Friday, January 25, 2013

Massachusetts – Patrick Revenue Plan - Taxes! – Budget at 38.4 Billion to with Investments in Education and Transportation – Hopes hinge on Casino Revenues.

The State of Taxachusetts - nifty graphic from Jonathan Melle on Politics - New Hamphisre

The Governor of Massachusetts, Democrat, Deval Patrick has introduced his 2014 budget to the public. The budget includes new streams of Revenue for the Bay State. The Boston Business Journal notes

“Patrick's tax plan, unveiled fully for the first time Wednesday, includes new or higher taxes on candy, soda and cigarettes, in addition to a 1 percentage point increase to the income tax that would raise the state income tax rate to 6.25 percent. Patrick has also proposed cutting the sales tax to 4.5 percent, doubling the personal income tax exemption and eliminating deductions, including T passes, scholarships and dependents under 12.

Patrick has also suggested periodic increases in the gas tax, MBTA fares, highway tolls and Registry of Motor Vehicles fees.

The taxes on candy, soda and cigarettes, the loss of deductions for the T-pass, scholarships and dependents under 12, will, of course, affect those in the lower income brackets, as well as the increase in state Gas Tax and Public Transportation fees. These types of increases marginally affect those with a higher income, however, in this economic climate, the increase may be devastating for those living on fixed incomes as well as those earning less than $50,000 annually, given the high cost of living in the Bay State. The move to cut the state sales tax, 2 points in comparison to the 1 point increase in the income tax, at first appears to help those on the lower income sale, however, in reality it is a shell game.

The budget with a 38.4 Billion dollar price tag is available at the State’s budget dashboard , in a line item format. The majority of spending is in Health and Human Services (which covers State Entitlements and the Massive Massachusetts health care system (precursor to Obama-Care), followed by Education, and Administration with other line items, being a tad disproportionate in the handy “pie chart” provided on the site.

According to the Boston Globe there are monies in the budget for both the State and Federal Health Care Programs.

In addition to increases in the Bay States Taxes, Patrick is counting on Casino Gaming that was recently approved in Massachusetts. The budget includes projected fees for Casino Licensing. The Boston Herald reports that the Governor is “anticipating" 83 Million in licensing fees” from the proposed casino’s – however, as to actual revenue that would support the education, transportation and local aid the State is counting on, they may have to wait – in reality it will be several years before any of the proposed casinos are operational.

What happens when this plan falls short? More taxes.

To pay for the new education package with a $550 million dollar price-tag. In other words enough to fund additional jobs in education for a short period of time. The plan, according to the Berkshire Eagle, includes funding for “Birth – High School” – specifically designed for the low achievement of minorities in the State’s school system. That could be an easy fix, if one could possibly remove low performing teachers and replace those with teachers that are higher performing, instead of hiring additional teachers. Of course, Massachusetts in not a “right to work” state, so that option is off the table.

He is also proposing additional aid to make higher education “more affordable” to those with lower incomes- the Governor suggested that this might help those with a 2 year degree compete for the 146,000 available jobs in the Bay State. There will be a boom of employment, of course, once the casinos’ have been built and are operational – sometime in the future.

One would think that in a state that has seen four consecutive quarters with a loss in revenue (meaning fewer taxes are being paid due to both individual works and employers leaving the state, or additional individuals on unemployment or other forms of assistance and not paying into the system), that increasing spending makes no sense, whether it is an “investment” or not. In addition, one might think that a cut in income taxes, and business taxes would aid both the economy as well draw new businesses to the State. One can bet the house that there will be “interim tax increase proposals” as well as a new and increased line item budget for 2015 which will include a round of new taxes to pay for these “investments” in transportation and education. Both of which, to date, have not proven to be particularly good investments for the taxpayers (See low performing schools, and the Big Dig for starters).

