8.29.2014

Governor's Debate Shuns EB-5

Governor's debate...Just reading the reports and I see this in the Argus story.

"None of the audience-submitted questions chosen by the moderator addressed EB-5."  

The Farmers Union has a reputation as being a leftist organization and, in any event, the topic was big in Sioux Falls media last weekend.    I'm fairly confident if the moderator had gotten an intelligent question on EB-5 she would have used it.  I appreciate Ms. Wismer's decision not to shoehorn it in.  The only mention, according to the Argus was by suicide re-enactment guru Mike Myers.

The optics are not good for the EB-5 strategy.  It says, 1) After all the publicity and pushing on it, the issue has not caught on with the public; and 2) the issue belongs to the sort of fringe candidate who thinks Lora Hubbel is a political asset.

Perhaps it's because Ms. Wismer doesn't really believe in the strategy.

Painful Case, Ongoing Questions, and Political Football

Interesting piece by Chase Iron Eyes over at the Argus.

The questions he's asking are valid ones, and federal law does require a preference for placing children from the tribe with foster parents also from the tribe.  It is not clear to me that they may only be placed within the tribe.  So I'm not sure "illegal seizures" is quite apropos.  Suitable foster parents may not be available and if DSS is not cooperating with tribal authorities, they should be.  The mix of tribal, federal, and state laws can be quite a confusing morass of conflicting regulations, too.  If possible, monitoring of foster parents where Native American children are placed, whether with or outside the tribe, should be done jointly by state DSS and tribal officials.  Perhaps it already is, but from Mr. Iron Eyes' complaint, it seems not.

I'm not certain, either, that the word "often" is merited in the sentence, "Rather than being placed in loving homes, these children are often subjected to the depraved whims of sexual predators."  No doubt it happens sometimes, as the Mette case makes all too clear.  The frequency of such placement is unknown.  On the other hand, once is once too often.

I think it is abundantly clear that the Mette case represents a colossal failure in the system.  Some attention to the systemic sources of that failure is merited, although whether the DSS is corrupt or not, I cannot say.  My own second-hand and rare first-hand experience with child-protective services in three states is rather mixed.  They have at times been vital, necessary, sensitive, concerned, self-sacrificing even.  I shudder to think what would have happened had they not stepped in.  They have at other times been closed-minded, arrogant, insensitive, and more harmful than the problem they were asked to help solve.  The processes in place are not always conducive to justice and the discernment of the truth.  There is too much room for the biases of the individual social worker to come to the fore.  Mostly, I think we have no really good way to consistently determine when parents have failed or to correct that failure when it happens.

I'm not sure what was going on with the witness-tampering charges afterward the case against Richard Mette was settled, either.  Since there were information-gathering raids conducted, there must have been warrants issued, so there must have been some prima facie evidence to suggest something.  That doesn't mean it wasn't an overreaction by Jackley or his office, and I know some judges are willing to sign off on warrants for the heck of it, but even these require some ground, however tenuous.  It's rather odd.  And the results were certainly embarrassing to the Attorney General.

There is, in other words, another side to the story, possibly multiple sides.  But I think Mr. Iron Eyes' bottom line is correct.
The issue must remain focused on the illegal seizures of Lakota children in South Dakota from their homes despite the fervid protests of their rightful mothers, fathers, and numerous relatives....
This practice must stop. South Dakota is bound by the Indian Child Welfare Act to make active efforts to place children with their tribes. It is the law of the land.
The children continue to live in the house with their mother where this horrible trauma was perpetrated upon them. These children deserve justice. What they do not deserve is to have their trauma used as a political football by power-hungry opportunists eager for a state salary.

8.28.2014

How Long Before Unjust IRS Sparks Riots?

The dog, apparently, did not eat Lois Lerner's email.  The DoJ has admitted they are available via the usual back-ups done by government IT systems in accordance with law and regulation.

But it does seem that, after being subpoenaed for her emails, her Blackberry was intentionally wiped.  This can be nothing other than an attempt to destroy evidence and is felonious.

