Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bredesen Campaign Contributors reap rewards


Link

Bredesen Pork Proposals Raise Questions of Political Payoffs
Half billion dollar giveaway of tax dollars favor campaign contributors, cronies

NASHVILLE – Nearly every proposed private, nonprofit and non-governmental recipient of Gov. Phil Bredesen's last minute half-billion dollar budget request have ties to the Bredesen administration, according to an examination by the Tennessee Center for Policy Research.

On Tuesday, with the legislative session in its waning days, the administration announced a flurry of eleventh hour pork projects it hopes to fund. If funded, the earmarks would soak up remaining state surplus dollars and prevent the state government from returning surplus funds back to taxpayers by temporarily eliminating Tennessee's tax on food or offering a gas tax holiday.

In total, the Governor hopes to dole out $505 million in goodies and giveaways through the budget request—enough money to remove the state's sales tax on groceries for an entire year.


The Marital divide

Link

There is a widening gulf between how the best- and least-educated Americans approach marriage and child-rearing. Among the elite (excluding film stars), the nuclear family is holding up quite well. Only 4% of the children of mothers with college degrees are born out of wedlock. And the divorce rate among college-educated women has plummeted. Of those who first tied the knot between 1975 and 1979, 29% were divorced within ten years. Among those who first married between 1990 and 1994, only 16.5% were.

At the bottom of the education scale, the picture is reversed. Among high-school dropouts, the divorce rate rose from 38% for those who first married in 1975-79 to 46% for those who first married in 1990-94. Among those with a high school diploma but no college, it rose from 35% to 38%. And these figures are only part of the story. Many mothers avoid divorce by never marrying in the first place. The out-of-wedlock birth rate among women who drop out of high school is 15%. Among African-Americans, it is a staggering 67%.

"The Democrats promised reforms...not happening"

Brain cancer surgery canceled 6 times

This Canadian cancer patient might consider traveling to the US. Everybody who thinks government run health care is great, raise your hand.

Link

Health Minister George Abbott said he regrets elective-surgery postponements, but said there are more urgent cases.

"There are periodically occasions when there will be a rash of serious injuries or illnesses that have to be given precedence within the surgical slate," he said.

But (patient) Frye, noting the power that Abbott and health bureaucrats wield, said: "Should I be able to sit behind a desk and decide who lives or dies?"

Last week, the chief of surgery at Royal Columbian said he had cancelled more than 70 elective surgeries this month.


Accountability amendment

Lots going on today....very dangerous situation.....members of the General Assembly are anxious to get the heck out of town.

I believe this is the new and wonderful "accountability" standards amendment. Absolutely nothing new.

It appears to be tied to a 1/2 cent reduction in the sales tax on food HERE is the main bill. Fiscal note shows a $40 mil reduction in taxes....hmmmm, seems about right. $200 million increase and a $40 million cut.

I will say a short prayer asking for a quick adjournment and I suggest everyone else do the same.

FOP Police Union fund raising questioned

The fund raiser employed by the FOP police union appears to be using questionable tactics at best. Hopefully they will change their ways. Great investigative piece by the Nashville Scene.

Link

Recently, we reported that the FOP has hired a shady out-of-state telemarketing firm to solicit Tennesseans—especially Spanish speakers—for cash donations. The company, Civic Development Group of Edison, N.J., has a history of running afoul of state attorneys general and has been sanctioned by the Federal Trade Commission for tricking consumers into parting with their cash.

To boot, the FOP was guaranteed only 15 percent of each dollar donated to it by Tennesseans through the company.

In preparing that story we left many, many messages at FOP headquarters in Knoxville, particularly for Mike Embrey, the secretary of the FOP whose signature graces mailers that arrive in Tennessee mailboxes asking for money. Not one call was returned. Even the nice lady at the desk said, "I just don't know why he isn't calling you back, I'm giving him the messages."


Advertising Ideas Buy/Sell Site


Link

Ideas on OpenAd.net appear in a variety of forms and in various stages of development. The site contains ideas that are ready for production, (such as a scripted and storyboarded TV ad or a press ad that has been highly finished on a graphics package), as well as ideas at an earlier stage of development, such as quick sketches or scamps. The ideas sold on OpenAd.net can consist of a single element, such as a Print or TV ad, or a campaign that features several different elements. Ideas can be entered within the following media elements:
  • TV ad
  • Print ad
  • Creative use of media
  • Corporate identity
  • Print material
  • Packaging
  • Industrial design
  • Web design
  • Direct mail
  • Events
  • Exhibitions and fairs
  • Point of purchase
The ideas are always presented with visuals and a descriptive text in English.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Want tax relief? "hire a lobbyist"

Frank Cagle nails it with another point on column: "I guess if you want tax relief you are going to have to hire a lobbyist."

Link

"Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, has been traveling the state, attending Lincoln Day dinners, extolling the success of his party and basking in the admiration of the rank-and-file in finally taking over the speaker's chair and control of the state Senate. Ramsey's pitch, and the pitch of Republican legislative candidates for decades, has been wresting control of the legislature from the dastardly Democrats and bringing lower taxes, smaller government and conservative principles to bear."


Post Office charges $5 Trillion for Package


Link

BARTLETT, TN- We are all paying more for postage these days, but one Bartlett woman discovered she  had been charged nearly 5 trillion dollars to send a USPS priority package.

 Kathy Poletti didn't have any plans to go out of town for the memorial day weekend, and says that's a good thing.
 Monday she received an email from her bank stating her accounts had been frozen due to  illegal check card activity.


Political Blog List for every State


Link

Corporate Welfare CORRUPTION in La


Link

Casting a pall over one of the few sectors of growth in Louisiana's struggling economy, federal investigators have opened a wide-ranging probe into possible abuse of generous tax credits offered by the state to lure film productions.

