Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Posts Tagged ‘taxes’

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

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

UPDATE: 07February2016
http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2016/02/07/drug-testing-benefits-tennessee-yields-only-65-positives/79776756/

Since implementation of a law began July 1, 2014, the Tennessee Department of Human Services found only 65 out of 39,121 people who applied for a cash assistance program known as “Families First in Tennessee,” tested positive for illegal substances, or medicines for which they had no prescription.

That’s less than 1% of all applicants who tested positive.

That information was provided provided to The Tennessean by the Tennessee DHR.

An extra 116 refused to participate in an initial drug screening questionnaire, which automatically disqualified them for benefits.

The average monthly benefit of the cash assistance program was $165 per month in December – or $1,980 per year. If they otherwise would have qualified to have received assistance, the total value of the benefit to the 116 people who refused to take the test would have been $230,000 annually – if they had otherwise qualified for benefits.

Since the law began, 609 people have been asked to take a drug test: 544 tested negative, and 65 tested positive. Of those who tested positive, 40 were referred for substance abuse evaluation, and 13 enrolled in a drug treatment facility or recovery support group as a condition of receiving benefits.

The total cost to Tennessee taxpayers so far has been $23,592.

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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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!?!

***
***

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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Congressional Pay: Too Much, Too Little, or Just Right?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, July 7, 2014

Years ago, I said “build a Federal Barracks for members of Congress, and have them march to work.” I still think having modest Federal Housing for members of Congress is a good idea.

Regarding their level of pay/compensation, the article’s point – that D.C. is an expensive place to live – is well taken, and it is my considered opinion in light of that fact which gives further credence to the idea of modest Federal Housing for members of Congress. In fact, if their salaries were, by law, capped at twice the median American household income (which, according to the article is now approximately $51,000), it could be an even better idea.

And, the value of the housing they would receive from the Federal Government could also be be considered a type of income. Perhaps even they could be paid a Basic Allowance for Housing in a similar fashion to our military service members for such housing.¹ An apartment building complex would most likely be the best option for in-town accommodations, which could be convenient to their work location, and it could be jointly managed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the National Park Service.

However, with this present miasmatic congress, I hold out little hope for any such creative laws limiting congressional compensation, or introducing Federal Congressional Barracks/Housing to be introduced – though I believe it should be done, and is long overdue, along with Term Limitations. A total of 20 years elected federal service is long enough for anyone. Two terms in the Senate (12 years), and four terms in the House (8 years) should be enough for anyone, would reintroduce vibrancy into the process of national governance, and introduce more people to the process of elected public service.

Congressman’s Lament: $174,000 Isn’t Enough To Make Ends Meet

by Liz Halloran
April 04, 2014 3:05 PM ET

In what world does an annual salary of $174,000 meet the definition of underpaid?

That would be in the nation’s capital, where soon-to-be-retired Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., said Americans should know that their members of Congress — as the board of directors for the “largest economic entity in the world” — are underpaid.

The longtime congressman made his comments Thursday after the House voted for the sixth straight year to deny members an automatic cost-of-living raise they’re entitled to under law.

Not surprisingly, reaction to Moran’s assertion was Read the rest of this entry »

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Pitchfork in the Road: America’s Economic Future – Poverty & Insurrection, or Abundance & Peace?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, June 28, 2014

“How much is enough?” is a qood question to ask many folks, especially some among the Wall $treet crowd.

And to be certain, the two principles of “the worker is worthy of their hire,” and “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain” are equally compelling ethics.

As those two ethics concern our nation’s economy, we can point to times in history where various nations suffered revolution, and the most common causes of revolution.

In fact, I wrote at length about it in this blog in 2011, and observed in part that, “…it’s not as if uproars have never happened before. They happen with great regularity and frequency. In fact, they’re quite predictable. Yes, predictable. It’s called “history.” The maxim goes something like this: “Those who forget the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them.” And so, any reasonable or prudent person should ask, “What are the lessons of history?””

Just remember this: Food, Clothing, Shelter. If you can’t get them with what you have, you’ll fight, kill, go to war, or civil insurrection, to obtain the basic necessities of life.

The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats

By NICK HANAUER
Nick Hanauer is a Seattle-based entrepreneur.

July/August 2014

Memo: From Nick Hanauer
To: My Fellow Zillionaires

You probably don’t know me, but like you I am one of those .01%ers, a proud and unapologetic capitalist. I have founded, co-founded and funded more than 30 companies across a range of industries—from itsy-bitsy ones like the night club I started in my 20s to giant ones like Amazon.com, for which I was the first nonfamily investor. Then I founded aQuantive, an Internet advertising company that was sold to Microsoft in 2007 for $6.4 billion. In cash. My friends and I own a bank. I tell you all this to demonstrate that in many ways I’m no different from you. Like you, I have a broad perspective on business and capitalism. And also like you, I have been rewarded obscenely for my success, with a life that the other 99.99 percent of Americans can’t even imagine. Multiple homes, my own plane, etc., etc. You know what I’m talking about. In 1992, I was selling pillows made by my family’s business, Pacific Coast Feather Co., to retail stores across the country, and the Internet was a clunky novelty to which one hooked up with a loud squawk at 300 baud. But I saw pretty quickly, even back then, that many of my customers, the big department store chains, were already doomed. I knew that as soon as the Internet became fast and trustworthy enough—and that time wasn’t far off—people were going to shop online like crazy. Goodbye, Caldor. And Filene’s. And Borders. And on and on.

Nick Hanauer

Nick Hanauer
With over 30 years of experience across a broad range of industries including manufacturing, retailing, e-commerce, digital media and advertising, software, aerospace, health care, and finance. Hanauer’s experience and perspective have produced an unusual record of serial successes. Hanauer has managed, founded or financed over 30 companies, creating aggregate market value of tens of billions of dollars. Some notable companies Include Amazon.com, Aquantive Inc., (purchased by Microsoft in 2007 for $6.4 billion), Insitu group (purchased by Boeing for $400 million), Market Leader (purchased by Trulia in 2013 for $350 million). Some other companies include Marchex, Newsvine, Qliance, Seattle Bank and Pacific Coast Feather Company. – Photo by Robbie McClaran

Realizing that, seeing over the horizon a little faster than the next guy, was the strategic part of my success. The lucky part was that I had two friends, both immensely talented, who also saw a lot of potential in the web. One was a guy you’ve probably never heard of named Jeff Tauber, and the other was a fellow named Jeff Bezos. I was so excited by the potential of the web that I told both Jeffs that I wanted to invest in whatever they launched, big time. It just happened that the second Jeff—Bezos—called me back first to take up my investment offer. So I helped underwrite his tiny start-up bookseller. The other Jeff started a web department store called Cybershop, but at a time when trust in Internet sales was still low, it was too early for his high-end online idea; people just weren’t yet ready to buy expensive goods without personally checking them out (unlike a basic commodity like books, which don’t vary in quality—Bezos’ great insight). Cybershop didn’t make it, just another dot-com bust. Amazon did somewhat better. Now I own a very large yacht.

But let’s speak frankly to each other. I’m not the smartest guy you’ve ever met, or the hardest-working. I was a mediocre student. I’m not technical at all—I can’t write a word of code. What sets me apart, I think, is a tolerance for risk and an intuition about what will happen in the future. Seeing where things are headed is the essence of entrepreneurship. And what do I see in our future now?

I see pitchforks.

At the same time that people like you and me are Read the rest of this entry »

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Big Beer Still Bets on Lager

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, June 20, 2014

If you’re a beer drinker, if you enjoy quaffing the suds, a cold one after work, or on a summer day, you may be interested to know that Anheuser-Busch (now Anheuser-Busch InBev), Molson, Coors (now MolsonCoors), Miller (now SABMiller) are NOT American-owned companies.

That’s right.

They’re foreign-owned, multinational corporations – every one.

The Craft Brew Beer industry in America is the antithesis of Big Beer, which in large part, developed as a result of consistently poor quality products made by Big Beer, and their inattention to customers. The emergence of me-too wanna’ be ‘craft brewed beers’ made by Big Beer is a sure sign that they’ve noticed what’s happening – a reduction in beer consumption, i.e., their sales.

Those sales have gone to micro & craft brewed beer, and their American-made, locally-sourced mom & pop competitors.

More power to locally sourced craft brewed beers!

Cheers!

