Thursday, January 31, 2008

Now there is a State that uses more drugs than TN

Yea, That Tenncare reform is doin' the trick

Link

Tennessee is no longer the top prescription drug use state in the U.S., according to a leading pharmaceutical company.

Novartis Pharmaceutical released a study citing West Virginia, which averages 17.4 prescriptions per capita, as the top prescription drug use state.

Tennessee didn't fall far though, grabbing the No. 2 spot with an average of 16.9 prescriptions per year for each man, woman and child. Tennessee's numbers did decrease 6.6 percent from last year's average of 18.1 percent.

Tennessee per capita spending for prescriptions grew 7.2 percent to $1,272.94, the study found. The national per capita spending average increased 18.8 percent to $948.72.

"Voter Privacy Is Gone -- Get Over It"

Link

Last month VanityFair.com published an enlightening article that unfortunately got lost in the holiday shuffle and didn't get a lot of play. It's worth reading so I want to highlight it here.

The article examines a voter registration data broker named Aristotle, which buys voter registration lists from counties and states. It then combines that information with highly personal and detailed information about voters that it mines from various other sources before reselling the data to candidates, political operatives, and commercial entities.

The company has quietly become the largest voter registration data broker in the country and is the go-to source for people like political mastermind Karl Rove to learn everything about you, such as how much money you make, whether you own a gun and potentially even what medical procedures you've had done.

Will Phil Bredesen admit that Pre-K isn't working?

No. He will expect the taxpayers to continue funding a program he very probably would not have chosen for his own child. We have no way of knowing for sure of course but he didn't choose Nashville Public Schools for his own child's K-12 and probably would not have chosen State Pre-K had it been available. A new study shows results to be inconsistent and limited for Pre-K. Phil Bredesen would have wanted better than inconsistent and limited for his own child.

Education funding normally follows the same depressing pattern of most other government programs. They are started because of some mix of good intentions and special interest lobbying but never changed or stopped because of bad results.

By the time they become fully funded there are so many people dependent on their cash flow that they become their own justification and no amount of pressure will slow them down no matter how bad the results, even when they involve our children.

Phil Bredesen seemed very earnest in his interest in Pre-K. Good intentions are not enough.

Phil Bredesen will ask for more funding from the taxpayers for Pre-K. Will our representatives in the General Assembly demand better results or less funding for a failed program? No, sadly they will not.

DC Lobbyists buy houses to wine and dine

Great investigative piece by USAToday about Lobbying firms buying houses in DC to host receptions outside fundraising reporting laws.

Link

Despite a strict new ban on gifts to lawmakers, lobbyists routinely use these prime locations to legally wine and dine members of Congress while helping them to raise money, campaign records show. The lawmakers get a venue that is often free or low-cost, a short jaunt from the Capitol. The lobbyists get precious uninterrupted moments with lawmakers — the sort of money-fueled proximity the new lobbying law was designed to curtail. The public seldom learns what happens there because the law doesn't always require fundraising details to be reported.

[...]

Even so, they illustrate that lawmakers still are allowed to accept valuable favors from special interests willing to pay for access, despite promises by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers that the restrictions on gifts and trips would "break the link between lobbyists and legislators."

The role of lobbyists in fundraisers wasn't addressed in the lobbying law signed last September. As long as they don't exceed the federal cap on campaign donations — $10,000 per two-year election cycle for political action committees — lobbyists can underwrite an event for a favored senator or representative at a resort, on a golf trip or at their town house.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Study: Ethical breakdown at all levels of Govt

This study is clear evidence that we need to STRENGTHEN ethical standards in Tennessee, not weaken them. Public confidence in government is extremely low. Its time to start rebuilding that trust.

Link

Washington, DC – With employees at all levels of government witnessing a high incidence of ethical misconduct – and with many local and state entities, particularly, failing to establish strong ethics programs – the public sector is at considerable risk of seeing major ethics scandals unfold, the Ethics Resource Center's National Government Ethics Survey (NGES) shows.

"The next Enron could occur within government," said ERC President Patricia Harned, Ph.D. "Almost one quarter of public sector employees identify their work environments as conducive to misconduct – places where there is strong pressure to compromise standards, where situations invite wrongdoing and/or employees' personal values conflict with the values espoused at work. Government – especially at the state and local levels – simply is not doing enough to address the problem."

[...]

Slightly less than one-third (30%) of federal workers surveyed believe their organizations have well-implemented ethics and compliance programs, which ERC has found greatly reduce the incidence of misconduct. Only one in 10 said there is, indeed, a strong ethical culture in their federal workplace. But the results were considerably less impressive at the state level (where only 14% saw strong ethics programs and a mere 7% perceive a truly ethical culture) and in local government (where the figures were 14% and 9%, respectively).

Almost two thirds of local government employees (63%) said they observed at least one type of misconduct in the previous year. At the state level, the rate of reported misconduct was 57%, while 52% of federal workers had witnessed ethics breeches. In the aggregate, 57% of public servants surveyed had observed misconduct in the past year. There has been no improvement since ERC's last survey of government employees in 2005, and the rate is worse than that of the biennial survey in 2003.

Local government had the highest level of workers who witnessed misconduct but did not report it – 34%. That compares with 29% at the state level and 25% within federal agencies.

Taxpayer funded Stadiums never up to press hype

Two conclusions, according to this author, concerning public referenda for taxpayer funded stadiums: 1-The local press virtually always acts as an unapologetic cheerleader for these projects and 2- They never live up to the promises of economic rejuvenation. The only thing that gets rejuvenated is the bank account of the already rich owners.

Link HT: Sports Economist

There's only one problem with this scenario. It's not true. Never has been. They do come, but cities are not saved. Over the past two decades, academic research has generated literally hundreds of articles and books empirically challenging the alleged economic wonders of new stadiums, even when they're part of larger development schemes. I have been studying and writing about publicly financed stadiums for more than 10 years and cannot name a single stadium project that has delivered on its original grandiose economic promises, although they do bring benefits to team owners, sports leagues and sometimes players.

