Archive for the ‘Business’ Category
As the political fight over raising taxes for high-income Americans fades away, so are predictions for negative economic fallout.
The bill for President Barack Obama’s 2013 tax increases comes due April 15, and the first boost in marginal income rates in 20 years is already reducing the U.S. budget deficit without tipping the economy into recession.
“In advance one always hears the squeals of the oxen who would like everyone to think they are about to be gored,” said James Galbraith, an economist at the University of Texas at Austin. “Then it turns out that they are only nicked, and life goes on.”
The U.S. government is projected to collect more than $3 trillion for the first time in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, a 9.2 percent increase over last year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. CBO forecasts another 9 percent rise in 2015 and estimates that more than half of the increases in revenue stem from tax law changes.
Because of tax increases, spending cuts and economic growth, the federal budget deficit is projected to be 3 percent of gross domestic product this year. That’s less than half its 2012 level and the smallest budget deficit since 2007…
High-income taxpayers face additional levies, effective in 2013, to help pay for Obama’s health-care plan. That means those at the very top of the U.S. income scale face higher marginal tax rates than at any time since 1986…
The high-income tax increase sapped 0.25 percentage points from GDP in 2013, estimates Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania. That slight economic drag, he said, shouldn’t continue.
The question of how much tax-law changes affect the economy also plays out in states, where lawmakers have cut taxes in an effort to provide a jolt to businesses or raised them to bridge budget gaps that persisted after the recession.
California in November 2012 approved a temporary increase in the tax on retail sales and set a nation-high tax bracket of 13.3 percent on incomes of more than $1 million. Opponents warned that it would extract a toll in lost jobs, as businesses cut costs or fled to other states.
The reality in California, now benefiting from a reviving real-estate market, has been different. While job growth slowed in 2013 from a year earlier, employers still expanded payrolls by 2.6 percent, faster than the 1.7 percent pace in the U.S., according to U.S. Labor Department data compiled by Bloomberg.
“There’s just no evidence that the income tax increases have had any substantial impact on California’s economic growth,” said Christopher Thornberg…“It just is not the primary driving force the way some people think it is.”
RTFA. Like most serious Bloomberg articles, this one has lots of red meat and reality. Unlike the ideology-driven crap from Tea Party frumps.
Electronic cigarettes can change gene expression in a similar way to tobacco, according to one of the first studies to investigate the biological effects of the devices.
Presented at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting on 6 April in San Diego, California, the research looked at human bronchial cells that contained some mutations found in smokers at risk of lung cancer. The cells were immortalized, grown in culture medium that had been exposed to e-cigarette vapour and their gene expression profiled.
The researchers found that the cells grown in medium exposed to the vapour of e-cigarettes showed a similar pattern of gene expression to those grown in a medium exposed to tobacco smoke…
The changes are not identical, says study researcher Avrum Spira, who works on genomics and lung cancer at Boston University in Massachusetts. But “there are some striking similarities”, he says. The team is now evaluating whether the alterations mean that cells behave more like cancer cells in culture.
I don’t doubt the companies making a buck from this latest tobacco “substitute” will fight to the death to protect their profits. Your death. Their profits.
Wisconsinites tired of relaxing on weekends and staying home on federal holidays are in luck: On Thursday, GOP state Sen. Glenn Grothman announced his challenge to 13-term moderate Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.). In a conservative district that went to Mitt Romney by seven points in 2012…
In January, Grothman introduced legislation to eliminate a state requirement that workers get at least one day off per week. “Right now in Wisconsin, you’re not supposed to work seven days in a row, which is a little ridiculous because all sorts of people want to work seven days a week…”
Eliminating days off is a long-running campaign from Grothman. Three years earlier, he argued that public employees should have to work on Martin Luther King Day…It would be one thing if people were using their day off to do something productive, but Grothman said he would be “shocked if you can find anybody doing service.”
MLK Day and “Saturday” aren’t the only holidays Grothman opposes. At a town hall in 2013, he took on Kwanzaa, which he said “almost no black people today care about” and was being propped up by “white left-wingers who try to shove this down black people’s throats in an effort to divide Americans.”
When he’s not advocating for people to spend more time working, Grothman has gotten in trouble for advocating that (some) people be paid less. “You could argue that money is more important for men…”…after pushing through a repeal of the state’s equal pay bill.
