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1/3 Oklahoma’s Budget Dedicated to Corporate Incentive Payouts

The New Economy-How do we like it so far?

The New Economy-How do we like it so far?

Kaye Beach

Dec. 3, 2012

Welcome to the New Economy!

The New York Times spent 10 months investigating business incentives awarded by hundreds of cities, counties and states. Since there is no nationwide accounting of these incentives, The Times put together a database and found that local governments give up:

  • $80.3 billion in incentives each year
  • 1,874 No. of program

Check out the interactive map that shows spending incentive spending state by state here

Oklahoma

Oklahoma spends at least $2.19 billion per year on incentive programs, according to the most recent data available. That is roughly:

  • $584 per capita
  • 37¢ per dollar of state budget

Read more about Oklahoma

Here is the NYT accompanying news report;

Tax Incentives to Companies Bleeding Towns Dry, With Few Results

Sunday, 02 December 2012 09:51 By Louise Story, The New York Times News Service | Report

In the end, the money that towns across America gave General Motors did not matter.

When the automaker released a list of factories it was closing during bankruptcy three years ago, communities that had considered themselves G.M.’s business partners were among the targets.

For years, mayors and governors anxious about local jobs had agreed to G.M.’s demands for cash rewards, free buildings, worker training and lucrative tax breaks. As late as 2007, the company was telling local officials that these sorts of incentives would “further G.M.’s strong relationship” with them and be a “win/win situation,” according to town council notes from one Michigan community.

Yet at least 50 properties on the 2009 liquidation list were in towns and states that had awarded incentives, adding up to billions in taxpayer dollars, according to data compiled by The New York Times.

Some officials, desperate to keep G.M., offered more. Ohio was proposing a $56 million deal to save its Moraine plant, and Wisconsin, fighting for its Janesville factory, offered $153 million.

But their overtures were to no avail. G.M. walked away and, thanks to a federal bailout, is once again profitable. The towns have not been so fortunate, having spent scarce funds in exchange for thousands of jobs that no longer exist.

One township, Ypsilanti, Mich., is suing over the automaker’s departure. “You can’t just make these promises and throw them around like they’re spare change in the drawer,” said Doug Winters, the township’s attorney.

Yet across the country, companies have been doing just that. And the giveaways are adding up to a gigantic bill for taxpayers.

A Times investigation has examined and tallied thousands of local incentives granted nationwide and has found that states, counties and cities are giving up more than $80 billion each year to companies. The beneficiaries come from virtually every corner of the corporate world, encompassing oil and coal conglomerates, technology and entertainment companies, banks and big-box retail chains.

The cost of the awards is certainly far higher. A full accounting, The Times discovered, is not possible because the incentives are granted by thousands of government agencies and officials, and many do not know the value of all their awards. Nor do they know if the money was worth it because they rarely track how many jobs are created. Even where officials do track incentives, they acknowledge that it is impossible to know whether the jobs would have been created without the aid.

“How can you even talk about rationalizing what you’re doing when you don’t even know what you’re doing?” said Timothy J. Bartik, a senior economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo, Mich.

The Times analyzed more than 150,000 awards and created a searchable database of incentive spending. The survey was supplemented by interviews with more than 100 officials in government and business organizations as well as corporate executives and consultants.

A portrait arises of mayors and governors who are desperate to create jobs, outmatched by multinational corporations and short on tools to fact-check what companies tell them. Many of the officials said they feared that companies would move jobs overseas if they did not get subsidies in the United States.

Over the years, corporations have increasingly exploited that fear, creating a high-stakes bazaar where they pit local officials against one another to get the most lucrative packages. States compete with other states, cities compete with surrounding suburbs, and even small towns have entered the race with the goal of defeating their neighbors.

While some jobs have certainly migrated overseas, many companies receiving incentives were not considering leaving the country, according to interviews and incentive data.

Read more

Best Buy’s Worst Policy-Swiping ID’s and Destiny Management

Kaye Beach

April, 14, 2012

Best Buy (and Victoria’s Secret and The Finish Line and many other stores!) Requires Govt. Issued Photo ID for ALL Returns.