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Why Lager Is the Future of Craft Beer

BY Jason Notte | 06/19/14 – 10:00 AM EDT

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) — Small craft brewers and the craft divisions of huge international breweries can talk about wheat beers, shandies and even IPA all they’d like: This is still lager country.

Despite recent gains by craft beer and recent shifts by Anheuser-Busch InBev, MolsonCoors and SABMiller toward brands including Blue Moon, Shock Top, Goose Island and Leinenkugel’s, the overwhelming majority of beer sold in this country is lager or some derivative thereof. It’s been so relentless and pervasive that even hard-line craft beer advocates have begun embracing it in its light, familiar form.

Consider that MolsonCoors/SABMiller’s MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch InBev still sell about 74% of the beer this nation drinks. Consider further that Corona and Heineken make up roughly another 10% of that market. Throw Pabst, Modelo and newly “craft” brewer Yuengling into the equation and 18 of the 20 best-selling beers in the U.S. are some form of either lager or pilsner.

You can argue that most are losing sales — and many including Budweiser, Bud Light, Miller Lite and Busch are. But import brands including Heinkeken, Corona and Modelo saw sales rise even during the recession. The same holds true for Coors Light, Pabst Blue Ribbon and Yuengling, with each posting double-digit percentage point gains in 2012 alone, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights.

The problem isn’t lager, but the overall beer market. The Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau reported a 1.5% decrease in overall beer sales and a 2.6-million barrel loss in beer production. That’s basically akin to shutting down Boston Beer’s Samuel Adams brand (which produced 2.7 million barrels in 2012) for an entire year. Beer consumption overall has fallen in four of the past five years, with many of the slumping mainstream brands responsible for the damage. That has reduced reduced beer’s share of the overall alcohol market from 55% in 2000 to 49% in 2012. Meanwhile, craft beer volume increased by an estimated 15% last year, with imports putting up roughly 5% growth.

The Beer Institute, a beer industry organization based in Washington, points out that 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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Analysis – Examining the Record: Is Alabama Governor Bentley a “Jobs Creator” or a Drag on the State Economy?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, April 12, 2014

When campaigning for the office of Alabama’s Governor, Robert Bentley – a retired dermatologist physician who at the time was an elected representative from Tuscaloosa County – promised if elected governor that, “I will forgo a salary as state representative for the rest of my term and will not accept a salary as Governor until Alabama reaches full employment.”
ref: http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2010/06/robert_bentley_extends_no-sala.html

When pressed on the matter, he later defined “full employment” as having state unemployment somewhere around 5%. It is a promise to which, as of the date of this entry – 12 April 2014 – he has kept. In other words, Alabama has NOT reached “full employment,” and he has not been paid a salary. He has, however, been compensated for out-of-pocket expenses (the governor’s office has a budget, so why would he personally have any such expenses for work in an official capacity?), though he has received – as legislator, a legally-mandated $1.00 per month salary. Since his election to the governorship, he has not received a salary.

Let’s examine Governor Bentley‘s employment record.

During Governor Robert Bentley’s watch, International Paper – the large paper mill formerly known as Champion Paper, in Courtland, and the largest employer in Lawrence County – closed and cost the area economy & state 1100 jobs. Those jobs were Read the rest of this entry »

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Inequality in Government: Is there Racism in Mississippi? In 2014? Say it ain’t so!

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, April 4, 2014

It occurred to me recently in a couple conversations I had with friends in various parts of our United States, that equal representation is a matter with which we still struggle.

While on occasion I’ve opined about injustice through inequality – the United States’ Constitution guarantees Equal Protection and Equal Rights under law via the 14th Amendment – it occurred to me recently that there are some who “just don’t get it.”

More to the point, I was spurred by a photograph sent to me by a friend in one of our Northern sister states – the Land of the Frozen Chosen, sometimes also referred to as “The Great White North.”

In gentleness, I refer, of course, to Minnesota.

It was a photograph of my friend’s co-worker which sparked my interest, and subsequent curiosity.

The co-worker was Afro-American, aka “Black.”

I was somewhat surprised to see a Black person in Minnesota, so I queried the Census Bureau for some Quick Statistics about our United States.

Here’s what I found:
Only 5.5% of Minnesota’s population is Black.

In comparison to the United States at large, 13.1% of our American population in general is Black. And in Alabama, 26.5% are Black, while in neighboring Mississippi, 37.4% of that state’s residents are Black. Alabama’s Eastern neighbor Georgia has a closely similar percentage with a 31.2% Black population, while Tennessee is nearly half, with a 17% Black population.

Examining some other states, I found that Alabama’s Southern neighbor, Florida has a very closely similar Black population with 16.6%, while Louisiana’s Black population is just about double with 32.4%. The “Natural State” of Arkansas has a 15.6% Black population, while North and South Carolina are almost evenly tied with 22 & 28% respectively.

On the other hand, Texas has a lower Black population than either Tennessee or Arkansas with only 12.3%.

Kentucky? Only 8.1% of Kentuckians are Black.

Interestingly, of the 16 players on the Kentucky Wildcats Basketball team, only 6 are not Black. In other words, 62.5% of the team is Black – a clear majority. And yet, the state’s general population is completely and disproportionately unrepresentative of the team.

What about Virginia? With a 19.7% Black population, Virginia stands in distinct contrast to West Virginia, which only has a 3.5% Black population – a very stark contrast, indeed.

But what about some of the other Midwestern states?

Missouri has an 11.7% Black population, while only 3.2% of corn-fed Iowans are Black.

From Minnesota moving West, South Dakota has a mere 1.7% Black population, while Montana…

Well.. there just about no Black folks in that state, at all. Only a mere 0.6% – 6/10ths on one percent – of that state’s residents are Black.

A casual observation would be that it’s mighty White up North.

But let’s bring it back on home to Mississippi…

In a recent post shared by someone else on Read the rest of this entry »

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In Defense of #Infrastructure Spending

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, February 22, 2014

At the federal level, TEApublican types have decried our national deficit, much – if not most – of which came about as a result of placing the price of a decade of warfare on a proverbial credit card. I refer, of course, to the Persian Gulf War, Gulf War II, Operation Desert Shield/Storm and the invasion of Afghanistan, etc., all of which occurred during the previous administration.

Compounding that problem was that corporate and personal income tax rates upon the wealthiest was cut, while simultaneously, the veritable house of cards was crumbling, having been built upon the miry, sinking sands of Wall Street deregulation & greed gone wild.

Nevertheless, as our nation has struggled and clawed its way back to some semblance of fiscal sanity, there have been voices arising whom assert that the federal government’s “bailout” of banks & other large, corporate enterprise has been a gross mistake, and that such a bailout should have never occurred. And, while there will doubtless be volumes written, and debates held about the good and the bad of the ordeal, what’s been done, has been done, and it’s practically all over, but the crying. So the only thing we can do now, is live & learn, and move on.

And yet, respecting one underlying problem which arose corollary to the matter, is the loss of jobs here at home. Again, it was complicated by ‘globalization,’ which – good, bad, or indifferent – is Read the rest of this entry »

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Remarks by President Barack Obama at Chattanooga, Tennessee’s Amazon Distribution Center on Jobs for the Middle Class, 07/30/13

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

July 30, 2013

Remarks by the President on Jobs for the Middle Class, 07/30/13

Amazon Chattanooga Fulfillment Center
Chattanooga, Tennessee

2:00 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Chattanooga!  (Applause.)  It is good to be back in Tennessee.  (Applause.)  It’s great to be here at Amazon.  (Applause.)

I want to thank Lydia for the introduction and sharing her story.  Give Lydia a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  So this is something here.  I just finished getting a tour of just one little corner of this massive facility — size of 28 football fields.  Last year, during the busiest day of the Christmas rush, customers around the world ordered more than 300 items from Amazon every second, and a lot of those traveled through this building.  So this is kind of like the North Pole of the south right here.  (Applause.)  Got a bunch of good-looking elves here.

Before we start, I want to recognize your general manager, Mike Thomas.  (Applause.)  My tour guide and your vice president, Dave Clark.  (Applause.)  You’ve got the Mayor of Chattanooga, Andy Berke.  (Applause.)  And you’ve got one of the finest gentlemen I know, your Congressman, Jim Cooper.  (Applause.)  So thank you all for being here.

