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The Morning Grumpy – 9/17/12

17 Sep

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.


1. Chicago is emerging as a national leader on the startup scene.

Chicago has seen the founding of hundreds of startups in the last two years. “According to Built In Chicago, 128 digital startups launched in 2011, a 53 percent increase from 2010 and a fivefold increase from the 25 startup average per year between 2004 to 2008” wrote George Deebin Crain’s Chicago Business. 76 more were founded between January and July of 2012.

So, what can we learn from Chicago’s startup scene? Community, community, community. And a place where nerds can mingle with rich people.

Over 70 of them are housed at 1871, a startup co-working space located in the old Merchandise Mart building, which is a 4,000,000-square-foot building that opened in 1930. 1871 is run by the Chicagoland Entrepreneurship Center, which has played a key role in connecting the various pieces of the startup ecosystem.

While we have our own budding center of entrepreneurial activity in Z80 Labs, but we need more community. We need a neighborhood or large scale facility which offers a sense of creativity and innovation. A place where entrepreneurs can leverage proximity, serendipity, and mindshare to build great on great ideas. We also need access to more capital. This is where the Buffalo Niagara Partnership could come in along with other local businesses and economic development agencies. Seeds of innovation are being planted in Buffalo, we just need to water them with cash and community.

2. If you read one tax story this month (and I know you’ve got about a dozen lined up), let it be this one.

For citizens hoping for serious tax policy and budget debates, this has been a dispiriting election cycle. One party urges tax rates too low to support any plausible platform from which government can deliver the services we all expect.

Those are the Democrats.

The other party inhabits a realm of fantasy akin to Erewhon, the fictional land created by the 19th century satirist Samuel Butler.

And now, compounding the race to the bottom, Mitt Romney has stepped forward to congratulate corporate tax cheats. Romney recently announced at a fundraising event that big businesses “know how to find ways to get through the tax code, save money by putting various things in the places where there are low-tax havens around the world for their businesses.”

This is simply not how the system is intended to work. Stateless income, tax engineering, and profit shifting are simply encouraging overseas investment and outsourcing of jobs. We need to revamp the corporate tax structure and make it work not just for corporate shareholders, but for the American worker.

3. A lengthy and provocative piece on President Obama and how he governs and lives.

“C’mon,” he said. “As long as you’re up here, there’s one more thing.” He led me down the hall and into the Lincoln Bedroom. There was a desk, upon which rested some obviously sacred object, covered by a green felt cloth. “There are times when you come in here and you’re having a particularly difficult day,” said the president. “Sometimes I come in here.” He pulled back the cloth and revealed a handwritten copy of the Gettysburg Address. The fifth of five made by Lincoln but the only one he signed, dated, and titled. Six hours earlier the president had been celebrating the Lady Bears of Baylor. Four hours earlier he’d been trying to figure out what, if anything, he would do to save lives of innocents being massacred by their government in Syria. Now he looked down and read the words of another president, who also understood the peculiar power, even over one’s self, that comes from putting your thoughts into them.

The man Michael Lewis reveals bears very little resemblance to the man most perceive him to be.

4. A smart take on how race affects the political environment in a nation only 47 years removed from the end of Jim Crow laws.

Despite the fact that he grew up exceptionally privileged in a world that privileged people who fit his description (white and male), no one has ever questioned Mitt Romney’s ability to perform the job of president. No one has ever accused him stupidity, and no one will ever call him an “affirmative action hire.” By contrast, these are things faced by Obama and other minorities that find themselves in traditionally white domains.

As I’ve said on several occasions in other outlets, the vast majority of conservative anger at Barack Obama is not based in race, but it’s clear that it shapes the nature of their opposition.

We still have a long way to go.

5. A 65 year long study reveals that tax cuts don’t lead to economic growth. Of course, what does data mean to ideologues? Mitt Romney and the Republicans will still clamor for them.

Analysis of six decades of data found that top tax rates “have had little association with saving, investment, or productivity growth.” However, the study found that reductions of capital gains taxes and top marginal rate taxes have led to greater income inequality. Past studies cited in the report have suggested that a broad-based tax rate reduction can have “a small to modest, positive effect on economic growth” or “no effect on economic growth.”

Well into the 1950s, the top marginal tax rate was above 90%. Today it’s 35%. But both real GDP and real per capita GDP were growing more than twice as fast in the 1950s as in the 2000s.

Don’t trickle down on my leg and tell me it’s raining.

Fact Of The Day: A woodchuck can chuck 361.9237001 cubic centimeters of wood per day.

Quote Of The Day: “Religion is here so the poor don’t murder the rich.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

Video Of The Day: “Sometimes, you have to generalize.” Baby boomers, now destroying America in the Tea Party.

Song Of The Day: “Unsatisfied” – The Replacements

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