. "The problem is, there's no lobby group for good government," says John L. Buckley, former chief Democratic tax counsel for the House Ways and Means Committee.

Tax collectors have been struggling to get their hands on the profit from international operations since the early days of the corporate income tax, which was enacted in 1909. Each year brings another strategy for legal tax avoidance. "All are alike," President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote to Congress in 1937, "in that failure to pay results in shifting the tax load to the shoulders of others less able to pay and in mulcting the Treasury of the Government's just due."

Legal avoidance may not be new, but it is booming, according to data collected by Bloomberg Businessweek from the footnotes of annual 10-K statements of companies on file at the Securities and Exchange Commission. Congress says that companies don't have to pay tax on actively earned profits from their foreign subsidiaries as long as they keep the money permanently reinvested outside the U.S. in subsidiaries that are organized as foreign corporations. Each year the parent companies state in their 10-Ks how much money is stored in that category. (Passive income such as interest is immediately taxable.) For 30 big companies, the profits kept abroad grew 560 percent, to $740 billion, from the end of 2000 to the end of 2010, SEC filings show.

The temporary holiday passed in 2004 was supposed to shrink the pile. It allowed companies to repatriate profits attributed to their foreign operations at a 5.25 percent tax rate instead of the usual 35 percent. (Companies get a credit for foreign tax already paid.) According to the IRS, $362 billion came back to the U.S., of which $312 billion was eligible for the reduced tax rate. The amount repatriated was 45 percent of the total held abroad at the end of 2004. In one of the more extreme repatriations, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) brought back $14.5 billion—nearly all of the $15 billion that it had abroad, SEC filings show.

In the long run, though, the holiday was rife with unintended consequences. Research by Northwestern's Brennan indicates companies rationally concluded that if they were granted one special one-time tax break, they might very well be granted another. That gave them the incentive to attribute even more of their profits to foreign operations, like a shopper waiting for an end-of-season sale. By the end of 2006 the total "permanently" reinvested abroad had exceeded the 2004 peak. It has continued to grow since.

Business did indeed lobby for seconds soon after its first helping of tax relief. In 2009, just five years after the 2004 break, Congress debated giving another one as a stimulus-bill amendment sponsored by Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California and Republican Senator John Ensign of Nevada. The amendment was defeated 42-55 on the floor of the Senate—a victim, perhaps, of the anti-business sentiment sweeping the nation after the financial crisis.

Cutting taxes on big businesses that stow profits abroad is never going to be an applause line for candidates on the campaign trail. Then again, it doesn't have to be. All business has to do is get a bill through Congress and signed by the President—using carefully targeted contacts, not billboards and airtime. To that end, the pro-holiday coalition has quietly assembled an all-star lobbying and communications team heavy on Democratic representation, possibly to counter the impression that tax relief for big business is solely a Republican objective.

The team's chief communications strategist is Anita Dunn, the Democratic media consultant who served as President Barack Obama's interim communications director during his first year in office. Politico.com first reported her involvement on Mar. 4. Dunn runs strategic communications and public relations for SKDKnickerbocker, a new firm created from the merger of Washington's Squier Knapp Dunn Communications and New York's Knickerbocker Consulting. The lead lobbyists are former Representative Jim McCrery of Louisiana, who was the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means committee, and Jeffrey A. Forbes, the former chief of staff to Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.).

The pro-holiday message has gained traction, at least a little. As Bloomberg News reported on Feb. 11, President Obama's consistent pledge to "end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas" disappeared from his stump speech after Republicans won the House in November and Obama began talking with executives about a corporate tax code overhaul. In his State of the Union address, Obama even proposed cutting the corporate tax rate while simultaneously closing loopholes. In a show that the Administration wants to work with business, not against it, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has expressed openness to some kind of repatriation-tax holiday as long as it's linked to "comprehensive" tax reform.

The economics of a holiday, however, are less pliable than the politics. While many economists agree there's something wrong with a tax code that induces companies to keep profits abroad when they could be more efficiently deployed in the U.S., fewer say that a one-time tax break is the right remedy.

Take Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The coalition's talking points include what sounds like a plug from him in congressional testimony on Mar. 2. "As you know," Bernanke said, "I've suggested looking at the corporate tax code, and one aspect of it is the territoriality provision. If you were to allow firms to bring back cash, you know, from abroad without additional taxation or limited additional taxation, there might be more incentive for them to bring it home—and use it domestically."

