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  •  Aren't those local tax concessions... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coffeetalk, AlexDrew

    ...made by elected officials and aren't they public record?

    Assuming they are, it sounds like the majority of the voters in the jurisdiction don't disapprove of these concessions. Such concessions may not be wise, but democracies inherently include the right of the majority to enact stupid policies.

    •  Exactly. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib

      If people don't like the tax concessions (and I'm not a fan, especially when they go to outlets like a Wal-Mart that simply take revenue from other, more local stores), they should vote out politicians who give those concessions.  

      Some tax concessions are actually approved by the voters, which shows that voters also have the right to enact stupid policies.  

      •  It isn't that simple in New York. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        6412093, Treetrunk

        We don't get to directly vote on tax concessions.

        In some cases, as I noted to WillR above, it isn't even politicians negotiating and approving the giveaways in the first place.  In almost all cases, there is no way for the average citizen to see how much this costs them, either for an individual business or cumulatively by municipality - that is by design, same as other giveaways via the tax code on other tax types.

        This isn't as simple as the binary-type thinking of "vote them out if you disapprove."  Most people are simply not sufficiently informed enough to know if they approve or not.  They just assume everything is done on the up-and-up, and aren't inquisitive enough to do the work required to get through the red tape and actually see the info.

        Even then, when someplace like the NY Times actually gives people a tool to shed some light on state and municipal corporate welfare, it's still yawn-inducing, because it's just a bunch of numbers to most people - there is no context, such as the comparison I made above.

        How many taxpayers and voters do you think would actually approve this nonsense if it was put in context, they were shown a bottom line number of how much it would cost them per year (based on $1000/assessed value of their homes) and they had final approval?  I'm guessing slim-to-none.

        So no, it's not as simple as you make it out to be.

        •  That's a problem with the voters. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VClib, AlexDrew
          Most people are simply not sufficiently informed enough to know if they approve or not.  They just assume everything is done on the up-and-up, and aren't inquisitive enough to do the work required to get through the red tape and actually see the info.
          What you are saying is that people don't take the time to understand complex issues before they vote.  If that's true, that's the fault of the voters.  

          Ironically, I've heard people on the right make the same charge -- don't you remember they were circulating that video of the woman who said she was going to vote for President Obama because he was going to give her a phone?  Most people tend to make this accusation -- that people don't understand the issues when they vote for someone -- only against people who vote a way they don't like.  It's amusing how we all assume that people who vote with us are informed, and people who vote against us are uninformed.  

          We all get to make decisions regarding the reason we vote one way or another, and we don't have to justify that to anyone.  I can vote (just to make things up) against Hilary Clinton because I don't like pantsuits, or vote against Rand Paul because I don't like his dad, or vote against Joe Biden because I visited Delaware and don't like it, or vote for Herman Cain because I like Godfather's Pizza.  Nothing says that voters have to make decisions based on factor that you, or I, think are rational.  It's up to candidates to reach voters and convince them WHY they are worthy of your vote over the other candidate.  

          How many taxpayers and voters do you think would actually approve this nonsense if it was put in context, they were shown a bottom line number of how much it would cost them per year (based on $1000/assessed value of their homes) and they had final approval?  I'm guessing slim-to-none.
          You are right, if only one side could present all of the facts as that side perceived them, that side would always win elections.  But that's not how democracy works.  Everyone is entitled to present their own case to the voters, AND to respond to the other side's case.  That is how the system works.  If you think that the other side is not presenting an accurate perspective, or is leaving out important facts, it's up to you to point that out to voters.  And if the voters choose not to listen enough to make an intelligent decision -- that's on the voters.  

          All this is by way of saying I don't have a lot of sympathy for those who argue, in essence, that they "can't" use the political process because "voters are stupid."  Our constitution does not give us the option of deciding that.  

          •  I agree (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jbsoul, 6412093

            that it is a problem with voters.

            Now, did I say voters are "stupid."  No.  But when it comes to state and municipal tax giveaways, what information do they have to actually peruse and get informed?

            That seems to be the missing link here.  Tax giveaways are not transparent.  If they were transparent, good ones would survive on their merit and bad ones likely wouldn't exist - or be far more rare.

            Stating voters are uninformed because the issue lacks transparency on purpose  isn't a knock on the intelligence of voters.  It's a knock on the sliminess of our political system.

            It's easy for voters to get pissed off a $X billion in food stamp costs - they can clearly see the number.  It's not easy for them to get pissed off at $Y in corporate welfare spending, because they have no idea what the aggregate total of $Y is.  Shit, I consider myself informed, and even I don't know - because it's just about impossible to aggregate this stuff.  It would take a small army of statisticians and accountants to put it all together.

            Again, point being - this isn't as black and white as "it's the voters fault" or "the voters must approve because they keep electing the same people."

    •  Public record? (3+ / 0-)
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      jbsoul, 6412093, Treetrunk

      Sure, if you want to go digging for the businesses public tax records.

      Most of these negotiations are done behind closed doors.  In many cases, with things like IDAs (industrial development agencies) - the giveaways are negotiated and approved by term-appointed people in political patronage jobs.  Voters have no direct say either way - not in New York anyway.

      Sure, in theory, people could get pissed off at the pols for giving the money away.  The problem with that theory is that the vast majority of these giveaways are not highly visible.  The information is not easily accessible, and there is most certainly no reporting done in plain language to let taxpayers and voters know what these clowns are up to - such as an annualized report reflecting a town, city, or counties aggregate tax giveaways and the cost to each taxpayer for said giveaway.

      It isn't as simple as "vote them out" if they make accountability difficult in the first place.

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