Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Congress DEMANDS action from big oil

Government Employment is booming-USAToday

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Government hiring began to boom last year around July 1, when most state and local governments started new fiscal years. Those budgets were based on forecasts established in a strong economy. In each quarter since, the total government workforce has been the most in at least six years.

State and local governments have run deficits for the last nine months, the Commerce Department reports. Tax collections went flat in the middle of 2007, but spending has continued to rise.

The USA has nearly 88,000 units of government, mostly local, that employ 22 million. Hiring has been strong at every level, from new CIA spies to preschool teachers.

Univ of Ala Yearbook, 1893-96

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College students protest 1,500% CA Beer Tax Hike

Gift idea for your fav Politician

Link HT: Club for Growth

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Few states allow overseas troops to vote by e-mail

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Pentagon officials have been urging more states to move into the electronic age before November, a move that could help reverse recent trends in which thousands of military members asked for ballots but either didn't vote or had their ballots rejected for flaws.

The push comes more than seven years after problems with overseas military voting set off an uproar in President Bush's narrow 2000 victory. In Florida, where Bush squeaked out a 537-vote victory that gave him the presidency, questions were raised about several thousand overseas military votes that came in after deadlines and were counted in some districts but not counted in others.

This year, when war is a key campaign issue, the election results in any state - particularly one with heavy military voting - could turn on the votes of thousands of troops on the front lines.

"The personnel that fight our wars, the people who are most affected by the decisions on the use of the military, are being systematically denied the right to vote," said Bob Carey, a board member of the Overseas Vote Foundation, a voting rights group. "I find that pretty tough to swallow. If a president decides to deploy military troops somewhere, it's these troops that are going to go."

Does this talking Goat remind you of politicians?

Taxpayers will continue to pay for Healthcare

for lawmakers who have abused their power and committed a felony related to their office. This ought to make taxpayers very "happy."

Link

NASHVILLE - A proposal to deny convicted lawmakers of health insurance benefits has likely been killed for the year by a Democratic-controlled House committee.

The House Calendar Committee on Tuesday sent the measure sponsored by Rep. Charles Curtiss, a Sparta Democrat, back to the Judiciary Committee - a panel that has closed for the year.

The bill sought to apply to lawmakers or governors convicted of felonies related to their official duties.

The Senate passed the bill unanimously last month.

Sen. Jim Tracy, a Shelbyville Republican and main sponsor of the Senate version, said the measure was designed as a companion to an existing law that strips convicted lawmakers of their pensions.

Expect New wave of violence at TN Convenience Mkts

The first 40-45 year old ladies who are NOT asked for ID will start a new wave of violence that will make the OK Corral look like child's play.

Link
A bill making mandatory carding to buy beer permanent law is headed to Gov. Phil Bredesen today after the Senate approved the measure.

The bill does have one major change, however, that could be a delight for older Tennesseans.

The legislation would not punish beer sellers who sell suds to those customers who “reasonably appears to be over the age of 50″ and don’t present identification.

In 2007, Tennessee became the first state to card everyone purchasing beer regardless of age. That law was set to expire July 1 of this year, but the bill headed to the governor would permanently remove the sunset provision.

State takes custody of child...for drinking lemonade

Government is the bull in the china shop of our freedoms.

Link

At a hearing later that day, Jones recommended that Leo remain in foster care until she had completed her investigation, a process she estimated would take several days. It was only after the assistant attorney general who represented CPS admitted that the state was not interested in pursuing the case aggressively that juvenile referee Leslie Graves agreed to release Leo to his mother -- on the condition that Ratte himself relocate to a hotel.

Finally, at a second hearing three days later, Graves dismissed the complaint and permitted Ratte to move home.

Don Duquette, a U-M law professor who directs the university's Child Advocacy Law Clinic, represented Ratte and his wife. He notes sardonically that the most remarkable thing about the couple's case may be the relative speed with which they were reunited with Leo.

Duquette says the emergency removal powers of CPS, though "well-intentioned" are "out of control and partly responsible for the large numbers of kids in the foster care system," which is almost universally acknowledged to be badly overburdened.

School Choice choices for Congress

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Can't get those temps to budge

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...the tropical troposphere should be the most sensitive indicator of global warming. It just isn't happening

Hillary Clinton requested $2.3 billion in Earmarks

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Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has requested nearly $2.3 billion in federal earmarks for 2009, almost three times the largest amount received by a single senator this year.

The Democratic presidential candidate’s staggering request comes at a time when Congress remains engaged in a heated debate over spending federal dollars on parochial projects.

Chattanooga Corporate welfare goes to the next level

This is almost unbelievable but not so much anymore I guess. Our elected officials are quite happy to represent themselves as solving "problems" created for the benefit of real estate developers. I guess that is what a few good lobbyists get you....plus the inevitable campaign contributions.

Link

Earlier this month, CBL hired a five-member platoon of lobbyists from Miller & Martin law firm to push the bill, according to Tennessee Ethics Commission records. The lobbyists are Mark Smith, Dan Elrod, Holly McDaniel, Mandy Young and Dale Allen.

CBL’s tax proposal has received favorable support from some local politicians.

“The city has no reason to delay it,” said Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield. “We want the mall to be updated as soon as possible.”

In addition to the new fee, CBL has considered borrowing funds through the Chattanooga Industrial Development Board, Mr. Littlefield said.

Chattanooga City Council Member Jack Benson, who represents the Hamilton Place mall area, praised CBL’s plans and predicted the new development should help raise property values and generate more tax revenue for the city.

No More Tax Holiday for YOU!!

Ok people, LISTEN UP...your Governor and your General Assembly decided to give you a holiday from paying some of the taxes which you so rightfully owe and Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr tries so hard to pull from your stingy little hands.

We allowed you to have a small amount of the State's money to pay for your children's clothes and school supplies and even a computer for goodness sake...and what did you do with our benevolence??

You abused it!

Your Governor and your general Assembly tried to be nice but NOOOOOOO, you got GREEDY and bought too much stuff for your family.

No Spring Tax Holiday for YOU next year. I hope you are proud of yourselves!!!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Iran doesn't like Barbie, Spiderman, Harry Potter

Link
In the latest salvo in a more than decade-old government campaign against Barbie, Prosecutor General Ghorban Ali Dori Najafabadi said in an official letter to Vice President Parviz Davoudi that the doll and other Western toys are a "danger" that need to be stopped.

"The irregular importation of such toys, which unfortunately arrive through unofficial sources and smuggling, is destructive culturally and a social danger," said the letter, a copy of which was made available to The Associated Press.

Iranian markets have been inundated with smuggled Western toys in recent years partly due to a dramatic rise in purchasing power as a result of increased oil revenues.

While importing the toys is not necessarily illegal, it is discouraged by a government that seeks to protect Iranians from what it calls the negative effects of Western culture.

Najafabadi said the increasing visibility of Western dolls has alarmed authorities and they are considering intervening.

