AMI and other special incentives deals

With questions of uncertainty arising around the relocation of Advanced Munitions International (AMI) to Alcoa, some are inquiring about the deal given to them.  The incentives agreement was made available on this website last year, thanks to Sam Duck who requested the information after I was blocked by Bryan Daniels of the Blount Partnership/Chamber of Commerce/Industrial Development Board/Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority for sending a few emails asking question.

Additionally, reading about the City of Alcoa working a development deal that has been in the making for 17+ years, should cause us all to stop and ask why government is making these special deals.  If the market isn’t willing to develop a property that should a sign to government officials that they probably shouldn’t be doing it either.  But never fear, big government is here to do something the market won’t do.

17+ years of not being able to achieve something shouldn’t result in the government concocting a convoluted, corporate welfare deal.  It’s time to stop these crony deals.  There should be no special land deals, no grants to businesses and no special tax deals.  Property taxes should be even across the board.  Businesses should compete based on the value of products and services they provide, not their ability to obtain special deals from the government.

Iceland Today, the US Tomorrow?

By Ron Paul

During the 2008 economic crisis, Iceland’s government froze offshore accounts held by foreign investors in that country’s currency, the krona. Recently, the government of Iceland announced it would unfreeze the accounts if the account holders paid a voluntary “departure tax,” which could be as high as 58 percent. Investors who choose not to pay the departure tax would have their investment “segregated” into special funds that only invest in CDs issued by Iceland’s central bank. These CDs are expected to only provide a rate of return of at most 0.5 percent a year. So investors in offshore accounts can thus choose between having their money directly seized via the departure tax or indirectly seized via the inflation tax.

Iceland’s freezing of offshore krona accounts was part of a “stabilization and recovery” program implemented under the guidance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which also provided Iceland with a $1 billion loan. So US taxpayers not only helped the IMF bail out Iceland’s government, they may have helped the IMF advise Iceland on how best to steal property from American investors!

The IMF’s role in Iceland’s seizure of the property of foreign investors shows the hypocrisy of IMF officials, who recently expressed concerns about the increasing support for protectionism supposedly exemplified by the Brexit vote. However, freezing of assets held by foreign investors is a particularly harmful form of protectionism, while Brexit was more about rejecting the European Union’s bureaucracy than rejecting free trade. Perhaps what the IMF and its supporters are really worried about is losing their power to use taxpayers’ money to force other countries to adopt IMF bureaucrats’ favored economic policies.

Iceland is not the only government to turn to a departure tax to raise revenue. Just last year, in order to raise revenue for federal transportation programs, Congress gave the IRS the power to revoke the passport of any American accused of owing more than $50,000 in back taxes.

As an increasingly desperate Congress looks for new ways to squeeze money out of the American people to fund the welfare-warfare state, it is likely that more Americans will have their liberties limited because the IRS accuses them of not paying their fair share of taxes. It also is likely that the Federal Reserve will follow the example of its counterpart in Iceland and devalue the holdings of anyone who dares to resist the IRS’s demands.

Those hoping that the presidential election will result in real changes are bound to be disappointed. While Donald Trump seems to appreciate how current Fed policies help the incumbent administration while harming the people, he does not appear to understand that the problem is not with certain Fed policies, but with the Fed’s very existence. While Mr. Trump does support tax cuts, he also supports increasing government spending on infrastructure at home, militarism abroad, protectionism, and an economic cold war with China.

Hillary Clinton has actually said it is inappropriate for candidates to criticize the Fed. Sectary Clinton has also called for massive increases in government spending and taxes. Hillary Clinton may be more hawkish than Donald Trump, since Mr. Trump has rejected Secretary Clinton’s calls for a new cold war with Russia.

Instead of looking to politicians to save us, those of us who understand the dangers of our current course must continue to spread the ideas of liberty among our fellow citizens. Politicians will only change course when a critical mass of people stops falling for the war party’s propaganda, stops demanding entitlements, and starts demanding liberty.