Sounds like an endorsement. On closer reading, though, it's apparent that Bernanke wasn't talking about a one-time holiday, but about changing the method of taxation to a territorial system, in which only profits earned in the U.S. are taxed. The same goes for a December quote cited in the talking points from Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Economy.com: "The (repatriation) proposal is a reasonable, albeit very modest, idea." Says Zandi now: "At this point I don't think I would go down that path" of a stand-alone tax holiday. "It makes much more sense to fold it into broader tax reform."

Even on theoretical grounds the tax holiday is debatable. Cutting taxes can stimulate the economy if it improves companies' incentives to invest and expand. But the holiday, as a break on profits that have already been made, would not improve incentives, says Edward D. Kleinbard, former chief of staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, who is a professor at the University of Southern California's Gould School of Law.

To build the economic case for a holiday, the coalition cites several studies, including two from 2003 and 2008 by Allen Sinai, president of consulting firm Decision Economics, which predicted their impact based on an econometric model. But the studies—sponsored by the American Council for Capital Formation, which favors lower corporate taxes—didn't consider the outcome of the 2005 repatriation. Some analyses that did showed disappointing results. The 2005 repatriation "did not increase domestic investment, employment, or R&D," but did boost share buybacks, concludes a forthcoming Journal of Finance article by Illinois' Dharmapala, C. Fritz Foley at Harvard Business School, and Kristin J. Forbes at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

One anecdote makes the point acutely: Hewlett-Packard, even as it was pulling its $14.5 billion home from abroad, announced plans in 2005 to reduce its workforce by 14,500. "Given that the last holiday did not result in repatriating firms increasing investment levels, it seems the burden is on the advocates of another holiday to explain why things would be different this time," Dharmapala said in an interview. Sinai, of Decision Economics, stands by his research: "I'm quite sure there were some jobs created," he said. Hewlett-Packard declined comment.

Legal tax avoidance intensified after World War II, as the U.S. dominated the world economy. Companies with newly established foreign operations had fresh opportunities to shift income. The Kennedy Administration worried that the flow of dollars out of the country was jeopardizing U.S. adherence to the gold standard. In 1962, Congress passed Subpart F of the Internal Revenue Code, which reduced companies' ability to keep foreign profits out of reach of the U.S. tax authorities by "deferring" taxation in overseas vehicles. But Subpart F didn't lock the door.

As is often the case in Washington, the scandal isn't what's illegal—it's what's legal, in this instance tax-avoidance systems with names like the Double Irish and the Dutch Sandwich. As detailed in a Bloomberg Businessweek investigative story on May 17-23, Forest Laboratories (FRX), which makes the blockbuster antidepressant Lexapro, sells nearly 100 percent of its drugs in the U.S.—and cuts its U.S. taxes dramatically by attributing the bulk of its profits to a law office in Bermuda. Another story in the magazine last year explained how Google reduced its income taxes by $3.1 billion over three years by shifting income to Ireland, then the Netherlands, and ultimately to Bermuda. Microsoft has used a similar arrangement. Records in the Cayman Islands and Ireland show that Facebook is setting up such a structure too.

The clearest evidence that companies are carefully managing where they report their taxable profits is that earnings overseas have grown faster than sales abroad. In 2008, large U.S. pharmaceutical companies reported about 80 percent of their pretax profits overseas, up from about a third a decade earlier, according to Martin A. Sullivan, a contributing editor to trade journal Tax Notes and a former U.S. Treasury Dept. tax economist. Those companies' foreign sales grew far more slowly during that period: from 38 percent of revenue to 52 percent.

In fact, the very success of tax-avoidance strategies is what motivates the push for a holiday. U.S. multinationals have an embarrassment of overseas riches, more than they can use. But if they bring profits home, they must pay the difference between the U.S. tax rate and the superlow rate they have already paid abroad. That would sting: In 2007 through 2009, Google reported an average tax rate of just 2.4 percent on the earnings it claims it earned overseas. If Google and others can get the repatriation rate down to 5.25 percent as in 2005, the pain will be more tolerable. (In 2005 tax-planning strategies helped lower the average tax paid on repatriated funds to just 3.7 percent, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.)

