Friday, November 26, 2010

Life in "Progress" City - NY edition

I'm a big time believer in legalizing drugs. maybe the only worse defeat in our war on drugs has been our war on poverty.

I'm ready to wave the white flag on both.

None the less, while I'm a believer in legalizing drugs, I'm not one of those people who believe you can just legalize them and "tax the crap out of them".


Because we already have an underground economy already established to deliver those drugs to market. All taxing them does is keep that pipeline going. Then all we would have is "legitimate" dealers being undercut by black market activity.

All you need for proof is to examine what New York has done to cigarettes......

The underground tobacco market is spreading like a fast-growing cancer in the wake of tax hikes that make New York cigarettes the most expensive in the nation -- and it's costing the state tens of millions a month in lost tax revenue, a Post analysis has found.

Illegal cigarettes are pouring into neighborhood bodegas by the truckload from neighboring Indian reservations, lower-tax states in the South and even as far away as China, authorities say.

Government data show that New York state is being smoked out of as much as $20 million a month from all these illegal cigarette purchases -- an estimated 7.3 million packs a month sold off the state tax radar.


The Pilgrims and Property Rights: How our ancestors got fat & happy

'The Euro Game Is Up! Who the hell do you think you are?' - Nigel Farage...

Thought of the day

As I see yet another photo of a 7 year old being felt up by a TSA agent I can't help but think about the comparing the following scenarios

TSA screening at airports, which has never busted one terrorist in action. In fact, we have the shoe bomber and the undie bomber, both of which got through security and were drilled by passengers.

Then we have a sieve on the border, where we have immigrants walking on into the country bringing crime, disease, bed bugs, weapons, gangs, drugs and other contraband with them.

So in the federal governments mind, where are resources best spent to protect American lives?

Ask Chandra Levy, I'm sure she'd love to be felt up by a TSA agent. Well, if she were alive.

Accountants are cooler than.......

As an accountant, you often run into an identity crisis when you realize that accountants aren't quite as cool as, say, a rock star.

But the only saving grace about being an accountant is that I know I'm cooler than the following groups of people....

Dungeons and Dragon participants
NFL Draft Groupies
Star Wars fans

But it's getting cooler for accountants out there. Now we get to add some additional groups that we're cooler than; both revealing themselves within the past 24 hours.

Bengals fans
Black Friday shoppers

Seriously, who in their right mind would get up at 4:00 am to spend money. Not even a senator is that damn stupid. Add extra loserdom points if you're the type to get violent at your local Walmart.

As for Bengals fans. I mean c'mon. Just come over to my house and I'll kick you in the balls.... I won't be nearly as painful.

Assuming Bob Dole doesn't run again

Or John McCain or George Bush.......

We're fast approaching the halfway point in Barack Obama's term. With Nov. 2 behind him, everything the president does will be calculated to boost, or at least not harm, his chances of re-election in 2012. What's not clear is whether he fully appreciates how badly the coalition he led to victory in 2008 has frayed in just two years. A look inside his poll numbers suggests that if he cannot turn around some key trends, he'll be a one-term president.

Just look at the exit polls from 2008, which reveal the demographic contours of Obama's support. Compare those with Gallup's weekly analysis of the president's approval rating, drawn from multiple polls broken down by age, gender, political philosophy, and the like. Throw in some insights from the midterm elections, and the mix shows a dramatic deterioration in Obama's 2008 support. "His majority coalition is not there," says Republican pollster David Winston. "What he put together, at least in the way he put it together, just isn't there."

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Much to be thankful for

Since mid October, I have gone from fighting what I thought was a common cold to fighting subsequent ear infections, pneumonia, bronchitis and now............ an asthma attack. Easy breathing has been anything but for the past 6 weeks.

I spent yesterday in an urgent care facility getting a breathing treatment, a steroid pack and some super duper antibiotic that cost me $100.

None the less, unlike Angelina Jolie, I intend to celebrate big today; since there is much to be thankful for.

I'm thankful that somewhere in my family tree some Irish immigrants' lives were so horrible in their home country, they opted to flee their homes under indentured servant contracts for a better life.

I'm also thankful that those immigrants found out when they got here, that those contracts they worked under would be worse than slavery. See, unlike a slave, an indentured servant was not property for their master to keep in running order for life. As a result, those masters didn't give a crap if they beat, raped, worked those servants to death since they would just be gone in five years anyway. Kind of like renters treating their homes over owners.

I'm also thankful that those "servants" ran away into the hills of Appalachia where they took their Irish culture with them.

I'm also thankful for having the knowledge that most of the Europeans that came to this country weren't rich oppressors here to pass disease and alcohol to the natives at the time. In fact, most of the people who came to this country did so out of starvation of some type.

I'm thankful that all these people came to this country out of their own hunger and creating a world where we can all have nice bloated stomachs in a climate controlled environment watching football.

