Friday, January 25, 2013

The State Of Maryland's Drug Habit...

What gasoline will cost
with the anticipated "revenue" plan
The beloved home state that contains the Lattanzi Land base of operation is moving further down the path to fiscal insolvency.  However, instead of placing responsibility where it ought to go, the fools in charge of the state legislature respond like Pavlovian dogs by insisting that raising taxes generating new revenue is the only possible solution to any kind of budget deficit and financial shortfall Maryland happens to face.

At issue is the the state gasoline tax.  Senate President For Life Mike Miller has proposed a so-called "two-pronged" approach in how to raise the tax.  Currently, the Maryland gasoline tax is a flat rate of 23.5 cents per gallon.  Allegedly, this is to fund transportation projects throughout the state, such as highways and bridge repairs. What never seems to get mentioned is how the legislature has raided transferred close to a billion dollars from the transportation fund over the past ten years.

The first part of Miller's proposal is to raise the flat rate by five cents to 28.5 cents a gallon, with the catch being that the five cents would be imposed by the individual counties.  The second part of the proposal is to impose a three percent sales tax on gasoline as well.

I could see the flat rate being passed, but the sales tax is a double-edged sword.  It presumes that gas prices will stay at or about three dollars per gallon.  If prices ever fall to under two bucks a gallon, the tax receipts will simply be slashed and then they'll have to go through all this crap again to make up the lost receipts.

I do have one simple question, though.  Why does Mike Miller hate the poor and the working class of Maryland?

This is not a flippant question; it is obvious that any kind of tax increase, er, excuse me, "newly generated revenue" on consumption is by nature regressive.  So obviously what Mike Miller and Martin O'Malley are trying to do is punish the working poor in the state by making it more expensive for them to get to their place of employment.

Getting back to the point of the double-edged sword of attaching taxes (sales and flat) to gasoline - this is identical to the issue of cigarette taxes.  The state determines that the taxes, er, "revenues" derived from the consumption of the product are going to fund some public good (health care by cigarette taxes and transportation by gasoline).  However, at the same time, we are being told by the same people (who overwhelmingly tend to be liberal Democrats) that a) smoking is bad for us and b) we need to drive more fuel-efficient cars.  

Well, guess what?  People smoke less and there are more fuel-efficient cars on the road now. What does it mean?  Budget shortfalls on both ends.  Thus beginning the vicious cycle of wanting to raise taxes on those things which then discourages further use of the product.  It can't be both ways.

What bugs me the most about this, ultimately, is the gross irresponsibility of the budgeting process that a) raids from the transportation fund to pay for whatever voter bribery social program instead of, you know, transportation stuff and b) the premise that the only solution is the hiking of taxes.  Eight months ago in this space, I said that Maryland needed to reduce spending to get its shortfalls under control.  There will soon not be any millionaires left to tax.  I even gave some suggestions:
Eliminate several administrative positions in our University system.  Make professors earn their money by, you know, teaching, instead of getting tenured research positions that require just one class and several research junkets.  Cut back on the staffing in the bureaucracy that is starting to make Annapolis look like Whitehall. Legislators should only get stipends rather than salaries.  Get the unions out of state employment and switch all pensions for those under 55 to 401k/403b plans.  Simple, isn't it?
But, hey, Maryland is getting some cool casinos and Martin O'Malley has an Irish rock band, so it can't be all bad, right?


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Reaping What We Sow IV - Literal Edition...

Oh my God, the Super Bowl Big Game will be short of...CHICKEN WINGS!!!
For many, chicken wings are a necessary staple of a Super Bowl Sunday diet. But getting one’s hands on the bite-sized bits may be easier said than done thanks to a spike in corn prices.

