Sunday, February 28, 2010

Damned Unions

A Philadelphia beer festival has been canceled bc. the bartenders' union will not allow reps from the microbreweries to serve beer samples. Guess we gotta save those jobs.

Read about this asininity here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Free Gas?

Check out this graph of UNG, the natural gas ETF. Amazing. How low can it go?

Got the graph from Dave Fry.

Hate It When That Happens

Shamu tried to eat his trainer. Nothing worse than being "thrashed . . . around pretty good" as the hostess of the "Dining with Shamu event".

Amazing that SeaWorld bought a man-eating orca from the friendly Canadians.

Read about it here. Hope it doesn't show up on YouTube. . . .

Here's where I got the picture.

I Want One

Put this at the top of my Christmas list.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Another Day Older & Deeper in Debt

Jose Pinera is given credit for having privatized the Chilean social security system. Chileans put money into accounts that are protected constitutionally from the politicians.

In the U.S., FICA taxes go into a trust fund which is then raided by politicians with pork to pay for. The result is truly scary as you will hear if you listen to the Pinera interview.

There simply is not enough money to pay for the Social Security, Medicare, and prescription drug program commitments that have been made. Eligibility ages will have to be raised and benefits cut. Turmoil will ensue.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Still Paying

No wonder beer costs so much here: I'm still paying for the Johnstown Flood of 1936.

Johnstown Flood Emergency Tax
One such temporary tax that ended up becoming permanent was the 1936 Johnstown flood tax. Although this tax was set to expire in 1937, it was extended various times until the tax became permanent in 1951. Currently, the tax rate is set at 18%.

The Johnstown flood tax was a 10% temporary emergency tax imposed on alcohol sold throughout Pennsylvania. The tax was meant to cover the costs of cleanup and repairs needed after the 1936 flood in Johnstown, PA that year. Although the tax was meant to expire after all the costs were covered, it was instead raised in 1963 to 15% and in 1968 to 18%. Since the money collected covered the costs of the flood many years ago, now the money goes to the states' general fund for discretionary spending. . . .

Residents of Pennsylvania have long opposed this tax because of its high rate. The tax is 18% in addition to a sales tax of 6%, bringing the cost of alcoholic drinks up significantly. There are people on both sides of the flood tax debate. Advocacy groups who want to limit alcohol consumption are in favor of the high tax rates, but unions who want to protect liquor resellers who oppose it.
Read more about "temporary" taxes here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My New Hero

Can you imagine an 11 million dollar deficit within a 26 million dollar budget? Unbelievable, but that's what New Jersey is looking at for fiscal 2011.

Governor Christie did an interview on CNBC this morning and said flat out that he would not raise taxes, he would only cut spending. The highest taxes in the country are the the reason people and capital are fleeing the state and it's time to turn that around. It's about time that a grownup stepped on stage.

Another astonishing tidbit--according to the governor, the great state of NJ has not made its contributions to the state employees' pension fund for ten years. And these poor folks think they're ever going to see their pensions? Good luck with that. How many other state and teacher pension funds are in such deep trouble?

The video is a little long but worth a look. Funniest part is the amazed look on the interviewers' faces when Christie refuses to consider raising taxes.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Saints Win

Cousin Donald put this up on YouTube--Well worth watching. Sure would have been fun to be on Bourbon Street that night.

Stirring the Pot

Doug Wilder is one of my heroes. He's a classic pot-stirring, rabble-rousing, trouble-making, threat to The Man.

Read his newest--an attack on Tim Kaine and some advice that won't be well-received in the White House.

I agree with everything he says.

Monday, February 8, 2010

What Race Is Your Sex?

Dad sent me this one. "What Race is Your Sex" is a scholarly publication by Laurel Schneider, PhD. in a book called Disrupting White Supremacy from Within.

One has to laugh at the Mike Adams response. Tho, laughter might not be the most appropriate response. Somehow I don't think Mr. Adams is really going to attend Meadville-Lombard and become a UU minister . . . but if you read to the end of his piece, he may have hit on the head the reason that Unitarian-Universalism hasn't grown in the 50 years since the U's and the U's merged: it's their emphasis on "social justice". Much of this emphasis comes across to so many of us non-Ivy Leaguers as threatening, as condescending, and as just plain weird.

Of course, it's not meant that way. Fighters for justice are, after all, fighting for justice. They're true believers, and what could be wrong with that? The problem is that many of us take their fight for justice as an implication that we are ipso facto unjust. Lots of us probably don't think we're living unjustly. Of course we're all sinners to some degree, no one's perfect. Many of us take their struggle for justice as an attack against us and the institutions that we really don't have that much of a problem with--marriage, the military, capitalism, the United States.

It's wonderful that this great country is free enough and rich enough to be able to afford to let folks like Professor Schneider make a living writing and teaching this stuff. It's great that there's a market for this. Markets are good, they satisfy needs and create value. Jobs are being created/saved here.

I certainly wouldn't pay for any of this, tho, and I wish our taxpayer dollars were not supporting it, either.

Most importantly, I certainly would be unhappy if, when lying on my death bed, I asked my minister a critical question, she/he responded that my question made him/her feel uncomfortable, and would I mind if she/he replaced my question with a question that he/she thinks is more appropriate for death bed discussion. After all, Professor Schneider let her/him write his/her own test questions in Queer Theory class back in seminary. Shouldn't we be talking about what she/he thinks we should be talking about when I expire---instead of what might be on my mind?