Romney in Illinois, 2012

I’m not a big Mitt fan but if there was ever a time for the National GOP and Donald Trump to run a play out of the Mitt Romney playbook it’s this week.

The DESTROY US ALL caucus is already screaming about how this tax bill means we’re all going to die (which was true, no matter the result) and I’ve already noted that there is a provision for people to donate money to reduce the public debt.

But that’s not the same as paying a legal tax rate so I think the GOP and Trump should give the left a chance to really put their money where their mouths are by doing what Mitt Romney did in Massachusetts concerning taxes back in 2000.

When he reduced out tax rate from 5.85% to 5% the law allowed companies and individuals to pay the old tax rate and every year a few tax payers choose to do so. As the state puts it:

Taxpayers have the option to pay a higher tax rate on certain types of income. Taxpayers may pay 5.85% as opposed to 5.1% on the following types of income:

Form 1 or 1-NR/PY income after exemptions:
Form 1, Line 19 or

1-NR/PY, Line 23.
Schedule B interest and dividend income:
Form 1, Line 20 or

1-NR/PY, Line 24.
Schedule D net long-term capital gains: –
Schedule D, Line 20.

Since so many liberals are so upset over this tax bill I’d give them a similar out.

I would introduce a bill in the house allowing the old 35% tax rate to apply any corporation that wishes to pay it. Such a bill should fly though the house and the senate and would likely arrive on President Trump’s desk in time to sign with the 1st tax bill.

Such a law would be a great chance for Microsoft or Ben and Jerry’s or Amazon or any California and/or Hollywood corporation in terms of virtue signaling. With the check of a single box on their corporate tax returns they can make sure everyone knows just how much they really love america as opposed to those nasty conservatives. It’s virtue signaling at the absolute highest level possible.

And If I’m Donald Trump I’d make sure every single one of those corporations get a chance to do so every year or be called out every year if they don’t.

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There was such high hopes for Republicans going into 2017. A GOP-controlled House and Senate putting legislation on a Republican President’s desk is exactly what they’ve been asking for since Barack Obama first took office. Voters delivered. All was well in the world. 2017 was going to be the year the GOP finally got stuff done.

I don’t have to tell you the punchline. It’s more like a punch in the gut. I know there are readers who will have valid excuses why Obamacare wasn’t repealed, Planned Parenthood wasn’t defunded, the wall wasn’t funded, and DACA is on its way to becoming law. I also know there are plenty of readers who will point fingers at this faction, that branch, or this person about why we don’t have anything of substance after nearly a year of trying. I’ll nod in agreement with pretty much all of the excuses and finger-pointing because all will likely be valid to some extent. The only one I won’t accept is that the Democrats obstructed. That would be false. They didn’t have to. The GOP obstructed itself just fine.

All of this leads me to the current dilemma. The GOP must pass tax cuts before the end of year. Why? Because the aforementioned utter failures at everything else they’ve attempted have forced them into a position where they might get literally nothing big accomplished in their entire first year with full control. That label is too much for them to want to carry, so they’re doing everything they can to get something they can call tax “reform” on the books. This should terrify us all.

Not only is the plan not what most Republicans would have wanted, it actually does worse by some of the people who wanted it. The effects on the middle class are debatable, but one thing that’s very clear is a huge mistake they have to get fixed before they can pass it. As reported by the Wall Street Journal:

That means a business owner’s next $100 in earnings, under certain circumstances, would require paying more than $100 in additional federal and state taxes.

As lawmakers rush to write the final tax bill over the next week, they already are looking at changes to prevent this from happening. Broadly, House and Senate Republicans are trying to reconcile the bills they passed, looking for ways to pay for eliminating the most contentious proposals. The formal House-Senate conference committee will meet Wednesday, and GOP lawmakers may unveil an agreement by the end of the week.

The possible marginal tax rate of more than 100% results from the combination of tax policies designed to provide benefits to businesses and families but then deny them to the richest people. As income climbs and those breaks phase out, each dollar of income faces regular tax rates and a hidden marginal rate on top of that, in the form of vanishing tax breaks. That structure, if maintained in a final law, would create some of the disincentives to working and to earning business profits that Republicans have long complained about, while opening lucrative avenues for tax avoidance.

