Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Safety Assurance for Every Consumer (SAFE)

Check out my granddaughter dressed in her Halloween costume. Doesn't she make an adorable banana?! Grace is obviously too young to go trick or treating tonight, but her safety - and the safety of all our children - always concerns me. Last week, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled imported Halloween pails children might use for trick or treating because they contained high amounts of lead, and I'm sure you've heard about the more than 13 million toys that have been recalled over the last 2 months after tests indicated lead levels that sometimes reached almost 200 times the safety limit.

Unfortunately, the Bush administration is standing behind Nancy A. Nord, the acting chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, who has asked Congress in recent days to reject legislation intended to strengthen the agency, which polices thousands of consumer goods, from toys to tools. From the NY Times:
On the eve of an important Senate committee meeting to consider the legislation, Nancy A. Nord, the acting chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, has asked lawmakers in two letters not to approve the bulk of legislation that would increase the agency’s authority, double its budget and sharply increase its dwindling staff.
Only 15 inspectors are assigned to police all imports of consumer products under the CPSC's supervision, a marketplace that last year was valued at $614 billion, and there's only one full-time employee available to test toys. In fact, the CPSC only has half the staff it did in the 1980's. They definitely need more funding and personnel.

The Bush administration may be failing our children, but other people and organizations are stepping in to help. From the AFL-CIO blog:
Last month, the United Steelworkers (USW) launched a major campaign, “Protect Our Kids—Stop Toxic Imports,” in which the union will distribute thousands of Get the Lead Out Screening kits and spearhead a series of “Safe Home Sessions,” so families can learn more about protecting themselves and their loved ones.

Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) have introduced the Safety Assurance for Every (SAFE) Consumer Product Act, which would require children’s products to undergo independent testing and strengthen the CPSC’s enforcement authority. The bill has quickly attracted more than 100 co-sponsors. Click here to urge your lawmaker to become a co-sponsor.
To learn more about lead and product safety, check out the new report from the Institute for America's Future, Toxic Trade: Globalization and the Safety of the American Consumer. The report shows how free trade combined with little or no regulation here at home have combined to make the products we buy toxic and unsafe.

UPDATE: Another late-breaking recall: Halloween costume teeth pulled from US shops due to lead fears

"Ugly Teeth" were found to have 100 times the US standard on lead in paint. "Lead paint is a problem when it's ingested by a child, so to have lead on an item that is designed to go into the mouth -- that's what's particularly horrifying about these teeth," said Dr Jeffrey Weidenhamer of Ashland University in Ohio. Millions of kids have already had costume parties in schools, recreation centers, etc., and how many parents will never hear about this recall before sending their kids out tonight? Unbelievable.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

1.8 million veterans lack health care

Add veterans to the list of uninsured Americans, middle-class veterans with jobs:

Study: More veterans are uninsured
About one of every eight veterans under the age of 65 is uninsured, a finding that contradicts the assumption many have that all vets qualify for free health care through the Veterans Affairs Department, says a new study.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School projected that about 1.8 million veterans overall lack health coverage. That's an increase of 290,000 since 2000. The researchers said most uninsured veterans are in the middle class and are ineligible for VA care because of their incomes. Still others cannot afford their copayments, or lack VA facilities in their community.

"Like other uninsured Americans, most uninsured vets are working people — too poor to afford private coverage but not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid or means-tested VA care," said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, an associate professor and a physician at the Cambridge Health Alliance.
Republicans like to say they support our troops, yet according to American Legion spokesman Peter Gaytan, veterans now making as little as $24,000 a year in some regions still don't qualify for health coverage from the V.A.

Sadly, as Gaytan points out, "The number of uninsured vets could rise in coming years if soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq have trouble getting back their old jobs. It will be an increasing issue that needs to be dealt with."

The Harvard researchers said the best solution would be universal health coverage in the United States. It sounds like a plan to me, one that would not only help the veterans left behind by the Bush administration, but all Americans.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Who is your significant other?

