Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Terrible Taxes

I came across this interesting list of oldie but not so goodie taxes. My favorite LOL:

Pee Tax

In ancient Rome (c. 69-79), urine was a necessity in both tanneries (where they made leather) and in laundries (yes, where they cleaned your clothes with it). Before you imagine legions of Roman citizens hopping up and down on one leg, we should point out that the government only taxed those who bought the urine, not those that *ahem* produced it.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Five Ways Forward

Although I have found it more difficult to write, over the last few years, I still read, read, read. No, not a big book reader (although I did receive a preview copy of Street Smarts, which looks like one of the few I WILL read), but the heady policy stuff from the partisan Think Tanks. A local one, MN2020 published Five Ways Forward, and I think it is worth a look:

 - Reduce Medical Errors through More Transparent Reporting
 - Expand Opportunities for Solar Investors
 - Repurpose Unoccupied Storefronts on Main Streets and Urban Neighborhoods
 - Broaden Statewide Transit
 - Find Fairness in Evaluating Teachers

Complete report here (PDF)

I've only skimmed it, but plan on giving it some time later today. No comments, just a public service to my readers to open their minds to how other may view the next step towards the future.


Monday, January 21, 2013

To the Next Four . . .

I wish this county a propserous next four year as we witness the peacefulness of our Consitutional government. Frustrating to still see the attacks and hatred spewed by the Right. When I see that, it just shows me how ignorant they are about how our Constitution works.

As long as they continue to attack and demean our leaders, and the electorate, they will lose elections. This is unfortunate, because they have many good ideas that need to be implemented, but they will continue to be drowned out by their juvenile theatrics. They could learn much be embracing Colin Powell and his warnings.

(Photo Credit)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The 73% Solution?

While we consider reeling in the debt, and specifically entitlement reform, let's be sure we take a look at the facts, and acknowledge who would be most at risk to serious cuts in this area:

More than 90% of the benefits go toward working families, the disabled and the elderly. And more than half of all entitlement spending helps middle class Americans
In 2010, those age 65 and older collected 53% of the dollars, while the non-elderly disabled received 20%, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
That's 53% + 20%, for 73%. So when considering entitlement reform, almost 3/4 of those receiving the benefits are those too old to work or those who simply can't help themselves through no fault of their own. And most all of them are only receing benefits in return for the doposits THEY made through their wokring career. Yes, I struggle with the term 'entitlements' on many of these individuals.

However, one area that we can look at is Social Security Disabalility fraud, which I do think has an awful lot of people gaming the system. The challenge is, how do you eliminate them from the doles, without capturing the innocents in the net.

It amazes me, sometimes, how many within those groups above are actually demanding the very reforms that could cut off their primary source if income, income they have earned through a life of labor.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Debt Distraction

The horrific attack at Newtown, and the other public shootings both before an after, have certainly raised awareness in the community regarding weapons and their place in our society. I am pleased with the instant reaction by this Administration in creating a task force and opening a dialogue to discuss what could have been done to prevent these tragedies, if anything. But is this type of 'reactive' governance healthy. You bet, but maybe not if it is distracting from other important matters of the day.

We saw with the 'Fiscal Cliff' fight that the former Congress chose to drag their feet in a stalemate, only to cobble together a half fix to appease the electorate, without making the tough decisions. Now, with most looking at Washington's fight on citizen weaponry, the Debt ceiling talks and much need spending reform has taken a back seat.

I do not deny the need to have serious and intense dialogue on the proliferation of high capacity magazines, more serious enforcement of background checks (especially those that choose to deceive during that process), and a broadening of those laws to capture the Gun show sieve. But what is being accomplished right now is two fold; A) the conversation in Washington has moved away from serious fiscal matters that threaten to shut down government, and create economic tumult throughout the country during the stabilization of a very vulnerable economy, and more importantly; B) an emboldening of the Conservative right as it protects their perceived protection of 2nd Amendment Rights, while being allowed to not debate the tough decisions relating to fiscal management, or mismanagement for that matter.