FBI agents have been in California in recent weeks to interview people in the production end of the film business, according to a source familiar with the probe. An East Feliciana Parish economic development official said he has been questioned by federal agents regarding the state's film office.

Meanwhile, a former state official has filed a whistleblower lawsuit alleging that his former boss at the Department of Economic Development took bribes from a New Orleans film production firm in exchange for steering more tax credits toward the company.


Bredesen is adamant about tax hike-audio

Legislative Report is a weekly program on the Tennessee Legislature by the Credit Union League. Highly recommeded. Don Spain does a good job and you can access the program archives HERE. On Sunday's show Gov. Bredesen made it very clear in an impromptu news conference that he is willing to go to the mat for his tax increase.

Fat Tax is next step

New Jersey has created a State agency to "fight" obesity. What a great excuse to raise taxes on everything from fat people to high calorie foods etc etc etc.

Goetz said, “more animals.”

The Governor isn't worried about the high tax on groceries but he would like to have more animals in our Zoos??

Link

In addition, zoos would also benefit under Bredesen's budget. That plan allocates $750,000 for the Nashville Zoo as well as $750,000 each for the zoos in Chattanooga, Knoxville and Memphis.

When asked why zoos needed more money, Goetz said, "more animals."

Tax breaks for GM and no sales tax cut?

Republican Senators are raising our taxes and our Democratic Governor is giving the money to large corporations?

Link


13% support a Gas tax Hike

In Utah. Gov. Bredesen will very probably push for an increase in the gas tax next year.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Docs post Fees online

More information = more competition = better health care = lower prices

Link

A Southern California physicians group has become one of the first and largest health organizations in the nation to make prices for procedures easily available to the public.

HealthCare Partners put an itemized price list on its Web site last week, with little fanfare.

Here is the Fee List

Read their lips: Taxes are going up

From ABC News:

Link

The Democratic presidential candidates want to raise your taxes.

Most of them aren't exactly advertising that fact when they talk about their plans for health care, the environment and education. But for a party that has long feared political fallout when talking about taxes, the Democrats' 2008 crop of presidential contenders is showing remarkable frankness in talking about the need for additional revenues to fund their priorities.


Cheatham County Property Tax HIKE!!

If you live in Cheatham County one of your county commissioners is talking about a 29 cent property tax increase. If you are concerned you might want to give your county commissioners a call...but that could be a problem because no contact information is listed on the county web site for commissioners???
 

$100 million Corporate Welfare Boondogle

The "ink" was not dry on my last entry when I saw the story below. Just like the hundreds of millions squandered in New York State on their "Empire Zone" corporate welfare, the program in Washington State was a disaster. Corporate welfare is legal bribery which almost always leads to corruption (think TN Waltz).

Link

OLYMPIA -- Washington's largest job-development program, touted by state lawmakers as a way to create "family-wage" jobs, is spending millions of dollars to attract employers that hire low-wage workers.

In many cases, grants were given to projects that provided no information about job creation. In other instances, local communities seeking aid listed the number of jobs expected, but state officials did not vet the information.

In addition, the criteria used to select projects gave more weight to increasing tax collections than to adding family-wage jobs.


Bredesen proposes Corporate welfare

Governor Bredesen is packing all sorts of goodies into the ominous Omnibus Bill which is being pushed through the General Assembly with as little notice as possible during the last weeks. He doesn't want to give taxpayers a break on their groceries but he sure wants to tax your propane grill gas and hand out tax funded welfare to corporations.

Link

Among other provisions in the omnibus bill:

  • Providing banks a 10 percent credit against their franchise and excise taxes for contributions to the "Tennessee Rural Opportunity Fund," previously announced by Bredesen. The fund will be operated through the Department of Economic and Community Development with a goal of providing working capital in "rural areas not quite ready for mainstream financing," Farr said.
  • A change in law to assure that some Subchapter S corporations must pay the state's excise tax when selling major assets at a profit. Farr said the provision closes a "loophole" in current law that has allowed some to avoid payments.
  • Subjecting sales of propane gas in small containers to the state sales tax. Another "loophole," Farr said, had allowed portable five-gallon propane containers to enjoy a tax break intended to cover only propane used for home heating.
  • Increasing the state fee charged on tire purchases from $1 per tire to $1.35 per tire. The money goes to cover the costs of disposing used tires, either in landfills or by recycling them into other products.
  • Restructuring the state's taxation of barges so that it is in line with the system used in other states.
  • Allowing more retailers to use electronic filing for their sales tax collections. Currently, the standard is an average of $5,000 in monthly collections. That will be lowered to $2,500.

  • "Democrats try to force graduated income tax"

    In Connecticut. This is especially significant for Tennesseans because Connecticut passed a State Income Tax in 1991. Since passing a State income tax they have risen from a low tax state to a high tax state. The income tax was first passed with two low rates, NOW, they want to ratchet up the rates by vilifying the "rich" (just as they vilify the poor when they raise tobacco taxes). Its not about the rich or smoking, its about growing the size of government.

    And by the way, just like Tennessee, they had a huge protest in Connecticut against the state income tax. Unfortunately, it was a day AFTER passage.

    Link


    "School Accountability" Fraud

    Phil Bredesen, Harold Ford, Sr, Bob Corker, and Bill Frist ALL held their zoned public school accountable by choosing NOT to have their children attend them. They withheld the funding these schools would have received if their children had attended.

    On the other hand, Phil Bredesen has chosen NOT to hold "failing" schools accountable in Memphis, Chattanooga, and Nashville by using the power that he has always had to close them.

    As long as Phil Bredesen and the General Assembly allow the very small universe of people at Legislative Plaza to determine "accountability standards" there will be none. The education bureaucrats and public employee union bosses will fight any effort to change the status quo because they are empowered by the status quo.

    Phil Bredesen, while allowing himself the privilege of choosing the school that best served his child, will deny that power to the ONLY GROUP that can truly hold the education establishment accountable: THE PARENTS!!!!