According to this Zogby poll, twenty-five percent of us need to get a life.
It won’t make you dinner or rub your feet, but nearly one in four Americans say that the Internet can serve as a substitute for a significant other for some period of time, according to a new poll released today by 463 Communications and Zogby International.

The Zogby/463 Internet Attitudes poll found that 24% of Americans said the Internet could serve as a replacement for a significant other. Not surprisingly, the percentage was highest among singles, of which 31% said it could be a substitute. There was no difference among males and females but there was a split based on political ideology. Thirty-one percent of those who called themselves “progressives” were open-minded to the Internet serving as a surrogate significant other while only 18% of those who consider themselves “very conservative” would consider it a substitute.
Sadly, I'm probably one of those people who needs to get a life, and the fact that you're reading this suggests that you do too!

Click the link above to read all the questions and answers, but here are a few others I found interesting:
More than half of Americans believe that Internet content such as video should be controlled in some way by the government. Twenty-nine percent said it should be regulated just like television content while 24% said government should institute an online rating system similar to the one used by the movie industry. In contrast, only 36% said the blocking of Internet video would be unconstitutional.

The older you get, the more likely you are to support government restrictions. Only 33% of 18 to 24 year-olds supported government stepping in on content, while 72% of those over 70 years of age support government regulation and ratings.
I personally advocate parents stepping up to the plate and monitoring what their children do online over government regulations. When my children were growing up, I never had pay cable stations like HBO and Cinemax, and I enforced their bedtime so I didn't have to worry about them overhearing an inappropriate remark on late night television. I know, I know...I'm speaking like a grandmother. Moving along...
More than one in four Americans has a social networking profile such as MySpace or Facebook. Among 18-24 year-olds, it’s almost mandatory – 78% of them report having a social networking profile. More Democrats have a social networking presence than Republicans (32% to 22% ).
Sigh...when I was 18-years-old, I socially networked by calling my friends from my parent's wall phone, which was in our kitchen. Talk about a lack of privacy! We didn't have call waiting in those days either, so my parents limited our calls to 15 minutes. I used to pray my parents would someday let me have my own Princess phone in my bedroom, a pink one. Speaking of praying...
Most Americans don’t think the Internet has had an effect on their spirituality. Ten percent said it made them closer to God, while 6% percent said it made them more distant. Those who call themselves “Born Again” were the most likely to feel it affected them spiritually. Twenty percent of Born Agains said it made them closer while 11% said it made them more distant from God.
IMHO, I don't think God needs the internet to communicate to us. He just needs us to sit quietly and listen for a change.

Finally, it appears that parents need to put more thought into what they name their children:
And while there are well-documented fears about identity theft, many Americans would gladly give up their name for a cash windfall. If they were offered $100,000 by someone who wanted to adopt their name, more than one in five Americans said they would change their name to something completely different. Thirty-four percent of 18 to 24 year olds were prepared to take the offer.
I guess there's nothing money can't buy anymore.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Voters Favor Democrats Health Care Proposals

Health care is widely seen as the top domestic issue in 2008 and the Democrats continue to poll strong in this area. From the Kaiser Network:
U.S. adults favor health care proposals from Democratic presidential candidates more than plans from Republican candidates, according to a recent Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg survey.

According to the survey, 62% favor a requirement that large employers offer health insurance to employees -- a provision included in health care proposals from Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) -- and 31% oppose such a requirement. Fifty-one percent favor a requirement that individuals obtain health insurance -- a provision included in the Clinton and Edwards proposals -- and 39% oppose such a requirement, the survey found.

Forty-four percent favor tax credits to help individuals purchase private health insurance -- a provision included in health care proposals from former New York City Major Rudy Giuliani (R) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) -- and 45% oppose such tax credits, according to the survey.
Tax credits pretty evenly divide voters, but those opposing the credits (especially among the middle-class) could increase as more employers drop health insurance and premiums continue to climb. As a woman quoted in the LA Times article said:
"A tax credit is just a tax credit," VanDruff said. "You get that just once a year, and it is not going to cover the cost to you for health insurance."

