Friday, September 22, 2017

U.S. Supreme Court may take Florida case involving medical records (NSOF)

Baptist Hospital's appeal should be DENIED. The Florida Supreme Court ruled correctly, anyway, interpreting Article X, Section 25 of our Florida Constitution, adopted by 2004 vote of 80% of the people.

As the Florida Supreme Court ruled in January, "the Federal Act was never intended as a shield to the production of documents required by Amendment 7 and other provisions of Florida law, and Amendment 7 and other provisions of Florida law are not preempted by the Federal Act, which set up a voluntary system for hospitals to improve patient safety. Moreover, the health care provider or facility, in this case Southern Baptist Hospital of Florida (“Southern Baptist”), cannot shield documents not privileged under state law or the state constitution by virtue of its unilateral decision of where to place the documents under the voluntary reporting system created by the Federal Act.

The Florida Supreme Court heard the case despite a settlement the night before oral argument In footnote 3 of its opinion, it stated that:

The Amendment’s appearance in the November 2004 election came
after decades of frustration because citizens could not access information they
needed in order to make informed decisions about their health care. Fla. Hosp.
Waterman, 984 So. 2d at 480. Out of 7.2 million Florida voters, more than 5.8
million people (or over 80%) voted in favor of this state constitutional right. See
Fla. Dep’t of State, Division of Elections, Patient’s Right to Know About Adverse
Medical Incidents,
http://dos.elections.myflorida.com/initiatives/initdetail.asp?account=
35169&seqnum=3 (last visited on Jan. 23, 2017).

Baptist's petition for certiorari filed in the U.S. Supreme Court was filed by Sidley & Austin and Smith, Hulsey, Busey, Baptist presents the issue as follows:

QUESTION PRESENTED
The federal Patient Safety Act created a national
system for healthcare providers to share and analyze
patient-safety information. Congress broadly defined
this “patient safety work product” to include “any data,
reports, records, memoranda, and analyses (such as
root cause analyses)” a healthcare provider assembles
for or reports to a “patient safety organization.” 42
U.S.C. § 299b-21(7). Because state discovery laws
might dissuade participation, Congress made patient
safety work product privileged and confidential “[n]otwithstanding
any other provision of Federal, State, or
local law.” § 299b-22(a).
The Florida Supreme Court, however, held that information
was not patient safety work product “because
Florida statutes and administrative rules require
providers to create and maintain these records,”
and because a state constitutional amendment “provides
patients with a constitutional right to access
these records.” Pet. App. 20a.
The question presented is:
Whether state law may override Congress’s definition
of patient safety work product by deeming
healthcare information to be “collected, maintained, or
developed separately” from the federal patient-safety
system in which it resides.

Query: How can a hospital operated as a supposed "religious" and "charitable" unit be so obstreperous as to want to keep secret information about medical malpractice?"

U.S. Supreme Court may take Florida case involving medical records
Jim Saunders News Service of Florida
6:09 p.m Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017 Florida and Legislature news


J. Scott Applewhite
U.S. Supreme Court (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

TALLAHASSEE
In a legal battle drawing attention from medical groups across the country, the U.S. Supreme Court could be close to deciding whether to hear a Florida case about the disclosure of medical records.

The Supreme Court is expected to consider the case Monday during a private conference, according to an online docket. The court receives thousands of petitions a year but agrees to hear only a relative handful of cases.

The Florida case focuses on whether hospitals are required to disclose certain records to plaintiffs during medical-malpractice lawsuits — or whether those records are shielded by a federal patient-safety law. Southern Baptist Hospital of Florida Inc., which operates as the Baptist Health System in the Jacksonville area, filed a petition in May asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case after the Florida Supreme Court ruled that disputed records should be disclosed.

The state Supreme Court decision was rooted in a 2004 Florida constitutional amendment, which was backed by plaintiffs’ attorneys and was intended to provide access to what are known in the health-care industry as “adverse medical incident” reports. The Baptist system and its supporters, however, argue that at least some records are shielded from disclosure by the federal law.

