Sunday, December 31, 2006

Quote of the day from Murfreesboro Vice Mayor

Link

"We always try to do what people want," he said. "But the day is coming when it will be more difficult to make those requests happen."


The day may be coming when it will not be difficult to find another vice mayor.

Higher taxes in Paradise

Link

Hawai'i's high cost of living is set to rise as a host of taxes and rate increases takes effect with the ringing in of the new year.

O'ahu shoppers will notice it at the cash register with a general excise tax surcharge of 0.5 percentage points being added to their bills.

At service stations, there will be an about 11-cent increase as a state tax break expires. On the docks, it will cost more to bring in a Mainland container and handle it, while monthly Medicare costs will climb.

Those are just some of the increases scheduled as government raises money for a rail system and businesses increase rates to fund improvements or cover other costs. On the flip side, the state is increasing the standard deduction for income taxes and adjusting tax brackets. Gov. Linda Lingle also wants to use $300 million of the state budget surplus for other tax relief. But for now, many people will see an increase in their expenses that could outstrip wage gains.

AP-Tough Year for New Jersey Taxpayers

Link

While 14 other states also increased taxes in 2006, New Jersey alone boosted taxes nearly as much as the entire country cut them. Overall, states cut taxes $2.1 billion in 2006, the report found.

The findings were no surprise to Democratic Gov. Jon S. Corzine who, along with fellow Democratic leaders, approved the tax hikes to close a projected $4.5 billion budget deficit. The move wasn't easy: The legislative dispute around it shut down state government for a week, and caused Atlantic City's casinos to close their doors briefly.

"We have not been managing the finances of the state in a way that is reflective of sound fiscal policy," Corzine, who took office a year ago, said in a recent interview.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Friday, December 29, 2006

Ark Gov-elect fighting to eliminate grocery tax

I wish Gov. Bebe success in eliminating the Arkansas sales tax on groceries and I certainly hope Gov. Bredesen will follow his lead.

Link
"Specifically, the Democrat (Gov-elect) says he wants the support of incoming House Speaker Benny Petrus.

"He's been very forthcoming and candid that he doesn't want to do it," Beebe told radio station KARN's "First News" program on Thursday. "I've been very forthcoming and candid that I do want to do it."

"Petrus, D-Stuttgart, has said he would rather see a targeted rebate or refund for those with middle and low incomes instead of an overall grocery tax cut. Beebe, elected in November, campaigned on phasing out the six-cent tax over time."

Comptroller: US Govt failed 10th straight audit

Link

Letter to Washington Post Editor from US Comptroller:

The largest employer in the world announced on Dec. 15 that it lost about $450 billion in fiscal 2006. Its auditor found that its financial statements were unreliable and that its controls were inadequate for the 10th straight year. On top of that, the entity's total liabilities and unfunded commitments rose to about $50 trillion, up from $20 trillion in just six years.

If this announcement related to a private company, the news would have been on the front page of major newspapers. Unfortunately, such was not the case -- even though the entity is the U.S. government.

To put the figures in perspective, $50 trillion is $440,000 per American household and is more than nine times as much as the median household income.

The only way elected officials will be able to make the tough choices necessary to put our nation on a more prudent and sustainable long-term fiscal path is if opinion leaders state the facts and speak the truth to the American people.

The Government Accountability Office is working with the Concord Coalition, the Brookings Institution, the Heritage Foundation and others to help educate the public about the facts in a professional, nonpartisan way. We hope the media and other opinion leaders do their part to save the future for our children and grandchildren.

DAVID M. WALKER

Comptroller General of the United States

Government Accountability Office

Washington

Poll: 16% believe Fed Govt reflects will of people

Rasmussen Poll Link

"Just 16% of voters believe that the federal government today reflects the will of the American people. A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 Likely Voters found that 68% disagree. Those figures reflect a sharp decline from the 1990s when more than 30% of voters routinely thought that government reflected the will of the people."

Data beginning to flow into Ethics Commission

Tom Humphrey article on new data required by new ethics law:

Article Link

In State Lobbying Events

Lobbyists Disclosure of Immediate Family Members Who Are Public Officials/Candidates

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Disparities in power will dwarf disparities in income

More brilliance from Thomas Sowell.

Link

"Today's "progressives" want to expand political control of incomes even more. They call it "social justice" but you could call it Rumpelstiltskin and it would still mean politicians deciding how much money each of us can be allowed to have.

It is also worth noting that the people who are said to be earning "obscene" amounts of money are usually corporate executives. There is no such outrage whipped up when Hollywood movie stars make some multiple of what most corporate executives make.

This is social or ideological bias added to envy and ignorance. It makes quite a witches' brew on which to base national policy.

Lofty talk about "social justice" or "fairness" boils down to greatly expanded powers for politicians, since those pretty words have no concrete definition. They are a blank check for creating disparities in power that dwarf disparities in income -- and are far more dangerous."

Mayor Bragg to citizens: Back the hell OFF!!

Why do elected officials act as if they have a set of interests and priorities that are completely different and many times in total contradiction to the interests of the citizens who elected them? Economists have a number of theories about this, most prominent of which is Public Choice Theory. Basically, this theory says that although public officials are elected to represent the interests of the citizens, they, in fact, continue to act in their own self interest after they are elected. (Yes, it is obvious but what else are economists going to do with their time?)

Tommy Bragg is the Mayor of Murfreesboro and the current President of the Tennessee Municipal League. So it falls his lot to "represent" the "interests" of local elected officials. "Why", you ask, "would we need a group to represent the interests of local officials?" Wouldn't they be the same as the local citizens they represent?

The taxpayers of Murfreesboro pay the dues to the Tennessee Municipal League for the City of Murfreesboro. What do the taxpayers of Murfreeboro and taxpayers of all other TML member cities get in return for these dues?