"If you are rich-rich, you can afford it, and if you are poor-poor, they'll help you with it," she said of health insurance. "But if you are that in-between guy, you are in trouble."
There were two other significant results from the poll:
The survey found that 53% favor an expansion of Medicare to all U.S. residents and that 36% oppose such an expansion. "In one of the most politically significant results, the poll finds that independents and moderates were generally lining up with Democrats in the health care debate," the Times reports.
Independents lined with up Democrats because of "job lock." In all, 20% of independents said they or someone in their household were forced to stay in a job because it provided health care, compared with 13% of Democrats and 5% of Republicans.

(Cross-posted at BFM.)

Update: Thanks to DJ @ BFM for pointing out what I missed about the story above. Hillary Clinton's plan does include tax credits. This is how John Nichols @ The Nation describes it:
The Clinton plan maintains the current system of for-profit, insurance-industry defined health care delivery. The only real change is that, in return for minimal requirements regarding coverage of those with preexisting conditions, the government would pump hundreds of billions in federal dollars into the accounts of some of the country’s wealthiest corporations. The plan’s tax credit scheme would buy some more coverage for low-income families, which is good, but it would do so at a cost so immense that, ultimately, Clinton’s plan will be as tough a sell as the failed 1993 “Hillarycare” proposal.
Some more coverage is good, but Kucinich's Medicare-For-All is much, much better.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Al Gore: Healthcare is a Right

Al Gore isn't running for president - yet - but he has come out in favor of single-payer healthcare.
Called "Healthcare Is A Right," Gore released the following statement on his Current television channel:

I strongly support universal, single-payer, government-provided -- or, government-funded -- healthcare. It doesn't mean the government runs it, it has competition among the different providers. But I just think that we've long since reached the stage that its immoral to put people in a situation where they cannot get the medical care they need because their incomes aren't high enough. I think it ought to be a matter of right and our current system just doesn't work, its way too expensive. The quality of healthcare is excellent for those who have enough money to buy the very best, but lower-income and low middle-income Americans are not getting good healthcare and so many now can't afford the private health insurance that they're going without insurance, millions and millions of people. And I think that to eliminate the incredibly ridiculous cost of all this unnecessary paperwork and different standards for different companies, it is time to have universal health insurance.
Gore touches on an important point - single-payer, government provided healthcare doesn't mean the government runs it. And it's not socialism either, regardless of what you hear from Republican talking heads who only seek to misinform and mislead the public. Medicare is not socialism and neither is Medicaid. To learn what government program really is socialism and how to tell the difference, check out my post "Don't Let "Socialized" Medicine Scare You" over at BFM.

Gore led the way on environmental issues and the Republicans scoffed at him, so I don't expect them to respect his opinion on healthcare reform. It doesn't matter what they think though. Gore is credible. The Republicans aren't. They were wrong about global warming and they're wrong about single-payer healthcare being "socialized" medicine too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Road Trip: Pittsburgh

Hubby and I went to Pittsburgh for a few days to visit family and enjoy the fall colors. Since I couldn't take you along, I did the next best thing and took lots of pictures. (I heard that groan!) The colors weren't as nice as we expected (I read that global warming is to blame), but Mother Nature didn't disappoint either. This first shot was taken on the Ohio Turnpike as we zoomed through the Cuyahoga Valley area, which is east of Cleveland. (You can try clicking the pictures to make them bigger. It works in Firefox, but I'm not sure about other browsers.)

It was pretty cloudy on the way there as you can see. The next picture shows downtown Pittsburgh as seen from the North Hills area. Those white awning-like objects are part of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

After driving through town, we crossed the Liberty Bridge (over the Monongahela River) and headed into the Liberty Tunnel, which goes through the hillside on Mount Washington. I'm always a little nervous while we're inside, especially if traffic backs up and we have to stop. We breezed through this time, but I had a moment of panic when my flash went off and I wondered if Homeland Security saw it and was ready to pull us over. I guess they were sleeping or I look pretty harmless!

Our trip home was much sunnier as you can see from the next picture taken as we crossed the Allegheny River. The bridge you see is for trains.

