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3 months ago

Don’t politicians see that raising taxes has nasty side effects?

Seattle is worried about the well-being of the poor and mentally ill people living there, so it’s going to drive businesses out of town.

OK, that’s not how the politicians describe their plan, but that’s probably how it will work out.

Members of Seattle’s city council want all big Seattle businesses to pay a tax of $500 per employee.

In response, Amazon stopped building a new complex. Construction workers joined Amazon in protesting the new tax.

On the other side are city council members like Kshama Sawant. She and members of her political party, Socialist Alternative, demonstrated in support of the tax. They chanted, “Housing is a human right!”

Seattle does have large encampments of street people. Some are mentally ill. Some are young people looking to get stoned and live free. Some are homeless simply because they cannot afford apartments. There are many reasons for that, but one is that Amazon and other companies have brought so many new jobs to Seattle that the demand for housing exceeds the supply.

Normally, when that happens, the free market quickly solves the problem. Builders view the rising prices as a wonderful thing. They quickly build new housing to sell to the new customers. But in Seattle, and many towns in America, politicians make that very hard.

Seattle’s building code is 745 pages long.

If you want to build apartments, you better hire lawyers and “fixers” to keep you on the right side of the rules.

Seattle’s rules insist that “Welded splices shall be of ASTM A706 steel” and “foam plastic signs shall not be greater than 1/2 inch” thick.

On the majority of Seattle’s land, building any high-rise is illegal; zoning rules say only single-family houses may be built.

Want to run a cheap flophouse with single rooms? Seattle’s rules make that just about impossible.

Finally, if a landlord decides to take a building off the market, he must pay each of his tenants $3,000 in relocation costs.

No wonder there’s a housing shortage.

Seattle’s big-government restrictions created a housing problem. So now they propose to solve it with more heavy-handed government.

Seattle promises its new per-employee tax will only hit “big” companies, those grossing more than $20 million per year (about 3 percent of Seattle’s businesses).

Don’t the politicians realize that many growing companies will simply stop expanding when they get close to $20 million in income, just as companies, looking to escape Obamacare, avoid employing more than 49 workers?

Some pay lawyers to split the company into pieces. Some expand in another state. Don’t politicians see that raising taxes has nasty side effects? I guess not.

Monday, after Amazon’s pushback, the city council imposed a tax of $275 per worker instead of the originally proposed $500 tax.

They called that “compromise,” but it sounds like replacing a bad plan with a half-as-bad plan.

It’s not only government bureaucrats who are to blame. The consulting firm McKinsey weighed in with an analysis of Seattle-area homelessness and concluded the city needed to spend $400 million a year to solve the homelessness problem.

I’m sure Seattle, and many other governments, will manage to spend $400 million without solving the problem.

It’s good that Amazon pushed back against the tax. Their reminder that they could reduce or close up business if Seattle’s government got too greedy helped cut the tax roughly in half.

You can’t just keep squeezing businesses or other taxpayers forever and not expect them to try to escape. At some point, businesses will pack up and leave. Then there will be fewer paying jobs that make a city’s population less likely to be homeless in the first place.

Sawant and the other big-taxers try to make productive companies, which employ people so they can afford things like rent, sound like villains. She called Amazon’s threat to leave “extortion.” The activist group Working Washington asked Seattle’s attorney general to charge Amazon with the crime of “issuing mob-like threats.”

Mob-like threats? Amazon just wants to be left alone so it can build complexes, hire people and sell stuff.

As usual, government is the organization that sounds mob-like.

John Stossel is author of “No They Can’t! Why Government Fails — But Individuals Succeed.”

(JFS Productions, copyright 2018)

15 mins ago

How an incoming freshman overcame inner-city Chicago to get to Alabama State University – ‘This is the start of a new life’

Ivry Hall has a tale to tell – one that is too unbelievable, too tragic, to be anything but real. But it is who life’s challenges have made him, and where Hall is going from here, that he wants to be his life’s story.

Chicago born-and-raised, Hall just turned 18 last month.

“I grew up on the South Side. Englewood, 64th and Laflin,”  he told WLS-TV. “My mom did a lot of moving, but that’s where I spent most of my childhood.”

His upbringing, like that of most in this infamous part of the Windy City, was filled with serious trouble.

“Gang banging,” Hall admitted. “I used to smoke when I was little.”

He also dropped out of school, saying that is what was expected of children like him in that urban neighborhood.

Hall said, “I did a lot of stuff. That’s just from the image I was seeing so I wanted to do it, too.”

And that was all before his mom, who was raising him as a single mother, got cancer when Hall was only 12.

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“When my mom passed away, I was so hurt,” he reflected. “And I just wanted to do better.”

