Davis’ Quest For City Revenue Runs Into Harsh Light of City’s Progressive Political

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boycott-targetWhen the city of Davis decided to seek a new source of revenue, it tapped Target as a goal.  Never mind that Target had almost as bad a labor reputation as Wal Mart.  Never mind that they had been cited for numerous labor violations.  And never mind they had utilized sweatshops in third world countries.  Someone in the Davis leadership thought if they strapped on some green, Target would fit Davis’ community values.

Well, now that will really be put to a test.  Progressives across the country have called for a boycott of the Target Corporation after revelations that the company donated $150,000 to a group that is running ads backing conservative Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, who opposes same-sex marriage.  Conservatives, you can stop reading now, and post your dissent.

Groups such as this Facebook Group, Boycott Target Until They Cease Funding Anti-Gay Politics have sprung up all over.

Writes the group:

“Target, practically everyone’s favorite discount retail store, is headquartered in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes. But along with precious bodies of water, Minnesota is home to some pretty rabid anti-gay politicians and groups. Among them include Tom Emmer. And Target, it seems, is apparently filling his campaign coffers with nearly $150,000.

Follow the money. At least, that’s the message delivered by an article at sfist.com by Matt Baume, who tracks $150,000 from Target’s coffers, through a political action committee (PAC) known as Minnesota Forward, all the way to Tom Emmer, who himself supports a Christian rock band in Minnesota that travels around the state saying that it’s moral and righteous for religious people to kill gays and lesbians.

For those into algebra, it looks a little like this: Target + Minnesota Forward + Tom Emmer = Support for a rather dangerous and radical political philosophy that diminishes LGBT people to pests that should be murdered. And Target is cool with this?

Send the company a message right now, urging them to explain why their money is being used to fund a politics that not only serves to prevent LGBT equality, but breeds homophobia, transphobia and hatred.”

Over 240,000 people have signed a petition promising a boycott, and hundreds of gay-rights supports demonstrated outside of Target stores on Friday.

Target has, of course, defended it’s support for the LGBT community, arguing that its support for Mr. Emmer has to do with his fiscal positions, not his stance on social issues.

“Target’s support of the LGBT community is unwavering, and inclusiveness remains a core value of our company,” Chief Executive Officer Gregg Steinhafel said.  The company argues that its political action committee has split its donations evenly between the parties this year.

However, that was not enough.  Mr. Steinhafel had to apologize to his employees the day before the protests.  “The intent of our political contribution to MN Forward was to support economic growth and job creation,” he wrote. “While I firmly believe that a business climate conducive to growth is critical to our future, I realize our decision affected many of you in a way I did not anticipate, and for that I am genuinely sorry.”

Target declined to address the question of whether it would withdraw the donation.

Mr. Emmer supports a constitutional amendment protecting “traditional marriage.”  In an ad on his website he states, “I believe marriage is the union between one man and one woman.”

“As a legislator, I have consistently supported the constitutional marriage amendment that protects traditional marriage,” he adds.

Those who might be worried that a new Supreme Court decision that allows corporate entities to directly pay for ads supporting or opposing candidates ought to take note.  There is a real danger to companies for getting too far involved in campaign.

“It’s harder to get corporations to do this than a lot of people thought it was going to be,” said Vin Weber, a former Republican lawmaker from Minnesota who is now a lobbyist and political consultant. “People think that most businesses are Republican, but by and large, companies don’t think that it makes much of a difference which political party controls Washington.”

On a local level, of course, it will be interesting to see how a city with the reputation of Davis responds to such a boycott.  Will people continue to shop at Davis’ Target store out of convenience or will sales decline?  The city is counting on $600,000 in new revenue from Target to help stay afloat during a deep recessions and a shallow recovery. 

The $600,000 revenue projection always seemed like an optimistic figure, even before the economic woes hit the region.  Now that figure will be even more stressed by Davis’ progressive core.

On the other hand, it is quite possible that the people who are most likely to boycott a Target based on this activity, are the same people least likely to shop there to begin with.

The bigger importance is probably that fewer companies will be willing to dip into potentially polarizing political campaigns.  If they truly do not see a clear difference between the candidates, then they ought to be very careful which campaigns to fund.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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62 thoughts on “Davis’ Quest For City Revenue Runs Into Harsh Light of City’s Progressive Political”

  1. Dr. Wu

    $600,000 is optimistic.

    A typical Target store sells $316 per sq ft. — 1.5% of this goes to Davis (1% plus measure Q 0.5%, I’m ignoring the 0.25% for Yolo County –some of that trickles down to Davis but not City general fund revenue).
    That means a Target with average sales would generate $4.74 in sales tax dollars per sq. ft. which actually gets you to revenues over $600,000 since this store is 137,000 sq ft (including garden center).
    However one has to make a few adjustments:

    1.Food is not taxed, or more specifically some food is not taxed. For most grocery stores about 30% of sales is taxable (candy, soda, cupcakes but not muffins, etc.). I don’t know the precise % of food sales at the Target and it’s a somewhat subjective calculation anyway (which Target’s consultants would have low balled). About half of Wal-Mart’s sales are now classified (by Wal-Mart) as groceries. This Target has a smaller % of their store devoted to groceries but still one should figure a third of their sales are groceries and 70% of that is not taxed. This may sound high since the floor space devoted to food sales is quite a bit less than 1/3 but keep in mind that Wal-Mart has only 20-30% of space devoted to food sales but it generates half of all sales—food sales per sq ft are much much higher (but typically with lower margins).

    Bottom line: Between 20 and 25% of Target sales are not subject to sales tax (because its food). That implies about $500,000 in sales tax revenues.

    2.However the Target will also displace other local store revenues/taxes. If some one spends $100 at Target instead of CVS that is not a net gain in tax revenue to the City. The consultant for Target would almost certainly have argued that since Davis has “leakage” in retail the Target sales would all be new.
    But this is obviously not the case. I’d say about 1/3 of Target’s sales simply displace existing sales in Davis and hence add no ne sales tax revenue. The figure could be higher (even 50%) but lets use 1/3.
    That implies that the Target, netting out the fact that most food sales are not taxed and netting out sales displacement would generate about $330,000 in sales tax revenues for the City. OR lets say given the obvious uncertainties here that the likely range is from $250,000 to $400,000 per year. This is still not chump change but is much less than $600k.

    3.Now lets say this Target does better than average in terms of sales per square feet, which is possible. This Target does well so its probably somewhat above average, but remember that there are also Target stores in the Bay area and elsewhere that make our store look weak in terms of sales/sq ft. Lets assume $375 per sq. ft. That implies just under $400,000 in tax revenues under the above assumptions.

    4.So $600k is very optimistic. You have to assume unrealistically low displacement rates or be overoptimistic in terms of sales/sq ft.