So I’ve come here today to talk a little more about something I was discussing last week, and that’s what we need to do as a country to secure a better bargain for the middle class -– a national strategy to make sure that every single person who’s willing to work hard in this country has a chance to succeed in the 21st century economy.  (Applause.)

Now, you heard from Lydia, so you know — because many of you went through it — over the past four and a half years, we’ve been fighting our way back from the worst recession since the Great Depression, and it cost millions of Americans their jobs and their homes and their savings.  And part of what it did is it laid bare the long-term erosion that’s been happening when it comes to middle-class security.

But because the American people are resilient, we bounced back.  Together, we’ve righted the ship.  We took on a broken health care system.  We invested in new American technologies to reverse our addiction to foreign oil.  Changed a tax code that had become tilted too much in favor of the wealthy at the expense of working families.  Saved the auto industry, and thanks to GM and the UAW working together, we’re bringing jobs back here to America, including 1,800 autoworkers in Spring Hill.  (Applause.)  1,800 workers in Spring Hill are on the job today where a plant was once closed.

Today, our businesses have created 7.2 million new jobs over the last 40 months.  This year, we’re off to our best private-sector jobs growth since 1999.  We now sell more products made in America to the rest of the world than ever before.  (Applause.)  We produce more renewable energy than ever.  We produce more natural gas than anybody else in the world.  (Applause.)  Health care costs are growing at the slowest rate in 50 years.  Our deficits are falling at the fastest rate in 60 years.  (Applause.)

So thanks to hardworking folks like you, thanks to the grit and resilience of the American people, we’ve been able to clear away some of the rubble from the financial crisis.  We’ve started to lay a new foundation for a stronger, more durable America — the kind of economic growth that’s broad-based, the foundation required to make this century another American century.

But as I said last week, and as any middle-class family will tell you, we’re not there yet.  Even before the financial crisis hit, we were going through a decade where a few at the top were doing better and better, but most families were working harder and harder just to get by.  And reversing that trend should be Washington’s highest priority.  (Applause.)  It’s my highest priority.

But so far, for most of this year, we’ve seen Read the rest of this entry »

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President Barack Obama to visit Chattanooga, Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, July 28, 2013

Chattanooga is an old, old, old, old city.

It’s older than Civil War old.

Throughout the city there are narrow streets, many (if not most) of which need widening and repaving. Interstate 24, which leads into the city, is in sore need of widening. Because of the twisting, winding route it takes as it leads into, through and around the city and it’s numerous mountains and hills, it can be treacherous. When any slowdown for any reason occurs, traffic can be backed up for 15-20 miles, or more. When wrecks occur on that route, they’re often fatal, and create even longer delays. The only other major route into the city is US Highway 72. There is no bypass. If there are problems on either of those two routes, significant delays can take hours. (See a Google Map of the area.)

It has a university – University of Tennessee, Chattanooga – with other smaller colleges & universities nearby (Lee University, in Cleveland & Southern Adventist University, in Collegedale). One of three hospitals in the area (each which has numerous campuses) Erlanger, is a Level One Trauma Center, and teaching hospital for the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Memorial Hospital, is part of the Catholic Health Initiatives system, and is a teaching hospital, while Parkridge Hospital is operated by TriStar Health.

Because of industrial waste released by area manufacturing, in 1969, Chattanooga had the filthiest air in the nation. The Tennessee River which serves as a boundary for the area was equally polluted. For many years, troubles GALORE plagued the city, including economic inequality, poor race relations, deteriorating economic infrastructure, rapid population decline, and departure of industry.

Recognizing that the city and area residents were suffering a slow suicide, officials and interested citizens embarked upon a plan to revitalize the area, including cleaning up industrial waste, reinvigorating the economy with employment opportunity, and looking forward, rather than backward.

EPB (Electric Power Board), one of the public utilities in the area, came upon an idea to infuse their power grid with Fiber Optic cable to enable better response times, to pinpoint areas of concern, and to re-route electricity during power outages when lines were downed by trees or severe weather. They faced stiff opposition in the form of legal fights by Comcast (principally), yet were successful in overcoming. In turn, they sold High Speed fiber optic Internet Connectivity to area residents at a significantly reduced cost in comparison to the Wall-Street-traded Comcast. They also provide better service.

While the area’s renaissance is by no means complete, it has advanced with enormously significant strides.


 

Obama to visit uneven Chattanooga area recovery


published Saturday, July 27th, 2013

Mike Pare, deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Mike Pare MPare@TimesFreepress.com phone: 423-757-6318

Mike Pare, Deputy Business Editor, Chattanooga Times Free Press; MPare@ TimesFreePress.com phone: (423) 757-6318

by Mike Pare
view bio

When President Barack Obama flies into Chattanooga on Tuesday to tout new economic initiatives, he’ll see a city recognized in a national study as a metro area emerging from the recession as an “economic frontrunner.”

Area Development, a national business magazine covering site selection and relocation, ranked metro Chattanooga at No. 86 — in the top quarter — among 380 metro areas examined for the study titled “Leading Locations for 2013.”

While in Chattanooga Obama is expected to unveil new ways to spur the nation’s sluggish economic recovery.

At the Amazon distribution center at Enterprise South industrial park, the president will see a growing, state-of-the-art distribution facility with 1,800 full-time jobs created since 2011. The Chattanooga facility, along with Read the rest of this entry »

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GAO Report: Pentagon spending out of control – Rumsfeld reported same in 2001

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, May 27, 2013

What does Senator Sessions think about the March 2012 Government Accountability Office report to Congress that found the 96 highest-priority defense programs in the Pentagon acquisitions system represented an estimated total cost of $1.58 trillion, and had actually “grown by over $74 billion or 5 percent in the past year”?

The report, entitled DEFENSE ACQUISITIONS: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs – may be downloaded from the GAO website: http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/589695.pdf

Or from this blog: GAO 3/12 report – DEFENSE ACQUISITIONS Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs

And then, there are the Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, The Pentagon , Monday, September 10, 2001 entitled DOD Acquisition and Logistics Excellence Week Kickoff—Bureaucracy to Battlefield, in which he said “According to some estimates, we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions.”

How many variety of voices over an extended period of time do we need before we heed their warnings?

His speech, in it’s entirety follows. Read the rest of this entry »

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Senator Jeff Sessions REFUSES to give up part of his salary for sequestration

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, May 27, 2013

Be sure to ask Sen. Sessions if he is going to voluntarily give up a portion of his Senatorial salary since the Senate last month passed a measure urging their members to forgo 20% of their salaries as part of sequestration.

Kudos, however, to Sen. Bob Corker R-TN, who has NEVER pocketed any of his Senate salary.

Why?

He donates it ALL to charity.

Why?

He’s worth over $19 Million.

Few senators sacrifice pay amid cuts

By Russell Berman – 04/03/13 05:00 AM ET

Only a few senators are planning to forfeit a portion of their salaries to charity or the U.S. Treasury while sequestration is in effect, according to a survey conducted by The Hill.

The Senate last month passed a measure urging members of the upper chamber to forgo 20 percent of their salary during sequestration. Most senators, however, are keeping quiet on whether they will follow through.

During a marathon session of budget votes, the Senate approved by voice vote an amendment from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) calling on lawmakers to donate 20 percent of their pay to charity or return it to the U.S. Treasury.In his floor speech, Graham noted that about 500,000 to 600,000 federal employees will be furloughed because of sequestration and that senators should “feel what other people are feeling.”

Yet in a survey of Senate offices by The Hill, only Graham and Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) have indicated they would give up some of their take-home pay.

In a recent press release, Begich — who is up for reelection in 2014 — said Read the rest of this entry »

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Alabama Legislature OK’d tax money for private schools. Now Governor Bentley backpedals.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, May 20, 2013

The Texas State Legislature doesn’t think public tax dollar$ should go to private schools.

But Alabama’s State Legislature just OK’d & Governor Bentley signed the Alabama Accountability Act of 2013 (HB 84), aka the School Flexibility Bill, aka the Private School Voucher Act.

http://educationblog.dallasnews.com/2013/04/house-votes-to-bar-state-funding-for-private-school-vouchers.html/

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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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Alabama Republican Introduces Bill to Eliminate Overtime Pay

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, April 21, 2013

I wouldn’t have believed it had I not read it for myself from the official Congressional website.

