Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Posts Tagged ‘Revenue’

Build The Wall: A Simple How-To Primer

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, January 8, 2017

On June 16, 2015, when Donald Trump announced his candidacy for United States President, he said in part, “I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall.”

Trump has estimated construction costs could range from $8-12 Billion, that it should be be made of precast concrete, rise 35 to 40 feet, or 50 feet, or higher, and that it doesn’t need to span the entire distance of the border, but only half because of natural barriers.

Accurate official Cost Estimates to build The Wall are sketchy, and a 2009 report by the Congressional Research Service  found that the challenges include “costs versus benefits, location, design, environmental impact, potential diplomatic ramifications, and the costs of acquiring the land needed for construction.”

Projected costs vary widely, and the report stated that:

The Corps of Engineers study predicted that the costs of constructing a double layer fence consisting of primary fencing and Sandia fencing would range from $1.2 million to $1.3 million a mile, excluding the costs of land acquisition. The Corps of Engineers also predicted that the 25-year life cycle cost of the fence would range from $16.4 million to $70 million per mile depending on the amount of damage sustained by the fencing.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that border fencing would cost $3 million a mile to construct and that maintenance would total roughly 15% of the overall project costs per year.
According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the border fencing constructed by the end of FY2007 (using mostly the Corps of Engineers and the National Guard to construct the fencing) cost about $2.8 million a mile. The fencing constructed in FY2008, using mostly private constructors, cost about $5.1 million a mile.

In “Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, Committee on Homeland Security, House of Representatives” entitled “SOUTHWEST BORDER SECURITY: Additional Actions Needed to Assess Resource Deployment and Progress; Statement of Rebecca Gambler, Director, Homeland Security and Justice” published Tuesday, March 1, 2016, the U.S. Government Accountability Office stated that:

“In addition, with regard to fencing and other tactical infrastructure, CBP reported that from fiscal year 2005 through May 2015, the total miles of vehicle and pedestrian fencing along the nearly 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border increased from approximately 120 miles to 652 miles. With the completion of the new fencing and other tactical infrastructure, DHS is now responsible for maintaining this infrastructure including repairing breached sections of fencing.”

See also: Highlights of GAO-16-465T, a testimony before the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, Committee on Homeland Security, House of Representatives.

And make no mistake, Public Law 109–367 enacted by the 109th Congress, also known as the “Secure Fence Act of 2006” requires that “the Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide for least 2 layers of reinforced fencing, the installation of additional physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors…” at specified locations. But in typical Congressional fashion, the law was changed in 2008, and the fence requirements contained in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008, still mandates the construction of a fence covering “not less than 700 miles” of the border, but eliminated the requirement that the fence be double-layered. According to “Remarks by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson: “Border Security in the 21st Century” – As Delivered,” “in Fiscal Year 2000 we had 10 miles of secondary fence along the southwest border; today we have 36.3 miles of secondary fence.”

Citing a U.S./Mexico Trade Deficit of $50 Billion in 2014, and a $54 Billion Trade Deficit for the first 11 months of 2015, Trump has proposed reinstating tariffs on Mexican goods in violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Trump said, “When they say Mexico can’t pay for the wall, I say of course they can. We have a trade deficit with Mexico that’s unbelievably big. … It’s billions and billions of dollars — far more than what we’re talking about for the wall.”

His claim that “I will have Mexico pay for that wall,” would ostensibly be done by reinstating tariffs, otherwise known as “taxes” on goods “Hecho en Mexico.”

However, there is another potential manner in which he could “have Mexico pay for that wall,” which would be to Read the rest of this entry »

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A Better Argument For Alabama #ALpolitics To Legalize, Regulate & Tax Marijuana

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, February 27, 2016

Recently, on February 23, 2016, AL.com published an OpEd entitled “Would legalizing cannabis solve Alabama’s budget problems?” written by Reggie C. Pulliam, whom was identified as “a resident of Gulf Shores who has worked on public policy and criminal justice reform in Washington, D.C.”

I found his Op-Ed unconvincing because it’s poorly written.

The Colorado Department of Revenue reported that for December 2015 (State of Colorado Marijuana Taxes, Licenses, and Fees Transfers and Distribution December 2015 Sales Reported in January 2016), Total All Marijuana Taxes, Licenses, and Fees was $13,247,434.

The year-to-date increase was $4,689,293.

Based upon the December figure, on an annualized basis, that’s $158,969,208… which is not exactly chump change.
(See “Alabama Senate Approves Shifting $100 Million Away From Schools” published September 15, 2015.)

