They Love Free Markets – Until They Don’t

Republicans worship the free market and rely on it to solve all manner of problems – until

How far will state car-dealer associations go to prevent Tesla Motors from opening its electric-car showrooms and selling cars over the Internet?

A long, long way.

In North Carolina, a new law passed by the state Senate would apparently make it illegal for Tesla to e-mail its customers.

In other words, if you’re a North Carolina resident who has a question about Tesla, the new law may prohibit Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] from responding to your question via e-mail.

The specific wording of the law bars automakers from “using a computer or other communications facilities, hardware, or equipment” to sell or lease acar to anyone in North Carolina.


Diarmuid O’Connell, vice president of business development for Tesla, told ABC News the bill was a “fundamentally protectionist effort to lock down the market and force us to sell through the middle man.”

The bill must be sent to the state’s House of Representatives by today, and would have to be passed by that body and signed into law by governor Pat McCrory to take effect.

There is some good news – it appears that consumers in the state are not going to take it lying down:

Tesla and its products are not without supporters in the Tar Heel State. There are 49 Tesla cars registered in North Carolina, and the company operates a service center in Raleigh, but it currently has no stores.

Citizens dismayed at the law…actually set up a private website, called Tesla Motors NC, to rally efforts around preventing passage of the law.

(h/t Dolly Llama at Balloon-Juice)


Hostess With The Mostest

Gotta love this graphical illustration of the Hostess kerfluffle:


John Cole has a pretty good takedown of the Twinkie twattery over at his place, complete with an explanation of top tax rates for the mathematically and/or factually challenged.

Somebody’s Gonna Need More Pants

This will come as no surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention, but Romneytron’s Bain Capital was involved at the genesis of outsourcing American jobs – the same outsourcing that he now says he will “end” as president:

Bain’s foray into outsourcing began in 1993 when the private equity firm took a stake in Corporate Software Inc., or CSI, after helping to finance a $93 million buyout of the firm. CSI, which catered to technology companies like Microsoft, provided a range of services including outsourcing of customer support. Initially, CSI employed U.S. workers to provide these services but by the mid-1990s was setting up call centers outside the country.

Two years after Bain invested in the firm, CSI merged with another enterprise to form a new company called Stream International Inc. Stream immediately became active in the growing field of overseas calls centers. Bain was initially a minority shareholder in Stream and was active in running the company, providing “general executive and management services,” according to SEC filings.

By 1997, Stream was running three tech-support call centers in Europe and was part of a call center joint venture in Japan, an SEC filing shows. “The Company believes that the trend toward outsourcing technical support occurring in the U.S. is also occurring in international markets,” the SEC filing said.

Stream continued to expand its overseas call centers. And Bain’s role also grew with time. It ultimately became the majority shareholder in Stream in 1999 several months after Romney left Bain to run the Salt Lake City Olympics.

Bain sold its stake in Stream in 2001, after the company further expanded its call center operations across Europe and Asia.

The corporate merger that created Stream also gave birth to another, related business known as Modus Media Inc., which specialized in helping companies outsource their manufacturing. Modus Media was a subsidiary of Stream that became an independent company in early 1998. Bain was the largest shareholder, SEC filings show.

Modus Media grew rapidly. In December 1997, it announced it had contracted with Microsoft to produce software and training products at a center in Australia. Modus Media said it was already serving Microsoft from Asian locations in Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan and in Europe and the United States.

Two years later, Modus Media told the SEC it was performing outsource packaging and hardware assembly for IBM, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Computer Corp. The filing disclosed that Modus had operations on four continents, including Asian facilities in Singapore, Taiwan, China and South Korea, and European facilities in Ireland and France, and a center in Australia.

“Technology companies, in particular, have increasingly sought to outsource the business processes involved in their supply chains,” the filing said. “. . . We offer a range of services that provide our clients with a one-stop shop for their outsource requirements.”

According to a news release issued by Modus Media in 1997, its expansion of outsourcing services took place in close consultation with Bain. Terry Leahy, Modus’s chairman and chief executive, was quoted in the release as saying he would be “working closely with Bain on strategic expansion.” At the time, three Bain directors sat on the corporate board of Modus.

