Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Posts Tagged ‘money’

Strain A Gnat, Swallow A Camel: How the Church has ignored Christian Principles to their peril

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, August 20, 2015

In 9 Sins the Church Is Okay With, Frank Powell asks “Are we changing the Bible to fit our culture or are we changing our culture to fit the Bible?”

“What if the big sins, you know the ones you try hardest to avoid, aren’t the greatest threat to your joy and the church’s mission?

“Maybe it’s the sins lying underneath, the ones considered normal or acceptable, the ones going undetected, that are affecting the church the most.”

His questions are, of course, spot on.

In fact, one could hardly argue with the evidence which consists of vast, tax-free empires built upon the backs of the faithful by the likes of:
Joel Osteen (USA) Net Worth $40 Million;
Robert Tilton (USA) Net Worth $830 Million;
Benny Hinn (USA) Net Worth $42 Million;
Joyce Meyer (USA) Net Worth $8 Million;
Kenneth Copeland (USA) Net Worth UNKNOWN (has claimed he’s a billionaire, no such public records exist documenting his claim);
Creflo Dollar (USA) Net Worth $27 Million;
Eddie Long (USA) Net Worth $5 Million;
Randy & Paula White (USA) Net Worth $2 Million;
Joseph Prince (Singapore) Net Worth $5 Million;
Chris Okotie (Nigeria) Net Worth $10 Million;
Matthew Ashimolowo of Nigeria Net Worth $10 Million;
T.B. Joshua (Nigeria) Net Worth $15 Million;
T. D. Jakes (USA) Net Worth $18 Million;
Paul (late) & Jan Crouch (USA) Net Worth (estimated TBN $1 Billion+);
Chris Oyakhilome (Nigeria) Net Worth $50 Million;
David Oyedepo (Nigeria) Net worth: $150 Million.

Obviously, their “prosperity gospel” message is working quite well for them.

For others, no so much.

And that’d probably cover Avarice, Hubris, and Boasting – or, if you prefer, Greed, Extravagance, and Pride.

But there again, our nation’s laws actually encourage greed through religion by not taxing churches. In fact, John Oliver recently pointed out that “U.S. tax law allows television preachers to get away with Read the rest of this entry »

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UPDATED: If #ALpolitics Would #ExpandMedicaidNow, They Could CUT Medicaid Co$t$ More Than 50%

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, August 6, 2015

UPDATE: Tuesday, 11 August 2015
CORRECTION ADDENDUM

In my first & earlier calculations, I inadvertently overlooked multiplying the Annual Medicaid Spending in Alabama figure (which is a TOTAL of $5,241,269,869) by 70%, which would represent the portion paid for by the Federal government. Alabama’s 30% share of that figure (the share paid for by the state) would be $1,572,380,960.70. It would also be reasonable to expect that Expanding Medicaid in Alabama to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level would increase total economic activity (through Medicaid spending) in the state at least 38%. So to Expand Medicaid, the baseline figure for TOTAL Medicaid spending (combined Federal and State funds) would approximate $7,232,952,419. According to the provisions of the law, Alabama’s sharing portion (if Governor Bentley chose to Expand Medicaid) would still be 2016-100%; 2017-5%; 2018-6%; 2019-7%; 2020 and beyond-10%. The corrections to the figures herein are dollar amounts only (based on the $7,232,952,419 total expanded figure), not the %ages. Data & figures are now also shown in table format.

Folks, it may (or may not) surprise you to know a sampling of the collective thoughts of our wrong-wing friends, and relatives on matters political in Alabama, especially as they pertain to Medicaid.

Here’s a verbatim excerpted sampling of what I came across today.

• No one want increased entitlements. Too much waste and abuse. get a job folks. no to medicaid
• Medicaid is a lifestyle
• scare tactic. nursing homes overcharge. working people of Alabama are tired of taking care of lazy people
• ask any hospital administrator or physician in private practice. Medicaid devalues services. Reject medicaid

I dare say, MOST are clueless about the genuinely tangible economic and public health benefits Medicaid provides to this state, and the revenue and jobs it creates. All they hear are the wails and moans of representatives and/or senators – mostly of whom, if not exclusively, are Republican.

Where does Alabama's Medicaid money come from? Where does it go?

Where does Alabama’s Medicaid money come from?
Where does it go?
Source: Alabama Medicaid Agency Annual Report – FY 2012

Medicaid is a Federal/State matching/sharing program which provides (pays for) healthcare services for the impoverished wherein states pay a minority matching portion, while the Federal Government through CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) pays the majority portion. Within reasonable guidelines, the states have broad discretion and liberty to operate Medicaid according to the way they see fit, and the needs of the residents they serve. There are, however, certain minimums standards to which every state must adhere.

