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Cities don't have to offer huge subsidies to companies like Apple and Amazon (theguardian.com)
363 points by pmoriarty 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 316 comments



Reminds me of US cities funding oligarch owned sport team new stadium fiascos that occur every few years. Oligarch organization gets massive tax breaks and subsidies then holds city to ransom threatening to move the team to another city that is dangling incentives.

The premise is usually jobs, local pride and prestige...and it usually ends really badly for the locals...


A really great example is the stadium in St. Louis that the city helped pay for to keep the Rams in town.. The Rams left a few years later for LA, and the city is stuck with 144M debt bill to pay on an empty stadium.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-sports-nfl-stadiums-insig...


It baffles me why anyone lets their municipal and county governments even touch the building of stadiums in the first place. It seems to me that this is entirely not the concern of the authorities.


> this is entirely not the concern of the authorities

Sports fans are religious. Teams, for better or worse, have the power to rally voters in a way that makes them politically powerful.


Also being known as the politician who "let" their team go is a political death sentence.


Put another way...Being the politician who does the right thing for her / his constituents is a political death sentence.


Not everywhere; even the raiders fans in Oakland appear to be OK with letting the team move to LV because of how shitty the team has treated the city.


How the Raiders treat their own season ticket holders is reprehensible.


Do you think the quality of the team effects that?


Meh. They'll be back.


Not true. There is no way citizens are voting to have their taxes spent on this.


You'd be very, very, very surprised.

Not sure about the US, but in countries in Europe and Latin America that I know of, that's very much the case -- sports fans (soccer in this case of course) are a very vocal group, and have much influence on politics, and always push for more government spending on stadiums.


What are you talking about? In Europe, clubs have to pay for their own stadium.

Arsenal paid for their stadium when they moved from Highbury to Emirates. Tottenham is paying for renovation of White Heart Lane. Real Madrid will be paying out of their own pocket for renovation to Bernabeu. Fc Barcelona will be paying out of their own pocket to renovate Camp Nou.

I'm not aware the barbaric culture of billionaires using tax payers money to build a stadium and then keeping the profits from it anywhere outside US.


>I'm not aware the barbaric culture of billionaires using tax payers money to build a stadium and then keeping the profits from it anywhere outside US.

You'd be surprised.

"Taxpayers have criticised a "ridiculous" deal which means West Ham United will pay just a fraction of the £2.3m annual business rates bill on its London Stadium home.Owners E20 Stadium revealed the Hammers will only pay additional rates on the retail and office space in the 66,000-capacity ground after they secured the lease for just £2.5m a year in rent last year. Costs for the rest of the arena will have to be covered by E20, a joint venture between publicly funded London Legacy Development Corporation and Newham Council."

"English club Manchester City received more than $170 million in public funds for its Etihad Stadium, where it moved in 2002, because the grounds were built to host the Commonwealth Games. Tottenham Hotspur, another English club, will reportedly receive some sort of public aid, whether through tax breaks or other forms of relief, to build a new version of its White Hart Lane. West Ham is moving into London’s Olympic stadium, also built with public funds, though the club will pay a small amount of the conversion costs and will also pay annual rent (in two of these instances, you’ll notice, the stadiums were built for other events and are being utilized by clubs, which isn’t altogether a bad thing). And in Spain, Barça, Real Madrid, the world’s second most valuable franchise, and other clubs are under a European Union investigation for receiving improper tax breaks."

"When Juventus inaugurated the Juventus Arena in 2011 instead of the old Delle Alpi it became the first club in Italy to have stadium ownership while other clubs in Italy still rent a stadium from the local council. The main reason is for municipally owned stadiums is regulation and financial power of Italian clubs but this is starting to change now".

Even when you read about "renting" it, the deals are more than generous (nowhere near the costs), and accompanied with huge tax breaks and easy state or municipally-supported loans in tons of cases.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/were-the-billions-brazi...

(And let's not even discuss e.g. Greece and other soccer-obsessed countries)


West Ham have had favours and Real Madrid have had a stupid amount of help from Madrid since forever.


The stadium "Stade de Suisse" in Bern, Switzerland has an interesting approach. The stadium is not owned by the local club but by a joint venture of the club and various shops that are located in the stadium. The entire stadium was financed by those shops, gyms and whatnot. As is maintenance. Also, the shops are accessible from the outside even when no game is being played.


Sounds like a good idea for something like a Mall, but not sure how it works in practice for a stadium.

The cost of opening a shop, gyp etc and equipping it at a regular location is already too large, without having to co-sponsor part of a stadium (which has huge costs to build and maintain) while at it.

I suspect big subsidies or tax cuts or something involved too.


OK, count me very, very, very surprised. If it happens there, I’m sure it happens all over the US.


In Milwaukee, they voted to raise the local sales tax to help pay for the Brewers stadium.


Wow. Was it clear to them what they were voting for? How does that happen?


Maybe it's a Wisconsin thing? Renovations to Lambeau Field in Green Bay were paid for by a voter-approved sales tax in Brown County.

Wisconsin also loves to use property taxes for various things, which is how it gets away with being slightly lower-taxed than neighboring MN while having a similar quality of life.


GBP are a nonprofit community-owned team:

The Packers are owned by the fans, making them the only publicly owned, not-for-profit, major professional team in the United States. The Pack have been a fan-owned operation since the primitive pro football days of the nineteen-twenties, when N.F.L. teams could be won in card games and no one foresaw the awesome power this sport would hold over both the American imagination and the American wallet.... The Packers’ unique setup has created a relationship between team and community unlike any in the N.F.L. Wisconsin fans get to enjoy the team with the confidence that their owner won’t threaten to move to Los Angeles unless the team gets a new mega-dome.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/sporting-scene/those-non-prof...


San Diego did just that, and said no to the stadium the Chargers wanted, next to downtown (they were willing to build a different stadium elsewhere). So they left for LA.


That's been working out pretty poorly for them. Stuck with a $650 million dollar fine from the league and the lowest attendance in the NFL. And stuck as a second-class renter of a stadium that's controlled by a University.


Poorly in other ways as well - https://deadspin.com/faa-gives-pilots-thumbs-up-to-fly-rude-...

The highlight - "However, the FAA only grants TFRs for stadiums and arenas that hold 30,000 or more, and since the StubHub Center capacity is under 30,000 — the Chargers announced a sellout at 25,386 during their game with the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday — the FAA will not grant the TFR."


Well, that's a separate matter. They made the horrendous mistake of agreeing to a fine structure which includes a 650 million dollar penalty for doing the right thing, chances are that it would cost them similar over the years to subsidize it.


Do you mean the city of San Diego got fined for letting their team go? or the team got fines for leaving?


You're right - it's silly:

"Spanos had pledged $350 million to the stadium project in San Diego. But now that he’s moving, he’ll have to pay the NFL a $550 million relocation fee.

That’s right. For roughly the same amount of money he’s spending to flee the city that has loved his usually woeful team unconditionally for 56 years, Spanos could have had his new stadium. Instead, he fire bombed his fan base to relocate to a city so enthused by the move that it couldn’t even manage to stifle its yawn."

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/columnist/nancy-armour...


Yawn isn't the half of it. The most popular football teams in LA are:

1. The Raiders (like, it's not even close)

2. The Rams (probably a little more popular after their good season last year)

3. The LA Galaxy (that's right, a soccer team)

4. The Chargers.


There's also UCLA and USC in there before the Chargers...


Is LAFC (MLS) more popular than the Chargers yet?


I gather from this thread that LA has a lot of stadiums now.


The outlier here is that the new Rams/Chargers stadium (and retail/residential/office that it includes) in LA is privately funded. (Actually, CA in general doesn't spend as much on stadiums as other places have been.)

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-chargers-taxes-nfl-201...

>For decades, Angelenos went without a hometown NFL team in part because they were notoriously loath to spend taxes on one. Rams owner Stan Kroenke, worth $7.4 billion according to Forbes, made the league's return to Los Angeles possible because he was game to use his own money to develop the $2.66-billion Inglewood stadium that, starting in 2019, will be home base of his team and the Chargers.

>Inglewood will ultimately pay the project an estimated $60 million as a reimbursement for the development of roadwork, utilities and public parks on the site of the property.

>James T. Butts Jr., mayor of Inglewood, said he would not have agreed to a new NFL stadium if it required fans to chip in.

>"From our first talks, we made it clear that was not something we were going to do," Butts said. "We wanted a model that basically insulated the city from the buffeting winds of both the economy and ticket sales, and we have that now."

It's an open question who it'll work out for: both the Chargers and Rams were in LA before, before leaving for perceived greener pastures. The Rams' owners seem to be hedging their bets this time with the multi-purpose real-estate nature of the stadium. But will STL or SD really be that badly off? We'll see if they end up spending money in the future to get a team back... LA didn't, though.


Really though, he was able to privately finance this one because he screwed St. Louis with the costs of another stadium.


It is the second biggest city in the country. And technically, many of them are not in the City of LA, but the LA Metro Area.


People seem to forget, LA somehow lost their previous teams. Maybe people in LA have better options than just getting drunk and burning up a Sunday and don't attend much.

I've noticed USC fills their stadium only when they're spectacular. Whereas other teams across the country fill it up when they're only OK (most of the big 10).

Anecdotal but probably understandable via stats.


Presently, the Chargers and Rams are sharing the old Coliseum stadium, similar to how the New York Giants and New York Jets share a stadium in New Jersey.


The Chargers and Rams do not presently share a stadium. They have proposed to fund a joint stadium, but that is in the future. Presently, the Rams play at the Coliseum and the Chargers play at Stub Hub Center (LA Galaxy soccer specific Stadium with seating for 27,000).