The ID card data is swiped, stored and shared with a third party  to track customer purchases and “to monitor the return behavior of shoppers; and warn or deny individuals flagged as questionable” Link to The Retail Equation, Inc.’s brochure

 

Best Buy’s return policy;

Returns Tracking

When you return or exchange an item in store, we require a valid photo ID. Some of the information from your ID may be stored in a secure database used to track returns and exchanges. Based on return/exchange patterns, some customers will be warned that subsequent purchases will not be eligible for returns or exchanges for 90 days. . .

Link

. . . And how do we like it so far?

I’m Done With Best Buy Thanks to The Retail Equation

03-18-2012 02:37 PM

I am a premier silver member and have been for several years.  In November of last year, I received a warning in store that I could not make any returns at Best Buy for 90 days.  So for the next 90 days I did not make any purchases at Best Buy.

Yesterday, I spent over 700.00 on the new Ipad and an Invisible Shield.  The Invisible Shield was not installed correctly and Best Buy decided to give me a refund.  Keep in mind that this was only 29.99 of the amount I spent.  This was the first purchase I have made since the 90 days had expired.  I figured that I could return something that was actually not working correctly and be fine.  However I received another warning today saying that I could not return anything for 90 days even though the product was not working correctly.

It sounds like The Retail Equation (TRE) does not take into consideration that some returns might be valid due to defective products.  All TRE looks at is how many returns and that is not a fair way to evaluate whether someone is abusing a return policy.   In the end, Best Buy has lost a premier silver member.  Amazon and other online retailers will gladly accept my business going forward.  Best Buy seriously needs to find another way to evaluate returns instead of TRE.  Their method simply does not work.

http://forums.bestbuy.com/t5/Best-Buy-Geek-Squad-Policies/I-m-Done-With-Best-Buy-Thanks-to-The-Retail-Equation/td-p/486051

Another unhappy Best Buy customer is suing them over their “swiping” policy.

How does this work?  According to the Retail Equation, Inc.,

“The technology’s predictive modeling measured the likelihood of fraudulent or abusive behavior, as well as the likelihood of a consumer’s profitability”

 Predictive Analytics

From Wikipedia  Predictive analytics encompasses a variety of statistical techniques from modeling, machine learning, data mining and game theory that analyze current and historical facts to make predictions about future events.

Data mining and predictive analytics is being used in just about every aspect of our lives.  Predictive analytics applies a mathematical formula to masses of data to predict what a person is more or less likely to do in the future.  Decisions are being made that affects our lives, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse, every day.

For example, in our schools;

“They use their technology infrastructure to gather and analyze data on the factors that are most predictive of students who are in danger of school failure and/or dropping out.  . . .As a result, the district has forged new partnerships with local law enforcement agencies”

From the Oklahoma Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development pg 26

If you think it stinks when you are misidentified as a naughty shopper, wait till you are misidentified as a “troubled individual”

Technology identifies troubled individuals

Sept 26, 2010

Imagine using the same technology to locate a lone bomber before he carries out his terrorist act and to identify a troubled veteran or first responder ground down by tragedies and violence.

Stop imagining.

A Swiss professor working with a Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist who heads the Mind Machine Project there outlined how this program operates through computerized scanning of phone calls and electronic messages sent through e-mail and social networking mechanisms.

. . . Using character traits that have been identified through psychological profiles conducted on lone bombers following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Guidere said he and his colleagues developed programs that isolate signs pointing to a potential terrorist.

He said lone bombers, in particular, are not mentally deranged but harbor hatred and deep resentment toward government. Their emotional spikes, Guidere explained, can be identified by the computer program.

The practical side is that once the individual has been identified, the information can be passed along to authorities so surveillance can begin. . .

Read more

The burgeoning use of driver’s license scanning devices makes tracking and monitoring of the population much easier.  When these data are held in separate databases there are plenty of security and privacy concerns but if the databases are linked or matched with other databases or shared-watch out!  The negative implications explode at that point.

In case you are wondering just what information is in those bar codes on your driver’s license, here is a link for you to follow and find out.

And here is a great article from 2002 which is ancient history from a technology capability perspective, but it does a great job of allowing us to begin to consider the implications of widespread scanning of our government issued photo ID’s .

