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Amazon's New York Tax Credits

December 8, 2014 at 9:19 pm

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The $5 million in tax credits bestowed by the government of New York State on Amazon is the topic of my column this week. Please check it out at Reason (here) and Newsmax (here). Last week's column, about the bankruptcy of solar energy company Xunlight, is also up at the New York Sun (here), Reason (here), and Newsmax (here). I was away last week so did not post the link to the Xunlight column here last week, but it's one worth catching up on.

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Bollinger's Pay

December 8, 2014 at 2:32 pm

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Columbia University President Lee Bollinger was paid $3.3 million in 2012 and University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann earned $2.4 million, the Boston Globe reports, picking up a Chronicle of Higher Education survey. As we've said here before, if alumni donors, trustees, and tuition-paying parents think these presidents are worth these sums, that's one thing. But the more the presidents lobby for taxpayer research funds, Pell Grants, and student loans, the more taxpayers and politicians may start wondering whether institutions that can afford these levels of compensation really need the funding from taxpayers.

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An Immigrant Thanksgiving

November 26, 2014 at 9:20 am

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Immigration is the topic of my Thanksgiving column this week, in which I express thanks for my ancestors who — legally or illegally — made it to America. Please check the column out at the New York Sun (here), Reason (here), and Newsmax (here). And a happy Thanksgiving to you all; one thing I am especially thankful for this year is the community of reader-participant-member-watchdog-content co-creator-subscribers who make this site possible.

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Obama Sneaks a Smoke

November 25, 2014 at 2:38 pm

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The chronology in this report from The Hill is kind of garbled, but it says both that

a) President Obama "was heard on an open mic telling an official at an event last year that it was Michelle Obama who 'scared' him into quitting smoking. A smiling Obama said at the time, 'I haven't had a cigarette in six years … that's because I'm scared of my wife.'"

and

b) Mr. Obama told Billy Joel when the singer visited the White House last year, "I'm going out on the North Portico to have a smoke. Do you want to come with me?"

I don't mind if Mr. Obama smokes, but it does seem a bit strange that he'd be trying to convey the public impression that he's more scared of his wife than he actually (apparently) is.

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More Subsidized Failure

November 25, 2014 at 2:21 pm

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A Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing by a solar-panel manufacturer, Xunlight Corp., is the subject of a report in The Toledo Blade, which says Xunlight reported about $1.9 million in assets and $28.5 million in debts. The University of Toledo had invested in the company, but according to the newspaper:

The university wasn't the only public entity to help Xunlight. In 2010, the company received $34.5 million in tax credits as part of the stimulus bill. U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) helped secure nearly $3 million in federal earmarks for the company.

The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority loaned $3 million in 2009 from its Northwest Ohio Bond Fund. The company received a $3 million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a more than $4 million loan from the state, and more than $2 million in state and local tax credits.

If this company's solar technology was so terrific, why did it need all the government subsidies?

Thanks to reader-participant-community member-watchdog-content co-creator N. for sending the tip.

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Teeth and Progress

November 25, 2014 at 10:59 am

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Chris Patten sings the praises of modern dentistry.

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A New CBO Director

November 25, 2014 at 10:57 am

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A debate is simmering on the right over whether to reappoint the incumbent director of the Congressional Budget Office, Doug Elmendorf. Daniel Mitchell weighs in here.

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Marion Barry's Taxes

November 24, 2014 at 10:41 am

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From the New York Times obituary of Marion Barry, the former mayor of Washington, D.C.:

Despite his clashes with the law, he won a City Council seat in 2004. The next year he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges for failing to file income tax returns for the year 2000. He was placed on probation for three years. Yet he continued to defy the I.R.S., neglecting for the next several years to file returns. He finally settled with the tax agency in 2009, saying that his failure to file had been the result of his health.

Sound familiar?

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Saturday Night Live Cold Open Obama Immigration

November 24, 2014 at 9:40 am

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Even "Saturday Night Live" thinks President Obama is going a bit far with this immigration executive order.

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How To Help

November 21, 2014 at 1:21 pm

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This is the final call for paying subscribers and members in this drive. We are close to meeting our goals thanks to all of those who have already paid, but we aren't quite there yet. So if you've been meaning to join us to send a signal of support for what we are doing here and to ensure that it continues, please reach for that credit card now. Completing online transaction won't take much time at all, and it costs less than a dollar a week. The link is here.

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Obama's Immigration Speech

November 21, 2014 at 10:55 am

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Some thoughts on President Obama's immigration speech and the action he announced:

It was a pretty good speech in talking about the positives of immigration and about American values. If he had given it six years ago, he might have been able to get immigration reform through Congress at a time when Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate.

From a policy point of view, the situation created by Obama's action — creating a class of 4 million or so people who have better-than-illegal status, but worse than fully legal status — is problematic.

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Ten More Reasons to Become a Paying Subscriber

November 20, 2014 at 1:17 pm

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Thank you to those who have already responded to our drive for paying subscribers, renewed existing memberships or subscriptions, or bought additional ones to go along with ones that you already have. For those who weren't sold by yesterday's list of Ten Reasons To Become a Paying Subscriber, here are ten more reasons to click through and sign up:

1. Nobody else keeps an eye on Warren Buffett like we do.

2. The money from subscriptions helps make it possible for us to promote the site and help to grow its readership.

3. The entry-level subscription is about a quarter of the price of a subscription to the online New York Times, and FutureOfCapitalism will take and waste less of your time than the Times would.

4. Even after the Dodd-Frank financial "reform" act and the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act, you can still pay for a subscription with a credit card.

5. A FutureOfCapitalism coffee mug?

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ObamaCare Enrollment Numbers

November 20, 2014 at 12:57 pm

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The Obama administration counted dental insurance plans with premiums of less than $60 a month to get the total ObamaCare enrollment figures over 7 million, Bloomberg News reports.

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Shafer on Uber

November 20, 2014 at 11:54 am

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Following the huge flap (see here, here and here) over an executive of the company Uber ruminating about hiring people to investigate journalists who cover the company, press critic Jack Shafer asks, "Yeah, why shouldn't Uber investigate unscrupulous, rotten journalists?" Good question. There seems to be a widely shared (with the exception of Mr. Shafer) assumption that the press should be immune from the sort of scrutiny it imposes on others.

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Henninger on Gruber

November 20, 2014 at 11:09 am

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Dan Henninger writes in the Wall Street Journal:

Jon Gruber's remarks matter not for what they say about the Democratic Party's modus operandi but because of the truths he revealed about the Democratic Party's reason for being. The Gruber threat to the Democrats isn't reputational; it's existential....On the left, writers are saying the worst thing about the Gruber filmography is that it gives credibility to conservative stereotypes about the "arrogance" of the technocracy.
That's close but not on target. The problem is not one MIT economist's arrogance. The problem is that the technocracy itself has become a political problem for the Democratic Party.

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