Oh. Thanks for the correction!


Isn't there something in a contract that a city has with a team saying that the city owns the name and/or trademarks? I mean, some places have an intimate relationship with the place they were created in. Minnesota Vikings come to mind, due to the primarily Scandinavian descendants in that frozen tundra. Why not say, sure you'll get your stadium but in exchange you don't get to keep the name if you move.


I wonder how much that would matter. The NBA has had team name changes. Recently it’s been Seattle’s team to Oklahoma City changing names. Then New Orleans changing to Pelicans.

The Pelicans as far as I know don’t even get the historical numbers and seasons of the original location (Charlotte) team either. They go to the current Charlotte Hornets.

As a new team (Charlotte Bobcats) was created in Charlotte and fans had a successful campaign to rename that new team back to the Pelicans original team name, Charlotte Hornets.

Sorry if it’s confusing, but basically two NBA team name changes in this century and it wasn’t the biggest deal for the teams.

I can’t see the Chargers or Raiders being particularly hurt if they had to change their names when moving to their new location. Rams I guess would hurt a bit, but even then, doubt that much.


Do you see many lakes in LA? They used to be in 'the land of 10,000 lakes' (Minnesota)


Good point.


As a european football (you might call it soccer) fan, this sounds absolutely insane. Having a club move to a different city is a sure way to alienate large parts of the fan base.


Moving to LA has mostly upside though. The city hasn’t had a steady NFL team in a long time and the leading favorite team for locals, the Oakland (aka San Fran area) Raiders are relocating to Vegas themselves so that’ll probably make it easier to get more fans for new LA teams. I’d think it would be profitable or fine enough for any team to move to a top 5-10 non- sports congested metro area in the US. Adjust that amount for other country’s sizes and I’d think it’s the same.

Also, what are fans going to do if their only local team that they’ve been long time fans of leaves? It’s hard for many fans to get emotionally invested into another team. And people enjoy being fans of local teams so the new location will bring new fans. Maybe Europe isn’t like that. I personally am not like that, but I’m def not the norm.


And St Louis was about to pony up for a second one to keep the team. Fortunately Kronke did the city a favor and left anyway.

The city has rejected another request for a MLS stadium. I guess they are wising up.


Why don't they just put the MLS team in the empty Rams stadium?


Play association football in a stadium intended for gridiron football? Are you a madman?


Or he's not an American and doesn't know those teams, so just assumes they play the same sport and asks the most logical question given that.

How about that?

Not to mention that in a pinch, a stadium can always be changed to fit a different sport (if the space is enough), for much less than to build another one.


That was sarcasm. Many cities have NFL and MLS teams share stadium. The two fields are almost identical dimensions.


I am guessing he was joking.


Back when I used to live in DC, the soccer team played in an old football stadium (RFK)(and they may still). It was cool in a sort of eerie way, watching in a mostly empty hulk of a stadium that was clearly progressing in partial decay. Plus, the stands were metal, so you could feel them swaying when everyone jumped together.


DC United just got there own soccer specific stadium this season.


Have you been to a game yet? How is it?


You are missing part of the point of the article. Don't blame the tech company or the sports owner for getting these concessions. Business owners are always going to act in their own best interest. Individual people do the same thing. Lots of people who live along the Washington/Oregon border make all their big purchases in Oregon because of the lack of state sales tax. I don't see anything morally wrong with doing that. They are just responding to economic incentives. Instead blame the politicians for setting up this perverse game of incentives in the first place. This article is trying to educate politicians (and the general population) of a better way to accomplish the same goals.


Why does the blame always lie with "politicians"? That's unhelpfully reductionist... we are a democracy. Businesses, private citizens, and representives all come together to define our public policy.

Those "perverse" tax incentives were a reasonable compromise between voters and businesses within a state. The perversion only exists at the interstate level, so which politician is "at fault"? The Washington legislature, responsible for all of Washington? Individual WA representatives, who get one vote regardless of their constituent's distance from the border? Or is it on the Oregon side?

If either state copied the other, there's no problem - but which one "wins", and how do those changes get implemented?


I live in a one-party gerrymandered state, not a democracy. It makes perfect sense in my case to blame the politicians.


For those unfamiliarwith gerrymandering, I highly recommend the John Oliver explanation, a humorist of actual facts, showing maps and tactics of politicians that are borderline criminal.

https://youtu.be/A-4dIImaodQ


Amusingly, my friend is a high school math teacher, and had to find topics to keep the kids interested in between the AP test and the end of the school year. So he had an exercise where the kids used a software program to come up with different strategies for gerrymandering our state.


>Why does the blame always lie with "politicians"? That's unhelpfully reductionist... we are a democracy. Businesses, private citizens, and representives all come together to define our public policy.

You're right. Technically the fault lies in the voters for voting in those politicians. In practice, it's the politicians that fail the voters though. That's literally what the politicians are voted to do, but they obviously operate under their own incentives, which is to get reelected.


If I had a penny for every time a politician came into office and broke campaign promises...


If you are counting the elections that you have participated in you'd probably have a few dollars.


Paul Allen fully funded Ref 48, spending ~$5m to convince the taxpayers to buy him a stadium.


The politicians at fault are the ones who were without foresight and allowed the wrong incentives to exist for local politicians.


Politicians are the ones responsible for reaching the compromise between citizens (and businesses are just a collection of citizens). If you do not like the compromises reached, you should work harder to convince the politicians to change their mind. Attacking the citizens you disagree with gets nothing accomplished. That is how we got into this crazy polarized political climate in which a solid third of this country thinks a different third are either fascists or Marxists.

The politicians are ultimately accountable to their constituents. The people of Walla Walla likely have different opinions on sales tax than the people of Redmond. If the politicians don't represent those opinions then they should be voted out. If they do represent those opinions, it is simply a numbers game from there. If your side loses, that is just how democracy works. That applies to every level of government from the local up through the federal. It applies to individuals the same way it applies to businesses.


I am talking about complaints with the elections of other districts.

My representative fairly represents my district's sentiment. The policies we want are blocked by neighboring district representatives - who also fairly represent their districts. The compromises tend to land squarely in between the extremes. If we're not happy with the compromise, the answer is to try moving the opposing side closer... which means convincing citizens of that district to change their mind.

Citizen discourse is the core of effective democracies. Elections merely represent public sentiment - peer to peer discussions are how we change the status quo.

America's problem is we seem to have forgotten how to talk about politics. Even your language reflects that... no suggestion of civil debate, just a false dichotomy of surrendering to the numbers game or "attacking" other citizens.

Insults are an attack, but genuinely challenging beliefs is not an attack. My neighbor and I may disagree, but we aren't enemies - we are both citizens that want what's best for our family and friends. Talking politics is how we figure out what that means. Those discussions between private citizens is the decentralized process of moving a democracy forward.


I generally agree with what you are saying here. The "attacking" comment in my last post and the overall tone was more about the original comment that spawned this thread that used accusations about oligarchs holding cities ransom. I don't think that type of name calling is productive.

I also wasn't attempting to setup a dichotomy between surrendering or attacking (although I can certainly see that implication after rereading my comment, sorry about that). I would consider civil discourse part of the "work harder to convince the politicians to change their mind" comment. You can convince a politician by talking directly to them or by rallying other citizens to your cause.

However the discussion was about "blame" and "fault". I think those are very aggressive words to use against other citizens you disagree with. If we are going to use those words, I think they should be focused towards politicians who are accountable to your wishes. Your neighbor or the citizens in the next district over are not accountable to you and therefore should not receive blame for disagreeing with you.


Customers are a business's constituency. Whether we want to change the behavior of a politician or a business, ultimately it's done by garnering the support of some threshold of our fellow citizens. There's no real basis for blaming politicians rather than businesses for deals like these.


If you do not like the compromises reached, you should work harder to convince the politicians to change their mind. Attacking the citizens you disagree with gets nothing accomplished. That is how we got into this crazy polarized political climate in which a solid third of this country thinks a different third are either fascists or Marxists.

While this is true to some extent, changing the minds of politicians sometimes requires changing the minds of voters.


I don’t like the notion that it is morally just to always act in your own self interest and that it is the job of regulations to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do. That framework doesn’t extend to the nuance of life.

I can choose to find fault with tech companies and sports owners while still holding politicians accountable as well.


They also put out a lot of propaganda and false information out to get their way. It's not like they just take advantage of an opportunity. They create that opportunity with a lot of questionable practices.

And in addition voters are stupid. Spending a million on a swimming pool for kids is waste but half a billion for a sports stadium is a must.


>They also put out a lot of propaganda and false information out to get their way. It's not like they just take advantage of an opportunity. They create that opportunity with a lot of questionable practices.

If a politician believes a single report prepared by a sports team over the literally dozens of peer reviewed academic studies that say the exact opposite, I blame the politician.

>And in addition voters are stupid. Spending a million on a swimming pool for kids is waste but half a billion for a sports stadium is a must.

That is democracy in action. More people want the sports stadium than the swimming pool. You might disagree with them, but that doesn't make them wrong.


You can't blame the politician, they were the voter's choice!

You can't blame the voters, they are free to choose whoever they want!

You can't blame the lobbyists or the PACs, they just try to persuade voters!

You can't blame corporations for contributing to campaigns, they are just trying to create the most politically favorable environment to maximize profits!

You can't blame the shareholders, they just want a return on their investment!