The Right Lessons from Obamacare’s Meltdown

By Ron Paul

The decision of several major insurance companies to cut their losses and withdraw from the Obamacare exchanges, combined with the failure of 70 percent of Obamacare’s health insurance “co-ops, ” will leave one in six Obamacare enrollees with only one health insurance option. If Obamacare continues on its current track, most of America may resemble Pinal County, Arizona, where no one can obtain private health insurance. Those lucky enough to obtain insurance will face ever-increasing premiums and a declining choice of providers.

Many Obamacare supporters claimed that the exchanges created a market for health insurance that would allow consumers to benefit from competition. But allowing consumers to pick from a variety of government-controlled health insurance plans is not a true market; instead it is what the great economist Ludwig von Mises called “playing market.”

Unfortunately, if not surprisingly, too many are drawing the wrong lessons from Obamacare’s difficulties. Instead of calling for a repeal of Obamacare and all other government interference in the health care market, many are calling for increased penalties on those who defy Obamacare’s individual mandate in order to force them onto the exchanges. Others are renewing the push for a “public option,” forcing private companies to compete with taxpayer-funded entities and easing the way for the adoption of a Canadian-style single payer system.

Even those working to restore individual control over health care via tax deductions, credits, and expanded health savings accounts still support government intervention in order to provide a “safety net” for the poor. Of course, everyone — including libertarians — shares the goal of creating a safety net. Libertarians just understand that a moral and effective safety net is one voluntarily provided by individuals, religious organizations, and private charities.

Government has no legitimate authority to take money from taxpayers to fund health care or any other type of welfare program. Government-run health care also does not truly serve the interest of those supposedly “benefiting” from the program. Anyone who doubts this should consider how declining reimbursements and increasing bureaucracy is causing more doctors to refuse to treat Medicaid and Medicare patients.

Medicaid patients will face increasing hardships when, not if, the US government’s fiscal crisis forces Congress to make spending cuts. When the crisis comes, what is more likely to be cut first: spending benefiting large corporations and big banks that can deploy armies of high-powered lobbyists, or spending benefiting low-income Americans who cannot afford K Street representation?

Contrary to myth, low-income individuals did not go without care in the days before the welfare state. Private, charity-run hospitals staffed by volunteers provided a safety net for those who could not afford health care. Most doctors also willingly provided free or reduced-price care for those who needed it. The large amount of charitable giving and volunteer activity in the United States shows that the American people do not need government’s help in providing an effective safety net.

The problems plaguing the health care system are rooted in the treatment of health care as a “right.” This justifies government intervention in the health care marketplace. This intervention causes increasing prices and declining quality and supply. Ironically, those who suffer most from government intervention are the very people proponents of these programs claim to want to help. The first step in restoring a health care system that meets the needs of all people is to start treating health care as a good that can and should only be provided via voluntary actions of free people.


The Phony Job Recovery

By Ron Paul

Last Friday saw the release of a bombshell jobs report, with headlines exclaiming that the US economy added over 250,000 jobs in July, far in excess of any forecasts. The reality was far more grim. Those “jobs” weren’t actually created by businesses – they were created by the statisticians who compiled the numbers, through the process of “seasonal adjustment.” That’s a bit of statistical magic that the government likes to pull out of its hat when the real data isn’t very flattering. It’s done with GDP, it’s done with job numbers, and similar manipulation is done with government inflation figures to keep them lower than actual price increases. In reality there are a million fewer people with jobs this month than last month, but the magic of seasonal adjustment turns that into a gain of 255,000.

Delving further into the jobs report, we see that many of the jobs that were supposedly created were jobs in government and health care. Government jobs, of course, are paid for by siphoning money away from taxpayers. And health care jobs are increasingly created solely because of the ever-growing mandates of Obamacare. Other major sources of job growth were temp jobs and leisure & hospitality (i.e. waiters and bartenders). These aren’t long-lasting jobs that will contribute to economic growth, they are mostly just jobs that cater to the tastes of the well-to-do who continue to benefit from the Federal Reserve’s easy monetary policy.

As New York, San Francisco, Washington, DC, and other political and financial hubs continue to benefit from trillions of dollars of debt-financed government spending and the trillions more dollars the Federal Reserve has created from nothing, the politicians, lobbyists, and bankers who receive that money demand ever more exotic food, drink, and entertainment. The jobs that arise to satisfy that demand, we are supposed to believe, are the backbone of the job market “recovery.” Yeah, right.