    YOUR debt increased by $1.3 trillion

    Link

    The federal government recorded a $1.3 trillion loss last year — far more than the official $248 billion deficit — when corporate-style accounting standards are used, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

    The loss reflects a continued deterioration in the finances of Social Security and government retirement programs for civil servants and military personnel. The loss — equal to $11,434 per household — is more than Americans paid in income taxes in 2006.

    "We're on an unsustainable path and doing a great disservice to future generations," says Chris Chocola, a former Republican member of Congress from Indiana and corporate chief executive who is pushing for more accurate federal accounting.

    Modern accounting requires that corporations, state governments and local governments count expenses immediately when a transaction occurs, even if the payment will be made later.

    The federal government does not follow the rule, so promises for Social Security and Medicare don't show up when the government reports its financial condition.

    "Now they're taxing you on having fun."

    Link

    Chris Dickerson of Inglewood doesn't like the idea of shelling out extra cash to cook out on a propane-fueled grill, a summertime activity he enjoys with his family.

    "We use it all the time," Dickerson said. "It's ridiculous. They already tax you on almost everything. Now they're taxing you on having fun."

    Dickerson, who owns a gutter and siding company, was reacting to news that the state might eliminate the sales tax exemption on propane "for home use." That would mean he and other propane users would have to pay an extra 7 percent or more to fire up their backyard barbecues.

    "Gas is already so expensive, and now they're going to tax you on propane?" Dickerson said.


    Monday, May 28, 2007

    How removed are we from reality of nature?

    This report about some parents getting upset about a biology teacher showing students a snake eating a rabbit (after school on a purely voluntary basis) got me to thinking about how removed we are from nature. Animals do eat other animals (think happy meal)..its done all the time. This amazing tourist video of a water buffalo calf escaping not one but two predators which had it in their mouths is the rare exception:

    Sen. Ophelia Ford won't talk to family

    Following a Friday editorial ominously titled, "Dreading what might occur next" the Commercial Appeal is reporting the following about Sen. Ford's family's attempt to help on Sunday:

    Link

    Shelby County Commissioner Joe Ford and two relatives left for Nashville at 6 a.m. Sunday, hoping to bring her home and admit her into rehab.

    When the party reached the Holiday Inn near Vanderbilt, they called Ophelia Ford.

    "She found out we were at her door, turned the phone off and wouldn't answer her door. We stayed there about three hours and finally came home.

    "That's about all I can do. We're washing our hands of it until she decides to reach out for help," Joe Ford said.

    "She knew we were on our way, but when she found out we were at the door, she hung up. She wouldn't answer the cell, the door, the hotel phone," he added.

    Last minute TAX changes by Bredesen admin


    Link

    A provision in the omnibus revenue bill will change the statute to state that the exemption does not apply to propane "sold over the counter at location of the seller," so that only gas delivered to the home of the purchaser is tax-free.

    The change is estimated to mean $3 million per year in revenue for the state, he said.

    The omnibus provisions will be offered as a 150-page amendment to HB2296, currently filed as a "caption bill" or placeholder. The amendment is not yet available on the Legislature's Web site.

    It will mark the fifth year that Gov. Phil Bredesen's administration has filed omnibus tax code legislation late in the legislative session that involve closing loopholes and other, often complicated changes in the state tax laws.


    Sunday, May 27, 2007

    BEp afraid, BEp VERY afraid

    David Oatney earlier expressed concern about the architects of the new BEP formula. It appears that Comptroller John Morgan and the omni-present Bill Fox, UT professor of economics are the authors. I believe both of these gentlemen would LUV for Tennessee to have an income tax. Will their IT bias affect their BEP design. Probably....why the secrecy? This is video from the 5-22-07 House Education Committee. Rep. Montgomery sums up the concerns of many General Assembly members. I submit that taxpayers, who will cash the checks that Messrs. Morgan and Fox will write, need to be concerned also.

    Les enfants de la France

    George Will said in a previous column that the welfare state is "infantilizing." It turns us all into envious children who turn to the government to correct any perceived injustice in our lives. Tim Worstall cites the latest example from France.

    Greatest Chess Prodigy Ever?


    Saturday, May 26, 2007

    Top 5 ways to build a wonderful life


    Link

    Enjoy life's simple pleasures and save as much as you can. Expensive things don't create lasting happiness and security. Careful spending will bring you greater leisure and enjoyment in the long run.

    etc etc etc

    Jackson Sun wins Open Records Case-Congrats!!

    Link

    The Sun was originally seeking access to three groups of information:

  • Field interview "cards," which are police files created when officers stop citizens, question them and sometimes even photograph them without making an arrest.
  • A Statement of Operations that showed information about losses suffered by the Diamond Jaxx's owners that would relieve their contractual obligations to the city.
  • The release of 911 tapes or a transcript of the tapes from the 2005 Tennessee Department of Transportation garage shooting involving David Lynn Jordan.
  • Parental Empowerment aka School Choice in SC

    Link

    The bill, which is championed by state education Superintendent Jim Rex, seeks “to make the South Carolina public school system the most choice-driven public school system in the nation.”

    Nationwide, more than 15 states already mandate some form of open enrollment, according to a database compiled by the Education Commission for the States, a Denver-based organization that tracks policy trends and data.

    The proposed S.C. plan sets some limits regarding how many out-of-district students may enroll in a school:

    School districts must only admit a number of out-of-district students equal to one-half percent of districtwide enrollment. That will increase annually, topping out at 3 percent by 2014.

    Out-of-district applicants can be denied if schools have reached capacity.

    Lobbying Transparency Bill passes US House

    Interesting vote on the Lobbying Transparency Bill. John Tanner was the only NO vote in the Tennessee delegation and he was joined in his NO vote by several free market conservatives like Flake and Shadegg and several far left liberals like Dingell and Kucinich. Strange.

    House Repub Plan with NO Tax Increase or Pork

    This is the Tennessee House Republican Budget Plan 2.0 compared to previous budget proposals. It has NO Tax Increase and a Grocery Tax Reduction in the form of a permanent 1/2% reduction or a one time, one month tax holiday. There is NO pork and it doesn't bust the TN Constitutional Copeland Cap on spending. I applaud the House Republicans for this proposal.

    EXPENDITURE

    Governor’s Budget

    Democrat Plan

    Republican Plan 2.0

    K-12 improvements

    $284.5 million

    $384.5 million

    $335.5 million

    Higher Ed

    $75.7 million

    $75.7 million

    $75.7 million

    Employee raise

    1% + 2% bonus

    3% raise

    3% raise

    Compression

    $0

    $26.8 million

    $24 million

    Rainy Day

    $36.6 million

    $216 million

    $136.6 million

    Pork

    $0

    $20 million

    $0

    Sales Tax Cut on Food

    $0

    $40.7 million

    $114.8 million

    Recurring Highway $

    $0

    $32.8 million

    $32.8 million

    Higher Ed Capitol Outlay

    $0

    $125.9 million

    $125.9 million

    K-12 Capitol GRANTS

    $0

    $0

    $100 million

    Debt for trees

    $82 million

    $82 million

    $0 ($82 million cash)

    Farm program

    $6 million

    $21 million

    $21 million

    TAX INCREASE

    $219.6 million

    $219.6 million

    $0

    How to save on credit card borrowing costs

    Borrowing money via credit card is the worst way to borrow money but if you find yourself in that predicament Andy Wise from WREG in Memphis gives you an almost fool proof way to save money: simply ASK.

    Link

    Credit counselors swear by this script!  When we put it to the test with people at our News Channel 3 Money-Savers Table at the Avenue Carriage Crossing retail center in Collierville, Tennessee, four of the five consumers who gave it a shot got their credit card companies to knock two to seven percentage points off their APR's.

    Hi, my name is ____________.  I'm a good customer, but I have received several offers in the mail from other companies with lower annual percentage rates.  I really want a lower rate on my card.  Can you help me?

    That's it!  That's the same script Andy Wise showcased on News Channel 3 at 10 -- where consumers' mouths dropped along with their APR's! 

    If you try it and you're told "No," ask for a supervisor or an account specialist, and read the script -- word-for-word - again.


    Frucall: Price Comparison via Cell


    Link

    There are three easy ways to use Frucall from one's mobile phone:

    1. Frucall Voice
      This is the easiest and the most common way of using Frucall. All you have to do is to dial 1-888-DO-FRUCALL (1-888-363-7822) from your cell phone, key in the product barcode, and listen to the best prices found online. Through its voice prompts, Frucall also lets you get product and merchant ratings. You can save Frucall's number in your contact list because it will come in handy every time you are out shopping! Learn more...
    2. Frucall Text
      This is a service for SMS savvy consumers who prefer to send in a product's barcode and receive product information via text messaging (SMS). Learn more...
    3. Frucall mWeb
      This service is for those who prefer to use a mobile device capable of accessing the Internet and view the product information they need. To use this service, users can point their mobile browser (typically available via an "Open URL" menu entry on the device) to: www.frucall.com/m and search for products. Learn more...

    Friday, May 25, 2007

    Redistribution doesn't help anybody


    Link

    The study has implications for the renewed debate about income disparity and related political appeals based on class envy. One would think that the idea that lower earning individuals living standards will be improved primarily by limiting or redistributing from the top would have been put to rest by comparing GDP per capita performance in the U.S. and Europe over the last 30 years (especially on purchasing power adjusted basis). At least in sports, there is a chance that revenue sharing will raise competitive balance and that this will raise overall demand for the league -- two big "ifs" but still possibilities.

    Rep. Kernell says can you hear me now?

    This is open democracy taken to a whole new level.

    Docs don't like the competition

    It had to happen. Doctors don't like the competition from the new ultra-convenient instant clinics which are staffed by nurse practitioners. They, like all other special interest groups, will try to use OUR government to restrict our free market choices and we will ALL be poorer and less healthy for this intervention.

    Link

    Can a retail store deliver healthcare? Wal-Mart, the largest US retailer, thinks so, together with CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid, the leading US drug store chains. But as all four move ahead with plans to expand "walk-in clinics" in their stores, the doctors of Illinois are fighting back.

    The state could be the first to impose stricter regulation on the new generation of walk-in clinics, where nurse-practitioners can examine patients, conduct basic procedures such as inoculation, and prescribe for minor illnesses, while charging less than a doctor's practice.


    Thursday, May 24, 2007

    Is Gas At An All-Time High? Not Even Close


    Link

    Place setting for a REAL man


    20 cent cig tax passed by Senate Finance

    The Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee passed a 20 cent cigarette tax increase and also attached the House amendment which allocated 21 million of the revenue to agricultural pork. This video is a comment from Senator Wider just before the vote on why he didn't want to vote for the bill but he would go ahead and continue doing things the "wrong way."

    Freedom and Cola

    Family Budget Enhancement Grants

    In the spirit of the the so-called "Community Enhancement Grants" which the TN General Assembly is considering, otherwise known as pork projects, I hereby submit a:

    Request for Family Budget Enhancement Grants


    To: OUR elected Representatives in the Tennessee General Assembly, hereinafter known as public servants
    From: Taxpaying Tennessee Families, hereinafter known as the BOSS of public servants

    The BOSS hereby makes a request of the public servants for a Family Budget Enhancement Grant. This grant shall be in the form of a reduction of Grocery Taxes or a reduction in Gasoline Taxes.

    Proposed uses of Family Budget Enhancement Grants:

    1. Give to charities or non-profits of OUR choice.

    2. Groceries

    3. Pay on Car note and House note

    4. Repair of Car and House

    5. Save for retirement

    6. Children's education

    Taxes as % of GDP: 2003 16.5% to 2006 18.4%

    Federal Taxes as a percent of GDP have grown from 16.5% in 2003 to 18.4% in 2006. The federal Government is taking a larger percentage of our national income.

    Wednesday, May 23, 2007

    Demand the 50% MRI discount next time

    A little knowledge, price conscious consumers, and a lot of negotiating will bring healthcare costs down

    Link

    I wasn't impressed. An imaging center near my home quoted me a list price of $1,275 for one knee, which they were glad to reduce to $637 for cash-paying patients. I mentioned this to the radiologist, and they dropped the price to $1,035.

    I still wasn't impressed. So today, seven months later, the radiologist and I finally settled on a price of $700. That's 53 percent less than what they originally charged me.




    Math or Language aptitude? Look at the fingers


    Zach Wamp was the ONLY TN Republican

    To vote FOR the so-called gas "price gouging" bill which President Bush has vowed to veto. Marsha Blackburn, David Davis, and Jimmy Duncan all voted against the bill.

    Congressman Zach Wamp is consistently the most anti-freemarket Republican in the  Tennessee delegation.

    Is the Lottery a tax??


    Link

    A group represented by the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law filed suit against the state in December 2005, asking a judge to block the lottery's start and arguing that a lottery is in part a tax and the legislature breached the state's constitutional requirement that tax legislation be passed in both the House and Senate on three separate days. In March 2006 a judge ruled that the lottery is not a tax and therefore the bill was passed constitutionally, and the lottery could proceed with ticket sales.

    The case was appealed and arguments before the court of appeals started on May 21.

    $9,815,000,000,000.

    Increasing the statutory limit on the public debt

    Medicare MAY no longer pay for mistakes

    This Sooooooo reassuring. Medicare has decided they will consider NOT paying for mistakes. OUR government at work. Civilization marches forward!!

    Link

    Medicare says it might no longer pay for many of the mistakes made by hospitals.

    Late next year Medicare plans to stop paying hospitals for costs incurred from some of the most common and preventable medical errors suffered by patients.

    It could be getting a bloodstream infection from a caretaker not thoroughly washing his or her hands. Or it could be developing a dangerous bed sore because a patient's skin was not inspected or cleaned as recommended.

    The proposed change could have a far-reaching impact because Medicare is the largest single payer of medical bills in the nation. Commercial health insurers, such as Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, often follow Medicare's lead when determining their own reimbursement policies.

    Repubs watching Dems: Murtha

    Majority watch is a Republican web site tracking the abuses of power by the Democratic House majority. The link below is about Murtha's pork projects which the Dems are conveniently overlooking. Jim Cooper, to his credit, did vote to condemn Murtha.

    If you would like a good dose of Dems watching Repubs, go HERE

    Link


    Mac Tax Ad Parody from ireagan.com

    Link Fun

    Search and Send Images to your Cellphone Yowgo

    Create Dolls from your pictures TinyPocketPeople

    "canceled a secret meeting" ???????

    "canceled a secret meeting"

    Link

    The School Board canceled a secret meeting about a proposal to build a replacement high school for Jackson Central-Merry because representatives of the Madison County Commission did not want to attend a meeting that would be closed to the public, officials said.

    Tuesday, May 22, 2007

    Dry sponge theory of education funding confirmed

    In a previous post I suggested that Phil Bredesen's increased education funding will simply be absorbed like water into a dry sponge and NOTHING will change, absolutely nothing. Well, well, well, just saw the study linked below.

    Only when parents have the power will education results change and Phil Bredesen, who along with Harold Ford Sr and many other politicians, chose NOT to send his own child to a public school, is not about to offend the public employee unions by putting more power in the hands of parents. Nothing will change except the taxpayers family budgets, they will diminish.

    Link

    State legislatures wanting to rein in spending thus have only one real hope: introduce new incentives for educators to maximize quality while controlling costs. How do you do that? Competition, parental choice, private ownership of schools, deregulation, and, as much as possible, direct parental funding of schools. The same market structure that has driven rising quality and efficiency in almost every other field for centuries. Throw in a good education tax credit policy and you've got universal access to a free education marketplace.

    Nebraska Gov signs huge tax cut


    Link
    • $152 million for income tax reductions (of which $146 million will go towards eliminating the marriage penalty).
    • $220 million for property tax reductions.
    • Repeal of the state death tax – saves $37 million over the next two years.
    • Repeal of the sales tax on construction labor – saves more than $14 million over the next two years.

    Sen. Burchett: TN is "not a banana republic"

    Senator Burchett is upset that the Gov is going to his district and pressuring him for an education bill that hasn't even been considered in committee.

    Senator Henry: elected AG "most likely to go to jail"

    Short clip where Senator Henry goes to "the well" for the second time in his long career to oppose popular election of the Attorney General. Says elected AG most likely to go to jail. His basic argument is that citizens can be too easily swayed to vote for a populist demagogue.

    "Illinois higher education funding dwindles"

    Judging from the title of this AP story you would think that higher education in Illinois is suffering from under-funding by greedy taxpayers. Lets look a bit further to find the truth:

    Link

    University of Illinois trustees voted Thursday to raise tuition and fees on the university's three campuses by an average of 11.6 percent, taking the cost of tuition, fees and housing at the Champaign-Urbana campus to about $9,450 a semester. Over the past decade the state's flagship university system has raised the cost of an education by more than 250 percent -- five times the rate at which Americans' incomes grew during that period, and eight times the rate of inflation.

    Edu-Bait and switch back to the status quo, again

    Same old pattern which will result in the same old status quo. We will give a great big wad of taxpayer money to the education bureaucracy. It will be absorbed like water into a dry sponge and ABSOLUTELY NOTHING will change. Nothing!!

    Link

    Senate Education Chairwoman Jamie Woodson, R-Knoxville, said the document did not include what she thought had been agreed-upon details on school accountability.

    ..."For whatever reason, conversations and the work that has been ongoing is not reflected in this, and that's very unfortunate," she said.

    Monday, May 21, 2007

    Senior Property Tax Freeze Bill advances

    The bill to enable the senior tax freeze is advancing. The constitutional amendment was passed last Nov and this bill fleshes out the details of how it is to be implemented. Last week in House State and Local there was a lengthy hearing on the bill. (See video below, slide progress bar over to 33:00 mins for beginning of hearing and the hearing lasts until 1:16:30) You can slide the progress bar back and forth as needed to move to any point. Two interesting points emerged form this hearing:

    1- City and county officials are requiring that cities and counties be able to both opt-in and opt-out of the program. So, if a city and county finds they are "losing" too much revenue, they can rescind the tax freeze.

    2- Seniors would have to re-qualify each year to show they are below the income limit which, at this point is the median income for those 65 and over and it would be adjusted each year with the CPI.

    Phil is "sick and tired"..how does he think we feel?

    Just heard a radio news report that quoted Governor Bredesen saying he was sick and tired of hearing from Tennessee College Administrators that college freshmen were unprepared for college...

    Is this a really, really bad joke???
    Phil Bredesen is "sick and tired of hearing" that our education system is not preparing students for college and yet he wants taxpayers to shovel $450 million MORE into this system?????

    George Will on French Welfare State


    Link

    So welfare states are, paradoxically, both enervating and energizing — and infantilizing. They are enervating because they foster dependency; they are energizing because they aggravate an aggressive (think of burning Peugeots) sense of entitlement; they are infantilizing because it is infantile to will an end without willing the means to that end, and people who desire welfare states increasingly desire relief from the rigors necessary to finance them.


    [...]

    During the 25 years that the French left and some right-wing nationalists have spent reviling "cold, heartless impoverishing Anglo-American capitalism," France's per capita GDP has slumped from seventh in the world to 17th. Sarkozy's task is to persuade the French that their government's solicitousness on behalf of their security and leisure explains the work they must now do to reduce their insecurity.

    Sunday, May 20, 2007

    Fighting Toll Roads in Texas

    Interesting profile of Terri Hall, a lady who has made fighting toll roads in Texas her mission. The organization's web site is HERE.

    Saturday, May 19, 2007

    10,000 Rally for Fair Tax

    Just before the Republican Presidential debate in South Carolina talk radio show host Neal Boortz gathered 10,000 of his closest friends for a Fair Tax rally. Like most Americans, these folks are sick and tired of a federal tax system that is 30,000 pages long and is a vehicle for Washington politicians to micro-manage our lives. The FairTax would repeal the income tax and abolish the IRS.

    Will Phil Bredesen blame THIS on the taxpayers?

    Link

    Of the more than 50,000 students who took state-mandated Gateway tests last year, 314 kids in high school programs other than special education flunked, a Tennessean review of state data shows.

    State education officials say the numbers show that Tennessee's public schools are offering more rigorous classes and preparing students better.

    Yet officials at the state's colleges and universities say they are being overwhelmed with unprepared students who need remedial classes, and state business leaders say many graduates are leaving school ill-prepared for today's jobs despite passing the tests.

    Students and teachers say the tests aren't all that tough.

    "To put it bluntly, they were probably a waste of my time. They were really easy," said Holly Nier, a graduating senior at Hendersonville High School. "The last question for the math Gateway was a number line. I probably knew how to do that stuff in the fifth grade."


    Is Britain becoming a Surveillance Society?


    Power Intoxication and the need for Intervention

    The British House of Commons, much like our own Tennessee General Assembly, has voted to exempt themselves from the British Freedom of Information Act.

    Power is so intoxicating that it is very comparable to other addictions. Those who are addicted to power are in complete denial about the abuse. In fact, as Government grows larger and more powerful we are all susceptible. The temptation to use government to force others to conform to our own moral orthodoxy is just too great to resist.

    Link

    Friday, May 18, 2007

    Peruse Pork Polls, Pols



    Price Gouging by the Post Office

    There are two very consistent results of a monopoly in the marketplace. They are: 1-Higher Prices and 2-Lower service/quality. Competition is simply the right to offer a product or service at a lower price or better quality. When there is no competition there is no opportunity for lower prices and improved quality. We would all be more prosperous and have far more and better choices if the postal monopoly was terminated.

    Link

    On May 14th the U.S. Postal Service instituted its latest batch of rate hikes. As everyone knows, the P.O. has never exactly been a profitable endeavor, although in fiscal year 2006 it managed to eke out a 1.2% gross profit. After an adjustment for retirement costs, however, the gain becomes a loss of 2.8%. Its balance sheet is pathetic, with a "current ratio" of negative 5.6 (current assets $2.0 billion; current liabilities $11.6 billion). This would indicate a company with dreadfully serious problems in meeting its short-term obligations. The stock of such a company on the NYSE would probably be good for use as wallpaper, or as a component in the making of a papier-mâché bust of Ben Bernanke.

    Will Phil Bredesen blame THIS on the taxpayers?


    Link

    Thousands of Tennessee seniors are likely to graduate from high school this spring unprepared for college.

    Statewide, almost half of the state's college freshman required remedial or developmental college coursework, according to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.


    Thursday, May 17, 2007

    Rep. Brian Kelsey gives the Bacon Back

    Rep. Brian Kelsey has shown extraordinary courage this year. In this news report from WSMV Channel 4 in Nashville he is shown inserting bacon, REAL bacon, in the envelope that would normally contain his list of pork projects. Rep. Beth Harwell is also shown rejecting the pork. Kudos to them both. And by the way, WSMV's poll about what to do with the surplus shows overwhelming support for returning it to the taxpayers.

    Challenging the Chair

    In a previous post I referred to a missing video of the May 9 House Floor session. That video has now been restored. I pulled two short segments that show the challenge that took place. The first segment shows Speaker Naifeh ruling there were no objections on the motion to re-refer when in fact you can clearly hear objections being registered. The second segment shows Rep. Casada challenging the ruling. His challenge predictably failed along party lines but it is notable because challenging the chair is VERY rare.

    Porkbusters going after the Earmarxists

    Senator Tom Coburn is one of the very few taxpayers heroes in the Senate. Here is an extraordinarily articulate defense of the Porkbusters movement.

    Link

    Instead the Porkbusters represent what is arguably the only grassroots movement since 1994 to gain traction and build momentum on the core American principle of limited government. The Porkbusters movement is not particularly concerned with the electoral fate of Republicans or Democrats, but they are concerned with the fate of the Republic and their own tax dollars. Quite simply, Porkbusters is a movement comprised of individuals who are just plain sick of their money being wasted, quite often in secret, by self-serving politicians.

    TV Report on Pork and Vote Buying

    Fox 17 did a report on the pork proposal to give State Legislators between $100,000 and $300,000 each to buy votes (video below) They also have an online poll which, as you might guess, is running 86% against the pork.

    Price Competition in Healthcare-Bring it ON

    The beginnings of Price Competition in Healthcare is just what the patients ordered. The two fastest rising components of the CPI are health and higher ed....what do these two have in common? Too much government control and too much taxpayer subsidy. We are beginning to see some movement in healthcare competition.

    Link

    Geisinger Health System is seeing some success with an intriguing experiment in packaging up services at a flat fee. Following a model pushed by proponents of "value-driven" healthcare, Geisinger has established a flat fee for some surgeries that includes not only follow-up care, but also treatment for any complications that arise.

    MAPLight.org contribution analysis for TN


    David Davis 1
    John Duncan 2
    Zach Wamp 3
    Lincoln Davis 4
    Jim Cooper 5
    Bart Gordon 6
    Marsha Blackburn 7
    John Tanner 8
    Steve Cohen 9

    Lamar Alexander
    Bob Corker

    Wednesday, May 16, 2007

    Pork is too polite a name, VOTE BUYING is better

    In a year when OUR elected representatives should be finding ways to return the HUGE SURPLUSES to taxpayers, they are greedily trying to buy votes with pork projects. This is absolutely outrageous.

    Link

    Inspired by Tennessee's flush financial times, state lawmakers are working to give themselves a collective $20 million to spend on pet projects in their own districts.

    It would mark the return of a type of legislative allowances dead since the state's late-1990s budget crisis and would improve scads of Little League fields, museums, civic centers and the like, lawmakers argue.


    "Sen. Ford unleashes off-topic rant"

    Rick Locker's article about Senator Ophelia Ford's strange behavior got my attention and I pulled the video below. There are three segments and Senator Ford's behavior degrades with each segment. Rick reports that she was ill and that certainly appears to be the case. Hopefully she will get the care she needs.

    Governor: STOP Blaming Taxpayers

    When Governor Bredesen sarcastically and condescendingly says, "we don't want to drop to 48th" in total tax burden when talking about education funding, here is the translation: if those damn greedy Tennessee taxpayers would just send us more money we would be able to educate their children.

    Here are quotes from Governor Bredesen's speech:

    "...when our 8th grade students take the Tennessee tests in math, we tell 87 percent of them and their parents that they are "proficient". When our 8th grade students take the national standards exam, the NAEP tests, 21 percent of those same 8th graders are graded as "proficient".

    "Under our existing laws, the state has broad powers in these cases; we can close the schools, we can remove the schools from the school system and make them charter schools or run by one of our universities, we can even remove school board members. We've never used those powers."

    "Most of the teachers in the Tennessee school system are products of our state's own colleges of education, and we are going to start holding their feet to the fire on teacher preparation. "



    Phil Bredesen wants to blame Taxpayers??

    Sunday, May 13, 2007

    "...it's gone boys..."

    This is audio from the mysteriously missing video where Speaker Naifeh claims not to hear objections on the motion to re-refer when, in fact, you can clearly hear many objections. The Speaker then dismissively says. "its gone boys":

    Legal Bribery

    Link

    It has been more than a decade since any of Los Angeles County's five supervisors faced a serious election contest, but that hasn't curbed their appetite for campaign cash.

    A Times analysis of political donations shows that supervisors have raised more than $8 million since 1998, tapping businesses, labor unions and individuals who have stakes in decisions made by the nation's largest county government.

    The supervisors have used their political war chests to scare off potential opponents, donate to favorite political causes and spend on personal campaign items, including a gun permit in one case and UCLA sports tickets in another.

    TN Gen Assembly raises YOUR fees

    In a year when we have budget surpluses coming out our collective ears, you would think that the TN General Assembly would not be thinking about raising fees aka taxes but you would, of course, be wrong. They are happily considering many hikes to take even more money out of your family budget.

    Link

    • HB1382 would add $1 to the annual fee for motor vehicle registration, with the resulting revenue, estimated at $6.7 million by legislative staff members, earmarked to improve computer services at county clerk offices around the state or offset losses some face.
    • SB784 would launch a boat titling system in Tennessee, imposing an initial $20 fee on each watercraft. The revenue generated, estimated at $1.9 million, would go toward operation of the titling system. The bill has cleared the committee system in the Senate and awaits a floor vote, though a vote in the House has been put off until next year.
    • HB139 would charge inmates a $6 fee upon release from prison in exchange for issuing them an identification card. It has passed the Senate and is pending before the House Finance Committee.
    • HB312 increases from $4 to $6 the cost of filing notices with the state Supreme Court's clerk, generating an estimated $115,000 per year. It awaits a House floor vote and is before the Senate Finance Committee this week.
    • HB1182 would increase the business license recording fee for moving from one location to another from $3.50 to $5. It has cleared one committee in the House, but has yet to face a vote on the Senate side.
    • HB1383 would set up a pilot program in some counties, including Knox, where county clerks could provide copies of birth and death certificates now available only through health department offices. The clerks would charge an extra $5 per copy over the standard health department rate. The bill has passed both the House and Senate.
    • HB1793 would increase the fee paid to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for harvesting mussels to 10 cents per pound from the current 1.24 cents per pound. The bill has not moved out of committees in either the House or Senate.
    • SB1440 would increase the fee for handgun carry permits from $115 to $130. It remains stalled in committees of both the House and Senate.