Under the provisions of the OLD law, the states that do NOT Expand Medicaid pay a higher %age rate for their services than they would if they were to Expand Medicaid to provide services to those whom are at 138% of the Federal Poverty guidelines – which is what the PPACA provides. The PPACA is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act- though it’s more often called the ACA “Affordable Care Act,” and colloquially referred to as “ObamaCare.”

Under the provisions of the PPACA, states that choose to Expand Medicaid will have 100% of those costs paid-for by the CMS beginning 2014, until 2016. The incentive for expansion is based upon Read the rest of this entry »

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Sodomy: A prime example of what’s wrong with #ALpolitics

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, July 12, 2015

A dear friend who is a long-time retiree, aged 78 years, entire subsistence is from a meager pension (earned from a lifetime of work in a unionized organization), supplemented with a paltry Social Security check.

She’s lived through breast cancer surgery (mastectomy) & reconstruction, other major surgeries (knee replacements) and procedures, and lives in a trailer which she owns, situated upon a lot which she rents. She has resided there many, many years.

To save money, she recently Read the rest of this entry »

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Alabama’s Fine Kettle Of Fish

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, May 24, 2015

Someone asked:
“Getting Alabama’s voters to overhaul the state constitution seems like a pipedream. Do we accept things as they are, and go about our business? I’m ready to overthrow ALL of Montgomery, purge the place, and start over.”

I responded as follows:
There’s certainly no question we’ve a fine kettle of fish to fry. These clowns have NO agenda, and are just flying by the seat of their pants, inventing some asinine idea at the drop of a hat, one day to the next.

Sadly, the people, for the greatest part, are blithely unaware of the shenanigans and goings-on amongst the Goat Hill Gangsters. The “media” – by which I mean Read the rest of this entry »

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The Power of One Small Idea: How Alabama could hit a home run WITHOUT raising taxes in the budget crisis.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, May 17, 2015

Creativity is in short supply in Monkeytown, Alabama.

I refer, of course, to Montgomery.

And to be certain, there is a backstory on the nickname.

Seems the Montgomery Zoo was originally located in Oak Park, and then named Oak Park Zoo. The zoo also had an island of monkeys, which once escaped. Hence, the nick name.

For what it’s worth, the Montgomery City Planetarium, formerly known as Gayle Planetarium, is also located in Oak Park. I encourage you to go there, sometime! I have.

But back to the creativity thing.

Alabama is in dire straits fiscally. But, then again, that’s nothing new. Governor Bentley has promised (and broken) numerous pledges in his first & second campaigns. The one bothering most folks is the “read my lips… no new taxes” promise he unwisely made while campaigning for a second term.

It may not be the lie the second time around, as much as it is the entire deception thing from the get-go. Because he, the AL GOP, and the entire Legislature knew all about this well in advance. They knew there would come a day when the monies they “borrowed” from the Alabama Trust Fund must be repaid. That day has come… and is now gone. They’re essentially reneging on their promise, which not only makes them liars, but thieves as well, since money is involved.

So, you’re damn skippy the people are hopping mad!

Again, to be certain, Alabama is in a Read the rest of this entry »

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TVA Closing Widow’s Creek Coal-Fired Electricity Plant In Stevenson, Alabama

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, May 8, 2015

TVA announced recently the Board of Directors voted to close the last operating unit of 8 coal-fired electricity generating operating units at their Widow’s Creek facility near Stevenson, AL by October 2015.

Especially problematic was the issue of costs associated with storing “fly ash” the toxic residual waste generated by burning coal. While fly ash is used in construction of roads, and in concrete, there is more waste generated than used.

Nationwide, increased “accidents” from accumulated and overfilled swamps of coal ash have polluted rivers and water supplies. Remediation costs associated with cleanup, and repair of waste storage facilities has proven unprofitable for TVA and other coal-burning electricity-generating utilities.

According to Knoxville, TN television station WBIR, TVA has spent an estimated $1.2 billion cleaning up since the [December 2008 Kingston, TN] spill. Coal ash is left over from burning coal to power a power plant.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Alabama Politics: Just Another Day In Paradise

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Opining upon the notion of Alabama State Senator Del Marsh’s casino gambling plan to fund Medicaid, someone wrote, “[It’s] The only voluntary tax I know of. If you don’t want to play don’t pay.”

The retort was, “I’m finding myself more open to this lately however; once someone loses their house, job, family etc., don’t come crying for taxpayers to take care of you.”

