Opinion: Kentucky tax breaks for Ark park with cuts in education a bad idea

Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2012 9:06 AM | Contributed by Jeff

In one of the most spectacularly mis-prioritized state budgets in recent memory, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear (D), is suggesting over $50 million in cuts to education – while preserving $43 million in tax breaks for the Ark Encounter, a creationist amusement park centered around a life-sized Noah’s Ark. The park is sponsored by Answers In Genesis, a non-profit organization that promotes a “literalist” interpretation of the Book of Genesis while promoting an anti-evolution (and other sciences) agenda.

Read more from Forbes.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 9:46 AM

Why educate the kids when they will just be working minimum wage jobs at the Noah's Ark park when they grow up? :)

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012 9:46 AM

Education cuts and tax incentives are unrelated. Incentives are not cuts. Without incentives the park does not get built. If anything, one could better argue that education would be cut more if not for the governor wisely attracting a larger tax base.

But as said before...the two are unrelated.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012 9:49 AM

Before this turns into a religious debate, does this really have anything to do with religion? Seems like Kentucky is just trying to lure more tourism business to this area of south Cincinnati.

Whether it is a good idea to do it is another question...

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012 10:56 AM

If I remember right, the park applied for the incentive through a program that is available to any tourist attracting project. So it isn't about religion.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012 12:25 PM

Incentives and subsidies are just welfare for businesses.

*nope, not even a winky...

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012 2:17 PM

rollergator said:
Incentives and subsidies are just welfare for businesses.

*nope, not even a winky...

I could see how some might make that comparison, but they are not the same. One has the potential to bring jobs and additional tax revenues to the area. The other is a net drag, in practice.

I don't know enough about this particular tax incentive program to say whether it is good or not. But I certainly would not blame this democrat governor for trying to promote business growth in his domain...assuming it is done without risking tax payer futures. There IS a difference between incentives and subsidies. I'm talking about incentives.

If he (the governor) does not promote/invite/beg this business to come to to Kentucky, then another state will. That is how business is done globally. We all moan and cry when we see companies moving their factories to Mexico, or China...but guess what...Mexico and China offer better incentives than we do in most cases. Cheaper labor, lower taxes, and decreased regulation are all part of the reason our manufacturing base has left the country.

If Microsoft needs a new plant to mass produce a microchip, China and Mexico can be up and running in 90 days. In the United States, the environmental study for the plant building, protecting the tree slug, could take 12 months. In the meantime a good percentage of our citizenry will badmouth Microsoft as greedy bastards if they ask for tax incentives to build their plant. A certain percentage of our politicians will paint Microsoft as tree slug killers who are sucking the lifeblood out of the 99%. Our president will start bitching about how much compensation the CEO is getting and how the United State's Government needs to act now, or he will do what he can himself. Any wonder that most companies choose to leave?

Boy we are really showing Microsoft who is boss...? I simply fail to see how such a negative attitude toward growth and potential is of benefit to our standard of living, security, etc. It seems so self-defeating.

So if you are so disgusted and jaded that you cannot accept a democrat governor supporting/promoting a job creating venture that expands the tax base, creates jobs, and diversifies the economy...well I opine that if enough hold this opinion...our decline in world stature will continue.

At some point, the citizenry will have to make a decision on if our country would like to participate in the world economy by offering competitive opportunities, or we can artificially hold ourselves back for political (damn evil companies), environmental (see Canadian pipeline), or just unexplainable (again see Canadian pipeline) reasons. I applaud this democrat governor from Kentucky for actively taking a role in promoting growth in his state (again on the assumption these are incentives, not subsidies).

The way I see it. If one is going to criticize and complain about a company accepting tax incentives, or the government for providing the said tax subsidies...then one has no firm basis to critisize the same companies for taking their business, ideas, jobs, and tax creation elsewhere.

Corporations, companies, evil bastards (whatever you want to call them) do not exist to support the United States Government (or state, or local) and the Government's spending habits. They exist to turn a profit for shareholders. Those politicians/countries that best find means to form a symbiotic relationship with the job creators are the places that thrive.

We used to be THE place. Now we are THE pain in the ass to deal with.

Give the park some incentives to build in Kentucky. Then start enjoying the increased property taxes, job creations, and income taxes the park provides. Or you can bitch about the incentives and turn it into bitch squared when the Arc is built in Canada.

You may not like me...but tell me what I am missing here...? Kentucky can either have a useless undeveloped piece of land that provides nothing, or they can have a job creating venture. Who could be upset about this...and why?