While the case involves the interplay between the voter-approved Florida constitutional amendment and the federal law, it has drawn friend-of-the-court briefs at the U.S. Supreme Court from groups such as the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association, along with Florida medical groups and hospitals backing the Baptist system.

The federal law, the 2005 Patient Safety Act, allows hospitals to voluntarily submit information about medical errors to what are known as “patient safety organizations” but offers certain confidentiality protections. The law was aimed, at least in part, at encouraging health providers to submit information that could be analyzed and used to prevent future medical errors.

The Baptist system and its supporters say the Florida Supreme Court ruling threatens that system and contend federal law should trump state law on the disclosure issue.

“The effects of the Florida Supreme Court’s decision are not, and will not be limited, to Florida,” said a friend-of-the-court brief led by the American Medical Association and the Florida Medical Association and joined by dozens of other medical groups and providers. “Indeed, hospitals and providers across the nation, particularly those physician and hospital provider groups that are located in multiple states, depend upon a uniform and predictable privilege when collecting and reporting patient safety work product to PSOs (patient safety organizations).”

The underlying lawsuit that led to the records fight was filed against the Baptist system by the family of patient Marie Charles and alleged that negligence in her care caused a severe neurological injury, according to court documents.

Attorneys representing the Charles family argued in a brief last month that the U.S. Supreme Court should not take up the case. They also raised the possibility that hospitals could use the federal Patient Safety Act to wrongfully prevent the release of records.

“Petitioner’s (the Baptist system’s) reading of the act contravenes the plain language of the statute and legislative intent because it grants unprecedented, unchecked power to providers to conceal information,” said the brief, which along with the others is posted on the website SCOTUSblog. “It empowers a provider to unilaterally transform virtually any information — collected, maintained, or developed pursuant to a non-Patient Safety Act law — into privileged patient safety work product by simply reporting that information to the patient safety organization. This is an abuse of the federal privilege.”

A twist to the case is that the Charles family and the Baptist system reached a settlement on the eve of a Florida Supreme Court hearing in the dispute. But the Florida Supreme Court decided to continue with the case and, ultimately, ruled against the hospital system.

In their brief last month, attorneys for the Charles family said the U.S. Supreme Court should not hear the case because of the settlement.

“Petitioner’s attempt to invoke this (U.S. Supreme) Court’s equitable power to vacate a judgment in a moot case fails,” the brief said. “Petitioner mooted this case by its own action — settling the case.”

But in a brief this month, the Baptist system disagreed, saying “nothing about the settlement” alters the consequences of the Florida Supreme Court ruling.

“When Florida courts order Baptist to produce federally-privileged work product, Baptist cannot resist based on its private agreement with respondents (the Charles family),” the brief said. “That the parties tried — and failed — to end these proceedings does not change that the state court rejected their stipulation of dismissal and issued a 32-page opinion deciding this question of `great public’ and `statewide’ importance.”

I called for Christians to love gay people. Now the Catholic alt-right is taking revenge. By Fr. James Martin, S.J. (WaPo)



Jesuit priest and journalist Fr. James Martin blows the whistle on misguided Roman Catholic bigots. St. Augustine's GLBT community was empowered after Rev. Ruth Jansen and her wife Elizabeth Forbell and lawyer Karen Doering won out St. Augustine Rainbow flags First Amendment case in federal court in 2005. Six days later, Aubrey Skillman interviewed some of the bigoted members of the booboisie picketing the Gay Pride event on Cuna Street on June 13, 2005.  Turns out several of them stated in their tape-recorded interviews that they were Roman Catholics and learned their hatred in church or school, and the bishop at that time had only one (1) policy statement on his website -- an anti-Gay marriage screed.
I was raised Roman Catholic, have read the Bible and graduated from Georgetown University (considered the Catholic Harvard -- sorry Notre Dame). But I can't pretend to understand the etiology or ideology of these haughty haters, now publicly exposed and called out by name by Fr. Martin. My mother questioned whether a true Catholic could be a Republican, and when I was learning to swim she said, "Last one in is a dirty rotten Republican." No doubt, she would have called them mindless mendacious misanthropes homophobes out as members of the "manic-depressive wing of the Catholic Church." Pray for these hateful misguided energumen.