Mayor Bragg and TML actively oppose any changes in the Open Records and Open Meeting Laws to make local government more open and transparent.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Monday, December 25, 2006

New AG argued against State Income Tax

Link

"He also continued writing. From a state policy perspective, one of the most notable examples was a 1992 Tennessee Bar Journal article that argued a state income tax as proposed by then-Gov. Ned McWherter would violate Tennessee's constitution - a contrast to official opinions issued by other attorneys general."

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Talked too loud on cell: Kicked out of Waffle House

Link

The Waffle House managers may not be talking about the store's policy on cell phone etiquette, but the customers certainly are.

"Nobody wants to hear somebody talking over their cell phone," says Ken Wilson. "The best thing you can do if you want to use your cell phone is to step outside."

Lee Walker agrees with Wilson. "Sometimes you can be kind of loud on a cell phone," he says. Voices do carry. And if someone's trying to enjoy a meal, I think they should at least tone it down."

That's something William Arnold says he'll keep in mind next time he's dining and dialing.

"I'll continue to use my mobile phone," he says. "But, you know, I'll also use some courtesy and discretion depending on where I'm at."

Arnold says loud music was playing on the juke box inside the Waffle House restaurant and his voice was a bit louder than normal because of that. He says he tried to explain that to the manager and feels he was treated unfairly.

Pelosi says NO to more C-span coverage

In an earlier post about C-span requesting more flexibility in their TV coverage of The US House, I was hopeful Pelosi would allow more transparency. Unfortunately she has used her power, which is granted to her by the citizens, to prohibit more coverage.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Most Donated clothes don't go to poor

Link

Wake up and smell the money. Your used clothes are usually sold, not given away.

According to various estimates, here's what happens to your clothing giveaways. In most cases, a small amount of the items, the best quality castoffs — less than 10 percent of donations — are kept by the charitable institutions and sold in their thrift shops to other Americans looking for a bargain. These buyers could be people who are hard up, or they could be folks who like the idea of a good deal on a stylish old item that no longer can be found in regular stores.

The remaining 90 percent or more of what you give away is sold by the charitable institution to textile recycling firms. Bernard Brill, of the Secondary Recycled Textiles Association, told ABC News: "Our industry buys from charitable institutions, hundred of millions of dollars worth of clothing every year."

Track Tennessee Arrivals and Departures

Chattanooga Airport Flight Tracking

Nashville Airport Flight Tracking

Memphis Airport Flight Tracking

Knoxville Airport Flight Tracking

Chattanooga now has TDOT Traffic Cams

Chattanooga Traffic Cams

Nashville Traffic Cams

Knoxville Traffic Cams

Memphis Traffic Cams (West Memphis only)

Other TN Web Cams

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Embarrassing? He probably hasn't returned the check

Great article in the WaPo about agricultural subsidies. These subsidies are not now and never were about preserving family farms, they are about funneling taxpayer dollars to groups that have huge lobbying and campaign contribution budgets.

John Phipps of Chrisman, Ill., harvested nearly 170,000 bushels of corn and soybeans last year on two square miles of fertile soil. He grossed nearly $500,000, putting his farm in the nation's top 3 percent. Still, he received $120,000 in subsidies.

"It's embarrassing," Phipps said. "My government is basically saying I am incompetent and need help.

Several hundred miles northwest, Thomas Oswald farms the same Iowa fields that his relatives worked more than a century ago. The land he rents is about one-third the size of Phipps's, and Oswald's subsidies are much smaller. Oswald contends that federal payments are helping to fuel a spike in land prices that favors the wealthy."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

PILOTs flying Memphis into the ground

Property taxes are so high in Memphis that new businesses are very unlikely to locate there. So...what to do? Lower taxes for everyone? Naaaaahhh.

You authorize three different local government agencies to give lower taxes to selected businesses. This program is called PILOT, an acronym for payment-in-lieu-of-taxes. It is an open invitation to corruption by empowering local politicians to pick and choose who gets lower taxes. PILOTs also transfer the tax burden away from these new businesses to homeowners and make future hikes more likely. PILOTs are awful, terrible public policy.

Monday, December 18, 2006

WRONG, it's the other way around

The title of this article in the Memphis Business Jrnl reads:

State tax collections miss budget estimate

it should read:

Budget Estimate misses State Tax Collections

Its seems silly to base the State Budget on an "expert" prediction of what revenue is likely to be, which is always wrong of course, and not on the actual amount of collections from the previous year.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Government does NOT create prosperity

Guy yells at politician saying he wants a job, politician looks at him and says "wash and shave"....guy washes and shaves and viola, he gets a job.

It makes me cringe when I hear people talk about the "Bush" economy or the "Clinton" economy. GOVERNMENT DOES NOT CREATE PROSPERITY, we the citizens create our own prosperity. What we need government to do is preserve our freedom to choose whatever employment or business opportunity we believe is best for us.

1 in 4 Cubans think tyrannical dictatorship is great

Gallup says 1 in 4 Cubans think they have plenty of Freedom. Of course Gallup offers a few wee caveats about the survey. Nothing serious really, just that they can't get enough food for their canvassers so they had to terminate the survey. Other than that and people being afraid of imprisonment for speaking their minds I am sure this is a very valid reflection of the state of mind of these oppressed people who have been ruled with an iron fist for 46 years and daily risk their lives to escape.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Will Pelosi allow more C-span coverage?

Speaker-to-be Pelosi and the new Democratic leadership have made some very interesting policy proposals about eliminating earmarks for a year and creating a more transparent appropriations process. Talk is cheap and we will see what happens but it will be interesting to see how Pelosi responds to this C-span request for more flexibility in covering the House.

Why keep an unenforceable tax around?

According to this report only 1,918 use tax returns have been filed so far in 2006. Anyone who lives in Tennessee is supposed to file a use tax return anytime they purchase an item online from a merchant outside the State. Clearly, many millions of online purchases have been made by Tennesseans this year and the huge majority have not filed a use tax return because of the hassle and time involved.

