Whoa....Kansas Republicans are getting nasty for NO reason. Romney is going to win Kansas easily so picking a fight with a Democrat is pretty ridiculous. Story below the squiggle.
I know there are a lot of smart people in Kansas. It's just that they tend not to manage a legislative majority there. The latest examples of Kansas-being-Kansas are staggering. Take for example the matter of Gov. Brownback's massive tax cut on business profits. From what I understand by reading news reports from the corporate controlled news media, Kansas, under Brownback and the GOP controlled legislature, have managed to end taxes on business income. The fact that Koch Industries is based in Wichita is more than a little coincidental, I'm guessing.
Evidently the GOP "leaders" in the KS legislature have been dueling it out with Missouri, awarding tax incentives for companies to move across the border to the Kansas side. This kind of fratricidal fiduciary hijinks is not uncommon. All states are eager to raid other states for businesses. Tax concessions are the pieces-of-eight in this interstate piracy. Our states are in a race to the bottom in their pursuit of business transplants.
Of interest relating to Kansas is this little nugget. AMC Entertainment Inc. announced that it is moving to Leawood, KS, from the Missouri side. But, about the same time it was announced that the Dalian Wanda Group would buy AMC Entertainment. Dalian Wanda Group is about to reap the benefits of Brownback's tax policy by operating in KS. A Chinese company makes one of the largest buyouts of a US company and lands just in time in the Kansas tax haven.
Let me speak plainly. A Chinese company owns a largish US company headquartered in Kansas will be taking advantage of infrastructure put in place over generations by hard working Kansans and US citizen taxpayers. All have contributed in many ways to Kansas infrastructure by way of grants for electrification, roads & highways, universities, military bases, as well as protection by all of the branches of the US military. This Chinese company will enjoy greatly reduced tax liabilities by operating in Kansas. The controlling stockholders are Chinese and will benefit from operation within US borders at the expense of Kansans as a result of the Kansas GOP. These foreign owners will instead allow their employees to contribute to the public coffers.
The burden for expenses related to responsibilites previously administered by the state will be unpooled and relocalized. The purpose and benefit of taxation has been that pooling funds can bring the benefits of civilization to the state without having to rely on the Darwinistic forces of the market. It is ironic that a state so rabidly against evolution has embraced such a Darwinistic approach to social policy.
The stated intent of GOP leaders (like Dick Army, etc.) cloaked behind the curtain has been to "drown the beast". That is, kill federal and state government by unfunding it. You do that by electing serial government haters like Gov. Brownback and possibly by having the Koch boys behind the scenes pulling strings. Not only has Kansas stuffed a dagger in the chest of civic administration of government services, they have opened the pipeline for profits to stream out of the US from a state tax haven from the operation of a corporation by a Chinese conglomerate.
The Kansas GOP has accelerated the transition of power from a constitutionally backed system with structural transparency to the private concentration of power with no transparency and no civic obligation. Way to go boys. The full import of this should be evident in a generation when most of the GOP legislators who enacted this shit sandwich will be long gone.
Make no mistake. The GOP euphamism of "drowning the beast" is really about the transfer of power from the many to the few. The slogans about liberty and freedom are a plush teddy bear for the masses of low information voters to embrace. Power is in the ability to allocate resources. As the public loses its ability to allocate resources, it loses power. As private or corporate interests accumulate resources, their ability to exercise power rises. There is nothing new here. Power always concentrates.
When the core value of a political party is hate and bigotry, then it should be no surprise that its internal battles lack decency and civility. Take, for example, the Republican presidential caucus yesterday in St. Charles County, Missouri. St. Charles County has been one of the faster growing counties in the nation since the 1970s, and it grew primarily from "white flight" when the housing in North St. Louis County became more integrated. St. Charles County is separated from St. Louis County by the Missouri River. In the late 1980s, they voted not to be part of a regional light rail system, well, you know why: "those" people might ride the light rail out to their neighborhoods. It's a relatively affluent, middle to upper middle class place, and while like any place, there are some good folks there, there also are a lot of Republicans. During the 2008 election, McCain and Palin came there for rallies several times. Barack Obama drew 100,000 people under the Arch in downtown St. Louis City, while Palin or McCain drew a few thousand in St. Charles County.
Yesterday, the Republicans held one caucus for the entire County (in contrast, St. Louis County, with a million people, broke their caucuses up to the township levels.) So between 1000 and 2500 people (depending on who you ask) showed up to a high school to pour out their anti-Obama hate, but hatred eats you up.
So what happened? The Police had to come and closed the caucus, sending everyone home, and arresting a few:
In St. Charles County, which was to have been the biggest single prize of the day, the caucus was shut down before delegates were chosen after a boisterous crowd objected to how the meeting was being run, including an attempted ban on videotaping. Two supporters of presidential hopeful Ron Paul were arrested.St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"It was a joke. It was a complete joke," said David Nelson of St. Peters, who participated in the St. Charles County caucus.