I called for Christians to love gay people. Now the Catholic alt-right is taking revenge.

By Fr. James Martin, S.J. September 21 at 6:00 AM
The Washington Post
James Martin, SJ, is a Jesuit priest, editor at large of America and author of "Seven Last Words."






When I set out to build a bridge between Catholics and gay people, I had one thing in mind: Jesus Christ. (Cade Martin/The Washington Post)

After a gunman killed 49 people at Pulse, a predominantly gay nightclub in Orlando in 2016, I found myself disappointed that more Catholic leaders did not offer support to the LGBT community. And that the few who did found it difficult to acknowledge that LGBT people specifically had been targeted for murder.
For me, that silence highlighted a certain failure to be compassionate to the LGBT community even in a moment of tragedy. It also revealed that the LGBT community was still largely invisible to some church authorities. In response, I recorded a brief video that was posted on Facebook. It offered some support for the LGBT community during a terribly difficult few weeks.
Not long afterwards, New Ways Ministry, an organization that ministers to and advocates for LGBT Catholics, invited me to accept their Bridge Building Award. Until then, I had never done what you might call formal ministry with LGBT Catholics, besides the counseling that almost every church worker does in his or her ministry. But the Catholic Church’s response to the events in Orlando encouraged me to do so in a more public way. So, with my Jesuit superiors’ permission, I accepted the award and offered a lecture on how to build a “two-way bridge” between LGBT Catholics and the institutional church — that is, the church’s hierarchy and decision-makers. From that talk came the first half of my book, “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity.”
Now, in the past few weeks, three lectures I was invited to have been canceled, and I have been targeted by some far-right groups whose actions betray a level of homophobia that is hard to fathom. These groups, a kind of Catholic alt-right, are increasingly attempting to substitute themselves for legitimate Church authority by passing judgments on which Catholics are orthodox and which are not. “Heresy” is a word they use as frequently as “and” and “the.”
As I was writing the book, I knew that it would be a somewhat controversial topic, even though I was careful to stay well within the bounds of Church teaching.  My reflections, which can be summarized as a call for respect on both sides, were based on the gospel, and on the Catechism’s call for the Church to treat “homosexual persons” with “respect, compassion and sensitivity.” As with all my books, I sought the formal ecclesial approval of my Jesuit superiors, who vetted my what would become “Building a Bridge.” Perhaps to the disappointment of some critics, it is about dialogue and prayer, not about sexual morality or the sexual practices of LGBT people. On sexual matters, the LGBT community and the institutional church are simply too far apart at this moment. So, I decided to focus, intentionally, on possible areas of commonality, to help encourage dialogue.
What I didn’t know was that, in a few quarters, the pushback would be hysterical, vicious and immediate.
The vast majority of people have responded positively, both in person and online. To take just two examples, a talk at St. Cecelia’s Church in Boston drew a crowd of about 700 people; the same number appeared at a talk at Villanova University. Two cardinals, including a high-ranking Vatican official, as well as an archbishop and three bishops have endorsed the book. And people in the pews, especially LGBT Catholics and their parents, have told me that they are grateful that a priest is raising this topic. Many of these conversations have transpired through tears. Just this week, a young woman started crying and, before she could tell me about her gay brother, threw her arms around me. This makes any backlash worth it.