To which came this reply, “Those people are already finding ways to gamble their lives away. They don’t need a lottery.”

My response follows.

“Those people,” are the Legislators.

In this one thing, I share the Governor’s sentiment – which he ineffectually (no surprise there) communicates:

Lottery will NEVER remedy poor fiscal policy, with which Alabama is replete.

In almost every lottery situation, law demands that the proceeds from lottery are to be used to supplement – not supplant – existing revenue. And in this single instance authored by Senator Del Marsh (R, Anniston) it is being used to supplant – to replace – existing sources of revenue. And that is Read the rest of this entry »

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How Much Could Alabama Save By Not Paying Legislators?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, April 30, 2015

UPDATE: Sunday, 14 June 2015 – Found following main body

Today (Thursday, 30 April 2015) the Alabama State Senate knocked off at 11:30, and reconvened 1PM. It’s also the final day of the Legislative Session for the week – they only work three days each week – Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

An hour and a half – that’s a nice, long lunch break for a wealthy man, a powerful man – not a working man. It’s pretty cushy for someone who works three days a week, only 30 days a year. Reckon how your boss would respond if you asked for a three-day work week and a 30-day work year?

How long do you get for lunch?

Most folks get 30 minutes.

The Alabama Senate gets THREE times longer than most working folks.

But then, excesses in Alabama state politics is nothing new.

Recall that – by law – the Alabama Legislature is limited to work <30 days/year (in a 105 day period) & for that privilege, citizens & taxpayers fork over $50K+/yr in pay & compensation to them – 35 in the Senate, and 105 in the House.
TOTAL=140 men (mostly) & women.

In stark contrast, New Mexico’s State Legislators are a Volunteer Legislature (they’re elected, yes, but unpaid), and during Session, by State Law receive a Daily Federal Per Diem, and Two-Way Mileage once during a session EXCLUSIVELY.

Legislative pay in Alabama has been a hot-button issue, particularly in recent years – and, it’s unnecessarily complicated. By State Constitutional Law, their “official” pay is Read the rest of this entry »

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Examining Right Wing Rhetoric in Memes

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, April 27, 2015

How accurate, or true are Right Wing statements?

How accurate, or true are Right Wing memes?

Regardless of one’s political beliefs, party affiliation, or ideological inclination, it’s always good to consider the truth of statements in memes that – like flotsam and jetsam – are dispersed throughout the Internet… particularly upon Social Media sites such as FaceBook, and Twitter. And unfortunately, in many cases, they are the veritable garbage, the effluent detritus of communication.

So… let’s examine some of the argument in the meme seen here, and see if it still holds water.

Government has necessary services, and provides the same.

Consider road construction as one example.

To create & build roads (which themselves increase opportunity) government must purchase things – raw materials, and manpower, among them.

Now… exactly where is any “government factory” for that, eh?

That’s correct – there is NONE.

EVERYTHING “we the people” by and through our government – at ALL LEVELS, Federal, State, and Local – purchase comes from the Private Sector!

EVERYTHING!

Consider also what may be the greatest example of Read the rest of this entry »

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Alabama Governor Bentley signs Executive Order No.4 Creating Alabama Health Care Improvement Task Force

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Yesterday, Monday, April 6, 2015, Alabama Governor Robert J. Bentley, MD signed Executive Order No.4 creating a 38-member “Alabama Health Care Improvement Task Force.”

Though the unspoken ostensible purpose of the task force is to likely make recommendations to the Governor for the expansion of Medicaid in Alabama, it’s being couched to the less-than-observant (or less-than-smart, take your pick), as a home-grown alternative to the big bad wolf of D.C. known as “ObamaCare.”

Again, for the benefit of the uneducated, in addition to decreasing fraud, waste and abuse, increasing efficiency, eliminating discrimination against women, children & people with “pre-existing” conditions, mandating numerous improvements to the quality of the delivery of healthcare from all states in order to receive payment (performance-based payment), the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (sometimes abbreviated as ACA, though popularly known as “ObamaCare”), contains a provision encouraging (but not requiring – that decision was made the U.S. Supreme Court) the state’s governors to expand Medicaid for their impoverished residents. The law provides for 100% payment for so doing, then gradually declines to 90%.

Governors in Kentucky and Arkansas have decided to Expand Medicaid in their states, and are already enjoying savings.

Governors in Kentucky and Arkansas have decided to Expand Medicaid in their states, and are already enjoying savings.

Currently, Alabama’s matching portion (the %age it pays to purchase Medicaid) is 32.4%; so to expand Medicaid, and have it ALL paid for, and then to pay a LOWER rate than is presently being paid is one of the smartest fiscal decisions the state could make.