The system is to blame. It ulimately is the public's responsibility. The voters can't change the system without leaders within their ranks forming special interest groups that help elect politicians who will push forward this cause above all other causes.

It's no wonder that the entire concept of a modern democracy is a shame. You never really had control as a voter.

I like to think of it as going out to eat. In a modern democracy you get a choice of ketchup or mustard. Some may choose not to pick (not vote) or some may be able to even get a third choice like hot pepper added at one location.

During pre-election everyone is shouting back why ketchup is better than mustard. News anchors going on and on about how important you making a choice because your life will be better or worse with or without mustard. Money that could be better spent goes into advertising that blankets the air putting down ketchup by carefully leaking a photoshopped ketchup bottle at a murder scene.

No one asks why are we eating a hotdog in the first place.


Even in countries that haven't devolved into a two party system you have the same problem. The political parties are trying to appeal to a similar voter base and they simply go off on just a few issues during campaigns. When they actually get into power they tend to have to make decisions about things that are completely different than what was talked about during the campaign.

If none of the political parties talk about increasing internet connectivity, but that's a very important issue for me, then I'm basically picking at random.


You can't blame the voters because they are the products of a shitty education system and misled by biased media.

You can't blame the media because they're just giving the voters what they want.

You can't blame the education system because it was put in place by the politicians.


> More people want the sports stadium than the swimming pool. You might disagree with them, but that doesn't make them wrong.

Is this true? Was there a vote on this?

The politicians make the decisions and if people don't like it they can vote for someone else but I would bet in some deeply partisan districts they'd vote for anyone on their side. There's a lot of things the majority of the public want but the power that be say no.


In many jurisdictions a referendum is required to spend that type of money. That is one of the reasons that a sibling thread is discussing the Chargers move from San Diego to Los Angeles. A vote was required in San Diego and the Chargers knew it would not go in their way. You are free to lobby your own local government to make a similar requirement for a referendum.


It's crazy to automatically indemnify people for acting in their own best interest. If I could steal a million dollars today and get away with it, it's in my best interest to do so rather than spend however many years working for it.

By this logic, as long as a politician makes such a deal in order to garner public support or votes, with no concern for the wellbeing of their constituents, we can't blame them either. They're not doing anything wrong, just responding to political incentives!


Are politicians and appointed elected officials - that is those with power and influence - required to publish their investiment holdings?

The companies, by definition, act in the best interest of their shareholders. What if those also happen to be shareholders of a given company looking for a good deal?


Washington has a use tax, buying large items out of state doesn't change the tax due on them.


Those Business Owners are ALSO the ones setting up this perverse game of incentive.


While I understand the gist of your post, the people residing in WA are violating their state's tax law by not paying sales tax on their purchased in OR, whereas subsidies offered to businesses are legal(ized).


That is fair and actually goes to further support my point. I would bet almost everyone reading this has at some point failed to pay sales tax on a purchase in which the retailer didn't collect the tax. We were all committing a crime to save a few dollars here and there. That was the whole motivation behind the fight to get internet retailers to start collecting taxes. Don't blame business for responding to economic incentives the same way you personally would.


> Don't blame business for responding to economic incentives the same way you personally would.

On the other hand, the modal business has much more economic power and leverage than the modal individual. There's a reasonable argument that they should be held to a higher standard of responsibility and compliance because their contribution to the problem is magnified.


Except for the Green Bay Packers - the city owns the Packers, and it seems to be doing well(?). I'm not sure, but there at least isn't uncertainty about whether they'll stick around or not.


It's not the city that owns them, it's the fans themselves. The NFL has specifically banned that form of ownership since.


(Admittedly, I'm only familiar with American teams.)

The only two professional sports teams that I know of that are owned by the community/fans are the Green Bay Packers and the Rochester Red Wings. Does anyone know of any others?

Edit: Did a small bit of research and it looks like the Toledo Mud Hens are community owned and the Syracuse Chiefs were community owned until this year when they sold to the Mets.

Edit: Oh, of course there's a Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fan-owned_sports_teams


FC Barcelona (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FC_Barcelona). Seems to work well for them.


A lot of European teams have this model


AFC Wimbledon in the English Football League (currently in League One).


Why did they ban it?


It is a private club. Every small private club wants to limit new members. The concept of hoards of fans weighing in on decisions doesn't sit well with a klatch of billionaires used to operating independently.


Specifically, the Packers representative will have the fans' interests at heart. The other representatives will be focused on the owners' interests, usually financial.


Also, it means they can't move the team around to court more lucrative tax incentives. It's a bad deal all around for billionaires looking to siphon as much money from the fans as possible.


I think it is more than simple money. For the new crop of billionaires, sports teams are a fashion item. A really fancy yacht can cost hundreds of millions but they are a pain to get to/from and are generally a private affair. A sports team lets you flaunt your wealth in front of thousands on a daily basis. You get to play host to athletes that everyone wants to know. So owners take public intrusion into their clubs more personally than they do any other simple business.


Makes me wonder if we could somehow crowdfund an NFL competitor where every team was owned by the fans. Probably not feasible, but I find the idea romantic.


It could work, but you would need a big initial buy-in to get it off the ground. You'd likely need at least 6-8 teams initially and venues for them to play since the NFL has banned it. I could see this working well at a minor league level because the players wouldn't really be sacrificing much, I think, but I'm not certain.

You'd also have to figure out the costs for gear, staff, and etc. You'd also have to figure out logistics for management, I imagine a trust would be the best middle ground. My best friend is from Cork City in Ireland, Cork FC is fan-owned which runs out of a trust. [0]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FORAS_(football_supporters%27_...

Side-bar: I am curious if MLS has banned fan-ownership. Edit: Unsure, seems like 4th Tier league allows fan-ownership. [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fan-owned_sports_teams...

Second Edit: Reading [2], it seems like it'd be possible to have a European fan-ownership structure except that the team would own shares from MLS to have the team rights.

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_League_Soccer_owners


American Football is probably dying. Too dangerous. MLS might be a better long term investment.


I think three team soccer would really take off in United States. If Americans really do love reality TV and drama, then it might just be a match made in heaven.


I think market value of NFL teams in aggregate is about $60 billion. Anything which come close to that number looks big, bad, serious business to me, quite opposite of romantic.


I believe it would be much smaller initially. Later the larger organization would be worth a crazy amount but hopefully not end up in a world of corruption. :/

You might be able to do something like this with eSports teams or streamers.


On the note of NFL being a private club: Donald Trump always wanted to buy a NFL team, but for various reasons was never allowed.

There is speculation that this is part of the reason that he loves criticising the NFL for players taking a knee, and keeps insisting they're struggling and their numbers are down and they're failing. He's salty that they never let him have a team.


It provides an avenue for League financials to leak out and exposes just how much money the league and owners take in for revenue. If the team was owned by individual, the owners would likely keep those numbers a secret. They don't want the fans to know that the owners can easily foot the bill(s) and fund their own stadiums.


Having teams that are run for-profit makes teams more financially valuable and thus the NFL more financially valuable as a result.


GBP are a wonderful exception and the only credible way for a city to have a team imo


Sadly, from what I know, other teams can't become like them because of team ownership restrictions (well, in the NFL). (Please correct me if wrong). I think the only reason the Packers have this setup is because it was around before the new ownership restrictions. I think they are the only town team to survive the transition to the NFL.


> it usually ends really badly for the locals

At least it's usually subject to a vote. And it's hard to say it usually ends up bad for the locals unless you can quantify leisure. Some do, sure, but I wouldn't say usually and I definitely wouldn't say "really badly" compared to many other financial policies. By the same measures, tax funding of other arts like museums end up bad for the locals too.


The surprising thing is this can happen in "Progressive" cities as well. Oakland was trying to do as much as it could to keep The Raiders team in OAK.

I really don't get the fascination with subsidizing sports teams which via legal monopolization make money hand over fist.


And at some point they preach about the benefits of the free market.


hey now, only russia has oligarchs, we have free enterprise


Sounds also eerily similar to Trump tactic to raise money from cities to build casinos and towers, notably in NYC.


The "second alternative" makes a lot of sense, but building a startup ecosystem is a difficult, long-term play involving a ton of variables.

You need universities driving research and producing competent technical graduates; you need to foster a entrepreneurial attitude and provide resources (accelerators, mentors, office space, etc) to would-be companies; you need a source of capital to fund these companies.

And then you wait for these companies to grow.

Courting a single, large entity is a lot simpler: they tell you what the want; you give it to them; jobs. That's a much easier sell for politicians and local governments. You'd need decades of cooperation between incoming and outgoing politicians to build a successful startup ecosystem.


You've nailed the political calculus of it. Setting the stage for an ecosystem is the work of decades, and little of it pays off politically until things are successful. Bringing in BigCo pays off in an electoral cycle or two.


>The "second alternative" makes a lot of sense, but building a startup ecosystem is a difficult, long-term play involving a ton of variables.

The "startup ecosystem" in the way SV denizens know it is terrible economy-wise. ROI - microscopic, human costs - humongous, employment impact - small, success rates - 0.2%.

Compare it, say, with a factory cluster: annual average ROI - ~8.75% (averaged over last 12 years, Chinese data) capital costs - sane, capital recovery - certain 60%-70%, success rate after 3 years - 60%-70%, employment impact - undisputedly apparent, human costs - you don't have to stake 5 years of your life on the latest fad.

People who advocate for copying that, advocate for copying a clearly failing model.


By the numbers, Silicon Valley does a lot better than those. Annual average ROI for Google over the last 10 years has been 21%; for Facebook, 86%; for AirBnB, almost 170%. Initial capital costs in each of these cases were nearly zero. Employment impact: tens of thousands of new millionaires created.