Linked here is the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Colorado Marijuana Tax Data.

Figuring into the state cost : benefit analysis & calculations also is a decrease in costs associated with Read the rest of this entry »

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Why #ALpolitics Should’ve Elected @RonSparks2010 – @GovernorBentley In His Own Words: “I had no clue.”

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Having made no bones about it, I remain searingly and scathingly critical of Alabama Governor Robert Julian Bentley, a retired physician-turned-Republican legislator from Tuscaloosa, who is twice elected governor – in 2010, and in 2014.

While I wished him well after his initial victory in the governor’s race against his Democratic opponent then-Secretary of Agriculture and Industries, Ron Sparks, he has disappointed the state since Inauguration Day 2011 when he put his foot in his mouth at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, Montgomery, where on Martin Luther King Day, Monday, January 17, 2011 – mere hours after taking the oath of office and inauguration – he said in part, “There may be some people here today who do not have living within them the Holy Spirit. But if you have been adopted in God’s family like I have, and like you have if you’re a Christian and if you’re saved, and the Holy Spirit lives within you just like the Holy Spirit lives within me, then you know what that makes? It makes you and me brothers. And it makes you and me brother and sister. Now I will have to say that, if we don’t have the same daddy, we’re not brothers and sisters. So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I’m telling you, you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister, and I want to be your brother.”

It was at that point that Rebekah Caldwell Mason became his Communication Director, and later, Senior Political Advisor-cum-paramour.

More to the point, however, I have maintained that among other things, as an elected official, he has been feckless, and clueless.

But, let’s let him speak for himself.

Here’s in part what Governor Bentley said in a speech to a statewide gathering of city officials in Montgomery, May 2013, “You know where I came up with that idea? Ron Sparks. Read the rest of this entry »

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Alabama State Legislature Could Undo DOJ-ADOC Tutwiler Agreement & Force Federal Takeover

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, May 29, 2015

To The Reader:
If you are not a regular follower of Alabama politics, some, or perhaps most, of the items mentioned herein may very well be alien to you. Yet even if you are – even to a small extent – an adherent of the same, it very well may still be strange to you. It’s strange to most… save for those who wallow in such mire, namely, the Alabama Legislature and politicians in Alabama.

What I write herein this blog, and this entry in particular, contains fact, and opinion. It’s difficult to NOT have opinion when faced with facts… particularly when innocent lives are at stake. And innocent lives ARE at stake in Alabama.

I ask your indulgence.

From Day One of his first term in office (January 17, 2010) Alabama Governor Robert Bentley’s administration has been pockmarked with allegations of corruption, wrong-doing, violations of Federal Law, incompetence, lies, thefts, and deceptions.

I have written and opined about Governor Bentley’s bald-faced lies from his first campaign for governor (Alabama Governor Bentley Broke 20 Promises From 2010 Campaign), and his propensities and predilections toward falsehoods are well-documented in other news media from his campaign for a second term as governor, and after his re-election.

Examples include:
23-Felony Ethics Count indicted Rep. Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) re-elected GOP Speaker of the House
Rep. Greg Wren (R-Montgomery) plead guilty to misdemeanor Hubbard-related ethics charge and resigned his House seat
Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) charged with perjury and false statements related to Lee County grand jury in January in Hubbard case
Moles in GOP Attorney General Luther Strange’s office attempting to corrupt Hubbard’s prosecution
Prison rapes & long-term cover-up of criminal wrongdoing at Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women, and Alabama Department Of Corrections (ADOC)
ADOC purchased on the black market medicines to be misused for execution, which the FDA seized
ADOC neglected prisoners’ minor healthcare problems, which lead to their death
Legislature reneged repayment on money “borrowed” from Alabama Trust Fund

Facing an immediate General Fund Budget shortfall of $250 Million, and a projected $750 Million long-term deficit, shortly after re-election to a second term, Governor Bentley reneged on a campaign promise to not raise taxes. The most fearfully pressing of the concerns remains the prospects of a Federal take-over of the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC). At 200% capacity, and grossly understaffed, the ADOC is still teetering upon the precipice of a Federal take-over by the Department of Justice. The DOJ took over California’s Prison System with with much less overcrowding, approximately 140%.

The DOJ sent Governor Bentley a 36-page “love letter” dated January 17, 2014 which was entitled Investigation of the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women and Notice of Expanded Investigation in which they detailed numerous counts of prisoner abuse, sexual abuse of prisoners, criminal activity by guards upon inmates, and other horrific crimes against humanity.