Critics of a proposed repatriation break complain that it would reward companies that have aggressively shifted profits into tax havens. "This is the system they bought into. Now they present [paying tax on] the fruits of their success as some kind of a hideous punishment," says USC's Kleinbard.

There's broad agreement that, if done right, corporations and the federal government would benefit far more from a new tax code than a tax holiday. Many multinationals, including companies on both sides of the holiday debate—such as Cisco and United Technologies—want the U.S. to adopt a territorial system similar to that used by most of the rest of the world. Under such a system, the U.S. would largely stop trying to go after companies' worldwide income and instead would mostly tax profits earned in the U.S., whether by U.S.-based or foreign-based companies. The only other sizable countries that still use a system like the one in the U.S. are Chile, Israel, Mexico, Poland, and South Korea. Supporters of a territorial taxation include the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform created last year by Obama.

But a pure territorial system has its own disadvantages. Because it doesn't tax companies' foreign income, it amps up the gains from shifting income to low-tax jurisdictions. So it works only if accompanied by close supervision and rules against gaming the system. Most developed countries, including Germany and Australia, have regulations to curb this sort of gaming, meaning that their systems, while opposite in concept to that of the U.S., are not all that different in practice.

Lowering the U.S. tax rate on all earnings, foreign and domestic, from 35 percent is a high priority of business groups. But thanks to loopholes, what companies actually pay as a percentage of their income is around 30 percent. That's roughly the same as in several large industrialized countries in Europe and lower than the effective rate reported by Japanese companies, according to recent research by Kevin S. Markle of Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business and Douglas A. Shackelford of the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School.

The American system works out to be more generous than that of other countries for some companies, says David S. Miller, a partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft in New York. Consider this: A U.S. company that pays a lot of tax in high-tax Germany can apply the resulting credits against profits repatriated from a zero-tax location like Bermuda.

One radical change in the tax code would allocate profits between countries the way most U.S. states with a corporate income tax do—using hard-to-fudge measures like employment or sales in each jurisdiction. If a company had 90 percent of its employees in the U.S., the IRS would tax 90 percent of its profits. Simple, but few multinationals are in support.

In Washington, framing the debate is everything. John Chambers et al. frame the repatriation-tax holiday as something for nothing—jobs for the unemployed, dividends for shareholders, tax payments for the Treasury. But the free lunch isn't really free. If companies are once again given a big tax break on profits they've kept abroad, they'll be induced to steer even more of their income offshore. That's a frame that puts the repatriation holiday in a decidedly unflattering light.

With Karen Weise, Diane Brady, and Richard Rubin. Coy is Bloomberg Businessweek's Economics editor. Drucker is a reporter for Bloomberg News.

Posted via email from Brian's posterous

Apple, Google May Profit on a Tax Holiday - BusinessWeek

Apple, Google May Profit on a Tax Holiday

Those companies and others say they'll bring home billions in earnings—but only if they get a big tax break

http://images.businessweek.com/mz/11/13/600/1113_mz_63taxes.jpg

Illustration by Al Murphy

By Peter Coy and Jesse Drucker

Google (GOOG) Ireland is not a branch office of the U.S.-based search giant. It's a separate corporation, and the IRS can't touch a dime that Google Ireland earns from its core business until it sends profits back home to the mother ship. The term of art for bringing the money back is repatriation—the same as for a soldier captured abroad.

U.S. multinationals have more than $1 trillion in profits stashed in overseas subsidiaries. Some of the companies with the most money squirreled away say they're prepared to bring a big chunk of it home. All they want in return is a temporary tax break that wouldn't cost the U.S. Treasury anything, since it's money that would otherwise be kept abroad and not taxed at all. The tax break would actually raise billions of dollars from applying the reduced tax rate to the money that's been repatriated.

What's not to like? John T. Chambers, Cisco's (CSCO) chief executive officer, told securities analysts in February that "you're now seeing political leaders at all levels understand" the case for a tax holiday on repatriated foreign profits. "I think this one has well over a 60 percent probability of being resolved in a positive way," he said. Although a lobbying campaign is just getting under way, Representative Brian P. Bilbray (R-Calif.) has already introduced a bill that would let companies bring home money tax-free if they used it for research and development or facilities expansion.

