Tag Archives: business

Amid Protest, SeaWorld Announces Changes to Killer Whale Show

On Monday, SeaWorld’s chief executive Joel Manby announced the company would change the “theatrical killer whale experience” in San Diego by the end of 2016 and refocus the water parks on conservation of animals.

The changes will affect the California Shamu show with “an all new orca experience focused on the natural environment [of the whales].” The orca whale performances will continue at SeaWorld parks in San Antonio, Texas, and Orlando, Florida.

The Guardian reported:

“We are listening to our guests, evolving as a company, we are always changing,” Manby said as he unveiled a new corporate strategy on Monday. “In 2017 we will launch an all new orca experience focused on natural environment [of whales]. 2016 will be the last year of our theatrical killer whale experience in San Diego.

Attendance at the San Diego park is falling fast. Visitor numbers dropped 17% last year to 3.8 million, according to city authorities, and Manby warned investors last week that numbers are still falling and would contribute to a $10m hit to SeaWorld’s profits this year.”

“People love companies that have a purpose, even for-profit companies,” he said. “Just look at WholeFoods … I don’t see any reason why SeaWorld can’t be one of those brands.”

Manby’s efforts to rebrand SeaWorld are also a response to the 2013 documentary Blackfish. The film investigated claims of abuse of orca whales and how such treatment may have provoked violent behavior that led to the deaths of three people. SeaWorld denies the claims, calling the film “propaganda” and asks customers to consider these “69 reasons you shouldn’t believe Blackfish”. Despite the denials, the film has sparked protests and falling profits for SeaWorld.

MintPress News recently reported on the company’s decreasing profits:

“SeaWorld has suffered a 84% collapse in profits as customers have deserted the controversial aquatic theme park company following claims it mistreated orca whales.The company, which trains dolphins and killer whales to perform tricks in front of stadiums full of spectators, on Thursday reported declines in attendance, sales and profits because of ‘continued brand challenges.’” 

The announcement to change the San Diego park comes after Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) introduced the Orca Responsibility and Care Advancement (ORCA) Act. The bill would end the wild capture, breeding, import and export, and captivity of  killer whales. In a press release, Schiff said there is strong evidence of “psychological and physical harm done to these magnificent animals” and said the ORCA Act would ensure “this will be the last generation of orcas who live in captivity”. 

If the bill became law, it would effectively end SeaWorld’s use of wild animals for circus performances. SeaWorld is feeling the pressure and wisely adjusting their policies, but will it be enough to satisfy the public outrage? Manby says customers want less of a “theatrical experience” and more “natural setting” for the whales. Is a theme park equipped to provide a natural setting for animals that belong in the ocean?

Leave your thoughts below.

eBay blasts underhanded government attempts on internet sales tax in email to millions

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 23, 2014 – On Thursday evening eBay, the multinational e-commerce mega company, sent out an email to  millions of its American clients blasting the U.S. Congress for attempting to implement an internet sales tax.

The email stated, “Over 18 months ago the U.S. Senate voted on a deeply unpopular Internet sales tax bill. Unfortunately, rather than find consensus, there are now plans to bypass the normal legislative process and attach the Internet sales tax bill to whatever legislative vehicle is most likely to pass in the short, post-election, ‘lame-duck’ session of Congress.”

eBay’s Vice President & Deputy General Counsel of Government Relations Tod Cohen sent the email and in it urged citizens to take action to prevent Congress from passing a bill that would introduce an internet sales tax.

Cohen stated, “Now is the time to let your senators know if you oppose an Internet sales tax bill that will harm online small businesses.”

You can read the full email here.


Dear Michael:

Over 18 months ago the U.S. Senate voted on a deeply unpopular Internet sales tax bill. Unfortunately, rather than find consensus, there are now plans to bypass the normal legislative process and attach the Internet sales tax bill to whatever legislative vehicle is most likely to pass in the short, post-election, “lame-duck” session of Congress.

Now is the time to let your senators know if you oppose an Internet sales tax bill that will harm online small businesses. Click here to ask your senators to keep Internet sales taxes out of the post-election “lame-duck” session of Congress.