    5.I doubt the boycott would make much difference.

  2. rusty49

    Didn’t all of you liberal’s (progressives?) much adored president run on a platform of believing that a marriage should be between a man and a woman?

  3. biddlin

    It would be more effective if some of the clothing and houseware designers who lend their names to Target house brands got involved in a boycott.

  4. David M. Greenwald

    The choice was something worse, so that’s part one. Part two, Obama hasn’t done anything yet to incur outrage, it may well come. However, I think most people on the left think it was largely a political maneuver and they don’t know where he will eventually come down on the issue if it even ends up a federal issue. Meanwhile he’s putting people on the court who are more likely to support the left’s view.

  5. rusty49

    So the ends justify the means. Say anything to get elected, lie and be deceitful because when you’re in office you can push whatever agenda you really have, not the one you campaigned on. I know your answer will be that
    “both sides are guilty of this” so what’s the problem and you’ll be correct to a certain extent. But I thought this was all about “hope and change”. Same old dirty politics as usual, it’s just your guy doing it now. Come November it will be more of my side doing it because America has realized what a mistake Obama has been.

  6. Mr.Toad

    Target exec spends $150,000 Ebay exexec spends $100,000,000 threatens to fire 20,000 state workers. A little misplaced outrage don’t you think.

  7. Don Shor

    Candidate Obama supported civil unions with the full rights of marriage, making a semantical distinction but no legal distinction:
    “asked to explain how civil unions for same-sex couples could be the equivalent of marriage. He said, ‘As I’ve proposed it, it wouldn’t be a lesser thing, from my perspective. Semantics may be important to some. From my perspective, what I’m interested (in) is making sure that those legal rights are available to people.'”

    rusty: “Come November it will be more of my side doing it”… who is ‘your side’ and where do they stand on gay marriage?

    Obama won’t even have to take a position on this particular case, nor would there by any outrage if he came out in full support of gay marriage now. I really think the country, including many conservatives, has moved on past this particular wedge issue. The Supreme Court may just decide to let the ruling stand, thus having it apply only to California (I guess) and allowing other states and other judges to do as they please.

  8. biddlin

    “The Supreme Court may just decide to let the ruling stand, thus having it apply only to California (I guess) and allowing other states and other judges to do as they please.” From Don’s keyboard to a higher power’s inbox.

  9. E Roberts Musser

    dmg: “When the city of Davis decided to seek a new source of revenue, it tapped Target as a goal. Never mind that Target had almost as bad a labor reputation as Wal Mart. Never mind that they had been cited for numerous labor violations. And never mind they had utilized sweatshops in third world countries.”

    This is laughable. Almost all goods you buy at any store is made in some third world country that utilizes sweatshops/child labor…

    dmg: “The $600,000 revenue projection always seemed like an optimistic figure, even before the economic woes hit the region. Now that figure will be even more stressed by Davis’ progressive core.”

    Is this a wish that Target will fail, bc of progressives’ extreme dislike for big box retail?

    dmg: “The bigger importance is probably that fewer companies will be willing to dip into potentially polarizing political campaigns. If they truly do not see a clear difference between the candidates, then they ought to be very careful which campaigns to fund.”

    So it is OK for unions to get heavily involved in polarizing campaigns, but not corporations? Why? Because unions are largely affiliated with the Democratic Party and corporations are supposedly aligned with the Republican Party (or “Repugs” as the progressives like to say)?”

    dmg: “Mr. Emmer supports a constitutional amendment protecting “traditional marriage.” In an ad on his website he states, “I believe marriage is the union between one man and one woman.””

    So target every business with a boycott that goes against any other view than that of the “progressives”? Businesses or their employees aren’t allowed to have views opposed to “progressives”? Sounds like intolerance to me…

    dmg quote of BTUTCFAGP: “Follow the money. At least, that’s the message delivered by an article at sfist.com by Matt Baume, who tracks $150,000 from Target’s coffers, through a political action committee (PAC) known as Minnesota Forward, all the way to Tom Emmer, who himself supports a Christian rock band in Minnesota that travels around the state saying that it’s moral and righteous for religious people to kill gays and lesbians.”

    Sounds like a smear campaign to me… guilt by innuendo… Tom Emmer likes a rock bank that says awful things. How many people like rock groups that say hateful things about the police, woman, etc. Where’s the outrage there?

  10. Rich Rifkin

    The loudest argument against Target was by the neighbors in East Mace Ranch. Since Target has opened, I have not heard any complaints from any of them about Target in their neighborhood. Nor have there been any letters to the Enterprise regarding ill-effects from Target.

    My question is this: Were the cries during the campaign all misplaced?

    Also: Is Target’s presence not harmful to the homes along Arroyo Drive and in that vicinity? Has traffic from Target caused great back-ups on Mace Blvd? Are thousands of cars coming off of I-80 to shop at the Davis Target?

  11. Don Shor

    Once it is built, Rich, there is not much the neighbors can do nor do they have any redress. What would be the point of writing a letter? I’m sure you could go get a traffic counter and sit at the parking lot to measure the number of cars, if that subject interests you. I will go on record as estimating that the parking lot will never, in our lifetimes or beyond, have the mandatory 50% shading that it is supposed to have.

    ERM: “Is this a wish that Target will fail, bc of progressives’ extreme dislike for big box retail?”
    If Target did fail there (which I doubt), the site could be divided into several smaller retail chains or locally-owned stores that would, on a square foot basis, provide much more sales tax revenue than any Big Box retailer will. Big Box retail is among the lowest per-square-foot generators of revenue and sales tax. 3 – 4 mid-size chains targeted (pun intended) to the consumer goods residents felt were missing in Davis would be much more effective. As far as I know, there has been no movement on the four additional 20,000 sq ft pads that are adjacent to Target, so there is no likelihood of any revenue from those in the next 3 – 4 years. The development agreement specifies many types of retail that cannot be located there.

    Target is closing all of their garden departments nationwide effective September, and it is unknown what will be done with the 40,000 sq ft they presently have dedicated to that at the Davis store. Garden goods have never been profitable for Target.

    The fact is that the most (in the last couple of years, the only) profitable parts of Target and WalMart have been their grocery departments. That is why both companies are aggressively expanding the percentage of their space dedicated to groceries. This Target is restricted as to what percentage of their floor space can be used for groceries by their development agreement. I won’t be surprised if Target comes back to the city to request the development agreement be changed to allow more grocery space.

    “This is laughable. Almost all goods you buy at any store is made in some third world country that utilizes sweatshops/child labor… “
    At least within my industry, these Big Box retailers have had a number of impacts. The biggest growers who provide plants to the Big Box stores are bankrupt (Hines, Bordiers); interestingly, the biggest ones are the most likely to be using immigrant labor, and they are located in Southern California, so you can reach your own conclusions about the likelihood that the labor they use is legal or not. There are fewer independent distributors of dry goods, and they are struggling. This all tends to reduce the array of choices available to consumers. Smaller retailers stick with small growers and locally-based manufacturers of soil amendments and fertilizers.