Already, the Governors of Kentucky and Arkansas – both well-known Republican strongholds, with opposition to the ACA – have expanded Medicaid in their states, and are already reaping the rewards.

Here’s a chart showing the compensation plan to the states: Read the rest of this entry »

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How Inefficient Is The Alabama Legislature?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What’s wrong with Alabama?

How much time do you have?

That’d be an entirely accurate response, of course.

How much bad does it take before the sweet turns sour?

How much bad does it take before the sweet turns sour?

To be certain, criticizing the machinations and politics of Alabama is somewhat like criticizing one’s family – only family members can do it with complete immunity. Outsiders stand the risk of getting punched out.

Here’s one well-known complaint: The Legislature.

Sure, even Washington politicians get lambasted, as, I suppose, does every other politician in our union, at every level – federal, state, county, and local.

But here’s the rub: In Alabama, the legislature takes great pride in calling themselves “part-time” legislators, and boast of having full-time jobs “back home” in the community of their residence. Sure, that sounds nice, but what does it really look like?

By law, in Alabama, the Legislature can meet for NO MORE than 30 days Read the rest of this entry »

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The U.S. Economy In 6 Simple Pictures

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Picture #1:

It’s fairly explanatory. American corporations are making profits hand over fist. They’re making more profit now, than before the “Great Recession.” In fact, they’re making more than DOUBLE from their lowest during that time.

Corporate Profits After Tax

Corporate Profits After Tax

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read the rest of this entry »

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How does Alabama compare with Third World Countries?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, October 26, 2014

Originally entitled: Alabama As A Third-World Nation: How True Is It?

In so many comparative rankings for quality of life within our 50 United States, Alabama and Mississippi seem in a dead heat for last place. In a veritable “Race To The Bottom,” Alabama and Mississippi scrap over being in last place. In fact, it’s been a long-standing joke – with the sad, bitter sting of truth – that Alabama’s State Motto is not Audemus jura nostra defendere,” which has been translated as: “We Dare Maintain Our Rights” or “We Dare Defend Our Rights,” but rather “Thank God For Mississippi.”

And just so we’re singing on the same sheet of music, and on the same verse, a “Third World Nation” is one which were at one time colonies “formally lead by imperialism. The end of imperialism forced these colonies to survive on their own. With lack of support, these colonies started to develop characteristics such as poverty, high birthrates and economic dependence on other countries. The term was then affiliated to the economic situation of these former colonies and not their social alliances to either capitalism or communism.” In a more modern sense however, a “Third World Nation,” is more readily thought of as being one of several “underdeveloped nations of the world, especially those with widespread poverty.” And it is in that sense to which I refer to Alabama as “a Third World Nation.”

In essence, what that term refers to is Quality Of Life. And, there are many aspects of life that can be measured, such as rates and incidences of crime, employment/unemployment, education, health/sickness/disease, responsive & efficient government, availability of clean water, sewerage, utilities such as electricity, natural gas, supporting infrastructure to deliver those utilities, which includes transportation, roads, highways, airports, railways, and access to the same. There is much more to life than the mere availability of food, clothing and shelter. For example, who would want to eat raw meat, wear bearskins, and live in a cave? In context, those three items are certainly fulfilled. And if that’s all there is, then all is well… right?

Demonstrating that, again, there is MUCH MORE to life than the mere availability of food, clothing and shelter.

Consider, for example, Public Health.

Rates of Obesity, and Obesity-related Diseases (also called chronic, or long-term problems) such as Diabetes, Hypertension (High Blood Pressure), Stroke, and certain types of Cancer, in Mississippi and Alabama are among the highest in our United States. While Obesity is quickly becoming an epidemic of significant national proportions, it is particularly problematic in the SouthEast, and in Mississippi and Alabama, especially. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “More than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese.

To be certain, Obesity and Overweight are two DIFFERENT terms, though they describe the extent of the condition. Overweight is having a Body Mass Index of 25 or greater, while Obesity is having a Body Mass Index of 30, or greater.

What is Body Mass Index?