U.S. Representative Martha Roby, a Republican from Alabama’s 2d Congressional District has introduced H.R. 1406, officially named the “Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013” which would END the requirement of the Fair Labor Standards Act for employers to pay Time-and-a-Half to employees for every hour worked over 40 in one week.

http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/1406

The Congressional Budget Office has reported on the bill, and in part wrote that: Read the rest of this entry »

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An Encyclopedic Investment

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, March 24, 2013

The word ‘encyclopedic’ is often thought of as meaning voluminous, or containing great, or significant knowledge. However, even a casual examination of the word shows something entirely different.

In the middle of the word is ‘cyclo,’ which as we would imagine, refers to something circular, or round. Who hasn’t heard of a bi-cycle, a cycle with two wheels?

And then, there’s ‘pedia,’ and we’ve all heard of ‘pediatrics,’ the health practice concerned exclusively with children. Children, of course, need instruction and teaching.

Thus, we can Read the rest of this entry »

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Alabama’s Republican Legislators take over State’s Schools… even though they’re not failing.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, March 10, 2013

The lack of news outlets in the states three major newspapers all which publish only three editions weekly (Birmingham News, Mobile Press-Register, and the Huntsville Times, now known as “Alabama Media Group” which newspapers are all owned by the same privately held mega-firm that owns Sports Illustrated & Conde Nast – Advance Publications, aka Newhouse News) has – in my estimation – contributed to the demise of public involvement in governance, and to a great degree, influenced voters from participating in their own governance by keeping them ignorant.

However, that does NOT mean that there is no news, nor does it mean that there is a news blackout. What it means is that in those three major cities in the state, there is a dearth of reporting of state events.

For example, the Montgomery Advertiser reported recently that in an email message to his staff, Governor Robert Bentley “demanded that his cabinet members and the state employees who work for them not discuss with state legislators any concerns they might have with a proposed overhaul to state law enforcement agencies.

““I do not want any cabinet head or any member of their department to lobby against this. Tell your employees to contact ONLY Blaine Galliher if they have any questions or concerns. NO ONE is to talk to members of the House or Senate in opposition to this legislation,” Bentley wrote in an email sent to cabinet members by his executive assistant on Feb. 12.””

Governor Bentley is showing his true face… that of a tyrant.

The year Alabama legislators took over schools

by Wayne Flynt
Special to The Star
Mar 10, 2013
Gov. Robert Bentley talks with reporters in Montgomery last week. Photo: Dave Martin/Associated Press

Gov. Robert Bentley talks with reporters in Montgomery last week. Photo: Dave Martin/Associated Press

My father grew up poor and never finished high school but was incredibly resourceful. He could “figure things out.” He did his own plumbing, wiring and construction. But on occasion, Dad’s chief asset became a liability. So confident was he in his ability to fix anything that he refused to admit that he didn’t know everything.

That is a good description of the new Republican Legislature. They were elected for good reasons: The hubris, arrogance, excesses, patronage abuse, corruption and demagoguery of Democrats. But the 2013 Legislature reminds me lots of the Democrats they replaced.

Republicans, who hold all state offices and a veto-proof majority in the Legislature, have decided that they know better than anyone how to do everything.

Take education, for instance. Three successive reform-minded state school superintendents — supported by a business community concerned about the loss of one-third of Alabama manufacturing jobs since 2000 and fearful that schools were not producing a labor force skilled enough to compete in the global economy — began reforming education.

They introduced model early childhood programs, world-class math and science curricula, a reading initiative widely copied nationwide, tougher graduation standards, and took over failing schools and malfunctioning systems characterized by patronage politics and financial profligacy (think Birmingham).

Education reformers organized A+ Education Partnership and joined this battle. Their hugely successful “best practices” center and life-changing college-readiness program that enrolls record numbers of students in demanding advanced placement courses constitute instances where Alabama set national standards rather than followed them.

So what does the new Republican Legislature do? 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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Exactly whose idea was this “Sequester” thing anyway?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, February 23, 2013

Whose idea was this “sequester” anyway?

Would you believe Mitch McConnell & John Boehner?

Yeah, but McConnell & the GOP are calling it “the president’s sequester”!

Yes, they are. And they want to deceive you.

In other words, they’re lying.

Kentucky’s senior Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, who is the Senate Minority Leader, along with Speaker of the House of Representatives Ohio Congressman John Boehner have both called the impending drastic across-the-board budget cuts & tax increases as “the president’s sequester.”

However, the idea did NOT originate with President Obama.

For the benefit of those whose (choose any combination of the following):
1.) Memories are short, and/or;
2.) Weren’t paying attention in class and/or;
3.) Believe teevee’s talking heads, and/or;
4.) Believe the GOP.

Give particular attention to the last paragraph in the first story, which states in part that,

“McConnell, the chief Republican architect of the compromise, has been adamant that no tax increases will come out of the joint committee. And he and Boehner have effective control given that they will hand-pick six of the 12 members. That said, the defense lobby — a strong force still among Republicans —will most feel the impact of any sequester, and the industry is already being squeezed by the revised appropriations targets set for 2012 and 2013.”

Finally, I would remind the reader that because the GOP’s radical philosophical ideology of privatizing practically every government service (which places public tax dollars in private pockets – is that anything like “welfare”?) harsh across-the-board budget cuts are precisely what the GOP has begged for from Day One.

Debt ceiling disaster averted, but nobody’s really happy

By: David Rogers
August 2, 2011 11:30 PM EST

Running short of cash, Treasury won an immediate reprieve of $400 billion in new borrowing authority Tuesday with the enactment of a hotly contested debt and deficit-reduction agreement hammered out between Republicans and the White House on Sunday night.

President Barack Obama, not hiding his frustration, quickly signed the measure sent to him by Congress after a final 74-26 Senate roll call, capping an unprecedented hard-edged political struggle that had pushed the nation to the brink of default.

Indeed, the stakes were far larger than with the April shutdown fight, and more than any single event this year, the debt battle captured all the power — and critics would say extreme risk-taking — of the anti-government backlash that fueled the GOP’s gains in the 2010 elections.

The timing makes it a gamble too with the faltering recovery. Most of the promised $2.1 trillion in deficit reduction will take place in the out years, but discretionary spending will continue to fall in 2012 and the same Congressional Budget Office — which scored the cuts — will soon issue its August economic update, which could show slower growth.

House Speaker John Boehner has argued the opposite: More aggressively addressing deficits “will in fact provide more confidence for employers in America, the people we expect to reinvest in our economy and create jobs.” But a sell-off Tuesday on Wall Street sent the Dow down 265 points, reflecting growing pessimism about the economic outlook. And as lawmakers left for the summer recess, Democrats vowed to turn the agenda more toward job creation when they return.

“We crossed a bridge,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) “Enough talk about the debt. We have to talk about jobs.”

Obama signaled as much in a Rose Garden appearance after the Senate vote. Extending his 2-percentage-point cut in payroll taxes remains a priority and the appropriations bargain, Read the rest of this entry »

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Baldwin County Alabama School Board to sue BP for tens of millions for Gulf Of Mexico Oil Disaster… because they need money.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, January 17, 2013

Alabamians complain about those whom they assert are lazy, shiftless, good-for-nothings who refuse to make any effort to work for a living, and then, according to them, mooch off the public dole, or sue others to survive.

Alabama has a reputation as being a “tort reform Hell,” for the outlandish awards given by juries.

And yet, the state does the same thing. Not only is that ironic, what’s even more ironic about it all is that the Mobile/Baldwin county area is a Republican stronghole… er, stronghold. Rather than raise taxes, shift resources or lower costs to pay for public services, they sue. It’s fiscal mismanagement at it’s worst.

Can you smell the hypocrisy cooking?

BP receiving ‘significant 7-figure claim’ from Baldwin schools for Deepwater Horizon spill

By Rena Havner Philips | rphilips@al.com
on January 17, 2013 at 8:07 PM, updated January 17, 2013 at 8:24 PM

BAY MINETTE, Alabama – The Baldwin County school board voted unanimously tonight to present a claim to BP asking for an undisclosed amount of money to make up for tax revenues lost as a result of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Citing attorney-client privilege, school officials would not say how much money they are seeking.

But, said board attorney Scotty Lewis, “It will be a significant seven-figure claim.”

In its resolution, the board voted to Read the rest of this entry »

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December 2012 Jobs Picture

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Employment Situation in December

January 04, 2013
09:30 AM ES

While more work remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression. It is critical that we continue the policies that are building an economy that works for the middle class as we dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began in December 2007.