In reality, this is should be pretty easy to fix. I’m not going to blow this out of proportion like so many in the media will, but it demonstrates a reality: these tax bills were rushed with the sole purpose of getting something passed in 2017. Had they repealed Obamacare, they would have been much more careful and methodical about putting out a tax cut package that wasn’t loaded with glaring holes and fiscal irresponsibility. Had they gotten the wall funded and started building it in full force, they might have held the tax bill a little longer to make sure they weren’t making huge mistakes with the nation’s economy.

We are riding a wave when the economy is in great shape. By rushing a mistake-ridden tax plan through to the President’s desk, they’re putting all of that at risk. This economy would be strong with very few risks of backsliding if it weren’t for Capitol Hill’s arbitrary deadline prompted by their failure to accomplish anything in 2017. For the sake of their majority, the GOP is willing to put the economy at risk with a sloppy tax plan.

We need tax cuts badly, but I’d rather wait a little longer and get the right tax plan in place instead of rushing it to protect a few politicians fighting for their careers.

Mayim Bialik not withstanding there is a lot to be Thankful for this Thanksgiving for Americans and those lucky enough to come here. And one of the things we have to be thankful for is Capitalism perfectly Illustrated by of all things rotisserie chickens sold by Market Basket stores.

If you go to any Market Basket you will find rotisserie chickens for sale. At the one closest to my house you can either buy a small chicken for $4.69 or a Perdue giant Roaster for $8.99 fully cooked and ready to eat.

The small chicken can feed two people easy and the big one can handle a family of four with no trouble.

Now you might be thinking: “Datechguy, so what? It’s a Rotisserie chicken, big deal!” To that I say: Yes it is!

Consider that for most of human history the vast majority of mankind has lived hand to mouth.  Even if you had good soil and ample water to grow crops you were one bad storm, one turn of the weather or one barbarian/bandit raid away from starvation.

Peasant:  He never steals all our food.  He leaves us enough to go on with.  That’s something.

The Magnificent Seven 1960

And even if you had access to food, unless you lived near the wilderness meat was a big luxury

Sir William: It may interest you to know that I’ve just been down in the kitchens. Do you know what our minions were feasting on, broth! And do you know what was in the broth, meat, MEAT!

His Lady: They have to put something in the broth.

Sir William: But not meat! Do you know the price of beef in Nottingham? It’s eating money!

The Adventures of Robin Hood The Miser 1956

And if you were poor or a common person you were happy enough to get a meal, any meal.

Sarah Jane Smith: Is all this for Irongron?
Meg: Him and his chamber guard.
Sarah Jane Smith: How many’s that?
Meg: Half a dozen. You’re full of questions, girl.
Sarah Jane Smith: Don’t the guards on the gate get stew?
MEG: What, meat for those common creatures? I should say not. They’ll have oatmeal the same as the rest of us, and lusty enough they are on that

Doctor Who The Time Warrior 1973

This has been the norm for most of human history.

Yet here in the west in general and the United States in particular this is not the case.

Consider, in Massachusetts the Minimum wage is $11 an hour while in the country as a whole said wage is $7.25 an hour, while Market Basket sells those chickens for $4.65 for the small and $8.99 for the huge Perdue roaster.

What does that mean, it means this:

If you are a person without education, without skills and only able to get a job doing simple manual labor.  For the price of not even a single hour of labor you can afford a meal of fresh meat fully cooked, and if you have a family you can even afford the big roaster (although if you are from out of state you might have to work a full 90 minutes to afford the Perdue model bird) to feed your entire family for the day.

That sentence alone is incredible in human history but there is an even bigger significance to it.

Not only is the poor person able to afford that chicken but the Market Basket chain is able to sell them that chicken while still managing to pay:

The employees who cooked wrapped and put out the chickens for sale
The truckers who deliver the chickens
The farmers who produced the chickens

and Still make a profit!

That is the result of capitalism, and freedom.  Capitalism, a system that allows and provides a reward for a person seeking to make a profit from their labors and a government free enough to allow this system to work.  It’s the combination of capitalism and the freedoms provided by western civilization in general and the United States in particular that allow this system to work.