    Saturday, May 12, 2007

    Now THIS is extraordinary

    The Denver School Superintendent recognizes that DPS must compete for students with private and charter schools and he accepts the challenge:

    Denver Public Schools will compete for students with charter and private schools, vows Superintendent Michael Bennet and the entire Denver school board in an open letter to the Rocky Mountain News. In response to the Rocky's "Leaving to Learn" series, Bennet and his board vow the system will change: "We will fail the vast majority of children in Denver if we try to run our schools the same old way."

    Friday, May 11, 2007

    Missing General Assembly Video?? Why

    Rep. Stacey Campfield describes a controversy that arose over a vote on a tort reform bill. He is suspicious about the video because it stops just before the controversial vote occurs. Here is the video. Slide the progress bar over to just before the end and sure enough the video mysteriously stops at 1:37:50 just before the controversial vote:

    Dont BURN it, RETURN it.

    From www.TnTaxRevolt.org

    Dont BURN it, RETURN it.


    The Knoxville News Sentinel is reporting that WE, the TAXPAYERS overpaid our taxes by $1.3 billion in this budget year. In their words, the "State will have money to burn." This is OUR Money and we should get part of this overpayment back!! We have heard rumors that they are talking about giving less than $100 million back to the taxpayers in the form of a temporary reduction in food taxes. This is UNACCEPTABLE. We have overpaid by $1.3 billion. The refund should be AT LEAST $400 million.

    Please act TODAY and Click
    HERE to EMAIL Speaker Naifeh, Speaker Ramsey, and Governor Bredesen. The General Assembly will be making the final decision on the State Budget in the next few weeks. Make sure the taxpayer's voice is heard. Tell them Don't Burn it, Return it.

    City Paper Ed: Give surplus to taxpayers


    Link

    Amid all of this happy talk about tax revenues, there has been very little discussion of actually returning the revenue to those the government collected it from. One idea that would return some of Tennesseans' tax money to them has been the elimination or reduction of the sales tax on food. That idea deserves action now more than ever given the state's flush budget scenario.


    Thursday, May 10, 2007

    How to be a Citizen Watchdog

    Great series of columns on how to be a Citizen Watchdog by Dallas News reporter Jennifer LaFleur.

    Link

    More is never enough for "education"

    Education bureaucrats and teacher unions will never have "enough" money because more is never enough. The indisputable fact is that inflation adjusted per pupil spending has increased greatly and yet test scores and graduation rates have stayed the same. Pouring more money into a system that refuses to change and refuses to give parents the power to choose is a prescription for failure. And all the while rich politicians will continue to choose private schools while denying most parents the right to choose the school which best suits their child.

    Link

    "Well, money for education is very important. You cannot have enough money for education," said teacher Gail Harris. "There are always needs within the schools. The children need things. The teachers need things."



    Tenure is Job Protection for bad teachers

    A law Professor talks frankly below about tenure for law professors. However, tenure at every level, be it K-12 or college, is about protecting incompetent teachers. Teaching is an extraordinarily important job and tenure is allowing bad teachers to teach our children year after year after year and our elected representatives are doing NOTHING to change tenure and help our children.

    Link

    Tenure is extraordinarily powerful job protection. Every now and then it functions for the purpose for which it is designed and justified: to free an academic to express controversial views. And that is essential. But most of the time it functions to confer immunity on professors to work as little as they please beyond teaching their assigned classes. And that imposes a high cost on law schools (in money as well as institutional productivity and morale).

    Wednesday, May 09, 2007

    Texas House suspends Gas Tax 3 mos

    The Texas House shows the way. This would be an excellent way for the Tennessee General Assembly to return part of the $1.3 billion surplus.

    Link

    House members gave a preliminary blessing Tuesday to a three-month break from the 20-cent-per-gallon state gas tax, aiming to ease the pain during the summer driving season.

    Gas prices have been creeping higher for 13 straight weeks, according to AAA Texas surveys. Last week, prices for regular-grade gasoline rose to $2.87 a gallon in Texas, with Dallas drivers paying a penny more per gallon.

    Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, tacked the surprise measure onto a Senate gas tax collection bill Tuesday. He said a couple driving a pickup and a car could save more than $100 over the three months.

    "It's real relief," Mr. Martinez Fischer said. "It makes a difference, I believe, in whether or not families will spend that weekend going to the coast or Fiesta Texas or Six Flags."


    Dont BURN it, RETURN it.

    From www.TnTaxRevolt.org

    Dont BURN it, RETURN it.


    The Knoxville News Sentinel is reporting that WE, the TAXPAYERS overpaid our taxes by $1.3 billion in this budget year. In their words, the "State will have money to burn." This is OUR Money and we should get part of this overpayment back!! We have heard rumors that they are talking about giving less than $100 million back to the taxpayers in the form of a temporary reduction in food taxes. This is UNACCEPTABLE. We have overpaid by $1.3 billion. The refund should be AT LEAST $400 million.

    Please act TODAY and Click
    HERE to EMAIL Speaker Naifeh, Speaker Ramsey, and Governor Bredesen. The General Assembly will be making the final decision on the State Budget in the next few weeks. Make sure the taxpayer's voice is heard. Tell them Don't Burn it, Return it.