Have you heard of Joe Namath? Well, the next picture was taken on the Pennsylvania Turnpike as we crossed over the Beaver River, a tributary of the Ohio River, in Beaver Falls, home town of Broadway Joe. You can't tell from the picture, but that bridge is really high above the water. If that bridge ever collapses, you'd better hope you're wearing a parachute.

Michigan readers will recognize the next picture showing Bronner's Christmas Store in Frankenmuth. The billboard is on the Ohio Turnpike just as you leave Pennsylvania. It's been there as long as I can remember, and in fact it looks like it's been refreshed. I guess the advertising must pay off.

Finally, home sweet home. I wish Michigan had a snazzier looking sign welcoming people to our state. It looks cheap and it's pretty pathetic that Bronner's has a nicer looking billboard than the one welcoming people to Michigan. Sigh...I guess money for a new sign is out of the question, huh?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Insurance Industry 1, Sick Children 0

From Bush's press conference yesterday:
"And I believe strongly in private medicine.

Now, I think the federal government ought to help those who are poor. And it's one of the reasons why I worked on Medicare reform was to make sure that we fulfill our promise to the elderly.

But I don't like plans that move people from — encourage people to move from private medicine to the public, and that's what's happening under this bill."
Bush got what he wanted:

Republicans Speak: No Healthcare For Children

Even though this latest CBS News poll found an overwhelming majority of Americans supported the legislation:


Favor - 81%
Oppose - 15%


Yes -74%
No - 17%

These men voted no on SCHIP here in Michigan: Camp, Hoekstra, Knollenberg, McCotter, Rogers and Walberg. They have tax-payer funded public insurance - and so do their children. Remember that when you vote in 2008.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

FYI: Health care plan comparison tool

This is worth bookmarking for future reference:

2008 Presidential Candidate Health Care Proposals: Side-By-Side Summary

The Kaiser Family Foundation has a comprehensive tool for comparing the health plans of all the presidential candidates. It allows users to select as many as four candidates at a time for a side-by-side comparison that can then be formatted into a printer-friendly pdf. It summarizes their positions in four overall categories - access to health care coverage, cost containment, improving the quality of care and financing.

Ezra Klein used the tool to compare McCain's plan with what McCain's campaign site says and this is his synopsis:
It's another of these plans to sprinkle magical tax credits all across the land that will incentivize folks to buy less health insurance, but do absolutely nothing for the cost of care. Families get a $5,000 tax credit to help them buy insurance, and they can keep what they don't use, and so the hope is, they'll buy plans with higher deductibles, be unable to afford the deductibles, and will thus buy less care. [...]

There's a bit more pabulum about encouraging price transparency and sound medical research (all good things, none of which are expanded into actual policy ideas on the site), and it does hint at removing the employer deduction for health insurance (which would be good in many ways, but is politically impossible), but at base, this is a big heap of nothing. It doesn't make health care cheaper so families can better afford it. It makes cheap insurance cheaper so families will buy more of that, and thus use less health care.
Sigh...why do candidates keep pushing these non-plans? Polls show that voters aren't interested in expanding the market driven, private insurance-based system that perpetuates our present health care nightmare. National health insurance is the cure they want.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A truly perverse and incoherent form of class warfare

Right-wingers are still busy sliming 12-year-old Graeme Frost and his family because they received benefits from - and spoke out in favor of - the SCHIP program. E.J. Dionne does a particularly good job of illuminating the right's hypocrisy, which he calls a "a truly perverse and incoherent form of class warfare."

From TruthDig:
[The Frost's reward for speaking out] was to be trashed on right-wing blogs and talk radio as if they were multimillionaires ripping off the system.

And of what were the Frosts guilty? Well, they own their own home, which they bought for $55,000 in 1990 and is now worth about $260,000; they invested in a commercial property, valued at $160,000; Halsey Frost, a self-employed woodworker, once owned a small business that was dissolved in 1999; and Graeme attends a private school on scholarship. I rely here on facts reported this week in The Baltimore Sun and The New York Times, both of which set straight the more outlandish claims made by the Frosts’ attackers.