It’s also why so regardless of how the academic left, the media and the professional left keep decrying the west as awful and capitalism as an evil repressive scourge, real people who know real repression and real hunger all over the world do all they can to get to the west in general and the US in particular, because they understand this underlying truth.

The only reason why so many in America have the luxury of professing socialism is because they live in a capitalistic society that keeps them fed 

because if they lived under the Venezuelan socialism that they so often espouse they’d be too busy trying to find food to proclaim how awesome socialism is.

I’ll leave you with these two tweets.  Kevin D Williamson who is a pretty bright fellow tweeted this out last week in response to a map showing that half the country lived in blue urban islands.

He’s close but not quite.

That’s the miracle of American freedom and Capitalism. It means that millions of folks like myself are fed because our Capitalistic system not only provides enough profit for others to make a living producing the food we need instead of having to grow it or hunt it ourselves but it provides a huge surplus that is given away to the poor all over the world, moreover it continues to provide incentives to drive people to do it better and cheaper every single day.

Capitalism as practiced in the US makes this anomaly of human history not only possible but so common that most people who are fed this way rarely if ever reflect on it.

If that’s not something to be thankful for I’d like to know what is?

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Today, Mick Mulvaney said something shocking. He declared if the Senate tax cut bill was getting stalled over repealing the individual mandate, then the White House would be okay with killing off that portion.


What Republican would oppose the tax cuts specifically because they had the individual mandate repeal attached to them? Can anyone who feels this way really be called a Republican? No. As I noted on RedState:

If there are Republicans in the Senate and/or the House who are objecting to the tax cuts because of killing the individual mandate, it’s time for them to declare they’re Democrats. No Republican, not even the swampiest of the RINOs, could look anyone in the eye and claim they’re part of the GOP if they hold up cutting taxes for the sake of protecting the worst component of Obamacare. Not John McCain. Not Lisa Murkowski. Not even Susan Collins.

Let’s be perfectly clear. True Republicans should favor tax cuts. True Republicans should favor repealing the individual mandate. Neither is debatable nor are they mutually exclusive. If there are fiscal reasons for wanting to keep the mandate, then cut expenses elsewhere. Otherwise, don’t even pretend you’re a Republican if you oppose tax cuts or want to keep the individual mandate.

I’m no fan of the GOP, but I want two things they want: lower taxes and less government in my healthcare. This shouldn’t be an issue and the fact that the White House is already signalling retreat on this aspect of the cuts should be a wake up call for anyone who believes in limited government and fiscal responsibility.

By John Ruberry

Last week I had some time off from work and I did what few people do. Before sunrise I left home and drove to Detroit for a pleasure visit.

It was my second trip to the Motor City. My first Da Tech Guy account, from 2015, is here.

What follows is a progress report with a grade.

First of all, is Detroit back? Well, if you are like most visitors and you don’t venture beyond downtown, Midtown, Greektown, New Center, or its three casinos, you’ll say, “Yep, Detroit is a thriving city, it’s back.”

But most of the the neighborhoods, Corktown, Palmer Woods, and Sherwood Forest are exceptions, are either rundown and decrepit, or near-apocalyptic wastelands, such as Brightmoor. And as for Palmer Woods, just three blocks from its southeast corner, near where I parked my car to snap a picture of a feral dog–90 minutes later a store manager was murdered during an armed robbery.

But even in its rough patches–actually most of Detroit is one expansive rough patch–there are noticeable improvements.

The abandoned GM Fisher Body 21 plant

Two years ago I was able to walk into vacated schools and factories with only a nagging guilt about trespassing preventing me from entering. That didn’t work, I walked in anyway. Harry B. Hutchins Elementary School, where I spent an hour taking photographs in 2015, is fenced off now. The Packard plant, the world’s largest abandoned factory, has a small but aggressive security presence. I wandered around there undisturbed for hours during my previous visit. Fisher Body 21, an old General Motors factory, is a glaring eyesore at the intersection of the Edsel Ford and Chrysler freeways. While I was able to stroll into that one, the windows in the stairwells must be bricked-off. The stairways are now as unlit as a cave beneath the dark side of the moon. Only a fool, or someone wearing a miner’s hat with a supply of back-up batteries, would climb them now.