But the backlash from the far right is more intense than anticipated. I’ve been accused of heresy, ridiculously, by some critics (I’m not contradicting any revealed truths); there have been over-the-top condemnations (I should be removed from the priesthood) and name-calling that I thought was confined to 1950s playgrounds (faggot, fairy, pansy and worse.) Here’s a quote from a letter received just this week: “You’re leading souls to hell where you will surely reside in a few years.” Interestingly, that the entire second half of the book is a reflection on various biblical passages and an invitation to prayer seems to be of no interest to them; perhaps they feel that LGBT people do not, and should not, have access to the Holy Spirit.
The far-right backlash has led, perhaps inevitably, to the cancellation (or rescheduling) of several speaking events: First, at Cafod, the overseas aid agency of the bishops of England and Wales. Second, the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher, a Catholic group that had invited me to speak at its fall investiture dinner. And, finally, the Theological College at the Catholic University of America, the university’s seminary, which had invited me to speak to its alumni. Each of these talks was not about LGBT issues, but about Jesus. And in each of the cities in which the talk was scheduled, the local bishop (in each case a cardinal) had no qualms about the upcoming lecture.
Everyone who communicated their decisions did so with great anguish. In the case of the last two — the Order of the Holy Sepulchre and Theological College — the organizers admitted that they were responding to people who had been persuaded by online campaigns of far-right sites designed to lead people to view me as a heretic, even though I am what Catholics call a “priest in good standing” and the book had been vetted and endorsed by legitimate Church authorities. Theological College told me that people had been phoning in and “screaming” at the receptionists there.
In his classic text, “The Spiritual Exercises,” St. Ignatius of Loyola says what he calls the “Evil Spirit” does not want to be revealed and will try to conceal its work. But it has been revealed here, and I am glad it has been revealed. There is such widespread homophobia in some dark corners of the Church that it causes people to become enraged by a book that they have never read. These individuals and sites trafficking in such obvious homophobia operate through means of vicious social media campaigns, relentless personal attacks, gross misrepresentations, as well as simple lies and deceit. They end up trying to be so Catholic that they are barely Christian.
Ironically, these groups, like the website Church Militant, which tout their desire for “traditional” Catholic practices consistently set themselves against bishops and religious superiors. Thus, groups that have zero legitimacy in the Church (and which have often been criticized by Church leadership) are setting themselves up against legitimate authorities. Pope Francis himself, for example, is a frequent target. In this way, such supposedly “traditional” Catholic websites are subverting tradition. As a result of their hateful content, they cause confusion, frustration and contempt. Such campaigns can never lead to the kind of results that St. Ignatius calls indicative of the “Good Spirit”: consolation, calm and peace. You can judge these unofficial inquisitions by their fruits.
Navigating through this backlash hasn’t been easy. But I am at peace with the book and with the mission to love and advocate for LGBT Catholics. After all, Francis asked the Jesuits to go to the “peripheries” where people feel the Church isn’t serving them, or where they feel unloved. And I am trying to do what Jesus did, in reaching out to people on the margins and telling them that God created them, God loves them and God welcomes them. And that is the truth.