Obviously, any budget is based on ideology, and the ideology of the progressive Patrick, is one of tax and then spend, in the hopes that this will someday work to the State’s advantage. However, the other side of the coin, in a fiscally conservative ideology, would attempt to make the state more attractive to business and working residents in order to fund education initiatives, and transportation. Prediction: Additional taxpayers will flee the state and move elsewhere, as will the employers, producing additional quarters of loss in revenue. It’s a vicious cycle.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Union Membership Falls to 70 Year Low – Factors Including Economics and Federal Legislation Has Nullified Original Purpose of Organized Labor

The ILGWU fought for Workers Safety rights following the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire - Image

According to the the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012 saw Union Membership fall to a 70 year low – or an 11.3% share of the American Workforce.(The Detroit Free Press). There are several factors that are mentioned in the comments section of the article that would point to a decline in union membership, such as a slow economy with loss of jobs, however not mentioned are other factors that have contributed to this decline.

The overzealous approach of unions and contract negotiations have cost unions job – the most recent example would be the Hostess Bakers Union fiasco. The Union pushed a strike at the company, which was experiencing financial difficulties, the company in turn closed its doors, as a direct result of the union demands and subsequent strike. (Huffington Post). The estimated jobs lost when Hostess closed: over 18,000.(KMOV) Hostess is not an isolated incident, but rather a practice of union demands in tough economic times, forcing plant closures and company bankruptcy filings.

The once great Northeast manufacturing hub is all but non-existent – as are the Unions that represented the workforce. One shining example is the now defunct International Ladies Garment Workers Unions, which found its beginnings in 1900 in New York City – and its strength in the wake of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in 1909 (Cornell) (See Dissertation by Dr. Frances Jensen The Triangle Fire and the limits of Progressivism”)(UMASS) This union initially fought for shorter workdays , child labor laws, and safety for workers, however, as time passed and the Federal Government enacted national laws preventing the aforementioned, the Union became obsolete. The ILGWU merged with a Food Association Union, whose sum total membership now stands at a little over 233,000 (

The Private sector unions, have, at this juncture, gone the way of the Model T. There are the public sector unions that have the bulk of the membership. Those left, along with the public sector unions, are now at the brink due to economic factors.

Unions now exist as Lobbyists. Federal Safety and Fair Wage Laws made unions obsolete, they began to exist as a lobbying organization – collecting dues from employees to further political careers, where politicians supported by the unions, would be expected to further the unions interest. One may look at the bankrupt city of SanBernadino,CA (See Reuter’s article here), and the cycle of political payback to unions in the forms of pensions, etc., resulted in the City’s bankruptcy. What happens, therefore, in an economy where half of the nation’s workforce is on some form of government assistance and tax revenues to both Federal, State and city governments dwindles? There will doubtless be more bankruptcies and lost pensions and jobs as a result.

One might suggest that unions purpose to protect the factory worker was indeed noble in purpose, however, factory workers were generally under educated, new immigrants and in need of protection. No laws existed at that time to protect the American worker. One might also suggest that in cases where there workers lives are in danger, such as fire or public safety workers, and meat packing industries, unions may still have a place, however, those who work in safe environments, and are holding a four year or better degree, should, in reality, not be forced to join a union. Union membership should, then be an option, similar to any “Association”. This is evident in the States where “right to work” legislation has passed. It is not that the union is not allowed - it is that employees in these states have the option to join or not join a union. In today’s economy and division of political ideology within any given workforce, if given a choice, those who may want to keep the modest dues, fees, and other charges unions levy on members, to themselves. In addition, some may feel it a priority not to pay union dues, knowing that those dues will be used to support candidates that are contrary to their political ideology. The writing is on the wall, so to speak, for many unions, although still a powerful force in dealing with and supported by the Federal Government (see Grants by Federal Government to Unions in article at NILRR. Org), in the end the economic and political priorities of the individual worker, along with the loss of viability, will see this membership decline further.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Massachusetts set to Raise Taxes – New Hampshire Rejoices!

While Massachusetts Governor, Deval Patrick is set to draw up a new budget that will include a substantial hike in the state income tax(Mass Live), New Hampshire is anticipating an increase in new businesses moving to the Granite State.

From New England Cable News:

Granite State watchdog groups said that goes for businesses, too. Deval Patrick's proposal to raise his state's income tax by a full percentage point will likely revive New Hampshire's efforts to get companies to move north, in spite of oft-criticized business taxes.

Arlinghaus said companies will turn to tax attorneys and ask, “What are things really like north of the border?”