The Vice President's commission will come out with recommendations this week. It will be important for the Administration to take these under advisement, but then redirect the debate back to money talks. The 2nd Amendment battle will always be there, and the debate will drag out for sometime. But the need for fiscal prudence, debt relief, and serous spending controls is on a game clock right now. We can't afford another band-aid to stop the hemorrhaging of the trust in this Country's monetary management.

Here's hoping.


Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Business Boom

When the Democratic party recaptured the Legislature, and grabbed the Governor's office for the first time in a generation, the Right lamented that business would be bailing in drove to avoid the hostile business climate. Guess not:

Minnesotans started more new businesses in 2012 than all but one year in the state's history. Filings in 2012 of corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, limited liability partnerships and nonprofit corporations were up 18 percent on the year, the secretary of state's office reported Tuesday.
 Now, to be fair, these are 2012 numbers and it could be as simply as the unemployed centuring out on their own. 2009, in the deepest of the Great recession, was another major uptick. But the point is still valid, if folks thought the business climate was going to be as hostile as some would like you to believe, we wouldn't be seeing these numbers.

The new Lege has their hands full, and a rebounding economy will give them a surge in revenues without modifying the tax code. The next few weeks will tell us a lot about what lies ahead.


Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Yes we do . . . . have a spending problem!

The federal Government spends more than it takes in. This has been the case since Pres Clinton left office, the last time we had a budget Surplus. We can argue all day long about who spends the most, and borrows the most, but no one can argue we don;thave a spending problem whn the receipts aren;t there to pay the bills.

In my policy focused rebirth, we'll try to identify specific spending frustrations. But until both sides focus on what's best for this country's financial stability, rather than dolling out promises to financial backers and lobbyists, the debt will continue to pile up. Let's take the details out of the discussion and just have a 15% across the board slice and dice, and let the Department Secretaries make the decision on how to get there.

Back in 2005, the Right Wing think tank Heritage foundation listed the 'Top 10 Examples of Government Waste'. I'm not saying this partisan extremists site is the say all on these issues, but we would be slacking if we didn't at least acknowledge that the items they list could be easily removed from the budget lines. I mean, 100 Miliion in refundable unused airline tickets (PDF) Come on, folks, this is fish in a barrel stuff!

Much much more to com over the next several weeks.


Friday, January 04, 2013

Jib, Jab, Jobs

One thing most of us can agree on is the sputtering Jobs market. This President has done the best he can with a Congress that is not willing to work as part of a team to assist in long sustained Job growth. Although we have seen consistent growth over the last year and a half or so, we haven't seen the numbers yet that can account for new workers entering the work force, and getting those unemployed and under employed in meaningful living wage jobs.

The ADP Jobs report (PDF) is an indicator of what to expect later this morning. The document shows 215,000 private sector jobs added and a 30,000 revision of November's numbers to 148,000. Last month's DoJ report, had 146,000 jobs added, which is pretty darn close to the 148 ADP revision. The expected number for today is around 150,000, but I'm thinking closer to 200,000.

I'll be back later this AM with the DoJ figures. If the over/Under is 175,000 I'll tkae the over.


UPDATE: It's the under:
The economy added 155,000 jobs in December, bringing the total number of jobs added in 2012 to 1.84 million, the Labor Department said Friday. 
Better than the alternative, but simply not good enough!

Thursday, January 03, 2013

New year, New Laws

The STrib share some of the laws that took effect Jan 1. Some samples:

 - School buses manufactured from now on must have right-side crossing-control arms to protect students.

  - Licensed health care providers can no longer use third parties to solicit business from car accident victims, unless they reveal their names and clinics.

 - Extended warranties, which are typically sold to customers when they buy the product, now must be offered and sold separately and not as part of a package.

Nothing real earth shattering, but than, last years Lege didn't do much other than trying to deconstruct our State Constitution.

 I'm starting slow, but committed to getting back into the saddle. You'll see a much more issues based, policy centric Centrisity. It will also be pretty clear I've moved a bit to the Right, fiscally,  over the last couple years. We spend too much, we need to figure that out. And if you think the answer lies in the GOP, not sure their borrow and spend mentality, that has driven huge debt, is the answer.