Thursday, September 21, 2017

Governor RICK SCOTT and KING CANUTE: Record's PR spin ignores global ocean level rise

Developer fanboy STUART KORFHAGE's latest journalistic malpractice -- failure to ask Governor RICHARD LYNN SCOTT about global ocean level rise during a PR fam-tour of an iconic building knocked down by Hurricane Irma. Pitiful. Scott keeps wearing his Navy baseball cap, but the Navy and the rest of the military are united -- global ocean level rise is a threat to our national security.

Posted September 22, 2017 12:02 am
By STUART KORFHAGE stuart.korfhage@staugustine.com
Gov. Scott tours hurricane damage in Vilano Beach
St. Augustine Record




Another year has brought another enduring image of the power of a hurricane in St. Johns County.

And for the second straight fall, it’s come to the attention of Gov. Rick Scott.

Last year after Hurricane Matthew, Scott visited downtown St. Augustine where images of serious flooding reached national media outlets as symbols of the storm’s destructive force.

This year, it was the image of the fallen house in Vilano Beach — just barely holding on to a tiny piece of sand dune to keep from falling into the ocean — that became the dominant picture to much of the country of Hurricane Irma’s effects, at least in North Florida.

It was that home in Vilano where Scott chose to get his first close inspection of the county’s damage in his visit Thursday. He also met county workers and politicians at the administration offices earlier in the morning. Later, he moved up State Road A1A where part of the highway was being repaired after suffering storm damage.

”Last year when we had Matthew just scrape our beaches, I took a tour all along the east coast, and our beaches were just scraped by Matthew,” Scott said. “The first stop we saw today, unfortunately, we saw a house that was completely lost. We saw another one that had lost part of its sand and was in trouble.

“Here’s the positive: We’re all going to work together to bring our beaches back, to save each and every one of these communities to make sure we have this evacuation route.”

Scott’s visit was part rallying cry for citizens to rebound and help each other during the recovery. And it was also part self promotion about what he and the state in general did to prepare for the latest storm and the ensuing response.

“The Department of Environmental Protection put out over 2,300 truckloads of sand to try to protect our beaches,” Scott said. “We know this is a very important part of our state, and we’re going to do everything we can to keep it nice.”

Also in attendance were county commissioners and representatives from St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach governments. State government officials included Sen. Travis Hutson, Rep. Cyndi Stevenson, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein and others.

Mostly, they spoke in general terms of how the state is improving its response after going through recent hurricanes.

“Let the lessons of this be applied to being better prepared for the next storm rather than being jaded for the next storm,” Putnam said.

Stevenson said she was happy the state has already allocated $13 million for the Vilano area to make it more resilient in hurricanes. She added that Vilano property owners also have the clearance to get permits to build new sea walls as long as applications are filed before Oct. 4.

“They have some certainty about what they can do to protect their home,” she said.

Both Stevenson and Hutson said they’ve been speaking with their constituents since the storm hit more than a week ago. That’s allowed them to find out what has gone right and what hasn’t during the recovery process.

“Constituents for the most part have been very, very happy,” Hutson said. “The more that have power, the less that are unhappy.

“We do have some serious flooding issues in Hastings still. Power’s been restored but we’re not recovering. It was much like Davis Shores last year. We have to go through the process.”

Even with the sight of many battered homes and piles of debris along S.R. A1A, those visiting with the governor were reminded that St. Johns County did not absorb the worst of this storm the way it did in Matthew.

The governor talked about the damage he’s seen in the Keys and around Naples and Immokalee. He also expressed concern over the state’s agriculture.

“It (damage) was different in all parts of the state,” Scott said. “In the Keys, … if you go about a little over 20 miles north of Key West for about 25 miles, it’s just shocking. There was 9 feet of storm surge on the beach side.

“Our citrus industry has really gotten hammered. They’re worried about losing an entire crop because there was so much flooding where they were.”



Edward Adelbert Slavin · 
To show his courtiers that he was not all-powerful, legend has it that King Canute ordered the sea to retreat. It did not retreat. 
I was reminded of that story upon reading of notorious climate-change denier Richard Lynn Scott, Florida Governor, bragging about how much sand he was going to place in front of ocean-front homes, all while forbidding our government scientists to talk about global warming and global climate change. Scott is unready for federal office. He has no business running for U.S. Senate and lacks the necessary skill set to replace Senator Bill Nelson. 
Scientists must be free to practice the scientific method without fear or favor. Their rights -- and ours -- must be protected and not neglected.
This was a photo-op, with local government officials serving as props and the reporter serving as an amenuensis. Also, why didn't the Record's "development" reporter use critical thinking skills and ask Scott questions about global warming and global ocean level rise?

