tvm's blog

Your tax dollars at work

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In today's Ithaca Journal:

Grant to support healthy choices

The Human Services Coalition, in collaboration with Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Tompkins County Health Department, will receive a $1.2 million grant over the next five years to support environmental changes that will reduce obesity and prevent development of diabetes.

Betty Falcao, director of the Health Planning Council of Tompkins County, said the Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work and Play Grant will support changes in environments that can help residents make healthier choices, such as to be more active or eat more fruits and vegetables.

The first two years of the grant will focus on the City of Ithaca and the Town of Dryden.

Examples of changes include promoting the use of neighborhood or community trails, improving accessibility and proximity of residential areas to recreation areas, improving aesthetic or safety aspects of physical environments, and working with local restaurants and stores to add healthier items.

You decide whether or not you think this is good or necessary, but you should at least be aware that the "Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work and Play Grant" is money that comes from the NYS Health Department (i.e., your taxes).  That much ought to have been made clear but wasn't.  OK, now decide.

Pec's Bad Boy

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There must be something wrong with the water in NYS and I don't think it has anything to do with fracking. Good grief.

We here at One of Nine could eliminate the middleman and free up a page on our blog for all you county Republican males to post pec pics of yourselves, but only if you look like the hottie here:

And this is interesting (via Hot Air):

Obamacare news for us toothless, shoeless ones...

...and a call to conservative artists.

From Reuters, via Drudge:

The House of Representatives will vote to block funding for President Barack Obama's signature healthcare overhaul when it takes up a budget plan it will consider next week, House Republican Leader Eric Cantor said on Tuesday.

"I expect to see one way or other the product coming out of the House to speak to that and to preclude any funding to be used for that," Cantor said at a news conference, referring to an effort to block implementation of the health-care law.

Wonder what our Mr. Hanna will do.

Meanwhile, back here at Redneck Mansion (photo right), we're breathlessly waiting for the release of a graphic novel comic book that's going to explain the wonders of Obamacare to all us bitter clingers to guns and religion (from the Boston Herald, via Weasel Zippers):

The MIT economics whiz who crafted President Obama’s national health-care overhaul now plans to explain the complex and controversial plan to the masses — in one long comic book.

Jonathan Gruber, a nationally recognized health economist who devised the economic underpinnings of Obamacare (Gruber hates the term), said his three comic-loving kids encouraged him to use the hip format of the graphic novel — basically an expensive comic published in book form — to tell the story of the complicated plan to 300 million Americans.

[...]

“I’m going to use the facts to tell the story,” Gruber, 45, told the Pulse yesterday. “I’m the narrator guiding the reader through the law. It’ll have lots of pictures and text.”...

[...]

Now Gruber is breaking down the president’s 2,400-page legislation into illustrated, bite-sized panels for non-wonks who either don’t understand or don’t like the national plan....

OK, countermoonbat artists, have at it. No money involved, just glory.

Calendar items: Zoning--February Dryden town board & planning board meetings

From the Dryden Town Newsletter:

Ongoing zoning law work

 

Zoning Rewrite

 

The second Wednesday of each month (February 9th this month) during the town’s Abstract & Agenda Meeting, the Town Board will continue the ongoing work of updating our zoning law. A more up to date draft is available on the town’s website. Both the Abstract & Agenda Meeting (with zoning update work) and the business meeting on the third Wednesday (February 16th this month) are held at 7 pm at the Town Hall at 93 E Main St, Dryden, NY 13053.

 

For more information, check out our web page: Proposed Zoning Law Rewrite Resources Page http://dryden.ny.us/environmental-planning/proposed-zoning-law-resources-page

 

As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to email comments@dryden.ny.us and your comments and questions will be forwarded to the Town Board.

 

Hamlet of Varna Community Development Plan

 

The Planning Board is handling this project at the moment. They meet the 3rd Thursday of each month (February 17th this month) at 7 pm the Town Hall at 93 E Main St, Dryden, NY 13053.