There are many reasons for these consistently unmet expectations. Among them are, first, stadiums (and ancillary projects) almost always cost more than projected, forcing municipalities to cough up extra subsidies for fear of having a half-built ballpark in the neighborhood. Second, ancillary development projects rarely unfold as initially promised. However, it's difficult holding (usually) well-meaning developers accountable for this since the stadium "anchor" of the project always gets built first - and, again, municipalities have no use for half a stadium.

Ethics Committee: Which blinking light gets answered

From yesterday's Joint Ethics Committee: Rep. Ulysses Jones says that he can't be influenced by a baked potato. Dick Williams, with Common Cause, answers by getting to the heart of the matter.

Real Photo height/weight chart

5'6"/200 lbs

Link HT: J-Walk

Legislators want $1,000 of free meals from lobbyists

That darned ole ethics law is just too restrictive say Representatives Gary Odom and Curry Todd. It doesn't allow lobbyists to provide enough free food so Gary Odom and Curry Todd want to allow lobbyists to give them $1,000 per year in free meals. Rep Odom's comment pretty much sums it up. He says $1,000 is "reasonable" because that is the same as the contribution limit....now THAT is honesty.

Rep. Ulysses Jones says that "No one in my district has ever thought they can buy me for an egg and biscuit."

Link

State Rep. Curry Todd, a Collierville Republican, planned to file a bill, which he called a "working draft," that would permit lobbyists and their employers to spend up to $1,000 per year per legislator.

There would be a $75 cap on each meal, according to the bill, which is being filed on behalf of the committee. The lawmaker and the lobbyist would have to turn in paperwork with the Tennessee Ethics Commission disclosing the meal.

Odom, who initially floated the idea, said it was a reasonable cap, patterned after the state's campaign finance law, under which residents are permitted to donate $1,000 per election to lawmakers.

[...]

Rep. Ulysses Jones, a Memphis Democrat, said he feels like a "space alien" when he attends conferences. While other attendees are dining together, he "sits in a room and watches TV."

He was annoyed by the notion that he could be bought for a biscuit. "That's ridiculous," Jones said at the meeting. "You're saying if I buy you a meal, I own you. That's not right. No one in my district has ever thought they can buy me for an egg and biscuit."

Reverse memory loss with deep brain stimulation?

Deep brain stimulation may reverse memory loss.

Link

The accidental breakthrough came during an experiment originally intended to suppress the obese man's appetite, using the increasingly successful technique of deep-brain stimulation. Electrodes were pushed into the man's brain and stimulated with an electric current. Instead of losing appetite, the patient instead had an intense experience of déjà vu. He recalled, in intricate detail, a scene from 30 years earlier. More tests showed his ability to learn was dramatically improved when the current was switched on and his brain stimulated.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Fake bomb makes it past Tampa TSA

Link

Tuesday, Florida airport security agents will be extra cautious, especially since a fake bomb made it through security during an undercover sting on Monday.

An agent from the Transportation Security Administration strapped a fake plastic explosive around his waist and walked through the security checkpoint at Tampa International Airport, Monday. Immediately afterwards, the team showed the screener the mistake he made.

The TSA said similar tests are improving its system and making airports safer.

Illinois Supreme Court Oral Argument videos online

This is a great next step. Hopefully Tennessee will follow.

HERE is the web site. HT: Legal Dockets Online

"Great" News-Memphis wants new Convention Center

Mayor Herenton says he wants a new convention center to compete with Nashville's new convention center.

Link

Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton announced Tuesday during his state of the city address at the Memphis Rotary Club meeting that the city will study whether the current Memphis Cook Convention Center should be expanded or relocated altogether.

He also said a deal between the city of Memphis and Bass Pro Shops could be finalized Wednesday and backed away from calling for a new Liberty Bowl stadium.

But the majority of Herenton's time Tuesday was spent discussing his vision and plans for a new convention center.

"We are going to appoint a committee in the next 30 days to look at the feasibility of expanding or building a new convention center," Herenton said.

Kettle thief sentenced to homelessness and a job

The most interesting part of this story is the judge making "finding a job" part of the sentence.

Link

PAINESVILLE, Ohio (AP) -- A Salvation Army worker who was ordered by a judge to spend a night homeless for stealing a holiday kettle containing about $250 returned to court Friday with red eyes and red cheeks.

[...]

Smith, 28, worked as a bell ringer for the Salvation Army outside a Kmart store in nearby Eastlake on Dec. 17. Police arrested Smith at his mother's house after a co-worker reported that one of eight kettles was missing.

[...]

Smith, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of theft, still must serve three days in jail, do eight hours of community service, get a general equivalency diploma and find a job, the judge said.

Da Bears and Da Red Light Cameras

Link

Wilson County votes down development tax

Link

Wilson County commissioners voted down a proposal Monday night that would have added a $1,000-per-home fee on new residential developments.

Supporters had pushed for the new development tax to help replenish the county’s low general fund and pay for needs created by the county’s rapid growth.

Good news for the Karl Deans and Phil Bredesens

of Cleveland, Ohio. They won't have to choose private schools like Karl and Phil did here in Nashville. Charter Schools are giving more parents in Cleveland a reason to choose public schools. If Karl dean wants to keep parents in Davidson County, the path is clear. Give them more quality educational options.

Link

"It was a savior for us," said Shafer, who has two children in the State Road charter school. "We were ready to leave the city because of the schools. We stayed because of this school."

After a rocky start, charter schools -- independent, tuition-free schools that are publicly funded but privately operated -- are taking root in Ohio neighborhoods.

1,000 phones tapped each day in UK

Link

The report shows that in the last nine months of 2006, there were 253,557 applications to intercept private communications under surveillance laws. It is understood that most were approved.

In that period 122 local authorities sought to obtain people's private communications in more than 1,600 cases.

Councils are among more than 600 public bodies with the power to monitor people's private communications.

Senior council officers are given the power to authorise surveillance in order to catch fly-tippers, benefit fraudsters and rogue traders. However, intelligence agencies must seek the permission of ministers while police need approval from chief constables.