According to a press release posted Tuesday on the official website of the National Chicken Council in Washington, D.C., the increase in the cost of corn, in tandem with other factors, has resulted in fewer birds produced overall.
The real question is, why have corn prices spiked?  We read further...
“Chicken companies produced about one percent fewer birds last year, due in large part to record high corn and feed prices,” Bill Roenigk, chief economist and market analyst, was quoted as saying. “Corn makes up more than two-thirds of chicken feed and corn prices hit an all-time high in 2012, due to two reasons: last summer’s drought and pressure from a federal government requirement that mandates 40 percent of our corn crop be turned into fuel in the form of ethanol.”
Ah, the real reason: the altar of environmentalism.  For an administration who claimed the mantle of practicality, they could have done the right thing and eliminated the subsidies and the regulations for ethanol.  However, them's votes in there, even though no less an authority than Mother Jones has indicated than ethanol simply isn't a solution.  In 2007, no less!  And yes, I link to Mother Jones for those of you who only read official ideologically-approved ritually clean publications.  Had I linked to, say, Breitbart, making the exact same claim, well, gee, I would be denounced as a rigid ideologue!  We can't have that, can we?  Oh, you need another ritually pure source?  How about the Huffington Post?

And just for good measure, the original article concludes thusly:
A U.S. Department of Agriculture report released earlier this month on the 2012 growing season showed farmers harvested 10.78 billion bushels of corn, less than three-fourths of what the agency predicted last spring.
There you have it - we literally reap what we sow (yes, I know how to use the word "literally").  Except it is all going toward smog-inducing fossil fuels.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Reaping What We Sow III

"I can't believe we wanted
more of this pessimism!"
Can the Misery Index be far behind?
Fewer than four-in-10 Americans (39 percent) rate the US in a positive manner – the most negative feedback the country has produced since 1979.

A new Gallup poll finds that Americans are as negative about the country’s prospects as they have been in more than three decades. Americans are more upbeat in their predictions of where the U.S. will be in five years (48 percent positive), but this is the lowest rating since an August 1979 Gallup poll was conducted.
Actually, since most of the media has abdicated their position as the watchdog of people in power (there are a few noble exceptions), don't count on the Misery Index being brought back, at least not while Barack Obama is the president.  But don't blame me, I voted for Kodos!
The 39 percent of Americans who give a six to 10 rating when asked to evaluate the nation’s current status is similar to the 37 percent who said the same three years ago. These ratings of current conditions coincide with Americans’ assessment of satisfaction with the way things are going in the U.S., which is only at 25 percent in the same poll and below the historical average satisfaction rating.
And yet, even though 39% of the country believe we are heading in the right direction, more than 50% voted for a continuation of said direction!

And you want to know why I entitle these posts as I do...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Reaping What We Sow II

The State Department has refused to cancel or delay the delivery of several American-made F-16 fighter jets to Egypt, claiming that the arms deal serves America’s “regional security interests,” according to an official State Department document obtained by the Free Beacon.

The news that the Obama administration would uphold an aid package to Egypt that included the military hardware prompted concern on Capitol Hill from lawmakers who said the deal was not prudent given the political situation in Egypt, where Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohammed Morsi has clashed with democratic protestors. weapons to a government that has known connections to a group that is on the official list of terrorist organizations.   

Nope, nothing to see here.  Nothing at all...

Friday, January 18, 2013

Inquiring Minds Want To Know...

Just a few questions for those who are inclined to have that little statist tyrant inside try to crawl out on occasion...

1) What is one's "fair share" of taxes?

2) What is the purpose of government?

3) What is the purpose of the 2nd Amendment?

4) Can you define an "assault weapon"?

5) Why won't you be intellectually honest and just admit that you want a disarmed populace?

6) Who are you to demand state intrusion into my food and my relationship with my doctor?

7) Why do you insist that what goes on in the bedroom is not my business but make it my responsibility to pay for devices and means to foster what goes on in said bedroom?

8) Can you promise me that when the inevitable swing comes and we have a real Right-Winger™ (No, George W. Bush was not one, you will never convince me of it) in the White House, you will not complain when he starts bypassing his Constitutional authority through executive orders, agencies, and czar posts and continues to infinitely detain American citizens without cause and authorizes drone strikes against Enemies of the People™ without Congressional consent?

On second thought, don't answer that - I already know what it is to that last one...

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Brilliant Ad...

I am not an NRA member, nor am I planning on joining, but this ad released lands a body blow...

