May 4, 2009

Oh Joy, Another Levy…

Filed under: Activism,Education,Taxes & Government — Rose @ 7:02 pm

Intro Note: “West Clermont” is a school district in the western part of Clermont County, Ohio, a largely suburban county east of Cincinnati.

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“When the people find they can vote themselves money

that will herald the end of the republic.”

~ Benjamin Franklin

I’m a bit tired of the government forcing my family to pay for things that we don’t use.  The National Endowment for the Arts, tattoo removal & global warming research just to name a few and all under the guise of “it’s for the good of the nation.”

As such, it is becoming increasingly annoying that every year or two, government school districts use taxpayer-funded time & materials to lobby in favor of extorting more or continued funding via levies.  It’s West Clermont this time [the vote is May 5] and you won’t hear a single, negative thing about it because hey, as always, “it’s for the children.” Of course, if that were true, then why is such a large amount of taxpayer money directed towards adults/bureaucrats in education vs. ending up in the classroom?

So let’s be honest here, they’re not REALLY “for the children,” and certainly not for EVERY child. If government schools were “for the children,” then they would not immediately and spitefully cut things that hurt parents and children most after a failed levy (bus service and extra curricular activities). Nope, “for the children” is simply code for “we are going to extort more of your money or make your lives a living hell.”

Each year, $3,000 of our property taxes go to government schools.  Let me ask you something, in this day and age, would you pay $3,000 a year for ANYTHING you did not use?  That is a good portion of anyone’s monthly grocery or gas bill.  The coercion is outrageous and un-American.  But of course ”A government who robs Peter to pay Paul, can always depend on the support of Paul.”  (George Bernard Shaw).

If you want to procure more money than is already taken to fund government schools, then God bless you. I respectfully request that you put your money where your mouth is and write the government a check. Don’t vote to extort it from the rest of us who are going through just as many financial difficulties as everyone else and as such cannot afford the “community blank checks” you want to hand out. In addition, give us your address and you can send out checks to everyone’s non-government school, seeing as you are “for the children” and all…

Which begs the obvious question, what do the pro-levy, government-school customers think the options are for parents who “shop” somewhere else (use non-government schools)? Well, they don’t have any.  Non-government school customers must pay twice…once to the [non-government] school in which their children thrive and then again to the government school via property taxes to pay for someone else’s education (talk about taxation without representation).

Still, parents whose children require a non-government path of education – for whatever reason – continue to pay their own way instead of sponging off everyone else. Yes, EVEN in economic downturns and EVEN when doing so means making drastic, baseline cuts in their family budget to accommodate that line item. So why in the world don’t the pro-levy, government-school customers care about THOSE kids?

In a nutshell, they don’t. If they did, then they would not be opposed to allowing the property tax dollars to follow the child to whichever school best serves that child.  In addition, they would look forward to the challenge of competing for those tax dollars. But – and regardless of the bogus rating system – government schools don’t want to meet that kind of challenge (which would immediately raise ALL levels of education btw).  Rather, they would prefer a monopoly.  And why not, government monopolies work so well…eyeroll.

Make no mistake, government education was the most egregious example of the redistribution of taxpayer dollars in the history of this country (up until of course the porkulus bill).

So next time a pro-levy, government-school customer lobbies me to pay their bills, I will politely suggest that they take out their checkbook and pay the variance between property tax dollars and the [ostensible] cost to educate their children, THEMSELVES. Additionally, I would like them to help me lobby the state legislature to allow property tax dollars (which are in essence, our own “Educational Savings Accounts”) to follow each child. Only then will I believe that pro-levy, government-school customers REALLY care for EVERY child because only then will ALL schools become edified and more reflective of the communities they [presumably] serve.

Whether or not this [and other] levies pass, it is good to remember the sage advice of the Iron Lady:  “The problem with socialism is that eventually, you run out of other people’s money.”

Yep, what happens then?

Light Posting Alert

Filed under: General — Tom @ 12:36 pm

A stubborn cold and a column deadline will probably conspire to keep posting light today.

It’s also useful on days like these to have a co-blogger — see below.

Alan Keyes Gets It…

Filed under: Activism,Economy,Taxes & Government — Rose @ 12:35 pm

In his WND column, Alan Keyes captures much of the frustration and sentiment held by the electorate.  He [rightfully] calls out Michael Steele and other establishment Republicans who are in fact, guilty of the very behavior for which they criticize others.  Here is an excerpt (emphasis mine):

“Arlen Specter has ended the charade of his association with the Republicans in a way that highlights the long charade of the GOP’s association with conservative views and principles. Specter and the Steele Republicans have one thing in common – their passion for power. What if conservatives were as single-minded in their devotion to the Constitution and the moral principles that underlie America’s liberty, strength and prosperity? I suspect that if conservatives ceased to hang their hopes on the false promises of a party obsessed with pleasing its opposite number, they would finally realize their true strength at the polls. They could in one embrace clasp principle and victory; not by continued subservience to the Republicans in name only, but by uncompromised and consistent service to the republic their name commits them to conserve.

