Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Don't worry - be happy! Government is here to help

"A socialist is somebody who doesn't have anything, and is ready to divide it up equally among everybody." ~ George Bernard Shaw

If the ever-constant move toward a socialistic government is enough to make you cry, don't worry! Government has a solution to that as well.

From the Drudge Report:

Mon Mar 30 2009 18:43:56 ET

The U.S. government is set to offer an online emotional rescue kit!

"Getting Through Tough Economic Times" will launch Tuesday with a media push across all platforms.

The site is meant to help people identify health concerns related to financial worries.

The feds will warn of depression, suicidal thinking and other serious mental illnesses. It will raise warning flags for: Persistent sadness/crying; Excessive anxiety; Lack of sleep/constant fatigue; Excessive irritability/anger.

The guide will be available starting at midnight at http://www.samhsa.gov/economy.

The site is live now and it offers such advice as: "Trying to keep things in perspective - recognize the good aspects of life and retain hope for the future."

See? Government actions drive you to the brink and waiting there is ... government! Because without a government website to help you identify health concerns, you wouldn't know you had them. And, true to form, government will offer solutions, because without government, you wouldn't be able to seek solutions on your own.

And if you are not one of the ones suffering distress over your financial conditions, you can help, too!

Encourage community-based organizations and groups to provide increased levels of mental health treatment and support to those who are severely affected by the economy.

Yep, because as government continues to spend us into oblivion, increasing debt beyond understanding, it will create more distress among the citizens, resulting in more need for government spending to help us recover from the travails inflicted upon us by government.

It's a never-ending circular trap. It's a good thing government has the issued covered.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Quotes of the Day and Mark Steyn

Some quotes to get you thinking while I finish up our 'little' redecorating project from the weekend:

"Wise politicians will be cautious about fettering the government with restrictions that cannot be observed, because they know that every break of the fundamental laws, though dictated by necessity, impairs that sacred reverence which ought to be maintained in the breast of rulers towards the constitution of a country." ~ Alexander Hamilton

"The Greeks... labored under the delusion that their democracy was a guarantee of peace and plenty, not realizing that unrestrained majority rule always destroys freedom, puts the minority at the mercy of the mob, and works at cross-purposes to the effective use of human energy and individual initiative." ~ Henry Grady Weaver

"People are tired of liberty. They have had a surfeit of it. Liberty is no longer a chaste and austere virgin... Today’s youth are moved by other slogans... Order, Hierarchy, Discipline." ~ Benito Mussolini

(what words would you substitute for today? green? common good?)

Finally, please take a moment to read Mark Steyn's latest column, Obama's False Choice. I'm a huge fan of Steyn's not only for his perspective but for his humerous - mostly ironic - choice of words. If you've never read any of his works, you should put him on your list.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

GM CEO resigns at Obama's request

Give them an inch and they'll take a mile...

Politico is reporting:

The Obama administration asked Rick Wagoner, the chairman and CEO of General Motors, to step down and he agreed, a White House official said.

Wagoner's departure is one of the remarkable strings attached to a new aid package the administration plans to offer GM.

The White House confirmed Wagoner was leaving at the government's behest after The Associated Press reported his immediate departure, without giving a reason.

So now the chairman and CEO no longer reports to the board of directors - or even the shareholders. The President - who's never run an organization anywhere near the size and complexity of GM - is deciding who is best to lead that company.

And it's not like Obama has such a stellar reputation with selections of people to lead agencies....

But in taking the government money, the company becomes subject to the whims of politicians, including the president.

We all knew this would happen - now my only question is: who's next?

(via Twitter: think they'll rename it Government Motors?)

As if we didn't already know, Konop will run for mayor

With so much ado about even considering a run for mayor, I don't think anyone is surprised by the announcement that Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop will formally enter the race tomorrow.

As a Democrat, he has added another option for local Dems to choose among. So far, the Republicans have only one declared candidate, Jim Moody, though former Fire Chief Mike Bell (a Democrat who plans to run as an Independent) is likely to garner support across political lines.

From The Blade:

Mr. Konop plans to argue that he has executive experience, having served on the three-person commissioner board for more than two years.

"You're managing budgets and personnel - two big aspects of being mayor," he said.

Having been a county commissioner (as well as an elected clerk of court and a business manager), I can certainly attest to the difference between 'managing' a budget and 'preparing' one.

Yes, commissioners manage a budget, but they don't create it, they don't set priorities (those are set by the Ohio Revised Code) and they don't have many options in denying other elected officials the ability to spend. Some might say a mayor does the same thing - but we've seen the detrimental impact of electing mayors who've never prepared a budget...can you say 'deficit'?

As for 'managing' personnel, I will concede that a commissioner does this. But managing as one of three people responsible is vastly different from what the mayor must do.

A commissioner votes on hiring/firing staff and hears and decides grievances filed by unions/employees. A commissioner doesn't determine the job descriptions, conduct performance evaluations, participate in union negotiations, interview potential employees or even impart the bad news when a person is let go. Konop's only individual hiring experience is of his personal assistant - and I don't believe he's ever had to tell someone, 'you're fired.'