Eric Pickles, the Conservative local government spokesman, said the use of surveillance powers against suspected fly-tippers was "completely over the top."

Is a College Degree worth the ever rising cost?

Link

Here are 25 of the top-paying jobs that don't require a four-year degree and their average salaries, based on data from the BLS and CBSalary.com.

1. Air traffic controller: $102,030

2. Funeral director: $79,517

3. Operations manager: $77,839

4. Industrial production manager: $73,000

5. Transportation manager: $72,662

6. Storage and distribution manager: $69,898

7. Computer technical support specialist: $67,689

8. Gaming manager: $64,880

9. First-line supervisor/manager of police and detective: $64,430

10. Nuclear power reactor operator: $64,090

11. Computer specialist: $59,480

12. First-line, nonretail supervisors/manager: $59,300

13. Nuclear technician: $59,200

14. First-line supervisor/manager of fire fighting and prevention worker: $58,920

15. Real estate broker: $58,720

16. Elevator installer and repairer: $58,710

17. Sales representative, wholesale and manufacturing, technical and scientific products: $58,580

18. Dental hygienist: $59,790

19. Radiation therapist: $57,700

20. Nuclear medicine technologist: $56,450

21. Power plant distributor and dispatcher: $57,330

22. Fashion designer: $55,840

23. Ship engineer: $54,950

24. Detective and criminal investigator: $53,990

25. Commercial pilot: $53,870

$10,000 offered for identity of Blogger

Link

A Chicago lawyer who is being criticized, along with his law firm, in an anonymous Internet blog supposedly authored by a fellow attorney has offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who can provide him with the identity of "Troll Tracker."

The anonymous blogger, who claims to be "just a lawyer; interested in patent cases but not interested in publicity," has criticized Raymond Niro and his 30-lawyer IP boutique, Niro Scavone Haller & Niro, for representing clients who own patents but don't necessarily make products. Instead, the firm earns licensing fees from users of the patented technology—and potentially sues users if they don't pay up, explains the Chicago Tribune.

Some Good..make that GREAT Tax News

Get married and use all the retirement saving credits and deductions and you can save a ton. According to the calculation below you can earn $55k and pay no taxes. Haven't double checked his calcs but it looks realistic. Its from the Carnival of Taxes.

Link

Here’s what Joe Taxpayer did:

• Got married and stayed that way—this earns him $17,500.

• Contributed the max to a 401k plan—this earns him $15,500.

• Contributed the max to two IRAs (his & his wife’s)—this earns him $8,000.

• Because he contributed so much to savings, he got the saver’s credit—this covered what little he did owe after all deductions and other credits. This could’ve earned him up to $2,000, but only earned him $1,148.

• He contributes to his employer’s pension plan and opted for a PPO plan—this earns him $2,550 in pre-tax dollars.

• He used a commercial tax preparer for his return—they cost him $165 to use, but got him over ten times that amount for a refund. They do this consistently.

Libation, Urination allowed at State Golf Courses

Link

Delisa Simpson-Schubert made national news last spring when she videotaped golfers urinating near the 18th tee on Tennessee Centennial Golf Course in Oak Ridge.

Simpson-Schubert said that she then reported the incidents to police, city officials and the district attorney's office - all to no avail. She also asked the city to enforce an earlier state attorney general's opinion on the legality of beer sales on golf courses, said Tammy Dunn, the city's senior staff attorney.

"She had been telling us she thought beer couldn't be sold on the course based on a previous attorney general's opinion," Dunn said Monday.

That earlier opinion only pertained to beer licenses issued for a golf course restaurant or clubhouse - known in golf circles as the 19th hole - and stated that brew sales are limited to those areas, Dunn said.

The new attorney general's opinion, issued Friday, tackles the issue of on-premises beer licenses for entire golf courses.

"If the local government has issued an on-premises permit to the golf course, then by definition consumption would be permitted on the course," the latest opinion states.

More on the TIF madness in Knox County

There is more info on the Knox County, City of Halls Wal-Mart development tax giveaway that was the subject of my rant last night. Two of the commissioners did vote against it but on a voice vote it passed.

This kind of craziness is not going to stop until HOMEOWNERS demand a break on their property taxes when they remodel or build a new house. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. Unfortunately, homeowners are getting the shaft with Wilson County actually HIKING taxes on new homes. Commercial Development is being subsidized and residential development is being penalized.....its tax craziness.

Link

"I don't know that I can go ahead and sort of open up the blank check for the whole 4.5 (million)," Luethold said. "Right now, since I don't have any hard numbers in front of me, I can't support it. I do need to know that number, and I asked it last week at committee."

Brit version of Mac and PC ad

$10,000 missing from Clinton Schools-Fraud Suspected

Link

CLINTON - City school officials have requested a state audit after they recently found at least $10,000 missing over a two-year period.

Fraud is suspected, and more money may be involved, officials said Monday.

The Anderson County District Attorney General's office has been alerted, schools director Vicki Violette said.

"There will be some things come out (during the audit) that we're not aware of yet," predicted Dale Isabell, recently named the system's part-time chief finance officer.

"I expect that to happen," he said. "I think it will be more than $10,000."

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Knox County Commission is crazy as hell

I don't know any other way to put it...this is so mind bendingly stupid that it defies explanation.

Ok, here is the deal: Wal-Mart is building a new store in Halls and its "going forward." Everybody knows its going to be built. Its a DONE DEAL!! The County Commission does NOT have to give away the taxpayers money via TIF financing in order to get the project going.

And yet, they are going to give away $4.5 million of Knox County Taxpayer's money.

It doesn't really matter but YES we are watching

Some are wondering if anybody is watching the video in the many States that now record their State Legislatures. Of course, it doesn't really matter since the REAL value is just having them available in case we need to go back and check someone's...er, veracity, but as it turns out, YES, lots of people are watching:

Link

For calendar year 2007, the Minnesota House had:

  • 111,754 combined hits to the live and archive webcast streams, averaging 306 hits per day.
  • 11,652 "distinct visitors" (This means the number of unique IPs. Each one could have watched one or 111 clips.)
  • Average play duration of live and archive streams was 29 minutes, 27 seconds
  • A relatively even usage pattern Monday-Friday, with a slight increase on Thursdays.