This tragedy inspired Hall to go back to school, and after some time, attend Tilden High School.

While in a positive frame of mind again, his life did not necessarily get easier when he went back to get his education. Hall was living with a cousin who moved nearly two hours from where he went to class.

“I had to get on three buses and one train,” Hall explained.

However, through hard work and the right attitude, he always kept going.

“I don’t believe in giving up, and I think that failure is not an option,” said Hall.

Not only did his mom pass away when he was 12, but when he was a senior in high school, Hall’s dad died of lung failure.

“Of course, I lost my mom. I lost my dad,” he told WLS-TV in Chicago. “I wish they were still here to see what I’ve accomplished now, but they’re not. Everything is not going to come as you want it.”

Hall’s faith in Jesus Christ, sports and a local boxing gym got him through the hard times. He also had mentors at his church who never stopped encouraging him.

Hall said, “They are like, ‘Ivry, you’re going to be something. You’re so smart.’ And that stuff encouraged me to do good.”

“No pity party,” explained Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church, where Hall attends. “No ‘poor me.’ He was just a young brother who wanted the best for himself and others.”

Hall set a goal for himself when his mother died, and he never took his eye off achieving it.

“I always wish that I could graduate valedictorian, and look, I did,” he recounted. “I was beyond happy.”

Now, Hall is beginning his freshman year at Alabama State University in Montgomery, a triumph made possible in part by a $10,000 scholarship from his church.

The teen from the South Side of Chicago is just getting started on writing his life’s story, but he has a good plan for what comes next.

“Major in business, so I can open up my own business,” Hall forecasted.

He added, “I’m not for sure what I want to open up, but I want to help people.”

Hall now has his sights set on a new goal, and he is determined to succeed.

“I’m going to go to college and graduate, so I’m going to find a way to study,” Hall said. “I’m going to find a way to do everything without giving up.”

“If I give up, I will be just like everybody that I know,” he continued.

The young man also shared his key to overcoming the challenges life has thrown at him again and again.

“You have to give 100 percent in everything you do,” Hall emphasized. “Once you give up, you’ll only be used to giving up. At least try. If you can’t do it, continue to try.”

He has been through a lot in his short time on earth, but to him, a blank canvas awaits.

“This is the start of a new life,” Hall concluded.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

46 mins ago

Former Prattville police officer gets 10 years for fraud, theft

A former police officer in Alabama who pleaded guilty to insurance fraud and burglary has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports 51-year-old Leon Todd Townson was sentenced Monday.

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The former U.S. Marine is one of two former Prattville Police Department lieutenants charged with breaking into a home in 2015.

The other lieutenant, 48-year-old John Wayne McDaniel, is set to be sentenced Friday.

Townson also was charged in 2017 with defrauding an insurance agency by filing a claim containing false information.

The fraudulent claim prompted the agency to award Townson more than $190,000.

He resigned from the police department in 2005 before pleading guilty to trying to sell a modified rifle seized by the department’s drug unit.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 hour ago

GATR Technologies Inc. of Huntsville gets $522M Army contract for inflatable antennas

An Alabama company has a five-year, $522 million extension to an Army contract for inflatable satellite antenna systems.

GATR Technologies Inc. of Huntsville first won the contract in 2013.

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It said in early 2014 that the contract made the antennas more broadly available to the armed services, which already were using them in special operations units.

GATR’s ground-mounted antennas look like giant beach balls with tie-downs to point them in the right direction.

The antenna inside is reflective fabric.

Fans keep the air pressure in the top half slightly higher than in the bottom half, pushing the fabric down into the right shape.

The extension brings the contract’s total maximum value to more than $960 million.

It was announced Friday in the Pentagon’s daily list of military contracts.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 hour ago

7 Things: Disgraced former FBI Agent Peter Strzok finally fired, 70 percent of Americans want the Mueller probe over, Rep. Mike Rogers says the Space Force is no joke and more …

7. A Mexican restaurant in Houston is under fire for daring to serve Attorney General Jeff Sessions

— El Tiempo Cantina posted a photo of Sessions and its owner on social media. It was immediately attacked for serving the AG. Eventually, the restaurant apologized for posting the photo and shut down their social media accounts.

— American liberals have decided that serving food to the wrong people is a crime punishable by loss of your livelihood in 2018

6. Alabama Senator Doug Jones makes absolutely no one happy with his incoherence on President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee

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— Sen. Jones appeared at a town hall in Birmingham and the issue of Brett Kavanaugh arose. Jones seems to be hanging his hat on the fact that he can’t read his notes from his time in the Bush administration and therefore just can’t decide what to do on this vote.

