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Is Ken Ham literate?

It’s an open question. He’s quite irate with me for stating the truth, which he says is a lie, while confirming that I was accurate.

One atheist blogger is claiming that I was wrong to write on Wednesday that Rachel Maddow of MSNBC TV declared that our Ark Encounter would be built using taxpayer money (through tax incentives). The blogger (PZ Myers) stated:

"He [Ken Ham] declares that no Kentucky taxpayer money is being used to construct the Ark Encounter, but that is a claim no one made. Maddow says quite clearly several times that the Ark Park has been given $43 million in tax incentives — that is, Answers in Genesis has been exempted from a requirement to pay taxes on their for-profit enterprise, and will also receive rebates on sales taxes. So all Ham has done is rebut a claim that Rachel Maddow did not make."

Well, judge for yourself. At the beginning of her mocking rant against us Maddow stated:

"And when the creationist group Answers in Genesis announced their plans to build their Noah’s Ark theme park, the state of Kentucky offered them $43 million dollars in tax incentives for them to build that theme park …".

You can hear Maddow say it for yourself at around the 1:55 mark of the video captured at https://answersingenesis.org/ministry-news/creation-museum/media-coverage/rachels-rant-msnbc/ . The atheist blogger has once again, as such secularists often do, did not tell the truth—and of course Rachel Maddow didn’t tell the truth, either.

I said, and Rachel Maddow said, that Ham received $43 million in tax incentives. We know exactly what that means: he got tax exemptions and rebates that would total $43 million as an incentive to construct his monument to idiocy. So when Ken Ham says we’re lying because no armored cars rolled up to his front door and unloaded big canvas bags with dollar signs printed on them, he is replying to a claim we did not make. Which I also clearly said in that bit of mine that he quoted.

You know, on the cop shows when a suspect is accused of X, and he immediately starts blustering “I did not do Y!”, you kind of suspect that he’s guilty of something. What is Ken Ham hiding?

Comments

  1. Trebuchet says

    Exactly what is the difference between not having to pay $43M in taxes, and being handed $43M in tax dollars? Either way, the taxpayers are out $43M.

  2. edmond says

    Ham is adding to what Maddow said, through his parenthetical.

    Ham says: “Rachel Maddow of MSNBC TV declared that our Ark Encounter would be built using taxpayer money (through tax incentives).”

    Here are her actual words:

    “The state of Kentucky offered them $43M in tax incentives for them to build that theme park.”

    Ham seems to be trying to say that Maddow IMPLIED that tax incentives are the same thing as using taxpayer money. They are not the same thing, of course, and Maddow said no such thing. He can only get in a dig at his opponents by lying about what they said, and by altering their actual words.

  3. says

    I don’t know if Ken Ham is literate, but I think he is hoping his readers are. It says “though tax incentives” in his own writing, and that is true.

  4. futurechemist says

    @1 I agree that this seems to be an argument about semantics.

    Does it matter if Kentucky gave Ken Ham $43 million, or gave him a $43 million discount on his future taxes, or an extra $43 million tax refund, or some other permutation? However the beans are counted, Ken Ham is paying less money because the state of Kentucky – funded by taxpayers – is paying more.

  5. screechymonkey says

    “Is Ken Ham literate?”

    Well, when you believe that there’s only one book worth reading, it does tend to limit your abilities in that area.

  6. says

    Of course, any kind of tax exemption is also something that the people who are paying tax pay for, indirectly – their taxes must make up the shortfall.

    Ham is essentially receiving a loan from the tax payer, on the (presumably, ill-advised) gamble that his project will be good for the economy. So even the inflated claim that he rebuts is actually a sound claim.

  7. U Frood says

    Is he claiming that he did not receive those incentives? Does Kentucky need to send him a bill for unpaid taxes?

  8. U Frood says

    @4 There IS a difference in that if he never makes enough money to owe $43 million in taxes, the incentive is worth less.

    Then again, if they’d just handed him $43 million, wouldn’t he owe income taxes on that? The incentives might be worth more….

  9. Menyambal says

    @1. The way I understand it, it isn’t that the taxpayers have given Ham money now, it is that IF the park ever gets up and running in the future, he will not have to pay state taxes on that future income.

    He still has to drum up money for construction, because the state has NOT given him any money. When, if ever, he makes money, he does not have to give any of it to the state … until after he has $43 million worth of taxes not paid, then he has to pay taxes on earnings after that.