So for urban explorers such as myself, Detroit is no longer a free-range video, photography, and souvenir collection zone.

Two years ago no one with authority appeared to give a damn. I credit the attitude change to Detroit’s reform mayor, Democrat Mike Duggan–who lives in Palmer Woods by the way. Duggan was elected four months after the Motor City’s bankruptcy in 2013. Earlier this month Duggan, who is white, overwhelmingly defeated Coleman Young II, the son of Detroit’s first black mayor. The elder Young’s 20-year tenure can best be deemed as controversial. The former communist utilized race-based politics and dog whistle words–city (black) versus suburbs (white)–which kept him in office but drove businesses and of course jobs out of Detroit. He was the steward of the city’s descent. While the white population is growing for the first time since 1950, Detroit remains a super-majority African-American city. Yet Detroit voters rejected the younger Young’s own dog whistle call to “Take Back the Motherland.” Good for them.

While there still are vacant buildings downtown, two of the most obvious ones that I noticed during my first visit, the 38-story Book Tower and the former Wayne County Building, are being rehabbed. Both were seen in the premature Detroit-is-back Chrysler Super Bowl ad with Eminem from 2011. A mile up Woodward Avenue to the northwest is the gleaning new Little Caesars Arena, the new stadium for the Red Wings and the Pistons. Detroit’s NBA team has returned to the Motor City after a nearly three-decade absence. Across the street from the arena are the luxurious Woodward Square Apartments. With Ford Field, the home of the Lions, and Comerica Park, where the Tigers play, as well as some theaters and other new or rehabilitated apartments, the result is the new District Detroit, an entertainment and residential area that rivals any in the United States.

Alley in Delray

So there is a lot of good going on in Detroit.

As for the bad, let’s discuss those forsaken areas, and it goes beyond the crumbling and abandoned housing stock and the crime. Most pedestrians in “the other Detroit” walk on the streets, because the sidewalks are for the most part crumbing. Some are overgrown with weeds. Nearly all alleys are impassable. Even large trees can be found growing in some. Keep in mind that in 1950 not only was Detroit America’s fifth largest city but it enjoyed the highest standard of living of any city in the world. Municipal alley garbage pick-up ended decades ago and many garages of otherwise well kept-up homes are collapsing. Why maintain a garage when you can’t access it from your alley? And besides, there are plenty of vacant lots, with a bit of elbow grease, that can be converted into grassy parking lots. Rubbish can be found everywhere. Illegal dumping–much of it done by suburbanites–is a serious problem in Detroit. Side streets have many potholes and even more cracks. On the other hand, Duggan has made good on his promise to install more street lights.

Urban prairie in Brightmoor

And that post-apocalyptic neighborhood of Brightmoor? A few sections that were once packed with residents have devolved into the kind of emptiness that you expect to see from a country road, a phenomenon known as an urban prairie.

Critics from the left will lash out at me as I take measure of Detroit’s unpleasant underside and yell, “What about racism?” Yes, for decades Detroit’s blacks suffered from institutional racism. So did black Atlantans. The year after Detroit elected Coleman Young, Atlanta, whose blacks endured Jim Crow laws, followed suit and elected its first black mayor. Atlanta became the city that was “too busy to hate.” In 1996 Atlanta hosted the Summer Olympics, which is something pre-Young Detroit unsuccessfully bid on an unprecedented nine times.

Back to the good: Most Detroiters are generally friendly people, strangers say “hello” to each other. That’s a commendable behavior I’ve never seen in any big city.

Sidewalk in Petosky-Otsego

Back to the bad: Detroiters are the rudest and most reckless drivers I’ve encountered outside of New York City. And remember, Detroit’s streets are in terrible shape, so such road effrontery is especially hazardous.

Detroit is not “back.” but it is coming back. But some unfinished business remains that could send the onetime Arsenal of Democracy back in the wrong direction. While the deadly 1967 riot and the contraction of the Big Three auto makers, as well as fiscal malfeasance, corruption, and numbing levels of crime are largely responsible for Detroit’s demise, the municipal income tax, a commuter tax, and loads of burdensome regulations also played a role. Those taxes, largely idiosyncratic to Detroit among big cities, still remain, along with those regs. And Detroit’s property tax system, according to the Detroit News, is “fundamentally flawed” and was “particularly devastating in the cycle of decline and renewal Detroit has undergone.”