So rather than just condemn the right-wingers as meanies, let’s take their claims seriously. Doing so makes clear that they are engaged in a truly perverse and incoherent form of class warfare.

The left is accused of all manner of sins related to covetousness and envy whenever it raises questions about who benefits from President Bush’s tax cuts and mentions the yachts such folks might buy or the mansions they might own. But here is a family with modest possessions doing everything conservatives tell people they should do, and the right trashes them for getting help to buy health insurance for their children. [...]

Most conservatives favor government-supported vouchers that would help Graeme attend his private school, but here they turn around and criticize him for ... attending a private school. Federal money for private schools but not for health insurance? What’s the logic here?

Conservatives endlessly praise risk-taking by entrepreneurs and would give big tax cuts to those who are most successful. But if a small-business person is struggling, he shouldn’t even think about applying for SCHIP.

Conservatives who want to repeal the estate tax on large fortunes have cited stories—most of them never check out—about farmers having to sell their farms to pay inheritance taxes. But the implication of these attacks on the Frosts is that they are expected to sell their investment property to pay for health care. Why?

Oh, yes, and conservatives tell us how much they love homeownership, and then assail the Frosts for having the nerve to own a home. I suppose they should have to sell that, too.

The real issue here is whether uninsured families with earnings similar to the Frosts’ need government help to buy health coverage. With the average family policy in employer-provided plans now costing more than $12,000 annually—the price is usually higher for families trying to buy it on their own—the answer is plainly yes. All the conservative attacks on a boy from Baltimore who dared to speak out will not make this issue go away.
Dionne is right. The issue won't go away because the problem affects so many Americans, not just children. That's what has the conservatives and their insurance friends so rattled that they're willing to smear a little boy. They're putting dollars and cents ahead of people, and they call themselves the "values" party.

(If you're interested, check out my post at BFM: Would Jesus have vetoed the SCHIP bill?

Friday, October 12, 2007

A little self-promotion

Three things happened to me this week that I wanted to share with everyone. First, I was invited to become a front-pager at Blogging for Michigan and I accepted. BFM is a relative newcomer to the blogging scene here in Michigan (I believe they started up in July), but they hit the deck running and haven't stopped since. Check them out. They have many talented, progressive bloggers that provide news and commentary on issues that affect us here in Michigan from the local level all the way up to Washington.

I wasn't sure I'd fit in since I tend to write about everything from soup to nuts (hence the title of this blog), but they assured me my posts didn't have to be Michigan specific and that anything I wanted to contribute would be welcome, it was all good. So, I decided I'd give it a try and see what happens.

That brings me to my second bit of news. Earlier in the week, I posted this at BFM: Our children are not safe around Republicans. It's about the smear campaign directed at Graeme Frost and his family by right-wing conservatives. You can click over and read it if you're interested. Frost is the 12-year-boy who suffered a brain injury in a car accident and continues to receive help through the SCHIP program. Anyway, that post was mentioned by Bill Scher at Tom Paine/Common Sense today!

Scher specifically said, Michigan bloggers are out in full force, and besides my post at BFM, he also mentioned posts at Michigan Liberal and Michigan Class Notes. Kudos to those blogs! Michigan definitely has a strong group of progressive bloggers and this proves it.

Finally, I have to thank Abi for something he dug up on the internet in response to my post: Must See TV: George Gipp. The Gipper's body was exhumed from a Michigan cemetery earlier this week for DNA testing without much explanation, but Abi found two entries on an ancestry bulletin board that "might" explain why. A woman claims her grandmother may be the Gipp's daughter and an author currently writing a book about the football player answered her and said DNA testing could be arranged. Anyway, since Abi posted his comment, my count meter has been zooming and 75% of the people are reading that post and his comment.

That just goes to show you that dead celebrities generate more interest than politics!

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Five years ago today...

Think Progress reminds us that five years ago today the Senate voted to authorize the use of military force in Iraq by a vote of 77-23. Here are the 23 Senators who courageously voted no, including Michigan's own, Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Sen. Levin.

Bush declared at the time that "America speaks with one voice."

Five years later, America is once again speaking with one voice: "Bring our troops home."