His public track record on filling positions isn't the best, either. He was placed in charge of the search for a new director of the Lucas County Improvement Corporation, after pushing for the resignation of the prior one, but did not complete the task.

A mayor must select people to fill key positions: directors and commissioners, chief of staff, etc. While I never negate someone's ability to gain such expertise, I'm very confident I don't want the learning to occur first in the mayor's office.

Even if you decide that the personnel and budget management as a commissioner is equivalent to what is needed by a mayor, Konop has only two years of doing this - and nothing in his previous positions to contribute to that. If the ability to manage budgets and personnel is high on your list of needed skills, Konop's experience will put him near or at the bottom of the list of the major candidates at this point.

So what does that leave him to offer the voters? Why 'change' of course. And grandstanding - though he calls it 'challenging the status quo.'

"There's no one running that represents the kind of change that this community needs," Mr. Konop said in an interview with The Blade on Friday.

"I have a track record that shows I'm willing to aggressively challenge the status quo. I'm the only candidate who can deliver that."

There's more to being mayor than 'challenging the status quo' with ideas and gimmicks that cost taxpayer dollars. (Remember art assist - Konop's brilliant idea to subsidize loans for purchasing art?)

And though current mayor Carty Finkbeiner has had many public gaffs, none have been anything as severe as standing with a group who called our local Sheriff Deputies 'nazis' but not uttering a word of protest or objection, which Konop did just last week at the Foreclosure Defense League press conference.

Konop's working relationship with his fellow commissioners is not a good one. I'm not sure what he expected when he was elected, but I'm certain he thought he would have more support from his two Democrat colleagues. His difficulty in garnering support for his positions will be magnified when he has to work with quadruple the number on city council - and his lack of a track record with fellow Democrats does not result in good expectations for dealing with the political implications of A-Team, B-Team and Republicans in council chambers.

The good news about his entry into the race is that it will split the Democrat vote. The primary for mayor is non-partisan. The top two mayoral vote-getters go on to the general election, so if Democrats have to choose between multiple candidates, it is possible for a Republican to make it to the general election. However, that requires outstanding campaigning by the Republican, and it is as likely that the top two vote-getters will be Democrats, as we've seen in the past.

Additionally, The Blade, by the subtle clues we've all learned to recognize, has shown a preference for candidate Keith Wilkowski. They've also been highly supportive of Konop. Which one they end up favoring may influence a portion of the primary vote and their coverage of the candidates will be interesting to watch.

Now the only unknown is Finkbeiner. I've previously thought that he would enter the race and seek re-election no matter what. Now I'm not so sure. If the recall effort gathers sufficient signatures to place the matter on the primary ballot (which seems likely at this point), Carty may decide not to run. However, the logic of such a choice must be balanced by his ego and his perception that being the best cheerleader for the city is the highest qualification for the office.

This is going to be an interesting political season.

Tim Higgins at Just Blowing Smoke has more to say about Comm. Konop's claim of 'challenging the status quo'.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Does Obama care about a second term?

Yesterday, on WSPD, I interviewed Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) about the GIVE Act and her efforts to prevent any monies distributed through the act from being used for political purposes.

The interview is available here and you can listen to it or download it for all the details.

But one comment she made really struck me, because it was the first time I've heard anyone say this.

"I believe that President Obama is doing what he said he wanted to do. He doesn't care whether he has a second term. He just wants to get all this stuff passed because he knows once it passes, it's extremely difficult to undo it and so they are using all the capital they have right now.

His approval ratings are going down like a rock and he's going to do as much of this as he possibly can and then say "I've done my part. I've gotten it in law."

And what they've done so far is going to hugely damage this country."

With the current status of the economy and 'bold' plans from Congress and the President for spending our tax dollars to 'stimulate' the economy and bring down debt (yes, I know, spending never reduces debt, but that's their plan), there has been some speculation that if the economy does not turn around, Obama will not be re-elected. But that's a standard line for anyone sitting in the White House - not just this man.

To speculate that he doesn't care about a second term so long as as he can convert this nation to socialism is another matter, entirely, and one, I suspect, that may be true.

Obama's philosophy and statements indicate he believes government is not only the best solution to the problems, but the only one. He and congressional Democrats are expanding the role of government, discouraging (through their policies and laws) wealth, nationalizing businesses (yes, with prior help from the Bush Administration), seeking more power and more regulation, discouraging private charity, and on and on and on.

They are, as Rep. Foxx explained, using the rules and procedures to eliminate debate and input on bills in order to push them through without compromise. And they are rushing to do these things now, hoping the American public won't notice until it's too late.

Obama even broke his own campaign promise (how many times now?) to wait five days before signing bills so Americans could view them and provide feedback prior to them becoming law. Why the rush? It's not like a mere five days will make any difference in the economy, but it ensures that people won't know what's included until there's nothing they can do about it.

And Rep. Foxx is right. Once it's law, it's extremely difficult to repeal it or change it.