“New Detroit” has emerged from the starting block but the Motor City is wearing ankle weights.

My grade for the city is “incomplete.”

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

My opposition to the new tax bill is selfish. It’s gonna cost me money!

As a resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I live in one of the bluest cities in one of the bluer states in the country. I pay city and state taxes—both of which will no longer be deductible under the proposals.

I understand the argument that the tax bill is intended to hold the line on exorbitant government budgets. But Philadelphia and Pennsylvania are not known for their penny-pinching, and the proposed tax bill is unlikely to change that.

Keep in mind, however, that Pennsylvania voted for Trump, and it’s unlikely that I am the only one who voted for the Republicans in 2016 and will lose money.

It’s a risky scenario given the fact that Pennsylvania hadn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate in decades. Moreover, the margin of victory was only 44,000 votes out of six million cast.

Congress should look at allowing a standardized amount that people should be able to deduct for state and local income taxes—say $5,000 across the board.

Sure, the increase of the exemption for a married couple from $12,700 to $24,000 will help but not enough to swing the tax bill is my favor.

There’s more. The cap on the real estate tax exemption at $10,000 will help me but not the many Republicans in the suburbs who pay much higher taxes than I do in the city.

And there’s more. The elimination of the deductions for charitable contributions will hit my wife and me. I doubt it will cause us to give less. But it does mean we will face higher taxes here, too. The elimination of the tax credit for adoptions makes no sense to me, particularly when it probably saved the lives of some potential victims of abortion.

It appears that my deductions for my home office will disappear. I’ve had outside income for more than 20 years and have reduced the tax exposure with my expenses at home. The tax bill means that I will be unable to deduct some of the costs I spend to do research in China, which I have done over the past three years.

I understand that the GOP needs a win, and I’d be willing to help finance a bit of that. At the moment, however, the cost is simply too steep, probably in the neighborhood of several thousand dollars. Since I don’t think I’m alone in my economic and political quandary, Congress and the president need to come up with some changes to make the tax bill more palatable. Otherwise, I am afraid the plan will lose more votes than gain them.


Eagle River, Wisconsin

By John Ruberry

“‘Many are the strange chances of the world,’ said Mithrandir, ‘and help oft shall come from the hands of the weak when the Wise falter.'”
Mithrandir (Gandalf), in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Simarillion.

This week greets the first anniversary of Donald J. Trump’s historic election to the presidency.

Historic? Yes. Trump is first first non-politician–or former general–ever elected to the nation’s highest office. The Manhattan billionaire was one of 17 candidates for the Republican nomination and it’s very safe to say that among the GOP establishment, Trump was the least popular member of this group.

But among the unpolished masses–the folks that Hillary Clinton dubbed “Deplorables” a year later–Trump was their champion. House Speaker Paul Ryan said after Trump’s upset win over Clinton, said that the president-elect, “Heard a voice that no one else heard.”

Clinton, on the other hand, was clearly the choice of the Democratic Party insiders, and that point was driven home last week by Donna Brazile, the interim DNC chair when Trump scored his upset win.

Trump was branded a racist when he said that Mexico was sending “rapists” and “criminals” over the border and he vowed to build a wall at the Mexican border. Was he wrong to say that? Yes. But Trump revealed a glaring hypocrisy among the Republican Party. The GOP’s idea of “getting tough” on illegal immigration was to talk tough about illegal immigration. And suddenly, the emerging Trump base learned, here was a candidate who will do something about illegal aliens–who yes, not only take away American jobs, such as in food service, but also drive down wages.

Barack Obama waxed eloquently–he’s good at that–about the plight of the laid-off workers at a Maytag refrigerator plant in Galesburg, Illinois–the manufacturer shifted that work to a factory in Mexico, both in his memorable keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and in Audacity of Hope. Trump vowed–and vows–to stop the exodus of blue collar jobs to south of the border. After eight years of President Obama in charge, whose response to these job losses was to offer retraining to workers for scarce jobs in “green industries,” Trump’s message resonated. While Clinton doubled-down on green failure.

