POLITICS

Resurrection from the ashes

Easter is the Christian celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. In two different parts of the world in recent days, in France and the United States, we have witnessed the destruction by fire of churches. One is the towering Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, which captured global attention this last week.

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A overwhelmingly positive symbol standing proudly amidst the damage at Notre Dame! #NotreDameCathedralFire #NotreDame #NotreDameFire pic.twitter.com/VQ6EchuLYE

— devin jarvis (@devinjarvis) April 16, 2019

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Saturday night owls: Dem governor’s NJ audit exposes corporate extortion that’s endemic nationwide

Pat Garafalo at The Nation writes—New Jersey Exposed One of Corporate America’s Favorite Schemes. A state investigation revealed how companies use empty threats to pry money from local governments:

When the tax-preparation firm Jackson Hewittwanted a round of tax breaks from New Jersey, its executives knew exactly how to get them: by threatening to move jobs to another state. It apparently didn’t matter to them that the threat was entirely hollow.

Testifying last month before a task force examining New Jersey’s corporate-tax-break programs, former Jackson Hewitt executive Gulsen Kama said that even though the company’s decision to stay in New Jersey was a “done deal,” it nevertheless invented a potential move to Florida or New York, which won it nearly $3 million in “inducements” to remain in the Garden State. Kama also alleged that the company didn’t keep the promises it made in order to qualify for its tax breaks, and then fired her when she pointed out the violations.

All in all, Kama presented a portrait of corporate greed run amok. But that we’re hearing about this sordid episode at all is actually a testament to the state’s officials. New Jersey is doing the nation a favor by pulling back the curtain on a problem with which nearly every city and state in America deals: being blackmailed by corporations into coughing up public money.

Democratic Governor Phil Murphy initiated an audit of his state’s corporate-tax-break programs shortly after he came into office, and the effort has shown how taxpayers consistently lose these corporate-state arrangements. In theory, programs like New Jersey’s Grow New Jersey Assistance Program and the Economic Redevelopment and Growth Grant Program give companies a break on their taxes or some sort of lump payment that encourages job creation and growth, thereby garnering the city more revenue and economic development in the long run. States and cities spend tens of billions of dollars annually on these sorts of tax breaks and giveaways: Estimates range from $45 billion to nearly $100 billion.

On every measure that should matter, though—jobs, incomes, economic growth—studies reveal that corporate-tax incentives do little to nothing. Instead, corporations simply receive windfalls to do what they would have done anyway, or turn around and break their promises regarding job creation, while keeping the money they received. [...]

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— Louis Morgan (@MasterMorgan317) April 20, 2019

BLAST FROM THE PAST

On this date at Daily Kos in 2004—GOP wants Kerry to release military records;

Monday through Friday you can catch the Kagro in the Morning Show 9 AM ET by dropping in here, or you can download the Stitcher app (found in the app stores or at Stitcher.com), and find a live stream there, by searching for "Netroots Radio.”

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14 years ago, chef’s mother made him cook a meal for hungry child. He has now cooked 3 million meals

Chef Bruno Serato has served millions of meals to children in need during the past 14 years. Born in France to Italian parents, Serato moved to the United States in 1980. According to Serato, on April 18, 2005, his mother Caterina was visiting from Italy. The two toured a center for underprivileged children that was located near his restaurant. There, they met a young boy who was eating potato chips for dinner. Caterina made Serato go back with her to the restaurant to cook up spaghetti for the child.

"I haven't stopped making pasta since," Serato told reporters. From that small beginning, Serato started the Caterina Club—a foundation that has grown to 89 locations—that serves food to children, helps families find housing, and teaches “at-risk” teens skills from the hospitality industry, in the hopes of finding them work. The nonprofit says it serves 5,000 meals a day across 29 cities. 

Serato’s advice for helping is simple: "Just start with one small thing. You can start with a 'hello,' a 'good morning.' Do one plate of pasta, give a hug, give a little jacket that you don’t use to someone who needs it.”

On Thursday, April 11, Serato served his 3 millionth meal. Alongside him was Billy Saldana, a 23-year-old who met Serato 14 years earlier, one of the first boys to get a meal from the Caterina Club. Saldana told the Orange County Register that while Serato cannot help everybody, he does change the life of every single child he serves.

The world can always use more people like Serato, willing to put their labor into serving those who need help. But it highlights the need for more government intervention in food assistance, not less.

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