(Cross posted at Blogging for Michigan.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Do the right thing for our kids

After reading about the right-wing's smear campaign against Graeme Frost, the 12-year-old boy who recently shared his story about being involved in a severe car accident and receiving medical care because of SCHIP, I've concluded that our children are not safe around most Republicans.

Thank heavens we still have bona fide "compassionate" people like Gov. Granholm speaking out for them. She urges everyone to do the right thing and protect our kids by overturning Bush's veto. You can do that by visiting to show your support for the compromise that garnered strong support from Democrats and Republicans across the country.

Here's some background from the governor's website:
Thanks to MIChild, we provide health care to 55,000 children in Michigan every month - but there are still 158,000 children without health care who desperately need it. [...]

The bill would provide Michigan with an additional $64 million in funding for children's health care in 2008. That's a 44% increase for Michigan's children compared to the President's proposal.

The funding would enable the state to provide affordable health coverage to an additional 80,900 low-income uninsured children in Michigan. [...]

We have a real opportunity to overturn Bush's veto. This legislation was supported by 67 senators and 43 of the nation's governors from both political parties. In the senate, it was passed with a "veto proof" majority - and we are only about 25 votes short of a veto proof majority in the House. In Michigan, Republican Representatives Upton, Ehlers, and Miller voted in favor of the bill. Representatives Walberg, Knollenberg, Rogers, McCotter, Camp, and Hoekstra were the Michigan members to vote against it.
Our children shouldn't suffer because their parents can't buy insurance through normal means. Please, click over to and ask your legislators to override the president's veto.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Must See TV: George Gipp

Another "Must See TV" show was recently filmed in Michigan, although I have to admit I find it a little macabre.
The body of U.P. sports hero George Gipp was exhumed from its gravesite at Lakeview Cemetery in Osceola last Thursday. The reason, according to the Houghton County Medical Examiner's office, was medical/genetic testing.
According to the Mining Gazette, the DNA testing is in conjunction with an upcoming book on the Gipp's life written by historian Michael Bynum, and an ESPN crew was present because the network is airing a program on the Gipp as part of a series on the top 25 college athletes of all time.

Bynum's book was postponed to include the results of the DNA testing, which he said will be detailed at a later date. I'm curious to know what it is Bynum's looking for, especially after reading that his book will seek to correct past works on Gipp that he claims were marred by sloppy research and exaggerated details. Maybe the Gipp didn't die from pneumonia and strep throat like historians claim. They also said the Gipp liked women and gambling. Can DNA testing verify that?!

I hope there was a good reason to dig him up. Gipp's great-nephew (who authorized the exhumation) apparently thought there was, but several other family members were less than pleased. Ron Gipp, a distant cousin, said, "I stayed right until the end when he was buried in the ground again. And this time, he'll rest in peace, and this will be over with."

The airdate of the ESPN program is unknown, and so is the guarantee the Gipp will rest in peace for eternity.

Update: Check out the comments and read the links Abi provided there. It appears the Gipp may have fathered an illegitimate daughter based on correspondence between Bynum and a woman that Abi found posted on a genealogy bulletin board.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Do tax dollars disappear into a black hole?

This is an interesting idea that might be worth taking a look at here in Michigan. From Democracy for Utah:

Utah cities to emphasize the services you get for your tax dollars
The Utah League of Cities and Towns has started a new marketing campaign called "Making Life Better" (brought to you by the same folks who did Utah's "Life, Elevated" tourism slogan) to highlight the services that cities provide (Deseret News):
The league has commissioned eight years of surveys that show Utahns incorrectly believe their hometowns collect a large portion of their taxes but provide few services. [...]

As league policy analyst Neil Abercrombie introduced the statistics from the latest survey done by Dan Jones & Associates, he said, "I'm not going to say people are clueless. Let's just say they're less than knowledgeable about who provides city services."

For example, the survey asked residents whether they had used a municipal service in the past 24 hours.