The IRS has crossed from being a neutral revenue collecting agency into being a political tool of a would-be tyrant.  It cannot be trusted.  This does not mean there are no employees of the IRS who are honest and trying to just do their job.  It means the institution as such is so thoroughly tainted that it has surrendered the trust necessary for such an agency to do its job.  One can accept negative judgments if they are administered evenly and in accordance with the law.  One cannot accept negative judgments if they are perceived as uneven, personal, and in disregard of the law.

The riots and looting in Ferguson are, in fact, a response to a perceived uneven application of law.  Whether that perception is reality is questionable (the mere fact of larger numbers from a particular group being arrested or imprisoned is not uneven application if, in fact, more crimes are committed by a that group), but the perception is there and it means the citizens of Ferguson do not trust the law enforcement agency of their community.  It merits investigation to see if the perception reflects reality.  If it does, the reality must be changed to be more just; if not, action must be taken so that the reality is more easily perceived.

With regards to the IRS, however, the perception of injustice is based on solid evidence.  It is acting in a fundamentally unjust manner, attempting to use the enforcement power of the federal government to silence factions and voices disagreeable to the current administration.  That reality needs to change.  Injustice regarding taxes sparked the revolution that birthed this country.  As more and more people become distrustful of the federal government, and as that government acts again and again to earn distrust, sparks will continue to fly.  Eventually, they'll find dry tinder.

8.27.2014

I'm PNR and I Think This Message Could Be Better

I know the little candidate statement in political ads is required - "I'm Candidate X and I approve this message."  It distinguishes those ads put out by the campaign itself from those ads put out by third parties which are not supposed to be coordinated with the candidate's campaign.  Still, it's a little jarring.

It would be kind of fun to have an ad which seems to end about 15 seconds in and the candidate comes out to say, "Hi.  I'm Candidate X and, actually, I'm a little disappointed in this ad.  I wanted something with more oomph, a pretty spokeswoman, and touching on issues Y and Z, too.  But I'm trying to be fiscally responsible and this is what we could afford."

I think such an ad would, if done well, be kind of charming and help to humanize a candidate after all the cut-and-paste ads that kind of run into each other.  Probably go viral, too.  So I offer the idea to whichever candidate for whatever office from any party who wants to try it.

8.26.2014

Even If Nothing Criminal Done, Get Rid of EB-5

I thought it would be worthwhile, in light of my posts regarding the EB-5 matters the Democrats are trying to make hay with, that I disapprove of the program.

I don't think Gov. Rounds or Gov. Daugaard are doing anything illegal or unethical with the program or the Governor's Office of Economic Development, either.  But I think the underlying premise for such an office and for the EB-5 program is deeply flawed. 

Ethanol subsidies.  Ag subsidies.  Wind subsidies.  Small business loans.  Big business loans.  Too-big-to-fail.  Tax incentive this and tax incentive that.  Even the distinction between taxing rental properties at a higher rate than the home one lives in.  All of these distort markets and give people incentives to do what they otherwise would not do, that is, what they think is probably a dumb thing to do.

What is more, each and every one of these subsidies, guarantees, deductions, and incentives is an open invitation to corruption.  This includes welfare transfer payments, too.  The rich people who don't need food stamps may complain about what they see as abuse of the program, but the fact is, if they were on food stamps they'd be gaming the system every bit as much.  How do I know?  Look what they do with their 1040s in April.  See this TV room.  Park my work computer in it and, voila! In an instant it's an office and a deductible business expense.  Is that new pickup tempting me?  Call it a farm expense and I can write the whole thing off even though I have a perfectly serviceable truck.  Even if we're not trying to be corrupt - even if we are following the letter of the law - we're still busily trying to game the system to squeeze as much out of the government while putting as little in as possible. 

Governor Rounds may have resisted this temptation to cut corners on the law, but his friend Richard Benda apparently did not.  How many other decent people have been led into temptation by these sorts of programs only to succumb in like manner?  Too many.  I like the idea of ethical government, but it would be a whole lot more likely if we were not constantly leading government officials into temptation.