Last week Rush Limbaugh praised Trump’s making an issue during the campaign of China cheating on trade deals and its currency manipulation “China is ripping us off on trade,” Trump screamed. At the time El Rusho saw it as too esoteric of a topic for presidential campaign. But the “weak” understood while the “wise” faltered.

And the Deplorables of Iowa, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan–many of whom voted twice for Barack Obama–went with Trump last year.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

For weeks our friends in media, particularly in the sports media have been doing all they can to make sure that the entire world knows that whatever is the cause of the drop in ratings for the NFL and the empty seats it definitely , positively and just plain isn’t mostly connected to the players protesting during the national anthem.

We see story after story saying it’s over saturation, it’s the quality of play, it’s the injuries, it’s everything ANYTHING but the elephant in the room, the protests during the National Anthem that while it plays well with the radical left, and the players who support the radical left and the media that supports the radical left and the sports media that is even more radical than the regular media but is detested by the actual customer base of the NFL.

Well lo and behold Papa John’s Pizza which is a brand completely identified with the NFL has had a meeting and Papa John himself had decided to bluntly tell the world that the NFL emperor doesn’t have any clothes

In a teleconference Wednesday, company founder and CEO John Schnatter criticized how the league has handled the player protests and it’s impact on the company.

“The NFL has hurt us,” Schnatter said (via ESPN). “We are disappointed the NFL and its leadership did not resolve this.”

Papa John’s is the official pizza of the NFL, with scheduled commercial time slots during games. The NFL has promised Papa John’s additional slots for next year, but Schnatter still isn’t happy.

“Leadership starts at the top and this is an example of poor leadership,” Schnatter said, adding the issue should have “nipped in the bud” early in last year’s season.

They are being attacked merciless for telling the truth

After Schnatter directed his comments at the league’s leadership, the company quickly began trending on Twitter on Wednesday. Users accused him of blaming the players protesting racial inequality—and missed no opportunity to take jabs at their quality of pizza.

This spin is very funny but the funniest spin came from Pizza Hut

According to Business Insider, Yum Brands CEO Greg Creed told investors that Pizza Hut hasn’t seen the impact from NFL player protests that Papa John’s claimed to be damaging their business. Creed said:

“We’re not seeing any impact from any of that.”

While Papa John’s is recognized as the “official” pizza of the NFL, brands like Pizza Hut and Dominos rely considerably on NFL fans for their game-day sales.

The problem with this argument is an important contrast first Papa Johns:

Papa John’s, the official pizza company of the NFL, has a deal with the league and with 23 teams.

In other words Papa John’s is directly associated with the NFL in many people minds particularly those who buy Pizza. How about Pizza Hut? (emphasis mine)

According to CNBC, Pizza Hut, who has no affiliation with the NFL, saw 1 percent growth this quarter, higher than expected. “We’re not seeing any impact from any of that on our business,” the company said during an earnings conference call, according to CNBC

So let me get this straight, the evidence that the press is presenting that Papa John’s, a company totally associated with the NFL is wrong that the protests in the NFL that they are associated with are hurting them is that a similar company WITH NO AFFILIATION WITH THE NFL IS NOT HAVING THAT PROBLEM?

Am I the only person in the world who sees how absolutely insane that argument is?

By an odd coincidence that likely has nothing to do with what Papa John’s has said and it’s effect on other advertisers who might have noticed the same thing but said nothing the NFL put his ad on youtube today and played it during Thursday night football last night:

I’m sure that it’s just a coincidence that this ad started running right after the Papa John’s business and furthermore I’m sure the fact that at the restaurant I was at when it ran the person next to me said they didn’t believe them is simply anecdotal.

As I have no sexual secrets of rich liberals to sell or the sponsorship of a national pizza company I have to make my buck by going places and doing interviews all the time hoping people like it enough to pay for it.

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By John Ruberry

Last Monday I had a errand to run for work–which brought me to Milwaukee’s suburbs. And for the first time in five years I drove on Interstate 94 north of the Illinois-Wisconsin state line–on what is known as the Milwaukee to Kenosha I-94 Corridor.