 

For more information, check out our web page with information about the Varna Project http://dryden.ny.us/environmental-planning/varna_project

 

Related note:

This graph is in an international context, but the importance of property rights is generally applicable, down to the local level. 

Obamacare decision updates

Here's some audio of Judge Roger Vinson on his Obamacare decision:

No, no, Roger Vinson, not Robert Vinton! Understandable mix-up since they both live in Florida.

Ahem. Well, we don't have any audio of the judge, but the text of his decision can be found here (via Legal Insurrection).

And here is the text of the Tompkins County Republican Party's press release on the decision:

In the wake of U.S. District Court Judge Vinson’s historic decision declaring Obamacare unconstitutional in its entirety and the party line Senate vote rejecting Obamacare repeal, the Tompkins County Republican Party announces its continuing support for the repeal of the entire Act.  “While we need certain healthcare reform such as tort reform and portability, the changes we make need to be sustainable.  We don’t need expensive, government controlled, Obamacare,” said James Drader, Tompkins County Republican Chairman.

“Obamacare did not have the support of a majority of the American people when it was passed and has not had majority support since,” Drader stated, “scientific polling data shows that.  The worst part of this enactment is that our representatives did not represent the people, and Democrat senators have just again denied the will of the people.  Rarely has a major enactment been passed with so little public support and on a virtually straight party line basis.”

“In a representative republic, those we elect are there to carry out the will of the people, not to decide, as an elite, that they know what is good for the people and that they have the right to force it on us.  We, as Republicans, will be vigilant in watching our elected officials, to make sure they carry out the will of the people.” 

Drader concluded, “Judge Vinson’s opinion is worth reading.  Obamacare is based on the interstate commerce power and would fine people for not buying health insurance.  But, as Judge Vinson wrote, if Congress can order us to engage in “activities” and to buy things under the commerce power, the rest of the constitution and its restrictions on Congress become meaningless and we would have a federal government of unlimited power.  Republicans support changes in our health care system, but we need to repeal this Act and start over again to develop a more limited, thoughtful, and bipartisan reform grounded in realistic cost estimates.”

And lastly, an op-ed piece by the Republican governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels.

Book review--"Basic Economics" by Thomas Sowell

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The blog Ace of Spades is often potty-mouthed and borderline-smutty, and has as its motto a quote by the patron saint of curmudgeons, H.L. Mencken: "Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats." As a collection of bloggers, they're always interesting; I really like them. One of the writers, Monty, runs a regular feature called the Sunday Night Book Thread.  In tonight's thread he steals my thunder by doing what I had hoped to do myself, i.e. review Basic Economics:

I carry around in my head a list of "essential books" -- books that profoundly influenced me or changed the way I think about things. These are books that I push on friends, give away as gifts, and read over and over again.

One of these books is Thomas Sowell's Basic Economics, now recently updated to the 4th edition. Along with Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson, it forms the bedrock upon which most of my economics knowledge is built. I remember how amazed I was when I first read it: Sowell had produced a primer on economics that was somehow concise and accurate without resorting to jargon and dense pseudo-mathematical formulae.

One of Sowell's strengths as a writer is that he has a wonderful simplicity of style. He has a good ear for the plainsong of American speech, but he doesn't dumb down his prose or make lame attempts at being "folksy". He also has a great ability with metaphor, analogism, and simile, which stands him in good stead in books like Basic Economics. Sowell is a great teacher, in other words: he doesn't just tell you things; he shows you, and in such a way that you find yourself nodding in agreement as Sowell wraps up a Q.E.D.

Basic Economics is also written to a general audience, which means it's suitable for high-school-age people onwards. It's not only a good read for adults, but if you home-school (or have the ability to jawbone your kid into reading a book on his or her own time), I highly recommend this book. Innumeracy and ignorance of economic principles is one of the main reasons we're in the fiscal mess we're in right now -- there are many people in government and industry right now who could have benefited from reading Sowell's book.