  12. treeguy

    1. Davis has resisted big box stores, and as a result unlike Woodland, Sac County suburbs, etc. it still has a “downtown” core, and not just streets lined with ugly parking lots and big boxes.

    Our civic life is so much more vibrant as a result of this community of downtown merchants working together and giving back to the community. This is so much unlike the “no there there” aspect of most suburb. They aren’t chain stores.

    2. Target is not part of the Civil life of our community. Its was poorly planned/located our of the core, and dilute civic focus on downtown. It even has NO good transit access– its 1/2 mile from nearest bus stop and on edge of the city. Not ped or particualry bikely friendly this far out (yes it’s on further end of a bike path).

    Unless you think shopping and having stuff is the key act the defines your quality of life, I don’t think Target was an benefit to quality of life in Davis, and certainly not sustainability.

    The Hi cost of Low prices.

  13. Don Shor

    ERM: “So target every business with a boycott that goes against any other view than that of the “progressives”? Businesses or their employees aren’t allowed to have views opposed to “progressives”? Sounds like intolerance to me… “
    The last Target-related boycott proposal I recall was when someone urged, in a letter to the editor, that businesses that posted signs opposing Target be boycotted. She wrote letters to those business owners informing them of her decision not to shop at their stores anymore because they opposed a Target locating here. In the “small world” department, that person was none other than Jan Bridge, the subject of today’s other Vanguard article.

  14. Frankly

    “However the Target will also displace other local store revenues/taxes. If some one spends $100 at Target instead of CVS that is not a net gain in tax revenue to the City.”

    Well then, let’s add back in the Woodland, West Sac and Dixon revenue displaced as more Davis shoppers can spend their money in their own previously shopping-constrained city. If you are going to do the math, then please do all the math.

  15. Frankly

    “Conservatives, you can stop reading now, and post your dissent.”

    Despite this demand, I read the entire post. Here are my two thoughts…

    1 ) – The left seems to prove over and over again that gender, sex and racial politics trump jobs and economy. I think this tendency is going to serve the GOP well in the next two national elections.

    2 ) – When did “political activist” become a career goal and not just a temporary means to an end? And if you want to argue that gay rights activism is only a temporary means to an end, someone please explain to me the vision of what that end looks like so I can look forward to all the gay rights activists shift their focus to jobs and the economy.

  16. Superfluous Man

    rusty,

    “But where’s the outrage? Obama sure seems to get a free pass from his followers on that one. “

    A lot of people on the left publicly discuss their disappointment with the president’s “efforts” (or lack thereof) to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Regarding the President and same-sex marriage, if he came out and supported same-sex marriage or pushed of legislation to that effect, it may jeopardize his chances at getting reelected. I think many of his supporters realize that this is the reality of playing politics. It is not politically feasible or necessary for him to push same-sex marriage. Regardless, same-sex marriage was not something Obama campaigned on, so it’s not as thought he’s going back on any promise.

    It’s a cost-benefit analysis, doing what you think is right/best for the country and doing what will cost the incumbent votes/an additional term in office. It’s sad that this is the case, but that’s what you get in a two-party system.

    “So the ends justify the means. Say anything to get elected, lie and be deceitful”

    Ummm, have you just recently been introduced to the absurdity that is politics?

  17. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”I will go on record as estimating that the parking lot will never, in our lifetimes or beyond, have the mandatory 50% shading that it is supposed to have.”[/i]

    For the record, I wrote a column about the 12 acres of Target tarmac 2 years before the store opened saying just that. If I had my way, Target would have had to either:

    1. Build a multi-story parking garage on say one acre of their large lot, dedicating the rest of the space to planting native vegetation; or

    2. Build the parking lot as is, but with no trees at all. For shade, my suggestion was that Target could build artificial solar shade structures, just like Google did in Mountain View and Sierra Nevada did in Chico. A solar shade lot would guarantee shady spots year round and it would provide more than all of the electricity the Target store would consume.

    [img]http://www.treehugger.com/solar-panels-on-sierra-nevada-brewing-co-buildings.jpg[/img]

  18. Don Shor

    “The left seems to prove over and over again that gender, sex and racial politics trump jobs and economy.”

    How is it harmful to jobs and the economy to move your shopping dollars from one retailer to another? I actually think that is a very practical and worthwhile approach. Vote with your dollars. Consider the ramifications of your spending practices. Be aware of who benefits from your money. Those considerations affect my buying decisions as a retailer as well as when I am a consumer. For obvious reasons, I never shop at Big Box retailers. I prefer that my grocery dollars go to Nugget than to Safeway, though sometimes convenience wins out. It really is the simplest exercise of democracy: how you shop.

  19. Adam Smith

    The headline here has little to do with reality. I don’t think we’ve seen any evidence, one way or the other, regarding Target’s success or lack therof. The headline is merely David’s wish. Unless there is a lot more press about issues that are much more egregious, then this is likely a non-issue for Target sales in Davis.

    Vote with your dollars. Consider the ramifications of your spending practices. Be aware of who benefits from your money. Those considerations affect my buying decisions as a retailer as well as when I am a consumer. For obvious reasons, I never shop at Big Box retailers. I prefer that my grocery dollars go to Nugget than to Safeway, though sometimes convenience wins out. It really is the simplest exercise of democracy: how you shop.

    Don’s point is a good one, and incidentally, I think he supports Jeff Boone’s argument about the appeal of the GOP. In general, the progressive vote (including David) in Davis would have prevented Davis shoppers from voting with their dollars in Davis – they would have to go to Woodland to express their preference. Fortunately, Target is in Davis, and many shoppers from Davis, and some from surrounding areas are expressing a preference to shop at Target. Democracy in action, because there is a choice between one big box store and a host of local merchants.

  20. Frankly

    “How is it harmful to jobs and the economy to move your shopping dollars from one retailer to another?”

    Don: It hurts our local economy as some of these dollars would flow to stores in other cities.

    My point also had to do with the apparent national priorities of the political left today… and it is a local issue too driven by a population that is 80% Democrat and probably 60% liberal/progressive. It is one thing to vote with your dollars for economic reasons, but a quite a different issue to vote with your dollars to punish some private or public entity for your political views a time when so many people are out of work.

    The boycott of Arizona, for example, is doing quite a good job recruiting voters for the GOP.

  21. itsme

    Scanning the above comments, I’m surprised no one has commented on THE major issue: the use of corporate $$$ to buy elections! It’s not about Obama; powerful as he is, he’s really not the basis of our government. Just consider the deals made with Big Pharma to get them not to kill the health care reform. Have we forgotten that it was supposed to be a balance of powers between the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches? The fly in the ointment is that a 4th power, corporations, have infiltrated at least two and probably all three branches.