A lot has changed since 2012. As I left a toll road south of the border and entered a true freeway–okay, to be fair, the toll road has been there for decades–I noticed a lot.

Businesses–with huge facilities–that weren’t there five years ago leap out at you. Most obvious is the massive Uline warehouse in Pleasant Prairie. The headquarters office of the industrial supplier moved a few miles north from Waukegan, Illinois into Pleasant Prairie in Kenosha County in 2010. Its “Chicago warehouse” followed four years later.

In the 1980s Wisconsin’s tourism slogan was “Escape to Wisconsin.” Illinois businesses are now heeding the call.

Yes, the Chicago area has a couple of Amazon fulfilment centers, but farther north on my drive I saw a massive one in Kenosha–it opened in 2015. The Milwaukee Business Journal calls it “the largest in the recent Kenosha County industrial boom.” There is a “Hiring Now” sign out front.

Sears Holdings, an Illinois loser

South of Kenosha County is Lake County in ILL-inois. There is no Lake County industrial boom. There is no Illinois industrial boom.

Why is that? Sure, tax incentives from Wisconsin’s Republican governor, Scott Walker have helped greatly. Illinois, when inept Democrat Pat Quinn was governor, offered tax breaks to Sears Holdings, which operates the Sears and Kmart brands, and Mitsubishi Motors, to encourage them to stay. This was a few months after a huge income tax hike was enacted. What about attracting new business? By all accounts Sears and Kmart are on life-support and Mitsubishi closed its Bloomington plant in 2015.

Corporate taxes might be slightly higher in Wisconsin–no place is perfect. But Illinois has the nation’s highest median property tax rate. And Illinois’ expensive workers compensation laws frighten business owners.

In 2015 Wisconsin became a right-to-work state. All the states that border Illinois except for Missouri are right-to-work states and Show Me State voters will be asked next year if they want to join the trend. Nearby Michigan has been right-to-work since 2012. Job creators don’t like unions and based on recent workplace votes, neither do workers.

Illinois has its 800-pound odious gorilla in its basement, a woefully underfunded public-worker pension system. Wisconsin’s state pensions are by most accounts fully funded. Businesses don’t like uncertainty and Illinois’ pension bomb, despite a massive personal and corporate tax hike put in place this summer, has not been defused. Not even close. Ka-boom is coming.

Blogger in Pleasant Prairie

This summer Wisconsin and the Milwaukee to Kenosha I-94 Corridor snagged its biggest prize, the Foxconn factory. The Taiwanese manufacturer will hire anywhere from 3,000 to 13,000 employees for its facility in Mount Pleasant in Racine County. Yes, Illinois had also bid on the Foxconn plant.

Indiana is also enjoying great success poaching Illinois firms for the similar reasons.

And when the jobs leave the people leave. And Illinois is one of only three states with negative population growth.

John Ruberry regularly blogs from Illinois at Marathon Pundit.

Be careful when you answer the phone! If you are told that a relative is injured or in some kind of other desperate situation, beware.

It’s commonly known as “The Grandparent Scam”, because elderly people are often the victims, but it could happen to anyone who isn’t sufficiently skeptical and gets caught off guard. Someone tried a variation of this scam on me a few months ago, but I am always suspicious of calls from unknown numbers so it didn’t work, but some rotten crooks almost got my favorite Auntie and my mom just the other day. If you’re not familiar with this particular con, here is how it works:

The target gets a phone call from someone either pretending to be their grandchild (or other relative) or a cop, or a lawyer, or a kidnapper, and says that the intended victim’s loved one has been hurt in an accident (or is in legal trouble, has been kidnapped, or is in some other kind of peril) and the only way to help them is to immediately wire a large sum of money somewhere – and don’t tell anyone or the person you love’s situation will greatly worsen!

If the victim complies, that money is gone forever, and their information may be sold to other scammers as an easy mark to get set up for more schemes. It’s a cruel crime, targeting vulnerable people and using their love for family as a weapon against them. provides some helpful information about this:

Stay safe. Be Informed.