With the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act earlier this week, more than 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses now have certainty that their income taxes will not rise. Additionally, unemployment insurance was extended for two million Americans who are searching for a job, and companies will continue to receive tax credits for the research that they do and continue to have tax incentives to accelerate investment in their businesses. By allowing income tax cuts for the top two percent of earners to expire, this legislation further reduces the deficit by $737 billion over the next decade. It is important that we continue to move toward a sustainable federal budget in a responsible way that balances revenue and spending while protecting critical investments in the economy and essential support for our most vulnerable citizens.

Today’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that private sector businesses added Read the rest of this entry »

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Could the Price of Milk go to $13 per gallon? If the “Fiscal Cliff” is not avoided, yes.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, December 31, 2012

This Do-Nothing Congress is, without question, the absolutely WORST Congress EVER!

More filibustering & taxes, less law-making, less-governance.

That must be what they mean when they talk about “smaller government,” or “less laws.”

Farm-State Lawmakers Back Plan to Avoid ‘Dairy Cliff’ Price Jump

By Alan Bjerga & Derek Wallbank – Dec 31, 2012 12:01 AM ET

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow are backing a short-term extension of a farm law that lapsed Sept. 30 as the Obama administration warns that without congressional action, retail milk prices could almost double.

“I would hope that as soon as is humanly possible, a decision will be made to allow us to take action” on the extension, Lucas told reporters off the House floor. “We need to take positive action, put this issue to rest, and make sure that it is clear to everybody in this country that the farm bill policy has certainty and that we will not have $8 or $9 milk.”

The proposal is one of three farm-related draft bills released over the weekend in the House of Representatives; all of them would stave off the potential jump in consumer milk prices should government commodity programs begin to lapse tomorrow. Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The proposal is one of three farm-related draft bills released over the weekend in the House of Representatives; all of them would stave off the potential jump in consumer milk prices should government commodity programs begin to lapse tomorrow. Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The proposal is one of three farm-related draft bills released over the weekend in the House of Representatives; all of them would stave off the potential jump in consumer milk prices should government commodity programs begin to lapse tomorrow. Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The draft bill would extend current law, along with disaster aid for producers affected by this year’s U.S. drought and changes to current milk policy, through Sept. 30. It would reduce mandatory outlays by $30 million through fiscal 2022, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The bulk of the spending would come in the first year, and as such it would actually increase spending by an estimated $555 million through fiscal 2017.

Other Bills

The proposal is one of three farm-related draft bills released over the weekend in the House of Representatives; all of them would stave off the potential jump in consumer milk prices should government commodity programs begin to lapse tomorrow.

The second measure would extend most of the current law through Jan. 31, and the third would protect only against possible dairy-price spikes. Those two are opposed by House and Senate Democratic agriculture leaders. Representative Collin Peterson of Minnesota, the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, called a 30-day extension a “poor joke on farmers that offers no certainty.”

The most recent farm law, enacted in 2008, expired after attempts to pass a new five-year proposal failed. Without that plan, agricultural programs automatically return to rules passed in 1949, the basis of all subsequent legislation.

The effects of that transition have been delayed because of the growing seasons of different crops. Dairy production, a year-round business, is the first major commodity affected. In November, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Read the rest of this entry »

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Should you drink Bottled Water?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hello?

Pure & safe drinking water is but one thing taxes are used to provide to the general public.

Hello? Anybody home?

Bottled Water Vs. Tap Water

Remember the drinking fountain, that once ubiquitous, and free, source of H2O? It seems quaint now. Instead, bottled water is everywhere, in offices, airplanes, stores, homes and restaurants across the country.We consumed over eight billion gallons of the stuff in 2006, a 10 percent increase from 2005. It’s refreshing, calorie-free, convenient to carry around, tastier than some tap water and a heck of a lot healthier than sugary sodas. But more and more, people are questioning whether the water, and the package it comes in, is safe, or at least safer than tap water — and if the convenience is worth the environmental impact.

What’s in That Bottle?
Evocative names and labels depicting pastoral scenes have convinced us that the liquid is the purest drink around. “But no one should think that bottled water is better regulated, better protected or safer than tap,” says Eric Goldstein, co-director of the urban program at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a nonprofit organization devoted to protecting health and the environment.

rethink-what-you-drink-01-ch

More than 25% of bottled water comes from a public source. – Dave Robertson/Masterfile

Yes, some bottled water comes from sparkling springs and other pristine sources. But more than 25 percent of it comes from a municipal supply. The water is treated, purified and sold to us, often at a thousandfold increase in price. Most people are surprised to learn that they’re drinking glorified tap water, but bottlers aren’t required to list the source on the label.This year Aquafina will begin stating on labels that its H2O comes from public water sources. And Nestlé Pure Life bottles will indicate whether the water comes from public, private or deep well sources. Dasani acknowledges on its website, but not on the label itself, that it draws from local water.

Labels can be misleading at best, deceptive at worst. In one notorious case, water coming from a well located near a hazardous waste site was sold to many bottlers. At least one of these companies labeled its product “spring water.” In another case, H2O sold as “pure glacier water” came from a public water system in Alaska.

Lisa Ledwidge, 38, of Minneapolis, stopped drinking bottled water a couple of years ago, partly because she found out that many brands come from a municipal supply. “You’re spending more per gallon than you would on gasoline for this thing that you can get out of the tap virtually for free,” she says. “I wondered, Why am I spending this money while complaining about how much gas costs? But you don’t ever hear anyone complain about the price of bottled water.” Ledwidge says she now drinks only filtered tap water.

The controversy isn’t simply about tap vs. bottled water; most people drink both, knowing the importance of plenty of water. What they may not know is that some bottled water may not be as pure as they expect. In 1999 the NRDC tested more than 1,000 bottles of 103 brands of water. (This is the most recent major report on bottled water safety.) While noting that most bottled water is safe, the organization found that at least one sample of a third of the brands contained bacterial or chemical contaminants, including carcinogens, in levels exceeding state or industry standards. Since the report, no major regulatory changes have been made and bottlers haven’t drastically altered their procedures, so the risk is likely still there.

The NRDC found that samples of two brands were contaminated with Read the rest of this entry »

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Alabama’s Quandary: Nur$ing Homes, or Home Care?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, October 5, 2012

It’s almost like trying to patch a roof while it’s leaking.

October 04, 2012

This Week in Alabama Politics

By Steve Flowers
It is basic public policy that you either have to raise taxes or reduce government services. It has become a cardinal sin in Republican politics to even say the word tax much less enact any increase in revenue. Our legislature is now overwhelmingly Republican and they are real Republicans. They take their no new tax pledge seriously as does our Republican governor. Therefore, when the dicing and crafting of the 2013 budget was being processed, new revenue enhancement measures were not on the table. It is doubtful that you will see any tax increase proposals anytime soon in the Heart of Dixie.

The state’s new budget year begins this week. It will be horrendous. There are draconian cuts to basic state services. Alabama has a constitutional amendment that mandates a balanced budget. We are in dire straits but at least we are not deficit spending like other states. California is teetering on bankruptcy.

This past year’s budget was bad. Teachers and state employees pay was cut this time last year. However, if you think that last year was bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet. This is the year that the chickens have finally come home to roost. The federal stimulus manna from Heaven has provided a lifeline salvation for several years but those dollars are gone. This fiscal year may well be the worst dilemma since the Great Depression.

My contention is that it is worse than the Depression years. During that era the state Read the rest of this entry »

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Necessary but Not Sufficient: Why Taxing the Wealthy Can’t Fix the Deficit

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, October 4, 2012

NOW OR NEVER | SEPTEMBER 2012

Necessary but Not Sufficient:
Why Taxing the Wealthy Can’t Fix the Deficit

By David Brown, Gabe Horwitz, and David Kendall

In this paper we shatter the myth that taxes on the wealthy can come close to solving our long-term budget problem. We readily acknowledge that raising taxes on top earners is necessary, but it is not sufficient to solve the looming fiscal crisis. And we make clear that if entitlements are left on autopilot, burdensome middle class tax hikes become inevitable.