Eight years after the worst part of the last financial crisis, the US economy still has not fully recovered. The number of people employed may have finally begun to grow past its pre-crisis peak but the quality of jobs has deteriorated, and the number of people who are still looking for jobs or who have even given up looking for jobs and dropped out of the labor force still numbers in the millions and shows no signs of shrinking. Quantitative easing, zero or negative interest rates, and other inflationary central bank policies cannot lead to lasting job creation or economic growth. Try telling that to the central bankers, though. They only care about aggregate numbers, not what is actually behind those aggregates. A castle built of sand is the same to them as a castle built of stone.

Until the notion that wealth and prosperity can come from a printing press is eradicated from the thinking of policymakers, economies around the world will remained mired in this malaise. Jobs are created by meeting consumer demand. If you provide the goods and services that customers want at the price they want, your business will grow, jobs will be created, and everyone in society will be better off.

If, on the other hand, jobs are created through government money creation and heavily protectionist laws and regulations, those jobs will not meet the needs of consumers, will add nothing to productivity, and ultimately will not last. When politicians pursue policies that incentivize jobs like the latter to those of the former, economic stagnation is the unfortunate but predictable result.

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Tennessee corporate welfare

Check out this new website which has an interactive map that tells where corporate welfare is being handed out.

In Blount County

Corporate Handouts for Alcoa

Alcoa, Inc. $950,000 training reimbursement 2013
K12 Management, Inc. $148,800 training reimbursement 2014
ProNova Solutions, LLC $525,000 training reimbursement  2013

Corporate Handouts for Maryville

Alcoa, Inc. $2,200,000 grant/low-cost loan 2013
Microtherm, Inc. $14,700 training reimbursement 2013
Surface Ignighter, LLC $540,000 training reimbursement 2013

Corporate Handouts for Rockford

Cooper Standard Rockford  $45,000 training reimbursement 2013

Doug Overbey’s jobs claims haven’t materialized into better pay for his district

By now, those of you who vote have received your latest glossy mailer of the week from State Senator Doug Overbey entitled “Doug Overbey Focuses on Jobs.”  This looks like a brag sheet produced by the Blount Partnership with the name Doug Overbey inserted in its place.

Overbey is taking credit for crony deals using your money.  The IDB gave the farm away, literally, to get AMI here.  Some of these jobs are expansions from companies that are already heavily invested in the community.  While the Blount Partnership, Governor Bill Haslam and Doug Overbey are taking credit for Cirrus Aircraft moving in, they aren’t telling you about the better paying jobs that have and will likely continuing leaving the airport.

What about all the small business that create jobs but don’t get any special tax incentives like these crony deals given to bigger companies?  Overbey, like most Republicans, would probably claim to support economic liberty.  A free market wouldn’t favor specials interests and provide corporate welfare.  A free market would provide a level playing field for all to compete on.

A better measure of a politician’s success would be jobs created without special deals.  A strong economy wouldn’t require special tax breaks for a few connected companies, so that politicians like Overbey can brag about giving the farm away, using your money, to attract jobs.

If Overbey has done such a great job of “creating an environment that’s bringing thousands [of] quality jobs to the people of Blount and Sevier Counties”, during his time as state senator, then pay should be increasing at or above the rate of inflation.  It is not.

According to the East Tennessee Index, Blount County was the only county in the region where pay was below the rate of inflation in 2013.  In 2014, Sevier County joined Blount County as the only other county in the region where pay isn’t keeping up with the rate of inflation.  These two counties are Overbey’s district.

The next time you hear Overbey and the Blount Partnership tout jobs, take it with a grain of salt.  Neither are worth their salt.

Vote for Scott Williams for State Senator in the Republican Primary on August 4th.

Government Can’t Help; It Can Only Hurt

by Ron Paul

Three recent stories regarding three government agencies — the IRS, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) — show why we should oppose big government for practical, as well as philosophical, reasons.

In recent months, many Americans have missed their flights because of longer-than-usual TSA security lines. In typical DC fashion, the TSA claims the delays are because of budget cuts, even though Congress regularly increases the TSA’s funding!

