Saturday, April 01, 2006
Friday, March 31, 2006
The State of Texas has found a way to fund education: raise the excise tax on cigarettes from $.41 to $1.41!
Advocates for the poor point out that the brunt of the tax will be borne by the poor, but they are happy because it's a health issue.
Here's what I wrote on another blog three years ago:
A news story out of Austin reveals that a public policy wonk has decided that raising the excise taxes on cigarettes in Texas to $1.41 per pack (from $.41 per pack) will "reduce smokers, cut health care costs and help finance public schools" by generating $986 million in new revenues.
Bull! It will reduce smokers. Sure there will be a short-term gain in revenues, but if the number of smokers decrease, then the revenues will too.
The Centers for Disease Control released a study that concluded a 10% increase in excise taxes results in a corresponding 10% decrease in consumption.
Meanwhile, the State of Texas has been using its share of the tobacco settlement to fund anti-smoking programs, and these programs have been fairly successful. According to the State of Texas Fiscal Size Up 2002-2003 in 1998 the State collected $623.6 million in excise taxes. In 2003, the expected revenues are $562.6 million. That is a 10% decrease in revenues. A new study by the CDC, trumpets the fact that anti-smoking programs work!
The CDC recommends stiff tax increases, and increased funding for anti-smoking programs.
So here we have a guy that says raising cigarette taxes will reduce public health care costs and fund public schools! Wow! What a great tax!
There is a group called Trust for a Smoke Free Texas who advocate this plan to raise revenue, even though they want this revenue source to dry up! On the page that has a report on this latest tax proposal they show a woman carrying a tray with a bottle of beer and an empty glass. What are they going to go after next, I wonder?
The only way this tax increase will work is if every Texas resident is required to buy a pack of cigarettes every month!
Thursday, March 30, 2006
If you ever want to know what politicians think of you, here's an example: What would happen if your drove your car 100 mph in a 70 mph zone? Big ass ticket, right? But if you're a politician, you're not ticketed at all. South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer was stopped for doing 100 in a 70 mph zone. He'd earlier denied the reports, but when a news organization learned he had been stopped for speeding two times in the last four months and not ticketed, he decided to come clean. "I made a mistake, I am embarrassed by these events, and I accept responsibility for having a lead foot," Bauer said in a statement that did not refrence the earlier denial. Had he been charged and convicted of the two tickets, he would have had 10 points against his driver's license, two short of suspension.
They hate us. We're the sheep, they're the shepherds. They can do whatever they want because they make the laws. Republicans and Democrats both.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Great Dragon scheduled to eat the sun today. Scientists say devout prayers and sacrifices of slightly used virgins to the FSM our only hope of survival. - FARK.com
The sun god, Ra, has to reboot his server today, and over parts of Africa the sun will be unavailable for a short time. This is a scheduled outage.
The Lord will snuff the flame of the sun for a brief period over parts of Africa to warn us to change our ways. It is a sign of the End Times™.
There will be a total eclipse of the sun today over parts of Africa. (If you are Born Again™, you might want to skip this part. It contains soul destroying science.) The rare events occur when the tilted orbits of the sun, moon and earth line up, and the moon obscures the sun completely. (The Born Again™ can now rejoin this post without fear for their immortal soul.)
The next eclipse will be in 2008.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Cosmeo is a new educational web service from the Discovery Channel. For $100 a year, you can pack your little curtain climber off to their room to be educated while on the web. They have videos that match each state's curriculum. I didn't explore too much, but I wonder if they have a "God Dun It™" videos for Kentucky. Or "FSM Dun It™"in Baltimore, Maryland.
Monday, March 27, 2006
As the Senate prepares to debate the immigration bill and decide the fates of thousands of people living in the country illegally, I find myself shaking my head in wonder at what people are thinking.
Brain surgeons and Drug dealers (they're the only ones who can afford rising real estate prices) in Texas are paying close to a million dollars for Hill Country land with a limestone home, manicured gardens, and someone to clean their house. They hire a stone contractor who will charge them the lowest price. And the guy who uses illegal immigrants can charge the lowest price. They want someone who will install maintain their gardens, but below minimum wage. And their maid? Well, as long as she doesn't charge more than a few dollars an hour. . .
Farmers need cheap labor to pick fruit. Restaurant owners need cheap labor to wash dishes. And Americans don't do cheap labor.
We created this labor market to keep our retail prices down. Now we want the government to do something!
Here's how to stop the use of illegal labor: Don't shop at places that employ illegal immigrants. If your local fast food place has an illegal on the payroll, don't cave in to your little monster's demand for a kid's meal. Tell the manager to raise the salary so the jobs will be attractive to Americans, and walk out.
If the local shopping mall uses illegals to mop the floors at midnight, tell the mall management that you won't be doing business there until they raise wages to a level that will entice Americans to the job, and walk out.
If the restaurant that you and your spouse call "Our Place" hires an illegal to wash dishes, tell the owner that you won't be returning until they raise wages to lure hard-working Americans to the job.
If you best friend has an illegal for a maid, don't be jealous (unless she's hot), but tell her you're reporting her to INS for hiring an illegal alien, and walk away.
I hate to be the one to break this to you, but the prices at the mall and at restaurants are low because they hire illegals. That's because you wouldn't pay higher prices so the business owner could make the same profit on higher wages.
It's not Mexico's fault that you're only willing to pay $2 an hour for someone to mow your lawn or pick your peaches. It's not Mexico's fault to no teenager will work for less than minimum wage mowing lawns or picking peaches. It's ours. And it's time we looked squarely in the mirror and decided whether we beleive in freedom to pay what we want to whom, or in building what will become The Great Wall of America, and stop blaming the people we lure into those low paying jobs.
Former President Bill Clinton ("The Best President Ever!" --Comic Book Guy) employs illegal aliens! It seems Bill (henceforth known as BPE) was flying into Newark airport and had a chauffer waiting for him. An airport police officer ran the plates on his limo (apparently a rental since Shahzad Qureshi was shown as the owner) and discovered Qureshi had skipped a 2000 immigration hearing. Qureshi ("koresh+ee"? Interesting coincidence, isn't it) was arrested, and must have left the limo in the white zone, which is for loading and unloading only, leaving BPE without a ride home.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
On Friday, I got a call from someone doing a survey. It was a slow day at work, so I said I'd be happy to participate.
Did I think education was important? Duh! Did I think pre-K programs were important? I guess. Then she said, "Studies have shown that pre-K education results in better grade in school. Do you agree strongly? Somewhat? Disagree?" I said, "I'd like to see the studies." The rest of the questions were along the same lines. Pre-K, apparently, is the cure of all of modern society's problems. It increases school performance and reduces crime, according to the survey. It probably removes stains better than my regular detergent, too.
Since post-K schools suck so bad that we have to depend on pre-K, maybe we oughta beef up post-K. Just a thought. But then, of course, the pre-K administration wouldn't have any tax money to spend.