"The displays of personalities such as Barbie, Batman, Spiderman and Harry Potter ... as well as the irregular importation of unsanctioned computer games and movies are all warning bells to the officials in the cultural arena," his letter said.

Need something designed? 99designs.com

Link

Need something designed? Crowdsource it to our community of thousands of designers. Choose a winning design from hundreds of concepts created for you in under a week.

Pics from Whitehouse Correspondents Dinner

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Obama Basketball Highlights

Full List of TN Prop Tax Rates sorted highest-lowest

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No Govt oversight healthcare? YES, and they are thriving!!

Christian healthcare sharing organizations like Medi-share are voluntary, religious based organizations which allow people to share medical costs. They have grown spectacularly and provide many hundreds of thousands of people a low cost alternative to health insurance. Several States have specifically exempted them from regulation and oversight by state insurance bureaucrats and Florida is now considering such an exemption.

What!!! This is unheard of!! Allowing citizens to enter into voluntary contracts to share healthcare costs without some bureaucrat or self-righteous legislator saving them from their own ignorance?? How can this be??

The bureaucrats and politicians can't allow citizens this kind of freedom....why, if the citizens get a taste of making decisions about their own lives they may believe they know more than the bureaucrats, it would be disastrous for big government.

Commissioner Farr to Taxpayers: You people

are REALLY something. The Tennessee Commissioner of Revenue is "amazed" that Tennesseans try to minimize their taxes. This is an absolutely outrageous statement by a public servant.

Whats wrong with you people!! You should be able to read the commissioner's mind and send in the right amount without him having to spell it out!! Geez

In Reagan Farr's mind we are all a bunch of tax cheats who will never pay as much in taxes as he thinks we should. I think they call this "guilty until proven innocent."

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"It never ceases to amaze me the hoops people will go through to try to avoid taxes," said Farr.

Torrcelli puts campaign funds into a private charity...

his own private charity.

Link

LAMBERTVILLE, N.J. — Former Sen. Robert G. Torricelli, a top fundraiser for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, is sending hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from his 2002 Senate campaign to a private foundation registered in his name and based out of his New Jersey lobbying office — an arrangement that troubles campaign-finance and tax experts.

Federal election rules allow former elected officials to use surplus campaign money on charitable causes, though Mr. Torricelli's Rosemont Foundation, which received $1.5 million in campaign cash last year, has not yet been granted tax-exempt status.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Lottery is ripping off poor people...buying a

lottery ticket is a voluntarily made, really bad, decision but let's stop pretending that government is moral or benevolent. Just as surely as "welfare" programs rob able people of their dignity, independence, and self-confidence, the lottery spends millions of our money every year encouraging Tennesseans to destroy their financial future.


Link
Charles Spaulding Jr. spends about $90 of his monthly $1,300 income on the Ohio Lottery.

The 68-year-old retired truck driver says his favorite game is Mega Millions, which has odds of 1-in-176 million for its top prize.

"I've just about lost hope on it," the East Side resident said recently after buying a ticket at the Yearling Market & Carryout in Whitehall. "I'm not going to spend every penny on it. If I see I'm getting low on money, I pass it up."

The Ohio Lottery collects more than $2 billion a year from people willing to take their chances on long odds, and the state hopes to make millions more this year with the addition of a Keno game.

Many lottery players, like Spaulding, have low incomes. Any adult can play the lottery, but a Dispatch analysis found that the state makes most of its money in lower-income neighborhoods.

Calif City Employees make huge salaries as cities

(aka taxpayers) face financial ruin.

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A Chronicle examination of top salaries in the Bay Area's three biggest cities last year indicates that employee compensation and perks in those cities are similar to - and in some cases more lucrative than - those blamed for pushing Vallejo to the edge of financial doom.

In Vallejo, a midsize city of 121,000, there were 292 municipal employees who earned more than $100,000 last year. But in Oakland, with roughly three times more residents, 1,333 city workers were paid six figures in the same period. San Jose, a city of almost a million people, had 2,312. And San Francisco, which serves as a city and county government for its 809,000 residents, had more than 8,000.

None of the region's largest cities faces the imminent threat of bankruptcy, but all are weathering their own financial crises - even as firefighters and police officers often earn more than City Hall department heads.

TVA raised our rates to spend $2,138 on cigars?

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A recently released audit by TVA’s inspector general found that during 2005 and 2006 the federal utility spent $106,384 on food and tickets to sporting and theatrical events; $3,055 on a wine-tasting reception in Traverse City, Mich.; and $16,321 on a party at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.

During a legislative session on government ethics reform two years ago, TVA bought $2,138 worth of cigars in Nashville to hand out as gifts to legislators and their administrative staffs, records show.

Swiss dog owners must now pass exam

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The move is part of a wider law on the protection of animals. Among the more unusual provisions is a requirement that guinea pigs and budgies be bought in groups of two or more, because they cannot bear solitude.

The law also requires farmers who keep more than three pigs, five horses, 10 sheep, 150 egg-laying hens and 200 chicks to take a course.

Agricultural groups say this will add more costs to their industry.

Private dog-training companies and vets, who have welcomed this measure since it was mooted in 2005, will be authorised to provide the exams.

But Germaine Disières, a Yorkshire Terrier breeder, said: "To have to hold a permit to keep a very small dog, that is going too far. Education is necessary but to completely regulate is not the solution."

Friday, April 25, 2008

Access Denied: Global Map of Internet Censorship

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$50 per hour panhandling? Yikes

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65% oppose hike in Cap Gains Tax

From Rasmussen Reports: HT Club for Growth

A proposal has been made to increase the capital gains tax from 15% to 28%. Do you favor or oppose increasing the capital gains tax to 28%?

16% Favor
65% Oppose
20% Not sure

If the capital gains tax is increased to 28%, will that help the economy or hurt the economy?

17% Help
52% Hurt
18% Neither
14% Not sure

Panexa: ask your doctor for a reason to take it

Funny parody of drug ads.
PANEXA is a prescription drug that should only be taken by patients experiencing one of the following disorders: metabolism, binocular vision, digestion (solid and liquid), circulation, menstruation, cognition, osculation, extremes of emotion. For patients with coronary heart condition (CHC) or two separate feet (2SF), the dosage of PANEXA should be doubled to ensure that twice the number of pills are being consumed. PANEXA can also be utilized to decrease the risk of death caused by not taking PANEXA, being beaten to death by oscelots, or death relating from complications arising from seeing too much of the color lavender. Epileptic patients should take care to ensure tight, careful grips on containers of PANEXA, in order to secure their contents in the event of a seizure, caused by PANEXA or otherwise.

Top 20 Highest Property Tax Rates in TN

Don't tell the pols: Tornado causes Tax Surge

in Jackson. Look for the General Assembly to invest in weather altering technology before the end of the session.

Link
Because sales tax collections are reported two months after actual collection, April's report actually reflects sales taxes collected in February, showing the increase in consumer demand for roofing and other disaster supplies after the Feb. 5 tornado.
"The tornado is the only thing I can attribute the increase in tax collections to," said City recorder Al Laffoon.