"Insightful" are the comments below the video page on Youtube, as this video has all the gun-grabbers' panties in a bunch, and most telling are the people who actually say that the President's kids are more important that the children of the 'little people'. Like Matt Yglesias:

Nice to know that my kid doesn't matter.  Thanks.  Appreciate that.  I bet Matt Yglesias and his ilk would piss their pants and hope the police would save him if he was the victim of a home invasion. What this attitude reminds me of is the immortal "edited" commandment in chapter ten of Animal Farm:

All Animals Are Equal, But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others

"Gun protection for me and mine, but not for thee and thine" is what our Political Masters and their morally infantile amen corner constantly preache.  It's easy for politicians to be protected by Secret Service, state troopers, and the like when the rest of us have to fend for ourselves, and then they want to take away that ability.  

No thank you.  You support gun control - you support tyranny.  Plain and simple.

Reaping What We Sow...

I am starting a new blog feature - entitled Reaping What We Sow.  Elections have consequences, and so everything that happens in our society and political world will be chronicled here as a result.

A southwestern Pennsylvania hospital will stop delivering babies after March 31 because its obstetricians are either leaving or refocusing their practices, and because hospital officials believe they can't afford it based on projected reimbursements under looming federal health care reforms.

The Windber Medical Center, about 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, is losing two obstetricians and two others are shifting their focus more to gynecology.

Hospital officials say the population of women of child-bearing age is dropping and that the number of births the hospital would be called upon to perform isn't enough for it to provide the service in the face of lower reimbursements under the federal Affordable Care Act.
We can talk about being altruistic and how doctors should be in the business for the good of mankind, but the fact remains that with so much in medical school costs and malpractice insurance, it doesn't do any good if they can't make money to pay down loans and insurance costs.  The ACA does more to interfere in the relationship between patient and doctor and drives up costs while consequently lessening wages. That's not a good combination in any profession, much less the medical profession.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

On Robert Griffin III And The Redskins...

Keep this logo!
I know I am not a Redskins fan, and I have displayed my dislike of them in many ways, but this here is ultimately a modest defense of the franchise.  This is also not really about Robert Griffin.

I am not completely heartless; when Robert Griffin went down late in the game on Sunday, I cringed mightily.  I had been wondering when his knee would finally give out, especially after the earlier buckle prior to the Redskins' second touchdown of the game.  There is much blame to go around as to why this happened - the field conditions were conducive to this sort of injury happening; coaching malpractice can be blamed; Griffin himself is partially culpable also.  Reasonable people can debate these issues, and I will continue to be entertained by people skewering One Away's Kevin Sheehan's Defend-Shanahan-At-All-Costs-Logic-Be-Damned position.

What is not to be blamed for this is "bad karma" emanating from the fact that the Washington, DC NFL franchise's nickname is "Redskins".  However, this didn't stop Courtland Milloy from suggesting as such:
And when he’s felled during Sunday’s playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks, bringing the postseason to an ugly and immensely unsatisfying end — torn ligaments no doubt shortening his own career as well — Washington gasps in horror.

Bad karma, I tell you, that team name.

Now don’t go trying to prove otherwise by digging up some ancient Washington victory from back in, say, Joe Gibbs’s early days. This is a new era. Attitudes are changing; progressive thinking is emerging on everything from guns, gays and gas guzzling to debt, deficits and doctor bills.

Besides, Washington’s professional football team has raked up one disappointing season after another since 1992 — the year D.C. resident Suzan Harjo became the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking to change the team’s disparaging name.
It is amazing that he is actually writing this kind of crap, but then again, it doesn't surprise me in the least.  I have been reading him for a long time, and this is actually par for the course - it's never about individual responsibility or causes.  He blames the Redskins sucking because of their name, rather than the fact that they scored less points than the other team, which is due to poor management, bad coaching, and less talent. I wish people would stop trying to find some overarching meaning to why things are the way they are and actually look at the principal actors to figure it out.