    Whether we hurt Target or even (gasp) Davis is small potatoes compared to losing our democratic form of government.

    Why am I the only one to comment on this?

    FYI: moveon is sponsoring a demonstration against corporate $$$ in our elections tomorrow, Tue 8/10 at 11 PM at the plaza/sidewalk in front of the Fed Court Bdg at 5th/I streets. I plan on getting myself counted in the ranks of the demonstrators. I hope others will, as well.

  22. Frankly

    itsme: I think it is a bit of a ironic crack up that you make the point about corporate dollars influencing politics and then encourage others to join you for a demonstration sponsored by a left political action organization funded by the socialist hedge fund billionaire George Soros.

    Don’t you agree?

  23. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”THE major issue: the use of corporate $$$ to buy elections!”[/i]

    When you say corporate $$$, I presume you mean companies like those which trade on the NYSE and the NASDAQ and others in business to make profit. They are only one part of the corruption in our elections.

    The much larger problem is the large influence of narrow special interests, like the way truck drivers, the UAW, trial lawyers, big pharma, firefighter unions, police benevolent associations, teacher unions, rice farmers, ethanol producers and corn farmers, road builders, defense contractors and so on write legislation to benefit themselves at the expense of the general public. All of these monied interests own our politicians of almost all stripes. It’s a big problem on the right, center and the left.

    [i]”moveon is sponsoring a demonstration against corporate $$$ in our elections tomorrow”[/i]

    Moveon is fine, in that it raises its own money from small contributors who are not giving money to get more back in return. However, moveon is a left-biased group when it comes to what it sees as the corruption of politics. Moveon says nothing when the trial lawyers corrupt our politics. Moveon is silent when it comes to the UAW buying the influence of lawmakers. All Moveon cares about is harming those corrupters who favor the Republican side of the aisle.

    Don’t therefore confuse Moveon with a group interested in ending corruption in politics. It simply wants to advance a leftist agenda and to do so in part by exposing the corruption on the right.

    If our only corruption came from Fortune 500 companies, we would have only a small fraction of the corruption we have in our system. As anyone who is paying attention in Davis knows, the real problem is with public employee unions at the local and state level.

  24. Frankly

    Rich: “Moveon is fine, in that it raises its own money from small contributors who are not giving money to get more back in return.”

    http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article.aspx?id=492266

    Spending money to get more money in return is something transparent and standard in a democratic free-market capitalist system with a functioning legal system to discover and prosecute corruption. Guys like Soros have more sinister objectives… to create a new world order in his making. Who polices what he spends and how it influences?

    Please name me any point in history where the pursuit of profit has brought down any civilization, and I will counter with copious examples where the pursuit of ideology has accomplished much more of the same.

  25. Rich Rifkin

    FWIW, these are the top contributors this year to our Congressman, Mike Thompson, who raises millions of dollars, but faces no competition. Note that Thompson gets a lot of money from the health insurers and various medical lobbies, because he sits on the Health Subcommittee to the House Ways and Means Committee. (Pete Stark, who is a few cards short of a full deck, is the chair of the Health Subcommitte.) Thompson is also active in the “Wine Caucus.” Because he represents areas with wineries and wine grapes and because he is in the wine business himself, Thompson also gets a lot of wine money. Most of the rest of his funds come from labor groups and from defense contractors or from PACs which aggregate funds from those same sort of contributors and give the money to Mike:

    $20,000 —Blue Dog PAC
    $16,500 —American Health Care Assn
    $15,000 —US Oncology
    $15,000 —Intl Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
    $15,000 —National Assn of Convenience Stores
    $15,000 —National Assn of Realtors
    $14,000 —American Surgical Hospital Assn
    $13,000 —Lockheed Martin
    $12,200 —Gallo Winery
    $11,400 —Sutter Home Winery
    $10,750 —Wine Institute
    $10,500 —Bank of America
    $10,425 —New York Life Insurance
    $10,000 —College of American Pathologists
    $10,000 —American College of Emergency Physicians
    $10,000 —Johnson & Johnson
    $10,000 —Raytheon Co
    $10,000 —Investment Co Institute
    $10,000 —Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance
    $10,000 —International Council of Shopping Cntrs
    $10,000 —Home Depot
    $10,000 —Farm Credit Council
    $10,000 —Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut
    $9,500 —Target Corp
    $9,382 —Brown-Forman Corp
    $9,000 —KPMG International
    $8,000 —Hearing Industries Assn
    $8,000 —Merck KGaA
    $7,500 —Plumbers/Pipefitters Union
    $7,500 —American College of Surgeons
    $7,000 —American Assn for Justice
    $7,000 —American Assn of Nurse Anesthetists

  26. Rich Rifkin

    $6,710 —Premier Pacific Vineyards
    $6,500 —Altria Group
    $6,500 —PricewaterhouseCoopers
    $6,500 —Federation of American Hospitals
    $6,500 —PPL Corp
    $6,500 —American Academy of Otolaryngology
    $6,500 —Ernst & Young
    $6,500 —American College of Radiology
    $6,400 —Capitol Counsel
    $6,000 —Wal-Mart Stores
    $6,000 —American Bankers Assn
    $6,000 —Air Line Pilots Assn
    $5,700 —Vision Service Plan
    $5,500 —Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu
    $5,500 —Pacific Mutual Holding
    $5,500 —Edison International
    $5,250 —Operating Engineers Union
    $5,250 —American Hospital Assn
    $5,000 —National Semiconductor Corp
    $5,000 —National Air Traffic Controllers Assn
    $5,000 —Natl Cmte to Preserve Social Security
    $5,000 —American Express
    $5,000 —Indep Insurance Agents & Brokers/America
    $5,000 —Beverly Enterprises
    $5,000 —International Assn of Fire Fighters
    $5,000 —McKesson Corp
    $5,000 —Wilson & Assoc
    $5,000 —National Beer Wholesalers Assn
    $5,000 —Honeywell International
    $5,000 —American Assn of Neurological Surgeons
    $5,000 —American Assn of Orthopaedic Surgeons
    $5,000 —American Society/Therapeutic Radiology
    $5,000 —Novartis AG
    $5,000 —National Rural Letter Carriers Assn
    $5,000 —Williams & Jensen
    $5,000 —American Institute of CPAs
    $5,000 —National Venture Capital Assn
    $5,000 —American Crystal Sugar
    $5,000 —Mortgage Bankers Assn
    $5,000 —UNITE HERE

  27. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”Spending money to get more money in return is something transparent and standard in a democratic free-market capitalist system with a functioning legal system to discover and prosecute corruption.”[/i]

    I would agree with that if you limit your idea to private enterprises spending money to increase sales to private parties who buy their goods. I don’t think it is the same thing when a defense contractor, for example, spends millions of dollars on campaign contributions every year in order to get billions of dollars of defense contracts it is the same thing.