Local sales taxes for the city only were running $129,500 under last year until April's collections. Collection are now $98,830 over last year. That figure, however, is about 1 percent below fiscal year budgeted amounts.

First Tax Rebate checks will show up on Monday

Your Uncle Sam and his cousins in Congress want to stimulate you to vote for them so they are returning some money to you which they took away from you several months ago.

Link

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The federal government, eager to boost the flagging economy, will start distributing special tax rebates on Monday - five days earlier than expected, the Treasury Department said Thursday.

The department had said last month that it would begin giving rebates on May 2.

Instead, 800,000 tax filers daily will get rebates on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. No rebates will be distributed on Thursday, and 5 million payments will be made on Friday.

The payments will go out ahead of schedule because of a new computer program that updates records daily - faster than an older program that updates weekly, according to Andrew DeSouza, a Treasury spokesman.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cloned Sniffer Dogs-The Genetic Revolution?

What will they look like after 4 years in the Whitehouse

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Congressional Bad Boys web site

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Over 11,700 Members of Congress have served this great Nation. Overwhelmingly, they have been hard working, dedicated, intelligent, and deserving of the courtesy title "The Honorable." But then there are the Congressional BadBoys, the one-half of one percent, or so, of rotten apples, done in by their all too human frailties. It's the same old story: power, money, booze, drugs, and sex.

What's Congress doing about these scandals?
Meet your House Ethics Committee and Senate Ethics Committee

Ok, I didn't start this but I can't resist adding to it

after seeing this post on Popular Science.

Newscoma noted problems in Africa via Michael Silence.

Perhaps a little foreign aid could be used to buy some Nutty Buddies:

Lottery causing grade inflation in Georgia?

Sure looks like it:

Link

Despite earning B averages in high school, at least one in 10 HOPE Scholarship recipients receives some type of remedial help during the first year of college.

Put simply, some college freshmen who seemed to excel in high school still need help in basic math and English.

Twelve percent of college freshmen who have the HOPE Scholarship, awarded to Georgia students who graduate from high school with at least a B average, received learning support in fall 2006, according to the University System of Georgia.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Woody and Denzel appeal to Judge for Wesley

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OCALA - Defense lawyers for actor Wesley Snipes called upon his Hollywood friends Wednesday as they lobbied a judge to put Snipes on probation for tax crimes, suggesting that imprisoning the film star would be a "travesty."

In a memorandum filed in advance of Thursday's sentencing in federal court in Ocala, the defense team attached character-building testimonials for Snipes from fellow actors Denzel Washington and Woody Harrelson.

The documents also include a letter of support from TV's "Judge Joe Brown."

Washington compared Snipes to a "mighty oak" while Harrelson, who co-starred with Snipes in "Wildcats," "White Men Can't Jump," and "Money Train," praised the Orlando-born actor as his friend of more than 20 years.

"He strives for rightness in all his relations and I realized early on what a true citizen of the world Wes is," Harrelson wrote in a letter, dated March 24. "He respects a healthy debate, as do I, and we've had some memorable ones over the years which have influenced my thoughts and emotions. Wes seeks solutions and resolutions rather than sitting back and watching the horrors and injustices that plague our world."

Federal prosecutors previously filed a memorandum asking Senior U.S. District Court Judge William Terrell Hodges to impose a three-year prison sentence and levy a minimum fine of $5 million on Snipes, who was found guilty of three misdemeanor counts of willfully failing to file a tax return.

Faulty virtual fence to be replaced with....virtual fence

Link

The government will replace its highly touted "virtual fence" on the Arizona-Mexico border with new towers, radars, cameras and computer software, scrapping the brand-new $20 million system because it doesn't work sufficiently, officials said.

The move comes just two months after Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff officially accepted the completed fence from the Boeing Co.

With the decision, Customs and Border Protection officials are acknowledging that the so-called Project 28 pilot program to detect illegal immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border does not work well enough to keep or to continue tweaking.

Chertoff accepted the program Feb. 22 after Boeing apparently resolved software glitches. But less than a week later, GAO told Congress it "did not fully meet user needs and the project's design will not be used as the basis for future" developments.

TN Dept of Rev "Technical Corrections"=Tax Hikes

It's that time if year that the TN Department of Revenue tries to convince us that they are no longer simply in charge of implementing tax law, they are actually also in charge of making tax law.

Insty has the story.

Below are a few more nuggets from the WallerLaw.com email:

Digital Products/iPOD Tax. The Bill contains sweeping legislation that would subject downloaded sales of digital media, including music videos, motion pictures, news and entertainment programs, music, ringtones, electronic books, etc. to the retail sales tax. Under current law digitally delivered goods are not taxable unless delivered in a tangible form.


Sales Taxes Paid by Lodging Industry. Under this provision of the Bill, "hotels, motels, inns, and other dealers that offer lodging accommodations" would have to pay sales taxes on items they provide to guests that currently are folded into room rates (linens, bathroom supplies, breakfast bar items, manager's receptions' drinks, in-room coffee, etc.). Under the Bill, lodging providers with restaurants could avoid paying sales tax on food purchases by offering guests coupons to restaurants that sell and serve the same food to non-guests. This portion of the Bill would reverse a 2000 decision by the Tennessee Court of Appeals exempting hotels from paying sales tax on such items.

Honda's assisted walking device

Link

TN Higher Ed wants you to play lottery, buy Beer

If I didn't know better I would think that Higher Ed officials in TN will do just about anything for a buck. Millions of dollars in advertising every week convince the poorest Tennesseans to throw away their financial futures by betting on the lottery....and higher ed officials are ecstatic about this. Now they want UT fans to buy beer, lots of beer. Yeah Rocky Top!!

Link
To help counter the increase in budget needs, department officials presented to university President John Petersen and Knoxville campus interim Chancellor Jan Simek a list of ways to raise additional revenue.

‘‘Basically they picked four things: an increase in season ticket price, charging students for tickets, reduce faculty and staff ticket discounts and beer sales,’’ athletic department spokeswoman Tiffany Carpenter said.

Plans are in the works to implement all four changes, but Tennessee’s Faculty Senate is asking school officials to reconsider the beer sales.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Poll: "Economic Growth" gaining on "Environment"

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Senator Haynes is a Saint!! He just wants the best

for his constituents. Click HERE to see his mailer, sent at taxpayer expense, to inform us that he supports the Sales Tax Holiday.

"take a holiday on the State"??

I must have missed the mailer that surely was sent last year when taxes were hiked? He just wants to keeps us informed...right?

TN Govt to citizens: we want more info on YOU!!

The deliberations over the Tennessee open records improvement bill just get weirder and weirder....now, two Senators want more information on groups that are pushing for improvements in open records law. WHAT??? This is beyond bizarre. These are gestapo tactics.