The human costs of factories are not nil either. Beijing is a polluted wasteland where if you wipe your nose it comes away black. Silicon Valley is still dealing with the toxic wastes from the last generation of industrial powerhouses, the semiconductor companies that dumped toxic waste straight into the ground. I would far rather waste 5 years of my life on the latest software fad than have 30 years of my life shaved off by cancer.

Don't romanticize the past. The average professional in Silicon Valley enjoys a standard of living much, much higher than the average factory worker in Shenzhen, or in Cleveland for that matter.


There were a few pets.com along the way in SV. For every successful startup, there's a graveyard full of failed ones.


Sure, but the same applies to factories. I'd seriously question the OP's numbers of a certain 60-70% capital recovery rate for factories. Maybe in Shenzhen where you have tax policy, exchange rates, and labor costs all in your favor. All you have to do is drive through the Midwest to see examples of factories that didn't survive either, though.


>I'd seriously question the OP's numbers of a certain 60-70% capital recovery rate for factories.

Well, first you have to buy a building properly fitted for a factory. Industrial plant property has never ever went down in price in South China. You can't legally run a factory business out of a garage anymore in China.

A factory with a top notch equipment today, will just be switching product tiers as it ages, without going down much in value. A factory, is not just its manufacturing machinery. It is also a well fit assembly line team, cherry picked team leads, on-site engineering, and shop floor knowhow.

And for everything else, a company being liquidated is usually sold as a whole to another entrepreneur. Who needs to pull apart a well oiled machine, which is an assembly line team, just to have to reassemble it later? Cases when the factory business being liquidated is sold above its book value, are not so infrequent.

A no-name shoe factory going bust is either result of a market force action, or the owner being reckless/dumb. It does not mean that the whole idea of a shoe as a product is a failure. It just means that the next owner, must be more financially conservative or needs to switch to fancier kind of shoes to stay afloat. Value-wise - there is not much change in tangible and intangible assets.


Like ddebernardy said, the factories in the Midwest were doing fine until they weren't. The same will likely happen in China. Just because industrial plant property has never ever went down in price there doesn't mean it never will.

I grew up in New England, birthplace of the industrial revolution in America, and we had our manufacturing crisis just as the Midwest was ascending. The factories in Boston, Waltham, and Malden aren't factories any more; they're tech companies. The ones in Lowell are museums. The owners went bankrupt and packed up and then left the mess behind for decades before it was cleaned up. I was just at the Boott Cotton Mills Museum the day before I posted the original comment. It still has machinery from c. 1910 in it. Nobody wanted to buy it; it sat, derelict and rotting, for 60 years until the factory was turned into a National Park and restored with federal money.


True, but that's kind of comparing apples to oranges.

It's not every day where people do capital intensive investments like those involved in factories, and they usually only do so when they're fairly certain they'll get a return. That contrasts with funding SV startups, which is probably comparable to throwing darts semi-blindfolded and hoping something sticks. Sometimes it does; it usually doesn't.

Also, the factories in the midwest were doing fine until they didn't; but nothing lasts forever. The factories in Shenzhen will similarly go under sooner or later. 3d printing, for instance, might bring some manufacturing jobs back to the US and Europe and put Chinese factories under pressure.


It's highly dependent on what kind of factory you're talking about. In medical/aerospace or other high tech manufacturing, even equipment that sees high utilization for 3-5 years can easily keep over 70% resale value if maintained properly.

However, to suggest that 60-70% capital recovery is certain is silly. Maybe if you're manufacturing high precision parts for jet engines or missiles or something but then your capex is going to be in the tens of millions before you even get started and recovering the capital could take an indefinite amount of time.


Don't romanticize the past. The average professional in Silicon Valley enjoys a standard of living much, much higher than the average factory worker in Shenzhen, or in Cleveland for that matter.

The average tech professional. Teachers and social workers are professionals too, and I dare say they're not enjoying a standard of living anywhere near that of tech professionals.


>The average professional in Silicon Valley enjoys a standard of living much, much higher than the average factory worker in Shenzhen

Seriously doubt that. Renting a single room for half your after tax income leaves you not much for yourself even in SV, not to say that SV does not score top score for livability


"Don't romanticize the past. The average professional in Silicon Valley enjoys a standard of living much, much higher than the average factory worker in Shenzhen, or in Cleveland for that matter."

Sure, but at what cost? Focusing specifically on San Francisco, you're talking about a standard of living that primarily benefits recent skilled migrants, and punishes nearly everyone else (I exclude "silicon valley" only because silicon valley was farmland until the 1960s).

High-tech job growth is a false idol for economic development, caused by a myopic fixation on wage growth as an economic indicator. Also, the choice isn't "silicon valley" or "industrial wasteland". There's a middle ground.

Cities should pay far more attention than they do to churn, net migration, and economic indicators for long-term residents. One side of this debate ends up relying on hand-wavy arguments about trickle-down benefits, but provides essentially no data to back their claims.


You're conflating 'startup' with 'internet/app/social startup'. There are a lot of other types of businesses that start small and grow...


What are those factories producing? You have to continue developing and building products to drive factory demand.

Silicon Valley certainly didn't do everything (or maybe even most things) right, but to claim it has created no economic value is silly.


it seems you entirely glanced over the fact that it also costs to bring large successful entities to your city. They’re usually also being simultaneously courted by other cities. They don’t just want to employ a workforce, they want business incentives. They want tax credits, they want prime location, they want natural resources, they want special exemptions. Often times the city ends up paying for the companies to come there in one way or another. Instead of being the quick payoff you describe, it can very much turn out to be a long and drawn out courting period (how long has this Amazon process been so far?) and also a long-term investment in terms of the projected payoff. And once the large company has used up the incentives they may still decide to uproot themselves from the community they had implanted themselves in and go elsewhere. So it’s still risky.

Either way, whether growing local businesses or courting big ones from elsewhere, it can be a risky investment.


I wasn't trying to say that bringing in large businesses is a quick payoff with no costs, but rather offering a possible explanation as to why we typically see cities going after large businesses. Should have made that clear.

There is absolutely a cost associated with either option. There is absolutely a payoff period in years or decades with either option.

However, I do think it's easier to get a single company to say "yes", than it is to build an ecosystem; particularly in the context of an elected official's term in office.


I disagree.

The type of city that a big company would say “yes” to is the same type of city that could grow an ecosystem. Big established companies don’t like moving their headquarters into no-where-ville, they like being in places that any number of startups and fledging businesses could thrive in if the local municipality made that their economic development focus.

Look at the 20 finalists for Amazon’s second headquarters:

Atlanta, Georgia; Austin, Texas; Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Indianapolis, Indiana; Los Angeles, California; Miami, Florida; Montgomery County, Maryland; Nashville, Tennessee; Newark, New Jersey; New York City, New York; Northern Virginia, Virginia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Raleigh, North Carolina; Toronto, Ontario; Washington, D.C.;

All of these places are capable of developing their economy via creating an ecosystem that supports small business growth. And some of them, like Austin Texas and Denver Colorado, already have!

I wager that it’s better to support the 2X growth of 20 local businesses that are already doing 1 million dollars in profit annually (so companies of size ~5-10) than it is to bring in one 20-million-dollar business. It’s just not as sexy.


"A regional government asks: which industry sectors are we already comparatively good at?"

Nothing. Most regions that don't already tilt toward a particular specialty dominated by a few large employers aren't specifically good at anything. This isn't a slight: it's just reality. The employment and talent base in most areas tilt toward retail (overwhelmingly consisting of national chains, and dominated by the likes of Walmart), human services (healthcare, education), and government. Small businesses then cover a wide gamut of services required for daily life, but don't stand out.

There are very regions whose competency comes from a convergence of independent actors, and most of these seem to focus on healthcare research intertwined with healthcare delivery, because the products, talents, and facilities aren't readily transplanted elsewhere: the article's example of NC Triangle, central Maryland, Cleveland, Grand Rapids. Rochester, MN would get an honorary mention, but it's dominated by a single actor -- the Mayo Clinic.

So what's everyone else to do? South Carolina began an ambitious plan that culminated in landing BMW in the 1990s, and now the state is a major center of automotive manufacturing and related businesses. For them, the gamble, even with generous incentives, paid off. This is the same kind of thinking behind northern Nevada's (and Arizona's) chasing of manufacturing and high-tech looking to flee from California. Rural areas chasing datacenters might seem a bit puzzling, but they support a comparable number of local jobs, while having fewer externalities than trucking distribution centers -- another typical rural development opportunity. On the other hand, the scope of the subsidies in the Foxconn plant and the nature of the behavior of Wisconsin officials are unjustifiable: it shows desperation, ruthlessness, and a disregard for local residents and local economic realities. Most cases are not that egregious.

A jurisdiction landing a large-footprint warehouse-like building, like a datacenter or a distribution center, or even a Walmart, offers a short-term boost of jobs in construction, and then a steady, if low, number of jobs in years to follow. It also vests national or international corporations to the local plant: these sorts of sites are unlikely to close or move. A few million dollar subsidy is comparable in cost to grading and paving roads for a new subdivision, or installing water and sewer service. To cities and counties competing for the long term, this is often seen as an investment in the future of the area.


This is a really good point. However, I think we really should be making a distinction between skilled and unskilled labor. The reason wealthy nexuses of comparative advantage emerge is generally due to skilled labor. You get a network effect from having that labor after which you may no longer need to offer incentives. The Bay Area is a great place to start a tech company because of all the tech workers/investors/incubators, NYC for hedge funds and IB, Chicago for trading, DC for nonprofits, etc. And generally other areas can experience a similar phenomenon owing to natural resources.