    Lockheed Martin, for example, makes 100% of its money from government contracts. Often times, the products they are selling are not what our military objectively needs. But the DoD buys them anyhow. Why? Because Lockheed Martin buys off the people in the DoD (with later promises of employment) who make the decisions as to what we “need.” Lockheed then spends millions on every member of the Congress, save a small number who won’t take their money. Lockheed then spends more on the PACs run by and for key members of Congress, especially those on the Defense committees. And Lockheed will fund leadership PACs and they will fund party PACs and even things like the Congressional Black Caucus.

    The result is that whatever Lockheed wants to sell for whatever price Lockheed wants, our Congress is buying.

    And of course it is not just Lockheed. It’s the same with very small groups, such as our local olive growers. I recall reading some years back when Vic Fazio was in Congress that half of the profits from Lindhurst olives came from sales to the Dept. of Defense. Someone in the procurement section of the DoD has axed the line item for the purchase of large olives, because the DoD had found that soldiers, airmen, marines and so on did not like to eat large olives. They prefered small olives. But that was a problem, because in Fazio’s district (in the Marysville area), all of the olives are of the large, Lindhurst variety. So Fazio made sure that the line item to purchase Lindhurts olives was restored, insuring olive growers would make profits. (The olive growers, of course, spent a lot of money making sure Fazio was happy in the first place.) So the taxpayers buy millions of pounds of olives for military salad bars, and they sit there and rot.

    That, Jeff, is not the free enterprise system. It is the very nature of our corrupt democracy.

  28. Frankly

    “Lockheed Martin, for example, makes 100% of its money from government contracts.”

    Rich, you said it here. Lockheed makes their money from government contracts, then should they not be allowed to market to government decision-makers… their only customer? Also, I have managed large-budget, public-sector projects and the checks and balances to ensure “fair” contract awards are suffocating. With your story about Fazio’s olives, I think we may be on the same page. I don’t blame the private companies pursuing profit; I blame the politicians circumventing the natural laws of business for their personal gain (political or financial). I also blame government waste… purchasing things not needed or at too high a price.

  29. treeguy

    Jeff.

    You wrote:

    I don’t blame the private companies pursuing profit; I blame the politicians circumventing the natural laws of business

    What exactly are the “Natural Laws of Business?” the politicans are circumventing.

    Can you point me to a scientific/sociological text source describing them…or maybe a place where they can be observed in action in their pure form?

  30. Frankly

    Treeguy: “Can you point me to a scientific/sociological text source describing them…or maybe a place where they can be observed in action in their pure form?”

    Sorry. Here is a book that sits on a shelf of my management, leadership and business library: http://www.amazon.com/Natural-Laws-Business-Evolution-Economics/dp/0385501595/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

    I tend to see pure democratic free-market capitalism as being Darwinistic … largely self-correcting and evolutionary on a macro scale and timeline. At a more micro level there is the principle of price-value… consumers of any product and service will attempt to find the highest value at the lowest possible price (note: marketing attempts to increase the perceived value of a product or service). The competition toward this dual goal is what keeps entire industries efficient.

    But, when politicians and government bureaucrats meddle – say purchasing or promoting products or services for reasons other than price-value – they screw up the natural system of free competition and artificial prop up weakness in a natural evolutionary business sense.

    Now, I can easily concede that nothing in business or in nature behaves in an idealistic pure form for any extended period of time. However, we wring our hands over man’s influence and meddling in the natural environment. I see a similar problem with man meddling in the business environment. Business regulation should primarily exist to foster fair and abundant competition that ensures frequent and smaller market/industry corrections. When government meddling props up weakness, it masks true problems and creates pressures that lead to larger and more painful corrections later.

  31. treeguy

    Re: ? Natural Law of Business Politicians are Circumventing?

    Jeff!

    Thanks for your recommendation of this book on what these laws are:


    The Natural Laws of Business: How to Harness the Power of Evolution, Physics, and Economics to Achieve Business Success [Hardcover]
    By Richard Koch

    I’ll buy a copy.

    I note that the author Mr Kach is described as a “Businessman and entrepeneur”. Can you point to other more scientific text by a research scientist (hard or soft science) that would describe these natural laws?

    I know such an academic book cost might–as least compared to Mr Kach’s book- which is for sale of only $0.21 on Amazon.

    Can I assume its not a “natural rule” that prices are corrolated with value, but instead with this low price they are making it up with volume. (sorry, grin).

    More seriously,

    I think this is VERY IMPORTANT to have defined, substantial and scientifically proven “Natural Laws of Business”, laws that desribe the (God given?) Natural World underneath all cultures and political systems, just like physics, chemistry and biology does.

    If we can prove that these natural laws do exist, and educate the public on them, it will be clear it is just craziness for politicians to try to override “true law” just like it would be to for them try to ignore or “circumvent” the laws of gravity or evolution.

  32. wdf1

    I tend to see pure democratic free-market capitalism as being Darwinistic … largely self-correcting and evolutionary on a macro scale and timeline. At a more micro level there is the principle of price-value… consumers of any product and service will attempt to find the highest value at the lowest possible price (note: marketing attempts to increase the perceived value of a product or service). The competition toward this dual goal is what keeps entire industries efficient.

    Caveat: I haven’t read the book, so maybe I am missing something important.

    But I think you are probably assuming evolution working at an individualistic level, that if everyone works in their individual self interest, then the whole system works more efficiently.

    If you want to look at natural evolution for models of human economics, then there are also species that behave with socialist tendencies — ants, bees, schools of fish, herds of animals, even humans will cooperate together for better insured survival. Human cooperation isn’t mediated solely by free market economics. The banking crisis is an example of where looser (or lack) of regulations (a freer market) caused societal harm. Human empathy of one stranger to another (when there isn’t any clear economic gain) is probably a trait derived out of long term evolution (empathy to strangers means that the species likelier survives).

  33. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”Lockheed makes their money from government contracts, then should they not be allowed to market to government decision-makers… their only customer?”[/i]

    Market? Where are they marketing? There is no market. They are fixing the game by corrupting the politicians. Our system is corrupt. When you have privately financed political campaigns, this is what happens. It is the big scale of what happens with local firefighters’ unions funding council campaigns. Only it is worse with companies like Lockheed, because Congressmen get almost all of their funding from actors who have a hand out and because the money involved is so much larger.

    [i]”With your story about Fazio’s olives, I think we may be on the same page.”[/i]

    It’s really the same as with Lockheed. The only saving grace for the olive growers is that they sell some of their goods in the market; and thus we have some idea what a fair price is to pay for those olives.