The goal is not the presidency - that's merely a tool with which to achieve the agenda: the European-style socialism of America and the total consolidation of power within the hands of radical leftists. Sacrificing his re-election would be a small price to pay for accomplishing this nefarious feat.

UPDATE: I guess I'm not the only one who thinks a European-style socialism is the goal.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Human Achievement Hour

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner called a press conference today to discuss Earth Hour, which Toledo City Council approved last week.

Personally, I think a press conference sort of defeats the whole purpose but what do I know? Anyway....

I just received this email from the Competitive Enterprise Institute and, along with millions of others, will be participating in Human Achievement Hour instead.


The Competitive Enterprise Institute has initiated the celebration of ‘Human Achievement Hour’ (HAH) between 8:30pm and 9:30pm on March 28, 2009 in response to and coinciding with Earth Hour, a period during which governments, individuals, and corporations have agreed to dim or shut off lights in an effort to draw attention to climate change.

Unlike Earth Hour, the purpose Human Achievement Hour is to salute the people who keep the lights on and produce the energy that helps make human achievement possible. Many organizations and average folks around the world will show their support for human achievement by simply going about their daily lives.

The celebration of Human Achievement Hour has already garnered sneers and criticism from some of those supporting Earth Hour—they have even had the HAH Wikipedia entry deleted. In spite of all this, we believe that it is important that people around the world participate with us in acknowledging the achievements accomplished by the human race.

Please check out these links to the great new video and other info below, and help us spread the word about HAH--and let’s utilize the social web to do so!

CEI Celebrates Human Achievement

Michelle Minton's blog post

Wikipedia deletion issue


Gary Howard Jr.

Northwest Ohio Tax Day Tea Parties

I've added links to the left for the Tax Day Tea Parties being held in the Northwest Ohio area.

There is one for Toledo and one for Fulton County that I'm aware of, but if there are others scheduled in this region, please let me know and I'll add them here and on my Eye On Toledo page on WSPD. I'll also promote them on air.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Quotes of the Day

"For the average American family, filling out a tax form has become like attacking a puzzle to which, often enough, there is no right answer. But we're all supposed to swear, on penalty of perjury, that we've done our best to find it." ~ Paul Greenberg

"If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 50 years ago, a liberal 25 years ago, and a racist today." ~ Thomas Sowell

"The difference between death and taxes is death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets." ~ Will Rogers

"People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them." ~ George Bernard Shaw

"The common man is the sovereign consumer whose buying or abstention from buying ultimately determines what should be produced and in what quantity and quality." ~ Ludwig von Mises

"I want people to be able to get what they need to live: enough food, a place to live, and an education for their children. Government does not provide these as well as private charities and businesses." ~ Davy Crockett

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"You have run out of our money"

Oh, for a US Congressman to be so direct:

Daniel Hannan MEP: The devalued Prime Minister of a devalued Government

(Being a sailor, I especially love the boat references!)

Toledo Tax Day Tea Party

Well ... It's on!

We've got several individuals, led by Tricia Lyons, who have stepped up to the plate to organize a Toledo Tax Day Tea Party.

Here are the details:

Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Time: 11:30am - 1:30pm
Location: International Park
Toledo, OH

And you can register to attend via their Facebook page.

Thanks, Tricia, for taking this on!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Decisions on saving money - what are we waiting for?

According to the information presented at the city council committee hearing yesterday during the discussion of the trash tax and various options for reducing costs, the most savings can be obtained by sub-contracting with an outside supplier.

"Paul Rasmusson, general manager of Allied Waste Services, said his company offered the city an $8.4 million a year contract for 10 years, which would mean $4.3 million in savings.

Allied Waste was the only company to respond to the city's request for a proposal.

A second option, which would save nearly $3 million a year, is to spend $12.2 million to buy 40 new automated refuse trucks and continue with city workers collecting trash and recyclables."

So if we could save the most amount of money by contracting with Allied Waste, why aren't we signing a contract? After all, we've got an $8 million deficit.

No - wait - it increased to $15 million, according to the mayor earlier this month.

Sorry - it's really $16.9 million, according to the clerk of council.

Oops - again, my apologies - the latest figure is $22-27 million, depending...

See what I mean? And no decisions were made yesterday about what to do. What, exactly, are we waiting for?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Quotes of the Day

A couple of interesting quotes while I prepare for filling in for Brian Wilson from 3-6 p.m. on NewsTalk 1370 WSPD. Postings this week will probably be light due to the amount of show prep I need to do each day.

"Liberals have a new wish every time their latest wish is granted. Conservatives should make them spell out their principles and ideals. Instead of doing this, conservatives allow liberals to pursue incremental goals without revealing their ultimate destination. So, thanks to the negligence of their opponents, liberals control the terms of every debate by always demanding 'more' while never defining 'enough.' The predictable result is that they always get more, and it's never enough." ~ Joseph Sobran

"The main vice of capitalism is the uneven distribution of prosperity. The main vice of socialism is the even distribution of misery." ~ Sir Winston Churchill

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The politics of envy and greed

Dictionary.com defines greed as a noun meaning "An excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth."