Sixty percent said yes, but only 15 percent of those said they used a city-maintained street that day, and just 11 percent said they used city-provided electricity and sewer services.
Republicans have done their best to convince people that their tax money just goes into a big black hole. Who would've thought that, in Republican Utah, city governments would want to promote the fact that they provide a lot of services for your tax dollar. [emphasis mine]
According to the Deseret News, the campaign is expected to improve the perception of cities and towns by making it clearer exactly what services are provided with those tax dollars. I think that's a great idea, particularly after reading only 11 percent of Utahns said they used city provided electricity and sewer services! What are they using, candles and outhouses?

For the record, I have a feeling Michigan's residents don't fully comprehend what services they get for their tax dollars either - from the state level on down.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A state-sized temper tantrum

To all of you temper tantrum-throwing adults unhappy with the recent tax increase, grow up and act your age. Never in my life have I been so embarrassed by some of the things I’ve been hearing on the news and reading in the paper. We’re like a huge dysfunctional family. The rest of the country must be laughing their heads off at us.

Why? Because we have Leon Drolet (and his pink pig), executive director of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance, organizing a recall effort against Granholm and our legislators over a tax increase that will cost a family of four earning $50,000 a year about $210 dollars. The war in Iraq is costing taxpayers billions and billions of dollars (and was based on a lie), but I don’t hear Drolet calling for Bush’s impeachment.

I also don’t hear taxpayers in Macomb County calling for Drolet’s recall – yet. Drolet serves on the Macomb County Commission and earns $34,069 a year. If he’s spending so much time and energy on the recall, is he doing a good job for the taxpayers of Macomb County? Maybe they should look into that.

We also have the Small Business Association of Michigan following in Drolet’s footsteps, which isn’t really surprising. SBAM and Drolet teamed up and held a teabagger protest against a tax increase earlier this year. The association is now trying to get a proposal onto the ballot that would either repeal or change the tax on certain services such as skiing, consulting and interior design. Sales tax always applied to 26 different services, but the recent budget changes expanded that to 53.

This service tax is a burden and will kill business according to some small business owners, which was the same excuse we heard about raising the minimum wage, yet that didn’t happen. My local television station interviewed a manager at a ski resort who actually said the tax would put them out of business. Global warming may put her ski lodge out of business, but I seriously doubt anyone who spends hundreds of dollars on down-filled jackets, boots and ski equipment will let a 6% tax on a ski lift scare them away.

That same newscast also interviewed the owner of a local gym who said the tax would hurt personal trainers. She said trainers usually charge around $400 dollars and people wouldn’t want a trainer’s assistance if they had to pay an extra $24 tax. Again, I doubt that. If a person can afford $400 for a personal trainer, they’re not going to let $24 stand in their way.

The bottom line is that this is the first income tax increase since 1999 and 36 other states will still have higher taxes than Michigan. And when the new sales tax goes into effect in January, Michigan will rank 27th nationally in the number of taxed services. It’s also worth noting that in 2000 Michigan had 61,493 state employees, but now, under Granholm, the state has 52,259 employees.

If people are going to throw fits and temper tantrums, there are bigger problems they should be focusing their sights on like the war, out-sourcing and the uninsured. Get a grip on reality, people.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Under construction!

I finally switched to the new and improved (not so sure about that) version of Blogger and I've run into some glitches. It could be operator error - very possible - or the template. Anyway, be patient while I fine tune everything in my spare moments!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Union made and proud of it!

This was forwarded to me by someone I know who works for GM. The original sender said he was just walking thru the State Fair of "The Gret Stet of Texas" minding his own business...whistling "This is Our Country"...when LO AND comes a Toyota Motorsports Trailer...sez "We're here to race"...

And WHAT truck would YOU use to pull a Toyota Trailer?

That's right - a CHEVY

Jalopnik has more pictures and adds this:
Obviously the reason why Toyota wasn't going to be able to haul this heavy of a trailer was because they don't have a heavy duty pickup to hitch that big Toyota racing trailer up to. But even the most hard-core Toyota truck fan's got to admit it's probably a little embarrassing to have the competition hauling you around by your johnson trailer hitch.
Texans have an expression that Toyota might have heard: All hat and no cattle.

It seems appropriate somehow.