The global expansion that began while Romney was at Bain continued after he left. In 2000, the firm announced it was opening a new facility in Guadalajara, Mexico, and expanding in China, Malaysia, Taiwan and South Korea.

In the face of this historical data, the claims that candidate Romney makes ring hollow:

“They’ve been able to put American businesses out of business and kill American jobs,” he told workers at a Toledo fence factory in February. “If I’m president of the United States, that’s going to end.”

Speaking at a metalworking factory in Cincinnati last week, Romney cited his experience as a businessman, saying he knows what it would take to bring employers back to the United States. “For me it’s all about good jobs for the American people and a bright and prosperous future,” he said.

This is simply unbelievable on its face; even if American workers were willing and able to survive living on the reduced wages these employers are paying their outsourced workers, that alone is not enough incentive for said employers – they can maintain the current cost-to-benefit ratio they enjoy without taking any action, and relocating said jobs back to the United States would require even more concessions/tax breaks just to maintain the ratio at current levels.  This is NOT going to happen, and any competent graduate of an Econ 101 course knows it.

No Desaparecen Airado, Simplemente Desaparecer

Or, “Don’t Go Away Angry, Just Go Away.”

Former AZ state senator Russell Pearce, notorious for writing the anti-immigrant bill SB 1070, was forced to cancel a Flag Day fundraiser after three sites turned him down:

The fundraising event was originally planned to be held at Macayo’s restaurant in Phoenix, but the plan was scuttled by activist Dee Dee Garcia Blase of Arizona’s Tequila Party, a conservative Latino group formed in reaction to the deportation-happy Tea Party. Garcia Blase organized a protest to be held outside the restaurant during the event and contacted Macayo’s corporate offices, which led the restaurant to cancel the event on Thursday morning.

By midday Thursday, Pearce’s campaign had emailed supporters announcing a second location, Oaxaca Restorante Y Cantina in downtown Phoenix. However, when Garcia Blase contacted Oaxaca’s management, the event was canceled within hours.

Oaxaca manager Joseph Aguayo told the Capital Times that Pearce’s campaign had booked the event under a false name. When Garcia Blase told him who the event was for, Aguayo barred the group from the restaurant. “We don’t need that,” he said, “We want to keep the support of our Latino community.”

Finally, Pearce attempted to gain access to the library of Phoenix’s Central High School, a request that was denied 30 minutes before Pearce’s guests and supporters were due to arrive. Phoenix Union High School District Superintendent Kent Scribner said that the event, with the added concerns of protesters and security, posed a logistical nightmare for school officials.


Needless to say, Field Marshal Pearce was less than pleased:

Late Thursday, Pearce issued an angrily worded statement decrying the situation and those people “who would like to stifle my candidacy.”

“Make no mistake,” he wrote, “I am undeterred by a few individuals who are motivated by hatred in lieu of discussing the issues.”

My guess is it’s going to be a long summer.

No One Could Have Predicted – Princes Of The Universe Edition

I knew when Bank Of America didn’t get their way on the $5 debit card fee, they were going to find a way to make it up one way or the other:

GLOBAL financial giant Bank of America Corp., which operates a small overseas branch in what used to be called the Bank of America-Lepanto Tower on Paseo de Roxas Ave. in Makati City, has finally opened its own call center in the Philippines and chose Taguig City as its base of operations.

BA, the second-largest American financial holding company, is a relative latecomer in the local financial business process outsourcing industry since US financial giants JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. have already long established their backoffice operations in the country.

Among the coverage of this decision, this bit was particularly galling:

Roman Romulo, deputy majority leader of the Philippine House of Representatives, bragged to the Manila Standard Today earlier this month that the Philippines “has secured its place as the world’s fastest-growing outsourcing hub.” Romulo pointed out that BofA is the last of the “big four” US banks to move their business-support network to his island nation, where the average family makes $4,700 a year.

BoA’s restraint in this matter is noted, and my response is as follows:

They’re going to get theirs, the only thing the rest of us are going to get is GOT.