“It doesn’t guarantee people come here,” he said, “but it guarantees they take a look at coming here.”

Especially as New Hampshire's legislature considers a bill that would double the limit on the research and development tax credit from $1 million to $2 million.

“They understand that as businesses need to increase their profitability and spend more money in research and development, [it] will allow them to hire more people,” Lewandowski said.

Even Democratic New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan coyly told the New Hampshire Union Leader that if Patrick's "approach leads to an economic boost for us, then I welcome it."

For decades the State of New Hampshire has been the number one destination for those Massachusetts residents and businesses that are seeking fewer taxes and less government interference in their daily lives (although many of those that immigrated north, brought along their Massachusetts values, much to the chagrin of certain residents). However, the fact that the new Democrat Governor is pleased that Patrick is pushing Massachusetts towards yet another loss of income to the Commonwealth, speaks volumes. The fact that the Bay State has already lost population resulting in a loss in one Congressional District, and at least four consecutive revenue losses, one might think the idea of attracting new taxpayers would be foremost in Deval Patrick’s mind. No so, he is intent on “Government helping people help themselves, by taking more from those working in order to try and support those who are in need. One novel approach would be to cut taxes, which would allow those who have extra income to spend, and keep businesses in the state, along with attracting new business. Building a train is fine, as long as one can guarantee that the train will run more than once a day at a cost equal to that of a bus, and have enough of a population to use the system in the first place. “Investing in education” is fine as well, as long as one has the tax base to support the “investment”. Adding an additional burden to those already maxed out with taxes is akin to pushing them onto a train – north to New Hampshire or west or south to more tax friendly states. A tax-cut from Patrick is highly unlikely in any scenario – more tax increases in the two remaining years, to continue to try to “increase state revenue”, are more likely.

Interesting Links from the Tax Foundation: Tax Foundation study on migration out of Massachusetts

Tax Foundation 2013 Business Tax Climate – See New Hampshire in top 10 friendly states – Massachusetts at 22nd out of 50 in business climate, study concluded in 2013 - prior to Govenor Patrick’s decision to increase taxes.

Note: Loss of Business results in fewer jobs, and possible lost jobs, which is a double whammy to the Bay State’s revenue – (The only income Massachusetts has are the taxpayers) – this may result in loss of services (police, fire, teachers) as well as a cut in state entitlement programs.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Obama Begins his Final Four Years - Chris Matthews overboard in Praise, Lupe Fiasco raps anti-Obama, the Great Divide of American Politics Continues – One Solution.

Countdown - Screenshot from the Drudge Report - lest we forget

Yesterday, President Barack Obama celebrated the beginning of his second term, in televised ceremonies to the nation. There was much pomp and circumstance as befits the office of the President, and yet, some forget, that the Office of the President is an individual citizen who is duly elected by a majority, to serve the interest of the nation. That would be true no matter who has led in the past, nor who will lead in the future. The Office does not make the title-holder a king, or a dictator – just a man (or someday perhaps a woman) who had the political machine behind them, and a ton of money, to put them into the nation’s driver’s seat for a period of four to eight years. Some have been stellar, some have been bumblers, and yet, that depends on the individual point of view, and individuals tend to disagree.

This morning, over at Red State, Erick Erickson, wrote an excellent piece on the day - Entitled: “The Loyal Opposition”. In short, Erickson congratulates President Obama on his second term, and then lays out the problems he had with those on the right who were over-the-by means of “tweets” and other comments about the President – noting that it served no purpose – he spoke of the anger, and the need for the Republican Party to do something constructive, rather than to focus on the criminal aspects of the Presidents’ first term – Benghazi and Fast and Furious for example. The blame, Erikson wrote, fell on the “establishment Republicans”. On several points Erickson is correct. It is correct to congratulate the President of the United States on winning a second term. Whether on agrees of disagrees with the President’s policy – the fact remains he was hired bay majority of the people to represent all the people, thereby he happens to be all of the “collective” our President. Fortunately one can still agree or disagree with the President, but one should also be outraged by the work done by leaders of the Republican Party in office. They have done nothing but act like cohorts of the President for fear of being “disliked by the public”. They refuse to take one for the team, as the saying goes, and therefore, are as complicit in the minds of those who do not care for the President’s ideology as the President himself.

