Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tax Big Oil Companies! ...yeah, right.

Many people (who know nothing about economics) are calling for big taxes on Big Oil. Some are asking for a "windfall profits tax" (I'm not sure how you call an 8.2% gain a "windfall"), while others want to remove tax incentives.

Here's a "secret" for all you socialists: corporations do not pay taxes!

Do you actually think that there is one guy who sucks up the tax increases? Corporations are made of people. Employees, shareholders, etc. When you raise taxes, that gets passed on to all the people involved in the company - including customers!

If you raise taxes on Big Oil, you damage employee salaries and benefits, you deflate stock value (do you have a 401K?), you reduce supply, and you increase prices at the pump!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Off Topic - 2007 Jeep Wrangler

I know this isn't within the normal range of my blog topics, but scores of people are finding this site by searching for the new Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited. I am a Jeep nut, after all.

So, to satisfy the seekers, here are links to information and opinions about the new Wranglers:

2007 Wrangler




2007 Wrangler Unlimited

Monday, April 24, 2006

Price Gouging at the Gas Pumps

I'm sick of the sky-high price of gasoline. I drive over 700 miles per week, and as stingy as my employer is, fuel costs are out of hand. I'm sick of gouging.

Without any though of reducing profits, they take and take and take. They have no concern about the devistation done to the pocketbooks of consumers. They have no plan to reduce the damage they do.

I'm talking about the government. A HUGE portion of the cost of gasoline is taxation. There are federal and state (and sometimes local) sales taxes, in addition to the taxation of the oil companies as they seek, drill, extract, refine, transport, and sell fuel.

By the time the government is finished, the oil companies only reap a "windfall" of 3-9% profit. Nearly every company in the country does better than that! Don't get caught up in "record profits" and CEO bonuses. The oil companies are in business to make money - and their stockholders expect it. Their job isn't to give you dirt-cheap gas. Don't forget - they only make 3-9%. Microsoft and McDonald's makes tons more than that.

Before you have a knee-jerk reaction and want to blame Big Oil, remember who is really taking your money. They spend nothing in research an development. They spend no time to drill, refine, or transport. But they will gladly tax as much as they want for their pork projects and mismanagement of highway dollars.


In case you were wondering, there are other factors for high gas prices:
- China is buying huge quantities of oil these days (high demand)
- Americans continue to increase travel time for work and vacation (high demand)
- We haven't built a refinery in 30 years and ours are at full capacity (low supply)
- Enviros won't let us drill in Alaska or off the coastlines (low supply)
- Enviros require us to have over 50 differnt formulations of gasoline for pollution control (low supply, high cost)
- Venezuela is now run by a communist dictator (unstable supply)
- Iran's president is threatening to nuke anyone and everyone (unstable supply)
- African countries are in constant state of civil war (unstable supply)
- Oil speculators and traders continually inflate the prices as they see fit (unstable pricing)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Of Checkbooks and Stadiums

Consider this scenario: You have a fine back yard where your children like to play. It’s not the best yard in the world, but your kids perform well on it. You get the desire to improve your yard – to make it better and fancier

But along with the change comes a steep price. Like your neighbors, you make the median household income of $34,598. The upgrade to your back yard is a sizeable portion of your budget. You simply do not have the cash on hand to pursue this effort.

You have two choices: either abandon the upgrade until you can save enough money or cut out parts of your budget to make the upgrade fit. You decide neither option is acceptable, so you make a third choice. You rob your neighbors to pay for improvements to your property - and your neighbors can do nothing about it. Sadly, they are too apathetic to do anything about it.

Each year, the Grove City Area School Board shows that they cannot live within a budget. They want more money each year and raise your taxes to get it. They want to upgrade the back yard – the football and track complex – and they are making the third choice. And you are the neighbor.

Sadly, no one attends school board meetings. Perhaps it is out of fear or apathy. Perhaps the public has seen how dissidents are treated at the meetings. No one has made a full-on bid to replace the board members during recent elections. The public has accepted that each year, they have to cut back their budgets as the board confiscates more and more.

Your family has to live within a budget. You are not allowed to rob your neighbor. Sure, it would be nice to have a better, fancier back yard, but we clearly can’t afford it. And the school board needs to finally understand that. If they don’t, imagine the ramifications of tax increases to fund a complex that may cost as much as $5 million – if they manage to keep that within budget.

Ohio has it right. The school boards have to put forth a bond issue and the citizens vote on tax increases. If the issue is defeated, the board has to wait until they have the money or simply find another way.

Our board could take some cues from what other governing bodies do when money is tight. The obvious answer would be to say “no” – but that would be unpopular when the member is about the town. Conveniently, there are other ways to raise capital:

- Cut spending! The amount of waste in government spending is appalling. There are always places to cut, including large increases in salaries. The board raises taxes “for the children” then gives it to administrators, instead. If taxes must be raised, that means that we can’t afford it. Residents aren’t piggy banks. Our median salary is half (or even a third) of what the administrators make.

- Modest increase in ticket prices. If you enjoy the games, pay a little more to watch them. A quality team in a quality location calls for an appropriate price. Of course, the increase can’t be extreme because that would actually chase fans away.

- Fundraising. The marching band just sold tons of fruit to fund a trip to Florida. What can the football and track teams sell? How about the football and track boosters? I bet they could do a fabulous job raising funds for the new complex.

- Donations. A large portion of the downtown revitalization is being funded by private donations. People in western PA love high school football – I’m sure people would love to donate. Maybe a buy-a-brick type of promotion would work.

- Advertising. You see billboards around the baseball field fence, so find some prime spots at a new stadium.