It's hard to characterize others as 'greedy' though, because determining what one needs or deserves is always subjective. While 'need' might be a bit easier, determining what one 'deserves' is much harder.

So, who gets to be the ultimate judge of whether or not a person is greedy? Why, each of us, of course. And our judgment is the only thing that matters, isn't it?

Isn't that why a bunch of people were touring the homes of AIG executives yesterday? To emphasize that since the executives have more than the protesters, those executives must - by personal definition - be greedy?

It is very likely that the AIG executives 'possess more than what one needs.' But how do any of the protesters know about the executives' 'desire to acquire' much less whether or not such desire is 'excessive'?

And if an employer believes you are of such a value to a company as to command a high salary - or if your customers value your offerings so much that you are able to sell things and earn high commissions, how can others determine whether or not such possessions are 'deserved?' Especially if such others have no idea about your job or the market in which you work?

Sidebar: Don't get me wrong - I'm not defending the use of taxpayer dollars to pay out large bonuses, but then, I opposed the use of taxpayer dollars in the first place and we wouldn't even be having this discussion if the government hadn't spent our money unwisely - kind of what politicians are accusing AIG of doing. (pot meet kettle) Additionally, Congress approved the bailout (porkulus) bill without reading it and knowing that they were specifically voting in favor of a provision that would allow such payouts - so shame on them for their grandstanding now and for not knowing what they were voting on in the first place.

An article in the Mercury News tells us just what the protesters thought:

""We think $165 million could be used in a more appropriate way to keep people in their homes, create more jobs and health care," said Emeline Bravo-Blackport, a gardener.

She marveled at AIG executive James Haas' colonial house, which has stunning views of a golf course and the Long Island Sound. The Fairfield house is "another part of the world" from her life in nearby Bridgeport, which flirted with bankruptcy in the 1990s and still struggles with foreclosures and unemployment."

"Lord, I wonder what it's like to live in a house that size," she said."

Well, I wonder that too, but that doesn't mean I begrudge the owners their accomplishments and acquisitions. Besides - if your main source of income is as a gardener, it's pretty likely you'll not attain such a home, unless you turn your skills into a thriving business generating lots of earnings.

"Another protester, Claire Jeffery, of Bloomfield, said she's on the verge of foreclosure. She works as a housekeeper; her husband, a truck driver, can't find work.

"I love my home," she said. "I really want people to help us.""

hmmm...a housekeeper? If I were her, I'd be leaving my business card and a flyer offering my services. Maybe with the bonuses the executives got, they could hire a housekeeper and then I'd have more income and be benefiting by working to earn some of that money.

And the comment about 'loving my home' made me think that I love my home as well - but that doesn't mean I expect others to help me maintain it.

And then there was this:

"Mary Huguley, of Hartford, said AIG executives should share their wealth with people like her sister, who is facing foreclosure.

"You ought to share it, and God will bless you for doing it," she said."

I wonder, Mary, how much the executives who live in the homes you viewed have given to charity and other non-profit programs and services within your community? Do they support the arts? Do they give to churches? Do they attend fundraisers for organizations that help people in various ways? How do you know whether and how much they 'share the wealth'?

This little tour was hosted by the Connecticut Working Families Party, not that you'll find that mentioned in the article. This is an organization that believes in a living wage for everyone - not 'earned' but mandated by government - and is pushing for higher minimum wages; government-mandated paid sick days; and shifting more of the tax burden to the very wealthy and corporations (the ones who actually provide the jobs in America).

They - and others - are practicing the politics of envy, attempting - and succeeding - in generating a "feeling of discontent and resentment aroused by and in conjunction with desire for the possessions or qualities of another."

It's used all the time in an attempt to divide people, especially in voting situations, along class lines. The message is that you should have what others have - not by working hard as they did, but through the force of government. If others have something you don't, they should share it - not through their own generosity, but through the force of government taking it and then dispensing it.

The sad part is that so many people are buying into this philosophy and politicians are willingly catering to it - and promoting it - in an attempt to earn voters/supporters for their next election.

I have to wonder about the ultimate goal of such promoters. Do they think that no one should have anything and that the 'collective' should equally divide all assets, earnings, items? Do they want the elimination of private property? And who gets to decide who gets what in such an environment?

That's where we're going - despite the fact that we've seen how disastrous such an approach is.

Envy is part of our human nature, though most religious faiths teach us it is something to be avoided - not embraced and used for political purposes. I was raised with the idea that if I wanted something, I needed to work to attain it - not expect that government was going to ensure I had it at the expense of others. If I wanted a lifestyle that allowed me the luxury of a home in Connecticut with views of a golf course and the Long Island Sound, then I needed to attain the skills, education and experience that would allow to me to get a job that paid enough to support such a home (or marry into money, but that really didn't seem like a viable option).

I was also taught that the people who did have such things had done exactly that, for the most part, and that they sacrificed many things along the way to get to that point. I needed to remember that the grass is not always greener and that some of those sacrifices I might not be willing to make - like giving up time with family, friends or hobbies to work 70-80 hours per week in order to get to such a level.