The caucus in St. Charles County, which was held at Francis Howell North High School in St. Peters, was adjourned after police said they were going to 'shut us down," according to Matt Ehlen, the Republican activist who was named chairman of the meeting. Police said 2,500 people showed up, although organizers put the number at fewer than 1,000.
"For the safety and well-being of the attendees at the caucus, we had to adjourn the meeting," Ehlen said.
However, several individuals at the caucus said much of the consternation revolved around Ehlen himself. Ehlen became chairman after a voice vote, but the head of the county GOP organization failed to recognize any other candidate.
"All of sudden he's the chairman and the place goes nuts," said Tim Finch, a Paul supporter from Dardenne Prairie. "This is not how it's supposed to work."
Some of Paul's supporters also were irked by an announced ban on video recording, with organizers asking police to help enforce it.
When the objections reached a fever pitch, the meeting was shut down without any delegates being awarded.
One caucus participant accused Paul and Romney supporters of "colluding" to make it impossible to conduct the meeting. Adrian Boyd, an undecided Republican from St. Peters, said both groups were so loud, they drowned out the public address system.
The minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, which means $15,080 for a year of full-time work, just under the poverty threshold for a family of two. Of course, these candidates for United States Senate don't know that. Asked during a radio debate what the minimum wage is and if they'd support increasing it, all three showed just how little they know.
Steelman, the only candidate to offer a specific guess for the minimum wage—getting it wrong at $7.50—offered a slightly garbled version of a classic argument against raising the minimum, that "young people sometimes can't find jobs because they're taken by other people and they don't pay a lower wage ... are unable to pay a lower wage because of the minimum wage so that squeezes jobs out." Akin, too, claimed that raising the minimum wage would cost teenagers the chance to get experience at the low pay they are, according to him, worth.
The line that teenagers won't be able to get jobs is a multipurpose argument that raising the minimum wage will lead to fewer jobs and that teenagers working part-time jobs are the only people making minimum wage anyway. But in fact, this is wrong on both counts: "a majority of minimum wage earners are adults working many hours and living in low-income households," and studies show "that an increase in the minimum wage has a small—and even positive—impact on employment."
That set of myths wasn't Akin's only objection to raising the minimum wage, though. He actually opposes its existence altogether, saying it's "Just another example of a wrong thing that the government does. I don't think the government should be setting the prices or wages on different things, I don't think that's the function of the government."
As for the extremely wealthy Brunner, he didn't know what the minimum wage is and, clearly taken aback at being asked about something as esoteric as how much businesses must legally pay their workers, and gave a nonsensical, buzzword-laden answer about how his business had always paid more than the minimum wage. Which is ... not at all helpful for everyone who doesn't work for him.
Missouri Republicans sure face a fantastic set of choices.
Short of completely avoiding processed food, growing your own, and getting to know your local farmer, there is very little you can realistically do to avoid ingesting Neotame, the new and improved version of the neurotoxic artificial sweetner Aspartame. Get it - Neo - new Aspartame? Not even buying certified organic is a reliable way to avoid it, not only in beverages but in all the food you eat, because no labeling of its presence is required.
Aspartame can step aside. There's a new sweetener in town and it isn't saddled with the inconvenience of having to be listed on labels, so it can be sneaked into any prepared food, even USDA so-called Organic. So sayeth the FDA. Neotame is a Monsanto-created chemical similar to Aspartame, including its neurotoxic properties.If you thought that you could find it on a food label, or that it would have to be listed on food that is certified organic, you would be wrong. The labeling requirements that applied to Aspartame were dropped for Neotame.
The food labeling requirements required for aspartame have now been dropped for Neotame, and no one is clearwhy this was allowed to happen.
After months of coercive threats, Hostess Brands is filing for bankruptcy for the second time in less than a decade. Hostess has assets galore- 40 odd bakeries with replacement values of $10,000,000 and up, around 400 depots and thrift stores on valuable retail turf that are easily worth at least a million apiece, 10,000 smaller trucks, 1000 big trucks, and 2000 semitrailers worth a few hundred million. Even the odds and ends of the asset inventory are huge- like around a hundred thousand shipping "racks" worth several hundred dollars each and god only knows how many baking pans and such.
Biggest losers in this corporate shakedown are the workers- Hostess owes damn near a billion to the bakers pension fund alone, and there's a bunch of other pension funds Hostess has stiffed as well. These are hard working folks- less than a hundred Bakers can bake enough bread to feed several million mouths, and it takes only another hundred or so Teamsters to deliver it.
Some background... The biggest chunk of Hostess was Continental Baking, formed in the 1920s via the merger of around a hundred bakeries scattered across the U.S. Continental developed a system of highly efficient medium sized bakeries, big enough to use mass production but close enough to markets to provide fresh bread products. Continental's distribution system was similarly efficient and was a leader in the transportation industry. Continental became a profitable "General Motors of baking", and it's union workers shared in that profitability with living wages and benefits. Continental's system became the model for their competitors such as Bimbo and others who continue to earn profits while providing their unionized workers living wages and benefits.