    The state is out nothing, as of now. If the park fails, there is no loss to the state. If it booms up big, it will be paying taxes for as long as it is open, once the $43 mill goes by, so the state profits. Only if it goes along slow, and never owes much more than $43 mill, can the state be said to have lost out in any way.

    But for now, the state gets jobs for construction, and all those folks pay taxes. Only if the state is itself paying for building roads to the park can it be said to be out money now. If the park just trudges along, and never pays tax, each customer will still be buying Kentucky goods and services, and paying Kentucky taxes, as will the employees, other than Ken Ham.

    It’s a standard way to attract business to a state, it isn’t some whacked-out Ham trick. The amount and the chances of it paying off may be screwed up, but it is a lot cheaper that building a stadium to attract a major sports team.

    All Kentucky has done is agreed to not tax the park for a while. Which is still stupid, because where else was Ham gonna go? His museum is there, and it is the middle of the customer base. Kentucky should have jacked him for all the money he had, not given him a promise to go easy on him.

  10. elfsternberg says

    That’s exactly right, Trebuchet: there is no functional difference between a tax break and a federal grant: both ultimately put more money in the recipient of the benefit, to the detriment of the general taxpayer. By describing them as “tax breaks,” we’ve managed to befuddle people into believing they’re not being penalized, it’s just that other people are being penalized less. It’s one of the great lies of the 21st century, but then Ham is all about lies.

  11. moarscienceplz says

    PZ, you are just not thinking like a modern conservative:
    When the gummint taxes you, they are stealing from you! So when Kentucky decided that they would give $43M in tax incentives to ol’ Hambone, you and I see it as money that should have been collected and spent in the service of the people of KY instead being reallocated to a huckster; but to Hammyboy it is money that always has and always will belong to him. So, no taxpayers’ claims even need to come into the equation.

  12. qwerty says

    Ham has to keep saying this to convince his suckers, oops, I mean donors that he isn’t getting government money to build his ark. Otherwise, they might not pony up the money.

    Of course, it doesn’t hurt to say secularists and atheists are lying even when he knows that they are just laying out the facts.

  13. Lofty says

    Only Ham knows he’s never gonna get the $43mil because he’s not going to build the park. Once the suckers donations mount up enough he’ll decamp due to unspecified difficulties and set up shop elsewhere.

  14. screechymonkey says

    Menyambal@9, I don’t think that’s necessarily true.

    You’re assuming that the tax incentives are all in the form of breaks on income taxes. But those aren’t the only kinds of taxes that a business like the Creation Museum would normally have to pay. There are things like property taxes, sales taxes, and other assessments that even unprofitable business pay. I don’t know the exact nature of the tax incentives Kentucky gave them, so your conclusion may be right, but I would not assume it.

  15. screechymonkey says

    Also, even in the case of income taxes, sometimes states issue tax credits that are transferable. (Or, with enough corporate transactions, you can effectively make them so.)

  16. S K says

    Ham is not illiterate at all. Maddow clearly stated that $43 million dollars in tax incentives will help BUILD the theme park. But the state has been clear: Kentucky will not give money to help BUILD the Ark. Listen to Maddow yourself at the 1:55 mark where she makes the false claim that Kentucky is funding the construction of the Ark. If the park is to receive any $ tax incentives from the state, they will come AFTER the park is BUILT, and they will come in the form of a possible rebate of sales taxes collected at the FINISHED park, and only if the park attendance is high (with tourism dollars adding millions of dollars to the state treasury, far offsetting the sales tax rebate that the Ark might keep).
    Maddow is just plain wrong. You don’t have to be a creationist to see her error.

  17. loopyj says

    I guess Ham thinks that payments and rebates are the same thing?

    When you buy a $100 item at 10% off, the seller doesn’t give you $10.

  18. zenlike says

    3 Travis

    I don’t know if Ken Ham is literate, but I think he is hoping his readers are. It says “though tax incentives” in his own writing, and that is true.

    He doesn’t need to hope, just take a look at the commentators on his piece: the prophet has spoken, and they take him at his word, no need to actually go read the source material and check things out for themselves.

    Also, Kenny boy doesn’t seem to provide the link to this blog, but even when he would have done so, he knows full well his flock would not go read it and make up their own minds.

    Kenny isn’t illiterate, he is a conman.

  19. george gonzalez says

    I think Kenny boy is trying to squeeze through by claiming that the tax incentives do not apply to BUILDING the park, only to the profits from it. So in a very literal sense he is right.