But the message people today seem to be embracing is one of greed and envy: 'I want what you have, but I don't want to do what you've done to get it, so let's have the government take from you and give to me.'

Fairness is often used as an excuse: 'It's not fair that you have more than you need while I suffer without.'

But it's a warped sense of fairness in that the other side of the equation is conveniently forgotten or purposefully denied to exist: 'It's not fair that I worked hard and sacrificed to get to this point and you want to take from me and give to others who don't want to make the same sacrifices or work as hard or for as long as I have to be able to attain the same things.'

This trend of believing that everyone somehow deserves the fruits of others' labors is what scares me the most - primarily because the non-producing or under-producing members of society are a growing segment and may actually be the majority who can rule through the tyranny of the voting booth.

"History affords us many instances of the ruin of states, by the prosecution of measures ill suited to the temper and genius of their people.

The ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy.

An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy...

These measures never fail to create great and violent jealousies and animosities between the people favored and the people oppressed; whence a total separation of affections, interests, political obligations, and all manner of connections, by which the whole state is weakened
." ~ Benjamin Franklin, Emblematical Representations

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Insanity - thy name is government

Today's paper has an article about Carletta Huff, a widow on Medicaid and in assisted housing who won a $50,000 prize in the paper's Treasure Hunt contest.

The tone of the article is one of forewarning, but also sadness. What could be sad about winning $50,000? It's Ms. Huff's circumstances. The article details her spending habits which are frugal and appear wise. But under Medicaid rules, recipients must spend all of their prize money before the end of the month or lose their benefits. While she did spend a large amount of the funds, she didn't keep all the receipts and didn't spend it in the allotted time frame.

The insanity is that this government program encourages such spending in order to remain dependent on the system. But the real insanity is the decision made in the first place.

The main concern expressed in the article by Ms. Huff and her family is the $850 in monthly medications that are covered by Medicaid. She is in danger of losing that.

Perhaps I'm missing something. This woman has received $50,000. She set aside $10,000 for taxes, but that still leaves her enough money to cover her prescriptions for 47 months - nearly four years.

Why, instead of spending the money so she could remain Medicaid eligible, didn't she just forgo the Medicaid prescription coverage and use her winnings to cover the costs? I can understand making a few fun purchases with unexpected income, but considering the need, wouldn't she have been better off saving her funds for her necessary prescriptions?

That the government program penalizes her for thrift is no surprise. I've come to the conclusion that government really doesn't want to eliminate the need for programs, but does everything within its power to maintain dependency on the system. And Ms. Huff's thinking is the prime example of the 'training' government foists upon its dependents.

You see, there really wasn't a need for Ms. Huff to use the prize money for her needs because they are already being met by you and me through taxation for these government programs. As a result, knowing her housing and medication costs are being paid for by others, she spent the money on wants. And now she finds that the rules require such warped economic decisions.

This is insanity - and I cannot help but wonder how we've ended up with such a system.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A must read: "Is this the end of America?"

If you read nothing else online today, you must read this article by Terence Corcoran.

Quote of the Day

I just couldn't resist this one, in light of the bailouts and new debt numbers:

"There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers." ~ Richard Feynman (1918-1988) American physicist, Nobel Prize in Physics (1965)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ohio Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy can't explain herself

Yesterday, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives pushed to a vote a bill that would stop AIG from using taxpayer money to pay out its executives’ bonuses.

Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) then took to the floor for three minutes to ask Representative Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH) why she voted against the measure.

Rep. Kilroy couldn't explain why she voted against stopping the AIG bonuses.

H/T RedState.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Quote of the Day

Several quotes on taxation and spending:

"We are all doubtless bound to contribute a certain portion of our income to the support of charitable and other useful public institutions. But it is a part of our duty also to apply our contributions in the most effectual way we can to secure this object. The question then is whether this will not be better done by each of us appropriating our whole contribution to the institutions within our reach, under our own eye, and over which we can exercise some useful control? Or would it be better that each should divide the sum he can spare among all the institutions of his State or the United States? Reason and the interest of these institutions themselves, certainly decide in favor of the former practice." ~ Thomas Jefferson

"When more of the people's sustenance is exacted through the form of taxation than is necessary to meet the just obligations of government, such exaction becomes ruthless extortion and a violation of the fundamental principles of a free government." ~ Grover Cleveland

"The collection of taxes which are not absolutely required, which do not beyond reasonable doubt contribute to the public welfare, is only a species of legalized larceny. The wise and correct course to follow in taxation is not to destroy those who have already secured success, but to create conditions under which everyone will have a better chance to be successful." ~ Calvin Coolidge

"Who could impose such socialistic confiscatory rates?" ~ William F. Borah in denying the possibility that income tax could ever exceed 9%

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

2009 Ohio Piglet Book

Last week, The Buckeye Institute and Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) released the 2009 Ohio Piglet Book: The Book Ohio's Government Doesn't Want You To Read.