OK, OK....so you don't want citizens to easily accessing public records. Fine, but lets drop the childish bullying. This reminds me of the threat, made several years ago by a legislator, to do away with the Registry of Election Finance because too many people were requesting his campaign finance records.

Link

Democratic Sens. Douglas Henry, of Nashville, and Jim Kyle, of Memphis, argued that groups like the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government and Common Cause of Tennessee should be required to give more comprehensive information about their memberships if they are to be added to an advisory panel on open government.

Frank Gibson, who heads the coalition, says he’s willing to give more details about his group’s members. The Associated Press is a member.

The Senate Finance Committee decided to put off a vote on the measure sponsored by Sen. Randy McNally, an Oak Ridge Republican, until Wednesday.

THIS is depressing, US Constitutuion provides less

protection against unreasonable search and seizure than the NJ Constitution.

Link
[JURIST] The New Jersey Supreme Court [official website] Monday ruled [PDF text] that Internet service providers may not turn over users' personal information to police or other agencies unless they obtain a valid grand jury subpoena when the information sought relates to an indictable offense. The court held that the New Jersey constitution [text] affords greater protections than the US Constitution against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Video Warfare-Russian mig downs Georgian UAV

Just as YouTube is changing politics, it is changing war.

John McCain helped developer buy Public Land

Link

When Mr. Diamond wanted to buy land at the base, Fort Ord, Mr. McCain assigned an aide who set up a meeting at the Pentagon and later stepped in again to help speed up the sale, according to people involved and a deposition Mr. Diamond gave for a related lawsuit. When he appealed to a nearby city for the right to develop other property at the former base, Mr. Diamond submitted Mr. McCain’s endorsement as “a close personal friend.”

Writing to officials in the city, Seaside, Calif., the senator said, “You will find him as honorable and committed as I have.”

Courting local officials and potential partners, Mr. Diamond’s team promised that he could “help get through some of the red tape in dealing with the Department of the Army” because Mr. Diamond “has been very active with Senator McCain,” a partner said in a deposition.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Nashville's "Landport" cost taxpayers $4.5 mil 10 yrs

ago but is still padlocked. Why? Because the only access was the deteriorating Demonbreun Street Bridge and officials knew the bridge was a problem BEFORE the landport was built!!

Thank you Nancy Amons and WSMV for informing the taxpayers.

Link
The landport, which is located just off Demonbreun Street, is not used for much, but it was once envisioned as a transportation hub.

Former U.S. Rep. Bob Clement earmarked federal funds to have it built. And at the groundbreaking 13 years ago, its future was bright with the hopes of passenger trains, a bus transfer station and more. At present, the landport, in which $4.5 million was invested, is padlocked.

"We think it's a great location for the future," said Metro Transit Authority representative Paul Ballard.

The MTA owns the landport, which was begun under a former CEO. Currently, MTA uses what was going to be a ticket office as office space for four workers. There is a bus stop there, but on four out of five days, no one gets on or off.

So what went wrong with the Clement Landport?

Oh NO, Mass voters might, gulp, vote for lower taxes

Link

BOSTON — In November, Massachusetts taxpayers will be asked if they want to vote themselves a tax cut of more than $3,000.

State lawmakers are worried the answer will be "Yes."

A ballot question would let voters abolish the state income tax. While the proposal has largely flown under the radar, Beacon Hill lawmakers and budget watchdogs are concerned the climate is right for it to pass — with disastrous consequences, in their view.

The Coalition for Small Government, which is behind the ballot question, says ending the state's 5.3 percent income tax would be anything but bad. About 3 million taxpayers would save on average $3,600 a year, according to the ballot question's sponsors. The state Department of Revenue uses a slightly lower figure — $3,180 — based on the "typical" taxpaying family of three that owns a home.

Carla Howell, the leader of the Coalition for Small Government, and a one-time Libertarian candidate for governor, said the question isn't just about voting for a tax cut. It's about a fundamental overhaul of state government.

"It will take $11 billion out of the hands of Massachusetts big government and put it into the hands of men and women who earned it," Howell said.

Fla Anti-drug Earmark used for TN Rafting Trips

You can't make this stuff up.

Link

Last year, Miami Beach's Gang and Drug Prevention Program, known as the Teen Club, used part of a $50,000 federal grant to take members of the club white water rafting in Tennessee.

This year, the group will receive $651,500 from the Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. ''That's a lot of white water rafting trips,'' joked U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who, along with Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, supported the earmark that made the grant possible.

The "why bother" economy

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A "why bother?" economy has been created in Britain which has left thousands with no motivation to work, a report published today concludes.

Successive governments have encouraged a welfare culture that has left every family facing a £1,300 bill because the poor stay poor, it claims.

The findings by the public services think tank Reform suggest that increased welfare dependency has made it more difficult for those on the lowest incomes to do better.

An education system with a "dismal record" of educating the poorest, and a complex welfare system, have together created a far more divided society than other European countries, it finds.

Means-tested benefits and higher taxes have reduced the incentives available to those on low incomes to better themselves, Reform says.

It concludes: "The unintended consequence has been a 'why bother?' economy in which a significant minority do not have the capability or motivation to succeed."

Ga. Rep."Mitchell insists he's not a lobbyist."

Link

State Rep. Billy Mitchell (D-Stone Mountain) visited the Louisiana Legislature last week on behalf of a lending company trying to kill a bill to cap interest rates on payday loans.

That's Mitchell's other job. He's vice president of government relations for Community Loans of America Inc., one of the largest car title and payday lending companies in the nation.

Payday lenders provide short-term, high-interest loans for people with poor credit.

The practice is illegal in Georgia.

Mitchell insists he's not a lobbyist. Nor, Mitchell said, did he go to Louisiana to urge lawmakers to stop the anti-payday industry bill.

"That's not what I do," Mitchell said. "My role is closer to community relations and creating goodwill."

However, the author of the legislation, Louisiana state Rep. Rickey Hardy (D-Lafayette), said Mitchell told him that the bill, if enacted into law, "would hurt the little man."

Mitchell adamantly denies saying that.

Georgia law does not prohibit legislators from lobbying other state legislatures on bills that might affect the companies they work for.

But some ethics-in-government advocates say they shouldn't do it.

Recycling police 'freaking out' residents

In Australia.

Link
City of Monash spokeswoman Jodie Harrison confirmed a "rubbish auditor" had been warned to switch to more reasonable hours after "freaking out" residents.

Disturbed householders have discovered bin police kitted out with miners' hats and and inspecting garbage bins that are left by footpaths for collection.

Dozens of recycling and green waste bins are checked three times a week.

Residents flouting the rules have warning stickers placed on their bins and risk being slapped with a garbage collection ban.

Open Records bill killed by "Memphis"

Ok, its not dead yet but so many "poison pills" have been attached, it might as well be dead.

The City of Memphis appears to be in direct violation of the TN open records Law. Soooo...do they change their policies to conform to the State Law? NOOOO, you change State law to conform to Memphis.

Link

Jefferson told the committee of Memphis city government policies that differ from most local governments.