But more importantly, I'm most thankful that someone had the smarts and profit motivation to "extort" me out of $100 so that I can breathe better today.

And when Angelina's willing to give all her possessions to a Shawnee nation somewhere, I'll quit believing she's less full of crap than I will be at 6:00.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Story of Business: when costs compete with passion

The cartel known as NCAA football

As we enter the weekend of 24/7 football, we get to kick it off with this......
Even if TCU and Boise State run the table, they still don't deserve to be in the Bowl Championship Series title game, Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee said Wednesday.

In an interview with The Associated Press, the president at the university with the largest athletic program in the country said that TCU and Boise State do not face a difficult enough schedule to play in the national championship game.

“Well, I don't know enough about the Xs and Os of college football,” said Gee, formerly the president at West Virginia, Colorado, Brown and Vanderbilt universities. “I do know, having been both a Southeastern Conference president and a Big Ten president, that it's like murderer's row every week for these schools. We do not play the Little Sisters of the Poor. We play very fine schools on any given day. So I think until a university runs through that gantlet that there's some reason to believe that they not be the best teams to (be) in the big ballgame.”

Isn't that generous of Gordon? Of course, the only problem with his opinion is that it's a win win for Semi pro college teams like OSU, Florida, Alabama, Notre Dame, etc. They won't play tough games against non BCS teams and then claim that because of their weak schedules they don't deserve to eat at the same semi pro football trough as the BCS elite.

You don't think Boise would jump at the chance to play OSU in a game? But of course, the Buckeyes would have to squeeze out one of those home cooking MAC twinkies on their schedule to play a real team.

It's no coincidence that OSU paid UC $1 million to get them back in the Horseshoe rather than play them on the road.

I love college football, not necessarily the semi pro version, but real college ball.

I still think the non BCS teams should collude to charge $5 million dollars to play BCS on their home fields.

I'm guessing that Gordan Gee, one of the lords of cartel football, would be the first to start bitching and moaning.


Potato famine revisted

Ireland unveiled the harshest budget measures in its history Wednesday, a four-year plan to slash deficits euro15 billion ($20 billion) so it can get a massive bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

The plan seeks to cut euro10 billion ($13.3 billion) from spending and raise euro5 billion ($6.7 billion) in extra taxes from 2011 to 2014. It axes thousands of state jobs, welfare benefits, and pension payments while raising university fees and taxes, forcing even Prime Minister Brian Cowen to concede it will hurt the living standard of everyone in the nation.

Analysts, meanwhile, feared that the size of the EU-IMF bailout — estimated at euro85 billion ($115 billion) — will be too little to save Ireland from an eventual default.

And bank shares plummeted for a third straight day on the Irish Stock Exchange in growing expectation that investors would be wiped out if the government is forced to seize total control of the country's two dominant banks, Allied Irish and Bank of Ireland.

"The government is completely in denial about the amount of money they'll have to borrow," said Constantin Gurdgiev, a finance lecturer at Trinity College Dublin and an economics adviser to IBM in Europe.

Ireland is still negotiating the terms of the bailout with European Central Bank and IMF experts. It hopes the tough budgetary medicine will permit its 2014 deficit to fall to 3 percent of gross domestic product, the limit for the 16 nations that use the euro currency.

While most eurozone members are violating that rule, Ireland's deficit this year is forecast to reach 32 percent, a modern European record, fueled by exceptional costs from Ireland's unfathomable bank-bailout effort.

Expect a few more Irish immigrants soon.


WKRP Turkey Drop "As God as my witness I thought turkeys could fly"

Monday, November 22, 2010

How the financial crisis happened

More White House stupidity

The Obama administration on Monday outlined rules to restrict health insurers’ spending beginning next year, a key provision of the health care overhaul that aims to improve value for consumers.

The rules will have vast implications for how insurance companies spend money as well as for other aspects of the health care industry. Insurers’ worries that the Department of Health and Human Services would rule against them on a number of issues were unfounded, and many of the nation’s largest insurance companies’ stocks rose on the news Monday.

Still, liberal advocacy groups and Democratic lawmakers who backed the idea of spending requirements heralded the regulation as a crackdown on the industry and a win for consumers.

President Barack Obama, in an email released Monday, said the rules “will make our health care marketplace more transparent and ensure you get the best value for your premium dollars. And it is just one of the many parts of the Affordable Care Act that are already making our health care system stronger.”

Under the new rules, issued in the form of a regulation, most insurance companies will have to spend 85 percent of the money they collect in premiums on health care. Insurers selling to small groups or directly to individuals will have to spend 80 percent. The rest of the money can be spent on administrative costs and profit.

I went through the United Health Care 10K financial report and for the last three years their medical care ratios were 82.3, 82.0 and 80.6 percent (for the years 2009, 2008, and 2007 respectively).