Milloy continues and he can't help himself here (emphasis mine):
Next month, on Feb. 7, the National Museum of the American Indian on the Mall will hold a day-long symposium and “community conversation” about the use of racist stereotypes and cultural appropriation in American sports. In a recent news release about the event, museum Director Kevin Gover wrote: “What better place to address this issue. . . . The Smithsonian Institution is the ideal forum to bring people together to ask tough questions.”

I hope so, although I suspect that the most diehard football fans have only two ways of dealing with these kinds of disagreements: racist Internet comments — and fistfights in the stands.
Hahaha!! We get it - NFL fans are nothing but slobbering blubbering redneck yahoos.  And the Post wonders why people keep cancelling their subscriptions.  And how.  You don't need to pay people to publish pablum like this.  I guess it was too much for Milloy to focus on things like how Barack Obama talks a good game about diversity but then picks all old white men for his Cabinet.  I guess he needs the Rooney Rule for his Cabinet selections.1

Speaking of politicians, leave it to Washington Mayor Vincent Gray to stick his nose in a place where it doesn't belong:
The Redskins’ resurgence has District politicos once again talking about what it would take to relocate the team back inside the city limits. But Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) today suggested there would have to be a controversial prerequisite to any stadium deal: a name change, or at least discussion of one.
Keep the name.  It is tradition.  I think the constant yammering about changing the name is just that: yammering.  I am tired of politicians (and fans and sportswriters, for that matter) acting like professional sports franchises are public trusts.  The Washington Redskins are the property of Dan Snyder2 (and his partners), and so long as he owns the franchise, he can call it what he wants.  People have a right to boycott the team and not watch it and so forth, and so if anyone wants the name changed, they will have to hit him where it hurts.  And in this town, that is not going to happen.

Mayor Gray is playing with fire by suggesting that any potential relocation back into the city would depend on a discussion of a name change.3  I could see the Redskins getting a stadium in Virginia with lower taxes and such, and the District will lose out, yet again.  But those who yammer (there's that word again) on about this issue can't see the forest for the trees.  Stick to running the city and refrain from commenting about an organization that doesn't actually do business within it!


1 Yes, this was a gratuitous insertion of political commentary.  Get over it.

2 Don't get used to me and Dan Snyder being on the same side.  I also support the idea of him suing the NFL over the salary cap penalties and naming John Mara as a specific co-defendant.

3 The people supporting this will point to the Bullets changing their name to the Wizards.  This is a laughable and nonsensical comparison.  DC is a Redskins town.  There is a long tradition of the name, and whether anyone likes it or not, the name and logo are classics. No one cares about the NBA here.  College and H.S. basketball do better than the Wizards, and thus the general reaction was "meh" when they did so.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Obligatory College Football Post...

I don't care much for college football, although I do watch just enough to stay abreast of what's going on.  For example, I know that Alabama is the best team in the country after absolutely destroying Notre Dame last night.  And I was full of glee...

Why?  Because I loathe the Notre Dame football program.  It is probably the most overrated college football team in history.  Now, keep in mind, I don't dislike the University of Notre Dame; in fact, I regard it as a fine institution of higher learning and I root for its basketball team (lots of DeMatha connections).  

I can't stand the fan base of the team.  However, if you attended Notre Dame or had a close family member go, you are exempted from this criticism.  It reminds me way too much of fans of the Yankees, Cowboys, Lakers, and Duke basketball.  Part of this is the shameless way they got their own television contract from NBC, thus giving them national exposure in a way that is for the most part unwarranted.  It's not an accident that they have not won anything of consequence since moving to NBC - sell your soul and not even the patronage of Our Lady will be enough!

The other reason I have never like the football team is the constant yabbering I get from people (including my own father) about how it's all about "Catholic pride" to root for Notre Dame.  I call BS, and thus from my young days, I have rooted for Notre Dame football to fail.  I don't premise my rooting for sports teams on some misguided religious basis, and I am certainly not Irish (although I married Irish), and the most important thing...I have no connection to the University of Notre Dame, other than having some friends who attended, which doesn't count.  

So with that being said.  Congratulations to Alabama for beating the crap out of the football team of the University of Notre Dame.