    With the thieving defense contractors, the prices are totally bogus. That’s why they charge a ransom and then have “cost-overruns” on top of them.

    [i]”I don’t blame the private companies pursuing profit; I blame the politicians circumventing the natural laws of business for their personal gain (political or financial).”[/i]

    I understand. However, they are too sides to the same coin. The only good solution is to publicly finance political campaigns. If you believe in big, wasteful, bloated government, then you should believe in privately financed campaigns. With them, the real money which comes in comes from those who want bigger, fatter government to enrich them. It’s true that the pols who are a part of this system are mostly ethically corrupt. But their desire to better themselves against the public interest is really the same part of human nature which special interests have to better themselves. Sadly, this kind of backscratching does not increase the size of the pie–they are just making us all worse off for all they do.

    [i]”I also blame government waste… purchasing things not needed or at too high a price.”[/i]

    That is yet another byproduct of privately financed campaigns. The old story of the DoD buying $1,000 toilet seats is directly tied to a manufacturer of those seats funding the campaign of various Congressmen who then put in place a procurement officer who then ordered those seats at those high prices.

    If you don’t make the Congress dependent on private money, you don’t get that sort of corruption that defines the American system of government.

    One last note: A huge, impossible to believe lie is the idea that corruption of the sort we see every day will be routed out if every campaign donation is made public. Never mind that they are all public, now. The American people do not pay attention; and given the large volume of activities of Congress cannot pay attention to these daily crimes against them.

    It is rather uncommon to see the kind of bribery which was seen by Orange County Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham — who portrayed himself in public as Christ’s Vicar in the Congress until he was caught. Much more common is the run-of-the-mill corruption of men like Fazio, who for 20 years favor their donors with bogus deals, and then leave Congress for jobs as industry lobbyists paying $1 million per year or more.

  34. Rich Rifkin

    Here is a recent news story mentioning Fazio ([url]http://thatsmycongress.com/index.php/2010/04/14/lobbyists-to-call-on-ted-deutch/[/url]): [quote] Yesterday, Democrat Ted Deutch won a special election to represent the 19th congressional district in Florida. Deutch called the vote “a victory for the community and it’s a victory about issues.” It could also be regarded as a victory for the lobbyists who contributed money to Deutch’s campaign, and can now come to call upon Representative Ted Deutch to talk about the issues that are important to their clients.

    Among these lobbyists are the following:

    – Edward Ayoob, former legislative counsel to Senator Harry Reid who now is a lobbyist with Barnes & Thornburg, representing clients such as the Formaldehyde Council and gambling interests including the Poker Players Alliance and the Interactive Gaming Council.

    [b]- Former Congressman Vic Fazio, who presently works as a lobbyist for Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld on behalf of clients such as Dow Chemical, Pacific Investment Management, and Royal Dutch Shell.[/b]

    – Sandra Stuart used to be [b]Chief of Staff for Congressman Vic Fazio.[/b] Like Fazio, she has moved into the lobbying profession. She is employed by Clark & Weinstock. She represents many clients. Among them are General Dynamics, Yahoo, the Bechtel Group, and Lockheed Martin.

    – Paul Thornell once was the Deputy Director of Congressional Affairs for Vice President Dan Quayle. He now lobbies exclusively for the Citigroup Management Corporation. [/quote]

  35. Frankly

    “Human cooperation isn’t mediated solely by free market economics.”

    Agreed, but this is a backwards argument from my perspective. Human tendency to pursue their own self-interest is the fundamental driver of all human behavior. Even the most dedicated progressive altruist does charitable work pursuing his/her own self interest. The free market is simply a natural economic system derived from this natural human tendency in its most individually free sense.

    You can see examples of similar well-run, free-market models in Olympic sports. In swimming for example, the governing body sets rules to enhance individual competition, but not to influence outcomes. There is no collective cooperation beyond what enhances the opportunities for individual swimmers to succeed. There are losers and there are winners (many more losers) and records are broken almost every year. The medals won in this case, are synonymous with profit.

    “The banking crisis is an example of where looser (or lack) of regulations (a freer market) caused societal harm.”

    This is the conventional wisdom spouted by our mainstream media and left-leaning political class. However, there is a very important back story. In the 1980’s and 1990’s banks were hammered for failing to lend to minorities. Remember this was a big deal for Democrat Presidents starting with Carter and ending with Mr. “Ownership Society” Bush. During Carter, the Community Reinvestment Act was signed in response to this. If you were working in the banking industry at the time as I was, you would remember the heat of regulatory pressure for increasing the number of mortgage loans made to minorities. By no fault of the bank, these borrowers were much less credit worthy. To comply, the banks had to start creating new loan products while rewriting their credit standards. Hence the emergence of low-down, sub-prime mortgages. Meanwhile the Fed ensures several decades of below market interest rates, and Fannie and Freddie are allowed to grow to behemoth size to buy all the soon to be toxic real estate assets so banks, brokers, realtors, flippers, investors and individual buyers could all gorge themselves on easy profits.

    In a more pure free-market model, banks would not have politicians forcing changes to their business practices help them engineer society; banks would continue to lend only based on credit worthiness not race; banks would not have decades of below market interest rates to distort the true cost of funds; banks would not have a government supported toxic asset dump like Freddie and Fannie, and having to hold these loans on their own books, they would have made fewer risky loans.

    Don’t get me wrong, greed exists and I view the lack of business moral compass as a big culprit too. However, here is a perfect area that our political leadership should focus on… teaching by example a nation to behave with moral convictions. Instead they demonstrate the most selfish behavior while they lecture the successful and continue to meddle with the economic system.

  36. Frankly

    “If you don’t make the Congress dependent on private money, you don’t get that sort of corruption that defines the American system of government.”

    As I recall reading, during the constitutional convention, it was debated and we nearly ended up with house representation based on states’ private asset valuation rather than population. It would seem that a connection between wealth and influence were at least considered as being justified. Do wealthy companies have too much influence over politicians? Probably. Is it 100% bad? I don’t think so. Consider that Obama was elected on a populist platform, it seems there is a check and balance. Big business certainly didn’t want him to win. Big businesses may have more to gain trying to game the system, but they also have more to lose with political meddling. Again, I think you and I might have to agree to disagree with the primary culprit… I say it is politicians and government bureaucrats pimping themselves to businesses, and not the businesses doing what all businesses do… pursuing profit.

  37. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”Consider that Obama was elected on a populist platform, it seems there is a check and balance.”[/i]

    Nonsense. There is no check at all on the narrowest interests. Tell me who is checking the ethanol lobby? And how effective has that checking been? Who was there to check the olive growers interest I mentioned up-thread? No one. We have a system by the special interests, of the special interests and for the special interests.

    Our system has been like that from the very beginning. However, after the Civil War–when the railroads bought our federal government–it got much worse, because of the vast new scale of the railroad lobby, a scale of corruption the U.S. had not seen before.

