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Foreign Follies: Taxpayer-Funded Wind Turbine In Wales Would Take 757 Years To Break Even

A £50,000 pound (about $85,500) taxpayer-funded wind turbine that was installed outside a government building in Wales is set to be torn down after it was revealed that the structure was only generating £5 pound worth of electricity a month. At that output it would have taken 757 years for the turbine to pay for itself. Apparently the Welsh government was warned before construction that the proposed site would be insufficient due to its location within a valley and surrounded by tall buildings. If only the state could legislate the direction of the wind…

“The manufacturer of the turbine, Quiet Revolution, are said to have warned the Welsh government that they had chosen a poor location for it. It is rumored that politicians were so keen to prove their green credentials they ignored the advice from their own experts. The result was that the turbine produced so little energy that it was not worth maintaining.”

California Grants $420 Million Dollars in Tax Incentives To Lockheed-Martin

If you’re an aerospace contractor in California don’t worry about paying your taxes. The California state legislature voted in favor of providing $420 million in tax incentives to Lockheed Martin for them to locate production of a new stealth bomber at their facilities in the state. Apart from these incentives being incredibly unsound policy, multi-billion dollar companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing hardly need government handouts at the expense of smaller firm who don’t have privilege of friends in high places.

“Narrow incentives such as these are not sound tax policy. They rarely succeed in their aims of “creating” jobs, and create major distortions as existing companies foot the full freight of the tax bill in order to provide incentives to other favored firms and new investments.”

What Year Did Your State Adopt Its Income Tax?

State sales taxes are almost ubiquitous today, but in the early 1900’s they were unheard of. The Tax Foundation released a map of when states adopted their sales tax. Missouri is the oldest, having first adopted its tax in 1930. Vermont was the last to adopt a tax in 1969. Currently only five states do not have any sales tax – Alaska, Montana, New Hampshire, Delaware, and Oregon.

“Generally, states imposed sales taxes as a supplemental revenue source to existing personal or corporate income taxes. However, twelve states (mostly in the Rust Belt and the Northeast) adopted a sales tax before their individual income tax, and nine states did so before their corporate income tax. Five states (Rhode Island, Indiana, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nebraska) implemented their sales tax in conjunction with their corporate tax; the latter four adopted individual income taxes the same year as well.”

Tennessee School District Bake Sales Limited to 30 Days A Year

Bake sales are traditionally a boon to school clubs wishing to raise money for trips or other large purchases. As such, they can be a strong introduction to entrepreneurial thinking for many students. However, due to new “guidelines” from the federal government, Tennessee school districts can now only have bake sales for 30 days of the year. It is even more limited than it first seems – any food-related activity during school hours counts as one of those days. This quickly adds up and can leave clubs lacking for funds.

“That means if the Spanish club sells sausage biscuits one morning, that’s one day. If there’s a school-wide event where all the teachers cook hamburgers for the seniors, then that’s a day. If there’s a day when the parents do pizza for the entire school, that’s a day. If it’s 10 kids or 1,000 kids, it’s still counting as one of those events.”

EPA Regulations Will Close Down 68 Year Old Peach Orchard

According to a report from Watchdog, a peach orchard in Louisiana will be forced to closed after a chemical keeping its trees alive was banned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The orchard was established in 1946 and is one of the largest in the state.

“Mitcham (the orchard’s owner) told Watchdog the federal regulations have also forced him to downsize his business from 60 employees to 20. ‘Well, with more acreage to use we would be prospering,” Mitcham said. “We had the potential to be a million dollar business, but definitely not now.’”

Last Week In Regulation

According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, last week 79 new regulations were added to the Federal Register which places the current tally at 1,749 regulations on 38,201 pages. So far this year, 315 new rules will affect small businesses.

“The total estimated compliance costs of 2014’s economically significant regulations currently ranges from $3.96 billion to $4.38 billion. They also affect several billion dollars of government spending.”

UPDATE: Little Free Library to Remain in Leawood, Kansas

Little Spencer Collins loves to read, and in an effort to share this enthusiasm with those in his community, the boy set up a “take a book, leave a book” structure in his front yard. Sensing Collins’ passion for reading (but also displeased that his collection lacked a copy of city ordinance), the Leawood City Council threw the book at the nine-year-old, ordering him to remove the small structure or face citations. Weeks of public outcry from the order prompted the city council to unanimously approve a moratorium that would exempt the Little Free Library from city code. Way to go, kid! From The Kansas City Star:

“As soon as the moratorium passed, Mayor Peggy Dunn called Spencer to the front of the room to hand him a book for his library, an action that received applause from the room.”

Pennsylvania Joins List of States Banning Uber and Lyft

In the government’s never-ending march against innovation, Pennsylvania has joined the growing list of states that are banning ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft. It is hardly surprising that entrenched special interests like the taxi industry would fight to maintain their monopoly, but it is hardly beneficial for consumers.

“The PUC [Public Utilities Commission] contends that both companies are operating as unlicensed transportation brokers in the state and are using non-certified drivers to provide their services.”

LA Schools Throw Good Money at Bad Technology

Good intentions pave the path to wasted spending and bureaucracy. Aiming to improve tech-literacy and ease the burden of hauling physical books, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the nation’s second largest district, spent $1 billion of taxpayer money to give every kid an iPad. Expectedly, the experiment was wrought with failure; teachers misunderstood usage schemes and students quickly overcame security filters. Instead of cutting its losses and regrouping, the LAUSD has pledged to spend up to $40 million more to give students laptops, allowing them to choose between six different options.  LAUSD wagers that the options will allow schools and students to choose the device that fits best, but it’s an awfully expensive hope. The innovation of blended classrooms, which utilize both online learning and traditional teaching, may truly improve educational outcomes. Unfortunately, the LAUSD is not making that connection, but it will keep trying… and spending. From latimes.com:

In support of additional spending and laptop options, LAUSD school board member Monica Ratliff said, “The benefit of the new approach is clear. Why would we treat all our students — whether they are a first-grader or a high school freshman — as if they all had the same technology needs? They don’t…. To have a one-device-fits-all approach does not make sense.”

Proposed FDA Rules Could Snuff Out 119-Year-Old Cigar Business

J.C. Newman Cigar Company dates back 119 years to the second Cleveland administration, yet new proposed regulations by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could threaten its continued existence. The family business based out of Tampa, Florida, is known for relying on vintage, hand-operated equipment from the 1930s to produce relatively inexpensive cigars. But the FDA wants to limit youth access to tobacco, so it aims to make cigars more expensive. The new rules would require the company to obtain federal approval before offering new products, submit its cigars for “rigorous scientific review,” and comply with new manufacturing methods. Additionally, the company would be forced to pay the FDA a user fee to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. From Watchdog.org:

“‘Cigars are to Tampa what wine is to Napa Valley and what automobiles are to Michigan,’ [the company's president, Eric Newman,] said … Many of J.C. Newman’s employees come from one-time competitors that are no longer in business. If the facility goes under, there is no other factory in Tampa where cigar makers will be able to apply their skills.”

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