He has pushed to pare back a program that provided free birth control, while floating a bill that would have labeled single parenthood, “a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.” Grothman justified the bill by contending that women choose to become single mothers and call their pregnancies “unplanned” only because it’s what people want to hear.
This dude’s middle name must be “Shit-for-brains Scrooge”.
Have a nice weekend. Don’t think about taking a job in Wisconsin if folks elect a prick like Grothman.
When Obamacare compelled businesses to include emergency contraception in employee health care plans, Hobby Lobby, a national chain of craft stores, fought the law all the way to the Supreme Court. The Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, the company’s owners argued, forced them to violate their religious beliefs. But while it was suing the government, Hobby Lobby spent millions of dollars on an employee retirement plan that invested in the manufacturers of the same contraceptive products the firm’s owners cite in their lawsuit.
Documents filed with the Department of Labor and dated December 2012—three months after the company’s owners filed their lawsuit—show that the Hobby Lobby 401(k) employee retirement plan held more than $73 million in mutual funds with investments in companies that produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions. Hobby Lobby makes large matching contributions to this company-sponsored 401(k)…
These companies include Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, which makes Plan B and ParaGard, a copper IUD, and Actavis, which makes a generic version of Plan B and distributes Ella. Other holdings in the mutual funds selected by Hobby Lobby include Pfizer, the maker of Cytotec and Prostin E2, which are used to induce abortions; Bayer, which manufactures the hormonal IUDs Skyla and Mirena; AstraZeneca, which has an Indian subsidiary that manufactures Prostodin, Cerviprime, and Partocin, three drugs commonly used in abortions; and Forest Laboratories, which makes Cervidil, a drug used to induce abortions. Several funds in the Hobby Lobby retirement plan also invested in Aetna and Humana, two health insurance companies that cover surgical abortions, abortion drugs, and emergency contraception in many of the health care policies they sell.
Nice to see primary source acknowledgement of one of my favorite dichos criticizing right-wing scumbags. “Republicans would have invented hypocrisy if Christians hadn’t beat them to it.”
A New York appeals court has affirmed a lower court’s 2012 ruling that a lesbian chef is owed $1.6 million for being forced to attend weekly prayer meetings where her boss would regularly warn that “gay people” were “going to go to hell.”
Mirella Salemi sued Gloria’s Tribeca Inc., Gloria’s Tribecamex and principal owner Edward Globokar for violations of the New York City Human Rights Law after a string of incidents that occurred between 2004 and 2007. Gloria’s Tribeca is a Mexican restaurant.
Salemi was awarded $400,000 in compensatory damages and $1.2 million in punitive damages in what her lawyer, Derek Smith, called “the largest employment verdict in 2012 in New York.” A three-judge panel of the Appellate Division’s Manhattan-based First Department affirmed the verdict for Salemi.
“He not only threatened her soul, but he also threatened her livelihood,” Smith told the New York Post in 2012. “He thought praying might cure her of her sexuality, but she is someone who didn’t need to be saved.”
There is no civil reason in the Land of the Free for an employee to put up with harassment over their sexuality. That is – if you live and work in one of the states that protects your civil rights. There is no federal law, yet, protecting LGBT workers from being fired for their sexual orientation and many states provide no protection at all.
What we witness in this case is an example of American homophobia cloaked once again in the freedom-of-religion trick bag adopted nowadays by rightwing hypocrites.
A liquor store in Moore, Okla., advertised a sale on champagne to coincide with the death of Fred Phelps, the founder of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church.
The owner of Moore Liquor, Bryan Kerr, posted a sign outside his store Tuesday reading “Fred Phelps 1929-2014, Champagne 10 percent off! Not a coincidence…”
Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church are known for their virulent anti-gay sentiment and protesting soldiers’ funerals. Phelps died Thursday after having been excommunicated from the church.
[He was excommunicated in a power struggle - won by a dude who campaigned that Phelps wasn't loud enough supporting an inferior role for women in marriage and society]
Kerr said he’s gotten positive feedback about his sign, which suggests celebrating Phelps’ death.
“People have really responded positively to it,” he said.