First, all requests for public records other than police reports must be made in writing to his city attorney's office. And second, his office routinely blocks what it says is "personal" e-mail from public access, despite their production and storage in city-owned computers.

More proof that Govt Econ Development=Corruption

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield's administration gave a former campaign manager an interest free loan for downtown development and an option to purchase more land that wasn't even asked for.

When government at any level gets in the business of "economic development", a sure bet is that corruption will follow.

Link

During their 2005 campaigns for mayor, Ron Littlefield and Dan Johnson questioned the way some of Chattanooga's premiere waterfront property was sold by the city for projects associated with former City Hall and River-City Co. officials.

Now some are questioning the way Mr. Littlefield, who was elected mayor, and Mr. Johnson, who became the mayor's chief of staff, handled the city's sale of a downtown block to a development group that includes one of the mayor's former campaign managers.

Last year, Mr. Johnson negotiated and the mayor ultimately approved a sales contract to former Littlefield campaign manager Dale Mabee and others that turned out to be more favorable for the developers than what was initially advertised.

Unlike previous property sales offered by RiverCity for the city's Chattanooga Downtown Redevelopment Corp., Mr. Mabee's real estate group is getting an interest-free loan from the city to finance much of its $1.07 million land purchase for 22 luxury condominiums being built on the block bounded by Cherry, Walnut, Second and Third streets.

According to the sales contract signed by Mr. Mabee, the city also gave the developers an option to buy more land in the block even though such property wasn't included in the original sale offer and wasn't initially sought by the developers. Although not included in the original request for proposal, or RFP, the city also is providing an alley for access to the luxury condominiums at no initial cost to the developer even though the property is valued at $96,000.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Memphis Tax Revolt Resource Center

Question: Which TN City already has the highest combined city/county property tax rate in the entire State and is considering even Higher taxes?

Answer: Memphis

Memphis and Shelby County Citizens. Act NOW before it is too late. Print and Fax a STOP the Tax Fax and call the Mayor.

MemphisTaxRevolt.com

Great news! Most people don't trust Govt to

"save" the economy. Citizens are much more perceptive than our pompous, pandering, peacock politicians would have us believe. Individual citizens are quite able to take care of their own personal economies if government will just leave us alone. Whether they are misdirected "good intentions" or simply the corruption of special interests, government has a much greater capability for screwing up the economy.

Link

Polling Data

How confident are you in your government’s ability to deal with the recent economic difficulties?


BRI

FRA

ITA

ESP

GER

USA

Very confident

2%

3%

3%

5%

--

1%

Rather confident

3%

10%

13%

20%

7%

6%

Somewhat confident

27%

37%

41%

40%

41%

42%

Not confident at all

68%

50%

43%

36%

52%

51%

Source: Harris Interactive / Financial Times
Methodology: Online interviews with 6,434 adults in the United States, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Britain, conducted from Mar. 27 to Apr. 8, 2008. No margin of error was provided.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

No Gas Tax Holiday for YOU, Tennessee

HT : Danny Newton

The TN General Assembly and TDOT would like you to know that if John McCain gets his gas tax holiday passed, you won't be joining the party after July 1. They have decreed that any reduction in the federal gas tax will trigger an equal hike in the TN gas tax. So you will have to drive to another State to get your holiday...unless the Department of Revenue sets up roadblocks at the State line. Here is TCA 67-3-206:

67-3-206. Maintenance of funding under highway trust fund. — [Effectiveness suspended until July 1, 2008. See subsection (b).]

(a) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, if the federal government reduces or eliminates any or all taxes imposed by title 26 of the United States Code and allocated by chapter 98 of that title of the federal highway trust fund, the existing state tax imposed on the sale and/or use of such products shall be adjusted so as to maintain the amount of funding for the Tennessee department of transportation generated by the federal tax. The adjustment in the state tax shall become effective simultaneously with the reduction in the federal tax. The department of revenue is directed to collect such taxes and allocate such taxes in their entirety, less the appropriate cost of administration, to the state highway trust fund for use by the department of transportation. If the federal goverment elects to increase any or all taxes imposed by title 26 of the United States Code and allocated by chapter 98 of that title to the federal highway trust fund after it has reduced or eliminated such taxes, the state tax on the sale and/or use of such products is reduced equal to the amount of the increase by the federal government. No amounts of revenue received pursuant to the provisions of this section shall be pledged specifically to the payment of debt service on any state bond or note.

(b) The provisions of this section shall cease to be effective until July 1, 2008, at which time this section shall have full effect of law.

Gun Owners are miserable, paranoid nuts...NOT

Link
According to the 2006 General Social Survey, which has tracked gun ownership since 1973, 34% of American homes have guns in them. This statistic is sure to surprise many people in cities like San Francisco – as it did me when I first encountered it. (Growing up in Seattle, I knew nobody who owned a gun.)

Who are all these gun owners? Are they the uneducated poor, left behind? It turns out they have the same level of formal education as nongun owners, on average. Furthermore, they earn 32% more per year than nonowners. Americans with guns are neither a small nor downtrodden group.

Nor are they "bitter." In 2006, 36% of gun owners said they were "very happy," while 9% were "not too happy." Meanwhile, only 30% of people without guns were very happy, and 16% were not too happy.

In 1996, gun owners spent about 15% less of their time than nonowners feeling "outraged at something somebody had done." It's easy enough in certain precincts to caricature armed Americans as an angry and miserable fringe group. But it just isn't true. The data say that the people in the approximately 40 million American households with guns are generally happier than those people in households that don't have guns.

The gun-owning happiness gap exists on both sides of the political aisle. Gun-owning Republicans are more likely than nonowning Republicans to be very happy (46% to 37%). Democrats with guns are slightly likelier than Democrats without guns to be very happy as well (32% to 29%). Similarly, holding income constant, one still finds that gun owners are happiest.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Young ME, Now ME photo collection, an internet phenom

One of those internet phenomena that is unpredictable and takes off like a rocket. People upload a picture of themselves as children and then duplicate that picture with the same pose and setting, as closely as possible, as adults.

The site is so overloaded that it doesn't work sometimes.

Link


























Health care spending has no correlation to quality

of care but it does correlate with the supply of available beds and equipment, for chronically ill patients.

Link

The biennial Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care is out and the findings are as eye-popping this year as they have been in the past. Among chronically ill patients in the last two years of life:

  • New Jersey patients spent almost three times as many days in the hospital as patients in Utah.
  • Patients in Manhattan had 3½ times as many hospital days as patients in Bend, Oregon.
  • Among teaching hospitals, the variation in the amount spent was more than four to one.

So what impact did this wide variation in care have on the health of patients? Not a whit.

  • There is no evidence that extra care and extra spending produce better outcomes, and some evidence that they produce worse outcomes.
  • Further, variations in care correlate with variations in supply: the more hospital beds, the more bed days; the more CT scanners, the more scans; the more cardiologists, the more cardiac care, etc. [See Associated Press article]

Ala Rep votes for absent members.

