Friday, January 30, 2015

No. 000088 Why Exclusivity Means the Ram's (and NFL's) Business Model is Flawed and Hence the need for a public subsidy for a #STLNFL Stadium

The human drama of people watching athletic competitions:

Not to an economist who sees what you do not see. This is stunning evidence of the contradiction that lies at the heart of the NFL's flawed business model and which compels it to seek public subsidies.
What you see is that the NFL wants to sell exclusivity, an experience that you are special, to the .5% that can network among themselves in their exclusive "box, just like the owners."
What you may feel uncomfortable about discussing is that, due to the psychology of human misjudgment, the rest of us, the lower 99.5% are involved in watching the .5% in their exclusivity. Think not. Why does every TV telecast feature the obligatory cutaway to the owner's box, with or without notable visitors?
Consider Chris Christie. If he could buy a ticket to give the hug, what would he be willing to pay? A lot.

Due to the desire for status, exclusivity has immense value. Saint Louis blessed the World by giving it two extraordinary observers of life and the human personality, Jack Buck and Yoggi Berra. Here is Mr. Berra explaining the conundrum facing NFL owners.

"Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."
There is the rub. The average fan in the seats would pay dearly to rub shoulders with the elite in the sky boxes but the elite in the sky boxes are not about to rub shoulders with the average fan.
Thus, simply put, the owners cannot capture the value that would be created if Average Joe would network with an elite of his or her choice.
And so we have had public financing of stadiums for thousands of years for, as Harry Truman always reminded us, "The only thing new in the World is history you don't know," because human nature never changes.
The Average Joe want's to tell his co-workers, I was at the game yesterday for exactly same reasons the elite want to tell their co-workers, I was in the company box yesterday.
This is but the open marketing of purchased status, of Saint Louis being an "NFL City."
Rome has, today, a magnificent Colosseum only because Emperors Vespasian and Titus didn't have to ask the Roman Senate to issue bonds.
This leads to my last observation. Why were all our regional politicians so fast to support the new stadium. Having lived the miserable life of searching for campaign cash they truly know the value of both access to those boxes and the ego boast evidenced by the Chris Christie hug.
Why the Missouri GOP is psychology hell bent against an NFL stadium is for another day.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tony Messenger, Journalist Malpractice, Whitewashing the Crazy No. 000087

Paul Krugman asks:

How does one report on politics when a significant wing of the political spectrum is, not to put too fine a point on it, stark raving mad? I appreciate that it’s hard to do without attracting accusations of bias; on the other hand, there’s a temptation to soft-pedal the crazy, to make it seem as if politicians were less out there than they really are.

But here is Tony Messenger whitewashing two Missouri crazies who are stark raving advocates of massive tax cuts and an end to state income taxes, one financed by Sam Brownback's principal backer



How often is this stupidity---"smart and thoughtful" going to be repeated in the next election cycle?

Do smart thoughtful people lead the charge in the race to the bottom?



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Is the Way Tony Messenger thinks about Non-Profits and Charities Wrong? No. 000085

Editor Messenger and the Post think about Non Profit Hospital and other Charities the way the GOP thinks about Government. He is a cheapskate.


Dan Pallotta The way we think about charity is dead wrong

Activist and fundraiser Dan Pallotta calls out the double standard that drives our broken relationship to charities. Too many nonprofits, he says, are rewarded for how little they spend — not for what they get done. Instead of equating frugality with morality, he asks us to start rewarding charities for their big goals and big accomplishments (even if that comes with big expenses). In this bold talk, he says: Let's change the way we think about changing the world. 


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Like Tony Messenger and the Post Dispatch Didn't Know that Tim Jones would Misuse the Post No. 000084

This evening took a moment to glance through the #MOleg hashtag on Twitter.  No Surprise. Speaker Jones is attacking Steven Lipstein for being a multi-millionaire CEO, this personal assault set up and made possible by the journalistic malpractice of Tony Messenger.

Progressives, with friends like Messenger, who needs enemies.

Playing #Hardball with the NFL Using Missouri's Power to Tax to #Brushback the Kansas City Chiefs, the Rams, and the NFL into building a new Saint Louis Stadium No. 000083

Tony Robbins

At 7:35:

"the defining factor is not resources it is resourcefulness"

We are still a week away from the SuperBowl but I have grown completely bored with the #STLNFL and the #NFL. I am especially bored with our Governor and local politicians who are trying to sneak one past the tax paying public by talking about paying the public portion of any stadium by extending current taxes.

Why bored? Because once again Missouri leads the nation in lack of resourcefulness.