Oh, Bambino!! IRS Convicts the Babe's Nephew

The press is going wild with bad Babe puns: "The Sultan of Swindle"...boooo

Link

A serial fraudster who claims to be a nephew of baseball legend Babe Ruth was convicted in federal court yesterday of filing 178 bogus tax returns -- from prison.

George Herman Ruth, 51, was serving a 33-month term for mail fraud at the federal prison at Fort Dix when he hatched and carried out a plan to soak the Internal Revenue Service for $360,000 in refunds, a jury ruled in U.S. District Court in Trenton.

eBay helping Consumers save billions

Link

Now researchers from the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, and the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, have quantified that surplus – the key to eBay’s value proposition, particularly during rough economic times. Writing in an upcoming issue of Information Systems Research, the researchers report that eBay buyers saved more than $7 billion in 2003 and $8.4 billion in 2004. Extrapolating from their data, they project that consumers saved $19 billion on eBay last year.

The researchers quantified the surplus by using a sniping agent called Cniper to track 4,500 eBay auctions in 2003 and 2004. (Sniping software lets people automatically bid on auctions in the final moments.) By using the sniper software, the researchers could track the highest bids and measure the difference with the winning bid – an average of $4, or 30 percent savings on the average $14 eBay auction.

“Everyone is talking about the recession. This is where people are conscious of the money they are spending,” Galit Shmueli, an assistant professor of management science and statistics at Smith. “EBay should try to extract more of this consumer surplus.”

Cholesterol and Heart Disease: Is there a link?

Link

The truth is, we've always had reason to question the idea that cholesterol is an agent of disease. Indeed, what the Framingham researchers meant in 1977 when they described LDL cholesterol as a "marginal risk factor" is that a large proportion of people who suffer heart attacks have relatively low LDL cholesterol.

So how did we come to believe strongly that LDL cholesterol is so bad for us? It was partly due to the observation that eating saturated fat raises LDL cholesterol, and we've assumed that saturated fat is bad for us. This logic is circular, though: saturated fat is bad because it raises LDL cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol is bad because it is the thing that saturated fat raises. In clinical trials, researchers have been unable to generate compelling evidence that saturated fat in the diet causes heart disease.

Art Laffer (curve) chooses Tennessee

Link

Arthur Laffer Sr. had enough of California.

Taxed at an 8.84 percent corporate rate and a top marginal personal-income rate of 10.3 percent, Laffer, an internationally renowned supply-side economist, loaded up his 20-person business in 2006 and aimed for Nashville.

It was an odd decision for the one-time adviser to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. But Laffer's advice had seemingly fallen on deaf ears, so he looked eastward.

Study: Simple answers win elections

Did Fred try to splain too much?

Link

"Low complexity wins elections," said psychologist Lucian Gideon Conway III of the University of Montana at Missoula, who published his analysis of the presidential speeches in the journal Political Psychology. "People like simple answers, and someone saying, 'I don't have all the answers and here are five possibilities' is a hard sell compared to someone who says, 'I have a plan and it is going to work and my opponent is completely wrong.' "

The result is a paradox. Politicians offer simplistic solutions in order to win elections. But to govern, they must quickly ratchet up their complexity because they confront costs, consequences and compromises. But when up for reelection, it's time to dumb things down again.

Parasites feeding off our tax dollars

Forbes has looked at the richest counties in the US and it will come as no surprise that they surround our nations capitol.

Link

Fairfax County, Va., Loudoun County, Va., and Howard County, Md., top the list of America's richest counties, which we based on median household income data from the 2006 census. In Fairfax, that number reaches $100,318 a year; Loudoun households pull down a livable $99,371 a year; Howard residents follow at $92,260.

[...]

In the case of Washington, D.C., she says that well-paid government employees, and the area's lobbyists, lawyers and other tangential personnel, are "suburbanizing like mad" and in doing so have created a "feedback loop," driving more money into the area's suburbs by populating them with higher-priced homes and better school systems.

Wilson County's "Growth" Problem

It is very odd the way that "Growth" is always used as a justification for more taxes. Growth PRODUCES more revenue but MORE never seems to be enough.

However, the Wilson County Commission seems to be intent on killing future growth and will vote tonight on a new $1,000 per house lot tax.

"The growth is a big cause of our (financial) problem right now," said County Commissioner Bernie Ash, the sponsor of the resolution creating the development tax.

Good luck to the County Commission, if they are "successful" Wilson County will be just another slow growth county.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

What is it about public service and alcohol ?

Link

She became Britain's youngest female councillor (British equivalent of City Council) when she was elected last year at the age of 18 on a promise to prove young people are "not all hood-wearing yobs getting drunk".

But a series of risque pictures on the internet show that Laura Pye seems to have taken her own manifesto less than seriously.

The shots may not show her wearing a hood, but there is certainly evidence of drunkenness - and plenty more besides.

$60,000 embezzled from City Owned Golf Course

Link

A joint investigation between the Chattanooga Police Department Fraud Division and the City Internal Audit Division has led to the arrest of an employee of a Chattanooga City owned golf course.

James R. Simmons, 37, of Chattanooga was an employee at the Brainerd Golf Course. He has been charged with Theft over $60,000 dollars.

After a lengthy investigation between these two divisions, investigators determined he has been embezzling money from the golf course for some time. Simmons had been employed at the golf course for five years.

Morristown ,TN Taxpayers paid for THIS sign

and it is posted on taxpayer funded public property.

Linda Noe continues to document the outrageous behavior of City of Morristown officials in regards to the upcoming Sales Tax Hike Referendum. Their behavior is unprecedented as far as I am aware.

The CITY OF MORRISTOWN actually registered as a political committee to support the tax hike. Yes, you read that correctly. This is basically the same as using taxpayer dollars to support a candidate. Taxpayer money being used to promote a tax hike!! More as this story develops.