As Monty says, QED. The first edition of Basic Economics as well as three other books by Sowell are available via interlibrary loan at Southworth Library.

Bonus clip: a video of Sowell being interviewed concerning another of his books, The Housing Boom and Bust:

Who Really Cares?

Confession: I stole the title of this post from the title of a book published by Arthur C. Brooks in 2006 with the subtitle The surprising truth about compassionate conservatism; America's Charity Divide: who gives, who doesn't, and why it matters. Everyone would benefit from reading it. In fact, I have the book on my iPod along with the Liturgy of the Hours (no, really), ready to whip out at a moment's notice, like at church this Sunday when the bulletin contained the following insert, excerpted here:

PUTTING PEOPLE ON THE ROAD TO WORK

I have a job. Why should I care about the employment of others? The answer comes when we expand our vision beyond ourselves to include our “neighbor” and the common good.

So far, so good.  No mention of government—yet.

There are many roads into poverty, and many people are but one unfortunate circumstance away....

[....]

In the current era of high unemployment, the toll is heavy on both individuals and society. Individuals and families are often thrown into desperate circumstances. Demands (and costs) on social safety nets skyrocket...

OK, here's where we start getting into issues such as the ones raised in this piece by the excellent Melanie Phillips: "Sorry, Archbishop, but there IS a big difference between the deserving and undeserving poor."

We have a choice. We can turn a deaf ear to the needs of our stricken brothers and sisters, leaving them fall back on charity, government aid, and social services for survival. Or we can advocate for policies and programs which put people on the road to work.

When did "charity" become a four-letter word?  And the logic of the rest of this paragraph escapes me.  If you "advocate for policies and programs which put people on the road to work," presumably with the target of that "advocacy" being the governor and state legislators (see the petition below), how are the resultant devoutly-to-be-hoped-for policies and programs different from the dreaded "government aid"? 

[....]

When governments are forced to tighten their belts, programs to help the poor and working poor are at greater risk of indiscriminate cuts, because advocates for the poor do not have the political influence of powerful, special interest groups.

Really?  Remember those evil lobbyists progressives are always talking about?  Let me translate: "advocates" = "lobbyists".  But "advocates" sounds so much more virtuous, doesn't it?  Almost like the third person of the Trinity. And as for not having "the political influence of powerful, special interest groups," I'm afraid I'm not buying it. Check out Discover the Networks if you want to know more about the powerful, special interest groups on the left who have a vested interest in keeping the truly vulnerable among us down. Always, always, ask "Cui bono?" The answer to that question is not repulsive Republicans or evil conservatives, and certainly not the deserving poor. 

As Catholics, we must be vigilant, encouraging our representatives to apply prudence and intelligence to budget decisions. Short-sighted decisions can have serious long-term repercussions for individuals, families, and society as a whole....

Truer words were never spoken.  Progressive legislation is famous for not taking into account those unintended, but foreseeable, consequences that always seem to come back and bite us in the tush (for earlier, related posts, see this and this).

Do read the whole thing (as well as some of the other interesting documents under the general heading of "Diocesan Public Policy Committee").

The petition we're being asked to sign next weekend reads thusly:

2011 Public Policy Weekend—Diocese of Rochester

Working Out of Poverty: Transportation and Child Care for Low-Income Workers

We understand that difficult decisions need to be made regarding the 2011-2012 New York State budget.

We, the undersigned, urge the Governor, the Assembly, and the Senate to give priority to programs that preserve and promote employment, with special attention to subsidies for child care and transportation for low-income workers.

If you want to "advocate" for something, lobby Governor Cuomo and your state representatives in the Assembly and Senate to lower taxes for businesses and individuals, thereby making it more possible for businesses to hire motivated people who want to work, and more possible for individuals to care for the truly needy by leaving more of the fruits of labor with the folks who actually produce the fruit. "Advocate" for a lessening of burdensome, nanny-state regulations, which assume that everyone is stupid and/or greedy and which tie people's hands at every turn.