“Champagne is a celebratory drink and so that’s why we gave 10 percent off,” Kerr added. “If they choose to celebrate the passing of a little hate from this world, they can do so and we’re happy to oblige here at Moore Liquor.”
“That kind of hatred and that kind of twisting of biblical principles needs to be exposed and talked about people need to know that’s not how real Christians act,” he said.
As my old acquaintance Willard Uphaus said during his years as a defrocked Methodist preacher – “Ain’t nothing wrong with old-time religion if it’s old-time enough!” He forgave his church’s cowardice, blindness. Eventually they reacquired sufficient courage to reinstate him after decades as a peace activist.
The idjits any progressive activist encounters, fools who think they are the only True Christians in the world are an embarrassment to normal folks who trust their religion to lead them to a life of peace and understanding. Trouble is, gang, it’s time for you to speak up and differentiate yourself from fundamentalist bigots.
The analysis of 11 studies done in North America and Europe, involving more than 2.5 million births, and nearly 250,000 asthma exacerbations, showed that rates of both preterm births and hospital attendance for asthma were reduced by 10% within a year of smoke-free laws coming into effect.
Currently only 16% of the world’s population is covered by comprehensive smoke-free laws, and 40% of children worldwide are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke. To date, most studies have looked at the impact of smoking bans on adult outcomes, but children account for more than a quarter of all deaths and over half of all healthy years of life lost due to exposure to second-hand smoke…
Dr Jasper Been, lead author, says…”Together with the known health benefits in adults, our study provides clear evidence that smoking bans have considerable public health benefits for perinatal and child health, and provides strong support for WHO recommendations to create smoke-free public environments on a national level.”*
“This research has demonstrated the very considerable potential that smoke-free legislation offers to reduce preterm births and childhood asthma attacks,” says study co-author Professor Aziz Sheikh, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, USA, and the University of Edinburgh, UK. “The many countries that are yet to enforce smoke-free legislation should in the light of these findings reconsider their positions on this important health policy question.”
…Sara Kalkhoran and Stanton Glantz from the University of California San Francisco…point out that, “Medical expenses for asthma exceeded US$50 billion in the USA in 2007, and US$20 billion in Europe in 2006. If asthma emergency department visits and admissions to hospital decreased by even 10%, the savings in the USA and Europe together would be US$7 billion annually.”
They conclude, “The cigarette companies, their allies, and the groups they sponsor have long used claims of economic harm, particularly to restaurants, bars, and casinos, to oppose smoke-free laws despite consistent evidence to the contrary. By contrast, the rapid economic benefits that smoke-free laws and other tobacco control policies bring in terms of reduced medical costs are real. Rarely can such a simple intervention improve health and reduce medical costs so swiftly and substantially.”
Folks who understand the realities of scientific study have no difficulty comprehending works like this one. Frankly, I doubt if even our Congress-critters would have a problem getting it. The problem there – as is the case with most political bodies – is the dollars tossed into the winds of election campaigns by tobacco companies, growers and the rest of the sleazy denizens of the smoking industry.
Perish the thought our politicians actually work at serving the citizens of their various electorates. Not when the core values determining political priority and primacy have to include dollar signs.
Sen. Robert Casey, CEO Clifton Broumand and Sen. Cory Booker
Small business leaders joined Senate Democrats on the Hill Thursday to lend their support to a push to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10.
Flanked by business owners who said they experienced measurable benefits to paying their employees above the minimum wage, Sens. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said the impact of such a move would go far beyond the individual worker.
“We know that 70 percent of the economy is driven by consumer spending,” Casey said. “If you put more dollars in the pockets of consumers, not only do you have that overarching economic benefit to the country, but of course small businesses especially benefit.”
But the more powerful testimony came from John Cooper, Clifton Broumand and Scott Nash, who told stories of their employees who “were more like family” and stayed with their companies for decades because they could count on a “a fair wage for a fair day’s work.”
Broumand, who owns Man & Machine Inc., which makes medical-grade waterproof keyboards and mice, said that paying his employees well meant they were more innovative and loyal.