USDOJ Tutwiler ADOC Findings 1-17-14

Only today, Governor Bentley crowed about reaching a 65+ page Settlement Agreement with the DOJ in which ADOC and the State of Alabama promised to “implement all policies and procedures required by the agreement within nine months of the effective date of the Agreement,” and which “will terminate when Defendants have achieved substantial compliance with each provision of the Agreement, and have maintained substantial compliance for three consecutive Court-filed compliance reports.”

ADOC-DOJ-Settlement-Package-05-28-15

While there is a nine month implementation time line, there is a possibility of 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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Alabama Democrats Vote to Save Jobs: ABC Privatization Bill Dies in Senate Committee

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A bill by State Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) to privatize the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has died in the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee by a 7-6 vote along party lines, with one Republican voting ‘NO.’ The vote received applause from attendees.

A substitution bill presented by Orr would’ve changed the suspension penalty for Selling to Minors from one year to one week, and increased taxes, was also adopted along party line vote.
Orr said earlier that, “Part of our job is to downsize government,” and demanded a committee vote be taken on his bill today.

Alcoholic Beverage Control Board Administrator Mac Gipson testified that employees are paid from mark-ups from sales in the state’s 176 ABC stores. He also noted that by comparison, there are 587 private package stores in the state.

In Alabama, liquor is marked up at 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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Congressional Budget Office: Offshore Corporate Tax Havens Cost each Citizen $1259

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, April 17, 2014

Historically, our nation has prospered when tax rates on the ULTRA wealthy and corporations were highest.

In the period following World War II, under President Dwight David Eisenhower – a Republican, and former Supreme Allied Commander / 5ive Star General – Corporate Tax rates have continually declined.

Now, during the Obama administration, they are at the LOWEST they have EVER been.

Corporate Income Tax Rates have continually declined

Corporate Income Tax Rates have continually declined the peaked during the Eisenhower administration. The formula is: b/(a+b) Where (a) Corporate Profits After Tax (without IVA and CCAdj), Billions of Dollars, Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (CP); And (b) Federal Government: Tax Receipts on Corporate Income, Billions of Dollars, Not Seasonally Adjusted (FCTAX)

Tax Havens Leave U.S. Filers $1,259 Tab Each, Report Says

U.S. taxpayers would need to pay an average of $1,259 more a year to make up the federal and state taxes lost to corporations and individuals sheltering money in overseas tax havens, according to a report.

Tax haven abusers benefit from America’s markets, public infrastructure, educated workforce, security and rule of law -– all supported in one way or another by tax dollars -– but they avoid paying for these benefits,” U.S. Public Interest Research Group said in the report released today, the deadline for filing 2013 taxes.
ref: http://www.uspirg.org/reports/usp/picking-tab-2014

“Instead, ordinary taxpayers end up picking up the tab, either in the form of higher taxes, cuts to public spending priorities, or increases to the federal debt,” it said.

In total, the U.S. loses $150 billion in federal revenue and another $34 billion in state revenue annually because of money parked in tax havens, the Boston-based consumer advocacy group concluded.

That’s almost Read the rest of this entry »

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Would President Obama privatize TVA & Kill the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Shoals: Privatizing TVA is ‘a bad idea’

By Mike Goens
Managing Editor
Matt McKean/TimesDaily
4/21/13

Anglers fish below thousands of feet of power lines that run from TVA’s Wheeler Dam turbine systems. Those from the Shoals who work closely with the Tennessee Valley Authority said the federal agency should not be turned over to private companies. Matt McKean/TimesDaily

Anglers fish below thousands of feet of power lines that run from TVA’s Wheeler Dam turbine systems. Those from the Shoals who work closely with the Tennessee Valley Authority said the federal agency should not be turned over to private companies. Matt McKean/TimesDaily

If President Barack Obama needs help orchestrating an effort to privatize TVA, he shouldn’t expect much support from the Shoals.

Those from the Shoals who work closely with the Tennessee Valley Authority said the federal agency should not be turned over to private companies. They fear a privately owned TVA will lead to higher electricity rates, job cuts, more flooding problems and navigational issues on the Tennessee River and other waterways under TVA’s jurisdiction.

“The first questions you need to ask are what’s the gain for government and what would be gained by the community,” said Steve Hargrove, manager of Sheffield Utilities. “If the purpose is to make things better and there is reason to think it’s possible, I would be the first one interested in sitting at the table and talking about it. I just don’t see advantages of privatizing at this time.”