Together, we can make a difference!


Tod Cohen
Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Government Relations
eBay Inc.


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Obama Administration takes action to prohibit companies from leaving America

WASHINGTON D.C. – September 24, 2014 – On Monday, the IRS and the Treasury took actions to reduce “and when possible, stop” tax inversions from occurring within the United States. Tax inversions have increasingly become an issue within the U.S. economy over the past several years, leading many central planners to seek action against free market options available to companies faced with incrementally higher tax demands.

An economic environment created by the presidency of Barack Obama has encouraged many U.S. companies to seek tax inversions, a process by which an American based business purchases a foreign firm in order to relocate its headquarters to a lower-tax nation while maintaining its original operations.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the Obama Administration is seeking congressional action before taking further action. Lew stated, “These first, targeted steps make substantial progress in constraining the creative techniques used to avoid U.S. taxes, both in terms of meaningfully reducing the economic benefits of inversions after the fact, and when possible, stopping them altogether”. 

According to the Treasury, Monday’s actions were designed to ensure that that economic incentives spurring the increase in tax inversions become less accessible and less appealing to companies. The Treasury, alongside the IRS, issued a formal notice declaring that the U.S. government “would prevent U.S. companies from accessing a foreign subsidiary’s earnings while deferring U.S. taxes through what it called ‘hopscotch’ loans.”

Among other measures, Monday’s notice would also prevent companies from transferring assets between the ‘controlled foreign corporation’ and the parent company, making is impossible for these businesses to avoid paying U.S. taxes on their overseas endeavors. Additionally, the new notice prevents a U.S. company from being able to restructure, and therefore access a foreign subsidiary’s earnings tax-free.

Finally, the Treasury said its actions would make it increasingly difficult for a U.S. entity to invert by fortifying the requirement that the previous owners of the U.S. company own less than 80% of the new combined business in such transactions.

A spokesman for the House Speaker John Boehner responded to the measures stating, “the answer is to simplify and reform our broken tax code to bring jobs home-and help grow our economy and create even more American jobs.”

These measures will take effect on all business deals not closed by this coming Monday.

Who is John Galt?

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Collectivists Posing As “Anarchists” Demand $3 Billion From Google

San Francisco, CA- A group of anti-capitalist protesters referring to themselves as “anarchists” demonstrated outside the home of Digg founder and Google Ventures partner Kevin Rose on Sunday, and demanded that Google hand over $3 billion to fund the creation of “autonomous, anti-capitalist, and anti-racist communities throughout the Bay Area and Northern California.”

The protest was allegedly organized by a group called The Counterforce, and they call Rose a “meta-leech” who is to blame for the rising cost of living in the Bay Area. Rose has invested heavily in several tech startups, and these startups have moved to the Bay Area to run their businesses. The protesters claim that the tech companies that Rose invested in are overtaking the area and driving out people who are less wealthy:

“Venture capitalists enable these tech-workers by funding their startups. With the success of each startup, more and more ambitious tech-workers flock to the city and displace underemployed service workers to the cities at the far reaches of the BART line. These workers must then commute back to San Francisco or Oakland every morning, in most cases to perform menial tasks for the entitled scum who drove them out in the first place.”

The Counterforce group abhors capitalism, technological companies and innovations, and entrepreneurs. In their public statement, they believe this $3 billion will create a society where “no one will ever have to pay rent and housing will be free. With this three billion from Google, we will solve the housing crisis in the Bay Area and prove to the world that an anarchist world is not only possible but in fact irrepressible.” The Counterforce takes themselves seriously, too- if Google doesn’t acquiesce to their demand, they say to “get ready for a revolution neither you nor we can control.”

Rose has agreed with the group in their frustration over the Bay Area’s cost of living. “That said, I did agree w/ them that we need to solve rising rents, keep the SF culture, and crack down on landlords booting folks out,” said Rose on Twitter. “SF is such a great place, definitely need to figure out a way to keep the diversity.”

This isn’t the first time The Counterforce has targeted Google. In January, a Google engineer faced protests from them concerning his work on the company’s self-driving car.