Now in order to get to the 85% ratio, United Health Care can do one of three things to meet these ratios.

1) They can reduce operating expenses. Great you say? Except those clerks who actually pay health insurance claims
will be fewer in number and/or competence. How anxious is a doctor going to be to treat you knowing that he probably won't get paid for six months. BTW. who won't be getting a pay raise next year? Those people in the claims office who could use the money.

2) They can pay out more for the claims. An X-ray that used to cost you $275 will now be $300. That's awesome for everyone but the insured.

3) They can raise your premiums. Think about it. Let's assume that you've cut your overhead to 17% of the 100 million in premiums you've collected and you're down to the bone. Simply raise your premiums to $110 million and your ratios are in like flint.

Needless to say, price hikes are the path of least resistance since most insurers are not out to run nice and fat overhead operations.

So doctors and hospitals can look forward to a nice raise soon.


Middle Class Veteran Mother to Obama "Frankly, I'm Exhausted at Defendin...

Velma lost her job this week. I wonder how fired up she is defending The Won now?

Hart has become another casualty of the tough economy in which so many people have lost their jobs.

"It's not anything she did," said Jim King, the national executive director of Am Vets. "She got bit by the same snake that has bit a lot of people. It was a move to cut our bottom line. Most not-for-profits are seeing their money pinched."

King would not say whether the organization had had other layoffs.

"Velma was a good employee," he said. "It was just a matter of looking at the bottom line and where could we make the best cuts and survive."

King hadn't seen the irony in Hart being fired just two months after she emotionally told Obama about her fears for her own financial well-being during a town hall meeting in Washington.


Life in "Progress" City - Mount Clemens MI edition

A Michigan city is pleading with churches, schools and a hospital for donations to help cover its staggering budget deficit.

The mayor of Mount Clemens, Barb Dempsey, sent a letter this week to 35 tax-exempt organizations asking them to voluntarily contribute to the city’s general fund, which pays for services like fire protection, streetlights and roads. Ms. Dempsey said the city has already drastically cut its expenses, having disbanded the police department six years ago, but still faces a $960,000 deficit that is projected to reach $1.5 million next year.

“Those are all services that they utilize at no cost to them,” Ms. Dempsey said. “We figured it can’t hurt to send out letters. If you don’t ask, you never know.”

Mount Clemens, about 25 miles northeast of Detroit, collects no taxes from 42 percent of the property within its borders. The 4.2-square-mile city has about 17,000 residents and is home to 26 churches, a hospital, several schools and the headquarters of Macomb County, the third largest in Michigan. If not exempt, the properties would pay at least $1.2 million, enough to wipe out the deficit, Ms. Dempsey said.

Plunging property values across Michigan have greatly reduced the revenue collected by municipalities, and tax caps hinder governments’ abilities to demand more from businesses and residents. A proposal that would have allowed Mount Clemens to increase its tax rate was defeated this month by a little fewer than 500 votes.

Ms. Dempsey’s unusual request came several days after Hamtramck, a city adjacent to Detroit, asked the state for permission to file for bankruptcy, something no Michigan government had ever done before. The departing governor, Jennifer M. Granholm, said she hoped to find an alternative for Hamtramck, but warned that many communities were nearing insolvency.


Thanks reader Becky for the tip.

Why work?

It's a basic economic formula.

Why work your ass off when you can net more by not.............

Tonight's stunning financial piece de resistance comes from Wyatt Emerich of The Cleveland Current. In what is sure to inspire some serious ire among all those who once believed Ronald Reagan that it was the USSR that was the "Evil Empire", Emmerich analyzes disposable income and economic benefits among several key income classes and comes to the stunning (and verifiable) conclusion that "a one-parent family of three making $14,500 a year (minimum wage) has more disposable income than a family making $60,000 a year." And that excludes benefits from Supplemental Security Income disability checks. America is now a country which punishes those middle-class people who not only try to work hard, but avoid scamming the system. Not surprisingly, it is not only the richest and most audacious thieves that prosper - it is also the penny scammers at the very bottom of the economic ladder that rip off the middle class each and every day, courtesy of the world's most generous entitlement system. Perhaps if Reagan were alive today, he would wish to modify the object of his once legendary remark.
Read the whole thing here........

After the Clinton welfare reforms in the 1990's, The Cincinnati Enquirer did a piece detailing the benefits a woman was going to lose as a result of the reforms. What was most insulting was that she hated her "dead end job" cleaning hotel rooms.

I calculated the benefits she received from not working and I calculated that she was making $8.50 an hour just to exist.

It doesn't take a smart liberal to figure out that one can work their ass off and make $9.00 or can do nothing for $8.50. It's the cost/benefit principle at it's best.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thought of the day

It seems to me that these TSA strip searches are bad enough but not allowing you to have a smoke after being felt up seems a little over the top.