I attended several “tea party” events last month. Apart from the large turnouts, I noticed that the prevalent concern among the crowds wasn’t with partisan victory, or even with their own economic situation. It was concern about the survival of the American Constitution and American liberty. Millions of Americans realize that socialist economics, pervasive government control and rampant greed and self-indulgence are inconsistent with our survival as a free people. They reject the Obama faction’s bid for unchecked power, but they also reject the unprincipled Republicans whose biggest regret is that they lost power, not that they squandered the opportunity to defend and strengthen liberty while they had it. They know that neither party represents the moral or political sovereignty of the American people.

Some conservatives think they can fix the Republican Party. However, the events of the past 20 years suggest that they are more likely to be manipulated by unprincipled Republican power addicts just looking for their next fix. I think such conservatives are focused on the wrong challenge. America must be our main concern now, not either of these self-serving, falsely labeled factions. People who believe in liberty and the Constitution must not go on being passive consumers of figurehead leadership, produced and imposed by special interests who scheme to deceive and control us, abusing our money and our confidence while in fact they serve only themselves. Just as grass-roots Americans came together for the tea party events, we must now work together to create an ongoing vehicle for citizen action that puts the people back in charge of this nation’s political affairs. We must resolve to be the creators of representation whose only ambition is to serve and preserve American liberty. By so doing we will renew the effective foundations of the government of, by and for the people that we are duty bound to pass on to our offspring.

The more I listen to Alan Keyes, the more sense he makes.  The full article is here.

Ohioans Are Voting With Their Feet — To Become Ex-Ohioans

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:55 am

Note: This was originally posted at Pajamas Media on Thursday. I held it until today, one day later than required to comply with blackout rules, to highlight a Cincinnati development that would logically lead to more residents voting with their feet to leave. See the Update below (sorry – the cold is winning; the update will come later).

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After migrating to the suburbs for decades, Buckeye Staters are increasingly leaving for good.

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Almost every business has done it from time to time. Their people take their existing loyal customers for granted – even the big ones. Sometimes it’s because their people have gotten so focused on new customers. Other times, it’s a matter of letting standards slip, or of building internal bureaucracies that wallow in internal politics.

Occasionally, a company with a dominant market share will get so arrogant that it asks, “Where else can they go?” The business graveyards are full of those who didn’t think their customers had alternatives, when there were plenty.

This also happens to governments with their “customers,” the taxpayers they are supposed to serve — though governments usually don’t go out of business. They rely on productive individuals and businesses for the taxes that are their very lifeblood, but they usually take them for granted – especially the ones who quietly go about live their lives, doing their jobs, or building their enterprises, paying their assorted levies while generally staying out of the way. These people don’t expect much: reasonable taxes, decent schools, and safety.

But that’s been too much to expect of too many of America’s city governments. Their best customers, the high producers, have been taken for granted and even abused for decades. In many cases, enough of them have left to make a harmful difference. Nowhere has that situation been truer than in my home state of Ohio.

When I attended grade school in the Mesozoic Era (actually the 1960s), we learned that the Buckeye State had eight cities (Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, and Youngstown) with populations greater than 100,000, the most in the country. We also knew that Cleveland, at 876,000, was the eighth largest city in the U.S. (schools were strangely focused on facts in those days, weren’t they?).

Today, Youngstown (down over half) and Canton have populations of less than 80,000. Cleveland will probably be below 400,000 soon. All of the others except Columbus, the state’s capital, have declined severely.

Ohioans have been leaving the state’s large cities for four reasons, only one of which — the natural human desire for open space — is arguably not their fault. The causes the cities have failed to deal with, and which have been within their control, are high crime, lousy schools, and high taxes. For decades, their governments have been asking, “Where else can they go?” Hundreds of thousands have answered with their feet.

Crime? It’s far safer in Iraq as a whole than it is in many neighborhoods in Ohio’s largest cities at night. If Cleveland’s 2007 murder count of 134 (it fell to “only” 102 in 2008) had occurred proportionally in all of Iraq in 2008, Iraq would have had 9,000 violent civilian deaths that year. According to icasualties.org, there were fewer than 6,000. In the past 12 months, that number in Iraq is under 4,000, and is below 1,000 this year through late April. The situations in many areas within Ohio’s other large cities are sadly similar to Cleveland’s.

Schools? Besides being havens themselves for crime, Ohio’s urban schools are infamous for accomplishing very little while consuming outrageous amounts of money. Cincinnati’s bad and Cleveland Metropolitan’s worse schools spend well over $12,000 per student, about 50% more than the average in the rest of the state. Nonetheless, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland is, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “trying to destroy charter schools” which serve kids who would otherwise be stuck in these schools with no choice.