- Pay-to-play athletics. Although this isn’t popular, it is one way to generate much-needed cash. Adults pay for activities all the time, so this is one of those great “character builders” you heard from your parents. Remember, it’s a privilege to play a sport – not a right.

- Sell naming rights. It works for every big-league sport, so why not in Grove City? I’m sure some companies would love to have the chance to advertise to thousands at each event. Perhaps USIS Field at General Electric Stadium? Don’t forget to name the track, too.

There you go – some revenue-generating ideas that fund a lovely back yard without robbing the neighbor.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

About Illegal Immigrants...

If illegal immigrants are crucial to the functionality of the US economy, why is the economy still chugging along as all the immigrants are busy protesting and holding rallies?

If they are so important, why isn't the stock market crashing since they they aren't working?

Perhaps it is the same situation as every other protest/rally - the people who really do support the economy are those who are busy working, and the people who have time to protest are just taking a day off from their unemployment!

Legal immigrants have shown a desire to become Americans. They want to work hard and make better lives for themselves and their families. How many illegal immigrants can ever improve since they are constantly avoiding the law? How many of them will work for $100 per week for manual labor when some politician is willing to give them gorvernment handouts that exceed that $100 per week? Illegals suck our system dry.

Legal immigrants = good. Illegal immigrants = bad.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Rendell's Socialist Slip-of-the-Tongue

Many thanks to Nathan Benefield over at the Commonwealth Foundation for finding this gem in The Scranton-Times Tribune. It seems Fast Eddie Rendell let his socialist nature loose during a campaign swing through Uniontown, PA:

"Rendell says voters have a clear choice between a candidate who talks of cutting taxes and limiting spending - Swann - and one who advocates using government to achieve desirable social and economic change even if it may require higher taxes."

"Without government help in many communities, 'growth would never have occurred,' he says. 'Quality of life would never have improved.'"

You may pick up your jaw now. There you have the difference between a liberal and a condervative. Rendell believes that market forces aren't the solution. He doesn't see the drive and determination of the American worker as the solution. He sees government as the solution to social and economic issues. Wow.

If you aren't motivated to vote for Swann now, I don't know what will sway you.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Grove City Murder Update - Scott Dunn Arrested

The case of the January 14 murder of Brandi Montgomery Dunn has taken a very important turn today, as her husband, Scott Dunn was arrested. He was charged with criminal homicide, three counts of arson and one count of abuse of a corpse.

Mrs. Dunn's death was ruled as blunt force trauma to the head. After her murder, the killer set fire to the 109 E. Washington St. house in an alleged effort to destroy evidence. The Dunns were house-sitting the Montgomery residence while Mrs. Dunn's parents were vacationing in California.

Mr. Dunn's arrest comes as a relief to residents who had stong opinions of Dunn's guilt, as he gave several different stories to authorities. Dunn had even altered the content on his and Brandi's MySpace Web site pages immediately after Brandi's death. Those who were most vocal about the case shared thoughts, opinions, and frustrations on the cyberslueth Web site, Huff's Crime Blog.

While homicide isn't a rarity in Pennsylvania, it is extremely rare in Grove City, a western PA town of approximately 8000 residents. The previous homicide was decades before.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Sgt. Tom Stone - Yet Another National Hero

I came across a sad, yet inspiring story in Yahoo! News. The story gave a brief account of Sergeant Tom Stone, who was killed in action in Afghanistan. This guy was a true hero, and surprisingly, the media gave a great account of his life:
MONTPELIER, Vt. - When Tom Stone joined the Army in 1971, one of his reasons for doing so was unusual: He hoped to find clues about his brother's disappearance in Southeast Asia the year before.

He never did find what he was looking for, but he spent the next 35 years in and out of the military. That career came to an end last week when Stone, 52, a sergeant first class with the Vermont National Guard, was killed in Afghanistan, possibly by friendly fire.

***

Stone was a junior in high school when his older brother Dana, a freelance photographer, disappeared in Cambodia on April 6, 1970, along with Sean Flynn, the son of the actor Errol Flynn. Dana was on assignment for CBS News and Flynn for Time magazine; they had ridden into the Cambodian countryside on motorbikes when they were captured by communist guerrillas.

Tom Stone joined the Army the next year.

"He had it in his mind he might go and try to find his brother," said Elisha Morgan of Norwich, who played football with Stone at Woodstock High School.

Dana Stone's widow, Louise, who died in 2000, was told her husband and Flynn were probably tortured to death.

Later in his adventure-filled life — on a 22,000-mile walk around the world — Tom Stone visited Cambodia, but cousin Sally Britton didn't know any details about how he might have searched for his brother there.

"Tom was always telling stories, but he never talked about his feelings," she said.

But what he lacked in self-expression, he more than made up for in helping others, those who knew him said.

***

Stone died as he was helping Afghan soldiers repel an attack by Taliban militants on an Afghan base. He was promoted to master sergeant after his death.

"He was the best friend anyone could have, anybody," Morgan said. "I know when he was shot he was helping others. That's all he did. He never cared about financial gain. He did it out of love for humanity."

Stone was on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan with the Vermont Guard when he was killed. During his earlier Afghan tours, Stone, a medic, set up a clinic for Afghan civilians in a shipping container. It served thousands of people.

"There were nights when they physically had to carry him out of there back to his bunk," said Vermont National Guard Maj. Tom Cahalan. "It was phenomenal."
Thank you, Sgt. Stone. Your efforts have saved thousands of lives - from Afghanistan to your fellow citizens in the USA.