    But only in a strictly literal sense. The tax incentives are considerable help to him getting financing for the park. The incentives will make his profit predictions considerably larger which will get investors salivating.

    And as for Kentucky eventually getting some taxes back, good luck. The local Walmart got a 10-year tax abatement as an incentive to build and operate in our little village. Guess what business closed down and rebuilt in the next town at exactly the 10-year mark?

  20. says

    Maddow clearly stated that $43 million dollars in tax incentives will help BUILD the theme park.

    The quote from the OP could just as easily be read as the tax breaks being an incentive for building the park, i.e. a bonus that Ham will get if he builds the park, which is exactly what is happening. There’s a straight-forward, plain reading of her words that entirely corresponds to the truth, so what’s the problem?

  21. knowknot says

    21 LykeX
     

    The quote from the OP could just as easily be read as the tax breaks being an incentive for building the park, i.e. a bonus that Ham will get if he builds the park, which is exactly what is happening. There’s a straight-forward, plain reading of her words that entirely corresponds to the truth, so what’s the problem?

    QFT
    “…incentives willhelp build…” can be understood to mean “…funding to build…” only with the aid of the previously mentioned illiteracy.
     
    @6 aggressivePerfector
     

    Ham is essentially receiving a loan from the tax payer, on the (presumably, ill-advised) gamble that his project will be good for the economy.

     
    I can’t see what could go wrong. Religiously-oriented tax breaks have been irrefutably proved to be good for the economy.
    Bhwaahahahahahahaha.
    (thud)
    ((splat))

  22. twas brillig (stevem) says

    [tangent]
    Reading that LEO article about Kenny not getting his “incentives”, I noticed a glaring inconsistency to Hammy’s “mythology”. That being “dinosaurs on a boat [the ark]”. Is Hammy really saying the dinosaurs were herded onto the ark, while elsewhere claiming that the Flood killed all the dinosaurs, that we misdate as the KT boundary? I thought it was Hammy who claims Scientist are so inconsistent and just make up explanations for new facts. Is he doing that very same misbehavior?

  23. says

    Following up on the link provided by jamesheartney in comment #23:

    […] Ark Encounter’s original tax incentive application for potentially $43 million was approved by a Tourism board in May of 2011. This gave them three years to start construction, and whatever Ark Encounter spent on construction, they would be eligible for up to 25 percent of that amount once the park opened in rebates, assuming that the project was an economic success and passed benchmarks. However, that three year period ended this month, and Ark Encounter construction has not yet started, which would mean that they are not eligible for any tax incentives unless they amended or resubmitted an application. And in March, that’s exactly what they did.

    Tourism Cabinet spokesman Gil Lawson tells LEO that on March 28, Ark Encounter representatives withdrew their original application for a $172 million project and resubmitted a new application for a dramatically scaled back $73 million project. If this application is approved — and if Ark Encounter is actually built and meets economic benchmarks — they would only be eligible for a maximum of $18.25 million in tax incentives.

    But that remains a big “if.” Lawson notes that not all applications for tax incentives make their way to the Tourism board for a vote, and just because an application makes its way to the board doesn’t mean that it will be approved. Lawson says that Ark Encounter’s new application is currently being reviewed by the Tourism Cabinet, and it is still far from being scheduled for a vote. Sometimes this process takes a long time (see: Kentucky Kingdom) and sometimes it happens in record speed (see: Ark Encounter from December of 2010 to May of 2011). […]

  24. blf says

    Of course the deal with the cronies isn’t taxpayer funding!
    Confederate dollars are no longer issued.

  25. says

    Being in the UK I didn’t know that, as has been written in the comments above. Until I read the article that was written this week, that the tourist tax incentive is at 25%, so spend $100,000,000 and you can apply for a $25,000,000 tax incentive.

    So it was said with the project being scaled down, the only way they can actually get it built, the tax incentive will be a lot less now.

    But still too much for a shitty zoo that has animals to pet (Presumably mammoths, sabre tooth cats and baby dinosaurs) and an aviary that has “In this paper, using methods previously described, 196 putative bird kinds are identified. Due to the limited information available and the fact that avian taxonomic classifications shift, this should be considered only a rough estimate.”

  26. marko says

    (for the millionth time!!!–well, it seems like the millionth time)

    When creationists start talking about about “millions of times” or “billions of times”…

  27. inquiringlaurence says

    So, Mr. Ham resorts to a blatant strawman. I’m supposed to be surprised?