This is one of the reasons I find the Democrat caterwauling about EB-5 insincere.  I don't hear a lot of desire to end it and similar programs.  I hear only the moral hubris of people who think they'll be able to resist the temptation others did not should we entrust them with these misguided programs.  There is no evidence for that view.  Rather there is quite a bit of evidence to the contrary - at least, there are an awful lot of Democrats who have gotten very rich on a senator's salary.

When I hear Democrats asking for the elimination of the EB-5 program and all similar programs, then maybe I'll be able to take their complaints a bit more seriously.  Right now, it's standard-issue election cycle hypocrisy.

Want Companies to Forego Inversions? Stop Double-Taxing Them

Let's say you lived a little closer to the Canadian border and you had two jobs - one in Saskatchewan and one in Minnesota.  The income you make in Canada is taxed by the Canadian and provincial government.  And the income you make in Minnesota is taxed by the US and state government.

Oh, yeah.  The state of Minnesota and the US government also tax the money you make in Canada.  Well, they do if you bring any of it back into the US.  If the money you make in Canada stays in Canada, they leave it alone.

But, if you change your citizenship to Canada, you can still work both jobs and both governments will still tax the income earned in their respective countries, but you can move money back and forth as you need to without worrying about it getting taxed a second time.

You'd be strongly tempted to change your citizenship to Canadian, wouldn't you?  Sell the place in Minnesota, buy a place in Saskatchewan, become Canadian...  There are a few other hassles that you might look into to see if it were worth it, but if we're talking tens of thousands of dollars, it'd be a no-brainer, wouldn't it?

So why are people surprised that a corporation like Burger King is doing this?  The money they make in the US is taxed in the US.  The money they make in Canada is taxed in Canada.  But because they are corporate "citizens" of the US, the money they make in Canada is also taxed in the US.  In addition to the fact it's being taxed a second time, it's also taxed at a higher rate than it is in Canada.  We're not talking tens of thousands, but millions here.

Yes, it's a hassle to move to Canada.  But if it will save millions of dollars in taxes while gaining the freedom to move one's funds where they can be best used to maintain and expand the business, it is a very natural, understandable thing to do.

The answer to this is not to call them "unfair" or "unpatriotic" or "money-grubbing."  There is nothing patriotic about sitting still while the federal government confiscates your earnings from other countries as well as what you earn here.  The money-grubbers in this case are not the corporate CEOs, but the government taxers.  I'd even say it's a border-line violation of the sovereignty of those other countries for the feds to do what they're doing.  A far better response would be to eliminate the double-taxation of foreign earnings.  We don't even have to reduce the corporate tax rate, although it would be good if we did (that's often a double-taxation, too, by the way).  Simply accepting that we have no business taxing money earned in another country would keep Burger King headquartered in the US.

8.25.2014

SD Democrats - Distracted, Indistinguished, Not Gaining Votes

Political campaigns are about getting votes.  Votes are obtained by presenting a positive message that resonates with voters.

An aspect of political campaigns is also, as you might expect, interfering with your opponents' ability to get votes.  This is what negative advertising and scandal-mongering do - they don't get votes for the scandal-monger, but suppress the vote-getting ability of the scandal-mongeled.

This negative approach is useful when the election is close, when there is a high percentage of undecided voters, or when one is the front runner trying to suppress a challenger.  None of these apply to the Democrats in South Dakota.

The EB-5 strategy employed by the Democrats has only the weakest effect on Rounds' and Daugaard's ability to get votes.  It has almost no effect on those votes they've already secured.  And it does nothing to get votes for Democrat candidates.

Granted, they have a problem with their positive message at present, too.  What Democrats are for, a majority of South Dakotans are not.  That means they need to persuade South Dakotans they're right and other South Dakotans should support them.

This they are utterly failing to do.  I have a hard time seeing that they're even making a serious effort at it.

What is more, given the number of other candidates (2 independent senate candidates and 1 for governor), Democrats have to coalesce the votes the GOP doesn't have around a single candidate if they are to have any hope at all.  Instead, they are content to simply be one of the pack nipping at the GOP heels.  They are indistinguishable, thus confusing voters as to who's who among the non-GOP alternatives.