Nashville Convention Center Snowball is rolling

Today's series of articles on the proposed convention Center, in the Tennessean, offer little more than cheerleading and "aint this gonna be wonderful"ness.

Councilman Jerry Maynard's timid "Not so fast" article should have been titled "almost full speed ahead." Our Metro Council is a toothless lapdog regarding these kinds of projects. Of all those involved, THEY should be asking the hard questions and approaching this with skepticism. Not one number should go unchallenged but unfortunately NONE of the pro forma fairy tales will be questioned.

Ron Samuels says the project will expand the tax base but offers not one hard number prediction so we can come back in five years and compare reality to what he told us reality would be.

Lets be honest. This project is a huge subsidy for downtown hotels and restaurants. They will profit from this project and taxpayers will NOT. The overwhelming majority of the 600,000 plus residents of Davidson County will never darken the door or receive any benefits, period.

Craig Leipold has not sent out any checks to taxpayers after he bagged $195 million for the Predators. We can expect the same return on "our" convention center investment.

UK Docs: Don't treat old and unhealthy

Boy, that socialized medicine sure is compassionate.

Link

Doctors are calling for NHS treatment to be withheld from patients who are too old or who lead unhealthy lives.

Smokers, heavy drinkers, the obese and the elderly should be barred from receiving some operations, according to doctors, with most saying the health service cannot afford to provide free care to everyone.

Fertility treatment and "social" abortions are also on the list of procedures that many doctors say should not be funded by the state.

The findings of a survey conducted by Doctor magazine sparked a fierce row last night, with the British Medical Association and campaign groups describing the recommendations from family and hospital doctors as "out­rageous" and "disgraceful".

Tax Poll - Jan 20-22

Link

NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll conducted by the polling organizations of Peter Hart (D) and Bill McInturff (R). Jan. 20-22, 2008. N=1,008 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3.1 (for all adults).






"Do you think Congress should or should not pass a tax cut as a way to help stimulate the U.S. economy?" Half sample, MoE ± 4.4 (Form A)












.






Should Should Not Depends (vol.) Unsure


% % % %












1/20-22/08




59 26 7 8












1-Mar





66 23 6 5












.










Please tell me which of the following statements comes closer to your point of view when it comes to tax cuts. Statement A: Federal tax cuts have been worth it, because they have helped strengthen the economy by allowing Americans to keep more of their own money. Statement B: Federal tax cuts have NOT been worth it, because they have increased the deficit and caused cuts in government programs. Half sample, MoE ± 4.4 (Form B)












.






Worth It Not Worth It Depends (vol.) Unsure


% % % %












1/20-22/08




42 45 8 5












10/8-10/05




39 53 4 4












3/31 - 4/3/05




38 54 4 4












.










Now here are some things that the federal government could do to help boost and improve the economy. Please tell me how much impact you think each one would have in helping the economy: a great deal of impact, quite a bit of impact, just some impact, or not much impact. . . .












.






A Great Deal Quite a Bit Just Some Not Much


% % % %












Lowering taxes for middle- and lower-income taxpayers only












1/20-22/08




40 18 28 12 2












.
















Lowering taxes for all taxpayers














1/20-22/08




31 17 28 22 2












.
















Continuing to raise the minimum wage













1/20-22/08




32 14 28 24 2












.
















Stopping and freezing all subprime mortgage foreclosures for ninety days and creating an automatic rate freeze on subprime mortgages for at least five years












1/20-22/08




28 15 27 18 12












.
















Extending and broadening unemployment insurance to help Americans who are having difficulty finding work












1/20-22/08




29 13 36 19 3

You can shoe horses without a State License?

Our legislature is clearly not doing it's job of protecting horse owners against unscrupulous horse shoers. I looked HERE and I find absolutely no effort to regulate unscrupulous horse shoers.

This article in the Knoxville News Sentinel about a successful horse farrier is soooo scary. How do people know who to hire. Who says this guy is good? Certainly not the State of TN, there is no license requirement for horse shoers. This guy could be a serial horseshoe criminal?

People spend hundreds of thousands on horses and are expected to rely on their own good common sense to make this decision?

Watch out Karl Dean, you are about to step in it

Michael Cass interviews the Mayor about education and right out of the box, the dreaded C word is spoken. Doesn't Karl Dean know that he is treading on very dangerous ground? Somebody, quick, warn the Mayor before he winds up in the Cumberland River wearing concrete cowboy boots. There is NO WAY the education bureaucracy or the teacher's union or the politically charged school board will allow him to put more power in the hands of parents.

Public School Parents are TOO STUPID and uncaring to make decisions about their little crumb crunchers. Bureaucrats should be in charge of schools. Oh SURE, the Mayor got to make his choice (damn, I said the dreaded C word) about where to send his children to school but EVERYBODY knows that public school parents can't be trusted to make important decisions like that about their own children!!

I checked and the Mayor mentions "choice" or "choices" FOUR times in the interview. Hire this man a bodyguard!!

Link

What do you think needs to be fixed first in Metro schools, and what should be done to improve whatever you see as that most pressing need?

Well, I think the fundamental goal for schools is that we should be in a position where we’re offering choices so that all kids can go to schools where they can succeed. That’s where we start. How we get there, there’s a variety of things going on right now.

Open Meetings Law violation avoided..this time

The word seems to be spreading in Rutherford County and elsewhere in TN. Public business should be conducted in PUBLIC, a novel concept but one that seems to be catching on, thank you to these Rutherford County Commissioners.

Link

Commissioners Will Jordan, Joe Frank Jernigan, Jack Black and Bob Bullen had been invited. Jernigan and Bullen both said in advance that they wouldn't attend because of schedule conflicts. After learning that other commissioners might be there, Black had said he probably wouldn't attend.

Tennessee's open meetings law requires public notice and access to any meetings where two or more elected government officials deliberate on issues that will come before them in their official capacity.