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012 4:06 PM

Education IS a Religion. "Study hard and you'll get a High-Paying Job in the Service Industry". I studied hard and what happened, NOTHING!

What is needed is to bring back the Manufacturing Jobs we sent over to other countries such as China for those of us who didn't fare well in Education. Not everybody can be Summa Cum Laude.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012 9:43 AM

Those jobs are never coming back. The service industry is the new manufacturing.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012 11:27 AM

I think practically...that is correct Jeff. But it does/did not have to be like that. A lot of these companies would have stayed in the USA IF our "cost of business" was competitive. It isn't.

Right now Canada is threatening to pipe oil to China because we (really just Obama) refused access to our own country. There were a lot of good jobs on the line in terms of building/maintaining the new pipeline, manufacturing, etc. The low end number was 20,000.

I think what many of us are tired of is artificially limiting our access to good jobs. In other words, are we a "service" economy because we had no choice? Or did we end up in this situation through a series of poor decisions (that continue today)?

This fits nicely into this discussion. There are some who are seeking to stop this park from being built based upon an "artificial" objection to religion. Why? If you don't like the park, don't go. We "make up" reasons in this country to not build/progress.

Other countries are dying for a piece of the action. They are laughing at us (as they should)for being such stubborn fools. We have it bass ackwards. Build a pipeline...NO! Hand out welfare credit cards for Sea World trips...YES!

How about some of those Missouri welfare leaches who take our credit cards to Florida be put to work on that pipeline? This is not mean, cruel, etc. It is common sense. We kick ourselves in the testicles from both sides.

Last edited by Aamilj, Wednesday, January 25, 2012 11:30 AM
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012 11:42 AM

That 20,000 added jobs estimate comes to us from Transcanada (more specifically, a consulting firm hired by Transcanada), the company behind the project. So I would be wary of the estimate's validity. In addition, that estimate is not the "low end number". The actual low end number is 500 to 1,400 temporary jobs, most of which aren't even in the US. You can read the Cornell University Global Labor Institute report here.

The shrinking of the manufacturing industry isn't as simple as you're trying to make it. At least part of the reason manufacturing in other parts of the World is less expensive is because we have higher standards when it comes to things like environmental impact and workers' rights. There are, of course, other factors that have played a role in the reduction of manufacturing in the US, but many of them have nothing to do with making poor decisions.

With regard to the park, I can see where some people would be upset that their tax money is being spent on a religious venture. I don't know if that's the case here, but it's not as simple as saying "don't go if you don't like it". If I have to pay taxes as a rule of law, and those taxes are being used to fund something that the state has no business being involved in, that's a problem.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012 11:57 AM

Workers' rights and unions alone give us no chance to be competitive. I'm not making a moral judgment, that's just how it is. That's why in-person service jobs are a little safer. Someone overseas can't easily serve you fries or make your hotel bed.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012 12:51 PM

And, to me, the big problem with that is that service jobs don't quite create wealth the same way manufacturing does. These people don't make anything. Money is simply exchanged. I suppose you could argue that it indirectly creates new hotels, restaurants and such, but that's not quite the same. Where is the growth?

Hell, I'd argue the closest thing we have to a future in manufacturing comes from guys like you Jeff - people writing code and creating something. It's the factory/assembly line of the future - pumping out code. People creating software.

Workers' rights and unions alone give us no chance to be competitive. I'm not making a moral judgment, that's just how it is.

:)

How is it that in these couple of threads that went political, I suddenly find myself agreeing with you?

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012 12:58 PM

From what I have seen in energy industry publications, the expection in the industry is that the pipeline will be built. Rejection was more political theater than actual substance. Shocking coming from the good folks in DC. And if the pipeline isn't built, apparently Berkshire Hathaway/Buffet owns a railroad that can transport the oil. Thankfully, the trains will run on clean rubber band power so the environmentalists will be happy. :)

I don't see the manufacturing jobs that have left the country at this point coming back (in addition, a lot of the manufacturing done today is less labor intensive because machines do much of the work). There are some speciality/high skilled niches that we can find (and have found) here and there. We can provide some incentives for keeping jobs here but its very difficult to overcome the wage difference. Big difference between what someone who is looking to eat will do and what someone looking to be in the middle class will do. We were the low cost provider at one point but our standard of living increased and we are not any more.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012 1:10 PM

Lord Gonchar said:
Hell, I'd argue the closest thing we have to a future in manufacturing comes from guys like you Jeff - people writing code and creating something. It's the factory/assembly line of the future - pumping out code. People creating software.

It's funny that you mention that, because I was chatting with some folks about it. If you're in my line of work, 2008 to 2009 aside in some markets, the economy has been awesome. Here's the thing about software development gigs: There aren't enough qualified people to fill them. I mean, it's almost a crisis. The average shop isn't sponsoring H1B's because it's cheaper to ship someone in from India (the opposite is actually true), they're doing it because there aren't enough corn-fed farm boys to fill the jobs. It has resulted in another interesting phenomenon among HR efforts, to employ remote and virtual workers. They're doing it because any one city doesn't have enough people to fill jobs, so you have to look elsewhere.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012 4:30 PM

Thankfully, the trains will run on clean rubber band power so the environmentalists will be happy.

Am I not the only person who misses that ride? Hopefully Dispicable Me will be as entertaining.

we have higher standards when it comes to things like environmental impact and workers' rights.

I don't know if it is your intention, but I believe you make my point. We artificially have priced ourselves out of the world market. We limit our own access to jobs and then bitch when we don't have any jobs.

The actual low end number is 500 to 1,400 temporary jobs, most of which aren't even in the US. You can read the Cornell University Global Labor Institute report here.

Don't have time to read it right now...but even if your numbers are correct...my point remains! We artificially limit access to jobs. In this case the president almost unilaterally has done so against the wishes/desires of the vast majority in BOTH parties. Apparently this is done to appease the most EXTREME among us who protest any and all progress.

Withregard to the park, I can see where some people would be upset thattheir tax money is being spent on a religious venture. I don't know ifthat's the case here, but it's not as simple as saying "don't go if youdon't like it".

I think I have made it clear that there is a big difference between tax incentives and tax subsidies. If the latter are being used, you have a legitimate point. As would the tea party conservatives and others who would certainly scrutinize this.

If it is a tax incentive, as I've stipulated with all my comments, then your comment makes no sense. There is no "tax money" spent. This is a business incentive provided to EVERYBODY that involves no risk of taxpayer money.

The way I read it...we are talking about nothing but "incentives." And even with this, there are those. like this author, who want to artificially limit another job growth venture on religious grounds.

Workers' rights and unions alone give us no chance to be competitive. I'm not making a moral judgment, that's just how it is.

Amen.

I'll make a moral judgement. This is bullcrap! Their demands have gone to far. In the case of the auto industry their demands went so far that those of us who have NOTHING to do with building cars had to bail their asses out.

And that is really the point. We have artificially created a business hostile environment for years. And way we woke up and all the manufacturing jobs were gone. And now even service/pleasure jobs, like a bible park, are under attack.

Where are the American people and politicians demanding that we role up our sleeves and make ourselves competative again? Why aren't they? Is there just the slightest possibility that the reason we cannot get a majority to support policies and politicians who champion world competativeness...is that the majority of the American Public are content?

I mean...if you can get 2 years of unemployment, credit cards for Sea World trips, no federal income taxes, etc...where is your incentive to support policies and politicians who might want you to work?

This is a BROKE system. Unfortunatley, there is a good possibility it is too late to fix it. If you have a system where everybody gets the same voting power, but only half have to foot the bill...well it will be hard pressed to find enough votes to do anything sensible. In fact, the brightest and smartest will either move away, or find out how they too can get their credit card to go to Sea World on somebody else's dime. :)

What is hillarious. Is that the current system is STILL not fair, as defined by so many politicians. Not a one, from either party will ask EVERYBODY to put skin in the game. They may SAY it, but they don't mean it. "Fair", and "skin in the game" are new code words for, "let somebody else foot the bill."

We have 15 trillion and growing reasons to show the fallacy of this line of reasoning. But I'm afraid we do not have a political system in place to stop it.

Absent dumb luck, like the internet bubble...it is hard pressed to find a way out of this mess in the current political climate.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012 4:53 PM

Dammit, Aamilj! Just when you started to get non-annoying!

Ever notice that most of us can have a discussion, political or otherwise, without a long-winded, peachy diatribe?

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012 4:56 PM

...and by peachy, of course, I mean preachy. Friggin autocorrect making me sound nice. :)

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012 6:37 PM

I'm not reading all that to decide whether it's peachy or not.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012 8:25 PM

Aamilj said:
Don't have time to read it right now...but even if your numbers are correct...my point remains! We artificially limit access to jobs.

There's nothing artificial about it. The point is that the world is not a black and white place, and we attempt to adhere to certain environmental and work standards because our culture values those things. That's far from artificial, that's you limiting the scope of what you see as important.

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