Taxes? Each of Ohio’s largest cities has a non-reciprocal payroll and business income tax of 2% or more. Youngstown’s rate is a whopping 2.75% (and they wonder why over half the people have left). Hundreds of thousands of non-resident workers throughout the state pay hundreds of millions of dollars annually to the big cities, and get nothing in return except a (hopefully) safe commute. Yet it is Ohio’s big cities that are begging for Barack Obama to bail them out, while suburban counties like Warren have rejected their stimulus money.

What was mischaracterized as “white flight” during the 20th century’s last three decades was really crime, school, and tax flight –- and even then, it was far from totally white. Now those who flee are even more diverse. Many families, regardless of ethnicity, are concluding that they can’t afford to raise their kids in decaying urban environments, and that they owe it to their kids to find a safer area with better schools.

The Buckeye State as a whole is now facing a worsening situation. Though its chief executive was nominally Republican for 16 years until 2007, Ohio has been run economically like a blue state since the mid-1990s, when then-Governor Voinovich sold out to the tax-and-spenders. It took a while, but for the past several years, Ohio’s poor tax and business climate has turned what had been a flight to the suburbs into an exodus to lower-tax states. Even Governor Strickland has mused about the benefits of retiring to sell T-shirts in Florida — which just so happens not to have an income tax.

Yet Strickland, while claiming he is not increasing taxes, wants to impose hundreds of millions in new fees, while his budget structurally commits the Buckeye State to billions of dollars in new unfunded spending after Washington’s stimulus money runs out.

Recent Census information tells us that Americans are moving a bit less than they were when the economy was better. That is scant consolation to states like Ohio, whose political establishments — like those in California and Michigan, to name just two others — simply don’t get it. Until they do, they will continue to watch their customer-residents vote with their feet and become former residents.

AP Ohio Writer Pulls a Calvin Woodward, Explains Fundamental Truth About John Kasich

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:36 am

Last week, pigs didn’t quite fly, but a bunch of them seemed to sprout wings when the Associated Press’s Calvin Woodward, in a fact-check piece, documented the lack of veracity in many of Barack Obama’s 100th day press conference assertions.

Friday, an unbylined AP writer, in a report (saved here for future reference) on John Kasich’s next-step announcement towards an Ohio gubernatorial run, did a Woodward.

This sentence in the played-straight AP report should be emblazoned on the forehead of every voting-age Ohioan:

Kasich, a 9-term Congressman from Ohio, was the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Budget Committee in 1997 that balanced the nation’s budget for the first time in more than 30 years.

No one else in America can make that statement.

Kasich and his committee (with his senatorial colleagues) balanced the budget. Bill Clinton did NOTHING on the spending side to balance the budget except sign the related bills. What Clinton deserves some credit for is getting on board with the supply-side capital gains tax cut in 1997 that created a gusher on the revenue side — a cut passed by the GOP Congress over strenuous objections from some Democrats.

Savor the statement excerpted above, because you’ll probably never see it in an AP or Ohio establishment media report for the next 18 months — unless it has the qualifier “Kasich says” in front of it.

Positivity: World’s oldest Benedictine monk dies at 108

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From St. Meinrad, Indiana:

May 1, 2009 / 08:10 pm (CNA).- The world’s oldest Benedictine monk died in Indiana on Wednesday at the age of 108.

Fr. Theodore Heck, OSB, was a monk and priest of St. Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad, Indiana. He was born in Chariton, Iowa on January 16, 1901 to Henry Heck Sr. and Margaret (Steinbach) Heck. He received the name Henry John at baptism.

He enrolled in the minor seminary at St. Meinrad in 1918 and entered the novitiate in 1922, St. Meinrad’s Archabbey says. He professed his simple vows on September 8, 1923 and was ordained to the priesthood on May 21, 1929. He would have celebrated his 80th anniversary as a priest next month.

After his ordination, Fr. Theodore taught in the minor seminary. In 1932 he began graduate studies at the Catholic University of America, where he earned his PhD in education in 1935. He returned to Saint Meinrad and for over fifty years taught in the minor and major seminaries.

He served as director of studies from 1936 to 1966 and was rector of St. Meinrad School of Theology for ten years. During his academic career, Fr. Theodore was responsible for gaining accreditation for all of St. Meinrad’s schools at that time: the high school, college and school of theology.

For 17 years he served as subprior in the monastery and for three years was prior. A founding member of the American Benedictine Academy, he served as its first president from 1947-1957.

At the age of 70, he began 17 years of pastoral service as vicar of St. John Chrysostom Parish in New Boston, Indiana while continuing to teach on the college faculty. …

Go here for the rest of the story.