Why does the Dept of Revenue self righteously wag their finger at the citizens each year and tell us we should be paying a tax for which there is no easy and reasonable collection mechanism? Clearly, Tennessee has been balancing the State budget for many years without this uncollected and unenforceable tax. Why don't our elected representatives simply admit the obvious and eliminate this tax?

That would be too easy, of course. Government has an unquenchable appetite for our money and they will soon be reaching across State lines via the Streamlined Sales Tax. Our own Department of Revenue is playing a major role in this project.

Want to reduce poverty? Then reduce tax rates

Link
"Using data from the Census Bureau, the report found that states with the lowest tax rates enjoyed sizable decreases in poverty. For example, the 10 states with the lowest total state and local tax burdens saw an average poverty reduction of 13 percent - two times better than the national average. The 10 highest-tax states, meanwhile, suffered an average increase in poverty of 3 percent."
Lower tax burden means more economic growth which means more jobs which means less poverty.

Friday, December 15, 2006

520 Tax earmarks

Sunlight Foundation has the story .

Here is a list of all 520 along with the name of the member who proposed them and the company that requested them.

Chambers of Commerce LOVE tax hikes!!

Why, you ask? Because, in many cases, they get some of the money:

The board requested the state legislature approve a private act increasing the local tax from four percent to seven percent.

According to City Recorder Bill Lyons the revenue generated through the lodging tax, approximately $34,000 in the 2005-06 budget year, is divided equally among the city general fund, the Rogersville Heritage Association and the Rogersville/Hawkins County Chamber of Commerce.

“The good thing about this is it is not a tax that burdens the community,” Nancy Barker, executive director of the chamber of commerce said. “This tax is paid by people who come in and lodge in our city, and it is a tax that people who stay in hotels are accustomed to paying.”
"Not a tax that burdens the community" ? Ok, well heck, if that is the case let's raise that sucker to 50% and raise some REAL money for the Chamber of Commerce.

Seriously, this is all pretty depressing. Chambers of Commerce were once a bastion of the free market principles. They have morphed into just another special interest group looking for a taxpayer handout.

Thank YOU! New York Times

In an otherwise interesting article on Census data showing new trends, the New York Times informs us that the government has not done all of our thinking for us:
"Most of the statistical tables, which come from a variety of government and other sources, are presented raw, without caveats; and because the abstract is so concrete, the statistics can suggest false precision. The table of consumer products involved in injuries does not explain, for example, that one reason nearly as many injuries involve beds as bicycles is that more people use beds."

French rock star leaves France to protest taxes

Top selling French Rock Star Johnny Hallyday is moving to Switzerland to avoid high French taxes.

Much like Bono, who moved his music business to avoid higher taxes.

By the way, what does it say about France when their top selling rock star is 63 years old???

Fed Govt Rule making flow chart

Who should make decisions about your best interests?

You?

or

The Federal government?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

"nuts" who are "too rich"

Doug Goddard is the lobbyist for the Tennessee County Commissioners Association. He lobbies for the County Commissioners who are elected by the citizens. So what has he done for Tennessee citizens lately?

Here is an AP report on how he opposed the new open meetings law which was killed last session: "Doug Goddard, executive director of the Tennessee County Commissioners Association, called open-meetings violations isolated incidents and said the proposed changes would go too far.

Setting a penalty for violations could scare off qualified candidates from seeking office, Goddard said. "You're just going to have nuts out there who want to burden local governments," he said.

Here is an AP report on his meeting with Senator Norris yesterday where he said, "The head of the county commissioners group in Tennessee says local governments won't join a program to freeze property taxes for elderly property owners if the Legislature makes it "too rich."

About that famous tea party

Link
The legendary Tea Party strikes us as quaint, almost childish: men disguising themselves as Indians, like kids on Halloween, then stealing out one night to destroy a shipment of tea. And all over a tax so tiny we smile. (Or so we think.) Oh, for problems as simple as our forefathers'!

But we actually confront the same problem. The issue was not taxation, with or without representation. The evil that sparked the Boston Tea Party stalks us today: the alliance of money, power, and weapons that subjugates the many for the benefit of the few. We call it fair trade, protectionism, corporatism, the military-industrial complex. The colonists knew it as mercantilism and fought it in the British East India Tea Company.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What? A temporary tax that might not be temporary

Link

NC Gov Mike Easley: "The question I want to ask the legislature is: `Is there something we'd rather do with the quarter percent other than just drop it?"

I could just kiss Spring Hill's balking board

Super Target developer asks for taxpayer help; city says no


Maybe, just maybe our Metro Davidson Council will draw inspiration from Spring Hill....which by the way was the first city in Tennessee to pass a Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

The Drama continues in New Jersey

It is fascinating to watch the Democratic majority in the New Jersey Assembly struggling to come up with a way to reduce the property tax burden. They have been in a special session for five weeks and it appears now they will not meet their self imposed "deadline" of year end for action.

Much like the Republicans in the US Congress who became more beholden to special interests than taxpayers, the NJ Dems know that public employee unions produce millions of dollars of contributions for Democratic candidates and thousands of man hours of campaign work and they are very reluctant to offend the unions, they are much more likely to offend taxpayers.

Of course tax decisions are really decisions about spending and how to make hard decisions about prioritizing which expenditures are more important than others. Legislative bodies are rarely able to distinguish among spending priorities.

It ain't looking good for New Jersey Property Taxpayers.

...for now

Democrats will freeze earmarks for now.

My prediction: earmarks will be back by Jan 30 and for the full year of 2007 there will be as many or more earmarks than there were in 2006.

Mexico taxes soft drinks to offset lower oil revenues

Mexico will tax soft drinks to offset lower oil revenues.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Taxpayers funding their own opposition

The TML (Texas Municipal League) will "vigorously oppose" legislation that allows Texas citizens to vote on property tax increases.

One thing you learn very quickly when you get involved in the legislative process (state and local) is that MOST of the support for tax increases comes from within the government. Associations of government officials pay for lobbyists to lobby AGAINST the very taxpayers who provide the dues to fund these organizations.

Who owns New Jersey?

Very Interesting analysis of the effort to give New Jersey Taxpayers some relief......New Jersey has the highest property taxes in the nation. The total State and Local Tax burden is also among the highest. Gov. Corzine has promised tax relief (after he raised taxes, after he promised NOT to raise taxes) but the State Teachers Unions is fighting against any tax relief, however small. The teacher's union and the other public employee unions are VERY powerful politically in NJ as they are in all other states.....will the taxpayers get relief? My prediction is NO, the taxpayers just don't have as much clout in the New Jersey State Legislature as the unions.

Do as I Legislate, not as I do

Link

"Georgia revenue officials are seeking to dock the legislative pay of three state lawmakers for failing to pay their income taxes, a problem that has plagued several others in the General Assembly in recent years.

State tax officials have set their sights on three Democrats in the House : Reps. Al Williams of Midway; LaNett Stanley-Turner of Atlanta; and Joe Heckstall of East Point, according to records obtained through Georgia's Open Records Act.

They are among at least 11 lawmakers from both parties — including a committee chairman — who have fallen behind paying taxes to the state they represent since 2003.

"Most people expect those that we entrust to make the laws to uphold them and that does include being right by the tax laws," said Bill Bozarth, executive director of Common Cause Georgia, a government watchdog group. "It should cause their constituents to look at them more closely."

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Crushing your competition with BIG Govt

Great article in the Washington Post about how the farm lobby crushed a farmer who had the audacity to produce and sell milk at a lower price. Competition and Free Enterprise are the source of our extraordinary wealth in the United States and yet lobbyists are paid millions every day to promote the passage of laws that restrict freedom in the market place.

In addition, labor unions spend millions to pass laws to protect their legal monopolies in the labor market. So called "consumer groups" spend millions to lobby for laws that restrict our choices in the market place. And all the while our precious freedoms slip away.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Thank YOU!! Reps Blackburn, Cooper and Duncan

Earmark Reform was defeated again yesterday as Congress wrapped up the session. Only three of our TN US Representatives voted FOR the taxpayers and FOR reform of the disgusting earmarking process. Rep Cooper was one of only two Democrats who voted FOR reform. Representatives Zack Wamp and Bill Jenkins were among the 140 Republicans who voted AGAINST reform.

Here is the Instapundit Report.

Here is the vote.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Are you being watched?

Interesting link HERE which finds hundreds of security camera links on Google.

FBI public corruption investigations

Link

"Over the last two years, the FBI has convicted more than 1,060 government employees involved in corrupt activities, to include 177 federal officials, 158 state officials, 360 local officials, and more than 365 police officers. In FY 2005 alone, the Public Corruption Program saw a 25% increase in public corruption cases investigated, resulting in 890 indictments, 759 convictions, and 2,118 cases still pending. There are 622 agents currently working public corruption matters, an increase of 264 since 2002.


One investigation to note is the Phoenix Division’s Lively Green investigation. This involved up to 99 indictable subjects who used their positions in the military to facilitate the smuggling of several hundred kilograms of cocaine across the U.S./Mexican border."

FEMA still squandering millions

Link

"The GAO audit found that numerous aid applicants received duplicate
rental aid, with FEMA in one case providing free apartments to 10
people in Plano, Texas, while sending them $46,000 to cover
out-of-pocket housing expenses.

Another $20 million was wasted on thousands of individuals who claimed
the same property damage from both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. FEMA
also paid at least $3 million to more than 500 ineligible foreign
students in the stricken Gulf Coast, the report said."


Memphis Annexation Rejected

Good news for thousands of Shelby County residents who were about to be swallowed up by the City of Memphis and have their property tax bills almost double as a result. The Memphis City Council decided not to proceed with the annexation which  almost certainly would have been challenged in court. Congrats to all the citizens in these areas who banded together and raised their voices .

This is a good time to remind ourselves that ALL the POWER, ALL the AUTHORITY, and ALL the MONEY which government possesses is granted to it BY THE CITIZENS.

Government has NO authority and NO Power and NO MONEY unless the people authorize such power and authority and money.

Good Grief!!

In Knoxville they are giving tax breaks to grocery stores. This is corporate welfare, pure and simple. PILOTs or payments in lieu of taxes simply transfer the tax burden from corporations to homeowners. This opens the door to all sorts of political corruption and shady dealings AND HIGHER TAXES!!!

How about giving TAXPAYERS a break!!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The scariest words a politician can say:

"I have lots of things I want to accomplish"

Governor Phil Bredesen has lots of things he wants to accomplish: 1- a massive expansion of Pre-k, 2- Many different variants of expanded health care coverage to be explored in the wake of TennCare reform, and 3- increased funding for education, both k-12 and higher ed just to name a few (without commenting on the efficacy of these programs.)

The taxpayers of Tennessee deserve to know, in detail, HOW these items will affect the long term fiscal health of the State of Tennessee Budget.

Governor Bredesen, like everyone you have good intentions. Unlike everyone else you have an extraordinary amount of power to use taxpayer money to fund your good intentions. You also have an extraordinary responsibility to inform taxpayers how much your good intentions will impact the tax portion of our family budgets long term.

Creating a "crisis", by overspending, is a favorite tactic of those who want to raise taxes or impose a State Income tax. Taxpayers demand detailed information about the long term impact of the funding required for your many good intentions. We need to know NOW!


Farm subsidies in Tennessee

Want to know where millions of our tax dollars are going?

Try the Farm subsidy database.

For example, here are the top recipients of Federal Farm Subsidies in Tennessee for 1995-2004.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Friday, December 01, 2006

Dusting of Snow in Sewanee

Looking at webcams around the state, the only snow I see is a slight dusting in Sewanee (fullstreaming video).

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Total TN Gas Tax = 40 cents/gal

Senator Norris doesn't think we, the citizens of Tennessee, are paying enough gas tax. The current State gas tax is 21.4 cents and the Federal portion is 18.4 cents per gallon.

So, we are now paying 40 cents/gallon. How much more would you be willing and able to pay?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Poll: 85% of TNseans opposed State Property Tax

In a Jan. 7, 2001 Tennessean article Bonna de la Cruz reported on a Mason-Dixon Poll:

"When Tennesseans were asked whether they favor a state property tax, 85% said no and just 7% said yes."

Recently the State Comptroller, John Morgan went public with a plan for a state property tax.

Surely Mr Morgan is aware of this 2001 poll. Why then would he promote a "reform" plan so clearly and overwhelmingly unpopular? Hmmmmmm???

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Taxpayer dollars funding higher taxes

This report from the Chattanooga-TimesFreePress is just another depressing example of government moving farther away the citizens. Rather than making their case directly to the local citizens for higher taxes and more money, the local bureaucrats and politicians find it much easier to go directly to their friendly bureaucrat in the Federal Government. Unlike local elected officials, the DC bureaucrats have dispensed with any pretense that they are answerable to the people.

I commented earlier on a similar report from Channel 2 Reporter Trent Seibert on a report from The Tennessee Center for Policy Research.


Interesting new video web site - www.LiveLeak.com

Live: broadcast while happening or being performed
Leak: to disclose secret, esp. official, information anonymously, as to the news media

German WeatherLady can't stop laughing

We Owe More than we make

"...the Center for American Progress, a liberal-minded think tank, has
crunched data from the Federal Reserve and found that Americans for
the first time owe more money than they make.

According to the center, average household debt levels topped average
after-tax income by more than 29 percent as of this summer. Moreover,
the average family is now spending 14.4 percent of its disposable
income on debt repayments -- the largest share since the Fed began
collecting such data in 1980."

Link

British Bureaucrats lose it completely

Link

"A SPICY sausage known as the Welsh Dragon will have to be renamed after trading standards’ officers warned manufacturers that they could face prosecution because it does not contain dragon."


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

60k and 50k Senior income limit proposed

Bills are starting to be filed for the 105th session of the Tennessee General Assembly starting January 9, 2007.

Two bills have been proposed to implement the Senior Property Tax Relief just passed as a Constitutional Amendment. The Norris Bill proposes a $50,000 income limit and the Maddox/Jackson Bill proposes a $60,000 income limit. Anyone over 65 whose income from all sources is above these limits would not qualify for the property tax freeze when and if their local city/county implemented the freeze.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Madisonville drops Annexation after citizens protest

Unlike Murfreesboro, Jackson and countless other TN cities who don't care if citizens are opposed to annexation, City of Madisonville alderman actually listen and they voted to "forget" about the annexation. The one alderman who voted to continue with the annexation said the other aldermen should have supported the planning commission instead of the citizens???

Link

"But the crowd wasn't to be swayed. One woman declared her house
insurance was only $500 to start with and when asked for a show of
hands who didn't want to be annexed into the city, every hand in the
room shot up.

Faced with such overwhelming opposition, Moser made the motion to
"forget about the annexation." Alderman Irad Lee seconded the motion and all voted to drop the idea except for Bill Spradlin.

Georgia lawmakers consider nixing income tax

Link

House Republicans meeting to elect their leaders for the coming legislative session pledged Monday to "dismantle the current tax code" and consider scrapping the politically unpopular personal income tax.

Republicans have already established several study committees and other initiatives to look into reforming the state's tax structure.

"And when (House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Larry O'Neal) gets to that portion on the personal income tax, maybe we'll just leave that section out and we won't have that anymore in this state," House Majority Leader Jerry Keen, R-St. Simons Island, said to loud applause during a GOP caucus meeting Monday.

House Speaker Glenn Richardson, R-Hiram, said after the caucus meeting that income tax revenues make up about half the state's budget, which totals $16.7 billion in the fiscal year that ends June 30. He suggested that the plan could involve elimination of some of the exemptions to the sales tax.

Just doing away with the sales-tax exemptions wouldn't be enough, said Alan Essig, the executive director of the nonpartisan Georgia Policy and Budget Institute, which supports closing sales-tax loopholes as part of tax reform.

Monday, November 13, 2006

61% think they hurt the Economy, 16% say help

Link

November 11, 2006

There are many reasons that Republicans lost control of Congress last week. On one level, people just didn’t think Congress was doing its job very well.
However, it is also clear that the GOP lost its edge on an issue that
Ronald Reagan once claimed solely for the Republicans—taxes.

Americans today still hold views similar to those that brought Reagan to the
White House—61% believe that tax hikes are bad for the economy. Just
16% believe they help the economy (see crosstabs).
But, in the Reagan era, Republicans were seen as the protector of tax
cuts while Democrats were painted as always seeking more revenue for
government. A Rasmussen Reports survey finds that the distinction is no
longer clear in the public mind.

Heading into Election
2006, 45% of voters believed that taxes would go up if Democrats won
control of Congress. Just 12% thought Democrats in control would lead
to lower taxes.

However, while concern about tax hikes
remained on voters’ minds, they didn’t see Republicans as all that
different. Thirty-two percent (32%) of voters believed that Republican
control of Congress would lead to higher taxes and just 13% thought the
GOP would enact further tax cuts.

Among the general
public, Republicans remain more zealous than others about the benefits
of lower taxes—74% of Republicans believe that higher taxes hurt the
economy. But, that view is shared by a majority of Democrats (51%) and
unaffiliated (57%) voters.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Newspaper's Cut-it-out tax protest coupon

Don't think I have ever seen anything like THIS before. The Edmonton Sun newspaper is publishing a Cut-it-out coupon that readers can cut out and send to the newspaper to protest a proposed property tax hike. The newspaper then forwards the coupons on to the mayor and council.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Rutherford Cntians ask city to stop being a BULLY

Here is the report on NewsChannel 5 from last night.

Fox 17 Report on the Charter Amendment

Here is a the Fox 17 Report on the Charter Amendment from last night.

Spending gone Buck Wild - Tues Nov 14 at 5:30

This is a great opportunity to hear from an expert on the painful details about how the Republican controlled Congress spent our money like there was no tomorrow. I encourage you to attend if at all possible. It's at the Brentwood Holiday Inn just a few minutes South of Downtown Nashville. Survey after survey has confirmed that voters want limited government and lower taxes. Many in the Republican Congress forgot about these core principles and this author, whose book was published before the elections, was more of a prophet than he could have realized. PLEASE come, its at 5:30PM at the Brentwood Holiday Inn on Tuesday, Nov. 14...see you there.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Using taxpayer funded websites for incumbents

As more governments use the web to offer public services, more politicians are using the taxpayer's money to promote themselves on government web sites and increase their power as incumbents.

If you take a look at the city and county websites on the Tennessee Tax Revolt Taxpayer Information Center you find MANY with pictures, and videos which are very thinly veiled promos for incumbent politicians. One of the most obvious and amazing examples is www.BrockHill.org. I don't know if taxpayer money is being used for this site but looking at the content of the website, it is clear that its intent is to be a website for Cumberland County. It has a re-elect Brock Hill graphic at the bottom of the page and I could not find any other web site for Cumberland County. This website is listed as the official Cumberland County website at both the County Mayors Association website and the State of Tennessee website.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

NTU rundown of Tax Related Ballot Measures

 
Out of the 92 state ballot measures reviewed in our 2006 General Election Guide, 79 were non-bond related questions.

Here's how those measures fared (based on yet-to-be-certified results):

Total # Approved # Rejected
Measures that would lower taxes/limit government 46 32 14
Measures that would raise taxes/expand government 33 12 21


Among important taxpayer wins:

Alaska: Rejection of a new tax on natural resources

Arizona: Passage of the Taxpayer Protection Act

California: Rejection of higher cigarette taxes, new energy taxes, a $50 property tax increase, and a publicly-funded campaign finance system

Colorado: strengthening of the rights of citizens to propose ballot measures, and approval of putting a two year hold on former lawmakers before they can lobby

Idaho: rejection of a 1-cent sales tax increase

Louisiana: approval of stopping municipalities from taxing cars on a value basis

Michigan: rejection of a minimum funding level for education

Missouri: rejection of an 80 cent-per-pack cigarette tax increase, and approval of stripping felon lawmakers of their pensions

South Carolina: approval of a restriction on property taxes

Finally, approval of eminent domain reforms in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, and South Carolina.

Thanks to everyone who helped!!

Thanks to everyone who helped with the petition drive to place Charter Amendment No. 1 on the ballot. 77% of Davidson County voters agreed that taxpaying voters should be able to say whether they are willing and able to bear the burden of property tax rate increases. Here is the precinct breakdown. Haven't looked at it real close but on first examination it looks like every precinct in the county approved the amendment.

Requesting Your Medical Insurance Records

How to Request your medical insurance records from the Medical Insurance Bureau.

Requesting Your Medical Insurance Records

How to request your medical Records from the Medical Insurance Bureau.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Carnival of Taxes #6

Great Round-up of Tax blogging.

YES on Metro Nashville Charter Amend. No. 1

YES on Metro Nashville Charter Amend. No. 1

Rational rebuttal of the apocalyptic Stern Report

Link
"Sir Nicholas Stern's report on the economics of climate change, which was published last week, says that the debate is over. It isn't. There are more greenhouse gases in the air than there were, so the world should warm a bit, but that's as far as the "consensus" goes. After the recent hysteria, you may not find the truth easy to believe. So you can find all my references and detailed calculations here.

The Royal Society says there's a worldwide scientific consensus. It brands Apocalypse-deniers as paid lackeys of coal and oil corporations. I declare my interest: I once took the taxpayer's shilling and advised Margaret Thatcher, FRS, on scientific scams and scares. Alas, not a red cent from Exxon."

Interesting Graph of Senate Race Poll Trends

Street Art of Barcelona

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Tennessean reports on Ballot problem

This Tennessean article from today's paper details the problems we found with voters not being notified about the correction notice for our Charter Amendment No. 1.

Here is a summary to bring you up to date: after much negotiation we agreed to a specific ballot wording for the charter amendment summary. Because of an oversight at the election commission the correct wording was NOT placed on the ballot. However, the error was discovered too late and both the sample ballot sent to every voter and the official ballot on voting machines could not be corrected. The ONLY place the ballot appears correctly is the version posted on the Davidson County Election Commission web site HERE (scroll down to page 4).

The election commission proposed placing a notice on each voting machine so voters could see the corrected version. We agreed to this procedure (since there really wasn't much else that could be done) and asked that poll workers notify voters of the notice on the machine since clearly notices don't do any good unless voters know they are there. The problems that our poll watchers have observed is that voters are not being advised about the presence of the notices.

Dennis Ferrier's report from last week indicates the uncorrected ballot language presents a very real problem and, in fact, is confusing voters.

Vote YES on Metro Charter Amendment No. 1

Monday, October 30, 2006

Saturday, October 28, 2006

What to do for Halloween? A Plane Crash!!

Court forces NY Legislators to disclose Pork

Link
"ALBANY, N.Y. — A state judge this week ordered leaders of the state Legislature to disclose the names of lawmakers who decide how $170 million in taxpayer money is spent on pork-barrel projects in their home districts.

The suit filed in Albany’s Supreme Court by the Albany Times Union newspaper claimed Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, violated New York’s Freedom of Information Law by refusing to let the public see computer data that shows the member items each lawmaker obtained and who got the money.

[...]

"The newspaper has reported on a number of member items that raise questions. In one case, hundreds of thousands of dollars were directed from the Republican-led Senate to the North Bronx Westchester Neighborhood Restoration Association controlled by former Republican Sen. Guy Velella, even after his 2004 conviction for taking bribes.

Millions more, almost all from Assembly Democrats, went to the Metropolitan New York Coordinating Council on Jewish Poverty. Its executive director, who makes $273,181 a year, is married to Silver’s chief of staff."

CNN Poll: Govt too big, does too much

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A quarter century after the Reagan revolution and a dozen years after Republicans vaulted into control of Congress, a new CNN poll finds most Americans still agree with the bedrock conservative premise that, as the Gipper put it, "government is not the answer to our problems -- government is the problem."

Friday, October 27, 2006

Bloggers' Guide for Investigating Govt Agencies

The Electronic Freedom Foundation has released the "Bloggers' Guide for Investigating Government Agencies." It is a guide to the FOIA or Freedom of Information Act. Excellent resource for bloggers or anyone else who wants to hold the federal government accountable for the extraordinary amount of power they have over our lives.

Google Blog Search Alerts

Google now has a blog search alert similar to their news alerts. Enter a search term and Google will alert you via email when your search term appears in a blog.

Great new database: Who owns the media?

The Center for Public Integrity has updated and re-launched their media ownership database. You can now search by Zip code. Excellent resource.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

YES on Charter Amend. No. 1 - Chan 4 Report

Dennis Ferrier's report on Channel 4 last night highlighted some of the problems with the ballot wording on our Metro Davidson County property tax charter amendment. Here is the first sentence from the description we agreed to be placed on the ballot after much discussion with Metro legal and the Election Commission:
Davidson County real property tax rates cannot be increased
without the approval of the voters in a referendum election.
However, because of an oversight at the election commission the first sentence voters will see is the sentence proposed by the Metro Legal Department. This sentence is much less descriptive and according to Dennis' report, some voters are confused. PLEASE vote YES on Metro Nashville Charter Amendment No. 1.

The Davidson County Election Commission did agree to post a notice inside each voting machine and also to instruct poll workers to advise voters that revisions were posted on the machine but our reports indicate that poll workers are not advising the great majority of voters about the notices.

Vote YES on Metro Charter Amendment No. 1

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The answer is simply to stop being a rat.

"If we are aggrieved by the rigours of the rat race, the answer is not the clumsy guidance of a paternal state. The answer is simply to stop being a rat."

An excellent article on the silliness and futility of guiding public policy by "what makes us happy." The birthright and the great freedom of every sovereign citizen is for each of us to find "happiness" on our own terms.

Zbiz.tv - Interviews with Entrepreneurs in Startup

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

$4 prescriptions is good, FREE is better

Meijer Discount stores in the Midwest will now offer some common antibiotics for free...take THAT Wal-Mart.

Monday, October 23, 2006

But everyone I know votes that way!!

Interesting article in WaPo about how we tend to associate with those who share our beliefs.
What this ultimately suggests, Small and Smith-Lovin added, is that while organizations and schools and workplaces and neighborhoods and churches may seem to bring together broad mixes of people, they really do not. Organizations play a very powerful role in bringing together similar people and in creating homogenous views on a variety of topics. University professors, for example, are prone to believe in education, financial aid and research, but those views also lead to other beliefs about the importance of government and activism, Smith-Lovin said.

While there is nothing wrong with being around others who are similar to yourself, both Smith-Lovin and Small said that people and organizations pay a price for homogeneity. In politics, for example, the fact that people rarely have friends with different views makes it difficult to seek common ground or to examine one's positions closely.

Choke-a-Duck Stress Reliever


Friday, October 20, 2006

Charter Amendment update #2 - wrong ballot summary

The Ballot Wording on the official ballot, and the sample ballot mailed to voters, is not the wording we agreed to.

I won't bore you with all the details and negotiations (and believe me there were many.) The main point is this: all parties agreed to a four sentence summary of the Charter Amendment to be placed on the ballot followed by the full language of the amendment.

Becasue of an oversight at the Davidson County Election commission, the agreed language is NOT on the ballot. The only place that it appears correctly is on the sample ballot which is online, HERE. The ballot language on the voting machines is not correct and the ballot language in the sample ballots sent to voters is not correct.

The Davidson County Election Commission has agreed to place a notice inside each voting machine with the correct language and we are hopeful this will be helpful to voters.

Here is the correct ballot summary language that we agreed to:
Davidson County real property tax rates cannot be increased
without the approval of the voters in a referendum election.
Either the Mayor or a majority of the Council could authorize
the referendum. There could be only one referendum each
year. The tax rates on real property in effect on November
7, 2006, would be the maximum rates allowed until a
referendum occurs.

Just remember: Vote YES on Metro Charter Amendment No. 1


Charter Amendment update # 1 - Vote YES

Vote YES on Metro Charter Amendment No. 1

1- Delay in sending Davidson County Property Tax Notices

The City Paper has an
article on the extraordinary delay in sending out property tax notices in Davidson County. Here are the facts: The Davidson County Trustee's web site says:
"Property tax statements are generated from the Tax Roll and mailed prior to October 1 each year."
But in fact, Davidson County has yet to send any notices and under the best case scenario may start sending notices next week, the week of Oct. 23, much later than normal. It is estimated that 40% of voters will early vote. Most of these early voters will not receive their property tax notice until after early voting. Clearly, voters would be much more aware of property tax issues if they had received their property tax notice. Charter Amendment No. 1 is a property tax related amendment which changes the Metro Charter so that property tax rates can not be increased without voter approval.