There are those who view the President as some sort of “saint” or in the case of Chris Matthews, as the second coming of Abraham Lincoln. Matthews, apparently not a history major, suggested that Obama’s speech was as great or great than the Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln(for those Historically Impaired). He was, of course, off the mark, the speech delivered by teleprompter spoke of a change in the way we perceive the world, in peace, and it was a typical progressive speech, one that anyone at the union hall would have delivered, but perhaps not as well. How does one compare, realistically, Barack Obama and Lincoln – in the only way possible – both men had no disregard for the Constitution, due process and acted much more as the sole arm of the government, giving short-shrift to those other branches – the Legislative and Judiciary. That is an accurate assessment. Barack Obama is fighting political opposition, so was Lincoln. Obama uses the press to his benefit; Lincoln jailed the press for disagreeing. (This makes one wonder if the press is more aware of the connection hat one might suppose).

Rest assured the administration does not care for dissent. Ask Lupe Fiasco – (who?) Lupe Fiasco is an entertainer, a rapper, one of the many that came up at the same time as Eminem, Three Six Mafia, and a few others whose names have been forgotten as the changes in what’s hot in pop culture and music move forward. Lupe was to perform at a pre-inauguration event, and while in practice, Lupe’s “rap “included more than a bit of anti-Obama messaging. He was summarily strong-armed off the stage. The video and story is available at The Daily Caller. The fact that Mr. Fiasco, decided to exercise his first amendment rights, and was prevented from doing so, may upset some, but his timing, in reality, was off a bit. It was neither the time nor the place (although granted, it would have given him a huge audience for messaging), but it was seen as disrespecting the Office. The Office is of import, not the man who holds the office. That is the difference everyone who was negative yesterday, seemed to be missing. If Lupe Fiasco wants to become part of a movement to take a slightly right turn, then he would better serve the country and his ratings among 50 percent of them, by releasing more of those tunes to the general population and like those Lady Gaga’s and Madonnas, use the stage as a “teaching” moment, to those who would be shocked by a different point of view.

The Drudge Report Reminds us of the reality of the station – the Headline reads: 1461 days – directly underneath a photo of the President. This headline links to a CNN online article on the Inauguration and the social festivities which are part and parcel of the event.

It is not that the man will be reelected, (although some insist this will take place) – but a change is definitely needed, and that is in the perception by some, both in government and in the political party that is the Republican Party, and in the Tea Party, and in those Parties that see a different agenda for America, a free society, that allows everyone to get up and out, rather than to get a handout and then vote for more. Yesterday was neither the time nor the place, as Erik Erikson pointed out, but a time to celebrate that we are a free people and agree or not, the President, again is our President. That said, there must be change with a backbone, and that will require opposition leaders (anti-progressives (socialist/communists) who will fight tooth and nail to get their message out to a hostile media, never mind FOX, which is most likely sympathetic, but the trenches. If someone disagrees with a position in the media, then it is the duty of a conservative to convert and teach, and at the very least, use composure to disagree and use a teaching moment in front of a camera, no matter how small an audience – and above all, no rhetoric. What the nation needs is a new “Newt”, not that there is much wrong with the old “Newt”, (except a few flights of fancy), but someone who, was able to get his message across, and yes, in doing do, lost his position, that requires someone who can take one for the nation, rather than for some imaginary team (speaking of the Republican Party). Leaders, who will not go to Washington, collect their salary and then vote with the Speaker of the House to raise the debt ceiling – for example. Until and unless those types of leaders emerge, this ridiculous name-calling does nothing, using the time strategically and in the right place and time, will. What the average American does not know should be hammered home, again, and again, - That the government has no money of its own. That they are thanking the wrong group of people for their good fortunes, be it free cell phones, an ebt card, or unemployment extensions or selective tax break. The taxpayer is the sole revenue of the government, and father, Government employees, producing no discernible income from a source other than the government, is also beholden to the tax payer. The true taxpayer is one who resides in the private sector. Should the private sector not produce enough taxpayers, then there will be no benefits, period.