From the press release:

Ohio budget officials project a shortfall of $7.3 billion for Fiscal Year (FY) 2010, which comes after a tough budget period in FY 2009, when Governor Ted Strickland ordered most state agencies to cut 4.75 percent from their budgets in order to backfill a $540 million deficit. As legislators consider how to make revenues meet expenditures, the 2009 Ohio Piglet Book gives concrete examples of waste for policymakers looking to trim the fat from state budgets.

* $126.5 million in FY 2009 for the Third Frontier, which is the Ohio Department of Development's (ODOD) ten-year project to expand high-tech research in Ohio slated to cost $1.6 billion when complete. Third Frontier funnels tax money to a select group of corporations. It is never a good idea for the state to be involved in picking winners and losers in the economy.
* ODOD, which is slated to receive $1.19 billion in FY 2010, distributes tax credits, loans and corporate welfare grants. Previous grants have included giving out $475,000 to open a Chuck E. Cheese in Lima, and $399,000 for construction of a Kroger in Lucas County.
* Ohio taxpayers have subsidized a variety of sports stadiums through the Cultural Facilities Commission, including: $73.35 million for the Great American Ballpark and Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati; $36.8 million for Cleveland Browns Stadium; $5.5 million for the Ice Arena in Toledo; and $200,000 for the City of Avalon Minor League Stadium, among others.
* Ohio taxpayers spent $22.4 million in FY 2009 for the State Racing Commission, even though the state already collects taxes on wagers placed at Ohio tracks and distributes the money to supplement purses, promote horse breeding in the state, and undertake research on horses.

"Ohio's elected officials should always spend tax dollars effectively and efficiently," said David Hansen of the Buckeye Institute. "In times of budget deficits, it is especially important that legislators and the governor make every effort to ensure that money is spent only on those government programs which are truly needed. They have yet to make this effort in Ohio."

"The Ohio Piglet Book should be a wake up call to taxpayers and legislators that state spending is out of control. This is only the first step. The Ohio Piglet has identified the excessive spending; it is now time to get rid of it," concluded David Williams of CAGW.

The booklet goes into detail about why many of the items selected constitute 'pork' despite being called 'economic development' by elected officials.

When it comes to 'investment' by the Ohio Department of Development in the Third Frontier program, the booklet states:

In 2007, venture capitalists invested $16.9 billion in the high-tech industry in the United States. It is unclear why Ohio taxpayers need to turn over $126.5 million to supplement what these entrepreneurs are already doing.

They question the $80 million expense for expanding broadband services across the state, pointing out that:

Ohio politicians, however, think that the government needs to be involved in this effort. But 92 percent of Ohioans already have access to broadband. Among those who do not have broadband available, 49 percent say that if it were available they would not use it.

They also note that there is nothing specific in the legislation for the 'broadband initiatives' that detail how the money is to be spent. But if 92% of Ohioans already have such access and half those without it wouldn't use it if available, why does the state need to spend $80 million to reach the remaining 4%???

The book also highlights the lack of accountability in the 'corporate welfare' categories of loans and grants and opposes them, the ridiculousness of the Grape Council, and the lack of economic development outcomes despite the rhetoric when it comes to justification for sports stadiums.

Then there is this on the Ohio Arts Council:

Apparently the OAC is finding it difficult to make the argument that it should receive funding and cannot determine the value that taxpayers receive from the money it bestows on artists. The OAC decided to use some of its money to urge citizens to find such justification. Of course, the OAC puts it another way:

In early 2008 the OAC launched a new initiative called Take pART that aims to gather public value stories from citizens around Ohio. The OAC introduced the idea of public value to its constituents in 2004 as a core concept for Ohio’s arts organizations as we move into a new era for the arts. Public value is difficult to define in concrete terms. The most important thing about public value is that it is something that exists within each community - it is created by the citizens, businesses and organizations of that community. The OAC can’t define public value for the entire state or even for a particular community or organization. Our goal is to help our constituents seek out and define the public value within their own work, within their own community, and to, in turn, help reveal that public value.

There is no doubt that as constituents define the “public value” of their work there will be more pressure on policymakers to increase funding for the OAC. In fact, the OAC has even posted a webpage to “aid you in making the case for the arts in your community and beyond” since “support for the arts and cultural sector is a sound investment of public dollars.” The OAC was kind enough to provide the “resources you need to demonstrate these key points effectively to community leaders and elected officials across the state.” Or, to put it another way, tax dollars are being used to set up a website to provide resources for people to lobby legislators to spend more tax dollars for arts programs.

Of course, when you go through some of the OAC funding, you can see why they have a hard time justifying it:

* $80,834 for the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra Association.
* $14,165 for experimental visual art that will “develop, design and produce digital public art through the use of photo booths. Apprentices will create photo backdrops for the booths and members of the general public will use the booths to take their photos. Photos will then be broadcast publicly at each of the partner locations including the jumbo LED screen on Cincinnati Center City Fountain Square.”
* $8,188 for the Columbus Dance Theater.
* $7,326 for the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus.
* $3,023 for the Cleveland Swingband Foundation.45
* $1,295 to Ana Garcia for an apprenticeship in breakdancing that takes place in Brooklyn, New York. The grant will fund a program where “the master and the apprentice will meet four days a week for three hours a day during two weeks in August. The master will teach new movement vocabulary and the history behind uprocking, toprocking, go-downs, footwork, freezes and power moves."