If our politicians of either stripe were resourceful it would seem to me that they would be thinking as follows:

  1. The Roberts Supreme Court is an era of Renaissance for State's Rights.
  2. Surely there is a reservoir of a State's Rights over the NFL to prevent coercion in a stadium location, if the Federal Government lacks the power to coerce states into expanding Medicaid.

Simply put, when it comes to stadium location, the NFL is a conspiracy, which the NFL has argued is sanctioned by the United States under its anti-trust laws. Cf. City of San Jose v. Office of Commissioner of Baseball, No. 14-15139 (9th Cir. Jan. 15, 2015)Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Com'n v. NFL, 726 F.2d 1381 (9th Cir. 1984).

That begs a question not considered before. By means of the anti-trust laws, can Congress coerce the States.

National Federation of Independent Business teaches, "No," Justice Roberts writing:

Coercing States to accept conditions risks the destruction of the "unique role of the States in our system." Davis, supra, at 685, 57 S.Ct. 883 (Kennedy, J., dissenting). "[T]he Constitution has never been understood to confer upon Congress the ability to require the States to govern according to Congress' instructions." New York, 505 U.S., at 162, 112 S.Ct. 2408. Congress may not "simply commandeer the legislative processes of the States by directly compelling them to enact and enforce a federal regulatory program." Id., at 161, 112 S.Ct. 2408 (internal quotation marks and brackets omitted).

Sum of it all.

The point, if we had a resourceful Governor and Legislature they would be actively looking at legislative solutions to the Saint Louis stadium situation. May I suggest thought be given to any of all of the following approaches for raising the funds necessary, either to renovate the Edward Jones Stadium or to construct a new stadium.

1) Enact a wealth tax, targeted toward the owners of the Chiefs and Rams, to tax away their ill gotten gains arising out of the squeeze put on the State of Missouri and its political subdivisions through the NFL's franchise location rules.

2) Enact an income tax or gross receipts tax, targeted toward the owners of the Chiefs and Rams, for the same reasons.

3) Enact a gross receipts tax on advertising revenue paid by advertisers for broadcasts of NFL games into the State of Missouri.

4) Enact a gross receipts tax on revenues received by either the NFL or its teams from broadcasters who televise or broadcast NFL games in Missouri.

Instead of #Ballgate, how about #Hardball with a few #Brushback pitches of our own.

More Reasons Why Progressives Should Not Trust Tony Messenger and the Saint Louis Post Dispatch No. 000082

To have a better understanding of why Tony Messenger should not be trusted one needs to consider how Mr. Messenger handles letters to the Editor with the editorial section of the Post Dispatch.  Yesterday provides a good insight.

Mr. Messenger is well aware the Bullshit Asymmetry Principle:

Accordingly, when it suits his purpose he selects letters to the editor that heap bullshit on those he disfavors.

On Saturday he directed the bullshit of newly elected State Senator Robert Onder against BJC Healthcare and its Chief Executive Officer, Steven Lipstein, by publishing a letter to the editor.

The Post offer's no reason or justification for publishing the letter which contains a myriad of false charges of which we shall mention two.

First, Onder asserts that expansion will strain our existing Medicaid program but that is false. Expansion replaces the current program and Missouri's match is less so it does exactly the opposite---it would put Missouri's budget in a better position.

Second, Onder asserts that we borrow the funding from expansion from China but that is not true. China exports billions of dollars of goods to us every month---at present over $40 billion a month---for which we are not paying. Instead, for its own reasons, China is willing to accept US government debt in lieu of payment for the goods it is selling us. This is why China is a creditor of the U.S. Government. China's acceptance of our debt in payment for goods sold and imported is not paying for Medicare expansion.

Given that the letter is bullshit regarding the ACA, why was the letter published.

To understand one must recall that Mr. Messenger believes that money grows on trees. He somehow thinks that BJC should be providing more free medical care. He may also be part of the chorus that objects to the non-profit status of BJC, albeit the sole source of funding to pay taxes would have to come from either reduced patient care or higher charges to paying customers, or some combination. Thus, he permits Onder to make the false, bullshit charge "that provision of care to the poor is why federal, state and local governments consider BJC and most other hospitals to be nonprofits and exempt them from taxes."

What non-sense.

Hospitals are non-profits, and appropriately so, because they tend to the spirital and emotional needs of their patients, patient families, and even the care givers and staff, in times of great pain, loss, suffering, fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

No great hospital, and BJC is a great hospital, is a mere for profit or commercial endeavor. It matters not a wit about whether BJC provides care to the poor whether it should be a non-profit.

