Traffic Cameras, Small Businesses


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President Donald Trump speaks in Utica, N.Y., Monday, Aug. 13, 2018, at a joint fundraising committee reception in Utica, N.Y. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Donald Trump speaks in Utica, N.Y., Monday, Aug. 13, 2018, at a joint fundraising committee reception in Utica, N.Y. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)


President Donald Trump waves as he walks on the South Lawn of the White House after stepping off Marine One, Monday, Aug. 13, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)


US newspapers to Trump: We’re not enemies of the people

By DAVID BAUDER

AP Media Writer

Thursday, August 16

NEW YORK (AP) — Newspapers from Maine to Hawaii pushed back against President Donald Trump’s attacks on “fake news” Thursday with a coordinated series of editorials speaking up for a free and vigorous press.

The Boston Globe, which set the campaign in motion by urging the unified voice, had estimated that some 350 newspapers would participate.

They did across the breadth of the country. The Portland (Maine) Press-Herald said a free and independent press is the best defense against tyranny, while the Honolulu Star-Advertiser emphasized democracy’s need for a free press.

“The true enemies of the people — and democracy — are those who try to suffocate truth by vilifying and demonizing the messenger,” wrote the Des Moines Register in Iowa.

In St. Louis, the Post-Dispatch called journalists “the truest of patriots.” The Chicago Sun-Times said it believed most Americans know that Trump is talking nonsense.

The Fayetteville Observer said it hoped Trump would stop, “but we’re not holding our breath.”

“Rather, we hope all the president’s supporters will recognize what he’s doing — manipulating reality to get what he wants,” the North Carolina newspaper said.

On Thursday morning, Trump again took to Twitter to denounce “fake news.”

He wrote: “The Boston Globe, which was sold to the the Failing New York Times for 1.3 BILLION DOLLARS (plus 800 million dollars in losses & investment), or 2.1 BILLION DOLLARS, was then sold by the Times for 1 DOLLAR. Now the Globe is in COLLUSION with other papers on free press. PROVE IT!”

That followed this tweet from the president: “THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY. It is very bad for our Great Country….BUT WE ARE WINNING!”

The Morning News of Savannah, Georgia, said it was a confidant, not an enemy, to the people.

“Like any true friend, we don’t always tell you want you want to hear,” the Morning News said. “Our news team presents the happenings and issues in this community through the lens of objectivity. And like any true friend, we refuse to mislead you. Our reporters and editors strive for fairness.”

Some newspapers used history lessons to state their case. The Elizabethtown Advocate in Pennsylvania, for instance, compared free press in the United States to such rights promised but not delivered in the former Soviet Union.

The New York Times added a pitch.

“If you haven’t already, please subscribe to your local papers,” said the Times, whose opinion section also summarized other editorials across the country. “Praise them when you think they’ve done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We’re all in this together.”

That last sentiment made some journalists skittish. Some newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal and the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote editorials explaining why they weren’t joining the Globe’s effort. The Chronicle wrote that one of its most important values is independence, and going along with the crowd went against that. Both the Chronicle and Baltimore Sun said that it plays into the hands of Trump and his supporters who think the media is out to get him.

Nolan Finley, columnist and editorial page editor of The Detroit News, spoke up for the press but added a scolding. He said too many journalists are slipping opinion into their news reports, adding commentary and calling it context.

“Donald Trump is not responsible for the eroding trust in the media,” Finley wrote. “He lacks the credibility to pull that off. The damage to our standing is self-inflicted.”

The Radio Television Digital News Association, which represents more than 1,200 broadcasters and web sites, is also asking its members to point out that journalists are friends and neighbors doing important work holding government accountable.

“I want to make sure that it is positive,” said Dan Shelley, the group’s executive director. “We’re shooting ourselves in the foot if we make this about attacking the president or attacking his supporters.”

It remains unclear how much sway the effort will have. Newspaper editorial boards overwhelmingly opposed Trump’s election in 2016. Polls show Republicans have grown more negative toward the news media in recent years: Pew Research Center said 85 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said in June 2017 that the news media has a negative effect on the country, up from 68 percent in 2010.

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Associated Press correspondents Hannah Fingerhut, Skip Foreman, Amanda Kell, Jack Jones, Herb McCann, David Runk and Juliet Williams contributed to this report.

The Conversation

Small business owners are getting a new incentive to sell to their employees

August 15, 2018

Joseph Blasi

Director of the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing, Rutgers University

Douglas L. Kruse

Distinguished Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Rutgers University

Disclosure statement

Joseph Blasi is the Director of the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing, which receives funding a range of foundations, including Citi Community Development, the Employee Ownership Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Open Society Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Russell Sage Foundation. Other donors are disclosed on its website and in specific conference programs. Professor Blasi’s professorship is supported by an endowment set up by the Beyster Foundation for Enterprise Development. Professor Blasi is also a Senior Fellow at the Aspen Institute and assists them in developing dialogues and programs on capital shares for national leaders.