Even a 50% tax rate on the wealthy can’t fix the deficit.
Even 50% taxe rate on wealthy can't fix deficitThis is the first in a pair of papers that demonstrate that purely ideological fixes will not sufficiently address our fiscal issues. Our other report, Death by a Thousand Cuts: Why Spending Cuts Alone Won’t Fix the Deficit, proves that a cuts-only strategy cannot solve our budget woes without severely compromising our safety, security, and economic growth. Together, these papers make the case that a big and balanced fiscal package is the preferred way to avoid the fiscal cliff, prevent deficits from exploding in the future, and allow our economy to grow.

To stabilize the debt and create a positive economic climate for U.S. growth, most mainstream economists agree that annual deficits must be reduced to 3% of GDP. The question is: how do we get there?

In order to demonstrate that taxes alone cannot solve our budget woes, we explore three budget scenarios, all of which rely solely on Read the rest of this entry »

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Economic Research: The Dismal Science finds poverty & inequality greater in U.S.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, October 4, 2012

Poverty, inequality and redistribution

Focus

Jan 17th 2012, 20:27 by The Economist online

Poverty inequality & redistribution 20120121_WOC400 Governments can reduce poverty and inequality through taxes and cash transfers. Successful programmes such as Progresa-Oportunidades in Mexico and Bolsa Família in Brazil have helped reduce poverty and inequality in the last couple of decades, but compared with rich countries, Latin American countries still fall short. According to a new report by the OECD, a club of mostly rich countries, Chile is Read the rest of this entry »

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Alabama: Keep ’em largely uneducated, ignorant & easy to command

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, September 30, 2012

Good grief!

Even Mississippi has a better record!

Why are Alabama‘s legislators so utterly clueless?

Oh… wait.

They’re a reflection of the people. Now it’s all beginning to make sense.

(News item follows the lyrics.)

Mississippi Goddam
(1963) Nina Simone

The name of this tune is Mississippi Goddam
And I mean every word of it

Alabama’s gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam Read the rest of this entry »

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Do We Now Know Enough About Mitt Romney’s Taxes?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, September 28, 2012

MAKING SEN$E — September 28, 2012 at 5:04 PM EST

Do We Now Know Enough About Mitt Romney’s Taxes?

By: Paul Solman

US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at a town hall meeting at Central High School in Grand Junction, Colorado, on July 10, 2012, where he said he has ‘nothing hidden’ in his taxes. Photo by: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

It’s hard enough to figure out my own taxes every year without having to worry about Mitt Romney’s. But because the issue of Romney’s taxes has come to loom so large, I thought I’d better get some professional advice. So I sought out a friend, estate planning lawyer Matthew Berlin, who has modest clients like me as well as the high and well-heeled, some of them with assets abroad. I asked him if we now knew all we need to know, at least with respect to the tax returns Mitt Romney has disclosed publicly.

No, said Matthew. There are a host of questions that any inquiring tax attorney or journalist might ask. Without them, a true picture of Romney’s finances would be impossible. So I asked Matthew if he wouldn’t share the questions with us. Here they are: Read the rest of this entry »

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Taxpayers’ $182B TARP bailout of AIG Now Fully Recovered

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, September 11, 2012

As the president and others – nonpartisan and partisan alike – have noted, BIG BUSINESS should NOT need a bailout. They should be operated in such a manner as to allow the Free Market to decide how, to what extent, and if they prosper. As part of that process, ironclad and strong regulation to prevent fraud and abuse should be vigorously enforced. And chief executives Read the rest of this entry »

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Today Mitt Romney spoke out of the _?_ side of his mouth, and said:

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, August 14, 2012

“And you know what he did with it? He’s used it to pay for Obamacare, a risky, unproven, federal takeover of health care.”Mitt Romney

Government estimates say that more than 6,000 jobs statewide and 20 percent of Iowa‘s electricity needs come from wind power, and the state’s senior GOP leaders all support renewing an extension of a wind tax credit that Romney opposes.

Romney’s campaign did not respond to repeated quests for his position on the other portions of the bill, which includes items such as a tax break for developers of NASCAR facilities and purchasers of electric motorcycles.


http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-08-14/gop-ticket-faces-growing-pains-as-dems-attack

FACT: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has determined that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is fully paid for, Read the rest of this entry »

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How to End This Depression

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, July 29, 2012

It’s been said that ‘everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.’

The distinguished Dr. Krugman – who accurately foretold in 2001 that the “Bush Tax Cuts” would create significant deficit (and they did) – understands the role of government in providing opportunity for entrepreneurs and private enterprise, and the equally important role that government has in responsibility to protect public health and safety.

The long and short of it is this: Government spending on economic infrastructure (including education) is a good investment because it yields significant immediate and long-term results.

Why?

Because Materials and Manpower ALWAYS come from the private sector.

Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with the aforementioned premise, and the numerous times about which I have written in detail about the same. This entry illustrates with three excellent examples of that principle.

Naysayers and critics miss one very important factor in their analogy, which is that the Federal government has the power and authority to print money. The way that factor relates to the issue at hand is this: While the government could – in theory, and in reality – print enough money to give $10,000 to every man, woman and child in this nation the net effect of so doing would be to devalue the money, which would be resulting from inflation.

How to correct, resolve or work within the guidelines of that factor is to understand that one very important role of government is to provide OPPORTUNITY for entrepreneurs and private enterprise. By providing opportunity, government is also encouraging private enterprise and entrepreneurship. And, for the strict Constitutionalists, courts have continued to uphold and acknowledge that such power is contained within the Preamble’s clause “to promote the general welfare.”

Further, for the “anti-Big Government” naysayers, it is preposterous (contrary to reason or common sense; utterly absurd or ridiculous) to imagine that, in this era, with every technological advance, invention and discovery which has been made since 1776, and with our population (now approaching 312,000,000), that we would have fewer laws, rules and regulations than when we first began.

And, for those who say we should balance our budget, I would agree. However, I hasten to point out, that the last time that was done was under Eisenhower and LBJ. That does not excuse us from an ongoing civil discussion and debate about how to effectively manage our nation’s budget. Perhaps a formula of some type which would take into account GDP, debt (outstanding Treasury notes), trade deficit, population growth, birth rate, and other factors – with an “escape” mechanism for times of civil emergency or war, of course.

For such, we need technocrats – experts in areas of operations – rather than bureaucrats. Perhaps in an advisory role. But then again, we have those.

So… why don’t we work together as we ought?

Politics.

It seems that “Everybody’s got something to hide except for me and my monkey.”

How to End This Depression

May 24, 2012

Paul Krugman

The depression we’re in is essentially gratuitous: we don’t need to be suffering so much pain and destroying so many lives. We could end it both more easily and more quickly than anyone imagines—anyone, that is, except those who have actually studied the economics of depressed economies and the historical evidence on how policies work in such economies.
Obama in Master Lock factory Milwaukee

President Obama on a tour of the Master Lockfactory in Milwaukee with the company’s senior vice-president, Bon Rice, February 2012; Susan Walsh/AP Images

The truth is that recovery would be almost ridiculously easy to achieve: all we need is to reverse the austerity policies of the past couple of years and temporarily boost spending. Never mind all the talk of how we have a long-run problem that can’t have a short-run solution—this may sound sophisticated, but it isn’t. With a boost in spending, we could be back to more or less full employment faster than anyone imagines.

But don’t we have to worry about long-run budget deficits? Keynes wrote that “the boom, not the slump, is the time for austerity.” Now, as I argue in my forthcoming book*—and show later in the data discussed in this article—is the time for the government to spend more until the private sector is ready to carry the economy forward again. At that point, the US would be in a far better position to deal with deficits, entitlements, and the costs of financing them.

Meanwhile, the strong measures that would all go a long way toward lifting us out of this depression should include, among other policies, increased federal aid to state and local governments, which would restore the jobs of many public employees; a more aggressive approach by the Federal Reserve to quantitative easing (that is, purchasing bonds in an attempt to reduce long-term interest rates); and less timid efforts by the Obama administration to reduce homeowner debt.

But some readers will wonder, isn’t a recovery program along the lines I’ve described just out of the question as a political matter? And isn’t advocating such a program a waste of time? My answers to these two questions are: not necessarily, and definitely not. The chances of a real turn in policy, away from the austerity mania of the last few years and toward a renewed focus on job creation, are much better than conventional wisdom would have you believe. And recent experience also teaches us a crucial political lesson: Read the rest of this entry »

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Support Schools & Private Enterprise, Drink Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Whiskey

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, July 9, 2012

Having apparently not blogged about this, I find myself remiss that I so negligently – if inadvertently – omitted this news story… which I’m about to bash.