    The second huge ramping up of corruption in our system came with the 1930s with the massive expansion of government. I am not a libertarian, but it is patently obvious that the libertarian observation about the size of government is correct–the more government you want, the more corruption you invite.

    Our government has grown and grown ever since the New Deal, making a giant leap up in the Great Society era, and then again with huge increases in defense contracting in the Reagan era.

    The result of our terribly corrupt system is to make a small classs of Americans very wealthy on the basis of government policy.

    [i]”Big business certainly didn’t want him to win.”[/i]

    Why not? Keep in mind that big business has many conflicting interests within it.

    One problem with our rotten system is that its vast reach has increased the economies of scale of business. The bigger government grows, the bigger business needs to grow in order to control the government. If we had a smaller government–which we would have but for private campaign finance–businesses would in general be smaller. But in order to keep up with the vast array of regulations, businesses of modest scale have trouble surviving long in most sectors.

  38. Frankly

    If we can prove that these natural laws do exist, and educate the public on them, it will be clear it is just craziness for politicians to try to override “true law” just like it would be to for them try to ignore or “circumvent” the laws of gravity or evolution

    treeguy: interesting idea. There is a journalist code of ethics that is rarely followed these days. Our politicians tell baldfaced lies on TV, and break the law without much regard. The “law” as so defined by our political class today is translated to mean “only that which I get caught breaking”, or “that which I can or cannot win in a court battle”.

    Did you ever watch any Star Trek? Gene Roddenberry wrote and produced the “Next Generation” as a sort of societal panacea that seems to more closely match the progressive dream… people of all races, all smart and well-educated with impressive jobs, all getting along for a common cause, all similarly compensated and lacking want of material things… where conflict was resolved at a cerebral level after emotions were rationalized. Then Roddenberry came up with the Deep Space Nine show. This was his story of a more likely future where conflict was the rule, not the exception. It was a story of ignorance… of class and race conflict, and economic stratification… it was organized chaos… with darker and less enlightened characters and a plot largely reflecting a selfish struggle of individuals to survive and thrive.

    I’m all for the Next Generation world view; but I think progressives are mistaking their exclusive high-cost and gated communities as proof that this is easily attainable through government control. When you leave our walled compound, you see that the world is more like Deep Space Nine. Hence, the best thing we should hope for is either a very high and strong set of walls to keep them out, or a very strong and robust economy to keep them working in organized chaos… so that they can become more enlightened through their success growing their self-sufficiency. Then one by one, these newly enlightened people will be allowed to pass through the gates of our walled compound to join the Next Generation.

  39. Frankly

    “Tell me who is checking the ethanol lobby? And how effective has that checking been? Who was there to check the olive growers interest I mentioned up-thread?”

    Rich: I think the answer is you, and those in your profession.

    “If we had a smaller government–which we would have but for private campaign finance–businesses would in general be smaller. But in order to keep up with the vast array of regulations, businesses of modest scale have trouble surviving long in most sectors.”

    I want to agree with this because it sounds so good. However, as much as I want smaller government, I don’t see the direct correlation with the size of business except in some industries. Microsoft for example, does not owe its size to the size of government. In fact, given the EU anti-trust actions against Microsoft, I would argue the net effect has been the opposite. If the government were not so damn inserted into the ethanol business, then this problem would not exist for that industry, correct?

    I absolutely agree that small and medium-sized businesses are being choked to death by oppressive regulatory burdens. This gets back to my desire to see government focus on providing a level playing field that fosters competition instead of trying to control the outcomes of entire industries. Keep in mind though, that smaller businesses can create a larger association that lobbies Congress. My company is small, yet the associate is 280 similar companies nationwide, and we have a full time lobbyist and staff trying to influence legislation that benefits our business. We cannot play the same game the big boys play, but we all have freedom to associate to create a larger voice.

    Again though, I am disgusted with politicians and government bureaucrats that can be bought inappropriately, and not the companies that pull out all the legal stops to get their way.

  40. wdf1

    Human tendency to pursue their own self-interest is the fundamental driver of all human behavior. Even the most dedicated progressive altruist does charitable work pursuing his/her own self interest. The free market is simply a natural economic system derived from this natural human tendency in its most individually free sense.

    I assume that you would likely take a bullet for any immediate family member. There are numerous instances of people rescuing non-family members in life-threatening danger, sometimes at risk to their lives (9/11 firefighters, for instance). In either instance, such people have often described an almost instinctive, non-conscious reaction. There was no conscious calculation, “how do I personally come out ahead, here?”

    How do these examples figure into your model?

  41. wdf1

    but I think progressives are mistaking their exclusive high-cost and gated communities as proof that this is easily attainable through government control.

    An exclusive high-cost, gated community as a symbol of progressivism???

    Where does that idea come from?

  42. Frankly

    “How do these examples figure into your model?”

    Yes I would take a bullet, or the cancer, or give an organ. My self interest is to protect them before I protect myself… especially my children. From a macro and biological perspective that would seem to make sense. Other family members, and possibly strangers too… somewhat because of how I see myself and how I desire to be seen living or dead. I always strive to do the right thing. Regrets suck.

    You just need to get a bit more abstract with the “self interest” bit. The most profound example is the soldier… him flinging himself over a live grenade to save fellow soldiers. Even if this is trained in him to be an automatic or duty-bound response, you could go back to the original motivation to join the service in the first place. That act of saving or heroism is a very strong motivating factor and is often driven by some self-interest… if only the interest of not being labeled as the person that didn’t do the best or right thing.

    I’m not discounting extraordinary and heroic acts that measure as more selfless, but they are all rooted in fulfilling some human need or interest. In a more evolved person, it could be their need for self actualization or identification. Simply said, something motivates all human actions.

  43. Frankly

    “An exclusive high-cost, gated community as a symbol of progressivism???

    Where does that idea come from?”

    The most liberal communities tend to be the most expensive to live. Do you disagree with that point?

  44. wdf1

    The most liberal communities tend to be the most expensive to live. Do you disagree with that point?

    When I think of expensive places to live in the Sacramento area, I think of Folsom, Granite Bay, and Davis off the top of my head (maybe I’m missing something). Davis supports your contention, but Folsom and Granite are represented by Republicans and have higher per capita household incomes, according to wikipedia demographic stats.

    Either those two are strong affluent conservative areas, or else they are affluent liberal enclaves surrounded immediately by high concentrations of conservative voters that negate any liberal sway they could have.

    I lean toward the former, that they are affluent conservative communities.