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a number calculated from a person’s weight and height, which is a fairly reliable indicator of body fatness for most people. BMI does not

Read the rest of this entry »

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Gone With The Wind: How Alabama’s State Legislature Blew Away $200 Million Of Industrial Development And Jobs

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, October 15, 2014

labama Governor Robert Bentley signed legislation PROHIBITING two out-of-state businesses from investing in Alabama & constructing business operations, and hiring. Total Cost of Loss = $200+ Million

By his refusal to act, Alabama Republican Governor Robert Bentley allowed legislation to pass which PROHIBITED TWO Out-of-State Businesses from Investing, Conducting Business Operations, and Hiring in Alabama.
Total Cost Loss To Alabama = $200+ Million

Governor Bentley Refused To Reign In Unfounded Fear Mongering By GOP Dominated Legislature

Fueled by unfounded, unscientific constituency fears, Legislators in Alabama’s state Senate and House of Representatives recently authored restrictive regulatory legislation which made it impossible for a Texas-based business to expand operations in Alabama. Not counting the jobs and salaries lost, the investment cost of the loss to Alabama exceeds $200 Million.

Specifically, Pioneer Green Energy, 802 Lavaca St, Austin, TX 78701, (512) 351-3363, planned to spend over $200 Million to build two facilities in Cherokee and Etowah counties to generate electricity, and hire local people to operate and maintain the facilities.

In comparison, Remington Arms – the firearms manufacturer which recently announced relocation to Huntsville, Alabama – will be spending $110 Million, with $38 Million in tax incentives provided by the state.

Pioneer was set to construct 30-45 wind-driven turbines (electricity-generating windmills) in Etowah county at a cost of $160 Million in their NoccalulaWind project. In nearby Cherokee county, they were set to construct 7-8 such windmills, at a cost of $40 Million in their ShinboneWind project.

A series of bills which originated in Alabama’s state Senate, and House of Representatives was effectively, the death knell for the projects.

Alabama State Senator Phil Williams, 10th Senate District, Floor of Alabama State Senate

State Senator Phil Williams, a Republican in Alabama’s 10th Senate District, speaks from the Floor of Alabama State Senate. He authored SB 402 & SB 403, prohibitive regulatory legislation which hamstrung $200 Million in Industrial Development and Jobs.

As reported by Conservation Alabama, April 10, 2014, in a column entitled “2014 Legislative Session recap, “Two local bills opposed by Conservation Alabama did pass. Senate Bills 402 and 403 requiring strict regulations for wind energy conversion systems in Etowah and Cherokee counties passed, eliminating any real chance of wind energy in those two counties. After these local bills passed it was thought that Senate Bill 12, a statewide bill to regulate wind energy conversion systems, would make it through with language that superseded the two local bills and included more reasonable and agreed upon language between the two sides. However, proponents of the bill could not get on the same page. Last minute changes to the bill created additional controversy, and the bill ultimately failed to pass in the House and consequently the two local bills will become law.”

Alabama state Senate Bills 402 and 403  were authored and sponsored by Senator Phil Williams, a Republican whom represents Alabama’s 10th Senate District, which includes Etowah and Cherokee counties. By profession, Senator Williams is a lawyer, and in part, he wrote this about himself on his legislative profile/biography webpage: “Phil Williams is the managing member of Williams & Associates, LLC, a law firm based in Gadsden, AL.” His campaign website states this, “His legal focus is largely in the areas of insurance, municipal and corporate defense.” (SB402 may be found online here -or downloaded from this site AL SB402-int– & SB 403 may be found online here  -or downloaded from this site AL SB403-int-)

Here’s Part One of the Grand Hypocrisy. The Alabama GOP website states this about Senator Williams: “One of the most promising freshman Senators in Montgomery is Phil Williams of Rainbow City. He is the proud sponsor of the Alabama Jobs Creation and Retention Act, which provides tax incentives to new or existing businesses that engage in industrial projects. Sen. Williams said, “This Act will help make Alabama a center of gravity for new and existing business growth, and is another example of our Republican-led senate following through on our campaign promises.””

Why would a State Senator whom sponsored the “Alabama Jobs Creation and Retention Act” author legislation that FORBADE the creation of jobs?

Alabama State Senator Phil Williams (R), authored regulatory legislation which hampered $200 Million Industrial Development in Alabama, and cost jobs.

Alabama State Senator Phil Williams (R), in green tie & suit, authored regulatory legislation which lost $200 Million Industrial Development in Alabama, and cost jobs.

According to an article in The Alabama Reporter written by Brandon Moseley, published 07 June 2013, Senator Williams, who hails from Rainbow City, is seeking a second term in office, and made this remark about his candidacy: “It has been a great honor to serve the people of Senate District 10 these past few years. We have accomplished so much of what the people in our communities said they wanted, and my intent is to continue the fight for conservative values and finish what we’ve started.”

