Ducey’s “incremental” pursuit of Brownback’s policy is still a load of hooey


Crossposted from DemocraticDiva.com

laffer napkin

Kimber Lanning, founder and executive director of Local First Arizona, delivered a fairly thorough smackdown to Robert Robb’s AZ Republic column whining that the Buy Local movement is a bunch of hooey.

Republic columnist Robert Robb is tired of hearing about the “buy local” movement and would like Arizonans to turn a blind eye to the economy and simply shop wherever they feel most satisfied. (“Shop where you want, guilt-free,” Dec. 19)

He claims the local movement is “hooey,” yet unabashedly has no statistics to back this. He just wants you, dear citizens, to throw the concept out the window.

In his article, Robb questions the countless economic studies released since 2002 but does not offer any substantive reasons for the questioning. Instead of following Robb’s simplistic calculations, let’s turn to the professional economists who back these studies, which have all concluded that an average of $30 more out of every $100 spent will stay in the local economy when money is spent with a local company versus a non-local corporate entity.

A Civic Economics study from 2007 showed the state of Arizona’s then-$5 million contract with OfficeMax was causing the state to lose $500,000 per year in economic leakage.

Definitely read the whole op-ed, since Lanning makes a solid case, bolstered with plenty of stats, for choosing local merchants over national chains whenever possible. I especially appreciated her calling out Robb for tossing out a context-free bit of frippery – “economies of scale” – to make himself look so very chin-stroking and serious.

Economies of scale only work in a free-market society, which we are not. Our food is subsidized — consider 80 percent of all farm-bill dollars since 1995 went to the largest 10 percent of America’s farms for commodity crops, which is why processed fast food is so cheap.

Our oil is subsidized, our biggest banks are subsidized, and even chain stores are subsidized — all using taxpayer money. To believe in free markets in the U.S. today is like believing in the tooth fairy. Americans actually have forgotten how the economy works and have no tools to measure the true costs — human, social or environmental — of doing business. To suggest that we shouldn’t care about these costs is shortsighted and reckless.

Boom. If anyone is spewing hooey, it is certainly not the Local First people.

Lanning’s piece put me in mind of this recent Politico one about certain Republican governors and their fraught association with Kansas Governor Sam Brownback.

“It’s a major turnaround from two years ago, when Brownback was considered a Republican trailblazer for conservatives around the nation who dreamed of phasing out their state income tax.

Now, Republicans are rethinking how aggressive they can be on taxes in light of the projected $279 million revenue gap that’s plaguing Kansas this year — shortfalls that resulted in the state’s credit rating being downgraded and nearly booted the Republican from office in a state that bleeds red.

Of course, Republicans aren’t ditching supply-side economic theory or tax cuts. But they’re considering ways to avoid Kansas’ troubles. Their takeaways include smaller cuts over extended periods of time, stopgaps to protect revenues — and avoiding overpromising.

It’s making for an odd dynamic in which some Republicans now proudly say their tax plans will be “incremental” or “evolutionary” instead of “revolutionary.”

Of course they’re not going to ditch their beloved religion, any more than Bob Robb is going to stop worshiping Walmart (or supply-side economics, since he loves that too). What they are going to do is continue to press for their favored policies in such a way that the older white people whose votes they need won’t notice them too much. They’ll do it incrementally, and with lots of dazzling and smart-sounding bullshit like “economies of scale”.

An Arizona Republican close to GOP Gov.-elect Doug Ducey, who wants to make serious changes to the state’s Tax Code, said they’ll communicate more realistically than Brownback: Though they think tax cuts grow the economy, “we have never said decreasing taxes would increase state revenue.”

That’s a neat formulation that ignores the middle part that the supply siders have touted for decades – that tax cuts lead to wondrous growth, which in turn leads to increased state revenues – which has not actually happened. (The whole thing is a farce since, if tax increases really led to decreased government revenue, then wouldn’t Grover Norquist et al be demanding non-stop tax increases so as to hasten the day of the glorious drowning of the government in the bathtub? Hmm?)

That which will propel Doug Ducey’s administration toward their incremental pursuit of Sam Brownback’s temporarily thwarted utopia will undoubtedly include notions of “job creators” and “personal responsibility” and “accountability”, plus some really fancy-seeming things like “Laffer’s Curve” (it’s like Robb’s “economies of scale”, except it has some guy’s name on it. Fancier!). Arizona conservatives have a lot of chin stroking and seriousness to catch up on, now that Governor 17 Seconds is leaving. None of which, I promise you, will be anything but hooey. None of them bothering to show their work.


      • It is hard to imagine – in a nation that allows free and unfettered travel within it’s borders – that you could be “forced” to live anywhere. All you have to do is pack up your stuff and move. Or you could abandon your stuff and move. Nothing stops you.

        So what is forcing you to stay here? A legal injunction? Probation? Did you sign a contract knowingly giving up your right to leave the State? Something about your statement doesn’t sound right.

    • Then why on earth do you live here? There are so many wonderful places to live in this Country, and such a variety of places, as well. Why stay here?

  1. Steve, I understand the frustration of wanting to buy local, but feeling that it is a lot more work than it is worth. But, if you look at the Local First website, you will notice two points:

    1) Local First does not ask you to spend all of your money locally. I can’t, for instance, get a locally-made car. But, they ask you to SHIFT your spending just 20%. This can include eating at locally-owned restaurants. Plus, they have all of the data to show what benefits our state gets if people do that.

    2) There are many times that locally-owned products are less expensive than the national brands. After all, they don’t have to deliver a huge return for their share holders and over-paid CEOs. You can find a huge list of locally-owned businesses in the directory on the Local First website.

    Happy shopping.

  2. Despite the financial disaster brownback and the republicans turned kansas into they were re-elected. The same is true for arizona in 2014. almost 70% of white people in both states don’t care. read the book what is the matter with kansas. What is the matter with arizona? Rich old white democrats have to appeal to the 70% of white people who loathe the democratic party. They do as little as possible to register hispanics so they can win primaries against young hispanic democrats for their ego trips for as long as possible.

  3. Of course, Arizona never applied a sales tax to the biggest transactions in the whole State, real estate transactions, since the entire GOP for the last 40 years was a sub-committee of the real estate industry. They refused to ever consider any minor sales tax of 1% or less, exempting single family, owner occupied home sales less than $150,000, to placate the home ownership “tears”lobby. And the legislature will continue to give targeted tax exemptions to pet people, with most obscene tax credit, the corporate tax credit for “donations” to private school accounts. Then as Kelli Ward whines, “we just don’t have the money!”

    • You are like the vast majority of Americans. I would love to always “Buy Local”, but so often the price differential pushes me to the big box stores. In my business, I have always insisted we “Buy American”, but that is getting harder and harder to do and still stay competitive.

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