Before I proceed however, Alabama‘s governor, Dr. Robert J. Bentley, MD (a retired dermatologist), when he was campaigning for the office, on Thursday, June 17, 2010 vowed that, “I will forgo a salary as state representative for the rest of my term and will not accept a salary as Governor until Alabama reaches full employment.” To his credit, he has lived up to that vow, and has only accepted what is legally mandated – $1.00/month as representative, and has been reimbursed for minimal incidentals or travel-related expenses. The state’s records show he has collected about $2,100 in travel reimbursements during his term as governor. Alabama’s governor’s salary is about $112,000; and so far, as governor, he has only been paid $2 in salary.

Part of the irony of liquor, taxes and employment is that Dr. Bentley is a Southern Baptist. And for many years he has been a deacon at First Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa. As a denomination, Baptists are well-known and avowed tee-totalers, who continue to badmouth beverage alcohol. I suppose in some way, they could be considered modern Prohibitionists. But here, in this scenario, Alabamians – whose population is significantly Protestant – have enjoyed the jobs and money that making whiskey provides.

I suppose, however, that the irony is not lost on others, for the Amish grow tobacco, yet eschew its use. Similarly, many religious Afghanis (most who practice Islam) have grown marijuana and/or opium poppy to provide for their households, yet use neither. The discussion of the ethics of such decisions would be fascinating – at least it would be to me.

Now, on to the news.

It’s not the news, per se, but the atrocious writing which aggrieves me so.

Actually, the plant will be near Decatur, Alabama. More specifically, it will be located in the Mallard Fox West Industrial Complex, along Alabama Highway 20 in Trinity, Alabama. The complex is located in Lawrence County, which is the adjacent county WEST of Morgan County.

Lawrence County, AL_overview

Location of Mallard Fox West Industrial Complex in Lawrence, County, Alabama

But this raises another question, and it is this: If someone wrote that New York was in Los Angeles, you’d think them insane, right?

Well, why then would you not think the same for those who make such egregious errors as is so blatantly displayed in the following headline, and story?

DAMN IT, MAN!

GET IT RIGHT!

And Read the rest of this entry »

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Weather Extremes Not Just in United States

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, July 8, 2012

Here is Wisdom.

(Either that, or pragmatism.)

If there is nothing humans can to to lessen the severity or frequency of these, and other extreme weather events, then the very least that should be done is to significantly improve infrastructure to more effectively manage them, and to mitigate potential for damage.

And that is spelled I – N – F – R – A – S – T – R – U – C – T – U – R – E.

What’s “infrastructure”?

A definition of infrastructure from the New Oxford American Dictionary: “the basic physical and Read the rest of this entry »

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Stay-at-home-mom Ann Romney’s tax deductions for her dressage horse exceeded the average American Median Income

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, June 18, 2012

Ann Romney's horse deductions

Is this not a prime example of how “We the People…” should require higher tax rates of the über wealthy?

I mean, really… they get a deduction of $77,000 for their f*ing horse?!

C’mon, people!

What’s wrong with this picture!?!

Out of touch with reality, or out of touch with reality?

Hey!

I know!

Mitt says “job one is creating jobs in America.”

Since Mitt & Ann get those rich-folk tax breaks, that makes him a “job creator.”

So maybe you can work in one of Mitt’s horse barns!

You plebian slob.

Romney Horse Wins Spot on Olympic Dressage Team

June 16, 2012
By

GLADSTONE, N.J. — Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, who plan to attend the opening of the Olympic Games in London this summer, now have a personal rooting interest in the event.

Jan Ebeling, Mrs. Romney’s longtime riding tutor, and his horse Rafalca, co-owned by Mrs. Romney, 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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Alabama Governor Bentley gives Marshall county chicken farm $5K tax dollar$ to buy light bulbs during proration

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, May 22, 2012

This is stuff for the Cobert Report!

Sad, but true folks…

Alabama Governor Robert J. Bentley, MD (R)

Alabama Governor, Robert J. Bentley, MD (R)

Yes, you read that correctly.

Bear in mind also, that the state is already in a period of budgetary proration.

What’s that?

Alabama’s Constitution forbids debt spending, so the budget must equal – not exceed – the state’s revenue.

So, in accordance with the state’s Constitution, on March 16, 2012, Governor Robert J. Bentley declared a proration of  “10.6 percent for the state General Fund for non-education services, cutting budgeted spending by $188 million because of a shortfall in expected revenues.”

Can you smell the hypocrisy cooking?

Bentley awards grant to help business upgrade lighting

May 22, 2012

MONTGOMERY – Gov. Robert Bentley awarded a $5,000 grant to help a farm business in Marshall County reduce energy consumption and save money.

The grant will help Maze Farms Inc. Read the rest of this entry »

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Thomas Jefferson on “the Buffett Rule”

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, April 23, 2012

How much is enough?

How many houses does a man need to live in?

How many cars does a man need?

In response to the question “Can you ever have enough money?,” billionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson replied, “You only need one breakfast, one lunch, one dinner, and therefore the money aspect is not actually that important.”

Thomas Jefferson on the Buffett Rule

by Alan Grayson on Friday, April 20, 2012 at 1:44pm ·

I don’t know what Founding Father and President Thomas Jefferson would have thought about TV, cars, spaceships, cellphones, skyscrapers, computers or nuclear weapons. But I do know what Jefferson would have thought about the Buffett Rule. He would have liked it.

The Buffett Rule is the Obama Administration’s proposal to adopt a 30% minimum tax rate on personal income above $1 million a year. It would promote one of the central tenets of progressivism: that the burden of taxes should fall on the rich, not the poor.

In 1811, two years after Jefferson left the Presidency, Jefferson wrote a letter to General Thaddeus Kosciuszko, a hero of the American Revolution. Jefferson said that he supported taxes (then tariffs, since there was no income tax yet) falling entirely on the wealthy. As Jefferson explained: “The farmer will see Read the rest of this entry »

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Things Alabama ain’t got… Mega Millions Lottery

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, March 30, 2012

Some folks would say “common sense,” and to some extent, that’s probably true.

Well… better make that “to a great extent.”

But, a state lottery is another thing Alabama ain’t got.

And, the Republicans in the legislature in the past administration and the present administration seem to have absolutely no inclination to allow the people the opportunity to vote on it… whether to have state sponsored gammlin’, that is.

Folks’ve tried to get one for education but have failed. And, in a move called “proration,” the governor this year cut all state budgets across the board by 10.6%, excluding education, because Alabama’s state constitution, for better or for worse, forbids going into debt and requires a balanced budget. Bonds are a different matter.

But, one other thing the state’s legislature doesn’t do Read the rest of this entry »

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Tom Coburn: End welfare for the wealthy

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, December 1, 2011

Congress, it has been recently noted, has the lowest approval rating since record-keeping of that type has begun. In fact, it was noted with significantly ironic disdain, that more Americans favor the United States becoming a Communist nation than approve of Congress. Disapproval of congressional action – or inaction – has been duly noted by all members of congress, house and senate.

Regular readers of this blog will recognize that I have excoriated Republicans and their presidential nominee wannabes for numerous reasons, not the least of which is their blind obedience to their corporate masters – which in essence, makes them high-powered prostitutes – whores, if you prefer – and for the greatest part towed the line refusal to modify or raise – even slightly – of the rich, which has been the proposal of “some random person,” otherwise known as Grover Norquist. The reader may be interested to know that Mr. Norquist was “promoter of the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” which was signed by 95% of all Republican Congressmen and all but one of the 2012 Republican presidential candidates – in which the signer promises to never, under any circumstances, support an increase in taxes.” That pdf document may be downloaded here.

Human nature what it is, many will be loyal to those whom sign their paychecks, particularly when powerful strings are attached to those checks.

And yet, while we respect loyalty, we also honor those whom stand upon principle, and whom are motivated and guided by selflessness and a genuine desire to help others – with liberty and justice for all – not just an elite cadre.

In that sense – especially in this Op-Ed – Senator Tom Coburn, R-OK, seems to be the voice of reason in the GOP. The reader may also be interested to note that Sen. Coburn was a signatory to that random lobbyist promulgated document. The lobbyist being none other than the Born-with-a-silver spoon-in-his-mouth-Harvard-educated Grover, whom federally-convicted felon-lobbyist Jack Abramoff also fingered in his recent tell-all. It is interesting to note that Sen. Coburn has chosen the high road.