Douglas L. Kruse is the Associate Director of the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing.

The federal government just made it a lot easier to form an employee-owned business.

In an increasingly rare example of bipartisan cooperation, President Donald Trump on Aug. 13 signed a defense bill into law that included a popular provision that allows the Small Business Administration to straightforwardly loan money to employee-owned businesses that wish to buy out retiring small business owners.

This and other changes in the provisions are significant. Not only could they double or even triple the growth rate of employee-owned companies over the next decade, we expect they will help stabilize jobs in local communities as well as reduce inequality by giving more middle-class families a means of accumulating wealth.

Furthermore, this measure – which we supported with research and analysis – will be a boon to the hundreds of thousands of small businesses owned by retiring baby boomers that are at risk of closing up, putting millions of jobs on the line as well.

‘Silver tsunami’

The impetus behind the latest piece of legislation is a result of what some have dubbed the “silver tsunami.”

As baby boomers retire, more than 2.3 million closely held businesses that they own are at risk of closing down because of an inability to find someone to take over. These companies employ about 25 million people, spend about US$1 trillion on payroll a year and make about $5 trillion in sales.

While some of these businesses will be passed down to members of the family or others, about 6 out of 10 are expected to wind up on the auction block in the next decade because the owners need to sell out in order to retire.

We believe this will represent one of the largest transfers of wealth in American history.

Workers to the rescue

Surveys show that only a small fraction of retiring owners have a daughter or son who wants to take over the company and is competent to do so, and only a fifth of businesses listed for sale ever sell.

That makes selling their businesses to the workers who helped create all the value in the first place one of the best options available. It not only helps secure the owner’s retirement but also leaves behind a legacy in the local community. It has also slowly become more popular in recent decades.

Small businesses are sold to their managers or workers using one of three methods: an employee stock ownership plan or ESOP, a worker cooperative or an employee trust.

The ESOP, created in 1956 by the late political economist Louis O. Kelso, is currently the most common way to do this because it gives regular workers a way to buy companies and has meaningful federal tax incentives. This allows the new owners to set up a trust, which secures a loan that the company itself will pay back over several years.

A key feature is that the company, not the workers, steps forward to provide the collateral for the loan, and as the loan is paid down, new shares are distributed to employees and managers. The workers do not purchase the shares with their savings.

Worker cooperatives, on the other hand, have traditionally been employee-owned from the beginning, with investments from staff and equal voting rights in many company decisions. Increasingly, the worker coop model is being used to purchase companies from retiring business owners.

Employee trusts are a new form of ownership, similar to ESOPs in some ways. Their goal is to ensure a company remains employee-owned in perpetuity by keeping the shares within the trust itself. The employees are beneficiaries of the trust, receiving payouts based on profits.

A few employee-owned companies include grocery chain Publix Super Markets and staffing firm Penmac – the two biggest – as well as food companies King Arthur Flour and Bob’s Red Mill and breweries Harpoon and New Belgium Brewery, maker of Fat Tire beer.

We have spent the last 35 years researching this phenomenon and pulling together all the empirical studies that have been done to assess the impact, which we explore in our books, “The Citizen’s Share” and “Shared Capitalism at Work.” The evidence shows that employee ownership tends to make companies more productive and stable.

As for their prevalence, based on our recent calculations of all of the 2014 U.S. Department of Labor data on ESOPs, we found that about 2 million workers and managers were invested in about 5,800 closely held companies with the total employee ownership valued at $255 billion. While the average ESOP worker in these companies has an ownership stake of $134,000, our calculations are this is close to a quarter of a million dollars for workers who stay with the company for 20 years.

Unfortunately, many business owners aren’t aware this is even an option.

Raising awareness and guaranteeing loans

And that’s where the new law comes in.

The provision, previously known as the Main Street Employee Ownership Act, was written by Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and had co-sponsors on both sides of the political aisle. It is the most far-reaching employee share ownership legislation to pass Congress in over 20 years.

Its most important element involves permitting the SBA to clear away many previous barriers so it can make guaranteed loans of up to $5 million to employee-owned businesses, especially ESOPS and worker cooperatives. This will make employee buyouts easier to do by significantly expanding the amount of credit available and will create more flexibility for sellers so that they can transition out of their businesses over a few years.

The law also tasks the SBA with providing more awareness, technical assistance and training both to the small business owners who might be interested in selling to their employees and to the workers themselves.

We’ve observed that past efforts to encourage employee ownership by the federal government led to large growth spurts, such as laws passed 30 and 20 years ago that offered tax incentives. That’s why we would estimate the latest measure to double or even triple the growth of employee-owned companies.

Measuring the wider impact

The legislation’s impact could be far-reaching.