"Hinshaw declined to say how many machines he voted or which members he voted for."

Link HT: Turnbow

MONTGOMERY - A Huntsville lawmaker admitted Wednesday he voted for absent House members to give a bill to remove the state sales tax on food the margin it needed to pass Tuesday.

But Rep. Randy Hinshaw, D-Meridianville, said he was doing only what was best for his House district.

"I'm here to represent my district, and cutting sales taxes on groceries is in the interest of my district," he said.

Hinshaw declined to say how many machines he voted or which members he voted for.

"I voted some members' machines around me," he said. "It's commonplace when Rule 32 is not in place. We vote other people's machines."

House Rule 32 requires that a member vote only his or her electronic voting machine.

The rule was invoked at the start of debate Tuesday by Rep. Jack Williams, R-Birmingham, but surprisingly, shortly before the final vote was taken, Williams asked that it be lifted.

The House then voted 63-38 for the proposed constitutional amendment, which also would eliminate Alabama taxpayers' federal income tax deduction to make up for the lost sales tax revenue.

[...]

"When Rule 32 came off ... then you had all these (absent) people voting (for the bill)," said Hubbard. "You've had Thad McClammy (D-Montgomery), who was having surgery, voted. Duwayne Bridges (R-Valley), who was on a trade mission in Korea. Democrat Randy Hinshaw gets up and goes over and votes his (Bridges') machine."

Healthcare without health insurance

This doc has decided to deal directly with patients and has stopped filing claims through insurance companies.

Link
For more than a year, I haven't received a single dollar from any insurance company. I work for my patients. A few hundred doctors across the country are working the same way, some in blue-collar towns. Routine care should be affordable to the middle class, and as more doctors and more patients form relationships that exclude insurance companies, prices will drop. Insurance doesn't make routine care affordable; it makes it more expensive by adding a middleman. I know that some patients can afford nothing, so two afternoons a month I volunteer at a clinic that cares for indigent patients, which I could not have done with the huge patient volume I was seeing a few years ago.

When doctors break free from the shackles of insurance companies, they can practice medicine the way they always hoped they could. And they can get back to the customer service model in which the paramount incentive is providing the best care. Only then can doctors reclaim the simple dignity of any businessman: These are my doughnuts; only I and my customers can determine their worth. (At the end of each week, I will donate some to the needy, but I will not let a third party set the price.)

Mayor Bragg: Elected officials are irrelevant

Mayor Tommy Bragg of Murfreesboro, when asked why so few people are voting in city elections says elected officials are increasingly irrelevant...What!!!

Link

Bragg said one of the reasons fewer people are going to the polls is that elected officials don't provide most government services any more; they are provided by professional city staffers.

"Because the arbitrary nature of elected officials has been replaced by professional staff, so you get much more consistency in constituent service," he said.

Bragg said that means the city elections are less relevant and that citizens have other ways to deal with their government than voting out politicians they don't agree with.

"Municipal elections, unless there are grievous irregularities, have lost a certain amount of relevance," he said.

Celebs credible? Dems: Yes, Repubs: No

Link HT: Don Fenly

"Many times celebrities get involved in various causes, including domestic and foreign policies, as well as the prevention and treatment of diseases. How much positive difference do you believe these celebrities can make to the issue they are promoting?"


Total

Generation

Political Party

Echo Boomers (18-31)

Gen X (32-43)

Baby Boomers (44-62)

Matures (63+)

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

LARGE/SOME DIFFERENCE (NET)

45

50

48

43

38

36

55

42

A large difference

11

13

15

10

7

8

17

8

Some difference

33

37

33

33

31

28

37

34

LITTLE/NO DIFFERENCE (NET)

51

42

47

55

59

59

42

57

A little difference

27

28

26

27

27

26

26

32

No difference at all

24

14

21

28

33

33

16

25

Not sure

4

8

5

2

2

5

3

1

Unions must prevent any effort to compensate

their members based on productivity. The union must convince members that the union is the only path to increased pay. If members can increase their pay simply by working harder and doing a better job then there is no reason to join a union.

Link
Foster says it will be hard to get the administration and the Metro Nashville Education Association to ever agree on a “performance-based” incentive plan. The two sides have trouble finding a fair way to judge teacher performance in the classroom.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Labor unions are about POWER, not Labor

Two examples from Today's news:

SEIU union crashes Nurse union event

LA teachers union war against charter schools

Greed is good at Google but not Exxon?

Link
Google reported revenues of $5.19 billion for the quarter ended March 31, 2008, an increase of 42% compared to the first quarter of 2007 and an increase of 7% compared to the fourth quarter of 2007. Google reports its revenues, consistent with GAAP, on a gross basis without deducting traffic acquisition costs, or TAC. In the first quarter of 2008, TAC totaled $1.49 billion, or 29% of advertising revenues.

Boston Firefighter's fake disability claims

Link
Federal authorities issued a flurry of subpoenas across the city yesterday as they launched a grand jury investigation of disability abuse in the Boston Fire Department, including whether dozens of firefighters faked on-the-job injuries to significantly enhance their pensions, according to several officials briefed on the probe.

FBI agents served the subpoenas to more than a dozen current and former firefighters, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because grand jury proceedings are secret. Agents also delivered a grand jury subpoena yesterday to City Hall demanding what is likely to be tens of thousands of pages of disability records dating back to 2000.

[...]

The Globe reported in January that 102 Boston firefighters claimed career-ending injuries while they were filling in for superiors at higher pay grades, enhancing their tax-free disability pensions by an average of $10,300 a year. The rash of injuries involved personnel at every level, including 67 firefighters, 16 lieutenants, and 11 captains, all of them filling in at the next-highest rank while their superiors were on vacation or out sick, sometimes for a single day.

In addition, eight district chiefs said they were seriously hurt while performing desk jobs as deputy chiefs - among them, one who said he permanently injured his back while moving a file cabinet. Fire Commissioner Roderick Fraser said at the time that he considered some of those claims suspicious.

Congressmen call for BIG FOOTBALL investigation

You can't make this stuff up.

Link

Reps. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) and Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) will announce Thursday a house resolution asking the Justice Department to investigate the college football Bowl Championship Series (BCS) for possible restraint of trade violations.

The BCS awards automatic bids to the six biggest college football conferences, along with an occasional at large bid from a smaller conference, in order to determine the national championship.

Along with time in the spotlight, schools that make BCS games get a share of the revenue generated by the games.

Abercrombie says the BCS, “restricts not just the opportunity to compete for the title, but access to the more than $185-million in post-season revenue to 66 teams in the six largest athletic conferences and Notre Dame, and denies the opportunity to 53 other Division I-A colleges and universities.”

Abercrombie is graduate of Union College, Simpson is a Utah State alum and Westmorland never finished college though took classes at Georgia State. None of those are BCS schools, though one has to wonder if Abercrombie would feel the same way if his home state University of Hawaii had not gotten crushed by BCS power Georgia.