Interestingly, this protest group was able to make their demonstration possible because of Google. In their statement, it’s noted that Microsoft Word, MacBook, Samsung Nexus (powered by Google), Gmail, and Youtube are among different tech products and services used by The Counterforce in their protests.



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Obamacare and Crony Capitalism: Is Washington Engineering an Insurance Industry Bailout?

The insurance and healthcare industries know how to play the game. In fact, the healthcare industry spent $243 million in 2013 to lobby for Obamacare.

So far business is booming. According to a Forbes’ report in October, the value of the S&P health insurance index has gained 43%, double the gains made in the S&P 500.  The shares of CIGNA are up 63%, Wellpoint 47% and United Healthcare 28%.

Rules in Obamacare continue to change for insurance companies, though. Originally Obamacare required everyone to purchase insurance or face penalties, but millions of Americans have lost their insurance plans because of high costs. The new rule changes will exempt those Americans who lost their plans from buying any insurance. This poses a problem for insurance companies. Insurance companies will suffer financial losses if only sick (high risk) people sign up for the exchanges. Analysts claim that this rule change could bankrupt the system.

Political commentator Charles Krauthammer believes that next year we’ll be bailing out the insurance industry.  “The cost to insure the people left in the exchanges is going to be exorbitant,” explained Krauthammer.

“The insurers understand that they are going to be completely ruined over this.  There is only one way out: A huge government bailout of the insurers is waiting at the end of next year. That’s an issue that Republicans should focus on more,” he said.

“Right now, it’s the only way Obamacare will survive. It ought to be stopped before it happens. Congress must say no to any bailouts because it’s not a natural disaster. It’s a man-made one,” he added.


(VIDEO) VP of White Castle says, “$15 minimum wage means layoffs”

President Obama is now shifting his attention to advocate for an increased federal minimum wage. According to the Guardian,

“The federal minimum wage currently stands at $7.25 an hour, or about $15,000 a year. Obama renewed his call for it to be increased, and has already indicated he will back a Senate measure to increase the minimum statutory pay to $10.10. Republicans in the House oppose the measure, which they say would be harmful to business.”

“To more than double the federally mandated starting wage wouldn’t be bad for White Castle, it would be absolutely catastrophic,” Jamie Richardson, vice president of White Castle, told CNBC’s “Closing Bell” on Wednesday.

Economist Paul Krugman, disagrees with Richardson and is pushing for increased minimum wages.

But most classical economists disagree with Krugman. When the government increases the minimum wage artificially above the market price for unskilled labor, it causes an increase in unemployment and hurts low-skilled job seekers.

Economist Thomas Sowell states in Basic Economics, “Unfortunately, the real minimum wage is always zero, regardless of the laws, and that is the wage that many workers receive in the wake of the creation or escalation of a government mandated minimum wage, because they either lose their jobs or fail to find jobs when they enter the labor force.”

Those who are fighting against a minimum wage hike believes that a federal minimum wage law is misguided, and only helps one group of people: politicians.

Classical economists agree that increasing the minimum wage is a bad idea because it increases unemployment. An increase to the minimum wage decreases the demand for labor and increases the supply of labor which causes low-skilled workers to lose jobs and prevents others from finding new ones.

Economists like Sowell notes that Switzerland, one of the wealthiest nations, does not have a minimum wage and has a very low unemployment rate. So why do politicians, and some economists, advocate a minimum wage increase?

Sowell believes that it’s simply politics. The fact that the economic data indicates the minimum wage actually hurts low-skilled workers is not politically feasible juxtaposed with the idea of a social “safety net” for low-skilled workers.

Despite the economic data, the debate on increasing the minimum wage lives on. Princeton economist Alan Krueger told CNBC that he supports the President’s proposal to increase the minimum wage.

“I think our country will do a lot better if we have more shared prosperity,” Krueger said.

“I think we’re hurting opportunities for the next generation because the bottom half of the country has struggled so much over the past couple of decades,” the former chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers added. “Raising the minimum wage a modest amount, like the president proposed, helps lower-wage workers and I think that will be good for our economy.”