Midday open thread: Automakers don't walk their talk on electrics; state tax systems screw the poor

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20 days remain until the last ballots are cast in the 2018 midterm elections

Today’s comic by Matt Bors is House of Sawed:

Automakers boast of electric vehicle future but crank up production of SUVs and trucks: In 2017, GM announced its plans to be building 20 new electric vehicle models by 2023. But it has retooled by cutting back on the number of cars it produces and boosted manufacture of pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles, both with higher emissions. These two categories now make up 75 percent of GM’s passenger-vehicle sales. Five years ago it was 60 percent. And there are no plans seen so far to turn any of those best sellers into an electric vehicle. Ford and Fiat Chrysler have also shifted toward vehicles that consume more fuel per mile. According to the EPA’s latest fuel economy trends report, they place last for both efficiency and low emissions of all 13 automakers selling in the U.S. market.

Study shows most states and localities tax low- and middle-income households at much higher rates than more affluent taxpayers: In the 6th edition of Who Pays? A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems in All 50 States, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found average tax rates across income groups are 11.4 percent for the poorest 20 percent; 9.9 percent for the middle 20 percent; and 7.4 percent for the richest 1 percent. Low-income households pay an average of 50 percent more of their incomes in taxes than the very rich. The survey included personal and corporate income taxes, property taxes, sales and other excise taxes, and estate and inheritance taxes. Said Meg Wiehe, deputy director of ITEP and an author of the study: “Inequitable state tax systems don’t have to be a foregone conclusion. State and local lawmakers can and should take steps to ensure that their highest income earners pay their fair share. Tax policy should be used as a tool to help mitigate income disparities rather than to drive a wider divide.” The worst states are what ITEP labels the Terrible 10. Washington state comes out worst of all, with an effective tax rate for the poorest 20 percent of taxpayers at 17.8 percent vs. the 3 percent rate paid by the top 1 percent. Texas, Florida, South Dakota, Nevada, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Wyoming are the other nine worst.

Sigh. South Dakota School of Mines researchers think fracking could enhance geothermal power. 

MIDDAY TWEET

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The Original Big Bird Puppeteer Is Retiring After Almost 50 Years on Sesame Street https://t.co/gtvkFqclyn

— People (@people) October 17, 2018

Study says 4,200 people have been murdered since 2005 as a result of Florida’s “stand your ground” law. The Center for American Progress Action Fund found that the overall gun death rate increased 20 percent from 1999 to 2016 at the same time the non-gun murder rate fell by 45 percent:

Not only has Florida’s stand your ground law increased the state’s gun-related murders, but it has also been proven to have a racially disparate impact as applied. Researchers analyzed stand your ground defenses used in Florida from 2005 through 2013 and found these defenses were far more likely to be successful if the victim was black, Hispanic, or another race or ethnicity other than white. Specifically, the researchers found that defendants in Florida using the stand your ground defense were two times more likely to be convicted if the victim was white, concluding that “SYG legislation in Florida has a quantifiable racial bias that reveals a leniency in convictions if the victim is non-[w]hite, which provides evidence towards unequal treatment under the law.”

The last real president of the USA doesn’t have time for these seven excuses not to vote. 

Hurricane Michael’s damage estimates far lower than for Florence, Harvey, and Irma: For those who took a direct hit from Michael, the cost estimates of damage from the hurricane are irrelevant, but for insurers they matter a good deal. Risk modeler AIR Worldwide estimates that the insurance industry losses from Michael will range from $6 to $10 billion. But that doesn’t include losses to public infrastructure and uninsured losses. Other estimates, which include lost economic activity among other things, run as high as $30 billion. Damage from Hurricane Florence, which struck in September, was estimated at $38 billion to $50 billion. Moody’s estimated that Hurricane Harvey’s damage hit $133.5 billion, Maria’s cost $120 billion, and damage from Irma hit $84.2 billion. 

A look at Colorado’s system of mailing ballots to every voter in the state and what it means for the U.S. Postal Service:

Something as minor as a misprinted barcode could spell chaos for the finely tuned dance that is ballot distribution. If ballots are the wrong size, the machines that sort them at a rate of 40,000 pieces an hour could be held up.

“We’ve been prepping all year long for it. (It’s) not just the contents, but what does the outside of a ballot look like?” said David Rupert, a USPS spokesman. “What if you had a bad barcode with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of ballots?”

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin & Joan McCarter round up the day’s news. The Khashoggi story gets worse every minute. Young voters may show up this year! With electoral accountability now looming, it’s time for Republicans start lying and crying about health care.

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