In the 1980s the destruction of this successful enterprise began as Continental was sold to Ralston Purina. Ralston Purina on one hand tried to monopolize the wholesale baking industry with one hand while attempting marketing techniques more suited to dog food with the other. I still remember the time when they dumped a months supply of Beefsteak bread on the market, forcing us to make extra trips to bring the unsold stale bread back for disposal!
Monopoly attempts largely failed, Ralston Purina dumped Continental on Interstate Brands, a smaller and disorganized wholesale baker that was something of a joke in the biz. While Continental used economies of scale, Interstate individual bakeries were fiefdoms unto themselves. For example, while Continental used the same tractor trailer rigs to haul both Hostess cake and Wonder and their other brands of breads, Interstate had completely separate trucking operations that often ran two half full trucks on the same route. But instead of consolidating the two company's operations to improve efficiency, Interstate demolished bakeries like those in Natick, MA and East Brunswick, New Jersey and sold the valuable land to developers. The Natick bakery was replaced by a new one in Biddleford, Maine; A logisticly lousy location far from major markets apparently chosen in an attempt to replace the union workers from Natick with cheap non union labor. That didn't work- the unions went to court and won the right of Natick workers to transfer to Biddleford. In the midwest, after closing a bakery in Detroit to get even with the union, Interstate spent thirty odd million to build a new bakery to make up for the lost capacity in Toledo that ended up unionized too. All the while, the bread got stale quicker as local bakeries were closed and Interstate added an additive that slowed staleness but made the bread less tasty. Competitors had tested the additive but passed on it and Interstate's Bakers sampling the additive infused bread informed Interstate management of the worsened taste. But Interstate persisted with the staleness retarding additive, and after decades as the nations best selling bread Wonder was bumped to number two by Bimbo's upstart Ironkids brand.
And the old problems remained- after buying out more competitors, Interstate often had three or more trucks, each carrying but one of their many different brands, making the same delivery rounds. There has been persistent talk of cronyism- relatives of managers on the payroll, to the point where several crony managers sat around the depot office all day while the hardworking teamsters drivers did the hard work of delivering the bread. Further up the corporate food chain, just one executive alone received over twenty million in stock options before he retired on the eve of the first bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy number one was filed in the fall of 2004 for no good reason. Interstate had assets galore and was current on it's liabilities- I pulled up a bunch of their property tax records then and found that they were not only current, but in fact had paid property taxes six months and more early. The nearly five year long bankruptcy produced little improvements in efficiency, only wage and benefit concessions. And despite having just expanded the corporate offices in Kansas City, on emerging from bankruptcy number one the executives changed the company's name to Hostess Brands and leased some pricey office space in more fashionable Houston.
Hostess has been coercing further concessions around a year now, and the union's membership have rightly rebuked them. Several months ago Hostess quit making contractually and legally obligated payments to the pension plans completely. Having failed to intimidate their union workers, Hostess has filed for bankruptcy, again. Our pensions are threatened, while the company's retired executives relax in the wealthier suburbs of Kansas City and other environments... You can look up their swank addresses and maxed out contributions to the republicans at opensecrets.org.
One bankruptcy is... Enough!
This retired Teamster Hostess worker and her brothers and sisters have had enough of "convenience" bankruptcies. It's time for the bankruptcy courts to say "No" and tell Hostess and similar deadbeat corporations to end the shakedown of their workers and pay up, even if it requires a "clawback" of those millions in unearned executive bonuses. Greedy CEO's will fleece us again and again... Until we stop them!
Made the Rec List... Thanks, everyone!
Update- Just started reading through the bankruptcy filings... Juicy! For example, despite having hordes of empty bakeries and other buildings they've closed, Hostess is spending over $100,000 a month just to warehouse incoming ingredients. And in little Waterloo, Iowa their operation looks to be spread out over five locations- a bakery, thrift stores, and a depot and a warehouse because the bakery isn't big enough now that they've closed the Davenport, Rochester, Sioux City, Omaha, and Minneapolis bakeries. Meanwhile, the closed bakery in Davenport sits largely empty while Hostess is renting depot space just a few miles away. And Hostess is blaming the workers for their problems?
Wichita, Kansas is known as 'the air capital of the world'. In WWII, the B-29 bomber was assembled in Wichita. Private aircraft have been assembled there for years.
Boeing and Wichita have a rich history together. What follows is a sad tale of what a 'job creator' really does when everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, is handed to them, from tax breaks to a congressional delegation that worked for years as Boeing lobbyists.
The story of Boeing and Wichita gives lie to Mitt Romney's fantasy about larding up corporations, believing that they'll do the right thing and create jobs.
A calling to all Kossaks who reside in or around the Kansas City area! I have begun a new group to act as a rally point for all news or activity in the KC area. It is my hope that the page can become a hub for discussion, calls to action, volunteerism, GOTV, news, and everything else relating to our little corner in the middle of nowhere!
The groups name is Kansas City Kossaks, so if you are interested, follow the group and hopefully it can become a force for good in an area that could desperately use a more liberal touch. In an enormously important election year, not just at the top of the ticket, but through every state-house and city hall, we need to be organized to make a difference.
Even if you aren't from the area, but you have something constructive to add, please share it.