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.
TMI?

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.

Flash

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.

Flash

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.

Flash

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.

Flash

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.

Flash

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.

Flash

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.

Flash

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Renewed

Yesterday, I renewed my centrisity.com domain for another 3 years. Hmmmmmmm, wonder what that means!

Exciting things to come as we approach the new year!

Flash

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Build It

I bleed Purple, so much so that when the traitor from Green Bay showed up to booby trap our team, I refused to get on that bandwagon. Once he left, decimating our ball club, I pulled the purple back out. Those were two long year without a 'Viking' team, I'm not sure I could do that again. We needed a new stadium to keep them here, and to me, it was a no brainer.

I'm not sure why the Lege made it so difficult. I supported the idea of simply using any direct revenues we would lose in player and team admin/management payroll taxes and roll that into the package. Seriously, no one can argue that this money would flee the state with the team, and drain the General fund of those monies. Player salaries alone, over the course of a 30 year lease, would bring in $460 Million. This doesn't even count non player employees. For all the talk of a Yes vote costing the state over 500 Million in general fund money that could be use for roads, bridges, schools, and other government supported activities needed to accept the alternative. A no vote would cost is about the same.

To be balanced, we need to look at my Good Friend, and now State Legislator, King Banaian's take, recently feature on Time's 'Keeping Score' blog. Admittedly more of a Giants fan the a Queenie supporter, his decision came down to pure economics. And as a Professor of Economics at my Alma Mater, St. Cloud State University, he certainly has credibility.

But Banaian has run the numbers, and believes the $443 million public cost is too prohibitive, especially in a down economy. Minnesota governor Mark Dayton, a Democrat, says stadium construction will deliver 8,000 jobs: Banaian estimates that the project will add 2,000-2,500 jobs. Economic study after economic study has shown that the promises of stadium windfalls don’t come true. One major reason is the substitution effect: if people don’t spend their discretionary dollars on season tickets and hot dogs and parking and other costs associated with attending sports events, they’ll spend it on other activities and businesses within a metropolitan area (the movies, the car dealership, restaurants). Or maybe individuals will — gasp — save that Vikings money, which might not help local GDP in the short-term, but could greatly benefit an individual down the road.
 I tried to avoid including revenues that could be subject to the substitution effect, and like I stated above, payroll tax revenues leave the state with the team, there is no substitution. The Conference committee report that passed the House early this AM, and now goes to the Senate, shows the state's share at $348 Million. 460 - 348 is a net WIN for the general fund coffers, and we get to keep the Queenies home, warts and all. I look forward to an opportunity to pick King's brain on this one.

Skol Vikings

Flash

Friday, May 04, 2012

My Senser(y) Imperception

I used to being wrong. Jury came back saying she had to have known she hit someone and should have a) stopped to give aid, and B) reported the incident. They let her off on the reckless charge but convicted on the lesser careless charge. She's looking at 4 years, meaning she'll do about 3. It will be quite the culture shock, that's for sure.

I wasn't there but am still surprised at the verdict. I just didn't think there was a way the Jurors could say, beyond a reasonable doubt, that she had to have known she hit someone. Now, I was on the foreman on a 3rd degree assault jury years ago, and I began the trail, as one should, with acquittal on mind. Based on the evidence I saw, I was still at acquittal, until the jury instructions from the Judge. At that point I had no choice but to vote guilty. There was only a couple that were unsure, but once we explained the judges instruction, they agreed we really didn't have a choice. We sent a question tot he court, for clarification, and went off too lunch. Upon return we entered the court room to have our questions read, and the judge's answer was we could only go by his original instructions. We returned within the hour with our guilty verdict.

The first hint at the the mindset of the jury concluded they believe 'that the damage to Senser's care made it clear something 'very serious happened'

Best coverage of the case, including this verdict synopsis, can be found at the Minnesota Criminal Defense Blog.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Senser(y) Perception

Since I am confident everyone wants to know where I stand on the Amy Senser trail, I'll share.

She did it, but it seems to me there is more than reasonable doubt that she knew she hit a person. Her actions later that evening and her conversation with her Husband the next morning support that.

The question the jury asked, yesterday, leads me to believe they are leaning that way as well:
About 5 p.m., the jury asked the judge: In order to convict her of leaving the scene of an accident, "at what point did she have to know that she hit someone?"
The judge told them, "At the time of the accident or immediately thereafter."
I think the prosecutor here had their hand forced, making it difficult to plea this down. Amy will be acquitted, and since they didn't offer the jury any lesser charges then the three felony counts, she walks.

The Civil case, will be a completely different matter.

Flash

Monday, April 30, 2012

Romney Stuck from the Middle

Generally, once there is a presumptive nominee, a mad dash to the middle takes place as the freshly minted standard bearer tries to shake off his extremist cooties. As former challengers acknowledge reality by endorsing the victor, the parties base can focus on the true goal, defeating the incumbent with a unified based.

Hmmmmm . . . . not so fast:
Mitt Romney has vanquished virtually all of his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination. Only Representative Ron Paul of Texas remains in the race; the rest, even Newt Gingrich, have bowed to the reality that Mr. Romney will be the nominee.

But there is one thing that several of them have stubbornly not done, even in the face of a Republican establishment that is growing impatient with them: endorse Mr. Romney.

Representative Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Mr. Gingrich have all resisted the urgings of their peers to get on board the Mitt Romney Express. Their hesitance is raising concerns among the power brokers in Washington, who wonder what game they are playing. And the pressure is increasing.
The hesitancy is also creating an opportunity for the incumbent to build a wall just far enough to the Right of the Middle to secure re-election:
Last week, senior administration officials surprised reporters in a White House background briefing by correcting a questioner who suggested that Obama thought Romney had his “finger in the wind.”
The rebuke: Romney’s core is now filled in. With craven right-wing craziness.
The backgrounder, in turn, spawned a New York Times story, which allowed Plouffe to trial-balloon a new line of attack, comparing Romney to the archetypal GOP extremist loser: “Whether it’s tax policy, whether it’s his approach to abortion, gay rights, immigration, he’s the most conservative nominee that they’ve had going back to [1964 Republican candidate Barry] Goldwater.”
The cold hearted reality, is once Gov Romney does get the chance to court the moderate vote, the President's surrogates can go right to the flip flopping finger in the wind argument.

Of course, this is all inside baseball. This election will be won or lost based on the mood of the country, the price of gas, the direction of the unemployment rate and the stability of the recovery. But hey, I like baseball.

Flash