There is the salacious argument that teachers, and any government (state or federal) employee pays taxes. This statement is true. It is the need to point out to those who should be smarter, that their paycheck comes from the government, and that the government has no money of its’ own. So, their paychecks, and the taxes they pay, are coming from the private sector, and the individual taxpayer.

Therefore, if there are fewer public sector taxpayers, then, math suggests that sooner or later, one must either raise the debt ceiling and borrow the money (which has to be paid back in the form of “revenue” – (revenue is a code word for taxes on those who have private sector jobs), or should that fail, and there is not enough private sector jobs to sustain a raise in the debt ceiling, the benefits will – stop.

Until that message delivered, and understood, there will be no “progress”. Of course there are other problems that are faced daily, but, ignorance, in this case, may not be “bliss” should the economy go into further decline. In any event, this should be hammered home, which would prevent one’s children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and so on, from having to pay exorbitant taxes in order to bail out individuals who benefited from excesses of this and previous administrations (include states).

That is the message that the Congress, the Senate and the Office of the President depend on the largess of the private sector employee, (not on billionaires and millionaires) that every dime wasted, is a dime that belongs to the people, in collective, and that should be used for the nation’s defense and roads.

Without the private sector, those we complain so vehemently about, would not be sitting so pretty in Washington, rather, they would have to resort to living as “we the people” do, on a paycheck, from a firm or business they establish. It’s a basic concept, and it needs to be taught, from the bottom to the top.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Texas – Governor Rick Perry –Administration 60% Women, Manages job growth with Lower Taxes – the Exodus to Texas.

Texas Govenor Rick Perry and his administration – Image New York Times

A recent visit of a dear friend at “home” in Massachusetts, brought some startling revelations about a life lived in Texas for 20 odd years- not the least among them was the statement: “Our Governor, Rick Perry could be Govenor for Life”. This came as a bit of a shock, given the fact that this individual was a moderate Massachusetts Democrat, who now sports the crossed pistols of Texas on a simply stunning bag! In recalling the 2012 GOP nominating process, Governor Perry did not fare well, to say the least – of course, the poor performances in the debates, were most likely due to a back surgery, and medication prescribed for pain, immediately preceding the decision to run for the nomination.(US News). Therefore one might wonder what makes this Texas Goveenor such a big hit with fans, and why the State of Texas has seen refugees increasing in numbers from California to Massachusetts . The obvious answer is two-fold – Texas has low taxes and jobs.

The report from touts the creation of private sector jobs, 248,000 plus from November 2011 to November 2012, in a variety of fields. The State’s employment site “Work in Texas”, shows 140,000 plus openings, with jobs filled at 1.9 million and counting. The State government also recently announced a healthy revenues, no budget shortfalls to say the least. In addition, Texas is in the top ten states that are friendly to small business offering 0% income tax, 0% capital gains tax, and 0% Corporate Income tax. The State and Local taxes are at 4.01% of total income. (Advisorone) Is it no wonder, then, that after voting to increase their home state taxes California’s are flocking to – Texas(Bloomberg).

The combination of low taxes and job opportunities has those from other states, including Massachustts, where within the last month; six social acquaintances have packed up and moved to the Lone Star State.

From a feminists point of view, the reason may be the way the Governor stacks his administration with women – the New York Times ran an article on January 19, 2013, entitled “Women are a majority on Governor Rick Perry’s Staff” – in fact 60% of his staff is made up of women, which compared to Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, who has only 3 of the 7 top slots in the administrationmade up of women.

From pushing colleges to provide a 4 year degree for $10,000 (no kidding), to low tax rates, it is no wonder residents might want their Governor to stay in state, rather than run for the Presidency in 2016 – although, those living outside of Texas may disagree. This will be especially true after the Senate, which has failed to pass or produce a budget since 2009 (under Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader); will do so in this Congress for 2013. Of course, that budget will include “increased revenue” (taxes), and with a Republican controlled Congress, the Democrat controlled Senate feels it may not pass. One might question that logic since the Congress has agreed to pass a short term debt limit hike with no caveats, as in cuts in spending. Those living in Massachusetts will be welcoming the rest of the nation to a brand of taxation that is geared towards a misery index for those working. Texas may have to increase its borders to accommodate the influx of new refugees.

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