Jordan said he didn't want the perception that behind-the-scenes deals were happening on such a controversial issue. "I just decided the best thing for me to do was leave that alone," Jordan said.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Share of Taxes paid by Rich after 4 Tax Cuts

Mark Perry

The graph above shows the share of personal income taxes paid by the top one-half percent of earners from 1960 to 2001. During this period, there were 4 major reductions in marginal tax rates.

Tax TVs to "fight" childhood obesity

Do you guess there is a point at which some parents will say "back off" to legislators? Maybe we zipped past that point long ago without a whimper?

Link

A Democratic lawmaker in New Mexico wants to tax televisions and video games to raise funds to fight childhood obesity and improve education in the state, officials said Friday.

"I have asked our legislative council service to prepare the "Leave No Child Inside" bill and am hopeful that it will be ready for me to introduce on Monday," educator-turned-lawmaker Gail Chasey told AFP.

"Leave No Child Inside" -- a play on the federal education initiative "No Child Left Behind" -- is backed by grassroots environmental group, the Sierra Club.

We are selling stuff to the world

Link Main Export Data Page HERE. The world is out-sourcing its jobs to Nashville. Why aren't they producing these goods and services in their own country? Because we can do it better or cheaper....its called competition.


Africa $26,547,177 $21,295,048
APEC $3,510,470,570 $3,664,957,427
ASEAN $76,175,058 $163,048,103
Asia $390,993,435 $542,040,445
DR-CAFTA $75,916,201 $105,269,588
European Union $582,513,569 $547,247,067
FTAA $3,298,383,275 $3,351,168,941
NAFTA $3,054,435,405 $3,052,656,144
OPEC $580,059,008 (D)
South America $135,852,043 $159,901,561

wife beaters, drunks, adulterers, and thieves?

Gail Kerr laments the fact that the TN General Assembly is doing nada but she says there has been humor:

Link

Oh, there have been some amusing moments. This week, after Rep. Rob Briley made a heartfelt apology for his well-publicized drunken behavior, Rep. Gary Moore, the straightforward Joelton firefighter, made the excellent point that everyone battles secret demons. But the way he made it was hilarious:

"Some of us are alcoholics," Moore said. "Some of us are thieves. Some of us are adulterers. Truth of the matter is, we reflect society."

Rep. Charles Curtiss of Sparta said Moore's comments might have been a bit much. But he made it even worse: "I don't think there are any criminals in here. But we're a cross section of society. There are people in there that drink, people in there that beat their wives, people in there unfaithful to their wives. No question in my mind about that."

Sooooooooo. There are no criminals in the state legislature, he asserts, but some of them do beat the tar out of their wives. Domestic violence law was set back three centuries.

Cleveland TN installs Red Light Cams

Link

Pay special attention to how you're driving in Cleveland because soon bad driving will cost you money.

Cleveland is the latest city to approve the use of red light cameras.

The council voted to purchase and install cameras throughout the city.

[...]

"We're trying not to look at it as a source of revenue," say District 3 councilman Avery Johnson.

Friday, January 25, 2008

CEOs rank TN 6th Best State for Business

Link

Tennessee News Aggregators

Google
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USA Today

The 50 Ugliest Guitars

Link

CA Phone tax gets heavy backing from unions

Link

The campaign for a $243-million telephone users tax on the Feb. 5 ballot has amassed nearly $2.6 million, almost three-fourths of it from labor unions, according to campaign contribution reports filed Thursday.

Unions provided nearly $1.9 million to the Proposition S campaign, which is seeking to preserve a tax on cellular and land line calls that has been challenged repeatedly in court.

The size of the donations appalled foes of the tax, who said that city employee unions were rewarding politicians for giving them raises -- and ensuring that more will be granted in the future.

"This is the economics of special interests," said Walter Moore, who has been battling the measure. "You have a special interest that can make hundreds of millions of dollars by putting in $1 million or $2 million at City Hall."

Tougher Education Standards: Version Gazillion

Hoboy!! THIS sounds reaaaaaaally promising. Lets do away with the test that determines if standards have been met but lets (wink, wink) create tougher standards.

Our education bureaucracy is certifiably crazy......every year they tell us that NOW they have the answer. Forget last year's disaster or the one before that. THIS YEAR will be different. Karl Dean and Phil Bredesen clearly never believed this yearly PR parade, they explicitly chose NOT to have their children attend Metro Nashville Public Schools but somehow they expect us to swallow it all, hook, line, and sinker....or maybe deep down they don't really expect us to believe what they know is wrong, that seems like a more likely explanation.

Link

The state Board of Education this morning approved new and tougher standards for Tennessee students as well as did away with the Gateway exams, a series of tests required for students to get a diploma.

The tougher standards include math all four years of high school and taking chemistry or physics in addition to biology.

These requirements will go into effect in the 2009-10 school year and will affect current 7th graders.

[...]

"They are rigorous but they are doable," said Gary Nixon, executive director of the state board. "What we want students to do is to develop their minds, and think critically ... and to better assure that when our student graduate from high school, they are truly prepared." (Ben's note: didn't "we" want that last year and the year before and the year before that?)

New Transplant Technique: No organ rejection

Link

The treatment involved weakening the patient's immune system, then giving the recipient bone marrow from the person who donated the organ. In one experiment, four of five kidney recipients were off immune-suppressing medicines up to five years later.

"There's reason to hope these patients will be off drugs for the rest of their lives," said Dr. David Sachs of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, who led the research published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.

Is this a violation of the Little Hatch Act? YES

There is a US federal Law called the Hatch Act which prevents federal employees or elected officials from using their official position to campaign.

Tennessee has a law called the Little Hatch Act. This law prohibits all Tennessee State and Local elected officials from using their official position to influence elections of any kind. Specifically:

"or to otherwise use such person's official position or employment to interfere with or affect the result of any regular or special primary election conducted within the state,"

Linda Noe points to this letter in support of a local sales tax increase in Hamblen County. This appears to me to be a clear and obvious violation of the Little Hatch Act. The letterhead says "Hamblen County Government", below it says "from the courthouse", it lists all local officials in their official capacity and uses a government email address. Any reasonable person would see this as an official county government communication.