However, I think an area makes a mistake in investing (via subsidies/tax breaks/whatever) in unskilled labor when it’s not tied to their natural resources. The difference is simple: you don’t gain the network effect from unskilled labor because, well, it’s unskilled. A distribution center doesn’t really make it better for a call center to pop up in the same area.

That said, all large business will cause at least somewhat of an incentive to build other large businesses by it due to infrastructure.


A lot of cities are making shortsighted deals to attract companies and sports teams, and that's bad.

On the other hand, if companies (and individuals) were not able to shop around for the tax regimes they prefer, there would be nothing to prevent extortionate taxation -- companies and people wouldn't be able to avoid it by going somewhere else, and governments would be able to do whatever they wanted.

On balance, I prefer competition in the regulatory and taxation space over the alternative. It limits the ability of governments to use taxation as a weapon or a form of expropriation. I'd rather live in a world where governments need to attract investment rather than coerce it.

Some might say that such competition would result in a race to the bottom, but we already have that competition and taxes are still quite high in many places -- a race to the bottom would have happened by now if it was going to happen.


> taxes are still quite high in many places

Taxes for corporations are not very high at all. Fortune 500 companies routinely pay a less than 0 income tax at the federal level[0], and state level income taxes max out at 12% [1].

The race to the bottom has happened for the big businesses that have leverage. Just not for the little guy.

[0] https://www.investopedia.com/news/how-fortune-500-companies-... [1] https://taxfoundation.org/state-corporate-income-tax-rates-b...


> Taxes for corporations are not very high at all. Fortune 500 companies routinely pay a less than 0 income tax at the federal level[0], and state level income taxes max out at 12% [1].

The way you quoted that Investopedia article is a bit misleading -- it says it identified 18 companies in the Fortune 500 that paid zero tax, and that 258 companies paid an average of 21.2%.

18 out of 500 companies paying zero tax is a pretty low bar for saying that paying zero tax is routine.

Here's the quote from the article:

> The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), in a recent study, found that over the eight-year period from 2008 to 2015, 258 profitable Fortune 500 companies paid an average effective federal income tax rate of 21.2%. Over that same period, exactly 18 companies, including General Electric, International Paper, Priceline.com and PG&E Corp., avoided paying a single penny of federal income tax.


You're being no less misleading than he is.

> 258 profitable Fortune 500 companies paid an average effective federal income tax rate of 21.2%

So of the Fortune 500, 242 companies are unprofitable. Seriously? That ignores all the companies using legislation they helped craft to give themselves tax credits and the accounting tricks they use to bring their profits to "zero." Hell, the list itself is pathologically biased towards those businesses.

Seems the rest of the country has figured out Hollywood accounting.


It sounds like your problem is with the article, not with me. I did not misrepresent what the article said.


As a general rule, and this applies to me too, if the article is misleading and you quote the article, that misleading aspect of it should be noted in your comment. At least on Hacker News.


242 are unprofitable or do not have profit/tax information publicly available. The Fortune 500 only requires revenue numbers to be public for inclusion.


There are many reasons for companies to pay no income, normally its carry loses forward.

You own article states the average rate in the US is 21.1%.


Keep in mind that the owners (shareholders) of Fortune 500 companies then pay an additional tax on distribution of profits (dividends).


The government isn't a market. Treating it as such just leads to worse results for everyone except for the corporations and those wealthy enough to shop around. Everyone else who can't afford to just move across the country is SoL when basic services can no longer be paid for because there was a race to the bottom in tax rates


It is a market - that's the whole point of the federation of states system that the founding fathers put in place.

If your state has bad laws, you can go to a different state.

Using government as a market has worked very well for both marijuana legalization and gay marriage advocates.


That's the US system, which is not everywhere and has been degraded heavily since the founding fathers of the US put it in place. Additionally moving from state to state was not a task most people could just do whenever they disagreed with the laws


> If your state has bad laws, you can go to a different state.

Uprooting your life and moving is nowhere near as trivial as dipshit market fetishists make it out to be for the majority of people.


It's not a very liquid market however. Because the lawyers ensure that the deals are legally binding. It's not like a city can declare bankruptcy and reset the no-tax deals.


Positive results for social policy. Questionable results for economic policy.

Historically the latter has been driven by physiological particulars of a state — availability of farm land, coal mines, etc. Has anyone actually thought through how that transitions to a primarily services-based economy?

(Aside: if state governments are a market, then the Senate is socialism, lol)


Pretending a market doesn't exist by forming cartels isn't the answer either.

You can't vote in your small local city to tax 100% of the profits of a local company and force them to stay.


Honestly what qualifications do city officials have to make these kinds of ginormous financial decisions? Are super competent financial minds really at the heads of local governments?


They sometimes don't, which is why many cities delegate that out to agencies like local Convention Bureaus/Tourism Boards where the requisite brainpower is concentrated and applied-they do the numbers, make recommendations and proposals and elected officials chose to approve or deny what is presented to them.

Same way branches of the Federal Government delegates responsibilities and procedural obligations to the appropriate agencies.


"It has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

https://richardlangworth.com/worst-form-of-government


A democracy is rule by the people. We're living in the era of a government by the corporations, for the corporations.

I honestly cannot understand how companies have any representation or access to politicians. The closest access to the system should be persuading their own employees to vote favorably or write their congressman. Lobbying should be entirely illegal because we are on track to making Idiocracy a reality.


So, if you are a citizen you should have access to politicians, but if you start a company or get promoted to an executive position you suddenly get that access revoked?

It would be pretty difficult to restrict lobbying without running into problems with the First Amendment.

Most people who complain about corporate lobbying don't seem to mind when the EFF or the ACLU engages in lobbying, which indicates to me that they are really against corporate power, not lobbying per se.


> It would be pretty difficult to restrict lobbying without running into problems with the First Amendment.

Then fuck the first amendment. Change it.


A democracy is rule by some* people


These deals are far from short sighted. What the city may lose in corporate taxes is more than regained through the increase in revenue from middle class population growth. Sales tax and automobile tax revenues skyrocket with the all the people moving in. Businesses open to support the new residents and are taxed. More homes are built and property values go up, meaning an increase in property tax.

Seriously, people who think giving a subsidy for a large tech company to move to your city is short sighted fail to understand the issue holistically. Nome a single American city that has seen it's overall revenue decrease from a large company with skilled workers moving into their area with a subsidy.


I'd imagine a lot of the rural towns across middle America offering really large subsidies to build data centers that only employ 50 people probably don't see a return on their investment. [1] The city might be able to stimulate the local construction companies with some good business but the 50 employees aren't going to make up for the $250MM subsidy.

[1] https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2017/08/24/apple-latest-...


How many other businesses are going to open branches, if not headquarters, in Des Moines to be close to the Apple data center? How many other companies can they now attract with larger employee counts, as a town that was chosen by Apple?

If I lived in that town, and wasn't a ruralist, I'd be thrilled with the city's decision.


> How many other businesses are going to open branches, if not headquarters, in Des Moines to be close to the Apple data center?

Probably none? Almost everything that a Data Center needs to regularly purchase in volume is produced overseas. Micron and Seagate certainly aren't going to relocate to bumfuck Iowa.

What business are you picturing that would possibly gain anything from opening new headquarters in Des Moines to service a single data center?


You're proving my point, in that you don't see the situation holistically. You're assuming all "business" is tech. How about all the maintenance based services? Even inside tech, do you think all issue management in a giant data center is going to be handled by those 50 employees and not a slew of outside contractors?


http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/cloud-centers...

Apple’s data center is also supposed to create 250 indirect contracting jobs for maintenance and security. But many in this close-knit town of about 3,400 people — it essentially shuts down Friday nights for high school football — do not know anyone working at Apple.

https://www.techrepublic.com/article/why-data-centers-fail-t...

"People thought when Microsoft came in it would create jobs, but that's just not the case," said E.W. Gregory, the head of the local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union. Instead, they brought in outside technicians to do most of the work, he added. About 25 local residents got jobs, primarily as administrative assistants or janitorial staff, Gregory said.


> You're proving my point, in that you don't see the situation holistically. You're assuming all "business" is tech. How about all the maintenance based services? Even inside tech, do you think all issue management in a giant data center is going to be handled by those 50 employees and not a slew of outside contractors?

I think that 50 full time employees are sufficient to manage the hardware maintenance issues that typically arise in a large data center, yeah. That's more-or-less the only reason to even have that many people on staff in a data center.

Building and A/C maintenance -- it's only one large building, and Des Moines has existing contractors fully capable of performing that kind of routine, infrequent servicing. This might stimulate one or two new hires at one or two firms, but I sincerely doubt it will require any more than that.

Literally nothing about this data center screams "slew of outside contractors" let alone "whole companies moving to Des Moines" to me.


There are certainly businesses that will attract other business. For example, something like an Amazon HQ2 conceivably might, for some level of investment, break even in a cost-benefit analysis. A data center is not going to do that though. Not sure politicians can tell the difference.


> Businesses open to support the new residents and are taxed.

But why? Why should mom-n-pop have a higher fiscal hurdle than MegaCorp? If tax breaks are so good, why not give them to everyone?

> What the city may lose in corporate taxes is more than regained through the increase in revenue from middle class population growth

Then MegaCorp shouldn't have any qualms about entering into a binding agreement that the economic bounty will come, or else MegaCorp pays a penalty equal to that bounty. I wonder why they don't do that?