The TSA is also blaming the delays on the fact that few Americans have signed up for its “PreCheck” program. Under PreCheck, the TSA considers excusing some Americans from some of the screening process. Those who wish to be considered must first submit personal information to the TSA and pay a fee. Only a bureaucrat would think Americans would be eager to give the TSA more information and money on the chance that they may be approved for PreCheck.

The TSA is much better at harassing airline passengers than at providing security. TSA agents regularly fail to catch weapons hidden by federal agents testing the screening process. Sadly, Congress will likely reward the TSA’s failures with continued funding increases. Rewarding the TSA’s incompetence shouldn’t surprise us since the TSA owes its existence to the failure of government to protect airline passengers on 9/11.

If Congress truly wanted to protect airline passengers, it would shut down the TSA and let airlines determine how best to protect their passengers. Private businesses have a greater incentive than government bureaucrats to protect their customers and their property without stripping their customers of their dignity.

The head of the VA also made headlines last week when he said it is unfair to judge the VA by how long veterans have to wait for medical care, since no one judges Disney World by how long people have to wait in line. Perhaps he is unaware that no one has ever died because he waited too long to go on an amusement park ride.

For years socialized medicine supporters pointed to the VA as proof that a government bureaucracy could deliver quality health care. The stories of veterans being denied care or receiving substandard care demolish those claims.

If Congress truly wanted to ensure that veterans receive quality health care, it would stop forcing veterans to seek health care from a federal bureaucracy. Instead, government would give veterans health-care vouchers or health savings accounts and allow them to manage their own health care. Congress should also dramatically reduce the costs of providing veterans care by ending our militaristic foreign policy.

Another story last week highlights the one thing government does do well: violate our rights. The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on impeaching IRS Commissioner John Koskinen over his role in the IRS’s persecution of conservative organizations.

Those who value liberty and constitutional government should support impeaching Koskinen. However, truly protecting Americans from IRS tyranny requires eliminating the income tax. Despite the claims of some, a flat tax system would still require a federal bureaucracy to ensure Americans are accurately reporting their income. Since the income tax is one of the foundations of the welfare-warfare state, it is folly to think we can eliminate the income tax without first dramatically reducing the size and scope of government.

The TSA, VA, and IRS are just three examples of how government cannot effectively provide any good or service except authoritarianism. Individuals acting in the free market are more than capable of providing for their own needs, including the need to protect themselves, their families, and their property, if the government gets out of the way.


Beltway Conservative Budget Plans Are Big Spending and Anti-Liberty

by Ron Paul

According to a recent poll, 73 percent of all Americans oppose increases in federal spending. Since this anti-government spending sentiment is a major reason Republicans control the House and Senate, one would expect the Republican Congress to hold the line on, or even cut, government spending. Yet, despite the Republican leadership’s rhetoric about “fiscal responsibility,” this year’s House Republican budget spends $104 billion more than the GOP’s 2013 budget.

Some conservatives, most notably the Heritage Foundation, have criticized the GOP budget. Heritage and the conservative House Republican Study Committee (RSC) have both prepared conservative alternatives to the official Republican budgets. Unfortunately, neither Heritage nor the RSC budgets meaningfully reduce federal spending.

Conservative efforts to reduce the size of government are handicapped by their love affair with the military-industrial complex. Since the Pentagon’s budget makes up the largest category of “discretionary” spending, it seems logical that a serious balanced budget plan would reduce spending on militarism.

Yet many of the same conservatives who (rightly) criticize the Republicans for refusing to cut spending not only oppose cuts to the Pentagon budget, they actually call for increases in military spending! These conservatives refuse to admit that the trillions spent on “regime change” overseas have not only failed to turn the targeted counties into Jeffersonian republics but have actually empowered groups like ISIS.

Conservative support for ever-increasing spending on militarism undercuts their efforts to end corporate welfare. Much of the so-called defense budget is wasted on boondoggles like the F-35 fighter that only defend the lifestyles of defense contractors and their lobbyists.

Despite insisting on increased military spending, the Heritage and RSC budgets both, at least on paper, eliminate the deficit in less than ten years. These budgets contain some other positive elements. For example, the RSC budget calls for an audit of the Federal Reserve. Both budgets repeal Obamacare and provide the American people with much needed tax relief.