College Chancellor expected to sing like a bird

after pleading guilty to government corruption.

Link HT: FlashPoint

Johnson's cooperation is significant in a case focusing on political corruption inside the state's college system. The former veteran legislator who rose to become House speaker pro tempore served for decades as one of the state's most powerful political figures and kept close ties to lawmakers after he took over the college system in 2002.

Dozens of legislators, their close relatives and businesses received jobs in the system, and some of those arrangements are under federal investigation.

NJ Taxpayer Activists Arrested Protesting Toll Hikes

Taxpayer activists Seth Grossman and John Lonegan were arrested outside a TownHall meeting held by Governor Corzine to explain his outrageous road toll hikes.

This is good news - More Entrepreneurs

Link

MURFREESBORO — Pam Wright graduated from MTSU with a degree in psychology in 1973, but her passion for travel led her to open a travel agency.

"It gave me an opportunity to turn a love and a passion into a business venture," she said.

In 1981, she founded Nashville-based Wright Travel Agency.

Now she will share her success with a new generation of entrepreneurs. Wright has endowed a $1.25 million chair in entrepreneurship at MTSU's Jennings A. Jones College of Business.

"Of this type, it is the first chair," said Joe Bales, MTSU vice president of development and university relations.

An endowed chair typically is occupied by someone who is the best in their field, is exceptional at teaching and research and has a commitment to education, Bales said.

Translation of Clementspeak

Former Congressman and Former Senatorial and Mayoral Candidate Bob Clement announced that he has formed a new lobbying firm and according to the Tennessean he said:

"Now, I'm focused on helping the private sector and local governments of this region maximize available resources on the state and federal and international level."

Here is a translation of this statement from Clementspeak to Taxpayerspeak:

"Dear taxpayers, you have paid for my advanced degree in government influence peddling. I now intend to use that vast knowledge and network of fellow Republican and Democratic influence peddlers to use YOUR GOVERNMENT to enrich myself. I will use YOUR GOVERNMENT to funnel special favors and bundles of taxpayer cash to my clients and they will pay me big bucks. Is this a great country or what.

Thank You and Good luck suckers!"

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hooray!! Two Ga Congressmen swear off earmarks

Now THIS is the kind of courage and guts we need to see more of...THANK YOU Georgia Congressmen Tom Price and Lynn Westmoreland.

Link

You will soon be able to encrypt Cell talk

Link

A new fingertip-sized voice encryption chip could lead to broader adoption of mobile device voice encryption.

Next month, KoolSpan will release the TrustChip, a US$300 encryption chip in an SD memory card form factor that end users themselves can slide into any Windows Mobile or Symbian device with an SD card slot.

The TrustChip automatically encrypts voice data when an end user calls another TrustChip-enabled phone.

No contest, this is the BEST shopping site

on the net:

TheFind.com

Do Teacher Unions care about students?

NO, of course not, they care about one thing and one thing only: their own power...and even a very liberal newspaper editorial page sees through their motives:

"But the union, frankly, had been backed into a corner on this issue. Decline a request from a successful inner-city school that has gotten national attention and you look like obstructionists. Agree, and run the risk that other Denver schools will want the same thing and your organization ebbs into irrelevancy. So the union tried to come out somewhere in the middle, granting waivers but not buying off entirely — a move that ends up smelling of desperation."

Maybe the economy ain't so bad

Professor Mark Perry says things are actually looking up. Of course, this will not stop the pompous political peacocks in DC from claiming they will come to our "rescue" (eyes watering, fighting back the tears) by giving us back our own money.

All major US Banks made a profit in 2007

Unemployment claims at a 3 month low

Improving inventory of Existing Homes for sale

The TN Lottery is a bloody Disaster

Lets review.......most of the people who buy lottery tickets are poor who can least afford this waste of their money. The money spent on the lottery should be spent on children and healthcare etc etc etc. Many of these same people rely on their fellow taxpayers for taxpayer subsidized services for their children and healthcare.

This is clearly very destructive behavior which OUR government is encouraging every day with tens of millions of lottery advertising.

AND...when we look at how the money is spent....the disaster grows. The Higher Education lobby doesn't care that most lottery students are failing, they simply want to keep their cash cow.

The TN Lottery is a Disaster in so many ways, its hard to count them all.

Link

Half the students who earn Tennessee's lottery scholarship lose it after their freshman year, and more than two-thirds lose it by their senior year.

The findings come from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, which will release its annual report on the lottery scholarship today.


Update: Mick Wright has a beautifully written piece in the Main Street Journal on the lottery.

Are Cooley and Gowan Lobbyists?

If they are then they are breaking the law. The TN Ethics Commission has NO enforcement authority so it doesn't really matter. You can bet the AG will do nothing about this.

Link

Neither Cooley, who is a consultant for AT&T, nor Gowan, a consultant for Comcast Cable, are registered as lobbyists. Both would be covered by a provision of state law that says high-ranking state officials, until one year after they leave their position, are prohibited from lobbying.

Cooley stepped down as deputy governor in December 2006. Gowan left his senior adviser position with the administration on Nov. 16, 2007.

A lobbyist, according to the relevant portion of a definition incorporated into state law, is a person who "directly or indirectly" communicates with a legislator or an officer of the executive branch of state government for the purpose of influencing legislation.

Yea, Riiiiiiiiiight!! You just want the best for us

The Tennessee Medical Association says they are concerned about these new cheap, convenient walk-in medical clinics. I'll bet they are. They will no doubt try to use OUR government to restrict the free market in healthcare. And if they pour enough money into lobbying the TN General Assembly then they will probably be able to do just that...sad.

Link

The Tennessee Medical Association had planned this week to propose new rules to the state's Board of Medical Examiners that would have required that a supervising doctor be within 30 miles of a clinic and spend more time there.

Currently, nurse practitioners must be supervised by a physician, but there are no requirements concerning the location of the supervising physician.

The medical association changed its mind about proposing new rules after weighing the potential effects on other types of clinics, especially in rural areas, but it still plans to recommend changes after more talks with other stakeholders.