Readers may recall that Etowah county is home to disgraced former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore – sometimes popularly known as “The Ten Commandments Judge” – who was removed from office following a hearing November 12, 2003 by a unanimous vote of the Alabama Court of the Judiciary. Since then, he campaigned for the same office – State Supreme Court Chief Justice – and was elected November 6, 2012.

It certainly seem that folks in Alabama Politics – that’d be the GOP/Republicans – are largely backwards, hypocritical, narrow minded fear mongers who appeal to their equally “largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command” constituency.

Because while on one hand, they decry “regulation” and “excessive” regulation which they claim constrains business, and free enterprise – and therefore jobs – in the state, they simultaneously enact the very legislation they decry.

It’s called HYPOCRISY. And to be certain, it’s simply defined as “the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.”

This is a HUGE case in point, that an out-of-state business was prepared to construct and expand business operations in Alabama – from the ground, up. Had leased land, obtained easements, and every other necessary preliminary item to conduct business operations… including hiring professional services in Alabama to prepare for business operations.

BUT!

Wouldn’t you know it? The GOP-dominated Alabama State Legislature (House & Senate) enacted legislation, which passed without Governor Bentley’s signature, which PROHIBITED the businesses from even getting the first bulldozer out to clear land. Seriously.

Think I’m joking, exaggerating, or kidding?

Read on.

Oh… and be sure to thank them in November.

—-

Alabama regs too strict for turbines, says lawyer for wind energy developer

By William Thornton, wthornton@al.com
Twitter: WThorn7
on August 20, 2014 at 11:16 AM, updated August 20, 2014 at 12:03 PM

GADSDEN, Alabama — The lawyer for a Texas-based company abandoning plans for two windmill farms in northeast Alabama said today that recently approved state regulations on wind energy led to the decision.

Charlie Stewart, attorney for Pioneer Green Energy, said the company no longer has plans to develop two wind energy farms in Cherokee and Etowah counties. Groups opposing the development announced yesterday they had received word Pioneer Green was relinquishing land leases for the projects.

Pioneer Green Energy announced last year it planned to develop wind energy projects in the two counties, and said land leases had already been secured. Five Cherokee County residents filed suit in an attempt to stop the development, and a group of Etowah County residents also filed suit.

Pioneer Green planned a $40 million project with seven to eight turbines in Cherokee County. The larger Etowah County project would have had 30 to 45 turbines costing $160 million.

Stewart said the company was ready to begin construction when the lawsuits were filed, and the legislation passed earlier this year, which established setback and noise standards.

That bill required the state’s Public Safety Commission to oversee wind farms, mandated that noise from the turbines not exceed an average of 50 decibels, and laid out a setback of five times the height of the tower from the base to the nearest property line. Last year, a company official said the legislation was too restrictive by making the property line the threshold and not the nearest residence or structure.

Stewart said much of the opposition was fueled by “hysteria.”

“The bill was basically Read the rest of this entry »

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How Successful Is It To Drug Test Public Assistance Welfare Recipients?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, October 5, 2014

There’s a meme which circulates on FaceBook and presumably, in other places as well, which appears similarly as this:

Drug Test Public Assistance Recipients

Drug Test Public Assistance Recipients Meme

Honestly, the idea is a failure.

But you’d rarely – if ever – hear about it’s failures.

Florida was the first state to tread that path. What they learned was surprising. And then, the law was struck down by a Federal court. The states that embark upon Florida’s path will be wa$ting their citizen$ taxe$.

Only 2.6% of Florida applicants failed the drug test.

“Because the Florida law requires that applicants who pass the test be reimbursed for the cost, an average of $30, the cost to the state was $118,140. This is more than would have been paid out in benefits to the people who failed the test. As a result, the testing cost the government an extra $45,780.”

The purported savings in Florida’s program will be negligible after administrative costs and reimbursements for the drug tests are taken into account.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/18/us/no-savings-found-in-florida-welfare-drug-tests.html

But it wasn’t limited to Florida. Read the rest of this entry »

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Which are the BEST & WORST States for Nursing Practice?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The nursing industry – like most segments of the economy – is in a state of significant transition under the weight of major overarching socioeconomic dynamics, from the aging U.S. population and the Affordable Care Act to the student loan crisis and concerns about the future of key entitlement programs. It’s therefore understandable if recent nursing school grads aren’t sure where to turn once they receive their diploma.

That concern is not unique among recent graduates, regardless of industry, but both the magnitude of the issue – the nursing industry is expected to grow far faster than the average occupation through 2022 – and the various day-to-day demands placed on nursing professionals – from overstaffing and mandatory overtime to unionization and allegations of systematic disrespect – are indeed profession-specific. With that in mind, WalletHub decided to take stock of the nursing industry in order to help nurses, particularly the newly minted of the bunch, lay down roots in areas that are conducive to both personal and professional success.

We compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of 15 key metrics that collectively speak to the job opportunities that exist for nurses in each market, how much competition there is for each position, differences in the workplace environment, and projections for the future. You can check out our findings as well as Read the rest of this entry »

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Reasons to Oppose Common Core from the Left & Right

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, August 11, 2014

Once, I supported Common Core.

Now, I do not.

Read on to understand why.

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Everything you need to know about Common Core — Ravitch

January 18, 2014

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/01/18/everything-you-need-to-know-about-common-core-ravitch/

Diane Ravitch, the education historian who has become the leader of the movement against corporate-influenced school reform, gave this speech to the Modern Language Association on Jan. 11 about the past, present and future of the Common Core State Standards.

Here’s her speech:

As an organization of teachers and scholars devoted to the study of language and literature, MLA should be deeply involved in the debate about the Common Core standards.

The Common Core standards were developed in 2009 and released in 2010. Within a matter of months, they had been endorsed by 45 states and the District of Columbia. At present, publishers are aligning their materials with the Common Core, technology companies are creating software and curriculum aligned with the Common Core, and two federally-funded consortia have created online tests of the Common Core.

What are the Common Core standards? Who produced them? Why are they controversial? How did their adoption happen so quickly?

As scholars of the humanities, you are well aware that every historical event is subject to interpretation. There are different ways to answer the questions I just posed. Originally, this session was designed to be a discussion between me and David Coleman, who is generally acknowledged as the architect of the Common Core standards. Some months ago, we both agreed on the date and format. But Mr. Coleman, now president of the College Board, discovered that he had a conflicting meeting and could not be here.

So, unfortunately, you will hear only my narrative, not his, which would be quite different. I have no doubt that you will have no difficulty getting access to his version of the narrative, which is the same as Secretary Arne Duncan’s.

He would tell you that the standards were created by the states, that they were widely and quickly embraced because so many educators wanted common standards for teaching language, literature, and mathematics. But he would not be able to explain why so many educators and parents are now opposed to the standards and are reacting angrily to the testing that accompanies them.

I will try to do that.

I will begin by setting the context for the development of the standards.

They arrive at a time when American public education and its teachers are under attack. Never have public schools been as subject to upheaval, assault, and chaos as they are today. Unlike modern corporations, which extol creative disruption, schools need stability, not constant turnover and change. Yet for the past dozen years, ill-advised federal and state policies have rained down on students, teachers, principals, and schools.

George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind and Barack Obama’s Race to the Top have combined to impose a punitive regime of standardized testing on the schools. NCLB was passed by Congress in 2001 and signed into law in 2002. NCLB law required schools to test every child in grades 3-8 every year; by 2014, said the law, every child must be “proficient” or schools would face escalating sanctions. The ultimate sanction for failure to raise test scores was firing the staff and closing the school.

Because the stakes were so high, NCLB encouraged teachers to teach to the test. In many schools, the curriculum was narrowed; the only subjects that mattered were reading and mathematics. What was not tested—the arts, history, civics, literature, geography, science, physical education—didn’t count. Some states, like New York, gamed the system by dropping the passing mark each year, giving the impression that its students were making phenomenal progress when they were not. Some districts, like Atlanta, El Paso, and the District of Columbia, were caught up in cheating scandals. In response to this relentless pressure, test scores rose, but not as much as they had before the adoption of NCLB.

Then along came the Obama administration, with its signature program called Race to the Top. In response to the economic crisis of 2008, Congress gave the U.S. Department of Education $5 billion to promote “reform.” Secretary Duncan launched a competition for states called “Race to the Top.” If states wanted any part of that money, they had to agree to certain conditions. They had to agree to evaluate teachers to a significant degree by the rise or fall of their students’ test scores; they had to agree to increase the number of privately managed charter schools; they had to agree to adopt “college and career ready standards,” which were understood to be the not-yet-finished Common Core standards; they had to agree to “turnaround” low-performing schools by such tactics as firing the principal and part or all of the school staff; and they had to agree to collect unprecedented amounts of personally identifiable information about every student and store it in a data warehouse. It became an article of faith in Washington and in state capitols, with the help of propagandistic films like “Waiting for Superman,” that if students had low scores, it must be the fault of bad teachers. Poverty, we heard again and again from people like Bill Gates, Joel Klein, and Michelle Rhee, was just an excuse for bad teachers, who should be fired without delay or due process.