Aside from Cisco, the growing coalition for repatriation relief includes Adobe (ADBE), Apple, CA Technologies (CA), Duke Energy (DUK), Google, Microsoft (MSFT), Oracle (ORCL), Pfizer (PFE), and Qualcomm (QCOM)—powerhouses all. The group is seeking fundamental changes in tax law, but if it can't get them right away, it still wants the tax holiday. Its opening position is that there should be no conditions on how the money is used. Chambers argued in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last October that a repatriation might create as many as 2 million jobs.

It's a seductive argument—reap billions in tax revenue from money that's currently untaxed and generate economic growth to boot. On closer inspection, though, the coalition's argument has some logical loopholes. A nearly identical holiday passed by Congress in 2004 and taken mostly in 2005 did little to boost jobs or investment, according to several independent economic studies. Some economists say a holiday today might be even less effective because cash isn't a constraint in 2011—it's bountiful, thanks to the Federal Reserve's loose-money policy. U.S. nonfinancial corporations have $1.9 trillion in liquid assets, the Fed says. No more than half of that—probably significantly less—is offshore. (An unknown portion of the $1 trillion-plus in foreign-held profits isn't cash. It's tied up in foreign factories, offices, and the like and can't easily be repatriated.)

"The problem is lack of demand or lack of investment opportunities" in the U.S., says Dhammika Dharmapala, an economist and law professor at the University of Illinois. Plus, granting another holiday so soon might induce companies to stash even more money abroad, convinced that if they wait long enough another holiday will arrive, says Thomas J. Brennan, a professor at Northwestern University School of Law.

Posted via email from Brian's posterous

Why Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin Get Along So Well | NBC Chicago

Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk weren’t allies in last November’s election, but they’ve become Illinois’s newest bipartisan buddy team. This Friday, Durbin and Kirk will host a meeting of nuclear power experts at the Dirksen Building, to discuss whether Illinois is prepared for the sort of nuclear meltdown that followed the Japanese tsunami. They sat together at the State of the Union address, urged NASA to donate a space shuttle to the Adler Planetarium, and held a press conference on lakefront safety after Snowmageddon 2011 stranded cars on Lake Shore Drive. Why are they getting along so well? Maybe because, for the first time in over 40 years, we’ve got two senators who seem destined for long careers, and have no ambitions beyond their current office. Durbin and Kirk could become Illinois’s most effective pair of senators since Paul Douglas and Everett Dirksen, who served together from 1951 to 1966. Douglas, a former University of Chicago professor and 5th Ward alderman, was one of the Senate’s greatest liberals. Dirksen, a former congressman from Pekin, began his career as an anti-Communist McCarthyite. Both senators agreed on civil rights, though. Douglas championed racial equality for his entire career. As Senate Republican Leader, Dirksen held the balance of power between Northern and Southern Democrats. He worked with members of his party to break the filibuster blocking the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Durbin began his political career as an aide to Douglas. The senator had lost the use of an arm in World War II, so Durbin handed him papers to sign. Having lost his father when he was a teenager, Durbin found a replacement in Douglas. His eldest son is named Paul Douglas Durbin. Like Dirksen, Kirk is conservative on military and economic matters, but liberal on social issues. In one of his first major Senate votes, he voted to end the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy barring gays from the military. Since his election to Senate in 1996, Durbin has served alongside a series of short-timers. In 1998, Carol Moseley Braun was defeated by Peter Fitzgerald, who couldn’t even get along with members of his own party, and retired after one term. Fitzgerald was replaced by Barack Obama, who spent most of his four years in the Senate running for president. For the last 14 years, Durbin has been the senator from Illinois. Now, it looks as though we have a complete set. Source: http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/Do-Dick-and-Mark--Paul-and-Ev-11849... Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now! BY EDWARD MCCLELLAND // WEDNESDAY, MAR 23, 2011 AT 10:00 CDT Source: http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/Do-Dick-and-Mark--Paul-and-Ev-11849...

Posted via email from Brian's posterous

Freelance Lessons Learned–Make Your Own Music | FreelanceFolder

Freelance Lessons Learned–Make Your Own Music

Posted March 24, 2011 in Freelance Stories, Inspiration Add Comment »

Before I became a full-time freelancer, I’d imagine my future career and split it into two phases:

  • Pre-freelance (when I lacked clarity and direction)
  • Post-freelance (which would be full of purpose and perfection)

The reality was much different. Instead of leaving one life behind, I found that lessons from my previous career helped me in my new one. The most helpful lessons came from a surprising source–my job as a belly dancing teacher.