“Inevitably as a business owner, you’re not going to get as much money initially, but I’ve found that productivity by people who have less stress, who are happier in their jobs, actually increases substantially every time they’re getting more money,” he explained. “And therefore, it doesn’t take that long for me to actually become more productive and actually make more money…”
Cooper, president of Spectronics Corporation, a Westbury, N.Y. company that builds ultraviolet lamps for forensic and fingerprint analysis, said more than 70 percent of his company’s employees had been there for more than 10 years.
“A higher minimum wage will result in increased employee retention, which means lower costs for hiring and training new workers,” he said. “It will allow workers to buy essentials they cannot afford now and most of the money they spend will go right back into local businesses.”
“Raising the minimum wage might have a short impact on our profits, the bottom line, but in the long run, it benefits our workers, and it benefits me as owner of the company as well,” he said. “So it’s a win, win.”
One of the most interesting experiments by any nation as we we headed into the global crash of the Great Recession was that portion of German industry that tried an alternative to the dole. Work hours were cut; but, workers were not cut loose from their jobs into unemployment. They may not have had a boatload of work to do; but, factories were maintained; tasking skills were continued as was training; plans were studied and trialed – and when the turnaround barely began to be felt, German industrial capacity was ready to move and grow, produce and benefit the whole country’s economy.
All at a cost less than traditional measures. All without displacing workers from their place of employment often for decades. All without hiring new workers requiring one to three years of experience to get up to the productivity levels of staff let go to the dole. A stroke of success beyond the comprehension of the American government, particularly Congress. Unfortunately.
On a smaller scale, these small business owners are talking about the same concept and practices.
Crews in Louisiana are still working to clean up the mess that was left when an 18-wheeler carrying corn dogs bound for California overturned on the section of I-220 that connects to LA 3132.
During the crash outside Shreveport, more than half of the 76,800 corn dogs on the truck ended up on the side of the road.
According to police, the crash happened around 3:40 a.m. Tuesday when the driver flipped the 18-wheeler and hit a guard rail.
The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
It’s unclear if the driver was carrying Mini Honey Crunchy Corn Dogs, Jumbo Honey Crunchy Corn Dogs, Chili Cheese Corn Dogs or Honey Crunchy Corn Dogs.
Fortunately, there’s little need to repackage the corn dogs potentially injured or abused by contact with the highway. The typical consumer of this uniquely American treat wouldn’t notice any difference in flavor, texture or bouquet.
A dangerous new form of a powerful stimulant is hitting markets nationwide, for sale by the vial, the gallon and even the barrel…The drug is nicotine, in its potent, liquid form — extracted from tobacco and tinctured with a cocktail of flavorings, colorings and assorted chemicals to feed the fast-growing electronic cigarette industry.
These “e-liquids,” the key ingredients in e-cigarettes, are powerful neurotoxins. Tiny amounts, whether ingested or absorbed through the skin, can cause vomiting and seizures and even be lethal. A teaspoon of even highly diluted e-liquid can kill a small child.
But, like e-cigarettes, e-liquids are not regulated by federal authorities. They are mixed on factory floors and in the back rooms of shops, and sold legally in stores and online in small bottles that are kept casually around the house for regular refilling of e-cigarettes.
Evidence of the potential dangers is already emerging. Toxicologists warn that e-liquids pose a significant risk to public health, particularly to children, who may be drawn to their bright colors and fragrant flavorings like cherry, chocolate and bubble gum.
“It’s not a matter of if a child will be seriously poisoned or killed,” said Lee Cantrell, director of the San Diego division of the California Poison Control System and a professor of pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco. “It’s a matter of when.”
Reports of accidental poisonings, notably among children, are soaring. Since 2011, there appears to have been one death in the United States, a suicide by an adult who injected nicotine. But less serious cases have led to a surge in calls to poison control centers. Nationwide, the number of cases linked to e-liquids jumped to 1,351 in 2013, a 300 percent increase from 2012, and the number is on pace to double this year, according to information from the National Poison Data System. Of the cases in 2013, 365 were referred to hospitals, triple the previous year’s number…
Unlike nicotine gums and patches, e-cigarettes and their ingredients are not regulated. The Food and Drug Administration has said it plans to regulate e-cigarettes but has not disclosed how it will approach the issue. Many e-cigarette companies hope there will be limited regulation.
We’re back to the usual discussion of Americans creating their own Final Solution. Consuming liquid nicotine by the barrel or bottle — stupidity or ignorance?