These two federal programs, which both rely heavily on standardized testing, has produced a massive demoralization of educators; an unprecedented exodus of experienced educators, who were replaced in many districts by young, inexperienced, low-wage teachers; the closure of many public schools, especially in poor and minority districts; the opening of thousands of privately managed charters; an increase in low-quality for-profit charter schools and low-quality online charter schools; a widespread attack on teachers’ due process rights and collective bargaining rights; the near-collapse of public education in urban districts like Detroit and Philadelphia, as public schools are replaced by privately managed charter schools; a burgeoning educational-industrial complex of testing corporations, charter chains, and technology companies that view public education as an emerging market. Hedge funds, entrepreneurs, and real estate investment corporations invest enthusiastically in this emerging market, encouraged by federal tax credits, lavish fees, and the prospect of huge profits from taxpayer dollars. Celebrities, tennis stars, basketball stars, and football stars are opening their own name-brand schools with public dollars, even though they know nothing about education.

No other nation in the world has inflicted so many changes or imposed so many mandates on its teachers and public schools as we have in the past dozen years. No other nation tests every student every year as we do. Our students are the most over-tested in the world. No other nation—at least no high-performing nation—judges the quality of teachers by the test scores of their students. Most researchers agree that this methodology is fundamentally flawed, that it is inaccurate, unreliable, and unstable, that the highest ratings will go to teachers with the most affluent students and the lowest ratings will go to teachers of English learners, teachers of students with disabilities, and teachers in high-poverty schools. Nonetheless, the U.S. Department of Education wants every state and every district to do it. Because of these federal programs, our schools have become obsessed with standardized testing, and have turned over to the testing corporations the responsibility for rating, ranking, and labeling our students, our teachers, and our schools.

The Pearson Corporation has become

Read the rest of this entry »

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Alabama Prison System Teetering on Federal Takover

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, August 7, 2014

Every single word in this OpEd is spot-on.

Alabama is on the verge of a complete takeover of it’s prison system. That is a VERY sad indictment, and fact. Further, most Alabamians are COMPLETELY unaware of the dangers the state faces.

Alabama is a state in crisis.

Fiscal crisis from a failure of long-term management, unwise, unsound policy, unnecessary prolonged and costly legal battles at the state and federal levels over inane laws which have had no positive effect upon the state, from policies and procedures which have only burdened the people, tax giveaways to corporations, funded corporate welfare, an inequitable personal income taxation system which has hampered and hamstrung state growth, and further placed the state’s citizens into poverty.

Face it folks… I don’t give a damn about what political colors you wear, or how or what you describe yourself as politically in Alabama… if everything were peaches and cream in the state, then why in the Hell is the state’s poverty level 18% – 4 percentage points ABOVE the national average?

Why is the state sick in their persons? Of all states, Alabama continually ranks high in rates of obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc., even among CHILDREN!

Why does the state have a high crime rate?

Why are Alabamians largely “largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command”?

WHY?

WHY?!?

WHY!?!

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Why Alabama Cannot Wait on Prison Reform: Guest Opinion

Alabama State Senator Cam Ward (center), speaks  speaks to media members during a tour as Kim Thomas, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections (left) and warden Carter Davenport listen at the St. Clair Correctional Facility Fri., March 16, 2012 in Springville, Ala. (The Birmingham News/Bernard Troncale)

Alabama State Senator Cam Ward (center), speaks speaks to media members during a tour as Kim Thomas, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections (left) and Warden Carter Davenport listen at the St. Clair Correctional Facility Fri., March 16, 2012 in Springville, Ala. (The Birmingham News/Bernard Troncale)

Guest opinion By Alabama State Senator Cam Ward
August 06, 2014 at 9:00 AM, updated August 06, 2014 at 9:05 AM

By Cam Ward

Prisons are an issue that would never rank high on any list of priorities for the people of Alabama and understandably so.  With unemployment hovering near 7 percent and many schools in need of repair, people ask me why prison reform should be a major subject at this time. The answer is simple – because our failure to maintain a good corrections system is going to push over a fiscal cliff that we may never recover from.

For years as our corrections system became more crowded the political leadership in Montgomery turned their eyes to issues more palatable to the voters during election time. The general feeling for decades has been “let’s wait and deal with that when we have more money.”

As we waited our system grew to 192 percent capacity and despite this incarceration rate our state has the 8th highest violent crime rate in the country. Both of these statistics point to a failing system of corrections.

In addition to allowing for a broken system to continue down a path of inefficiency we have also created a fiscal nightmare of the likes our state has never seen before. While we spend Read the rest of this entry »

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