— Conservatives continue to pressure Jones to make his position known. Meanwhile, a Democrat at this town hall heckled Jones and then threw a pair of plush lips at him telling him to “Kiss my ass” if he votes to confirm.

5. Democrats continue embracing socialism while thinking less of capitalism

— The Democratic Party’s embrace of socialism is nothing new. Fifty-seven percent of Democrats view socialism positively, which has changed little since 2010. Only 16 percent of Republicans view socialism positively.

— The party’s view of capitalism continues to decline with only 46 percent viewing the American economic system positively.

4. Governor Kay Ivey continues to talk about issues while her opponent talks about debates

— Gov. Ivey’s focus on education and business matters, she touts investment in pre-K and that Alabama was named the nation’s “Best Business Climate” in the nation.

— Democrat nominee, and former AEA field representative, Walt Maddox continues to release videos about a debate that is just never going to happen.

3. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) makes it clear that Trump and Congress are serious about the Space Force

— While the idea of the Space Force has been mocked because it is an idea from the Trump administration, Alabama’s Rogers believes this new agency is very important. He said, “China set up their own separate space service a year and a half ago, and Russia reorganized before that — we are way behind the curve on it”.

— Rogers drove the point home that space is important to our war-fighting capabilities, saying, “People have to understand that we have become heavily dependent on space to fight and win wars, that’s our eyes and ears for the military.”

2. Sixty-six percent of Americans want the Mueller probe wrapped up

— Polling released this morning show that Americans want special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation wrapped up. This crosses party lines with Democrats and Republicans wanting it over for different reasons.

— The poll also shows 70 percent of Americans think Trump should testify “if asked.” Only 34 percent approve of how Trump has handled this investigation, and Trump’s approval rating is now at 42 percent (higher than Reagan, Clinton and Carter at this point).

1. Embattled FBI Agent Peter Strzok becomes the latest official fired by the FBI

— While the focus is on the anti-Trump e-mails that the agent sent to his lover, there are other issues including him sending a sensitive search warrant to his personal e-mail account, and he made the decision to drag his feet to examine new e-mails related to the Clinton investigation.

— The FBI clearly had some issues in their handling of these investigations in late 2016, Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) pointed out how disastrous that period has been for the FBI with a tweet that laid bare all the discipline issues within the FBI with former Director James Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe being fired, Chief Counsel James Baker and FBI Counsel Lisa Page being demoted. All of these issues stemmed from the Clinton/Trump investigations.

2 hours ago

Alabama AG Steve Marshall challenges reporting on new ‘In God We Trust’ law

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Monday pushed back on a recent report by the Associated Press that asserted the state’s new law allowing “In God We Trust” to be displayed in public schools is “expected” to face legal challenges.

In March, the state legislature approved a bill that took effect June 1 allowing such displays on public property, giving Alabama schools the right to exhibit the national motto.

However, critics are speaking out against the move, calling it “a constant push for theocracy,” as media outlets like AL.com and the Asssociated Press validate their outcry.

In a statement, Marshall challenged their assertions and strongly backed the law.

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“We don’t anticipate any lawsuits over this issue,” he told Yellowhammer News.

Marshall continued, “‘In God We Trust’ is the official national motto, adopted by an Act of Congress and displayed on the nation’s currency as well as in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives. A lawsuit against a school displaying the national motto would be laughed out of court.”

Alabama’s attorney general also called out critics for not being focused on the real challenges facing public schools.

“Frankly, in a time when schools are increasingly the targets of violence, it is hard to understand how one could argue that a renewed emphasis on our nation’s religious heritage through the display of ‘In God We Trust’ or the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance could be detrimental to our students,” Marshall added.

The legislation’s sponsor, state Rep. David Standridge (R-Hayden), recently decried the controversy that outside groups and the media have made out of the law.

Alabama will also decide in November whether the state’s 117-year-old constitution should be changed to allow public schools to display the Ten Commandments when voters have a referendum on Amendment One on the general election ballot.

“My hope is they have the Ten Commandments in the schools all over the state of Alabama as well as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the historical documents that go with this country,” said Dean Young, chairman of the Ten Commandments political action committee, which is pushing the amendment.

He added, “That way, children will be able to see and ask, ‘What are these documents’ and a teacher can say, ‘Those are the Ten Commandments and they come from God and this is what they say.'”

The critics claim the national political climate, including the leadership of President Donald Trump, is fueling renewed efforts to incorporate Christianity into the public realm.

“It’s a tsunami of Christian national laws in our country right now,” said Annie Laurie Gaylord, co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, per the Associated Press.

“The upcoming election will say a lot about the direction of our nation,” she added.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn