Wednesday, October 31, 2007
- 57.6% of households paid income tax in 2006, meaning that 42.4% did not pay any income tax.
- Looking at the similar JCT table for 1990, that 42% nonpayer share is up from about 30%. Some of the reasons include the expansion of the earned income tax credit (EITC), the creation and expansion of the child tax credit, and President Bush's new bottom tax rate of 10%.
- The JCT data show that for 2006, 23 million filers received $43 billion in EITC, which is a key reason why most people at the bottom do not pay any tax.
If the commission votes not to add the amendment to next year's ballot, the group plans to collect signatures from 15 percent of Knox County's registered voters - the amount required for the amendment to be added to the ballot.
"We'll go to a full-scale petition drive," Paone said. "We'd have to get 33,954 signatures in 75 days. That's why we tried to recruit so many civic group leaders, so that we would have a network of networks."
Bob Wolfenbarger represents the 2nd District in the drive.
"There is a constituency of neighborhood activists around the county and, by gosh, we're finally figuring out how to network," he said. "I'm involved because it's the right thing to do."
The group plans to meet Nov. 6 with Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale.
"That's not something I would be in favor of," said state Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge. He chairs the state's Open Government Committee, which could hear the subcommittee's recommendation in November.
The proposal, probably the most controversial so far, would also have to be considered by the Tennessee General Assembly before being adopted, McNally said.
Anderson County Commission Chairman Myron Iwanski said he would probably oppose the recommended change, although he has not seen the legislation.
Under the changed definition, eight of the 16 members of the Anderson County Commission could gather in private to talk about public business.
"I'm not in favor of allowing eight commissioners to meet in secret to discuss issues," Iwanski said.
In Oak Ridge, meanwhile, three City Council members could meet privately if the change were adopted.
Beehan and McNally said the current "two or more" standard seems to be working well and doesn't need to be altered.
Under a new constitution being considered in Venezuela, the workday would be slashed from eight hours to six, so workers would have sufficient time for "personal development." But while Venezuelans might have more leisure time, the constitution would also ensure that President Hugo Chavez could toil far into the future.
One of the most controversial proposals in the charter would abolish presidential term limits, giving the 53-year-old populist the opportunity to remain in office indefinitely. The presidential term would also be extended from six to seven years. To Chavez's supporters, it makes perfect sense.
"We're giving the leader the possibility to continue directing us," Mario Isea, a legislator, said in a speech. "And we're giving ourselves the opportunity to continue enjoying his leadership."
Heather Davis of Oliver Springs, 20, is the latest. She faces one felony charge of fraud for trying to get several prescriptions of the painkiller Oxycodone. Davis could serve up to two years in prison if convicted.
More than 500 people have been arrested for TennCare fraud since the crackdown began in February, 2005.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
If Republicans lose control of Congress in November, they might want to look back at last Thursday as the day it was lost. That's when the big spenders among House Republicans blew up a deal between the leadership and rank-in-file to impose some modest spending discipline.So has Jerry Lewis made amends for his pork barrel spending and the resultant damage it has done to the Republican Party? NO, in fact, he had the audacity to write a Sept 19 editorial for The Hill in which he said:
Unlike the collapse of the immigration bill, this fiasco can't be blamed on Senate Democrats. This one is all about Republicans and their refusal to give up their power to spend money at will and pass out "earmarks" like a bartender offering drinks on the house. The chief culprits are the House Appropriators, led by Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis of California and his 13 subcommittee chairmen known as "cardinals." If Republicans lose the House--and they are well on their way--Mr. Lewis deserves the moniker of the minority maker.
We made significant efforts toward reforming our appropriations process in the past few years. Like many, I am concerned that for too long Congress has believed that every federal problem is best solved by throwing money at it. Today, America has a multi-trillion dollar debt. While our country has the strongest economy in the world, deficit spending will undermine our economy and destroy our future.UNBELIEVABLE!!! He acts as if he is clueless. And the Republican Party wants me to believe they are the party of small government and lower taxes??
Our national debt will not just go away. Balanced budgets over a number of years will help a lot. But that will happen only if the Congress reduces the rate of growth of all spending. We must commit ourselves to reduced spending across the board to save our economy.
Tuesday's Commercial Appeal has an article on a report (PDF format) issued by the Southern Education Foundation. The SEF is an advocacy group dedicated, according to its website, to Advancing Creative Solutions to Assure Fairness and Excellence in Education.
The article puts forward all the report's statements and conclusions without question. The quotes used come only from "Steve Suitts, SEF program coordinator and author of the report." Nothing seems to have been examined or rebutted.
Ah, more money. That's only "part" of the solution, but it's the only part talked about. Praise for Governor Bredesen's new education programs is singled out. Those programs are in large part funded by one-time windfalls from the state lottery and revenue tax surpluses. They may not be sustainable if the state's budget or economic situation changes.
The other problem is that comparisons are made between state expenditures on education on a dollar-by-dollar basis, not taking cost of living into account. In other words, a dollar spent in Tennessee will go a lot farther than a dollar spent in New York or California. Factoring in the cost of living to make comparisons more valid might change the picture.
There is also the whole issue of advocacy. The report is arguing for the very thing that the SEF wants to do -- spend more money. Skepticism seems called for in reporting any press release by an advocacy group.
Reading the report; knowing the context; watching for possible issues of self-interest by the group that gives you the report; looking past the numbers on the page. All are good ideas that lead to substantive news stories of real value.
Elvis Presley Estate's $49 million in revenue in the past year was enough to push the performer to the top of Forbes.com's list for top-earning dead celebrities. Presley was followed by Beatle John Lennon, whose 2007 earnings were $44 million; cartoonist Charles Schulz who pulled in $35 million; Beatle George Harrison who earned $22 million; and scientist Albert Einstein, who died in 1955, earned $18 million.
There ought to be a law!! allowing citizens to opt out of FDA regulation altogether. If you want to follow the recommendations of the FDA, fine.....but if not, you should be allowed the FREEDOM to disregard their advice if you choose to make decisions about your own welfare.
Annapolis - "No new taxes" was the rallying cry Monday of demonstrations by taxpayer, conservative and Republican groups around the State House.
The relatively modest turnouts of about 300 people came just hours before Gov. Martin O'Malley was set to give a short pep talk to a special session of the General Assembly he called to raise a series of taxes.
"I'm going to stand up and oppose every stinking tax," said Del. Donna Stifler, R-Harford, typifying the comments of dozens of GOP lawmakers.
The A380 may have the world's first airborne double bed, but it won't be put to the obvious use if Singapore Airlines has its way: "If couples used our double beds to engage in inappropriate activity, we would politely ask them to desist," said the company's Stephen Forshaw. "There are things that are acceptable on an aircraft and things that aren't, and the rules for behaviour in our double beds are the same ones that apply throughout the aircraft."
In any case, the plane is as yet unchristened: Tony and Julie Elwood from Perth, Australia had booked the first A380 double suite, but hardly had a moment of privacy for a romantic kiss, let alone anything raunchier, as a parade of journalists came knocking on their door. Even so, they weren't too impressed with Singapore's strait-laced attitude. "So they'll sell you a double bed, and give you privacy and endless champagne — and then say you can't do what comes naturally?" asked Tony, a vigorous 76. "Seems a bit strange."
"They seem to have done everything they can to make it romantic, short of bringing round oysters," said Julie, 51. "I'd say they shouldn't really complain, should they? Though I don't think they'll have anything to worry about from us — the flight is so busy with people coming to see the suites, we wouldn't have the opportunity."
The Web changes constantly, and sometimes that page that had just the information you needed yesterday (or last month or two years ago) is not available today. At other times you may want to see how a page's content or design has changed. There are several sources for finding Web pages as they used to exist.
While Google's cache is probably the best known, the others are important alternatives that may have pages not available at Google or the Wayback Machine plus they may have an archived page from a different date. The table below notes the name of the service, the way to find the archived page, and some notes that should give some idea as to how old a page the archive may contain.
Customers of Memphis City Schools' catering service got a heck of a deal, a preliminary audit shows.
The audit reveals former nutrition services director James Jordan, who resigned Oct. 11, extended credit to catering patrons and severely underpriced catering events.A draft of the report, discussed at Monday's school board audit committee meeting, shows the catering operation has lost at least $157,832 through a combination of underpricing and the hiring of new catering assistants in May -- a cost borne by taxpayers.
About three dozen states ignore certain income when determining who can get government-subsidized health coverage. For example, many states exclude child support payments. Others deduct expenses for child care when determining who qualifies for the State Children's Health Insurance Program.
[...]"You leave it up to the states to say you can't have an income level over 300% (of poverty), but you can deduct $20,000 for a housing allowance or you can deduct $15,000 for shelter or whatever," said Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas. "So, what you've got here is the classic bait and switch."
Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., said that allowing states to exempt some income helps to ensure that low-income families don't have to resort to welfare to get health care for their children.
Another disagreement over the program's future is over the coverage of adults, even though the Bush administration approved most of the waivers that allowed adults into the SCHIP program. Now, the administration wants to remove those adults from the SCHIP rolls more quickly than called for in the bill that passed the House last week.
Under that bill, states would have to move an estimated 200,000 childless adults off SCHIP within one year. Also, by 2010, waivers covering about 500,000 parents would be paid from a separate fund. States that perform well on covering low-income children could continue covering parents through that fund, which would get a lower federal matching rate than under current policy, Dingell said.
The urban payments total millions of dollars out of the nearly $1 billion sent to Minnesota farmers in 2005, according to federal records sent to the Star Tribune under a Freedom of Information Act request.
Among those taking farm bill checks: Cargill family member Whitney Macmillan Jr. and money manager Noel Rahn, a wealthy businessman who helped bring the NHL back to Minnesota.
The flow of federal largesse comes thanks to rules that allow landowners -- including some 2,000 in the metro area -- to collect subsidies without farming the land themselves, a legal and increasingly common practice as farm ownership has consolidated over the past few decades.
...but we were told they passed. New, more difficult, TCAP tests coming in 2009-10. Why did Phil Bredesen wait until the last of his 8 years in office to implement these more difficult tests? And he waited until AFTER he got a huge tax increase passed??
The TCAPs are going to get a lot harder.
Eighty-seven percent of Tennessee fourth-graders got a "proficient" grade on the state reading achievement test in 2005, when only 27 percent earned a proficient rating on a national reading achievement test, according to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce study and other sources.
"The state tests are widely known to be calibrated to the lowest standard," said James Guthrie, a professor of public policy and education and director of the Peabody Center for Education Policy at Vanderbilt University.
"The gap is real, and our students are not being held to a sufficiently high standard. For me, as a resident of this state, it's embarrassing and unacceptable."
The sweeping changes in math and language arts standards are a part of Gov. Phil Bredesen's education reform. They're intended to produce graduates who don't need remedial help in college, don't lag behind their peers and can compete in the marketplace.
They'll roll out in the 2009-10 school year, pending approval from the state Board of Education.
Monday, October 29, 2007
A Georgia lawmaker says she wants to make it a felony to deliberately violate the state's Open Records Act.
State Rep. Jill Chambers, R-Atlanta, said she plans to introduce a bill to make the law easier to understand and possibly eliminate some exemptions.
Chambers said she would make "willfully and knowingly violating" the Open Records Act a felony, with a fine of up to $5,000. Under current law violations are a misdemeanor, subject to a $100 fine.
The law requires public officials to allow citizens to view and photocopy most government documents. Exceptions include medical or veterinary records, confidential police and prosecution investigative files, individuals' Social Security numbers, and others.
Clearly, schools are in a time of profound change. But for a century, one thing has not changed -- their one-size-fits-all approach.
Because public schools have a monopoly, they have not been challenged to find the kinds of breakthrough innovations that are needed for every child to receive an effective education.
"There is this image of government service as a sort of bureaucratic service with a negative connotation," said Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., at an event Friday to launch a nationwide education campaign. "But in fact, there is no place more cutting edge or more exciting to be than in the federal government."
NEW YORK, Oct. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Scarborough Research, the leading local market research firm for identifying consumer and retail behaviors in the United States, finds that Austin, TX, Portland, OR, San Francisco and Seattle are the top markets for people who read or contributed to blogs.
Fifteen percent of adults in Austin are bloggers*, and they are 78 percent more likely than the national average to be in this consumer group. Fourteen percent of Portland adults are bloggers; followed by San Francisco and Seattle, with 13 percent of adults blogging in these cities. Nationally, eight percent of all consumers are bloggers.[...]
"Bloggers tend to have a different relationship with the Internet than the average user. They are more likely to advantage of its utility for standard household and personal tasks, such as email, shopping and online banking," said Mr. Meo. "Given that they are contributing to the content of the Internet itself, it's not surprising that bloggers are more advanced online than your average Internet user, and more tech savvy overall."
Demographically, bloggers are young and hail from middle class families. They are 66 percent more likely than the national average to be between the ages of 18 and 34. Fifty percent of bloggers are part of a household that has children under 17, as opposed to 41 percent of the total population. Bloggers are 20 percent more likely than the national average to have an annual household income between $50k and $100k per year.
"It's so hard to put outsiders in a situation, but if a situation has failed there's got to be some outside help," said Connie Smith, executive director of innovation, improvement and accountability for the state Department of Education.
"I knew it was going to be highly sensitive because they're going into someone's house. And they've got to be top-notch people."
Tennessee has dubbed these agents "exemplary educators," and STAT (System Targeted Assistance Team) members.
Exemplary educators are assigned to "high priority" schools that fail to meet state testing standards for two years or more.
Record numbers of Britons are travelling abroad for medical treatment to escape the NHS - with 70,000 patients expected to fly out this year.
And by the end of the decade 200,000 "health tourists" will fly as far as Malaysa and South Africa for major surgery to avoid long waiting lists and the rising threat of superbugs, according to a new report.
The first survey of Britons opting for treatment overseas shows that fears of hospital infections and frustration of often waiting months for operations are fuelling the increasing trend.
Patients needing major heart surgery, hip operations and cataracts are using the internet to book operations to be carried out thousands of miles away.
India is the most popular destination for surgery, followed by Hungary, Turkey, Germany, Malaysia, Poland and Spain. But dozens more countries are attracting health tourists.
Research by the Treatment Abroad website shows that Britons have travelled to 112 foreign hospitals, based in 48 countries, to find safe, affordable treatment.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Does it mean that rich people are a bunch of greedy s.o.b.'s who gain their wealth by exploiting the poor?
Does it mean that there is a special group of people, call them liberals or progressives, who have a special capacity for empathy for the poor that the rest of us don't possess?
Does it mean that this special group of people is morally justified in using government to force the rest of us to conform to their moral orthodoxy?
Bottom Line: Private schools can educate students at a lower cost, with more teachers per 1000 students, than the public schools. Reason: Private schools must have significantly fewer non-instructional administrative employees, and therefore significantly lower administrative expenses than their public counterparts.
Update: Professor Perry just keeps knocking it out of the park. He has another post documenting the huge growth in administrative overhead. It far exceeds the growth in students.
Report from Commercial Appeal-Rick Locker
The TML, Tennessee School Boards Association, the association of county governments and others have presented wish lists for new exemptions to the meetings and records laws -- including closed school board meetings on job performance of the schools superintendent and other "sensitive issues."
But the study coincides with a time of scandal and other concerns about government across the state, including the federal government's "Tennessee Waltz" corruption investigation. In Memphis, one city councilman is under indictment, as is the former president of MLGW, and the FBI continues its work.
Oped in Daily News Journal
A subcommittee of the state's open meetings panel voted recently to allow members of an elected body to gather and discuss public business in private as long as fewer than a quorum are present.
To me, that's nuts. Why is transparency so threatening to some officials? The public's business should always be handled in the open, the legal exception being to allow elected officials to discuss ongoing lawsuits with attorneys in private.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Conclusion #1: Oil and gas prices in real dollars are about the same today in 2007 as in 1980, so we can conclude that petroleum prices have approximately doubled since 1929.
Conclusion #2: On the other hand, assuming the trend in spending increases for public schools in real dollars has continued over the last 5 years, the cost of educating a student in U.S. public schools is about 9X the cost in 1929.
Conclusion #3: Consider also the the quality of a barrel of oil or gallon of gas has probably remained the same since 1929, and we probably can't say that about the quality of public school education over the last 78 years. For example, see this 8th grade exam from 1895, how many high school students could pass this today?
About 85 percent of funds awarded have been given to groups whose requests had a legislator's endorsement.
"I don't think that's fair. We could have gotten a senator or representative to support us, but we didn't know we had to," Qualls said.
Secretary of State Riley Darnell, who said he had been hounded by inquiries about the grants both from applicants and legislators, acknowledged that he was given discretion by the legislature to award the money.
But he said each of the sponsored requests had a "legislative history" and that he was "honor bound to try to deal" with the lawmakers' requests first. The money was appropriated following the formula of $100,000 per state representative and $300,000 per state senator.
Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein lived very similar lives. They were both born in New York, edited their high school newspapers and studied film at university. And both were adopted in 1968.
It was only at the age of 35 that they discovered each other and just how similar they were: identical twins who had been separated as infants in a bizarre social experiment.
It came to light when Elyse, who had been living in Paris, had decided to seek her birth mother. She was told that the mother was not interested in meeting her, but was then informed that she had an identical twin, Paula.
After not knowing her sister for three decades, with help from social workers she was able to find her within days.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
If Phil Bredesen cares about teacher quality and students he must summon the courage to fight the political power of the union. The union has one overriding objective and that is to preserve the status quo.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
In the end, though, I couldn't sacrifice my son to an education system that seems at best inefficient and at worst willfully corrupt. As much as I admire Mayor Fenty, I can't help noting that his children go to a private school.
And if he doesn't send his kids to D.C. schools, why should I?
The city of Athens, Tennessee says NO to a half cent sales tax increase. Voters took to the polls and the unofficial results from the election commission say that the city is not in favor of the SPLOST increase. We were told that the increase would go to various school projects in Athens. At last check 65 percent of the votes decided against the increase and 35 were in favor.Depend on us to have the final numbers today.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
10 News spotted several Tennessee tags at the Middlesboro Smoke Shop, despite last month's announcement from the Department of Revenue saying they would enforce a law prohibiting Tennesseans from buying and transporting more than two cartons of cigarettes from other states.
But King says she wouldn't cooperate with state workers if they stopped her.
"If I was approached, I'd smack em," King said. "I'd tell them they don't have no right snooping through my vehicle."
Although King hasn't been stopped yet, other Middlesboro Smoke Shop customers have apparently gone toe-to-toe with the state.
"They told the clerks they been stopped," Middlesboro Smoke co-owner Ralph Carter said. "They, in some cases, had two cartons and were okay, and in other cases they had four or five cartons and they took the cigarettes from them."
Corker Yes to eliminating pork (No on the tabling motion)
Alexander No to eliminating pork (Yes on the tabling motion)
HERE is the vote.
Shelby County should expect to receive about $1.8 billion in state appropriations during the 2007-2008 fiscal year, according to State Rep. Curry Todd.
According to a release from Todd, (R-Memphis), the county could expect to receive $616.6 million for health and social services, $600 million for the local school system, $144 million in state tax collections, $89 million for justice and public safety, $34 million for recreation and resources, $15 million listed as miscellaneous and $8 million for transportation obligations.
Also, the county should receive a portion of the $9.5 billion of federal funds included in the state's $27.8 billion budget.
Todd said he was most pleased with education funding for the county.
"The legislature provided $160 million in new funding to address a significant portion of the amended funding formula called the Basic Education Program," Todd stated in a release.
Now Joanne Jacobs says that students in Los Altos are buying food from a catering truck because they don't like the "healthy food" served in the cafeteria. So they are considering a law that would keep these catering trucks 500 feet from schools.
I think its pretty clear that Arnold will have to create a
Department of Food Enforcement.
Sean and, other bloggers very probably, agree.
Question to them and anyone else caring to consider the issue, are you willing to let me live in freedom?
More specifically, would you approve of a provision in the mortgage regulation law that will allow citizens to sign a statement opting out, i.e., a form that says the citizen agrees to accept all the consequences of dealing with unlicensed mortgage lenders. This opt out form will make it clear the signer agrees not to sue the government or regulatory agencies and can not accept any government money if there are problems with the mortgage. And of course the law must allow mortgage lenders to opt out but they may only deal with customers who also sign an opt out statement.
Would you allow me to live in freedom?
(HT: TN Politics)
The U of M has contracts with the county, and a pair of season tickets is worth $360, so commissioners had to return them.
The issue of the tickets led commissioners to support amending the ethics policy to allow them to accept gifts worth more than $200, provided all commissioners are awarded the same thing and all gifts are fully disclosed.
County Commissioners were forced to return University of Memphis season football tickets this year because of a tougher ethics policy, but they'll be back in their seats next year after they approved a change Monday.
The tougher ethics policy took effect in June and put a $200 limit on gifts from groups with which the county does business.
On Monday, in a 7-6 vote along party lines, commissioners approved the change on third and final reading.
"I don't think any commissioner is going to find themselves in the position where $200 or $100 basketball tickets or any ticket from any entity is going to influence their vote," said Democratic commissioner Sidney Chism, who originally sponsored the amendment.
CLINTON - A longtime Clinton schoolteacher's name has been removed from the ballot for the city's upcoming City Council election because she's considered a city employee.
Cindy Stiner Boshears, running for a Ward 1 seat, received confirmation Monday from the state Election Commission office that she would not be able to run.
Boshears has been a schoolteacher for 22 years at Clinton Elementary School, one of three elementary schools within the city's school district.
Election laws state that employees of city government can't run for elected office in the city where they work.
In particular, the two government groups propose to remove from current law a provision that prohibits two or more city council members or county commissioners from meeting in private if deliberating on issues before them. Instead, they would propose that a quorum of the governing body - typically a majority of all members - would trigger an open meeting requirement.
"In the clear majority of states (37), the quorum is used as the standard for open meetings laws," states the TML/TCSA document, noting that the state Legislature has also adopted a quorum standard in applying open meetings requirements to the House, Senate and legislative committees.
Frank Gibson, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, said the proposal would be a major step backward in requiring city councils and county commissions to make their decisions in public.
"It would be a mistake to change the law that drastically," Gibson said. "The 'two or more' standard has worked well for 33 years. It worked in the Knox County case. It worked 17 years ago in a Memphis case."
Would you be willing or unwilling to accept bribes in exchange for your vote in the Dec. 23 election?
Source: Assumption University of Thailand (ABAC)
Methodology: Interviews with 3,758 Thai adults, conducted from Oct. 15 to Oct. 29, 2007. Margin of error is 3 per cent.
Monday, October 22, 2007
"The return on investment can be extraordinary," gushed William Murray, vice president of East Rutherford-based MWW Group, whose firm recently hired Sen. Frank Lautenberg's chief of staff to co-direct its Washington office. "If you pay a certain fee, you can make that back in a year or two."
It's not hard to find examples where that's true.
Secaucus paid a Washington lobbying firm that was a big financial supporter of Sen. Bob Menendez about $200,000 since 2002 and got federal grants totaling $2.8 million. That included $1.5 million to repair a crumbling Meadowlands Parkway bridge that Hartz Mountain built but no longer would maintain, Town Administrator Anthony D. Iacono said.
Ramapo paid MWW about $540,000 during the past five years and won federal grants worth more than $1 million for two facilities named after former members of Congress. In addition to funding for the Bill Bradley Sports and Recreation Center and the Marge Roukema Center for International Education and Entrepreneurship, Ramapo received another $500,000 for the Berrie Center for the Performing and Visual Arts.The Bergen County Utilities Authority, using a firm that includes David Pascrell, the son of Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., obtained about $10 million for a sewer project.
This was an attempt, at long last, to make some small effort to take action if taxpayer money was not being spent effectively.
Senator Corker voted against the tabling motion (effectively voting FOR the amendment) and Senator Alexander voted for the tabling motion (effectively voting AGAINST the amendment).
Here is the vote on the motion to table the amendment.
Here is more information on PART. Approximately 25% of all government programs are rated as "ineffective" or "no results shown" via this rating system.
They are already a familiar nocturnal sight on the streets of London - huddles of windswept smokers lighting up outside pubs, clubs and bars.
Now one nightclub claims it has solved the problem, allowing smokers to get their fix without having to sneak outside in mid-conversation.
Celebrity hangout Chinawhite in Soho is trying out Britains first "e-cig", a Chinese-made device that mimics the ritual of smoking but is claimed to be entirely legal indoors.
The six-inch white plastic stick uses a battery-powered atomiser to create realistic puffs of "smoke," while the tip glows red with each suck.
Nashville (AP) - A new focus on enforcing the state's law on how many cigarettes can be brought into Tennessee does not involve any increased spending by the Department of Revenue.
The lack of new funding or staffing for the increased cigarette tax enforcement was revealed through a records request by Tennessee Center for Policy Research, a conservative think tank.
Drew Johnson, the think tank's president, said he considers the enforcement program to be an elaborate ruse to scare consumers.
"They're bluffing because they know this program is completely unconstitutional, and if they were actually arresting people it would be overturned," he said. "So it's better to scare people into not crossing the border to buy cigarettes instead of actually enforcing the program."
Revenue spokeswoman Sophie Moery said that the department is flexible enough to shift its attention without neglecting other enforcement areas.
NEA is about power.
2) Utah's $3 Million Question. On August 20, EIA published an exclusive report that the NEA Board of Directors had held an emergency telephone conference call to discuss and vote on the Utah Education Association's request for $3 million to defeat the ballot referendum on school vouchers. The board approved the request, though because I didn't have the vote totals, I used some qualifying language in the original report.
People who trust EIA's content, including the Wall Street Journal, picked up the story, and the $3 million figure has been widely disseminated. For two months, however, I have been baffled by the reluctance of the teachers' union and its allies to acknowledge the total. A sum of $1.5 million had already been sent (and mostly spent) by September 17, a full seven weeks before the election. Still, the UEA executive director called the $3 million figure " speculative," and NEA President Reg Weaver refused to even address the question, despite repeated prodding by Education Week.
I have since confirmed from other sources that my original reporting was accurate and correct, that UEA's request was for $3 million, that the money has and will come from the union's national ballot initiative fund, and I now have the additional information that the request was approved by the NEA board of directors via an Internet voting system by a count of 126 to 1. Given time and a break from other tasks, I'm sure I could eventually learn who the lone "nay" vote was.
I certainly understand, and encourage, caution before believing news from unidentified sources. But this secrecy over NEA's contribution to the Utah anti-voucher campaign (not to mention the union's connection to Communities for Quality Education) illustrates why those sources cannot be identified, and why the union's claims cannot be trusted to include the whole truth.
It is common to hear Democrats/progressives complain that Republicans/conservatives/libertarians are selfish because they want to cut taxes instead of spending that money on national health insurance or expanded welfare benefits or some other social program.
But this makes absolutely no sense. Democrats are not advocating spending their own money on the poor; they're advocating spending the money of a very small group of voters who lean Republican. One might argue that this very small group of voters is selfish, but they are not the majority, or even a plurality, of Republicans staunchly opposed to taxes. Or other people opposed to taxes. Of all of the libertarian bloggers out there advocating lower taxes and social spending, I'm hard pressed to think of one who wouldn't personally benefit more from the increased social spending than from the lower taxes.
The majority of people opposed to purchasing the higher-taxes/lower-social-spending combo pack may be wrong on some utilitarian basis, but whatever their sins, they are not the sin of selfishness.
Yet public debate often features an underlying moralistic current in which Democrats act as if they have captured the moral high ground on matters of the public purse--as if advocating public charity were some lesser form of engaging in private charity. It isn't. It may be necessary to take money from third parties in order to give it to other third parties, but doing so at absolutely no personal cost to yourself is not an act of virtue.
When the auditors were finally finished, they released a report that contained a number of alarming findings, including these:
It turns out that both "Lewis" and "Clark" were actually the same person, and he never got farther west than New Jersey.
Although, according to the U.S. Constitution, there are supposed to be nine members of the Supreme Court, a detailed search of the premises, including under all the desks, turned up only five.
In one three-month period, the Task Force on Reinventing the Government spent, without any formal authorization or supporting documentation, $141 million on party hats. North Dakota is missing. "We think Canada took it," stated the auditors, "but every time we called up there to ask about it, they just laughed and hung up the phone."
Now I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is, I made up the preceding audit findings. The bad news is, the real audit findings are worse. I am NOT referring to the finding that the government has no idea what happened to billions and billions of dollars.
Now, in any organization you're going to have people stealing pens, paper clips, etc. But security has to be pretty darned lax for somebody to walk off with a tugboat.
The AP sought to obtain the survey data over 14 months under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.
"Release of the requested data, which are sensitive and safety-related, could materially affect the public confidence in, and the commercial welfare of, the air carriers and general aviation companies whose pilots participated in the survey," Luedtke wrote in a final denial letter to the AP. NASA also cited pilot confidentiality as a reason, although no airlines were identified in the survey, nor were the identities of pilots, all of whom were promised anonymity.
Among other results, the pilots reported at least twice as many bird strikes, near mid-air collisions and runway incursions as other government monitoring systems show, according to a person familiar with the results who was not authorized to discuss them publicly.
The survey also revealed higher-than-expected numbers of pilots who experienced "in-close approach changes" — potentially dangerous, last-minute instructions to alter landing plans.
Officials at the NASA Ames Research Center in California have said they want to publish their own report on the project by year's end.
Although to most people NASA is associated with spaceflight, the agency has a long and storied history of aviation safety research. Its experts study atmospheric science and airplane materials and design, among other areas.
"If the airlines aren't safe I want to know about it," said Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., chairman of the House Science and Technology investigations and oversight subcommittee. "I would rather not feel a false sense of security because they don't tell us."
Cliff Lippard, associate executive director of TACIR, said the study is one in a series of reports on local fiscal flexibility.
"We're not prescribing a solution," he said.
According to the report, families in the lower income bracket had a higher-percentage tax burden than those in the high-income brackets in all the state's counties. The difference was the largest in Williamson County, where 11 percent of poorer families' income goes toward local taxes, compared to 3.4 percent for more affluent families.
Brian Miller, a spokesman for Tennesseans for Fair Taxation, a Knoxville-based group that supports a state income tax, said the current local tax burden "disproportionately hits low-income families."
"We need to seriously revisit our tax structure," he said. "The state can make a lot of revisions that make the state system more fair."
Governments will ask to do more business in secret when a legislative committee meets Tuesday to consider changes in the state "sunshine law," which governs public access to meetings of government bodies.
An open-meetings subcommittee of the Joint Study Committee on Open Government will hear proposals from both sides about the Open Meetings Act, which prohibits deliberation of public business in closed meetings or by electronic communication.
Who would vote against a bill that helps 25 million people with emergency food aid every year and the 4 million who rely on food pantries and soup kitchens every week?
That is the quandary. There will be no deep reforms of farm policy as long as the welfare of the poor is tied to the welfare of corporate farmers. But hunger activists fear that the food stamp entitlement might disappear outside of the farm bill.
The purpose of the site is to be a resource for people who want to find a good doctor. Where else can you find out what others think of your doctor? When choosing a doctor, wouldn't you like some information first? It also gives you, the user, a place to voice your opinion. Your opinion will help others find a good doctor.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
I'm in favor of tax credits for child health care, and Health Savings Accounts for adults, and any other reform that emphasizes the citizen's responsibility to himself and his dependants. But middle-class entitlement creep would be wrong even if was affordable, even if Bill Gates wrote a check to cover it every month: it turns free-born citizens into enervated wards of the Nanny State. As Gerald Ford likes to say when trying to ingratiate himself with conservative audiences, "A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have." But there's an intermediate stage: A government big enough to give you everything you want isn't big enough to get you to give any of it back. As I point out in my book, nothing makes a citizen more selfish than socially equitable communitarianism: Once a fellow's enjoying the fruits of Euro-style entitlements, he couldn't give a hoot about the general societal interest; he's got his, and who cares if it's going to bankrupt the state a generation hence?
That's the real "war on children": in Europe, it's killing their future. Don't make the same mistake here.
Great investigative article in today's Tennessean by Sheila Wissner on the history of the Preds and how Craig Leipold will profit big time when he sells the team.
The article says that Metro taxpayers are actually the biggest investors in the project....wonder if ole Craig will send us a thank you card after he puts all that money from the sale in his pocket.
I have an idea!! Why doesn't the Metro Government concentrate on paving streets, keeping the garbage picked up and our school drop out rate and leave entertainment to the private sector.
The deal gave Leipold and the Johnson family 80.1 percent of the team and Gaylord 19.9 percent. But the amount invested by each of the parties to buy the expansion team did not reflect that split, according to documents in the lawsuit.
City taxpayers actually put up the most — $20 million toward the franchise fee, plus $14.5 million for arena improvements.
The exact amount of payments Leipold made is unclear from court documents. But they show Leipold and his family contributed between $8 million and $9.6 million. For its analysis, The Tennessean assumed the highest figure.
Gaylord invested more than $12.8 million.
The final $40 million came from bank loans to be repaid by the team.
When he takes office in January, Jindal will become the nation's youngest governor in office. He pledged to fight corruption and rid the state of those "feeding at the public trough," revisiting a campaign theme.
"They can either go quietly or they can go loudly, but either way, they will go," he said, adding that he would call the Legislature into special session to address ethics reform.
The top repeat offender has been arrested over 200 times.
In order to "stop the madness", people are going to have to get mad. I have proposed that we pass a law that deals with the repeat offenders in such a way that they cease and desist their activities, or move to another state. I think if a person has been convicted of a misdemeanor 10 times, the next time they are arrested on any charge, their case should be escalated to a class E felony. You see, the problem is that we have over 15,000 people in Shelby County who have been arrested 10 times or more. Dealing with this group first, then looking at those who are continually moving through the "criminal justice system" (talk about a misnomer) has to be the strategy.
I heard a prosecutor explaining the other day that the law doesn't make allowances for how many times a person commits a crime. That's just insane.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
He has created Cyberwatch in Memphis, an excellent tool to provide citizens notification of crimes in their neighborhood. I believe he also created the outstanding warrants database for the Shelby County Sheriff's Dept. His blog is excellent and highlights the problem of repeat offenders.
CITIES OF 500,000 OR MORE POPULATION: (32 cities)
Most Dangerous 10:
San Jose, CA
El Paso, TX
New York, NY
San Diego, CA
San Antonio, TX
Fort Worth, TX
what could possibly go wrong.
DETROIT -- A little-known city committee empowered to give property tax exemptions to needy residents has awarded tax breaks worth thousands of dollars to apparently well-to-do homeowners, a three-month investigation by The Detroit News has found.
In some of the most egregious cases, people who own multiple houses, drive luxury vehicles and live in homes worth more than $500,000 have been granted "hardship exemptions" by the nine-member committee, which is appointed by the Detroit City Council.
The Hardship Committee keeps no notes, meets in private, has no staff and conducts no investigations of applicants. It has granted more than 14,000 applications totaling $15 million in tax exemptions over the past seven years.
When government grows to this size, the constituencies within government have far more influence than the taxpayers in the legislative body. The taxpayers only real option is to move to another, lower taxed, city.
Link: Behind the Great Tax Push
There's an old political maxim in Illinois that speaks volumes about why it's so hard to put governments on a diet.
"If you can't get a meal, at least take a sandwich," officials like to say as they cut deals with taxpayer money that can lead to bigger programs and payrolls and, sometimes, political fiefdoms.
But suddenly, it might seem, some of the state's most powerful political leaders have wearied of budget snacks and are headed for the all-you-can-eat buffet.
Eye-popping new budget plans from Mayor Richard Daley and Cook County Board President Todd Stroger ask taxpayers to pony up nearly $1.2 billion in new taxes and fees. Meanwhile, the CTA and other transit agencies are pushing for a regionwide one-quarter percent sales tax increase.
And this all follows Gov. Rod Blagojevich's failed attempt to raise $7 billion in business taxes.
Civic Federation president Laurence Msall calls it a "tsunami of tax increase proposals," but the question is, why is all this happening now?
Friday, October 19, 2007
Nielsen released information showing that average TV viewing for US households was flat from 2005-6 to 2006-7 at 8:14 per day.
Average Primetime household viewing fell 1 minute from 1:11 to 1:10.
That flattening and decline also take into account Live+7 viewing for 2005-6 and 2006-7, so live viewing of TV shows are showing declines, but we have no specific data.
Nielsen also said that DVR ownership more than doubled in the last 2 years to 20.5% of TV households up from 17.2% of households in May, 2007 and 8% in January, 2006.
