Does this mean Big Box stores might not be ruining the planet after all?

James Surowiecki, journalist and author of The New Yorker‘s “Financial Page,” calls bullshit on those who indulge in what he calls the “fetishization of small business.”

Surowiecki argues that mom and pop businesses are less productive than national chains. They charge significantly higher prices and offer, on average, lower wages and benefits. They’re less likely to innovate, invest in new technologies or expand. They are, however, more likely to do one important thing: Fail.

He writes that while it’s true small businesses create most jobs, “they also destroy most jobs, since, while starting a business is easy, keeping it going is hard.”

Surowiecki adds this:

The developed countries with the highest percentage of workers employed by small businesses include Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Italy—that is, the four countries whose economic woes are wreaking such havoc on financial markets. Meanwhile, the countries with the lowest percentage of workers employed by small businesses are Germany, Sweden, Denmark, and the U.S.—some of the strongest economies in the world.  This correlation is not a coincidence.

And here’s a little something for all you populists out there:

It’s hardly a coincidence that in the decades after the Second World War, when ordinary American workers became part of the middle class, very big companies employed a huge percentage of the workforce: in the early seventies, one in five non-farm workers worked for a Fortune 500 company. Small may be beautiful. It’s just not all that prosperous.

We probably won’t see that on any Occupy Wall Street signboards.

Read the article here.

Local enviros continue to make excellent case for tort reform

Click to enlarge.

The Times-Standard’s announcement Tuesday that three  so-called environmental groups were extorting sacks of cash suing Disneyland was greeted unenthusiastically by the newspaper’s readers.

“Oh brother. How lame,” said one.

“I guess the grow that was funding their organization got popped,” said another.

The suit, brought in part by the Humboldt-based Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation and the Ecological Rights Foundation, is just the most recent made possible by California’s Proposition 65. Originally intended to hold large corporations accountable for environmental damage, Prop. 65 has instead turned into a cash machine for dozens of inbred orgs that support themselves and each either by filing one suit after another over infractions real and imagined.

In many cases, the hyper-litigious enviros are “protecting” us from conditions that posed no danger to begin with, but  insurance carriers frequently insist on quick settlements rather than pay the legal costs of fighting the nuisance suits.

While many media outlets treated the MEJF news release as though it bore some relation to fact, the Associated Press got it just about right with this opening sentence:

A nonprofit group that has filed dozens of environmental suits against major companies is now accusing Disneyland of exposing children to lead.

The allegation in this case is that high levels of lead have been detected on some railings and windows at the theme park.

One Times-Standard commenter proposed a simple enough solution: “WASH YOUR HANDS and don’t lick the windows!”

But then how would the eco-extorters make a living?

Sadly, Humboldt does not appear to be occupying Wall Street

We got our hopes up this morning when we saw the following on

Daniel Mintz of MoveOn.Org said he was planning to deliver to Mayor Bloomberg more than 350,000 petitions and signatures he received Thursday from supporters around the nation. “The mayor would do a lot better cleaning up Wall Street than cleaning up the plaza,” he said.

Immediately we wondered–was this our Daniel Mintz, Humboldt County freelance reporter?

Another dream dashed, it appears. Evidently this is a Daniel Mintz from Brooklyn, NY. So much for getting some quality firsthand reporting from the birthplace of democracy.

Special interest group urges supes to ignore special interest groups

"Hypocrisy is a fashionable vice, and all fashionable vices pass for virtue.”

Anti-development special interest group Healthy Humboldt sent a guest opinion piece to the Times-Standard exhorting the board of supervisors to disregard input from special interest groups.

Using similar logic, the authors–Dan Ehresman and the ubiquitous Jen Kalt–argued that removal of the man who has bollixed the General Plan Update for the last 12 years could bollix the General Plan Update.

Encouraged by the letter’s publication, the two decided their well developed sense of dramatic irony would be better employed writing French farce, so they departed at once for the 17th Century.

Okay okay, not really.

‘Occupy Wall Street’ for Dummies

The victim of class warfare on the right can't remember where he left the sign that reads "Occupy the Large Vacant Space Between My Ears," although the snazzy hat conveys roughly the same idea.

For those of you wondering what this “Occupy Wall Street” thing is all about, look no further than the prolific Richard Salzman, who has stepped away from whatever criminal activities he’s on to now to enlighten us.

He explains in a letter to the North Coast Journal that protesters “are using their First Amendment Rights to fight back at the class war that’s been waged for two generations or more by Wall Street bankers and corporate America against working Americans.”

So yay protesters! Because if you can just get all those bad corporations shut down, there will be a lot fewer working Americans to defend.


The best ‘Best of Humboldt’

After years of reading the North Coast Journal’s “Best of Humboldt” list for its sedative qualities–“Best Pot Plant,” “Best Thought Andrew Goff Had Today,” “Best Descended Testicle”–*yawn*–both of our readers suggested we put together a list of our own.

Without further ado:

Best Ending to a 50-Year Job Search: If anyone’s wondered whatever happened to Humboldt County’s most unsympathetic homeless person, he has turned into Humboldt County’s most unlikely security guard! Congratulations Tad Robinson for landing a night watchman gig at the Old Creamery Building in Arcata. Peace be with you, taxpayer!!

Best ‘Personnel Matter’ Ending in a Contract Termination ‘Without Cause’: Former Eureka Police Chief Garr Nielsen had this one in the bag heading into last week–and then BAM! Out of nowhere came David Hull’s abrupt termination after 15 years as Harbor Commission CEO. One difference between the two is that Hank Sims has yet to tell us the last one is going to be A VERY BIG DEAL, which he said about the first one 15 seconds before no one gave a shit anymore.

Best Legislative Field Aide: This hotly contested category ended in a photo-finish tie for first between Wes Chesbro rep John Woolley’s eyebrows. Mike Thompson’s Humboldt aide, John Driscoll, was an exceedingly distant third.

Best Peacemaker: Among Kirk Girard’s lesser-known qualities is his ability to bring together individuals from across the political spectrum, such as he did with his recent multi-family rezoning plan. That they all came together to oppose the plan diminishes his achievement only slightly but perhaps explains why Girard did not get the nod in the Best Community Development Disservices Director category.

Best Lucrative Business Diversification: The Environmental Protection Information Center, long known for its massive marijuana production and distribution network, has recently expanded into the highly profitable field of environmental litigation. Good job, EPIC!

Best New Editor of the North Coast Journal who’s not a complete a whack job: Carrie Peyton-Dahlberg–but friends, this one’s not over yet! Reportedly what the former Sac Bee writer lacks in psychopathy she may be making up for in condescending arrogance. Said one Mirror reader: “Someone please tell her moving here from Sacramento doesn’t give her intellectual authority over us slow-witted locals. It’s fucking Sacramento, ok? She may have been smart for leaving it, but let’s not forget she was dumb enough to be there in the first place.” Point made.

Best Business ‘Progessives’ Hate: Move over, Home Depot. Forget about it, Walmart. Say hello to Coast Central Credit Union, a local business whose success has incurred the wrath of local whiny-ass free-market losers. How deep does the Prog animosity run? Andrew Bird has reported “moving his assets” to another institution. Look the hell out now, CCCU!! When Andy Bird and his $30k a year salary walk away, YOU’RE FUCKED.

That’s it for now. Send your nominations for next year to