Welcome to the Database Lounge

Published: March 21, 2002

ABOUT 10,000 people a week go to The Rack, a bar in Boston favored by sports stars, including members of the New England Patriots. One by one, they hand over their driver’s licenses to a doorman, who swipes them through a sleek black machine. If a license is valid and its holder is over 21, a red light blinks and the patron is waved through.

But most of the customers are not aware that it also pulls up the name, address, birth date and other personal details from a data strip on the back of the license. Even height, eye color and sometimes Social Security number are registered.

”You swipe the license, and all of a sudden someone’s whole life as we know it pops up in front of you,” said Paul Barclay, the bar’s owner. ”It’s almost voyeuristic.”

Mr. Barclay bought the machine to keep out underage drinkers who use fake ID’s. But he soon found that he could build a database of personal information, providing an intimate perspective on his clientele that can be useful in marketing. ”It’s not just an ID check,” he said. ”It’s a tool.”

Read More

Swiping of driver’s licenses is being required for buying gas (in case you try to leave without paying), for entry to public schools (in case you might be child predator and if you are misidentified as a sex offender, which happens often enough, well, stinks for you!), for buying cold medicine, for entry to bars and casinos, San Francisco wants ID swipes for most public events, Harlem wants tenants to swipe to gain entry to their homes,  and now, the TSA is swiping  airline passengers’ ID’s .

 

TSA tests ID-scanning machines at Washington Dulles

April 14, 2012

The Transportation Security Administration began an experiment today at Washington’s Dulles International Airport to check identification and boarding passes by machine rather than just the visual check by officers.

While TSA officers have been checking identification with black-lights and magnifying glasses, the machines are geared to recognize all valid identification, ranging from driver’s license or passport to tribal identification or foreign passport.

“For efficiency, it is fantastic,” said Domenic Bianchini, TSA director of checkpoint technology. “We think it’s a valuable technology and we think over time we will see the real value added.”

The machine doesn’t store any personal information about the passenger, according to Greg Soule, a TSA spokesman.

Gee.  When have we heard that before?

Although TSA has repeatedly stated that the scanners were “incapable of storing or transmitting” scanner images, despite specification data to the contrary provided by the respective manufacturers. In August 2010 EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) discovered that the TSA had stored over 2,000 images, which the agency quickly claimed were of “volunteers” without specifying who compose this group or whether any were passengers who had “voluntarily” used the scanners in the testing phase.

Read more

The TSA is conducting the driver’s license “experiment” at Dulles, Houston and Puerto Rico but hopes to eventually “expand the program to every airport checkpoint” Read more

At some point in the not-so-distant-future, we will be required to show and/or swipe our driver’s license for just about everything we as humans need to live.  As the process grows more and more automated and the data is digitized, we will find our movements, transactions and habits logged and our lives tracked and documented.    Data mining and predictive analytics will be applied to nearly everything we do.  The purpose of such credentialing processes is to allow some access and deny others, deemed unworthy by algorithm, access.

In 2010 I was repeatedly denied the ability to pay for my purchases by check due to a company called Certegy’s algorithm which decided that since I rarely write checks but had written several during the Christmas shopping season, this indicated that I was untrustworthy and that stores should not accept my checks.  The year before, I was denied the privilege of renting a car because my credit score was too low.  My credit score is low because I don’t buy on credit!  I wasn’t asking to pay for the rental with credit either.  I offered my debit card.

Chances are you have experienced similar incidents.  Chances are that we have encountered other bumps in the road of life when no explanation for the problem was ever given but likely there was some algorithm behind it.  This is our future.  In health care, travel, purchases, renting or buying our homes, anything information about us that can be digitized can be factored in to determine whether or not we measure up.  This is nothing short of destiny management.

With the governments unhealthy focus on security at all costs, we can expect things to get more and more complicated as the practice of tracking and tracing and databasing everything we do grows. Woe to those that are unfortunate enough to be perceived as a possible threat or have a data trail that makes them appear less than an ideal citizen in the eyes of Big Momma Gov. who is no longer willing to wait for us to actually do something wrong before she pounces.  This government (and its partner corporations) wants to play psychic and limit our opportunities based on some supposed prescient power that indicates that we are more likely to do something naughty in the first place.

How do we exercise our free will when it is being effectively pre-empted?