This was to search for subtle shifts in meaning and emphasis in news and commentary in order to figure out what was really going on with those totalitarian societies’ power elites.
Those same skills of close textual analysis are required to analyze the Stalinist offerings of the KC Star Editorial Board.
I have to employ such powers of discernment in deciphering the ongoing saga of the paper’s efforts to get special tax breaks for its multi-million dollar white elephant printing plant on Grand.
The Star’s initial tax abatement expired in 2014.
At the time it was initially granted, the Star was sensitive to charges it had opposed similar tax breaks for other businesses. They promised several times that they would pay taxes at the regular rate.
Once the initial term expired, however, they began actively lobbying for an extension, now that they were faced with property tax payments of $700,000 in 2015 and 2016 (almost five times what they previously paid), rising to $1.3 million annually in 2017.
In an article published 7-17-15, the Star stated it would be making instead annual payments of $337,000 as a result of the extended tax relief. (To quote John Belushi in Animal House, “Heh! You blanked-up! You trusted us!”)
By voting in favor of this tax break, the City Council will save the Star’s parent company McClatchy, $13 million over the next 15 years. That’s $13 million less to support our schools, our libraries, the community college, local mental health agencies, and other worthwhile institutions. Even though the Kansas City School District wrote the City Council objecting to this loss of revenue, the City Council voted 11 to 2 in favor of the measure. (Previously the Star had reported that there was no official opposition to the proposal.)
I should add the Star made not-so-veiled threats to close the facility and move operations out of Kansas City, Missouri if they didn’t get their way.
The likelihood of the Star walking away from a $200 million investment was extremely small, especially if it meant relocating to Sam Brownback’s Kansas!
What makes this episode so supremely offensive is the way it flies in the face of their own incessant attacks on special tax breaks (“giveaways”) to the wealthy and corporations. How many dozens of attacks over the last few years has the Star launched on the Republican legislature in Missouri and the Brownback administration in Kansas along those lines?
The other constant refrain of the Star is that lower taxes never work as an incentive to attract businesses to a community. On the contrary, the Star insists, higher taxes are a draw, because they create a better educated work force and better local infrastructure, which in turn, promote more productive and innovative businesses. (Why then people haven’t flocked to high tax jurisdictions like Illinois, Connecticut, etc. is never explained!)
Apparently, lower taxes do make a difference to at least one business and its owners, i.e. the Kansas City Star and The McClatchy Company.
Taxes make enough of a difference, in fact, that they threatened to leave Kansas City, Missouri if the city didn’t give in to their corporate threats and bullying.
It’s like the Star’s persistent editorial policy decrying income inequality, while McClatchy pays seven figure salaries to clowns like the Star’s former publisher, the rotund cherub Mark Zieman, for the privilege of running the company into the ground.
To add insult to injury, the Star has the temerity to brag about their success with this scam in print! It’s like the corporate executive I know who was ordered to provide basic financial information on the performance of his business to his shareholders. In an interview he gave to the press after the court in which he’d been sued directed him to provide such information, he said; 1) the lawsuit was the result of a tragic misunderstanding of the actual facts about the business on the part of the shareholder who sued, which would now be dispelled, and 2) he would only provide the shareholder the bare minimum of information required by law. The first part of his statement was somewhat undercut by the second.
By the same token, if you’re going to act 180 degrees opposite of how you tell others to act, at least have the decency not to brag about it. Boasting or gloating is a good description of the headline that appeared in last Friday’s Star: “Star Tax Abatement Extended Fifteen Years.”
However that would have defeated the whole notion of mendacious consciousness. Coined by the political theorist George Lukacs, it describes the situation where a dictatorship lies to the people, the people know it’s lying to them and the dictatorship knows the people know it’s lying to them, but continues doing so for the sheer delight of tormenting them, knowing they can do nothing.
Steve Paul, call your office.