Obama brought the issue to the table through his 2014 budget proposal, which was released last week. He said selling TVA should be explored as a means to increase revenue by as much as $25 billion, money that could reduce the federal deficit and pay for other government services.

Hargrove has a unique perspective to the debate, having worked at TVA for 33 years before retiring as plant manager at Colbert Fossil Plant. He became manager of Sheffield Utilities in December.

His department purchases electricity from TVA and provides power to about 19,000 customers in Colbert County.

“I am a believer in the private sector, but I would fear their mission would be different than TVA’s,” Hargrove said. “The mission of TVA is not to make profit, and the mission of the private sector is to make a profit. They have to answer to a board that wants to maximize profits. When your primary goal is to make a profit, that becomes a higher goal than helping the community.

“TVA has had its problems, and bad decisions have been made, but its mission is good and they are an established part of the communities.”

Hargrove said residential rates for TVA customers in the Southeast are among the lowest 25 percent in the country and Read the rest of this entry »

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Tennessee may modernize antiquated beverage alcohol laws

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tennessee has some very strange and peculiar laws regarding the regulation of beverage alcohol, most of which remain rooted in the Prohibition Era, and in in fear.

And, true to form, it would be no wonder that Baptists – the arch-conservative religious political right wing activists of the right wing party – are directly involved in efforts to keep the state mired in the antiquated bad old days of yore.

Tennessee is unique in the regard that state law forbids sale of wine except in state-licensed liquor stores. To clarify, the state of Tennessee has an unusual combination of laws that forbid sales of wine in any other type store save one that sells liquor. Further, sales are prohibited on Sunday. Beer, however, is able to be sold in grocery stores… but only if the ABV (Alcohol By Volume) is under 6%.

Alabama once had a similarly prohibitive content law, along with bottle size restriction – which severely limited the sales of domestic and imported craft/micro brew beers and ales. Alabama no longer has such prohibitive limitations.

And then, if one considers the implications of that law – mandating the sale of wine be exclusively limited to sales in liquor stores – the state actually sanctions the liquor enterprise itself, rather than being a neutral, regulatory body. In Tennessee there are no state-operated liquor stores as there are in Alabama. To have a state-run enterprise is not contradictory to the free market, because the state is a direct competitor in the market, which frequently has the lowest priced products, because taxes are the markup/profit margin for the state. Contrasting that model with the private retailer, the private retailer must make a profit atop the taxes which the state charges (after they purchase from the state at a wholesale cost – the same cost the state sells to the general public), thus increasing the retail price above what the state sells it.

Supporters and opponents of a bill that would let grocery and convenience stores sell wine undertook one final push to sway Tennessee lawmakers Monday ahead of a make-or-break vote in the state legislature.

Liquor store owners, grocery store operators, wine shoppers, a sheriff, an addiction specialist and a minister were among the people allowed to testify at a special hearing held a day before the Senate State & Local Government Committee is to vote on the biggest rewrite of Tennessee’s liquor laws in decades. Members guarded Read the rest of this entry »

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Booze News You Can Use: Cullman, Alabama city officials delighted with alcohol tax revenue

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, June 5, 2012

For many years, Cullman, Alabama – a tiny town in Central North Alabama, founded by German immigrants in 1873 – had been “dry,” which is to say that there were no legal sales of beverage alcohol in the city.

In fact, the city had been dry for nearly half its existence, having experienced “wet” and dry periods aside even, from national Prohibition.

There had been various referendums in 2004, 2002, 1992, 1990, 1986 and 1984, with the closest vote in 1984, when alcohol sales were voted down by a mere 159 votes.

Cullman had also been the butt of national jokes & mockery because it had the only dry Oktoberfest in the United States. That all changed in 2011, and for the 30th celebration of Oktoberfest that year, celebrants were able to legally sell & enjoy the consumption of beer, wine & liquor.

What is particularly fascinating about this entire ordeal – local prohibition in small-town Alabama – is that it is representative of Read the rest of this entry »

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GAO IDs Billion$ in federal wa$te

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In a recently released report, the Government Accountability Office (formerly known as the Government Accounting Office), has identified Billions of dollars of waste in federal programs, many of which are described as “duplication, overlap, or fragmentation could potentially save billions of taxpayer dollars annually and help agencies provide more efficient and effective services.”

Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn (R), said that by implementing the suggested changes – such as through consolidation, “We could save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars every year without cutting services.”

Some examples of streamlining include consolidating responsibilities within agencies, such as with catfish, for example. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has responsibility for monitoring catfish, while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also has responsibility for oversight of the seafood industry. As well, Read the rest of this entry »

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