Do we consider Senator Onder's church to be for profit when it ministers to his spirital needs?

Do we consider universities or private high schools for profit when they educate our wealthiest?

Why, Mr. Messenger, is this editorial malpractice being presented?

Was the letter printed because Mr. Messenger is jealous and envious of what Mr. Eipstein is paid and Odner's letter provides him a vehicle for attacking his salary. BJC, which operates 12 hospitals, has 27,000 employees and annual revenues of more than $4 billion, ranking it within the Fortune 500 in terms of sales. There are only 975 companies in the United States with more than 10,000 employees. To print such an ad hominen tells all.

Two closing observations.

Odner closes his letter with the false charge that Illinois "teeters on the edge of bankruptcy," more bullshit. Illinois has an unbalanced budget because, like Kansas, it cut taxes. In comparison to its total state gross domestic product and assets, Illinois is actually in better shape than Missouri. It only needs to raise taxes to balance its spending and outlays.

Last, Odner asserts that Arkansas is going to undue Medicaid expansion in 2015 but the Republican governor has called for the state to the expansion in place.

The sum of all this is that, merely to appear fair and balanced, a newspaper does not print bullshit, especially bullshit which personally attacks as does Senator Odner's letter.


Why Progressives Should Not Trust Tony Messenger and the Saint Louis Post Dispatch No. 000081

Most days when I read a Saint Louis Post Dispatch Editorial I put down the paper shaking my head with the thought, with friends like this, who needs enemies. Wannabe Celebrity Editor Tony Messenger, @tonymess, with only 8,784 Twitter followers, is the best thing going in Missouri for the reactionaries and neo-reactionaries of the Missouri GOP.

Why such a difference with Mr. Messenger?

First, he lacks the skill, ability, and insight to invert a problem. Further, he and all the most post writers see but they do not observe. How do these lacks of skills work together?


  • Open Enrollment

Let's consider K-12 education in the Saint Louis Region, the City, West County, North County, and Francis Howell School District in Saint Charles.

The facts are these. The schools in the City, in North County, and in Francis Howell are failed or are failing, all due to a lack of money. Taking the last first:

ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. ( – The Francis Howell School District has a projected budget shortfall of $22 million dollars which may force the district to cut 80 jobs, half of which would be teaching positions.


“Where it gets tricky is you have, as an example, a first grade teacher retire, but you need to trim high school math,” said Dr. Steven Griggs, Human Resources Officer for the school district. “Sometimes the attrition and where you need to trim don’t match.”


Francis Howell has more than 17,000 students, 1300 teachers, 900 district employees, and a projected budget of $203 million dollars. Griggs says he expects most of the job cuts could be handled through employees taking jobs elsewhere or retiring.


One resident, Randy Watson, is critical of district’s decision and says they brought this predicament on themselves. “Our average teacher makes about $58,200. Next is Fort Zumwalt and that average teacher makes about $52,000. I’m not against teachers getting raises, but we don’t have the funds to pay for them.”



Read more:

Mr. Messenger's non-solution for this problem is two fold.  First, he proposes that the successful schools in West County be forced through Open Enrollment to accept more students without any increases in revenue or funding. If he inverted or observed he would know that solution would not work for fundamental reasons.

First, when you invert a school district and look from the bottom up and not the top down you will see that its primary mission is not education. The primary mission of every school district, when inverted, is to provide free public transportation of students to school. Inverting allows one to see that the secondary mission is providing education during the period of time when students wait to be transported home in the evening, again for free. Advocates for open schools are, in effect, advocating for abandonment of the primary mission of schools. Since open enrollment plans never include transportation, and the taxes necessary for transporting students greater distances, they are never talking about reality.

Second, open enrollment advocates never observe the market or supply of teachers. Presumably, those who support open enrollment believe that teachers in West County schools are better teachers than those available elsewhere. If true, then open enrollment cannot work unless one also increases the supply of entirely new teachers. What is accomplished by transferring an lower skilled teacher from the City to Clayton to teach the same students?

Thus, for open enrollment to work, teacher salaries must go up to attract new or better teachers. Professor Brad Delong here (Proposal 2) explains current teacher compensation in the United States where we presently use non-cash compensation, in the form of tenure and job security, to hire teachers at below market salaries. 

Again, Mr. Messenger disregards these facts. While he proposes open enrollment he never talks about from where the money will come to pay the higher teacher salaries necessary to make such a program work.