> Why should mom-n-pop have a higher fiscal hurdle than MegaCorp?

They don't. They have normal taxation. They wouldn't even have the opportunity to make profits, and hence be taxed, if the clientele never moved into the area.

> Then MegaCorp shouldn't have any qualms about entering into a binding agreement that the economic bounty will come, or else MegaCorp pays a penalty equal to that bounty. I wonder why they don't do that?

Because they're not shitty businesspeople? Remove the incentive and there's no motivation. It's basic behavioral economics.


So only "shitty business people" fully back up their promises? Then maybe the cities should reneg on their tax deals too?


[flagged]


Would you please comment civilly and substantively? We've asked before and need you to start following the guidelines more closely.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Wisconsin even gave Foxconn concessions they didn’t ask for, mainly around environmental impact.

https://urbanmilwaukee.com/2018/07/02/the-state-of-politics-...


[flagged]


Since tomorrow is the 4th of July, it's perhaps worth remembering that democracy also relies on the implicit credible threat of revolution. Without that threat, what is the motivation for politicians to remain honest?


In a democracy the threat of being voted out of office can be a sufficient threat: one doesn’t require the threat of revolution.


The threat isn't against the politicans - new politicians can always be bought, or simply ineffective. The threat is against the people doing the buying.


It is obviously and demonstrably not. We have outrageous amounts of corruption, up to the point that it's been outright legalized. The amount of pay-for-play in our legal system and filthy regulatory capture by the regulated industries themselves in the US is incredible.

The risk/reward situation is not balanced at all. There is such an obscene amount to be gained, and the only repercussion is to lose a cushy job. They get to fall back on a nice executive gig on the other side of the revolving door. Do we hold other criminals to those standards and lay out that kind of weak punishment?

And even when it comes to being voted out, there's all sorts of gerrymandering and bad-faith efforts to obfuscate and soft-rig US elections.

Everyone should absolutely vote, that much is true. You should always vote, even if you think it doesn't matter because they've successfully gamed the system. You still gotta vote to make it as difficult as possible to manipulate results.

But voting alone is not going to cut it one day. Other civil efforts are needed to keep a democracy from becoming corrupt. A lot of people have bought into this myth that most civil progress is bloodless, but despite MLK and Gandhi's good efforts it has taken a lot of toil and death to make society even remotely acceptable and fair, to make it even superficially resemble a meritocracy. It didn't happen by itself or through voting. It took real work.


It does if your only choices don’t represent you. And because of FPTP, the choices you do have are incredibly “sticky”

There is also the problem of when a group is very upset with the government but constitutes a minority. I see this as a problem with the government effectively being a gerontocracy


> perhaps worth remembering that democracy also relies on the implicit credible threat of revolution.

No it doesn't. It's precisely the opposite. In fact, any "credible threat of revolution" only serves the purposes of those who want to put an end to any semblance of democracy.


Is your position that the treason of 1775 put an end to any semblance of democracy in the US?


I wanted to add something which is rightfully controversial and unpopular because it comes from an entirely different and somewhat naïve era.

It's easy for us to overlook in this day and age what kind of context they had in 18th-century America. They didn't have much of a concept of a revolutionary dictator, a monstrous autocrat who emerged out of a popular revolution. Back then, dictators and despots already ruled everything through heredity and divine right. The dictators who arose from revolutions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were an out-of-context problem at the time. To them, assassination didn't carry connotations of Kennedy or Franz Ferdinand. It was a wilder and more violent age. Probably one that shouldn't be emulated.

But it's astounding how rarely it's acknowledged that the second amendment was meant to act as a violent deterrent against our own government. It isn't to defend against home invaders, or hunt, or whatever. Of course the staunchest supporters of the second are often the very ones voting in the crooks they should be ousting, or at least acting as a deterrent for.

That part of our central legal document exists explicitly to facilitate credible threats of assassination as one of our government's checks and balances, and we like to dance around that ugly fact. At this point it obviously doesn't work the way things did in the 1700s, like most things from three centuries ago. We now know that method doesn't end well, and alternatives should absolutely be pursued until there's no other option.

But today we also live in a time when the most massive and damaging crimes done by those in government--or the pseudo-government of industry--carry no punishment at all except an abstract (and impotent) threat of being voted out of office in a few years. And our absurdly low approval rating / incumbency ratio should show us that there's something deeply wrong with that avenue. I think more people should be concerned about the implications of extremely low approval ratings combined with near-perfect rates of re-election. This casts a doubt about democratic legitimacy that we cannot deny or brush away.

I think at least serious prison time should be on the table. And of course I mean the real prisons that we send normal criminals to. But that is unheard of. We need to acknowledge that checks and balances have already failed in a very fundamental way.


Very good post and I completely agree. What I think this is a result of, is the construction of a very complicated and abstract apparatus - that of wealth, class, media, and all the various laws/regulations/judicial rulings that serve to cement the system and undermine a true democracy.

What good is free speech when rich people can simply pay people to espouse and justify views as a full time job? What good is the second amendment with a militarized police force? What good is privacy with the NSA? What good is political free speech with the CIA and FBI? What good is democracy when those with views outside the two party system have essentially no representation?


I don't think it's about assassination - the amendment is clearly about a "militia," which envisions a group of individuals capable of fighting a protracted war - like the Revolutionary War. (I'm not taking a position on what the "militia" language says about how much it guarantees a right for individuals, but it certainly guarantees a right for militias.) Even in the era where it was written, any joker could assassinate an individual politician - see e.g. Spencer Perceval, or honestly the entire idea of duels.

The threat of a military attack is a very different one from the threat of assassination; while the Black Hand was (sorta) successful, Lee Harvey Oswald was not, nor were any of the other assassins of any other American president. Assassination usually kills an individual and leaves the system intact; revolution usually changes the system entirely.

And popular revolution (unlike assassination) used to carry the implicit authority of democratic legitimacy, back when the people could be reasonably well armed against their own government. You'd win by having more soldiers on your side and the willingness of the people who lived in each city to either aid the soldiers or become soldiers themselves, which would be a way of returning control to the people when confidence was lost that the current system really represented the people. (That doesn't work too well nowadays because Raytheon would just rule the country, of course.)

I agree with the rest of what you write, and yes, for all that the Right seems to paint the Left as violent, the Left seems to not really believe in using the Second Amendment for its intended purpose to pursue their goals.


Unfortunately, Wisconsin has been “very effectively” gerrymandered to protect the status quo majority.

Gerrymandering is anti-democratic. We need to develop a better way.


On some level this solution feels over simplistic, like saying the solution to teen pregnancy is telling teens to not do things that lead to pregnancy. At what point do we admit that, regardless how good of an idea something is in theory, its a failure in practice?


Well, sure, it's fine to say that simply voting isn't enough, but what else do you propose?


There's the old saying that there are four boxes to be used in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. We're on box 2, but don't forget about the others.


Please don’t make this partisan.


But it is partisan. I can understand wanting to escape from politics from time to time, but unfortunately it is and continues to be a major force in our lives.


Are you saying that Democrats don't take corporate money? Bollucks. Campaign finance reform is a non-partisan issue. Don't make it into one.


I am saying the part where the Republican government of Wisconsin gave away a waiver for environmental regulations to a large company is partisan.


Is “concessions they didn’t ask for” weird? That seems like normal bidding in a competitive market.


Yes, it's weird. It's just a right wing anti-environmental tactic. In order to permanently circumvent some environmental protection they don't like (clean air, clean water, endangered species) they make a deal with some private entity and then years down the road they throw up their hands and say "there's nothing we can do about it because of this contract." Because contracts are enshrined in Article I of the Constitution, they have a strong case. It's really bad that people can be held in perpetuity to the terms of a contract made by a single bad mayor or governor, but that's American jurisprudence for you.


It is blatantly false to claim that a mayor can circumvent the EPA or any state level environmental agency by simply signig a contract. That's not how anything works...


It's quite demonstrably true that contracts have been used to constrain government action over and over again in US history. See for example Reclamation water contracts in the west vs. all manner of conservation laws.


The reclamation water contracts are not an example of a mayor circumventing existing federal or state environmental regulations - they are a completely different thing. I'm not even sure where you'd draw the parallel other than it contains the words 'environment' and 'contract'.


With a company as big as foxxconn, the federal government is in on the deal too


But contracts aren't supposed to have provisions in them that are against the law.


They can, but they're not enforceable.


This has nothing to do with tech - cities offer huge subsidies to pretty much any company in an attempt to get them to stay or hire more people.

We are a small factory and we've been offered a 10 year moratorium if we build a new HQ across the street from our current offices.


Right. It’s a symptom of a much more serious problem:

Consolidation of capital which is only available to society on speculative grounds which demand returns at a rate unsustainable without exponential expansion of the western economy.

As a result, almost all of our society’s wealth is caught up in last ditch effort expansion schemes.

Startups were actually a decent band-aid in terms of continuing the madness but because they don’t effectively break the capital free from the consolidating parties, but merely stir it a bit, they wind up adding to the cesspool of desperate investments.

Rich people are freaking out right now because they can’t find ways to profit off the society without contributing to it.


> Rich people are freaking out right now because they can’t find ways to profit off the society without contributing to it.

I read this all the time: “There’s so much capital out there but nowhere to deploy it!” Our infrastructure is crumbling, the homeless and mentally ill cant get help, teachers have to buy their own school supplies, yet the rich have no idea what to do with all their money and are accumulating more and more by the second.


There's nowhere to deploy it that will generate a return for the investors. There are plenty of ways to deploy it that generate a return for society as a whole - you've listed a bunch, plus founding new universities, conducting basic scientific research, distributing medicine, or even just giving money to the poor.