LikeReplyJust now


Like
Reply222 hrs
Mike Garland
Global warming in the summer, global cooling in the winter. Sometimes it's wet, dry, windy. Any other questions?
LikeReply15 hrs
Ed McGinley
Mike Garland , the question becomes when are we going to deal with it? If action is not taken, the biggest issue becomes keeping the town going. If we do not mitigate storm surge and flooding, people will not open businesses or buy homes in this area. They will choose other areas that are not flood prone. It would be nice to see politicians say things like, obviously what we have done was not enough. We need to get smart about development and mitigation. We will not stop until we have taken every logical step. It costs more for the federal government to pay for recovery than it would for mitigation.
LikeReply29 hrs
Gwen Sancar · 
Mike Garland Paradoxically, global warming causes hotter summers, heavier rains and heavier snowfalls.
LikeReply15 hrs
Don Veilleux · 
All those homes on this stretch of beach should be comdemned, let the dunes reclaim that area.
LikeReply213 hrsEdited
Edward Adelbert Slavin · 
1. Does Florida Governor Richard Lynn Scott still bar press questions at his photo ops? If so, why does the Record acquiesce? The "unconstitutional condition" doctrine applies to free speech, property rights and other constitutional rights; it was recently affirmed by the Supreme Court in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District, 568 U.S. ___; 133 S.Ct. 2586 (2013). Journalists should sue for an order for Governor Scott to stop barring questions at photo ops.
2. When I was ten years old, New Jersey Governor Richard J. Hughes spoke at the dedication of Camden County College, where my mother worked. After he spoke, I went with my cheap camera to the robing room where everyone was doffing their academic gowns. I sua sponte interviewed Governor Hughes, asking hiim three questions. My photo was in the Catholic Star-Herald. If a shy sixth grader can interview a Governor for his elementary school newspaper, of which he was editor, why won't the Record's "senior reporter" interview Governor Scott when he shows up for a photo op in Vilano Beach after a catastrophic hurricane? Why not ask Scott about global warming/ocean level rise? What was Stuart Korfhage thinking?
3. We need investigative reporting on global ocean level rise, please.
LikeReplyJust nowEdited

Let's get rid of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion by Bryce Covert (NY Times)



Provocative article by The Nation columnist Bryce Covert from The New York Times re: three oligopolistic credit rating companies, raking in $10 billion in revenue each year based on often wildly erroneous "data" on your credit, with 60% of employers using your erroneous credit history to decide whether to hire you.

When I was in law school, I was appalled and amazed in 1984 to read employee files of Memphis truck drivers obtained by my lawyer-employers in discovery in a civil case. In 1984, employers were already getting data about credit history and whether employees had ever filed a workers' compensation claim. Yes, I said 1984, and that is the George Orwell novel that came close to describing our current predicament in America.

This crooked credit-rating cartel -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion -- is beyond repair, it would appear. Let's nationalize Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, Ms. Covert writes:


Opinion | CONTRIBUTING OP-ED WRITER

Get Rid of Equifax
Bryce Covert
The New York Times
SEPT. 21, 2017


Because of lax security at Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting companies, the private financial and personal details of as many as 143 million Americans have been exposed to hackers. We still don’t know what the full ramifications will be; the people who took this information — which includes birth dates, Social Security numbers and addresses — could hold on to it for as long as they want and deploy it in years to come.

Many consumers have scrambled to try to protect themselves. To anyone who tried to get through to Equifax customer service, though, it became clear: The company does not care about us. Months before the hack itself, Equifax  could easily have patched the hole in its system that hackers exploited, but it simply didn’t.

That’s because we are not the customers of credit reporting companies, but the product. These private institutions hoover up our data, often without our knowledge and consent, and then sell it off to banks, landlords and even prospective employers. The companies rake in some $10 billion in revenue every year. They wield enormous power to ruin our lives — if not through a data breach, then through errors on our credit reports. One in four consumers has an error on his credit report that could affect his scores, yet it can be  very difficult  to correct the record.

Although they call themselves bureaus, there is nothing governmental about what these private companies do. We let them take on a role that can have outsize consequences. And the free market doesn’t work here, because none of us can refuse to be a part of this system and opt out if we don’t like how we’re being treated. There’s   no legal right to ask Equifax to remove your data from its registries or to stop it from getting more in the future.