Last, Mr. Messenger never inverts and asks, How will voters in the West County districts react to open enrollment. The West County districts which Mr. Messenger wants to force open are not closed now. They are open to anyone who wants to move into the district and pay the local taxes that fund these districts, which "self fund." This means that they fund by local real property taxes instead of relying upon Missouri's School Foundation Formula.

By advocating for open enrollment Mr. Messenger is advocating for the kind of mooching and free riding that makes Missouri famous. A family could choose to live in a low tax district---and use Hancock to resist increases in their taxes by voting against such---and send their students to Clayton.

Under such a system Clayton voters will soon loose their appetite for funding their schools.


  • Fully Funding the Foundation Formula to the tune of $400 Millions

Mr. Messenger also frequently writes advocating fully funding the Foundation Formula. The Foundation Formula is Missouri's plan to kill the Goose, St. Louis and Kansas City, that lays the golden egg by taxing these two regions and spending the money out-state in lieu of imposing adequate taxes on farmland. The lack of adequate funding for out-state schools is assured by our State Constitution and Law's discriminate in the favor of agricultural and horticultural property.

If effect, under Missouri's current system of school funding, taxpayers in Saint Louis and Kansas City, living in self-funding school districts, via state sales and income taxes, are paying the principal amounts spent to educate children in out-state Missouri. 

When Mr. Messenger advocates for fully funding the Foundation Formula he does not mention that this will not increase (significantly) the funding for schools in Saint Louis.

Further, he fails to reason through whether this new funding could result in an increase in education quality.

It is an unfortunate reality that merely raising an employee's compensation does not get you a better and more productive employee. Raising funding for schools works, but only if you do one or both of two things:

First, you use the money to train current teachers or to provide a more effective learning environment or better teaching tools or for similar improvements.

Second, you use the money to hire new teachers with higher skills.

Republicans distrust raising the Foundation Formula because they believe that school districts will merely us the new funds to raise current teacher salaries without any increase in education quality.

As Professor Delong explains:

Teachers will fight attempts to disrupt security of employment unless they have confidence that the grand bargain by which they trade security for higher salaries will be kept — which they do not have. Fiscal conservatives will fight teacher-salary increases unless they are confident that the Democratic Party-public sector union complex will then disarm itself of its weapons — which they are not.

This is where the tone of the Post Dispatch, set by Mr. Messenger, is of no help whatsoever. 

Under Governor Nixon a grand bargain was available over Education over the last six years.

If the Post Dispatch had focused on the unfairness of St. Louis and Kansas City paying more taxes for higher teacher salaries in out-state during years in which farmers were enjoying record and near record incomes and farmland prices, the stage could have been set for an agreement on raising out-state taxes and assuring that new monies merely did not go to higher salaries for existing teachers.

Mr. Messenger goes not think and advocate in these terms because a solution is in conflict with his base motive which is to become a celebrity pundit of the Left.



Lesson No. 1 for the Missouri Democratic Party, Trade Craft: Making Powerful Use of the Hashtag #Moleg--Anonymous Blogs and Tweets No. 000080

  • Fears, Doubts, and Uncertainties prevail in Jefferson City

Wednesday's Senate Hearing on Senate Bill 12---Obamacare for Dairy Farmers---gave me a day long opportunity to observe what is left of Truman's proud Democratic Party after it has been thoroughly worked over and thrown under the bus by the Shadow Presidency of Valeria Jarrett. 

My expedition was for the purpose of evaluating whether, since the election, the Party had been able to OODA---observe, orient, decide, and act---in accord with the results of the post November election.  My expectations were not high.  My working hypothesis of what is wrong with the Missouri Democratic Party comes straight from Kevin Drum: that it is no longer the party of working class white voters.

But when the economy stagnates and life gets harder, people get meaner. That's just human nature. And the economy has been stagnating for the working class for well over a decade—and then practically collapsing ever since 2008.

So who does the WWC take out its anger on? Largely, the answer is the poor. In particular, the undeserving poor. Liberals may hate this distinction, but it doesn't matter if we hate it. Lots of ordinary people make this distinction as a matter of simple common sense, and the WWC makes it more than any. That's because they're closer to it. For them, the poor aren't merely a set of statistics or a cause to be championed. They're the folks next door who don't do a lick of work but somehow keep getting government checks paid for by their tax dollars. For a lot of members of the WWC, this is personal in a way it just isn't for the kind of people who read this blog.

And who is it that's responsible for this infuriating flow of government money to the shiftless? Democrats. We fight to save food stamps. We fight for WIC. We fight for Medicaid expansion. We fight for Obamacare. We fight to move poor families into nearby housing.