That this is even a distinction should indicate something in our conception of capitalism that doesn't click right. I'm decidedly pro-capitalist compared to most of my peers, but even I think that there's room for some targeted interventions that would both improve equality and make the system as a whole function better. (Top on my list would be for the government to start breaking up monopolies - or at least stop actively creating them, the way the FDA, patent system, and Sarbanes-Oxley do - and for higher taxes on certain economic rents like capital gains and a land-value tax.)


> There are plenty of ways to deploy it that generate a return for society as a whole

And this is the absolute crux of the problem! The continental divide between the right to own your own property vs the use of government force to redistribute wealth.

Seems like this one central problem/divide is the root of 90% of political and economic problems and the reason for our two-party system.

I'm not taking a side. It seems like it's a natural consequence of self-preservation and instinct for those with fortunes to not give them away. And it's the nature of government to be inefficient and ever-growing. This seems like the absolute core of the problem with capitalism.


That’s why the focus on controlling property, tangible goods and infrastructure with private interests is pushed so hard.

Paper wealth will vaporize when inflation catches up to us. The people who own natural resources, public spaces and infrastructure will be in the best position.


> Consolidation of capital which is only available to society on speculative grounds

Don't you notice that society is behind the decisions on how they invest their savings? You make it sound like it's a haves vs have nots situation where the have nots don't have any personal savings nor are they investing any cash on their own.


For one, that is exactly the case. An overwhelming majority of people in America are in debt, and have no savings.

(In the case this isn't obvious: if you have no savings, you have no choice of where to invest your savings.)

hueving 7 months ago [flagged]

Everyone in the middle class who has no savings has chosen to invest in something else: instant gratification of cell phones, TVs, expensive cars, large houses, etc.


What's wrong with running a negative balance sheet? Companies do it all the time. If the ship sinks, you file bankruptcy, wash your hands and try again.


You can't retire. It's okay for companies because when they run out of money they just die.


The middle class pays more for needs and less for wants then it did 40, 50, 60 years ago.


Take a look at the chart in this article from HumanProgress.Org

https://humanprogress.org/article.php?p=597

Your statement is only true if you move a significant number of items like "Dishwasher" from want to need.

Clothing, Food, Appliances are all now significantly cheaper comparability. Housing is a serious issue that has not followed the progress made in other areas, but there is hope for the future even in that area.


Know your source:

HumanProgress.org is a project of the Cato Institute with major support from the John Templeton Foundation and the Searle Freedom Trust, as well as additional funding from the Brinson Foundation and the Dian Graves Owen Foundation.

https://humanprogress.org/about

I suspected as much.

https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Cato_Institute

https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/John_Templeton_Foundat...

https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Searle_Freedom_Trust

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_P._Brinson

DGOF are dark money with virtually no footprint:

http://dian-graves-owen-foundation.idilogic.aidpage.com


I understand we all want to be wary about our sources, but a lot of what HumanProgress puts out is fairly simple and focused on the numbers.

If you say this is how much a loaf of bread cost in 1965, and this is how much the average McDonalds worker was paid in 1965... then you do the same analysis for 2018, I think you have a interesting statement that could be shielded from politics.

Obviously if you are making bigger statements about quality of life, what is a WANT, and what is a NEED, then things get complicated and bias comes in.


The article starts out with multiple ideological and highly cherry-picking claims. That's what sent me looking for information on the source.

It conflates mean measures of GDP with the far more valid median, or better, the quality of life of the least among us, the standard chosen by such eminant socialists as Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill.

Its gadget-based definitions of wealth fly in the face of fundamental necessities: food, water, shelter, medicine. Again you'll find this argument dismissed in Smith. I've taken my own whack at it, Maslow's smartphone:

https://old.reddit.com/r/dredmorbius/comments/2vwfb6/maslows...

See also Maslow's swimming pool:

Yes, we've got a swimming pool. But that won't feed my children." The BBC's Malcolm Brabant, quoting a doctor's wife in "The Human Toll of Greek Austerity", describing the impacts of Greece's austerity measures....

https://old.reddit.com/r/dredmorbius/comments/3ey7d1/maslows...

The most illuminating recasting of wealth and poverty I've seen in decades comes from a non-economist, Yonatan Zunger, who proposes the financial-shock wealth test:

What is the largest unexpected financial shock you could sustain without the cost of that to you suddenly becoming ten times the original cost or more? That number isn’t something easy to calculate; it depends on whether you have a family that can help you out, on your income, on whether that shock involves losing your job (and thus your health insurance, if you live in the US), on whether you have access to any other sources of security (including public assistance).

https://shift.newco.co/your-financial-shock-wealth-4845e6dc1...

The other side of this connects to the financial instability of income. How variable is same, and to what extent does expected perturbation of income (job loss, illness, shorted wages, etc.) put a household in threat of eviction, foreclosure, etc.

None of which are addressed by your source.

Its framing of the question is such that its response isn't even wrong. It's utterly irrelevant.


This is a great response, normally I don't complain about downvotes, but I honestly don't understand what could be wrong with your response to me.

I made a simple statement, that was at least partially wrong, you replied with a ton of information so I could see another side to the issue. Your comment should be what Hacker News is about.


Attack the facts or logic, not the source. Ad homs are just excuses to convince people already on your side to shut off their brains and bury their heads in the sand.


Prices of wants has significantly decreased, while needs have increased.

[0] https://www.abi.org/newsroom/chart-of-the-day/price-changes-...


Criticism to the response below notwithstanding, do you have a source or sources?


[flagged]


The evidence for it is that there are people poorer than middle-class, with no access to capital or loans, and they manage to survive. If somebody middle-class or above wants to get out of debt or accumulate savings, all they have to do is live like someone who's poor while continuing to earn like somebody who's middle-class, and bank the difference.

While I think the OP's point was a bit of an oversimplification, for the vast, vast majority of people this strategy actually does work. If you live like you're poor but earn like you're middle class, you will get out of debt. The people who remain in debt - again, assuming a middle class or higher salary - are those whose self-image requires a lifestyle where they can tell themselves they're not poor.


Richest country in the world, people need to live as if they're poor to pay back the $6000 of debt they have from needing stitches and an x-ray at the hospital.

Do you understand what you're saying?


Middle class usually has healthcare of some sort. I don't think you understand what you're talking about.

To be clear, I completely agree that there is a class of people in the US that lives like that, but it's not the middle that is bringing in $70-80k a household from jobs with benefits.


Sure, I have health insurance and work Corporate IT for a Fortune 500. I'm lower middle class. Lets run through the numbers here.

I pay $140/month for insurance, have a $1500 deductible, $500 ER visit, and $3000 maximum out of pocket.

A hospital trip for me could cost $5000, which would absolutely devastate me even though I have no debt, and have some savings. This is standard for friends who work at other companies with similar jobs, too, including in other states.

The middle class does not have healthcare, they have essentially 'Catastrophic' coverage and an illusion that they are covered for anything else.


Put 5k in an HSA. If you're lower middle, you should be able to achieve this in a year (remember it's pretax).

If you can't make it work, you are either wasting money somewhere significant (e.g. housing costing more than 25% of your income), or you aren't lower middle class for the area you live.


Only to someone who can’t imagine cooking three meals a day and skipping their morning latte. I hear students all the time blow their student loans on dining out because they’re tired and deserve it. I worked two jobs in school and cooked most of my meals and graduated without debt. They aren’t some special subspecies of the handicapable. They just make bad decisions.


Most Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. The have nots absolutely aren't investing or saving. Most Americans can't afford a minor emergency either. Savings is at 1.10% at the most unless you have tens of thousands of dollars and a special high-rate savings account, so there isn't much incentive to save either.

[0] https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/24/most-americans-live-paycheck...

[1] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/most-americans-cant-aff...


I mean, that's not wrong. That is kinda how it is.


>As a result, almost all of our society’s wealth is caught up in last ditch effort expansion schemes.

"almost all" is completely false. Bonds are in no way "last ditch effort expansion schemes", which massively dwarf the equities market.


I seriously think about if it would be better if there were federal law, or even a constitutional amendment, which prohibited any city or state anywhere in the US from giving favorable treatment (tax or otherwise) to any business, sports team, stadium, or anything else.

All it produces a race to the bottom where businesses win and people lose. And it distorts the free market into an uneven playing field, creating situations which are a win to individual business but where the change/move is a net loss for the economy overall.

I don't understand why this isn't more of a hot-button issue. Everyone should care about this.


In a world with no tax incentives, the determining factor for a large company is access to potential workforce. Therefore companies will move to places where other large successful companies are already, because ultimately you want to recruit from them. This creates a few really big winners, and a lot of losers. In practice, even metro areas with a couple million people are not desirable enough, and lose population. There are many cities that will be willing to offer more just to avoid depopulation.

Midwestern metro areas are not going to be happy if there was a federal law that, for all intents and purposes, guaranteed that they were going to shrink, shrivel and eventually die. They have the right to fight for their community's existence with economic means: The "best" you could get is, instead of the government doing it, a private consortium of businesspeople doing the same thing with their own pockets, producing the same effect. The one difference only comes when you start from the dubious position that all government actions distort, while a trade association's never do.

Would the economy overall be better if San Francisco had 10 times its current population and we all moved there? In the short term, probably yes, but imagine what even larger differences in state population would do to politics.


There are myriad factors which affect the success of a company -- they're not reducible only to tax incentives and size of workforce.