If it’s successful in leading more small business owners to sell to employees, it could help reduce economic inequality. That’s because the primary beneficiaries would be working- and middle-class employees who would suddenly have a new way to build a substantial amount of capital.

Furthermore, it’ll help preserve local jobs and the tax base because as we noted these small businesses often end up closing down because there’s no one to take over. In addition, employee-owned companies have shown greater resiliency in times of economic stress, leading to fewer layoffs. And research shows that these types of companies offer better pay and benefits than other types of businesses.

With real wages for most Americans flat or declining and most wealth in the hands of the richest Americans, broadening capital ownership to the middle and working classes may be the best – and perhaps the only – bipartisan road left to addressing economic inequality in the U.S.

Cameras can catch cars that run red lights, but that doesn’t make streets safer

August 15, 2018

Justin Gallagher

Assistant Professor of Economics, Case Western Reserve University

Disclosure statement

Justin Gallagher does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Partners

Case Western Reserve University

Case Western Reserve University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.

The automobile is a killer. In the U.S., 36,675 people died in traffic accidents in 2014. The year before, 2.3 million people were injured in traffic accidents.

During the past decade, over 438 U.S. municipalities, including 36 of the 50 most populous cities, have employed electronic monitoring programs in order to reduce the number of accidents. Red light camera programs specifically target drivers that run red lights.

In a study I co-authored with economist Paul J. Fisher, we examined all police-recorded traffic accidents for three large Texas cities over a 12-year period – hundreds of thousands of accidents. We found no evidence that red light cameras improve public safety. They don’t reduce the total number of vehicle accidents, the total number of individuals injured in accidents or the total number of incapacitating injuries that involve ambulance transport to a hospital.

Red light cameras

In a red light camera program, a camera is installed in a location where it can take photos or video of vehicles as they pass through the intersection. City employees or private contractors then review the photos. If a vehicle is in the intersection when the light is red, then a ticket is sent to the person who registered the vehicle.

These programs aim to reduce cross-street collisions. The idea is that drivers, fearing a higher chance that they will be fined, will be more likely to stop, lowering the number of angle, or “T-bone,” accidents.

Evidence clearly shows that camera programs are effective at decreasing the number of vehicles running red lights. In one study in Virginia, red light cameras reduced the number of total drivers running red lights by 67 percent.

However, cameras can have contradictory effects on traffic safety. Some drivers who would have otherwise continued to proceed through the intersection when the light is yellow or red will now attempt to stop. That means that the number of accidents caused by vehicles not stopping at a red light will likely decrease.

But the number of accidents from stopping at a red light – such as rear-end accidents – is likely to increase. That’s not an inconsequential side effect. Some drivers will attempt to stop, accepting a higher risk of a non-angle accident like getting rear-ended, in order to avoid the expected fine.

The overall effect of a camera program on vehicle accidents and injuries depends on the net impact of these two effects. Overall driver safety could increase or decrease.

Our study

In our study, we focused on Houston, a major U.S. city that operated a large camera program at 66 intersections between 2006 and 2010.

One reason we chose Houston is to take advantage of the natural experiment that occurred when city residents passed a referendum in November 2010 to ban the cameras.

We accessed detailed accident information on every traffic accident in Texas from 2003 to 2014 through a public records information request. The data included the accident’s precise geo-coded location; the type of accident; whether the driver ran a red light; and details on any injuries.

When the Houston cameras were removed, angle accidents increased by 26 percent. However, all other types of accidents decreased by 18 percent. Approximately one-third of all Houston intersection accidents are angle accidents. This suggests that the program’s drawbacks canceled out its benefits.

Our study showed no evidence that cameras reduce the total number of accidents. We estimate that total accidents are reduced by a statistically insignificant 3 percent after the cameras are turned off.

Likewise, there’s no evidence that the camera program reduced the number of traffic-related injuries or the likelihood of incurring an incapacitating injury.

The elevated number of traffic accidents at urban intersections is a serious public health issue. But our study shows that Houston’s camera program was ineffective in improving traffic safety. Electronic monitoring is not the solution.

President Donald Trump speaks in Utica, N.Y., Monday, Aug. 13, 2018, at a joint fundraising committee reception in Utica, N.Y. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/08/web1_121161607-f7382882c9ab4adcb2db8595ee867260.jpgPresident Donald Trump speaks in Utica, N.Y., Monday, Aug. 13, 2018, at a joint fundraising committee reception in Utica, N.Y. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Donald Trump waves as he walks on the South Lawn of the White House after stepping off Marine One, Monday, Aug. 13, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/08/web1_121161607-f8a84a55186244d79f26a927feff5d56.jpgPresident Donald Trump waves as he walks on the South Lawn of the White House after stepping off Marine One, Monday, Aug. 13, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Staff & Wire Reports