"We're not trying to keep the MinuteClinics from delivering a good service," said TMA Chairman Dr. Michael Minch, referring to the convenience care concept by a well-known brand.

"We want to make sure they're safe, effective and doing the appropriate services."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What an extraordinary Voice

YouTube is an extraordinary cultural archive. I have never heard of this German Tenor, Fritz Wunderlich, but what a voice and a range.

John Lunt circulating Charter Petition for Shelby Cnty

John Lunt has petitioned successfully before in Memphis for a charter amendment and he is a great example of a citizen willing to ACT. Congrats and best of luck to John.

Link

John Lunt, a financial consultant and organizer of the grassroots group Concerned Citizens of Shelby County, said he's concerned with changes to the county's charter that could turn the offices of sheriff, trustee, register, assessor and county clerk into appointed jobs.

He's launched a petition to let voters choose whether to keep the five officers exactly as they are: Elected officials whose duties are spelled out in the state Constitution.

"I believe in freedom, and I certainly don't believe in anyone taking away my freedom to vote for those five officers," Lunt said.

CBO Budget and Economic Outlook 2008-12

Link

Entire School Staff to be replaced

Link

Cincinnati Public Schools will replace the entire staff at the chronically low-performing Taft Elementary School in Mount Auburn.

The action is the result of the school's inability to meet improvement goals mandated by the federal government and, before that, the district for nine consecutive years.

Students there score about 20 points below the district average on standardized tests, according to state data.

THANK YOU Senator Gregg of New Hampshire

Government has a much greater ability to screw up the economy than to help it but few politicians will admit the obvious.

Link

"To the extent that the government steps in, it's often too late and when it takes effect ... it aggravates the overall debt structure," Gregg told a handful of reporters in the Senate press gallery Tuesday afternoon.

In other words, sending people checks months after an economic downturn has begun will not fix the economy, but it sure will make politicians feel good about themselves.

Rebate Rack

Link

GREAT TIME to build a Convention Center-NOT

There is NEVER a good time to use taxpayer's money to subsidize private businesses but this looks like one of the worst for Metro Nashville to build a Convention Center. There are many other public priorities that require the time and money of our elected representatives.

Link

Metro Nashville can still afford to build a $595 million downtown convention center despite having to spend $18 million in reserves to balance its annual budget and being almost maxed-out on issuing bonds, the city's finance chief said Tuesday.

Dipping into the reserve fund to balance its budget at the end of the current fiscal year could hurt the city's standing with bond rating agencies, making it more expensive to borrow money for building projects.

Finance Director Rich Riebeling said Metro could still afford to build the convention center, which would be financed through fees and taxes collected mostly from tourists.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

NEA Teacher's union dues fund these groups

$12 million of teacher's union dues fund outside groups.

Here is the List from EIA

Lloyd and Kelvin back on the Air in Knoxville

Lloyd Daughtery and Kelvin Moxley are back on the air in Knoxville starting January 28 along with Frank Cagle. Welcome back guys and just in time for Super Tuesday.

Station is WQBB 1040 AM from 10 til Noon.

Disturbing Report from Blount Cnty - Sheriff's threats?

Citizens for Better Government in Blount County have previously reported on 27 missing cars in the Sheriff's Department.

They are now reporting serious allegations of harassment of citizens by the Sheriff's Department:
The latest example occurred at the January Commission meeting. Ron McTigue, 77 years old, found himself being waved out of the Commission room into the hall by Sheriff James Berrong. The Sheriff told McTigue that if he continued to ask questions about what happened to the 28 Sheriff’s vehicles missing from the recent inventory, that he would sue McTigue. Mr. McTigue, is seriously ill, partly from the lifelong effects of serious wounds suffered while a Marine fighting in Korea. The cost of drugs for he and his wife leave very little extra money. He was shaken by the Sheriff’s threat, particularly because, just a few months ago, in a similar encounter, the Sheriff ordered McTigue “to be in my office tomorrow at 10am”. McTigue declined the Sheriff’s order. Strangely, a black unmarked car followed McTigue home from the Commission meeting and parked in front of his house. But he is not about to knuckle under to the Sheriff’s threats. Mr. McTigue says:”I did not get shot up in Korea only to be intimidated by a Sheriff who refuses to answer a simple taxpayer question.”

Bush to disappoint again on earmarks

Bush and Republican leaders give us yet another reason to distrust them when they claim to care about reducing spending. They do not.

Link

WASHINGTON — President Bush is unlikely to defy Congress on spending billions of dollars earmarked for pet projects, but he will probably insist that lawmakers provide more justification for such earmarks in the future, administration officials said Monday.

Fiscal conservatives in Congress and budget watchdogs have been urging Mr. Bush to issue an executive order instructing agencies to disregard the many earmarks listed just in committee reports, not in the text of legislation.

More than 90 percent of earmarks are specified that way, not actually included in the texts. White House officials say such earmarks are not legally binding on the president.

Congressional leaders of both parties, who are scheduled to meet on Tuesday with the president, said Mr. Bush would provoke a huge outcry on Capitol Hill if he ignored those earmarks.

Lawmakers, including the House Republican whip, Roy Blunt of Missouri, have cautioned the White House that a furor over earmarks could upend Mr. Bush’s hopes for cooperation with Congress on other issues, including efforts to revive the economy.

Moreover, Republicans shudder at the possibility that a Democratic president might reject all their earmarks.

Catering to customers works in Healthcare too

Link

No state has more experience with retail clinics than Minnesota, the birthplace nearly eight years ago of MinuteClinic, which still dominates the field even as competitors crowd in. An independent, nonprofit coalition of doctors, insurers, consumers, and employers called MN Community Measurement annually rates health clinics' and doctors' practices statewide.

"Lo and behold," said Jim Chase, executive director of MN Community Measurement, "the MinuteClinic actually did very well."

The most recent report card from the group, based on data from 2006, awarded MinuteClinic the highest marks in Minnesota for treating children 2 to 18 years old for sore throats, giving it a score of 99 percent. The lowest grade: 26 percent for a doctors' group.