The good features of the conservative budgets do not cancel out their flaws. For one thing, neither of the conservative budgets actually cuts spending. Instead, they both use the old DC trick of cutting projected increases in spending. Only in DC could budgets that increase domestic spending be considered a “radical attack on the welfare state.”

The fundamental flaw in the conservative budgets is philosophical: like much of modern American conservatism, the budget accepts the notion that that the American government is both constitutionally authorized to, and capable of, running the economy, running our lives, and running the world. Hence the “conservative” budgets do little or nothing to scale back the federal role in education, housing, welfare, or commerce.

Conservative budgets reform welfare programs by giving the states more authority and flexibility in administering the programs. This may make marginal improvements in the programs, but it does not make the welfare state moral or constitutional. It also does not make government welfare more efficient or compassionate than private charity.

Similarly, while conservatives promise entitlement reforms that give individuals greater control, they refuse to grant young people the option to care for themselves by opting-out of the government entitlement system.

If America is going to avoid a major economic crisis, government spending and debt must be reduced. However, budgets that merely tinker around the edges of the welfare-warfare state, or only reduce the rate of spending increases, merely postpone the day of reckoning. Only a budget that brings the troops home, shuts down unconstitutional agencies, ends all corporate welfare, and begins unwinding our welfare and entitlement programs will ensure future generations enjoy liberty, peace, and prosperity.

Copyright © 2016 by Ron Paul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.  Read online

When Peace Breaks Out With Iran

Written by Ron Paul

This has been the most dramatic week in US/Iranian relations since 1979.

Last weekend ten US Navy personnel were caught in Iranian waters, as the Pentagon kept changing its story on how they got there. It could have been a disaster for President Obama’s big gamble on diplomacy over conflict with Iran. But after several rounds of telephone diplomacy between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif, the Iranian leadership – which we are told by the neocons is too irrational to even talk to – did a most rational thing: weighing the costs and benefits they decided it made more sense not to belabor the question of what an armed US Naval vessel was doing just miles from an Iranian military base. Instead of escalating, the Iranian government fed the sailors and sent them back to their base in Bahrain.

Then on Saturday, the Iranians released four Iranian-Americans from prison, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian. On the US side, seven Iranians held in US prisons, including six who were dual citizens, were granted clemency. The seven were in prison for seeking to trade with Iran in violation of the decades-old US economic sanctions.

This mutual release came just hours before the United Nations certified that Iran had met its obligations under the nuclear treaty signed last summer and that, accordingly, US and international sanctions would be lifted against the country.

How did the “irrational” Iranians celebrate being allowed back into the international community? They immediately announced a massive purchase of more than 100 passenger planes from the European Airbus company, and that they would also purchase spare parts from Seattle-based Boeing. Additionally, US oil executives have been in Tehran negotiating trade deals to be finalized as soon as it is legal to do so. The jobs created by this peaceful trade will be beneficial to all parties concerned. The only jobs that should be lost are the Washington advocates of re-introducing sanctions on Iran.

Events this week have dealt a harsh blow to Washington’s neocons, who for decades have been warning against any engagement with Iran. These true isolationists were determined that only regime change and a puppet government in Tehran could produce peaceful relations between the US and Iran. Instead, engagement has worked to the benefit of the US and Iran.

Proven wrong, however, we should not expect the neocons to apologize or even pause to reflect on their failed ideology. Instead, they will continue to call for new sanctions on any pretext. They even found a way to complain about the release of the US sailors – they should have never been confronted in the first place even if they were in Iranian waters. And they even found a way to complain about the return of the four Iranian-Americans to their families and loved ones – the US should have never negotiated with the Iranians to coordinate the release of prisoners, they grumbled. It was a show of weakness to negotiate! Tell that to the families on both sides who can now enjoy the company of their loved ones once again!

I have often said that the neocons’ greatest fear is for peace to break out. Their well-paid jobs are dependent on conflict, sanctions, and pre-emptive war. They grow wealthy on conflict, which only drains our economy. Let’s hope that this new opening with Iran will allow many other productive Americans to grow wealthy through trade and business ties. Let’s hope many new productive jobs will be created on both sides. Peace is prosperous!

Copyright © 2015 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
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