The victim is urged not to tell anyone, such as the parent of the “grandchild” because they do not want them to find out about the trouble they’ve gotten themselves into. The grandparent never hears from their fake grandchild again and is tricked out of hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

To detect and avoid the Grandparent Scam, NCL’s Fraud Center recommends the following tips:

  • Beware of any urgent solicitation of funds, especially if it is needed to pay for unexpected bills, such as bail money, lawyer’s fees, or doctor bills
  • Before sending funds, independently contact the relative (or parent of the relative) the scam artist is claiming to be (or represent) at a known phone number to verify the details of the story.
  • Scam artist’s payment method of choice is the wire transfer. Any urgent request to wire money should be treated suspiciously.
  • Be aware that fraudsters attempting the Grandparent Scam may call late at night to confuse potential victims.
  • Consumers who have been victims of this scam should immediately report it to local law enforcement, their state attorney general and NCL’s Fraud Center at

The FTC has additional advice:

Verify an Emergency

If someone calls or sends a message claiming to be a family member or a friend desperate for money:

  • Resist the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is.
  • Verify the person’s identity by asking questions that a stranger couldn’t possibly answer.
  • Call a phone number for your family member or friend that you know to be genuine.
  • Check the story out with someone else in your family or circle of friends, even if you’ve been told to keep it a secret.
  • Don’t wire money — or send a check or money order by overnight delivery or courier.
  • Report possible fraud at or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.      MORE

The con artists will even make an effort  to “help” the victim. Via WBNS-10TV – Columbus, OH:

“Often times they’ll hand the phone off to a second party on the phone, alleging that’s the attorney and that serves the purpose of getting a different voice on there so they don’t continue to question whether this is my grandchild’s voice,” explains Sgt. Kline.

He goes on to say that sometimes, the scammers will even go as far as arranging taxi transportation for grandparents to get to the location where they can get the money orders.   Full Story HERE

The call that I received, from a strange cell phone number, said that my “husband, son, or brother” was in a horrible accident in a nearby town and had been taken away by ambulance, and the caller was someone who had been on the scene before emergency services arrived and that my male relative had given them my number to call as his own phone had been damaged in the accident. The guy who called me could not tell me the name of my injured loved one, saying that he was hurt so badly that he could barely talk and that he didn’t have any ID on him, they could not tell me what hospital my “husband, son, or brother” had been taken to, and they could not tell me my own name or how the injured male was connected to me, because my loved one was too messed up to say it before he was carted off  to an undisclosed location. I think the caller was expecting me to go to the location he had given me (the alleged scene of the accident) or meet him elsewhere and I do not know what would have happened then, but it didn’t get to that as I cut the guy off and insisted that he must have gotten the wrong number because I knew full well where all of my people were and I hung up.

The scam that targeted my aunt and almost robbed my mom was more like the ones described when you look up “injured relative phone scam” in a search engine, my mom got dragged into it because her sister is currently housebound recovering from a serious medical issue. Both women are in their eighties and love their families dearly. Here is how I found out about it:

My cousin called me two days ago looking for my mom. My mom lives 100 miles away so I figured she must have assumed she was up visiting or just called my number by mistake. My cousin was very upset. I told her that she’d reached my house, not my mom’s and that my mom was not here. My cousin told me that my aunt had gotten a call saying that another cousin, my aunt’s grandson, was hurt in an accident but that, “It was a trick” and that we needed to get hold of my mom, who was on her way to Western Union on behalf of my aunt. I guess my aunt had gotten the call and was so distressed that she called my mom for help, and my mom was going to withdraw almost two thousand dollars from her own bank account and wire the money on my aunt’s behalf.

Unfortunately, my mom had already left her house, she doesn’t answer her cell phone, and I did not know the location of the Western Union nearest to my mom, so I spent a good chunk of time fretting about it before my mom finally got back home and I could speak to her. Luckily, my mom started to get suspicious as to why she couldn’t just write a normal check and why there was no name for who to make the money order or transfer or whatever out to, so instead of completing the task, she went back home and called my aunt, who had by then been advised by my cousins of the con so nobody was hurt this time. Thank God.

Some versions of this nasty trickery also target people through email, text messages, and social media.

Please be careful if someone contacts you with an “emergency”, and tell the people that you care about who may be vulnerable to such tactics as the one described above to be cautious as well.


MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals.