Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Big leap in profits shows where some of 2021's "inflation" came from

I’ve been waiting for the final GDP report for Q4 of 2021, but not really for the economic growth part (FYI - GDP was up a strong 6.9% after inflation, in line with previous reports).

No, instead I wanted to get a first look at US corporate profits, as I’ve theorized that a lot of our “inflation” is good old-fashioned profiteering. And sure enough, profits continued to rise at the end of 2021.
Profits from current production (corporate profits with inventory valuation and capital consumption adjustments) increased $20.4 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of $96.9 billion in the third quarter (table 10).
That doesn’t seem like much for the 4th quarter itself. But then combine it with major increases in profits earlier in 2021, and you have a big jump for last year.
In 2021, profits from current production increased $562.0 billion, in contrast to a decrease of $124.0 billion in 2020. Profits of domestic financial corporations increased $64.3 billion, in contrast to a decrease of $39.9 billion (table 10). Profits of domestic nonfinancial corporations increased $461.0 billion, in contrast to a decrease of $25.5 billion. Rest-of-the-world profits increased $36.7 billion, in contrast to a decrease of $58.7 billion.
That $562 billion (annual average) is an increase of more than 25%. And profits were already high to begin with, as this graph from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (FRED) shows, with pre-tax profits up nearly 34% since the GOP Tax Scam became law at the end of 2017.

You might also notice that as vaccinations against COVID became widespread after 2020, profits took off even more than they were doing before the pandemic. It shows corporations have been able to use the disruptions of the pandemic to jack up prices and pocket the difference.
A growing number of U.S. firms are able to pass along their higher costs to consumers, and it remains to be seen how high the Federal Reserve will need to raise its benchmark policy interest rate to get inflation under control, said Richmond Fed President Tom Barkin on Wednesday.

“I am increasingly hearing” that companies have so-called “pricing power,” Barkin said, in an interview with Bloomberg.

Businesses, still frustrated by supply chain woes resulting from the pandemic, are seeing costs increases from suppliers and are “determined” to pass those higher costs on to consumers, Barkin said.

Firms are not yet getting a reaction in the marketplace that indicates they will lose market share because of their higher prices, he added.
Heck, they didn’t wait till those (alleged) higher costs came from suppliers. That's how year-over-year consumer inflation can go from 1.3% at the end of 2020 to 7.1% at the end of 2021, while profits boom at the same time.

So what do we do about this profiteering higher inflation? Some of it comes from reversing that Fed official's point – consumers say “no more” to the higher prices, and slow their spending. That’s not good for the economy, and combined with higher interest rates from the Fed, makes it likely for the Biden Boom to end at some point this year. I just hope the adjustment is a mere downshift into slower growth vs recession, but you can see it coming.

Another economic adjustment I want to see is to decrease the incentive for corporations to hoard profits and use extra cash to buy stock instead of pay workers or invest further to pump out more product. That’s where President Biden’s proposal to roll back half of tax rate cut given to corporations in the GOP Tax Scam comes in. This can be combined with taxes on excessive wealth and/or disincentives on stock buybacks and related actions.

And the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee wants to go further than that.

Unfortunately, I don’t see a lot of those tax measures happening in the next 6 months, as Congress will likely bail on any budget action until after the November elections, if any changes happen at all (profiles in courage!). Which means that it’ll take public pressure and the Biden Administration stepping up enforcement of anti-trust and other non-competitive measures to stop the spiraling profits.

We're still in a lot better of a situation than we were in at the start of 2021. But now it’s time for this economy to readjust to a place where we really do grow in a better and healthier way than we’ve seen in the unequal and often-stagnant last 20 years. The only austerity we should have is one that hits those that have done well in the COVID World and can afford to pay, not the ones that needed support, and might need more in the future.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Foxconn still contributing near nothing, and can't get the manufacturing it was supposed to get

Here’s what happens when one Wisconsin-based GOP debacle meets another.

Oshkosh Corp.'s Oshkosh Defense division wanted to build tens of thousands of vehicles in one of Foxconn’s buildings in Mount Pleasant.

Had the deal gone through, more than 1,000 employees would have worked at the site. Instead, the vehicles will be manufactured in South Carolina.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson told several reporters on Feb. 18 that Oshkosh Corp. made inquiries about renting the Foxconn facility but was rebuffed.

"They had to find an existing building," Johnson said. "They tried to rent the Foxconn building."
So what went wrong? Representatives for Johnson and Oshkosh Truck aren’t telling much.
"The senator spoke with both union leaders and Oshkosh corporate management to gather more information on the status of the contract and employment in Wisconsin," the spokeswoman said, adding that Johnson believes the project faces problems because of the Biden administration and environmental regulations for electric vehicles. …

Oshkosh Defense looked at multiple sites in several states, including Wisconsin, but ultimately chose Spartanburg, South Carolina because the facility gives the company "the best ability to meet the needs of the USPS," said Oshkosh Corp. spokeswoman Alexandra Hittle.

"With the support of several local economic development corporations, we looked throughout Wisconsin to find an existing building that was large enough to build this vehicle," Hittle said. "The manufacturing space needed to be larger than any of our existing facilities — a minimum of 825,000 square feet. Wisconsin simply did not have any available buildings."
But wait, that Foxconn building allegedly has 1,000,000 square feet, so why wouldn’t that have worked?

These [non]-answers don’t cut it, and if we had a functioning Legislature, we’d have public hearings demanding real reasons as to why Oshkosh isn’t building these vehicles in our state. And doesn’t it seem like RoJo is more concerned that Oshkosh’s Wisconsin workers would be unionized and making environmentally-conscious vehicles over the fact that WE WOULD BE MAKING THINGS IN WISCONSIN.

There are a lot of questions that remain about Foxconn, nearly 5 years after this boondoggle scheme was first announced. But the guy making $28K a month to sell this project claims that great things are just around the corner.
"We've put in a lot of infrastructure folks," said Claude Lois, Foxconn's project manager hired by Mount Pleasant. "We've sized this at the time for Foxconn Generation 10, but today, actually because of all the work we did we are sitting pretty good for all the work we did for the future."

Lois spoke during a special meeting of the Racine County Board and the Mount Pleasant Village Board Tuesday — the first time a public update on Foxconn has been given since 2019. Foxconn representatives were invited to participate but declined.
Foxconn didn’t want to talk about this? Funny, that.

Is this picture from 2017? Or today?

Those not making 6 figures a year off of this scam aren’t buying it.
"People gave up their homes for a $10 billion investment and 13,000 jobs, not for speculation as to what might get built there," said Mahoney, who attended the meeting.
The Village of Mount Pleasant borrowed $911 million to buy those houses and other land plots, upgrade local infrastructure, and provide other gifts to Foxconn. In addition, the State of Wisconsin threw in hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade highways in Robbin’ Vos’ district in and around the Foxconn site.

But don’t worry taxpayers, you’re covered in case Foxconn continues to be empty fields and buildings!
According to the agreement, the money will be recouped over 30 years with funding and property tax revenue from Foxconn and other businesses in the district….

Local officials have repeatedly said they are protected because Foxconn must make minimum tax payments equal to about $30 million beginning in 2023, regardless of the project’s completion status.
If you believe that Foxconn is going to be shelling out those funds to the yokels in Racine County next year… might have been stupid enough to buy into the Fox-con in the first place.

And if/when Foxconn refuses to pay and leaves town, state taxpayers could face with a bill of more than $300 million to bail out Mount Pleasant and other local yokels who sunk so much into this white elephant. In addition, it’s possible/likely those communities go bankrupt and tens of thousands of people see their services and quality of life thrown into the lurch.

FOR WHAT? I’ll tell you what – to try to generate PR BS from a desperate Governor and President who cared more about headlines and photo ops than what would happen in the years that followed.

Foxconn is a classic example of “I’ll be gone, you’ll be gone”, and the rest of us are going to be cleaning up from what those grifters have left behind for years.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Dear Dems - playing nice and going "by the book" isn't respected in the 2020s. Using power for good is.

Jamelle Bouie of the New York Times had a prescient observation about this whole disgraceful era.

Time and again, we see Republicans in power (ab)using the power they have (or even not, in the case of the US Senate), and being allowed to throw out charges and claims without being countered, Meanwhile, far too many Dems refuse to use the power they have been given and default to "going high" with "proper procedure" and worrying about future precedents and convictions.

That's not something that is rewarded these days. Not in outcomes (as amoral Republicans drag out court proceedings against them), and not much by voters, from what I can tell. Take a look at how Assembly Speaker Robbin' Vos is trying to stall and hide from showing the public what he and the rest of the Legislative Republicans are wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on their Big Lie investigation.

Dane County Circuit Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn told Vos’s attorney that her patience was wearing thin as Vos has yet to produce deleted emails and other messages sought in the lawsuit brought by liberal watchdog group American Oversight.

The judge earlier this month gave Vos until Wednesday to provide the deleted email and text messages, or explain why they can’t be retrieved. Vos attorney Ronald Stadler told the judge on Wednesday that the work to retrieve Vos’s deleted emails from his legislative account was ongoing and he would need up to two weeks to review whatever is recovered.

“I don’t know if I’m getting back 200 emails or 200,000 emails,” he said.

Stadler also said he had an expert witness who would testify that deleted text messages could not be recovered.
ENOUGH! If everyday people like us failed to appear in court with what was required, we would not be given another 2 weeks to figure it out. Lock Napoleon Up and/or Fine the F*ck Out of Him! That's all these scumbags understand, they think the rest is a game they can rig and eventually make people grow tired of watching, which removes the consequences of breaking the law.

It's the same strategy that TrumpWorld is using with the January 6 investigation. Sure, the Committee has gathered evidence and Merrick Garland's Department of "Justice" has gotten some convictions of the yokel foot-soldiers. But we need public hearings that are EVENTS that grabs people's attention. We need perp walks and recognizable heads on the wall.

We have too many people in our legal system that care more about convictions over indictments. And it's the indictments, and the proof to the public that everyone has to face the music when they break the laws, which is what this country is crying out for. Meanwhile, Republicans in Wisconsin can waste time and taxpayer dollars making claims and holding hearing on the Big Lie that ultimately result in....nothing.

And as for the GOP's claims of "absentee ballot harvesting", one the Wisconsin Elections Commissioners points out the weakness and absurdity of that charge.

But it got on RW "news radio" in Wisconsin and tricked a lot of rubes into thinking "something was going on," didn't it? Which is exactly why Robbin' Vos wanted this charade to happen. Too many Dems think this is an academic battle of ideas where following the rules gets rewarded, when we are in a PROPAGANDA WAR where feelings and spectacle are a big part of winning.

Which goes back to the earlier post from Bouie, and why the wife of a sitting Supreme Court Justice felt that she could conspire with the Trump White House to keep the losing candidate in power after the November 2020 election. Because her husband was willing to help the cause.

The proper response to this in a functioning democracy would be to demand Clarence Thomas' resignation, and failing that, have him promptly impeached with ugly details revealed that suck in a lot of other Republicans. Do I think that'll happen? No, because DC Dems will figure that it's not worth taking up time to impeach someone when 2/3 of the Senate won't remove Clarence Thomas from SCOTUS. Instead, they'll try to pass the buck and ask SCOTUS to do the right thing, which won't happen.

In a country where corruption and lawlessness run rampant at the highest levels of Republican power, the typical person sees little being changed about that, and voters will give up and think there is little benefit to having Dems in power. Instead of debating people who ignore the rules, Dems need to hit back and hit hard, use the power that the voters gave them, and file charges and impose penalties that reiterate how crooked and scummy the entire GOP is.

Republicans won't stop this destructive garbage until they face punishments, be they financial, political, or legal. And Dems in power need to , stop waiting for it to happen, and start making it happen whether it goes by "the book", or it doesn't. We shouldn't have to keep waiting for public hearings and criminal trials against the ringleaders of January 6th because we need to gather evidence to "get the full picture and the best case." And we shouldn't be seeing Dems sit silent when Republicans launch smears and lies in the halls of government that get amplified through the social media BubbleWorld.

The everyday person doesn't have the time or privilege to hit back against these thugs, but Dems in power do. And they need to, or else the 2020s will be an even worse version of the decline in democracy and the breakdown of the rule of law that we saw in the 2010s.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Big job gains in Feb reiterate that Biden Boom continues in Wisconsin

We knew February's jobs numbers were good in America in general, but we found out this week that they were especialy strong in Wisconsin.
The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) today released the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) preliminary employment estimates for the month of February 2022. The data shows that Wisconsin unemployment rate declined to 2.9 percent in February, down from 3.0 percent in January. The data also showed that Wisconsin added 20,700 private sector jobs from January 2022 to February 2022.
That 2.9% unemployment rate places Wisconsin as 1 of 12 states with unemployment below 3%, and makes the large gain of jobs all the more impressive since we are near maxed-out. In addition, January's total jobs numbers were revised higher by 3,400, putting us 22,000 jobs ahead of what was reported just 2 weeks ago.

The 2.9 unemployment rate makes that gain of jobs feel a little too good to be true, and I'd expect it to be leveled off some as further revisions and benchmarking comes in over later month. But it reiterates how strong this Biden Boom has been in Wisconsin, and even though some may grumble about inflation, I'd rather have higher inflation with 2.9% unemployment than low inflation with unemployment stuck at the 4.4% we were at a year ago.

February is a good month to use as a comparison, as February 2020 was the peak month for jobs in both Wisconsin and America before the COVID pandemic broke out full force. And Erik Gunn of the Wisconsin Examiner noted that much of the COVID-induced losses have now been regained, with more people working than ever in our state.
The economic sector with the largest job growth in the last 12 months was leisure and hospitality, which gained 40,500 jobs since February 2021. Employers in that sector, which includes bars, restaurants, lodging, recreation and entertainment, are back to about 97% of the jobs that existed in February 2020. In February 2022, 3.05 million people reported that they were working in Wisconsin, according to DWD. Two years earlier, that number was just under 3 million. The number of nonfarm wage and salary jobs in February 2022 was 2.92 million, compared with 2.99 million in February 2020.
Gunn and the Examiner stretched out this point on Twitter, and how these numnbers show the foolishness of the WMC/WisGOP arguments about how to increase Wisconsin's maxed-out work force.

Not at all, as Wisconsin's workforce participation rate is sitting at 66.4%, more than 4 points higher than the US average. And the number of Wisconsinites saying that they had jobs has gone up every month since Biden took office, and continued rising after expanded unemployment benefits were cut off in September 2021.

But if Team WMC/WisGOP is truly worried about finding ways to grow our state's work force numbers and economic competitiveness, I found some good suggestions.

Funny how those "business leaders" aren't keen on these real solutions. And even though they're benefitting from the Biden Boom that continues, they'll never give credit to the direct investment and income supports that have gone a long way toward making it happen.

Friday, March 25, 2022

A few words on the evils of cancer

I don't talk about personal stuff too often - at least serious stuff. You don't need to know that and why should I make you use your time to read about my life or the people close to me? You don't care and you shouldn't care - life is hard enough for yourself and your own lives.

But a friend of mine (and the husband of my wife's long-time best friend) died this week, only 3 months after being diagnosed with lymphoma. 48 years old, with 4 kids ranging in age from tween to 20-something. It doesn't seem real - we were just at their house 5 days ago and he went into hospice on Monday, and people my age aren't supposed to die for pretty much any reason. The randomness of all of it is what makes it both infuriating and baffling for me. My friend was in much better shape than me, worked hard and well for 25 years out of school, raised his kids the right way, and was a great, supportive spouse.

And he's the one who gets stricken and taken away from this world, leaving a widow under 50. Meanwhile, 300-pound Trump guzzles Diet Cokes and hamberders, and Ron Johnson actively injures people through misinformation and his Russian agency. And both of these older men grift and whine at every little item and honest criticism, complaining about what victims they are. Why don't those fuckos get cancer, have them and their family deal with real adversity and all of the end-of-life financial BS that has to happen, instead of decent contributors like my friend and his family?

It reiterates to me that a lot of things are temporary and can go away fast. Yes, save for retirement, etc., but that's only because not having to work means you do not have to answer to others unless you want to. What matters in life isn't what is owned, it is what is done, and who you are doing it with. Be around people you care about, be good to those people, and do what you can while you can (or relax and do nothing if you want to do nothing). Saving time and wasting it on small idiocies in exchange for a later payoff sure doesn't seem to matter a lot of the time.

I'm probably not taking this as heavily as some would think I should. I can compartmentalize a lot of these things - it's a skill a lot of us have gotten good at in these last 2 years of COVID and Trumpism and Big Lies and outright evil in the world. But there's no bigger evil in this world than cancer, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. The unfairness of it is what makes me shake my head the most. While you can say it's better that my friend doesn't have to deal with the pain and debiliations of that disease, there's no "positive" associated with that. Him being gone sucks now, and will suck worse in the coming days, weeks and months (I can't really comprehend that he won't be around). And while the rest of us continue to exist, the void will not be replaced.

Wisconsin's COVID cases stay down as March ends, but won't ever be all gone

Wanted to give a brief update on the COVID situation in Wisconsin, particularly with some worries starting to resurface about the new Omicron variant causing increases in cases overseas and in a handful of states in America.

For now, cases continue at multi-month lows, although the decline has leveled off in the last couple of weeks.

Deaths have dropped significantly, although catch-up information from the Winter shows that there was real damage from the Delta and (first?) Omicron surges. It wasn't the carnage of the Winter of 2020-21, but it's still a lot of lives.

In Dane County, we still have the lowest COVID death rate of any county in the state, but have actually seen new case rates above the state average in recent weeks (it's still way below anything we had in November, December or January). It's not anything to be too concerned about, but given the high level of travel that UW Spring Breakers just undertook, it's at least worth paying attention to for the next couple of weeks.

Dane County's Public Health Department also just released their update for February in comparing the outcomes for those that have received the COVID vaccine, and those who haven't. While deaths and hospitalizations plummeted last month, there are still notable disparities in what happens to those who get the vaccine (especially those who get boosted) and in people that didn't.

These numbers are reflected in the policy and personal choices we've seen in recent weeks, where mask mandates are a thing of the past and it seems most "going out" activities have returned to levels around where they were before COVID broke out 2 years ago. But that doesn't mean COVID is completely gone, and given that former President Obama, Hillary Clinton and current Press Secretary Jen Psaki all have recently tested positive along with Wisconsin Senate candidate Mandela Barnes, it seems like high-contact and travel situations are where this new variant is more likely to hit.

Not a big deal for them, as I think all are boosted and should be back in regular life in a matter of days (if they haven't already). But for those who think they're entirely in the clear and don't need to at least care if they start getting the coughs and sniffles, it might be more than your typical Spring allergy or cold. Annoying, but if we're mitigating and boosted, it's also not anything to shut ourselves down over.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

SCOTUS decides Evers didn't give White people in Wisconsin enough power

Was banging through work around midday, checked the Twitter, and saw this pop up.

WHAT THE F**K! I knew WisGOPs were desperately trying to get the GOP-leaning Supreme Court to rig our maps even more than they already are, but I really didn't think they'd buy it.

So, what was the justification for SCOTUS to shoot down the legislative map through the shadow docket (aka - NOT HEARING FORMAL ARGUMENTS)?

Or as I put it...

Yes, if you read the unsigned opinion, the "Justices" claimed that there were too many districts in Gov Evers' map that had a majority of Black voters (I'm going to cut out a lpot of the footnotes and give the basic "reasoning".
It is not clear whether the court viewed the Governor or itself as the state mapmaker who must satisfy strict scrutiny, but the court’s application of Cooper was flawed either way. If the former, the Governor failed to carry his burden. His main explanation for drawing the seventh majority black district was that there is now a sufficiently large and compact population of black residents to fill it..apparently embracing just the sort of uncritical majority-minority district maximization that we have expressly rejected....He provided almost no other evidence or analysis supporting his claim that the VRA required the seven majority-black districts that he drew. Strict scrutiny requires much more. “[W]here we have accepted a State’s ‘good reasons’ for using race in drawing district lines, the State made a strong showing of a pre-enactment analysis with justifiable conclusions”). If the Wisconsin Supreme Court was reviewing whether the Governor satisfied strict scrutiny, it erred by adopting his maps.

If, on the other hand, the court sought to shoulder strict scrutiny’s burden itself, it fared little better. First, it misunderstood Cooper’s inquiry. The court believed that it had to conclude only that the VRA might support race-based districting—not that the statute required it. (“[W]e cannot say for certain on this record that seven majority-Black assembly districts are required by the VRA,” but “we see good reasons to conclude a seventh majority-Black assembly district may be required” (emphasis added)). Our precedent instructs otherwise. Thus in Cooper we explained, for example, that “race-based districting is narrowly tailored . . . if a State had ‘good reasons’ for thinking that the Act demanded such steps.” (emphasis added). And we concluded that “experience gave the State no reason to think that the VRA required” it to move voters based on race. (emphasis added). That principle grew out of the more general proposition that “the institution that makes the racial distinction must have had a ‘strong basis in evidence’ to conclude that remedial action was necessary, ‘before it embarks on an affirmative-action program.’” (some emphasis added).

To be sure, we said in Cooper that States have “‘breathing room’” to make reasonable mistakes; we will not fault a State just because its “compliance measures . . . may prove, in perfect hindsight, not to have been needed.” But that “leeway” does not allow a State to adopt a racial gerrymander that the State does not, at the time of imposition, “judg[e] necessary under a proper interpretation of the VRA.”
"Racial gerrymander"?? That's ridiculous on its face, especially given that the population of Wisconsin is 6.7% Black (making 7 seats the closest number to accurate representation) and less than 81% White (while 90 of 99 Assembly districts would have White majorities in Evers' map).

(Side note: If there's a group with right to complain, it is Hispanic Wisconsinites, who are 7% of the population with only 2 Assembly seats (at best) that could have Hispanics as the group with the highest number of voters. But it's harder to draw Hispanic-majority seats because people with that ethnicity are dispersed more uniformly around the state).

This also makes the reasoning for SCOTUS accepting Evers' Congressional map obvious.

(I'd say "sorry" to Bryan Steil, but screw that race-baiting Coffee Boy).

So the SCOTUS "justices" sent the Legislative maps back to the Wisconsin Supreme Court for more consideration, to get rid of the "racial gerrymandering".
...On remand, the court is free to take additional evidence if it prefers to reconsider the Governor’s maps rather than choose from among the other submissions. Any new analysis, however, must comply with our equal protection jurisprudence.
In theory, Evers' maps might stand up, given that the the Wisconsin Supreme Court claimed it would decide the maps based on having the least changes from 2010s gerrymander (this was the main reason Justice Hagedorn gave for picking Evers' maps in the first place). It's BS to not at least consider racial equity, especially in a state that has some of the worst Black-White disparities in America, but if that's the way the FedSoc scum on SCOTUS wants to play, then fine.

But if a 7th Black Assembly seat is off the table, why don't they just pick my Assembly map? I've overlaid my 2020s map with the 2010s map and you won't see that much shading of different districts.

It has 9 majority non-White seats, but only 5 are majority Black (a 6th is 48% Black and less than 40% White), 2 are majority Hispanic, and it likely has fewer changes to current districts than either Evers' maps or WisGOP's Gerrymander 2.0. Consider it my donation to the common good. Sure, GOPs would still have the advantage, but plug it into the same formula used to determine which maps had the "least change" at the Legislative level, and let's go from there.

I'm a lot calmer than I was when I first read the SCOTUS shadow docket's absurdity today. But it still adds to what already is a helluva lot of resentment that us in the Silenced Majority have had to carry around in this state for most of the last decade. And if the courts are rigged and the Legislature is rigged and both try to rig power even more, it leads to very bad things. And I'm tired of having to vote harder and be 5 times better than these arrogant, mediocre scumbags.

(Warning: Video gets a bit graphic at the end)

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

More proof that a big part of recent inflation is profits

File another one under "Inflation = profiteering", with a pair of reports from the Census Bureau yesterday. Here's the first one, going over sales and profits from retailers.
Seasonally adjusted after-tax profits of U.S. retail corporations with assets of $50 million and over totaled $58.3 billion, up $11.0 (±2.4) billion from the $47.3 billion recorded in the third quarter of 2021, and up $25.2 (±1.2) billion from the $33.1 billion recorded in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Seasonally adjusted sales for the quarter totaled $974.4 billion, not statistically different from the $952.6 billion in the third quarter of 2021, but up $99.8 (±18.3) billion from the $874.6 billion recorded in the fourth quarter of 2020.
And the boost in profits in 2021 is startling compared to the numbers in the years before that.

And then take it over to manufacturers, and the story is the same.
U.S. manufacturing corporations' seasonally adjusted after-tax profits in the fourth quarter of 2021 totaled $271.2 billion, up $17.6 (±1.9) billion from the after-tax profits of $253.6 billion recorded in the third quarter of 2021, and up $137.4 (±0.9) billion from the after-tax profits of $133.8 billion recorded in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Seasonally adjusted sales for the quarter totaled $1,931.0 billion, up $112.8 (±30.5) billion from the $1,818.2 billion recorded in the third quarter of 2021, and up $318.5 (±15.2) billion from the $1,612.5 billion recorded in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The manufacturing report goes a step further and also looks at post-tax profits margins, and they jumped by more than 2/3 at the end of 2021 vs the end of 2020.

It's little surprise which manufacturers were among the biggest gainers in profits, with these industries keeping a whole lot of their added sales in added profit.

Change in sales, after-tax profits in millions, Q4 2021 vs Q4 2020
Petroleum and coal products
Change in sales $122.4 billion
Change in after-tax profits +$47.7 billion

Pharmceuticals and medicals
Change in sales $21.3 billion
Change in after-tax profits +$45.0 billion

Change in sales +$50.8 billion
Change in after-tax profits $40.6 billion

Change in sales +$3.4 billion
Change in after-tax profits $25.5 billion

And you're telling me these guys can't pay a few more cents on those record profits by reversing the lower rates of the GOP Tax Scam?

With that money, we could pay for initiatives such as restoring the Child Tax Credit to its 2021 levels and restore security to the millions of Americans who were lifted out of poverty last year. And it wouldn't be at a moment too soon, as this source of income has been cut off while profits prices keep rising.

Monday, March 21, 2022

A weekend of Madness in Milwaukee boosts business, but repeats flaws of tax system

Well, at least one group of Wisconsinites had a good weekend of college hoops – people associated with the tourism industry in the state’s largest city.
March Madness left its mark on Milwaukee over the weekend.

Fans traveled into town from across the country to cheer on the eight college basketball teams that faced off in the first and second rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, held Friday and Sunday at Fiserv Forum. …

VISIT Milwaukee estimated the event would bring 18,000 visitors and $6.5 million in economic impact to the area. The Badgers took over Deer District with fan events throughout the weekend at Good City Brewing, the Mecca Sports Bar and Grill, and the newly reopened Punch Bowl Social. The team stayed at The Westin Milwaukee on North Van Buren Street.

And that influx of business was appreciated and needed in a hospitality sector that is still struggling 2 years after the first breakout of COVID-19, as explained in this segment on the Up Front show over the weekend.

Leslie Johnson from Visit Milwaukee: Oh [March Madness is] huge. As we all know the hospitality industry was just decimated with having to shut down our bars and restaurants and then when we were able to open them up it was at limited capacity. So for them to be able to have this amount of activity in their businesses is going to be able to help them keep employees throughout the year...

I was just at the Governor's Conference on Tourism so we were with a lot of our peers this past week and we are starting to see a lot of events like this, not to this magnitude, but they're starting to see sporting events coming back. Obviously, meeting and conventions are starting to [come back] as well. Unfortunately, tourism and economics is telling us we're not going to see a full recovery in terms of our hotel industry until 2024, so the more events we can have like this will just help us get there faster and same thing throughout the rest of the state.
But let’s not forget that the City and County that was able to bring the Madness to Wisconsin isn’t able to keep much of the money that came in, as the Communications Director for Milwaukee Co Exec David Crowley reminded us.

The 0.5% food and drink tax that a whole lot of people paid over the weekend goes directly back into the Wisconsin Center District that the FiServ Forum is part of, and not for general funds that the City could use to pay for the extra police and infrastructure needed to handle the large crowds of people. In addition, Milwaukee County does get 0.5% in sales taxes from any extra business that comes its way, but loses $4 million a year in shared revenues as part of the deal to get the FiServ built.

Now maybe the added property values around the arena, increased viability for tourist-related business and the exposure for the City more than makes up for those extra costs. But this weekend’s big event around Milwaukee should remind us that a city of that size is able to contribute a lot to our state’s vibrancy and economy, but our gerrymandered GOP Legislature sure hasn’t been keen to give much back to Milwaukee in return.

Despite the fiscal annoyances and Bucky's meltdown on Sunday, it was still awesome to have the Madness back last weekend, and especially to have it in Wisconsin. It felt like normality and a break from the cloud that has hung over much of the COVID era, and it's generally a good thing to show off this state's largest city at a big event. Let's hope that's a sign of things continuing to return to normal, with the economic boosts and activity to match.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Sunday reading - Dems should embrace fear over stability and results

In between a lot of hoops this weekend, I found this excellent article from Crooked Media's Brian Beutler on how DC Dems still aren't doing enough to take on another type of Madness in 2022.

Beutler notes that "2022 is better than we had under Trump in 2020" isn't a relevant message to many voters when Trump isn't in power or on the ballot in 2022.
...This isn’t a presidential election; if it were Democrats could probably just point to Donald Trump and most voters would know exactly whom to vote for and why. Under current circumstances, they’re going to need to be able to point to good things they would do, or bad things they would prevent or undo, if they keep their concurrent majorities, and they can’t do that by pointing backward to their mixed record of advancing bread-and-butter legislative initiatives in this Congress.

That’s why a kitchen-table issue campaign, even a combative one, will be evasive of or oblivious to the real flashpoints in American politics. For instance, this new ad from Alex Lasry is worthy for painting Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) as an extremist.

Now I am highly skeptical on Lasry, as the son of a billionaire NY hedge funder isn't exactly someone that should be trusted to demand the change we need in this country. But I will say that beating Ron Johnson this November won't have a lot to do with policy - it's going to be a fistfight where cementing images (whether through facts or misinformation) and gut feelings will be more important.

Beutler goes on to say that while Johnson and the GOP are awful enough on policy, voters are largely going to ignore that and ask what Dems have done when they have been in "charge" (even though a rigged Supreme Court, screwed-up Senate rules and a couple of crooked Dem Senators really haven't left them in charge). And while things are clearly better than they were at the end of 2020, it's nowhere near enough to win over low-info/mis-info voters or bystanders who care about many other things ahead of politics.

Plus, a lot of voters won't directly see the effects if GOPs win Congress in 2022, since Biden will be able to block anything that gets out of Congress.
Ron Johnson absolutely wants to repeal Obamacare and tax the poor, and phase out Social Security and Medicare, and voters deserve to know all that. But in the unlikely event that Republicans take both the House and Senate and pass bills to do those things on a partisan basis, Biden will just veto them, with panache. Democrats have been giddy since Johnson admitted he still wants to repeal Obamacare, and since Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) released the new GOP agenda of soaking poor and retired people. But Democrats have run on health-care, against regressive right-wing economic policy, in every midterm since Obamacare passed, and it succeeded only once, in 2018, when Republicans had actually come within a hair’s breadth of repealing Obamacare, and probably would’ve if they’d retained their majorities. The same strategy got Democrats crushed, twice, in 2010 and 2014 when the threat to health care was abstract. Even though Republicans at the time were foaming at the mouth about Obamacare, and Paul Ryan was brandishing a GOP agenda every bit as radical as Rick Scott’s.
So Beutler says that Dems need to have spectacle that grabs people's attention, and to play a little "divide and conquer" themselves. This includes using the power that voters have given them to tell the truth about what kind of destructive BS Republicans will do, and publicly investigate the crookedness and sedition that they have already done.
What actually will change if Republicans control Congress? For starters, they’ll engage in reckless procedural brinkmanship, taking hostages like appropriations deadlines and the debt limit, and using them to mug Biden who (if he learned anything at all from 2009 - 2016) won’t negotiate with them. It isn’t “policy” that makes the case for Democrats, it’s a tried and true Republican commitment to harming America when the president is a Democrat for political gain. They will launch bad-faith investigations or even impeachment inquiries (over Hunter Biden, or whatever the new Benghazi happens to be in 2023) and, most critically, they will gain the power to steal the next election.

“Democrats Deliver” doesn’t speak to any of that. Neither does picking apart a GOP policy agenda that Republicans will simply lie about and claim they don’t support. To clarify the stakes for voters, short of a new slogan, Democrats could subpoena Kevin McCarthy and other congressional Republicans who possess evidence about Trump’s failed coup; when they resist the subpoenas Dems could run a “WHAT ARE THEY HIDING?!” campaign about the urgency of defeating a party that would coverup crimes and corruption. But in the real world, Democrats have reportedly taken that option off the table. They could devote more investigative resources to more Republican corruption scandals, and haul Merrick Garland up to the Hill to explain why two Trump-loyal prosecutors held over from Bill Barr’s DOJ have been given free rein to harass Democrats and their families for the purposes of creating propaganda for the GOP, while the statutes of limitations on Trump’s crimes lapse, and others go uninvestigated.
Too many DC Dems believe that "governance" means "keep things as stable as possible". It's a strategy that works in relatively low-stakes times, but not in 2022, when Republicans have already tried to reverse the last presidential election, and will certainly try to do it again in 2024 if given the chance (at both the state and federal levels).

We also know that Republicans in Congress overwhelmingly said it was OK for Donald Trump to withhold aid to Ukraine against Russian aggression, and that GOPs like Ron Johnson have openly spoken Russian talking points, and was given plenty of social media help by Russians to win in Wisconsin in 2016.

In addition, Johnson amplified lies and misinformation about COVID that have been proven false time and again. It should never be forgotten that Johnson (ab)used his power in the Homeland Security Committee by having hearings on horse paste quackery instead of the plot that culminated on January 6, 2021.

All of this seems pretty relevant today, doesn't it? And will resonate with voters IF IT IS HAMMERED INTO HEADS NOW AND CONTINUOUSLY.

A message of "Dems got things done" isn't going to work when a lot of Americans aren't seeing things be different enough, and are not feeling great about the way relative inertia, even if it's the Republicans (and a handful of crooked Dem Senators) that are causing those concerns.

People vote with their guts and their emotions, and telling the truth about what a fascist wreck Republicans would make of things in both DC and Madison is what will break through. Being nice, positive and "going high" isn't going to be enough this November, no matter how true it is. That strategy got killed in 2010 and it shouldn't come back any time soon.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Interest rates go up - but not by a lot. Which is the right path for today

Oh no, interest rates are going up!
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised short-term interest rates for the first time since 2018, as high inflation pushes the central bank to pull back on its extraordinary pandemic-era support.

The U.S. central bank lifted its benchmark Federal Funds Rate by 0.25%, to a target range of between 0.25% and 0.50%. The Fed also noted that the economic outlook remains “highly uncertain” in the face of the war in Ukraine.

By notching up rates, the Fed kicks off a process of raising borrowing costs in the hopes of quelling the demand that may be pushing prices higher.

Projections released by the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee signal the likelihood of the Fed raising rates up to six more times this year (which would mean rates 1.75% higher at the end of this year than last).
Rates have been at rock-bottom levels for 2 years now, while the economy has made a nearly-full recovery as unemployment has dropped below 4% and higher demand has led to profiteering higher wages and inflated prices in many areas.

In addition to the interest rate outlook, I think it’s worth looking at what the Fed thinks will happen with the economy in the next few years, and how they’ll adjust to it.

You can see that the reason for the drop in projected GDP growth is due to higher inflation. In fact, the Fed says that nominal GDP growth will go up slightly (to 7.2% from 6.7%), but that increase will reflect higher prices instead of more output.

While the Fed says this raises interest rates by 1% more than originally projected, if people are locked into fixed loans today, is that as big a deal as it sounds? It hurts the chances of growth being sustained ahead, and I certainly worry about the effects of real estate and commodity Bubbles deflating in the coming months and years (it’s coming, folks). But if you’ve already put yourself in a better economic position during the Biden Boom, a little calming isn’t going to hurt much. Honestly, I'm glad the Fed hasn't overreacted to the high inflation numbers. If you're giving me the choice between 6% inflation and 6% unemployment, give me the price increases every time. Sure, things are rising too quickly for now, but hitting the brakes too fast (with rapid half-point increases and/or hikes happening between meetings) and having this economy skid out would be worse than what we're dealing with today.

Tough needle to thread, but there's quite a while to see if the Fed can poke through.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Oil's plunge shows it's been speculative gouging all along

I made a simple observation this morning, and I guess a lot of people found it relevant.

So what's the excuse being given for this reversion to prior levels?
Brent futures plummeted $6.99, or 6.5%, to settle at $99.91 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell $6.57, or 6.4%, to settle at $96.44 a barrel. Both contracts settled below $100 per barrel for the first time since late February.....​

Both contracts moved the closest to oversold territory since December. They had been in overbought conditions as recently as early March, when the benchmarks reached 14-year highs after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Since then, Brent has lost nearly $40 and WTI has fallen by more than $30. The steep decline on Tuesday came as Russia said that it has received written guarantees it can carry out its work as a party to the Iran nuclear deal, suggesting that Moscow would allow a revival of the tattered 2015 pact to go forward.
Throw in a new COVID lockdown in China, and it led a lot of traders to bail out of the Bubbly bets they made a couple of weeks ago. And it reiterates that the only supply and demand that have caused these price spikes are paper needs between people in suits.

As I’ve noted before, the number of days’ supply of gasoline in the US is no different than it has been for the past few years. And this has held through the first week of March, after the Russians rolled their tanks across the Ukranian border.

And a main reason why is that gasoline consumption continues to be lower than it was before COVID hit. The first week of March 2020 was right before much of the nation shut down and COVID was declared a pandemic, so it’s a good comp to make. 2 years later, consumption is down more than 5% for the same week, and you have to go back 7 years to find a lower amount of gas usage for the start of March.

It makes sense, as many of us work from home a lot more than we did before COVID, and there are a lot of people DEAD and/or retired in the 2 years since then.

Now maybe we see things get tighter in April as the lack of Russian oil hits import markets around the globe. But America is less susceptible to that pain than many other countries (we only get 3% of our imports from Putin-land), and we could replace that in a handful of days if we merely pumped as much oil in this country as we were pumping 3 years ago.

So this runup is clearly oil and gasoline companies taking advantage of the belief that supplies will get tight in the future, which encourages them to bid up the price now. But there is no shortage today, and there wasn’t that high an increase in inputs the last couple of months when that product was brought in and refined into gasoline.

Now that oil is back at levels of 3 weeks ago, let’s see if the price at the pump comes down as fast as we saw it go up in that time. If not, you’ll know it’s bullshit, and Wisconsin Senator with a Clue is already getting a step ahead of that.

Gimmicky? Probably. But the actions of oil traders and the companies that benefit from these jacked up prices are worthy of the microscope such a bill would bring. And let's see if turning the spotlight on these greedheads magically stops some of the gouging, in the gas pump version of March Madness.

Yep, COVID has changed things

More proof of how things are different in the 2 years since COVID was announced as a pandemic.

More home sales than at bars, even now. Let's hope that the fading of COVID and return of the March Madness we are used to starts to change that a bit this week, eh?

Sunday, March 13, 2022

$22 billion in WisGOPs tax cuts didn't help Wisconsin get ahead

I caught this press release from Senate GOP Leader Devin (Little Boy in a Big Suit) LeMahieu, trying to talk up the Walker/WisGOP record over the last decade-plus.
The tax burden on Wisconsinites dropped at the fastest rate in the nation since 1999, and the cumulative tax savings to residents over the twelve year period from 2011 to fiscal year 2023 is $21.9 billion.

“In 2010, Wisconsin had the 5th highest tax burden in the nation. Residents were sending far too much of their earnings to Madison. On top of high taxes, the state had a $3.6 billion structural deficit, no Rainy Day Fund, and businesses were leaving in droves.

“In 2011, Republicans were elected to turn our state around. We promised to dig out of debt, save for the future, fix problems, and cut taxes to keep more money in family budgets.

“Now, after twelve years of consistent tax cuts, fundamental reforms of government, and responsible budgeting, we’ve reduced the tax burden on Wisconsinites by $22 billion. As a result, our economy is more competitive and our state is attracting more people.”
You can dig into that memo from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau to see the breakdown yourself. But I'll defer to Tamarine Cornelius of the Wisconsin Budget Project, who notes that most of those tax cuts went to the richest Wisconsinites, and not into the pockets of everyday workers.

And Cornelius doesn't mention it there, but let's also not forget that the cuts to shared revenues and voucherizing of public education have limited any type of property tax relief that may have occurred over the last 10 years. And it also has led to a major increase in local wheel taxes.

We also have a good bit of data to see whether Wisconsin's "economy is more competitive" (we know we are not "attracting more people", as we were 34th in the US for population growth in the 2010s, with the rest of the country growing twice as fast as us).

Now that the "gold standard" Quarterly Census on Employment and Wages just released their full data for the 3rd Quarter of 2021, we have a full decade of numbers starting with Q3 2011. That's an important benchmark, as it was the first full quarter after Scott Walker and WisGOP got their first tax-cutting (and funding-cutting) budget into effect.

So let's see if we outperformed our Midwestern cohorts, shall we? We'll start with total job growth, and over those 10 years, Wisconsin was 5th in the Midwest, whether you include the COVID era or you don't.

Wage growth certainly hasn't trickled down to Wisconsin workers in that time. Even with the recent wage increases over the last 2 years, we have remained in the bottom 3 for the Midwest, and an already-wide gap that existed between us and Minnesota and Illinois grew even larger.

But maybe that big tax cut to manufacturers led to a boom in that sector? Nope, that didn't trickle down either.

And the tax cut to the manufacturers certainly didn't drag us out of our last place standing for manufacturing wages . At least until COVID became a thing and the Biden Boom followed.

But hey, at least those tax cuts were good to rich GOP donors, who turned around and gave some of that money back to GOP politicians. So maybe that's what Devin LeMahieu means by "GOP success", because the last decade in Fitzwalkertan sure hasn't done much for the everyday Wisconsinite.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Baseball's back! So how will taxpayers be asked to keep the Brew Crew?

Now that we know there will be a baseball season, that means we can start talking about the Brew Crew again. Can't say I'm feeling Hot Stove League talk on a 20-degree day in March, and it feels like a long time since this happened (ahead of getting run out in a playoff series I've already put out of my memeory).

But a discussion of how to fix up Miller Park AmFam Field in the future? I'm down for that! And Tom Daykin had a very good, in-depth article in the Journal-Sentinel going over various plans that might be suggested by the Brewers to fund future capital improvements at the ballpark, after the Miller Park tax went away in early 2020.
The stadium district board, in its unanimous vote to drop the tax, relied on a report reviewing future improvements from Minneapolis-based construction firm M.A. Mortenson Co.

The Mortenson report said the district's cost estimates for future projects were reasonable, and would be covered by an $87 million reserve fund created with stadium sales tax revenue and payments by the Brewers.
But as Daykin mentioned last month, the Brewers' lease with the stadium district has a "keeping up with the Joneses" clause that requires the ballpark to be "within the 'top' twenty-five percent (25%) of all such facilities", so you know the team is going to be asking for more than the basics.

Daykin's March article mentions that the Brewers are going to do their own study on AmFam Field's needs, which we will likely hear about some time in the coming months.
It will likely list projects beyond what the Mortenson report considered, with those cost estimates exceeding the reserve fund.

That will be the basis for the baseball club's expected funding request.

Daykin's article also mentions how some other MLB teams got their communities to pay for their planned upgrades and upkeep at their slightly older ballparks.
In Cleveland, the Guardians baseball club (previously the Cleveland Indians) is extending its lease of Progressive Field for at least 15 years as part of a $435 million agreement unveiled in August.

The city is paying $117 million, with $138 million from Cuyahoga County, and the state of Ohio providing $30 million. The club is paying $150 million, according to
...the Maryland Stadium Authority is seeking state legislative approval to borrow up to $1.2 billion to pay for upgrades at stadiums for the Baltimore Orioles baseball club and the NFL's Baltimore Ravens, according to the Baltimore Sun.

"The legislation would gradually increase the amount of state lottery proceeds that can be used to pay debt service on the bonds — from $20 million to up to $90 million per year. The legislation would require the teams to sign a lease long enough to pay off the bonds," the newspaper reported in February....
Finally, in Phoenix, state legislation signed in April by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey allows a new "theme park district" to sell low-interest municipal bonds to raise $500 million for improvements at Chase Field, home to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

That bond debt is to be paid off through a 9% sales tax on game tickets, hotdogs, beer, team merchandise and other items sold within the district, which would encompass the ballpark, according to, the Arizona Republic's website.
That Arizona plan seems to be the best way to do it for Milwaukee. Have those who go to AmFam Field (or whatever it'll be known as in 20 years) pay the sales tax on purchases and parking in the area, although 9% extra seems a bit steep.

To borrow from Dan Shafer, let's call it "The Beer District", and perhaps add on to it by putting a smaller sales tax on items sold within a few blocks around there, in particular the nearby Brewers bars that get a whole lot of business from Brewers game days. (I love ya, Steve's/Magoo's. But the Crew is the only reason we go there).

I'll also note that the funding package for the FiServ Forum (as outlined in this LFB rundown from 2015) collects some funds from users of the new facility, although it also includes state and local tax dollars as well.

FiServ Forum funding
$93 million from Wis Center District (plus interest from debt)
$47 million from City of Milwaukee (TIF/land/improvements)
$80 million reduced from County shared revenue over 20 years and sent by State.
$80 million straight cash from the State over 20 years.
$2/ticket tax to Wis Center District to pay for part of the $93 million.

I can't see any candidate for state office openly backing state subsidies for the Brewers' stadium before the November 2022 elections. But you can bet the team will try to start bringing it up with the 2023 session, and will be picking up the pressure as the 2020s go on, as the team's original lease with the Stadium Board ends in 2030.

Which means that AmFam Field will be the subject of games that go beyond what the Crew's players do on the field this Summer, and in the coming years. Yes, that's a strained pun, but it's definitely worth staying aware of, and we should be ready to aski real questions of both the team and state politicians as to whether we need to keep subsidizing a successful Brewers team, and if so, what form that should take.

Friday, March 11, 2022

A taste of this week's Vos/Gableman idiocy

A growing week of absurdity, illustrated in the Twitterverse.

And in typical GOP style, they deal with this exposure by escalating the stupidity, cover-ups and BS.

Grifting isn't easy, but Gableman and Vos sure are making it pay off at the expense of the rest of us.

But this garbage isn't really about finding the truth, it's about using the Big Lie to rig elections further for the Republicans. Milwaukee's Dan Shafer explains it well in a guest article for Belt Magazine.
A full account of the anti-democracy measures and baseless “investigations” in Wisconsin since November 3, 2020, would fill a book. But the tell all along– beyond the lack of credible factual evidence – has been that Republicans have only questioned the results of Biden’s victory, never those of the 115 state legislators or eight members of Congress elected on those very same ballots; apparently, only the tops of the ballots were illegitimate.

Republicans’ dangerous attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election are a window into the unraveling of Wisconsin’s democracy. Our state legislature has an entrenched Republican majority after 2011 redistricting gave them essentially insurmountable margins. A Harvard study ranked the state’s legislative maps the nation’s worst, putting Wisconsin’s quality of elections on par with non-democracies like Jordan and Bahrain. This entrenched power is how Republicans can get away with something like the Gableman “investigation,” or have a representative as extreme as [Tim] Ramthun, or put a conspiracy theorist in charge of the elections committee. It’s how they can become the nation’s least active full-time legislature and only grant a public hearing to less than one percent of the bills introduced by Democrats. It’s how, even after Democrats and Democratic-aligned candidates won eleven of the last twelve statewide elections, the GOP still wields more power in state government.

Wisconsin Republicans have been after power consolidation at all costs. Now, even when they lose, they can’t lose. Fringe actors use this to grab a foothold in the party’s mainstream. Leaders like Vos have invited them to do so every step of the way. It’s clear that party leadership has been playing with fire, and that they have no interest in stopping the blaze.

Wisconsin is a warning. The low hum is now an alarm. Once you decide, as members of the Wisconsin GOP have, that certain votes don’t count, you’ve begun a descent into democratic peril. We have been the testing ground for Republican political experiments for years now. If the right finds success in their latest trials– this time, on the issue of foundational democratic principles – the nation is next.
ALL Republicans chose to have Vos be their Speaker, and outside of the Big Lie nutjobs, none have called for Vos to be tossed. They ALL MUST GO, because none are innocent.