  45. Frankly

    Folsom and Granite are represented by Republicans and have higher per capita household incomes

    Maybe, but that does not make them more expensive to live in. Granite Bay maybe… but certainly not Folsom. Granite Bay is sort of a unique wealthy enclave in the hills. Although, I’m not sure Granite Bay and Folsom are very strong conservative areas now after so many Bay Area residents have moved there over the last decade or two. Davis is a college town, otherwise it would probably have the demographics of Dixon and Woodland… and it would probably be as affordable too.

    Look to the expensive coastal areas where the map is almost exclusively blue and then compare that to the interior and South where the reds live. Also, consider that more expensive urban areas tend to be blue, and most rural areas tend to be red. My point I think is easy to accept… that it is more expensive to live among liberals… for whatever reason.

    Honestly though, you would not welcome my Nebraska relatives to your typical Davis cocktail party. It is not a worry though, because absolutely none of my Nebraska relatives could afford to live here… and most of them wouldn’t consider it because they think even I am a flaming liberal!

  46. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”This gets back to my desire to see government focus on providing a level playing field that fosters competition instead of trying to control the outcomes of entire industries.”[/i]

    That ideal cannot be met within our corrupt system of privately financed elections. We have made all elections dependent on private money; private money tells the elected what they want; and a level playing is not what they want. They want to use politics to give themselves an advantage. Often, that means MORE regulations, because those big companies can adjust to the regulations when their smaller rivals cannot. But ALWAYS the advantage means feeding at the public trough, as unions do with their advantages won from their congressmen and as farm groups do and defense contractors do and paper suppliers do and on and on. The idea of putting lots of money into politics is to make an uneven playing field in which the givers get out far more in return than they put in.

  47. Rich Rifkin

    [b]JEFF:[/b] “The most liberal communities tend to be the most expensive to live. Do you disagree with that point?”[/b]

    It’s really kind of a mixed bag. I think you can say that most liberal, academically oriented towns full of whites and Asians which retard growth and often overplan development and have better public schools tend to be expensive places to live, though Berkeley has managed to mix in a lot of poverty.

    But then there are plenty of very poor and poorly educated towns full mostly of blacks and browns — say Carson or Compton or Oak Park — which are also liberal, elect liberals to office and are inexpensive to live in.

  48. Rich Rifkin

    I won’t bother to look up the party registration records of the cities along the SF peninsula, but I would guess that those with the highest Republican registration numbers are the most expensive towns, such as Los Altos Hills, Woodside, Atherton and Hillsborough. And those with the highest percentage of Democratic registration are the least expensive towns, such as Redwood City, East Palo Alto, South San Francisco and Daily City. The one major exception is probably Palo Alto, which being a university town is liberal and wealthy.

  49. Don Shor

    “The most liberal communities tend to be the most expensive to live. Do you disagree with that point?”

    It certainly wasn’t true in Southern California where I grew up.

  50. Frankly

    “It certainly wasn’t true in Southern California where I grew up.”

    I differentiate Democrat from liberal/progressive. I assume from some of the comments, that this is not necessarily a shared view. However, I assume a liberal/progressive would have not voted for Reagan nor Prop 8, but many Democrats did… so there seems to be a difference. Someone educate me why we have these different labels if all are one in the same.

    Here is a map to play with… http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-2008election-california-results,0,3304898.htmlstory

  51. itsme

    Wow! This discussion really took off in all sorts of directions and mostly ended up with gross generalities.

    Whatever anyone thinks is corrupting our democracy, go out and try to correct it.

    As for me, I’ll just work on getting corporate $$$/power out of government. That should be enough.

    The comment with Thompson’s campaign contributions could be useful; please provide the source and dates of the data. We need to know whose paying our representatives in government.

    Thanks

  52. Don Shor

    “It certainly wasn’t true in Southern California where I grew up.”

    I differentiate Democrat from liberal/progressive.

    Growing up in San Diego County in the 1960’s, all of the wealthiest communities (La Jolla and Rancho Santa Fe) were by far the most conservative and Republican. Barry Goldwater carried San Diego County. Impeach Earl Warren signs were common. The liberal, Democratic districts there are and were the ethnic enclaves near the downtown: overwhelmingly African-American Logan Heights, and the Hispanic-dominated districts closer to the border. In general in Southern California, ethnic and low-income districts vote overwhelmingly Democratic/liberal, and white high-income districts vote Republican. Looking at maps of the counties of California will give a skewed impression. The differences are urban/suburban/rural, ethnic/white, and low/high income.

  53. Don Shor

    “I absolutely agree that small and medium-sized businesses are being choked to death by oppressive regulatory burdens.”
    This is one of the most persistent beliefs of conservatives.
    I have been in three different businesses in my career: retail nursery, landscape contractor, and pest control operator. Each is pretty heavily regulated, for good reasons. I’d be curious what oppressive regulatory burdens you have in mind.
    The ones that told me to report what chemicals I sprayed, or how to manage my employees who were applying restricted chemicals?
    The ones that required me to post a bond and perform landscape installations in a responsible manner?
    The ones that have the ag commissioner checking traps in my nursery for 3 – 4 different invasive pests every week or so right now?
    The ones that restrict the movement of nursery stock in the state, preventing the transmission of insects and diseases that would devastate various agricultural crops?
    The fees that I pay/paid to keep those regulatory agencies funded?

  54. Frankly

    “We’ll keep your true identity a secret. 😉 “

    LOL… They won’t believe you since they already know I drink fancy beer in a bottle and eat “bait” (sushi).

    “Looking at maps of the counties of California will give a skewed impression.”

    I’ll say. Look at this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:CA2008House.svg and it looks like Democrats have claimed all the expensive coastal property except for that unpopulated bit between southern LA and San Diego. How is a good Republican supposed to get through the ideological boarder crossing guards to visit the beach?

    “I’d be curious what oppressive regulatory burdens you have in mind. “

    For starters, just try to change a light bulb in your building. Other than that, let me show you the finance audit, tax and labor compliance reporting for a 20-employee 501c(4). It takes a full professional FTE and about 50% of a professional contract FTE per year and copious management time. I can’t wait until Obamacare really kicks because I’m sure that will clear up my company’s health insurance management workload.

    I suppose you can justify just about every single regulation as being necessary and beneficial, but that doesn’t change the fact that many are oppressive burdens to small business.

  55. Don Shor

    I don’t get it. I need a light bulb, I go buy one and install it. What’s your point?

    “501(c)(4) organizations are generally civic leagues and other corporations operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare, or local associations of employees with membership limited to a designated company or people in a particular municipality or neighborhood, and with net earnings devoted exclusively to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes.” How is that a “small business?” If you’re tax exempt, I do expect you’ll have to do a lot of paperwork to justify that status.

    “that unpopulated bit between southern LA and San Diego.”
    Unpopulated?!

  56. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”The comment with Thompson’s campaign contributions could be useful; please provide the source and dates of the data.”[/i]

    Look here ([url]http://www.opensecrets.org/[/url]).

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