With the severe budget issues the state is facing, are these the priorities we need to fund? As the book says, "There is certainly a place for the arts in Ohio. There is just no reason for the government to find creative ways to fund them."

It comes down to priorities and the Buckeye Institute asks the hard questions in the Piglet book. I hope you'll take the time to read all 23 pages and then write your state legislators about what YOU think the priorities for funding should be.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Catching up

Now that I've caught up on the news and activities of the last two week, here are some thoughts on what I found....

* Reg Henry had an op-ed piece in the paper, advocating the value of newspapers. He's right that we do need the media and that includes newspapers. However, he misses the point as to why there is a decline in readership and, therefore, profitability. It's not because of partisanship - it's because many of the 'watchdogs' have stopped their watching - or watch only those with whom they disagree.

Newspapers used to be objective when it came to the news, but many no longer even pretend - whether in the bias about labels (using 'conservative' to describe right-leaning think tanks, but not using the term 'liberal' for the left-leaning ones), the use of adjectives and adverbs designed to promote negative connotations, or the more subtle elimination of certain facts or comments that put a story in a different light.

The newspaper business is in decline for several reasons, including the new competition available through the Internet. But a big reason is because they no longer do the things Henry claims they're known for. And when you have such obviously poor reporting as what happened at Maumee Valley Country Day School, it should come as no surprise that people will eventually become aware of this and stop their subscriptions.

* I've read several media and blog reports about Connecting Point and the financial troubles that caused the closing of that facility. Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop was a board member of the agency, leaving that position in June 2008. Each time Konop has commented on the problems, he's said pretty much the same thing: "the agency was guilty only of trying to serve more needy youth than for whom it had resources." (source)

Isn't this a typical response? Don't blame us for the fiscal problems, we were just trying to help ... never mind our financial failure, it was our intent that was important.

I get so tired of hearing this type of excuse: that intentions are more important than outcomes or results. And when the outcomes or results indicate failure of the program, we shouldn't 'blame' the people who were just trying to help.

The fact is, it doesn't 'help' people to set up an organization without proper fiscal controls and oversight and then, when it fails, to leave clients without service. Some might actually say it hurts them more to do this than if they went without service in the first place.

* I love art. I have plenty of it on my walls and around my house. My tastes lean toward the nautical and shades of blue. I have John Mecray, Ben Richmond and various Rosenfeld Collection prints throughout...

But all these are 'art' pieces I purchased because I liked them. And these are successful 'artists' because their work appealed to enough people that they've been able to support themselves with their art. It's this point that appears to be missing from a letter to the editor on March 10, 'For many, art is their sole income'

In regard to the letter writer who criticized Rep. Marcy Kaptur for getting federal money set aside to support local artists:

For shame? With all due respect, for some local artists, funding is their only income source. Their job is to be an artist, just as yours may be to be a plumber, office worker, or retail salesman. Not everyone has the talent, skill, or resources to do noncreative jobs. Some are gifted only with creative talents, and they need to eat and pay the rent too.

Without the arts, Toledo would be just another gritty factory town. Art brings in culture, inspires minds, documents history, and provides relief from the mundanity of "normal" life. Children who participate in artistic pursuits do better in math and science than those who do not.

Art is involved in almost everything around us, though some people may only associate it with "frivolous activities" such as those of painters and sculptors. Quite the contrary. Graphic designers, textile designers, fashion designers, product designers, engineers, authors, musicians, actors - all of these fall under the loose category of "artist."

Without art, there would be no photographs, television shows, gift wrapping paper, greeting cards, corporate letterheads or business cards, technology (because all technology begins with a design, which is a form of art), product containers, team sports logos, paint for your walls, upholstery for your couch, sheets, towels, clothing, books, or music to listen to. Have I made my point yet?

You believe that funding for the arts is an absurd move. For shame.
Jeanne Berry
Bowling Green

What Ms. Berry fails to recognize is that just because you are an artist, it doesn't mean you get to live at the expense of others. And if you have a profession that doesn't support you and your family, it's not 'fair' to expect others to support you just so you can continue to do something you enjoy - especially while those others are foregoing such luxuries in order to afford their necessities - like the taxes that are being re-distributed to support these 'artists.'

Furthermore, perhaps Ms. Berry should actually read the Constitution and let all of us know where it gives the federal government the authority to tax everyone in order to give money to artists...

* There were several reports about how much three public agency chiefs are paid - and all the hand wringing over the fact that they got raises in these tough economic times. First of all, compensation for a director should be based upon many factors, including their performance and the ability of the agency to support such a wage. The concern about the pay increases this year seems to be because so many local people are suffering economically.

The condition of local residents is NOT a valid factor to consider when determining compensation. However, the ability of local residents to pay a property tax during difficult economic times is.

The hypocrisy is when all these elected officials and complainers bemoan the pay now when they supported the increase in the taxes all these agencies requested at the ballot box. Now that the money is being collected in taxes, the funding is clearly there to provide pay increases - and some might even say that the directors' success at getting the tax levy increases is deserving of a pay increase.