Why should we continue to allow private companies to make money from us while ignoring our needs? Let’s nationalize Equifax and the other two major credit reporting companies, Experian and TransUnion. We could follow other countries’ example and hand the duty of tracking our financial histories over to a public registry instead of a private profiteer.

Equifax is the oldest of the Big Three credit reporting bureaus, and it  got its start  as a private investigator in the late 1800s. A client — a business or a bank — would ask it about a consumer, and it would go about digging up dirt on things like marital problems and convictions. That client would then pay it for its services.

This questionable business model  raised eyebrows  in the 1960s, when the companies were still compiling information on people’s “moral character” such as affairs or drinking problems. At the time, the reports weren’t available at all to the subjects themselves. That changed with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which was signed in 1970. But even that reform put virtually no oversight on the bureaus’ practices.

Things haven’t changed all that much. Those who want to dig up dirt via a credit report pay one of the Big Three companies and voilĂ , they have a dossier of financial information.

The first step toward fixing this mess would be to limit who can use these reports and reduce how influential they have become. Credit reporting companies have experienced quite the  mission creep  over recent years. In 2010, 60 percent of employers used credit reports to evaluate potential hires. That means that a report that workers have no control over and frequently don’t even get a chance to see, which can have at least one error, is helping determine whether or not they get a job.

There’s no good reason for employers to use this information — credit reports haven’t been shown to predict employee performance. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts agrees, and just reintroduced a bill that would bar employers from asking for credit histories.

But even such a crackdown wouldn’t fully get rid of the danger the credit reporting business model poses to people’s financial lives. Instead, given how poorly they operate and how little incentive their business model gives them to improve, their duties should be handed over to public institutions.

In at least 40 other countries — including Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Spain — credit reporting can be done by a public credit registry. It is usually operated by a central bank that already oversees the financial institutions that feed information into the reports. These reports tend to be more accurate because the operators have a legal right to demand data from banks as well as a mandate to ensure it’s correct and that errors are fixed. Data on late payments and defaults are erased once a consumer has settled up.

Many of these public registries leave out things like medical debt, tax information and personal details like marital status, focusing only on loan amounts. Only about 40 percent of registries collect consumers’ addresses, and two-thirds collect taxpayer IDs — the kind of information leaked in the Equifax breach.

The United States government is, of course, not impervious to data breaches, nor does it have a perfect track record of fending them off. In 2015, it announced  that hackers had stolen “sensitive information” on 21.5 million people. But the government is at least accountable to public pressure. Equifax never will be, even under the tightest regulation. Credit bureaus have proved to be complete failures at safeguarding the public. Let’s demand we get our data back.

Bryce Covert is a contributor at The Nation and a contributing opinion writer.

Let’s Stop Government Giveaways to Corporations (NY Times)

State and governments subsidize big corporations to locate jobs and projects there. Former Delaware Governor Jack Markell explains why it's wrong proposing a 100% tax on subsidies that go to corporate bottom lines. I agree. In St. Johns County and in Florida, these subsidies are especially pernicious, being agreed to in secret deals exempted from Sunshine law.
What my friend Warren Celli calls "gangster-controlled" sell-out "governments" are raising everyone else's taxes while "selling their wares" like corporate whores. This stinks.
Should the FBI investigate? Will the FBI eventually execute a search warrant for all such deals in stinky little corners likeSt. Johns County and question MELISSA GLASGOW, who followed controversial County Administrator-Conman MICHAEL DAVID WANCHICK from Texas?
What do you reckon?

Let’s Stop Government Giveaways to Corporations
By JACK MARKELL
SEPT. 21, 2017


Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle. 
Credit
                                                                       Stuart Isett for The New York Times 


Amazon recently sent state and city officials across the country scrambling to respond to its announcement that it was its announcement that it was seeking enticements to build a  second headquarters, promising 50,000 new jobs and $5 billion in investment to the winning location. Governments are mobilizing to devise lucrative incentive packages. I know how this works, because I spent eight years supporting these types of incentives as the governor of Delaware.