End welfare for the wealthy

By Tom Coburn, Special to CNN
updated 2:10 PM EST, Thu December 1, 2011

(CNN) — The debate in Congress this week about whether to pay for extending the payroll tax cut by imposing a new tax on millionaires will have nothing to do with solving our nation’s economic challenges and everything to do with election-year politics. Senate Democratic leaders have already signaled they will use the debate as a purely partisan exercise designed to embarrass Republicans into opposing tax cuts for the poor while defending tax cuts for the rich.

I intend to offer an alternative. Instead of punishing the rich with higher taxes, I will give Congress the option of helping pay for extending the payroll tax cut by ending welfare to the wealthy. Read the rest of this entry »

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Florida Taxpayers Bilked for Welfare Drug Test Costs by Republican Gov. Rick Scott

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, August 27, 2011

Updated October 27, 2012 – Readers should be aware there is now two years of data. The original story was published in 2011, and the three new stories added are from 2012, and show similar data – that being, that the cost of the program to mandate drug testing for all public assistance recipients in Florida – is unproductive and wasteful, and costs more in tax dollars and time wasted than it purports to save.

Dedicated to everyone who believes that merely because some people need a helping hand that they’re automatically suspect.

It’s not a crime to be poor. And Christ said, “The poor you will always have with you.”

The line of thinking on drug testing goes like this: A.) The exceeding majority of public assistance recipients are lazy, good-for-nothing drug abusers, so B.) Taking them off the dole will save hundreds of thousands – if not tens of millions of dollars, so C.) Make them pay up front to defend themselves against the blanket accusation, and reimburse them if they don’t “come up dirty.”

Turns out, however, that only a measly 2% of recipients have been positive. In other words, the vast and exceeding majority of public assistance recipients – 98% – are law-abiding, non-drug abusing citizens.

What does that mean for the good, hard-working, tax-paying people of Florida? Why, they’re on the hook to cough up some reimbursement money to the folks that paid up front to be tested. And at $43,200/month, that’s over $518,000/year. Not exactly chump change – especially in tough economic times.

Why, even the old Charlie Daniels song acknowledges that Read the rest of this entry »

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Warren Buffet tells Congress, “Stop coddling the Super-Rich.”

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, August 15, 2011

Op-Ed Contributor

Stop Coddling the Super-Rich

By WARREN E. BUFFETT
Published: August 14, 2011

Omaha

OUR leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.

These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.

Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was Read the rest of this entry »

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CEO pay soars while employee pay falters

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, April 1, 2011

Those “poor, poor” rich men. We shouldn’t tax those poor, poor souls because they, in their mercy, give jobs to us, the genuinely wealthy slobs who do not need them. No, Congress should cut their taxes, and should not tax multi-national corporations such as General Electric which makes billions in profits and does not pay any income tax. In fact, Congress should eliminate all taxes upon the über-wealthy and should tax the poor! (sarcasm ends here)
•••

CEO pay soars while workers’ pay stalls

By Matt Krantz and Barbara Hansen, USA TODAY
Updated: 04/01/2011 9:20am

CEOs didn’t have to cry poor for long.

The heads of the nation’s top companies got the biggest raises in recent memory last year after taking a hiatus during the recession.

At a time most employees can barely remember their last substantial raise, median CEO pay jumped 27% in 2010 as the executives’ compensation started working its way back to prerecession levels, a USA TODAY analysis of data from GovernanceMetrics International found. Workers in private industry, meanwhile, Read the rest of this entry »

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Continuing Stubborn Ignorance

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Having recently read this Op/Ed columnist’s article, I found the author’s remarks spot-on… so much so, that I am sharing them here for your benefit. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Within the past decade, I’ve written three columns titled “Deception 101,” “Stubborn Ignorance,” and “Exploiting Public Ignorance,” all explaining which branch of the federal government has taxing and spending authority. How can academics, politicians, news media people and ordinary citizens get away with statements such as “Reagan’s budget deficits,” “Clinton’s budget surplus,” “Bush’s budget deficits and tax cuts” or “Obama’s tax increases”? Which branch of government has taxing and spending authority is not a matter of rocket science, but people continue to make these statements. The only explanation that I come up with is incurable ignorance, willful deception or just plain stupidity; if there’s another answer, I would like to hear it.

Let’s look at the facts. Article I, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution reads: Read the rest of this entry »

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Veteran’s Day 2009

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, November 9, 2009

I’m proud to have served my nation in the uniform armed services, having done so voluntarily. I think every young American should do similarly. And, I believe our nation should provide significant benefit to those whom so choose.

Some years ago, I envisioned what I called a “234 Plan,” which would:

  1. Double pay grade for two years up to pay grade E-3 for initial enlistees;
  2. Require a minimum of Four Years of service;
  3. Pay for four years of higher education, up to and including Ph.D., with the ability to transfer benefits to first-degree relatives;

and perhaps most importantly,

4. Provide such income as federally Tax-Free, forever.

At current pay rates, that would be slightly under $76,000 for a period of two years at pay grade E-3 – not a bad nest egg. And then, there’s the 30 days paid vacation, head-to-toe health care, incentive/bonus pay for skills, BAH (basic allowance for housing), and a host of other remunerations and fiduciary potential – all of which are added to Basic Pay, thereby increasing take-home pay. Potentially, managing money wisely, a young enlistee could emerge from a four year commitment with very nearly $125,000 in pocket, VA health benefits, GI Bill benefits, and more.

The money could be used wisely, or squandered. But the principle would forever be federally tax-free – and I think it should be at the state level, as well. It’s well known that young enlistees have high levels of “disposable” income. But WISE fiscal management could yield significant benefits to them individually, and by extension, to our nation.

Part three of the plan I envisioned – higher education – was implemented when President Obama signed the Post 9/1 G.I. Bill, providing the most comprehensive expansion and provision of educational benefits our troops have received since F.D.R.’s presidency.

I recollect a report entitled “Young Virginians: Ready, Willing, and Unable to Serve,” having read and saved it September 2, this year. It was authored and advised by an impressive cadre of Generals, Admirals, field-grade officers, and senior executive NCOs, from all branches of the service, and “supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts, and Pre-K Now, campaign of the Pew center on the States.”

Interestingly, NPR has only recently reported on it.

The problems the report addresses are from a thorough examination of Virginia, though it’s findings can be extrapolated to the United States at large.

According to the report, the three greatest problems disqualifying American youth from service to our nation include:

1.) Criminality – felony and serious misdemeanor offense;

2.) Education – failure to graduate high school, and low achievement in reading & math, 30% unable to pass the Armed Forces Qualification Test; and

3.) Health – specifically obesity, although asthma, eyesight, hearing, mental health, ADHD and additional health problems factor in, thereby disqualifying over half of all young adults.

Additional disqualifiers include single custodial parenthood, and drug or alcohol abuse.

These are all social ills.

Mission: Readiness – Military Leaders for Kids is a bipartisan, nonprofit, national security organization of more than 80 retired generals and admirals,” whom “accept no funds from federal, state, or local governments,”  and “call on all policymakers to ensure America’s security and prosperity by supporting interventions proven to help America’s youth succeed academically, stay physically fit, and abide by the law. Pre-K Now collaborates with organizations and policy makers to lead a movement toward high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten for all 3- and 4-year-olds.”

In recent political history, social programs have been an “easy target” for many of the Republican stripe whom have seriously reduced or eliminated such programs’ funding, effectively or outright killing the very programs that could have done much to have prevented these anathemas.

Ironically, prison construction and maintenance is a capital expenditure. And of all the world’s nations, ours has more incarcerations per capita than any other, having exploded (doubling 2.5 times) since 1980 (though incarcerations remained relatively stable since 1920, according to the U.S. Department of Justice).

How’s that THAT for the so-called “Reagan Revolution?” It sounds more like a “Contract on America” rather than “with America,” to me.

Wonder why no more.

Governance is much more than infrastructure expenditures, and military readiness includes a strong social component.

Our Constitution calls it providing “for the common defense,” by promoting “the general welfare,” to “secure the blessings of liberty.”

Healthcare is an integral and unequivocal part of that equation… as we can now painfully, and plainly see.

I suppose it would be apropos and germane – though perhaps trite – to conclude with a line from advertising: “You can pay me now… or, pay me later.”

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