Big metro areas tend to have very expensive workforces, and plenty of companies intentionally set up shop outside of them in order to gain a competitive advantage through cheaper labor, services, rent, etc.

No more tax incentives aren't going to cause metro areas to die. It just means companies won't be able to shop around for an artifically low price. They'll still wind up somewhere that isn't SF, but it won't be at the cost of local schools and pensions.


>All it produces a race to the bottom where businesses win and people lose.

If only businesses win, then why do cities want the business to come to them in the first place?


Very basic game theory.

Let's say there's 10 arbitrary 'units' of positive externalities, i.e. economic activity in a region, that comes from HQ coming to town. If no subsidies/tax-breaks/etc. are allowed, then those 10 units go to some town, chosen by some other merit. The 'people' win with 10.

If those 10 units are large in proportion to the marginal advantage a town has for selection (i.e. workforce availability, business fundamentals like logistics, etc.), then it's obvious what competing towns do: they offer up a slice of those 10 units. If town A offers 1 (keeping 9), town B can just offer 2, etc. So it's a race to the bottom, where nearly all the positive externalities are passed to the business in a bid to capture whatever remains. Even if you give up 9, it's worth it to have 1 vs. 0.

This kind of competitive behavior is fundamental to markets, and is the reason why price is so very often right at the 'pain point' for buyers and sellers.

The remaining question is whether those positive externalities (the jobs and economic activity a business can bring to a region) are rightly held by the people or by the business.


I wish I could remember the details, but one of the articles I read about this went a step further and suggested when the sell side is limited (a single company moving to a region like Amazon) and the benefits are hard to estimate (community utility) then the best bid will inevitably be deriving negative utility due to over-bidding.

In your example, one city might bid 11 because they wanted to beat 9 and estimated the total utility at 13, not knowing it would be 10.


Competition lowers the price, but once the price becomes lower than the "profit point," let's say, then people generally don't agree to the deal. I'm not seeing where you show that people are making a deal against their interests.


There are some small economic kickbacks for local economies, but realistically I would guess that it's probably small-scale bribery.

That or local governments are just really bad at math. Do they really think a business starting in their community is going to give back more than the billions in breaks they're giving?


Remember government is really just a collection of individuals. You can't discount the basic human motivations in things like this. Competing is fun, competing and winning is much more fun. Getting a big company/sport/etc to sign on to your city means you beat everybody else they were negotiating with, and those were all big players. That's a big win.

It also helps build your legacy. The guy who brings "The SportsTeamers" to a city is going to be remembered for exactly that, not the net economic effect. And yeah that does no doubt open the door to 'consulting positions' after leaving office though I do not think that's a primary driver in the deals, just icing.


It depends on how many billions, how many jobs, how much tax revenue, how much projected population growth and average wage growth and how the local economy will respond to that growth, etc.



The nature of these deals themselves is not one sided. They’re supposed to create more jobs, more local consumer spending, which means more tax collected and more revenue. The body making the concessions can very well come out ahead, and an everybody-wins outcome can be reached. Theoretically the deal could also be so one sided that only one side wins. But that really comes down to the specifics.


Why do poor people work for low wages?


Right then after the state falls into bankruptcy the federal government will have to bail it out or FANNG will snatch it up. Welcome to the state of Google.


"The second alternative takes this same approach and applies it to very young companies and to emerging technologies with more speculative prospects."

Aside from maybe being young, isn't this what tech companies are generally doing?... working on new ideas, not focusing on a single vertical and have multiple lines of somewhat experimental businesses?

Instead of arbitrary tax breaks, it sounds like some cities ought to mandate the benefactors create at least some n number of jobs with a total comp of $x for employees living within the same town, city, county or whatever municipality.


>benefactors create at least some n number of jobs with a total comp of $x for employees living within the same town, city, county or whatever municipality.

Directives like the ones to create more jobs in order to reach an arbitrary target set by the bureaucrats in the government adds needless pressure and thus might stifle the potential and resources for innovation and experimentation in an organization, especially for a startup.


Isn't the most popular justification for giving bungs to attract/retain employers that it "creates jobs"?

If you're going to pay someone to do something, it makes sense to agree the details of what you're paying them to do - that seems like common sense to me.

Otherwise you might spend $$$$ thinking you're attracting a software development centre with 200 employees on low-six-figure salaries, but instead get a data centre with 20 employees on mid-five-figure salaries.


I get the gist of your argument, but my point was when government interferes with the hiring process in the pretext of helping the local population (like setting an arbitrary number of job to create in exchange for tax-breaks, for example), it starts to have a strangulating effect on the performance of the private organization.


Then that organization doesn't need the tax break. If you're not going to be able to bring something of value to the area, then my tax dollars should not be subsidizing you beyond what anyone else gets.


something something... when the measure becomes a goal it ceases to be a good measure


I think you're referring to Goodhard's Law -- "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodhart%27s_law


>Instead of arbitrary tax breaks, it sounds like some cities ought to mandate the benefactors create at least some n number of jobs with a total comp of $x for employees living within the same town, city, county or whatever municipality.

You can't go adding requirements in a race to the bottom. Cities are competing on tax incentives in order to attract business. If I start requiring contractual guarantees to those incentives it's functionally the same as just offering a smaller incentive and the business may go elsewhere. The problem is that cities are allowed to compete for business on this playing field at all.


I don't even mind a city competing on that field if they want to do so. My issue is when cities compete on that field with state money ala Racine-Foxconn. So now Pardeeville, which has problems of its own, is on the hook to subsidize jobs for a bunch of illinois guys who will be taking the train in to Racine every morning.

That's not cool.

But yeah, if Racine County wanted to come up with the 4 billion on their own, that would be a whole different story.


>I don't even mind a city competing on that field if they want to do so.

I think you should since it's fundamentally distortive of the market. While a few giant corporations who are going to get the mayor and some council member's names splashed across the paper get billion dollar deals the rest of the employers in the area don't - it's an unfair competitive advantage.

There's two marketplaces at work here. One is with cities as atomistic units competing amongst themselves for jobs and the other is within cities with businesses competing amongst each other (on multiple dimensions.) Right now we corrupt both, the proper solution is to corrupt neither and that requires entirely ending these tax deals.


My big question is, who are these representatives signing these deals, and how are they not held accountable by voters? What voters actually want to give away hundreds of millions of their tax dollars to the richest corporations?


Let's not act like the voters don't want this stuff, people were clamoring for Amazon to make their city its HQ. Not just politicians, the constituents. I think it's funny people think this is all because corporations buy politicians, but that's such a simplification of the issue. Sports franchises, landing factory jobs, etc are big "wins" for politicians because it makes people vote for them. People want to spend -other- people's money on things that benefit them or their community, even if it's short sighted. People want things now. Long term investments don't show gains for years, and as Keynes famously said, in the long run we're all dead.


Are people actually wanting Amazon? Many I know (on both classic political sides) are saying "anywhere but here".


A lot of people are willing to trade corporate tax revenue for new, local, high paying jobs. And regardless of the rhetoric used, that's exactly the idea here.


That gets to the underlying issue with all politics today: who is the real constituent? The voter, or the donor?


Voters should be able to control their reps, via votes. If they can't, then the representative democracy is flawed and needs new legislation to fix it - and that case should be brought to the people, so they know how to vote to fix it.


> Voters should be able to control their reps, via votes. If they can't, then the representative democracy is flawed and needs new legislation to fix it

The ballot box is a very low resolution feedback tool and an election cycle is a very long iteration cycle.

Imagine you only had performance reviews every two years and the feedback from your boss was either "you're not as good as the next best choice, so you're fired" or "you're not fired right now."

Voter willpower is diffuse (different people care about different things at different times) and only infrequently expressed. Special interest willpower can be much more acutely and frequently applied. It's hard to see how you can correct the imbalance between these two things given the current system and the inertia of incumbents who benefit from it.


You're right, it is hard. Here's one idea they could try, which I just pulled out of my ass over 10 minutes, so it may be very stupid.

Term-defined performance goals. Before elections begin, each citizen can define a list of priorities, metrics, and multipliers of expected performance. These are used in a function to calculate a number that determines whether an elected official is performing according to the standards of the citizens.

These "expectations" are collected, anonymized, and split up into groups of similar expectations. A candidate for office can select to align themselves to a specific group of expectations, or define their own and run on that as a platform. Either way they're going to have to live up to that set of expectations. Citizens vote for the candidate they feel best represents those expectations. At this point we're just "hoping" they come through on their promises; there's no guarantees.

Once a candidate wins and begins their term, their performance is continually reviewed by the function. If a candidate's performance during their term drops below 50%, a performance review can be ordered, and more specific short term goals can be drawn up to see if they can rise to meet them. If their performance drops below 25%, a suggestion is automatically flagged to inform citizens they should vote this rep out at the next election cycle.

The end results should be that citizens can more effectively inform representatives of what they want, they can track the progress of these representatives, and stay informed so that at the next election cycle they aren't just re-voting for the incumbent even if the incumbent didn't live up to expectations. In addition, a citizen no longer needs to vote according to a party; they simply define their personal expectations for government, and "parties" may naturally form according to real issues, rather than rhetoric, tradition, etc.


That sounds insanely difficult to implement, potentially gameable by elected officials, and really difficult to do in a place that, say, is split somewhat evenly between Democrats and Republicans.


Yeah, but if we then vote out someone who made a bad deal, we're still stuck with that deal.


Further, if political seats are gerrymandered to protect incumbents - doesn’t this push politicians toward donor desires (and against constituent desires) as the most credible threat to their re-election is a well funded primary challenge?


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