Those damned, pesky rich people, they just won't

stay put.

Link
And while income, capital gains, and estate taxes are key concerns, watch out for state taxes. New York State is considering a millionaire's tax—something tried in New Jersey with mixed results.

"People picked up and moved," Jack Meola, a tax attorney and partner at Amper Politziner & Mattia says of the New Jersey experience. "The rich are the most mobile people in the world. I have clients with no state domicile. They're doing business all over the world. They've put their homes in trusts, so they personally have no jurisdiction. One client lives on a boat. Most move to nontaxing jurisdictions, like Las Vegas and Florida."

These mobile individuals set up trusts so that when their businesses are sold, they don't feel a tax pinch.

For the state, the effort backfires, he notes. Diminishing populations of wealthy individuals result in a trickle-down effect that builds pressure on low-income people to carry the tax impact.

Tree reveals warmer climate 8,500 yrs ago

Link
The world's oldest tree has been found in Sweden, a tenacious spruce that first took root just after the end of the last ice age, more than 9,500 years ago.

The tree has rewritten the history of the climate in the region, revealing that it was much warmer at that time and the ice had disappeared earlier than thought.

Previously, pine trees in North America were thought to be the oldest, at around 5,000 years old.

But Swedish scientists report that in the mountains, from Lapland in the north to Dalarna in central Sweden, there are much more ancient spruce trees (Picea abies).

Bridge-to-Nowhere sponsor maybe subject of criminal

probe. Don Young (R-Alaska) is continuing his tradition of corrupt porker.

Link
In what may become the first formal request from Congress for a criminal inquiry into one of its own special projects, top Senate Democrats and Republicans have endorsed taking action in connection with the earmark that Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), former chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, inserted into the legislation.

[...]

Young's staff acknowledged yesterday that aides "corrected" the earmark just before it went to the White House for President Bush's signature, specifying that the money would go to a proposed highway interchange project on Interstate 75 near Naples, Fla. Young says the project was entirely worthy of an earmark and he welcomes any inquiry, a spokeswoman said.

"Congressman Young has always supported and welcomed an open earmark process. If Congress decides to take up the matter of this particular project, there will be no objection from Mr. Young," said Meredith Kenny, his spokeswoman. Young also sponsored a $223 million measure to build the fabled "Bridge to Nowhere" in Alaska, a project that was killed in 2005 after it sparked widespread outrage.

More Nashville Taxpayer money for Rich guys

Link HT: S-Town Mike
But as our own Bruce Barry ably pointed out last fall, city leaders lose all perspective when it comes to professional sports. (We should add that Bruce Barry's far better half, at-large Metro Council member Megan Barry voted “no” and was one of the deal's most eloquent critics.) If any other business had the Predator's financials, no one would care if they took a trip up 65. Somehow, though, even a second-tier professional sports team like the Predators has no problem convincing a city to write an annual check. And when time comes for the team's owners to sell to the next gaggle of vanity buyers, they'll make a tidy profit. Remember we helped Craig Leipold reap a $68 million capital gain from his sale of the team, and now we're doing the same for David Freeman and his buddies.

Kroger wants your tax stimulus check

Link
The grocer said Wednesday that it will offer customers an incentive to exchange their economic stimulus checks from the Internal Revenue Service for a Kroger gift card. A customer with a $300 check will get a gift card for $330, two $330 gift cards for $600; and four $330 gift cards for $1,200.

"Grocery bills represent a significant expenditure for the average American family," says David Dillon, chairman and CEO, in a news release.

Customers can exchange their checks for gift cards in the customer service center of any of the chain's stores between May 2 and July 31, Kroger said. A Kroger "customer loyalty card" is also required. The program is limited to one per household, with a limit of $1,200.

Production to begin on Robotic Power Suits

Link

The suits, known as HAL for Hybrid Assistive Limb, are designed to help people with disabilities including patients with muscular dystrophy.

They work by detecting electrical signals in the skin and boosting limb strength through the attached power units. The battery charge lasts about two hours and forty minutes.

And here is a US version:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

IRS disciplined 1 of every 44 employees

Link
Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Charles Grassley yesterday issued a press release "urging detractors of the private debt collection program to consider facts, including disciplinary action against IRS employees and the IRS’ own poor track record of collecting the $345 billion of owed taxes known as the tax gap":

Give parents the power of choice and THIS happens

Milwaukee parents are increasingly choosing options OTHER than conventional public education.

Link
Enrollment in the schools you first think of when you think of Milwaukee Public Schools is expected to shrink another 4.7% by September, Superintendent William Andrekopoulos said Monday as he released a $1.2 billion budget proposal for the coming school year.

That means the number of students in the main roster of MPS schools - elementary, middle and high schools staffed by teachers employed by MPS - will be 20% smaller than it was 10 years earlier and will be below 80,000 for the first time in decades. Half of that decline of more than 19,000 students will have come between fall 2005 and fall 2008, if the forecast is correct.

At the same time, participation in the private school voucher program may exceed 20,000 next year, MPS officials projected. That compares to about 6,000 students 10 years ago.

Still pushing Payroll (aka income) Tax in Memphis

This tax is unconstitutional of course but that doesn't stop them from launching trial balloons every few months.

Link

The idea of a payroll tax is back just two and a half months after it was declared dead by Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton Jr.

The Shelby County Board of Commissioners this week approved a resolution backing legislation in Nashville that would permit a tax on income earned within Shelby County by residents and nonresidents.

Such a tax, if approved by the Legislature and again by the commission, would apply to people earning $28,000 a year or more. It also would be accompanied by a reduction in the county property tax rate.

But it would not be revenue neutral. Thirty-percent of the revenue from a payroll tax would go to reduce the property tax rate.

Sad history of US 20th Century Taxation

We started the Century with total taxes as a % of GDP at 8%. We ended the Century at 35%.

Also, two very useful sites cited in this post:

US Government Spending

US Government Revenue

Link HT: Mark Rose

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Congressman admits ethanol was a BIG mistake

Ok, this is progress...now if they can admit THAT mistake maybe they can move forward to admit about 10 million other mistakes. Congress is a complete disaster when they try to make fine grained decisions of any type. We would all be much better off if Congress would meet for no more than 10 days max and then GO HOME!

Link

Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts, said he had come to realize that Congress made a mistake in backing biofuels, not anticipating the impact on food costs. He said Congress needed to reconsider its policy, though he acknowledged that would be difficult.

“If there was a secret vote, there is a pretty large number of people who would like to reassess what we are doing,” he said.

Now for a little Tax Day Hypocrisy

Just another day at the Loophole factory known as

Congress.

Link
Senators Clinton and Barack Obama are racing across the country promising Americans that they will clean up a process that "favors Wall Street over Main Street." Fat chance. Their party and most Republicans just voted for a housing bill that is the biggest victory for corporate special interests in years – and there's much more to follow. Happy Tax Day.

Two Words for Memphis Taxpayers:

TAX REVOLT

Before it's too Late!!

