Pennsylvania offers tax credits for research and development, and has hit its capped total – currently $55 million. This raises a question: should governments be providing tax credits for R&D? Why? And if so, what types of R&D? How does the state know that it’s supporting the most valuable research and development efforts for society? These are questions about consumer preferences – a question that government’s are typically ill-equipped to answer.
The Institute for Justice is taking the case of animal massage therapists to Arizona’s courts. Curiously, the state requires training that doesn’t necessarily include message therapy. From IJ:
Massage therapists do not need a medical degree to massage humans, but entrepreneurs who want to massage animals in Arizona must spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to attend four years of veterinary school where they are not even required to learn massage. The consequences of failing to comply are severe—animal massage therapists face up to six months in jail and fines of $3,500 per violation.
Everything is bigger in Texas, even government waste. In 2012, a high school in Dallas spent $60 million of taxpayer money on an 18,000 seat stadium. Now, just 18 months after construction was completed, the structure has been closed due to extensive cracks some ranging as much as three-quarters of an inch wide. That a high school would build such a stadium to begin with is mind boggling but a high school wasting taxpayer dollars on a structure that can’t even be used is much worse.
“District officials defended the cost — an eye-popping figure even in football-mad Texas, home to hundreds of schools playing under the ‘Friday Night Lights’ — by calling the stadium an investment for generations of future Eagles fans and a much-needed upgrade from the district’s previous 35-year-old field.”
Washington, D.C was the first city in the country to mandate “Leadership in Energy Design” (LEED) standards for public buildings. These “environmentally friendly” buildings are supposed to use less energy than non-LEED buildings, but a new study by Environmental Policy Alliance shows that LEED buildings actually use more energy. Why would the city continue to mandate something that is ineffective? Since 2010 the city has collected $5.2 million in permit fees.
“’LEED certification is little more than a fancy plaque displayed by these green’ buildings, charged Anastasia Swearingen, LEED Exposed’s lead researcher on the project. ‘Previous analyses of energy use by LEED-certified buildings have consistently shown that LEED ratings have no bearing on actual energy efficiency.’“
One school superintendent in California won’t be receiving any fan mail for a while, after local taxpayers learned of his exorbitant annual salary. The superintendent oversees only four schools and 6,637 students but makes $665,365 a year. His salary is completely ridiculous when compared to the superintendent of a nearby district who oversees 900 schools and 655,494 students, but makes $389,997 a year.
“In addition to the lucrative paycheck, the school board has also provided a sweetheart mortgage deal to help Fernandez buy his suburban home. This mortgage benefit – a $910,000 loan at just 2 percent interest – was especially helpful for Fernandez, given his financial troubles. Fernandez recently emerged from bankruptcy.”
Cato At Liberty points out that federal revenue from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are considered offsets to federal spending. So if the federal government is paid $100 billion in dividends, the federal government subtracts $100 billion from its net outlays figure.
Thus the government was reported to have spent $3.5 trillion in fiscal 2013, but without the F&F offset spending was $3.6 trillion. It is a similar story in 2014. And without the F&F dividends, federal deficits would be about $100 billion a year greater than reported.
Despite not being required for thirty years, Alabama has reinstated licensing for barbers. Future barbers in the state will now need to complete 1,000 hours of education or work under a licensed barber for 2,000 hours. The law contains a grandfather clause, allowing current barbers to avoid the education and examination requirements to obtain a license. It would only take 42 days of training to become an EMT and no training at all to become a pharmacy technician.
“Until now, Alabama has been the last state not to require a license to become a barber. Mr. McKee [executive director of the Alabama Board of Cosmetology] believes this is reason enough to regulate the industry: “If everybody else is doing it, there’s got to be a reason why they’re doing it, and that’s a pretty good argument to have regulation.” This rationale has rarely been a good reason for doing anything. If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would Mr. McKee think Alabama should follow?”
Michigan awarded millions toward various business this year, including $4.5 toward a manufacturing plant, $2 million toward a new airplane hanger, and $500,000 toward an online brokerage firm – funding that raises the question: why is the state giving money to businesses? Cars are built, airplanes fly, and brokerage firms are established without the aid of government on a regular basis. Why is tax payer money expended on these ventures?
The state now focuses on offering grants, loans and other economic assistance to companies that make investments or create jobs in Michigan. Companies must meet certain investment or job creation milestones in order to receive the incentives.
The National Science Foundation has awarded a grant to the University of Iowa to study “social influences on risky cycling and pedestrian behavior.” In other words, the $356,337 grant will be used to study how people cross the road. The money will be used to install a second virtual reality station on the campus, designed to immerse the subject in a simulated environment. While the technology is certainly interesting, it is questionable why the taxpayer is footing the bill.
“On the behavioral side, this research will advance an understanding of social influences on risk taking by studying how children interact with friends or parents in the context of crossing roads, an everyday and yet risky activity. Researchers hope the project will contribute ‘to an understanding of the risk factors for car-bicycle and car-pedestrian collisions.’”
Earlier this year, the USDA announced an interest free loan worth $798,000 that will ultimately fund the construction of a popcorn processing facility. From the High Plains/Midwest AG Journal:
Nebraska Central Telephone Company at Gibbon is receiving a Rural Economic Development Loan of $798,000. The project will loan funds to Popcorn County USA at North Loup, Neb., for the construction of a modernized popcorn processing facility to replace the out-dated facility.