We called EVERY county surrounding Davidson County and ALL of them sent their property tax notices in late Sept or early October.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Can't pay your taxes? How about a loan?

Elected officials and bureaucrats are willing to talk about almost every public policy option except one: Less Government.

Sooooo.....when taxes get too high it seems quite logical for those in government to come up with this hare brained scheme: We will lend you the money to pay your taxes and then, when you die, we will sell your property to pay back the loan. It is euphemistically called a "deferred property tax hike."

Why not address the REAL problem: lets adjust taxes so they are at a level where citizens are willing and able to pay them.......what a concept!!!

They get back ALL of their property taxes

A judge has ruled that the East TN city collecting taxes did not legally exist so, voila!! all taxes paid were refunded. Cool!!
Since a court ruled Midtown was not a city, it never had the authority to collect property taxes. So anyone who paid Midtown taxes, got them back.

"I went and checked on it. I didn't think it would, and when it come back we actually got money back," said Turpin.

They got $352 the club had paid on their building.

At Midtown Discount Tires the check was even bigger.

"I got a letter in the mail with a check. I didn't know what to think," said Midtown Discount Tires owner Melvin Glen Marlow.

Marlow got back $539.

"I called and checked, make sure it was OK to cash it before I cashed it," said Marlow.

Who has the power: IRS or Congress?

The Joint Economic Committee Chairman, Jim Saxton, issued a press release warning the IRS not to issue new regulations which cause online virtual economies to be taxed. This is an esoteric issue to be sure but it is bizarre to have the legislative branch of the government issuing warnings to a regulatory agency. Maybe this ought to be a huge red flag that this agency has too much power!!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Amish refuse to throw dignity in the toilet

This story is almost beyond belief. The Amish in Ohio are refusing to sign up for food stamps. Apparently, the Amish refusal to do their part is embarrassing the bureaucrats. These darned people just refuse to throw their dignity in the toilet.
"But Taylor is under orders to at least try to get them enrolled. The Ohio Department of Job & Family Services has asked Geauga and Holmes counties, which feature the state's largest Amish populations, to lift dismal food-stamp participation rates."
[...]

The state required Geauga and Holmes (Counties) to draft plans to lift participation rates. Both intend to launch small-scale advertising campaigns to reach the Amish and others. Holmes might use a billboard within an Amish enclave to promote food stamps."

You can't order wine from out of State-for now

Frederick "Rick" Jelovsek thinks Tennessee residents should be able to order wine from out of State vendors and have it delivered directly to his door. The wine and spirits wholesalers think they should have a legal monopoly on such activity. Rick is sueing in Federal Court. This will be interesting.

Income tax drumbeat grows louder

The sky IS falling and the only way to prop it up is a state income tax, thats the message from Tennesseans for Ever More Taxation. Actually their real name is Tennesseans for Fair Taxation but the message is always the same.....more taxes are good, less taxes are bad.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Power Rankings for TN Delegation

Link

Senate:



Name Rank in State
Score
Rank in Senate
Sen. Frist (R-TN) 1 96.75 1
Sen. Alexander (R-TN) 2 21.44 81




House:


Name Rank in State
Score
Rank in House
Rep. Duncan (R-TN-2) 1 19.29 108
Rep. Wamp (R-TN-3) 2 15.88 179
Rep. Gordon (D-TN-6) 3 15.38 196
Rep. Jenkins (R-TN-1) 4 13.50 248
Rep. Blackburn (R-TN-7) 5 11.00 285
Rep. Tanner (D-TN-8) 6 10.00 305
Rep. Ford (D-TN-9) 7 6.62 383
Rep. Davis (D-TN-4) 8 5.50 403
Rep. Cooper (D-TN-5) 9 5.50 404

Keeping YOUR money in THEIR Family

USAToday article on family members who are relatives of power appropriators and also paid lobbyists.
"Members of Congress and their staffs are barred from using their positions for personal profit. But their spouses and other relatives can — and often do — cash in when lawmakers spend taxpayer dollars.

Lobbying groups employed 30 family members last year to influence spending bills that their relatives with ties to the House and Senate appropriations committees oversaw or helped write, a USA TODAY investigation found. Combined, they generated millions of dollars in fees for themselves or their firms.

The connections are so pervasive that, in 2005 alone, appropriations bills contained about $750 million for projects championed by lobbyists whose relatives were involved in writing the spending bills."

Bono leaves Ireland to escape taxes

Bono would like for YOU to pay more in taxes so the US government can reduce the debt of African nations but he has taken his music business out of Ireland to reduce taxes on his $110 million/year in music royalty earnings.

Bono would be much more effective and credible if he asked citizens to VOLUNTARILY contribute to his African charity. He would also be much more effective if he empahsized economic development and free trade for Africa so the citizens could provide for themselves AND preserve their dignity.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Financial "Statement of Interest" for TN Legislators

HERE

Revolving door-TN Legislators turned Lobbyists

We hired them and paid their salaries, now they use their on-the-job training to get even more of our money for their clients. The Center for Public Integrity identifies eighteen former Tennessee Legislators who are now influencing for profit.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Darth Vader - Day Shift Manager

Are Remedial college courses a waste of money?

JoanneJacobs.com links to a study in the Columbus Dispatch which indicates they are a HUGE waste of taxpayer money.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Tax dollars used to lobby for more tax dollars

Great report by Trent Seibert at Channel 2 in Nashville.

Government at all levels is becoming a closed circle where bureacrats have much more accountability and allegiance to other bureaucrats than they do to taxpaying citizens.

Citizens are relegated to the role of a kid looking through the fence knothole at a baseball game. We can see what is going on but we are not a part of it. Unlike the baseball game ,however, we are paying for government.

(Hmmm...maybe thats a bad analogy, taxpayers ARE paying for lots of baseball stadiums.)