Red ALERT for Spring Hill - STOP the Property Tax

Ray Williams was one of the most taxpayer friendly Mayors in TN. He worked very hard to reduce the Spring Hill city property tax to ZERO in 2003. He then created and passed a resolution promising the people that a property tax would NEVER be reinstituted without the consent of taxpayers.

Flash forward to 2008 and many aldermen are quietly trying to build support for a property tax. Taxpayers in Spring Hill MUST contact their aldermen. Click HERE to find the name of your alderman. If you don't know who your alderman is then call Mayor Leverette.

Dave Barry on Tax Day

Link
But it's also time to file your federal tax return. Yes, this is a pesky chore, but remember that paying taxes is not a ''one-way street.'' When you send your money to the government, the government, in return, provides you with vital services, such as not putting you in prison. The government also uses your money to pay for programs that benefit all Americans, such as the Catfish Genome Project.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Good News and Better News

Tax Boarding

NVTA says: Use YouTube to Hike your taxes

The Northern Virgina Transportation Authority tried to levy new transportation taxes but the Va Supreme Court said no-no-no, can't do it.

So they are trying to get citizens to create YouTube videos of their commute in order to convince the Va legislature to increase taxes.

Don't tell TDOT about this!!

Oops....we have already spent that tax increase

Hey...you know those tax hikes that Metro Nashville passed last year that were for the new Convention Center. Yes, the convention center that isn't even built yet? Heck, they haven't even completed designing it or choosing a location...but they have already begun collecting the taxes that were supposed to pay for it. Guess what? They are already spending those taxes on LOTS of other stuff!! Big Surprise? Not really.

Now what do you think will happen if they actually have to pay for the convention center?? Yep, even more taxes.

Link

If Metro officials plan to build a new convention center anytime soon, they’ll first have to shift at least 11-million dollars of expenses back to the city’s general fund.

The two-cent hotel/motel tax dedicated to operations of a new convention center is now going largely to the city’s subsidy for the Sommet Center. Other agencies receiving part of that 11-million dollar pot are Municipal Auditorium, Opryland, the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Metro Transit Authority.

Metro Finance Director Rich Riebling says it makes sense to use that money instead of setting it aside since operations of any new convention center would be several years off.

More TIF Taxpayer Ripoffs in Knoxville

How would you like to build a House and then, instead of having to pay property taxes, you take that money and use it to pay off your mortgage? Pretty sweet deal...eh? Thats the deal that many commercial real estate developers are getting in Knox County.

And to add insult to injury the geniuses that are handing out these special favors admit they don't even understand the process.

Link
"We were not really prepared in our full understanding," said the county's IDB chairwoman, Suzanne Schriver, referring to the previous two TIF requests the board approved prior to adopting a formal set of policies and procedures in June. "All these questions started coming up, and we really needed to go to school on TIFs."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A very Scary level of Arrogance from Barack

The role of government, according to Barack, is to assure citizens that government does have a solution to all the problems in their lives. Its just that pols, according to Barack, must deliver that message is in way that is not condescending.

Minnesotans raise a little hell over taxes

Link

The Minnesota Tax Cut Coalition held its annual rally at the State Capitol on Saturday, drawing a crowd of about 1,000 people demanding that legislators stop "wasteful'' spending and allow Minnesotans to keep more of their paychecks.

Government funding to support light rail transit, the social safety net and the Twins ballpark were among the targets of complaints among the crowd, which spilled across the Capitol lawn.

"Why should I pay for something I'm not going to use?" asked Ed Hanson, of Mendota Heights, referring to the light-rail line. "I want the government out of my life.''

The Federal Income Tax is an abomination in so

many ways.

Today's example: A proposal before the Ways and Means Committee to require paper receipts before withdrawing from an HSA or Health Savings Account.

HSAs, however well intended, are simply another tax code complexity that allow the geniuses in Congress to micro manage our lives. Putting money away so you have more control over your healthcare is a good idea. Putting more money into saving is a good idea. But accomplishing all of this through the coercion of the federal income tax is an extraordinarily bad idea.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Should we? Can we? Reduce the size of the Fed Govt

YES!! We must if we are to preserve the sovereignty and dignity of citizens. The federal government is too big, too intrusive, too arrogant, and too dismissive of the rights of citizens. New Zealand offers some lessons.

Link
What we’re seeing around the world at the moment is what I would call a silent revolution, reflected in a change in how people view government accountability. The old idea of accountability simply held that government should spend money in accordance with appropriations. The new accountability is based on asking, “What did we get in public benefits as a result of the expenditure of money?” This is a question that has always been asked in business, but has not been the norm for governments. And those governments today that are struggling valiantly with this question are showing quite extraordinary results. This was certainly the basis of the successful reforms in my own country of New Zealand.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Entrepreneurship rescues girls education in Africa

A very inspiring story.

Link
To keep their "10,000 Girls" education program going, the girls asked Vaughn to teach them to bake. They began selling cookies and juice and were able to buy books and supplies.

Soon after, they got their older sisters, aunts and cousins -- who had already failed out of the school system -- involved in baking and selling goods. The entrepreneurial element of the program was born.

"They were supporting their cause," says Vaughn. "It was something remarkable."

Today, in addition to a pastry shop and catering business, "10,000 Girls" runs a sewing workshop and the girls export their handmade dolls and household linens overseas.

Half of the funds from these projects go back to the girls; the remainder supports the education program, no longer in Vaughn's house.

More than 1,500 girls are involved in Vaughn's program in six locations; about 1,000 are waiting to join.

"We have girls who were told they'd never get through high school who are at university now," beams Vaughn. "We hope that if we get 10,000 girls out there, 1,000 girls will come back to Kaolack and work. It would revolutionize the whole region.

"Here I am, retired, and this is the best job I have ever had in my life."

Lamar Alexander's "Irrational Arrogance"

Investors sometimes have "irrational exuberance." Politicians almost always have "irrational arrogance"

Congress has shown time and again that they have a much greater capacity to screw up our lives than they do to "help." And yet they continue to display unbounded arrogance about their ability to make better decisions about our welfare than we can make.

To Lamar and others like him who would like to "help": The LAST thing we need is your "help."

Your "help" will NOT help. Congress has bankrupted Social Security and Medicare. Congress has screwed up our "energy policy" beyond repair. Congress has made scores of lobbyists (many of whom were former members) and special interests rich while taking more and more of our GDP for government. etc etc etc. PLEASE!! NO MORE "HELP."

Link

Lamar Alexander's statement

“This housing bill is yet another example of what the Senate can accomplish when we work together. It’s a good first step toward helping the 82,700 Tennesseans who had delinquent mortgages as of late last year and will assist struggling businesses across our state.

This housing bill will help jump-start our economy, protect homeowners, and provide incentives for new home buyers. I am pleased that a version of the Isakson-Alexander tax credit proposal was included in the final bill. This provision will help families looking to purchase a home while preserving property values for families who already own one.”