Amazon’s public encouragement of a bidding war highlights a competition that state and local governments engage in every day. I became very familiar with this process: A big business promises thousands, hundreds or even dozens of jobs and waits for offers from mayors and governors eager to demonstrate to voters that they are bringing them jobs. In Delaware, our economic development office, with my full approval, was busy calculating direct subsidies to corporations through grants and tax breaks.

I was as guilty as any elected official at playing this game. But it’s a game that should stop. There’s a better way to compete for business.

A New York Times investigation in 2012 found that states, counties and cities  were handing out more than $80 billion a year in incentives to attract and retain companies. Amazon, for example, has already benefited from hundreds of millions of dollars in public subsidies as it expanded its warehouse network around the country, according to a report last year by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

The company’s   new request for proposals seeks a combination of the types of direct payments that governors and mayors regularly make to businesses: incentives to reduce initial capital costs, relocation and work force grants, tax credits and exemptions, reduction of other fees and assistance with utility costs.

In Delaware, despite some notable failed investments (especially trying to save a closed General Motors factory), government incentives during my tenure resulted in the reopening of a refinery, the near doubling of employment in the state by one of the world’s largest banks and keeping two of the three spinoffs from the Dow/Dupont merger in Delaware. I don’t regret making those investments to keep jobs from going to other states. But it would be better for taxpayers if these kinds of cash incentives could be invested instead in such things as schools and infrastructure.

I don’t blame companies like Amazon for playing the incentives game. They have a responsibility to do their best by their shareholders and workers in a climate where competitors are benefiting from similar payouts. Interestingly, though, the chief executives I worked with as governor were less interested in short-term incentives and more focused on long-term partnerships that would help ensure their success. They viewed these incentives as evidence that state and local officials were committed to their company’s future.

And I don’t blame public officials, either, for their efforts to attract businesses with enticements, since they otherwise would risk losing out on new jobs, the transfer of old ones elsewhere and the bad publicity that could come with abandoning efforts to entice or retain companies. That would be the equivalent of competing with other cities and states with one arm tied behind your back, and like other leaders, I wasn’t going to do that as governor.

The result is a market failure in which neither side is motivated to fix the problem. State and local policy makers can’t unilaterally opt out without potentially negative consequences for their constituents, while businesses have a fiduciary obligation to pursue these short-term direct incentives. Competition for jobs should not be seen to hinge on which government can write the biggest check to an employer but on the kinds of things that officials in Delaware and other states spend so much time on to make their communities places worth living in: the quality of schools, work force development programs, the transportation grid and other infrastructure, and the overall quality of life.

The solution is straightforward: Congress should institute a federal tax of 100 percent on every dollar a business receives in state or local incentives that are directed specifically to that company. This would not include investments in public infrastructure, work force development or other investments that can attract employers while also providing a significant long-term benefit to taxpayers.

This tax would, however, end payouts that go directly to a company’s bottom line and would eliminate the pressure these companies are under to pursue such enticements. I’m talking about incentives like direct grants to a company in exchange for the creation of a specific number of jobs (something we did in Delaware while I was governor) or free or reduced land or the passage of a tax policy tailored specifically to one company.

States would still compete for these jobs — but they would do so in a way that better aligns with the long-term interests of taxpayers and the businesses themselves.

States and municipalities would also retain the ability to institute tax-friendly policies for certain sectors — like small businesses or high-tech firms (Delaware, for example, has instituted one of the most attractive research and development tax credits in the country).

This approach would provide a significant victory for taxpayers. Instead of making direct payments to businesses, states and municipalities would invest in and compete solely based on factors that make the most difference for an area’s economic potential and for a company’s ultimate success, like the abilities of the work force, the excellence of their schools and the quality of life for residents. That is a competition worth having.

Jack Markell, a Democrat, was the governor of Delaware from 2009 until January.