This is a big problem because these are all things that benefit the poor but barely touch the working class. Does it matter that the working class barely pays for most of these programs in the first place, since their federal income taxes tend to be pretty low? Nope. They're still paying taxes, and it seems like they never get anything for it. It's always someone else.

It's pointless to argue that this perception is wrong. Maybe it is, maybe it's not. But it's there. And although it's bound up with plenty of other grievances—many of them frankly racial, but also cultural, religious, and geographic—at its core you have a group of people who are struggling and need help, but instead feel like they simply get taxed and taxed for the benefit of someone else.

The post election actions of Governor Nixon show or tend to show that this is his working hypothesis. In the face of inadequate state revenue his State of the State speech proposed no new taxes even though the state is $4 billions under the Hancock Cap. He ordered the Missouri Department of Transportation to do a study on financing the rebuilding of I-70 with tolls. He instructed the his NFL stadium advisors not to propose new taxes (albeit continuation of current taxes was ok).

Further, when Governor Nixon talks about the ACA his principal selling point is that it saves money over the current program, at least until Missouri has to belly up and pay its 10%.

  • Fear has replaced the ability to Observe and Orient.

Walking the halls, sitting in the offices, seeing Senate Democratic members leave hearings and the opportunity to ask tough questions about GOP crony capitalism openly displayed, taking in the body language of members and staff, it was apparent that Democrats have come to understand that "the Democratic Party simply doesn't do much for either the working or middle classes these days."

For example, last year House and Senate Democrat supported a sales tax increase to pay for highway construction, carrying the coals for its construction union supporters. Talk about a tax on working class voters for the benefit of others. Governor Jay Nixon was never on board and Senate and House Democrats should have taken a cue.

More recently, some are proposing an increase in gasoline taxes---the most direct tax possible on the WWC---to pay for highways and I-70. Common sense seems to be prevailing.

This realization, however, has not been translated into anything tangible because, fearing the charge of class warfare, Missouri Democrats are unwilling to talk about progressive taxation.

For example, no Democrat has spoken in favor of a land tax to pay for highways and yet that would be the fairest and most simple way. Better roads will increase land values so taxing that increase in value would make the most sense.

Further, Democrats refuse to offer a fair progressive income tax law. Because the income brackets are so low, Missouri's current income tax law is really not a progressive income tax in effect. For several decades Missouri Democrats have missed the opportunity to work for Missouri's working class by failing to propose more progressive taxation. In conjunction with the need for higher revenues for education and transportation, now would be the ideal time for such proposals.

But, because of fear of talking about tax increases, Democrats are unable to observe, orient, decide, and act on a plan for progressive income tax increases for Missouri.

  • Anonymity, using the Internet, as a solution.

Tony Robins likes to say, our problems are "not a lack of resources, they are a lack of resourcefulness." When one walks into any Democratic member's office the head fakes being pulled off are amazing. There are computers, laptops, notebooks, and smart phones every where, being put to no apparent use.

Twitter, for example, has this wonderful powerful feature, the hashtag: #Moleg.

With #Moleg one can anonymously communicate with the World via Twitter account or a link to a blog, easily written, with the latest events and developments in he Capital or elsewhere.

It takes only a few moments to set up a blog, a Twitter account, and using the Google Chrome Browser,. and ScribeFire within 10 minutes any one can be informing the World about what is taking place in Missouri.

For example, it should be often and in depth explained that in the House this year there will be no Democratic amendments permitted and no meaningful floor debates.

We all know the bills that are coming. Right now, using Blogger and a Google Drive account, House Democrats could be offering to the World the amendments that would be offered to House Bills, if debate and amendment were freely and openly permitted.

  • The Very Honorable History of Anonymity

Some make ask, is it right, ok, lawful to communicate anonymous. Absolutely!. Our Founding Fathers, Hamilton and Jefferson among them, did so regularly and with gusto.  

  • Do I expect anyone to Act? No

If Progressives view our President as weak, unskilled, and lacking in leadership---Why didn't we hear the SOTUS last summer?---be prepared to be really disappointed with our current crop of Democratic Legislators. Consider our sole announced state wide office candidate No-Bill No-Voice Sifton.

Here is the strong progressive set of bills he has put forth for 2015:

Two weeks into the Session he hasn't appeared on the floor in any meaningful way and is certain to do anything possible to avoid a substantive debate with GOP Attorney General Candidate Senator Kurt Schaefer.

Democrats are urged to express your frustration early and often, easily done on twitter at @ScottSifton.

Senator, a Missouri state wide candidate with only 923 followers is in serious trouble.