Saturday, December 06, 2008

A Warning About Bill Richardson in Commerce

As usual in cases of demi-fascism (merging Gummint and Private Industry)--the author is Tim Carney. (I still think that Tim should keep a pistol under his pillow...)

...By naming New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as Secretary of Commerce this week, Obama signaled that his Commerce Department will be an ally for any big businesses willing to go along with the administration’s aims.

As governor, Richardson’s hallmark was forming “public-private partnerships.” He built such partnerships in the arenas of real estate, energy, biotech, and health insurance. What is a public-private partnership?

Basically, it’s an arrangement in which big businesses get taxpayer money or other government favors in exchange for pursuing whatever activity politicians ask them to pursue. Campaign contributions from the business to the politician are usually involved

Local bloglodyte Capper is well-acquainted with these things; the variant he so despises is the 'privatization' of child social services. Curious, no, that Capper has never screeched so loudly about the Norquist/Barrett/TIF examples* (as does Carney, below):

...In Richardson’s second term, he supported and signed the “Tax Increment for Development Act,” perhaps the most important in a string of subsidies for Forest City’s massive Albuquerque-area development called Mesa del Sol. Tax-increment financing is an arrangement whereby Forest City wins the right to pocket future tax payments after Mesa del Sol increases the value of the land

Forest City Executive Vice President James Ratner was candid in a 2007 interview with Governing magazine about one factor in the company’s success: using big government and politicians’ ambitions for profit. The path to profit, he explained, is through “a partnership ... with government that gives them what they want, and gives the company what it wants.”

What did Governor Bill Richardson want? To some extent, he wanted edifices, monuments—physical “accomplishments” of his administration. Mesa del Sol, with its solar farms, thousands of homes, and sparkling community centers, provided that.

Richardson also wanted campaign contributions. The Associated Press reported in 2006 that the company gave $220,000 in contributions to New Mexico politicians, including a ride in the corporate jet for Governor Richardson

My guess is that the $220K is approximately equal to the entire reduction in electric bills afforded by the 'solar farms.' Meaning that the saps who bought the homes here are paying in bribery what they would have paid in electric bills. But no matter, there's more.

...He directed tax dollars toward building a commercial spaceport, funding hopeless renewable energy projects, and helping biotech companies.

Politicians present such partnerships as harnessing the power and efficiency of the market and directing it at the public-good aims of government. But they are a huge opportunity for corruption and insider dealing.

For example, in New Mexico, horse-race tracks and slot machines are public-private partnerships. The state drastically limits them—keeping out competition—and drastically taxes them. The most recent winner of a state license is a partnership called Horse Racing at Raton, where a man named Mark Correra is a 30 percent stakeholder, according to Albuquerque Journal writer Thomas J. Cole.

As Cole wrote: “Correra ... is the son of Anthony Correra, a major contributor to Richardson’s first gubernatorial campaign in 2002 who was later picked to help in the governor’s transition into office.

“Anthony Correra also has served as a director for … a nonprofit created by Richardson in 2003…. Two months ago, Anthony Correra was a co-host for a Richardson fundraiser in Albuquerque for Barack Obama.”

When Richardson was pushing for “universal health insurance” in 2007, his backers included Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico, and Presbyterian Healthcare Services, whose CEO James Hinton praised Richardson’s focus on “the need for a partnership between the public sector and the private sector.”

In this case, it meant mandates and subsidies that drive dollars to healthcare corporations. Hinton and his wife both gave the maximum to Richardson’s presidential bid, among their nearly $30,000 in reported campaign contributions. (They also gave $1,000 to Richardson’s 2006 Governor campaign.) Richardson’s largest corporate source of donations for his presidential bid was insurer Torchmark Corporation.

The private enterprises mentioned are actually "rent-seekers" in the classic definition; happy to take Gummint money and call it "earned income."

And before the LeftoWackies get all bent-out-of shape on the term 'demi-Fascism,' recall that the definition of fascism is 'state/industry/labor cooperation in enterprise.' IOW, it's a slightly-privatized form of Statism.

*CORRECTION: Capper avers that he opposes TIF for WallyWorld. Fine. Then Capper opposes TIF's, if not in principle, at least by the name of the beneficiary!


Anonymous said...

Speaking as a New Mexican with extensive involvement in politics and with legislation, I must say:
YOU GUYS ARE DEAD WRONG ABOUT RICHARDSON. He has done a marvelous job as Governor for six years, and our loss as a state will be the Nation's gain with him as Commerce Secretary. He will start off, right off the bat, as the most internationally minded and the most internationally experienced Commerce Secretary in US History, make no mistake. Take a deep breath for about six months and GIVE THE GUY A CHANCE. The Economy is in a shambles, thanks to 8 years of NeoconEconomics, and Obama's Economic Team including Bill Richardson is about to do some great things, which will potentially benefit even curmudgeons like you!

Best wish, Stephen Fox
Contributing Editor,
New Mexico Sun News

Paul Socha said...

I thought this was going to be the most honest, beautiful, great, good administration in the history of this company.The seas will lower. The sun will shine. Americans will feel good again.

Can we say corruption? No, I didn't say that. Bill will be a great Commerce Secretary. HA,ha,ha,ha,ha.

This ought to be fun to watch. Wonder what those O voters will say.

Dad29 said...

We are honored to have an actual writer comment on the site.

That said, we don't get much of a choice about 'giving the guy 6 months,' now, do we, Steve?

And if you consider demi-Fascism to be "wonderful things," then we are simply going to see things in different ways.

I ain't bragging about GWB's "spend-all-there-is-plus-a-$zillion-or-so" asininities.

But that means there's little left to spend unless we wish to replicate Weimar.

capper said...

A) I have griped about TIFs and you know it. You even linked to it in one of your posts.

B) Unless you are volunteering to support me any my wife, I don't have all day to blog like some people I know.

Dad29 said...

Sorry Cap, don't recall which TIF you opposed.

Would you be kind enough to point out the item?

capper said...

Wally World for one.

Check the comment thread here.

Dad29 said...


I recalled that as a debate about 'whether or not businesses pay taxes.'

Then I'll change the content of the post to state that you oppose TIF's--meaning that you oppose Bill Richardson's way of doing business!

Good. Another convert to small-Gummint ways...

capper said...

Now, now, you old coot, don't go over-generalizing. That always gets you into trouble.