Before I was a writer (okay, I’ve always been a writer, but before I realized I could make a living off of it) I taught belly dance classes three days a week at my college. It wasn’t something I’d planned. I’d started out as a student and my teacher decided to mentor me to take over her role. For months I shadowed her classes, then worked up to teaching the warm up. The day I finally got my own class, I showed up with lesson plans, ready to take the class by storm…only to learn that I’d forgotten all my music.

In this post, I’ll explain how I handled this problem and explain what it has to do with freelancing.

What This Taught Me About Freelancing

First, I apologized profusely to the girls in my class. I called my sister (in front of them!) and begged her to bring me my case of CDs. I tried to pass the time by having everyone sit in a circle and introduce themselves, but it was no use. My students sensed my nervousness and this, in turn, made them doubt me.

Lesson Learned: Don’t apologize for what you think are shortcomings. Whether you’re just starting out as a freelancer or have been doing it long enough to still have insecurities, chances are that you’re your worst critic. In a way, prospective clients are like my dance students: they’re going to follow your lead. So if you show a prospective client you lack confidence, he’ll start to doubt you, too.

Once I finally got my music, I started the class…and didn’t play the music until 20 minutes later. I hadn’t realized that before my class was ready for music, they’d need to learn the moves.

Lesson Learned: Forget what you don’t have and focus on what you do. Sure, I was missing my entire music library, but I had something no one else in the class had—dance experience.

Because freelancers’ careers are always evolving, branching out into new niches and specialties, it can start to feel like you’re constantly starting over. Don’t let the things you’re missing obscure the experiences you already have. If you want to break into magazines but have no clips, play up your previous job as a hotel manager when pitching a story on the changes location-based networking has brought to the hospitality industry. If you’d like to start writing copy but have no agency experience, why not focus on the fact that you once worked in sales instead?

The next day, I told my teacher what happened, expecting her to be sympathetic. She just laughed and said “Big deal! That’s happened to me tons of times. I just made my own music.” Instead of throwing a fit about it like I’d done, she played her finger cymbals to keep the beat and acted like it was all part of her plan.

Lesson Learned: Sometimes you just need make your own music. No writing samples yet? Start a blog to showcase your expertise on the subject you’d like to specialize in. Need more logos for your graphic design portfolio, but no one’s hired you yet? Create your own, starting with an amazing one for your company (of course), then design complete logo packages for that coffee shop you’ve always dreamed of opening, or that iPhone app you wish someone would make already.

Remember that the purpose of a portfolio is first and foremost to showcase your skills, not how many times someone’s paid you for using them. You don’t need hundreds of jobs to start impressing clients with your talent, just like a dancer doesn’t need music to start busting a move.

Sometimes, You Simply Have to Improvise

It was na├»ve of me to think my first day as a dance teacher would go perfectly, and since then, I’ve learned to be prepared to improvise if I have to. One of the best (and most challenging) aspects of the freelance life is that you’re completely in charge—and completely to blame if things go wrong.

So plan for the unexpected. Give yourself a different deadline than the client does, so you have extra time in case your roof collapses or there’s a family emergency. Gather a group of freelancers you can count on should you have to subcontract work to them due to time constraints (or for an expertise you lack). If a client asks for three ideas for a new marketing campaign, have at least the beginnings of two more in case she hates them all.

And when all else fails, don’t let them see you panic. A calm and collected, “I’ll get back to you on that,” is always better than the alternative of having them wait and wonder, “What now?”

What About Your Pre-Freelance Life?

No matter how unrelated your pre-freelance life might seem, there are probably lessons that you learned from it that you are using today.

Why not share any lessons you’ve learned from past jobs that are helping you in your freelance life now?

Image by vmiramontes


About the author: Natalia Sylvester is the founder of InkyClean, a copywriting and editing consultancy that helps small businesses, entrepreneurs, and startups find their voice and build their brand. She blogs about why business writing should never be boring at The Copywriter’s Soapbox and tweets about books, fiction, and copywriting at @NataliaSylv.



Related Posts

Posted via email from Brian's posterous