Again we're back to intentions and emotions rather than facts and logic. It doesn't 'feel' right for public servants to get pay increases when the populace is facing layoffs. And that may be true - but 'feelings' are not valid when determining compensation for employees. Do you want your pay determined by whether or not your neighbor has a job?

Personally, I haven't reviewed the pay scale for these positions since I was in office. I know I did, and continue to, take exception to car allowances for such employees - especially when many of them get such a large amount ($600/month) in addition to mileage. But the entire discussion relating to the pay revolved around the empathy we're supposed to feel for those who've lost jobs while ignoring the true basis of compensation decisions and the complicity of the complainers in the real burden which was the tax levies previously passed.

I also object to The Blade editorial position that 'people won't understand.' Of course not - not if you play upon their emotions rather than inform them as newspapers are supposed to do. (see above)

Also - did you note that the Commissioners didn't feel the same way about their own pay increases?

* Did anyone else think it was absolutely ridiculous for an attorney to ask an elected official to ignore a court order? Again, here we are with the emotion - the Sheriff shouldn't kick people out of their homes - despite the fact that the houses have been sold and the new owners would like to move in. That Comm. Ben Konop thinks this is a good idea goes back to the feelings of the situation while ignoring, again, the logic, common sense, and due process already granted to the individuals so affected.

But it got some nice headlines and Konop can go around claiming 'I tried to help' even though he, as an attorney, should be perfectly aware of the inability of the Sheriff to ignore court orders.

* Finally, there was this letter to the editor about the Dog Warden, in which the author asks for an apology by The Blade:

As an elected official in Ottawa Hills, which is served ably and well by the Lucas County Dog Warden, I believe that the editorial board should begin reading their own newspaper. They should then apologize to the readers of the editorial page for not having based their opinion on facts but, rather, on a personal attack ostensibly mounted only because of Mr. Skeldon's family lineage.

This time, it's facts and logic rather than emotion - how refreshing!

Saturday, March 14, 2009


For the past two weeks, I've been working with my husband on a special project for his company. We were able to finish early and took a couple of days of vacation, taking advantage of our warm location.

It was nice to work with him and also nice to have some time together afterwards...and no matter how comfortable another bed is, there is nothing like your own. Which leads me to the thought of 'home' and how - no matter how nice the trip away - it's so good to be in your own house with your own things: home.

I didn't have good internet access during this trip - in fact, it was nearly non-existent. And it's taken me all morning and part of the afternoon just to get through all my email messages. I think I've followed everyone who are new followers of mine on Twitter, but I've not yet gotten through all my Facebook notices.

Without internet, I didn't follow the news and must admit that I didn't miss it. In fact, I realized I could live happily (for a least a while) in blissful ignorance of what was going on in my city, county, state and nation. But only for a while.

While I slowly immerse myself in the goings-on and get caught up on everything from Mike Bell being a mayoral candidate to the continuing deficits of the City of Toledo, here are some pictures of the fish we caught during our couple of days of vacation.

I'll be back on the air with Eye On Toledo Monday and will try to have a round-up of comments for the blog tomorrow.

We're not quite sure what this is, but Sam found it on the shore...it could be a baby bonefish, but if you know for sure, leave a comment.

Sam also caught the best 'eating' fish - this snapper and jack.

This is the amberjack I caught...it weighed 18 pounds and put up a nice fight. He was fun to catch....

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Quotes of the Day

"In the general course of human nature, A power over a man's subsistence amounts to a power over his will." ~ Alexander Hamilton

"Government does not cause affluence. Citizens of totalitarian countries have plenty of government and nothing of anything else." ~ P. J. O'Rourke

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Limited posting - and where is the $43 million?

I've been working on a special project and thought I would have time to do some blogging, even with the limited internet access that I have during this project schedule.

However, as you can tell, such is not the case.

So expect limited posts between now and the 13th - and then probably a bunch to get caught up...though I'm glad that Toledo City Council rejected the Mayor's plan to eliminate 50% of the tax reciprocity for people living in Toledo but working outside the city limits.

While he called it 'politically correct,' I call it a wise decision as it would have encouraged even more people to leave our city.

Maybe now Council and the Mayor can start to set priorities of what needs to be funded, rather than just threatening residents with cuts in police and fire.

Oh - and if the Mayor has cut $43 million from the budget, WHERE???? I've asked this question before, but no one seems to be able to explain his claim, especially since the General Fund budget for 2009 is about $15 million MORE than in 2006. From my earlier post:

2006: $234,312,215.50 (actual spent)
2007: $242,752,864.71 (actual spent)
2008: $254,098,779.08 (estimated - still don't have final numbers)
2009: $249,369,853.02 (approved by council)

According to these figures, spending from the General Fund has increased - not been reduced. I can only surmise that the 'cuts' being referred to aren't really cuts in spending, but 'cuts' in the amount of increase - kind of what Washington does...

I guess playing with the numbers is more important than actually doing something.

More to come....
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