Labour has made much of its bid to "rescue" the NHS. It has presided over a kind of permanent revolution, recruiting tens of thousands of doctors and nurses (many from overseas, leading to charges of inadequate domestic training), building hospitals with the private sector, revamping hospital funding, and encouraging competition. It has also spent money: The NHS bill is to rise from £35 billion in 1998 to £110 billion (about $224 billion) by 2011.
But critics say the extra billions have not always been well spent. A recent survey saidranks 17th out of 29 European countries on a range of healthcare benchmarks, including quality of service, length of wait times, and patient information.
"We are surprised that given the massive spend on healthcare, Britain is not faring better," says Kasja Wilhelmsson, director of European affairs at the Health Consumer Powerhouse, a-based healthcare research group that conducted the survey. "For waiting times, they are pretty close to the worst in . And outcomes [of treatment] is not high either.
"I would never advocate for a tax increase unless our city was in situation where we had to have one," Schroer said.
I often wonder if i am the only one who sees the madness of socialized medicine, whether on a limited or unlimited scale.
Have our rugged individualism muscles become so atrophied, that we are reduced to mewling, puking children that must perpetually suckle and nurse at the leathery teat of the nanny state?
Does no one realize that if government pays your health care, it can determine how much of it you get; where and from whom you get it; and what behavior you must engage or refrain from engaging?
Those who foot the bill for socialized medicine will clamor for more regulations to reduce their tax/premium burden. Those who consume socialized medicine will clamor for more benefits.
In the end, the producers will be reduced to a position of resentful penury cheering on the coming fascist state, just as the consumers cheer on the coming leviathan state that will take care of them from cradle to grave. The few intrepid rugged individualists will be left standing alone against the tidal wave of statism, merely waiting to be swept out to oblivion, leaving a society that is nasty, brutish and short.
The chance of the two political parties realigning so conveniently is slim. But the party that does well in the future will be the one that makes the better guess about where to place its bets. My money's on the libertarians. People were shocked a couple of weeks ago when Ron Paul--one of those mysterious Republicans who seem to be running for President because everyone needs a hobby--raised $5 million from July through September, mostly on the Internet. Paul is a libertarian. In fact, he was the Libertarian Party presidential candidate in 1988. The computer revolution has bred a generation of smart loners, many of them rich and some of them complacently Darwinian, convinced that they don't need society--nor should anyone else. They are going to be an increasingly powerful force in politics.
TN Senate Per Diem and Travel Reimbursement 1st Qtr
TN Senate Per Diem and Travel Reimbursement 2nd Qtr
TN Senate Per Diem and Travel Reimbursement 3rd Qtr
TN Senate Per Diem and Travel Reimbursement 4th Qtr
TN House Per Diem and Travel Reimbursement 1st Qtr
TN House Per Diem and Travel Reimbursement 2nd Qtr
TN House Per Diem and Travel Reimbursement 3rd Qtr
TN House Per Diem and Travel Reimbursement 4th Qtr
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Rep. Jim Cooper was the lone Democrat to vote against this ridiculous earmark, kudos to him. All other TN Dems voted for this earmark.
Reps Blackburn, David Davis, and Duncan, along with Sen. Corker voted against this earmark.
Senator Alexander and Rep. Wamp both voted in favor of this travesty. Zach Wamp is showing himself to be the quintessential BIG SPENDING REPUBLICAN, and Senator Alexander failed us big time also.
Starting in 2008, 2% of every worker's general income will be redirected from the state budget to the chosen private fund. This contribution will gradually increase to 6% by 2015, and the current 9.5% social security contribution to the state system will diminish accordingly.
"Several million Romanians will become investors, and the private pension system will educate them in the spirit of a free market economy," says Romanian President Traian Basescu.
"The launch of the private pension system marks the end of the process of transition from a socialist economy to a capitalist one, creating the premises for a long-term economic stability," says Finance Minister Varujan Vosganian. "The privatisation of the public pension system will thus ensure the transition from populism to guaranteeing the freedom and dignity of retired people."
Screeners at Los Angeles International Airport missed about 75% of simulated explosives and bomb parts that Transportation Security Administration testers hid under their clothes or in carry-on bags at checkpoints, the TSA report shows.
According to many security experts, iris recognition is likely the most fail-proof and high-tech security tool out there, which is why companies like Panasonic are jumping into the cargo of this possibly profitable ride. Panasonic’s upcoming scanner, the BM-ET200, is voice activated (with intimidating prompts like “stand up straight”) and identifies a user within 0.3 seconds. It can be modded to hold over 10,000 user records and is expected to start selling near a $2,500 tag when it becomes available in the US next year.
un^%$#believable...these County Commissioners in Hamilton County (Chattanooga) know absolutely NOTHING about these corporate welfare projects. All they know is they want to give away the taxpayers money as quickly as possible:
Dr. Casavant asked the four companies' attorney, Alfred Smith, what types of tax break programs other counties offer.
"It varies," (thats it? it varies) Mr. Smith said, noting that several rural counties offer more sweeping and longer-term breaks.
Mr. Skillern and several other commissioners questioned Mr. Smith, as well as representatives from the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, in their Oct. 9 agenda meeting.
Commissioner Warren Mackey said several constituents asked about the impact of a facility FedEx Ground plans to put in his district. He said he had gotten no information about the project at the time.
Dr. Mackey said Wednesday that he supports the projects but would like more information. (YA THINK!!!!!!)