In an article at American Thinker, Christopher Chantrill points out that the assumption behind this kind of petition drive is

the idea that taxes and government spending are the highest and best answer to all social problems...

[Progressives] are saying that only force will solve the problem.  Government is force; politics is power.  Taxes are force; spending is force.  There's no mystery about this...

[....]

Conservatives believe in an America that is cooperative, peaceful, and egalitarian,...  But we think it can be done without all the liberal bullying.  In other words, without the force.

The sooner we start, the less the poor will suffer.

Of course, if you believe that you're not paying enough taxes and that all those efficiently-operated, corruption-free governmental social service agencies (and related entities) are horribly shortchanged in state budgets, by all means write them a check.  I'm sure they won't say no.

Words and context matter

I think I may start a continuing feature on all the myriad ways the left changes the language thereby changing the "conversation," as Mrs. Obama would put it. I'm certainly not the first person to think of this; there are surely compendiums (compendia?) of ordinary or familiar words and phrases whose meanings have been completely flipped by the lefties. Maybe I'll just occasionally point out an example when I come across one myself.  Like this one (emphasis added):

In an e-mail obtained by ABC News, a top staffer for the key Senate Appropriations subcommittee called for a meeting of lobbyists and interest groups that would be affected by expected cuts to the Labor and Heath and Human Services budget. The Jan. 24 meeting was attended by approximately 400 people, sources told ABC, and served as a "call to arms" for those determined to fight Republican budget cuts.

"One thing everyone should be able to agree on now is that a rising tide lifts all boats, and that a higher [Labor, Health & Human Services] allocation improves the chances for every stakeholder group to receive more funding," the committee staffer for Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, wrote in an e-mail inviting people to the meeting.

Maybe I'm being unduly influenced by Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday tomorrow, but this sounds like an attempt to appear Reaganesque in a completely surreal context.  Although it's commonly attributed to him, there's some question whether or not Reagan actually used the phrase "A rising tide lifts all boats" in a speech or wherever; certainly John Kennedy, who would probably be considered conservative by today's standards, used it first.

Neither of those men would have used it to refer to entrenched governmental agencies (federal and state), their employees and assorted beneficiaries seeking to ensure their own continued existence—at taxpayer expense, of course—through concerted lobbying. And as Brian Simpson pointed out last year at Red State, it's also true that "You can’t artificially (emphasis mine) raise the tide. You’ll drown a lot of boats." 

Maybe Harkin's staffer was just being snarky. In any case, it's good to have some context when dealing with propaganda from the left.

Village Squared, and some nuggets from the "Tompkins County Election Worker News"

I know, I know—the newsletter sounds like a snoozer.  It's not, really.  Two things:

95 Years of Election Results Online

We [the Tompkins County Board of Elections] recently completed a major project to compile, digitize, and make available Tompkins County Election Results dating back to 1915. Many staff members and interns took part in the various steps to make this possible. Decades of results handwritten in old ledger books had to be entered into an Excel database, proofed, then turned into a format that could be viewed online, and uploaded. As far as we know, we're one of the few, or perhaps only county in the US to have such detailed information online. Check it out on our website, www.votetompkins.com.

Might be useful for students, or maybe there's something there for real writers (certainly not yours truly) to draw on for a historical novel or a nonfiction book.  Or it might just be fun for local history/local politics junkies.  If anybody discovers something interesting, please share.

*** 

IMPORTANT DATES

March 15: Village Elections in Cayuga Heights, Dryden, Groton and Trumansburg. Polls open noon to 9 p.m.

April 26: Lansing Village Election. Polls open noon to 9 p.m.

Sept.13: Primary Election. Polls open noon to 9 p.m.

November 8: General Election Polls open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

This a big “local” year. Although there are no State or Federal offices on the ballot, there are almost fifty offices across the County up for election. See votetompkins.com for a complete list.

The complete Election Workers newsletter may be found here

And even though there are no federal, state, or even Tompkins County offices up this year (all the offices on the ballots are either village or town), 2011 is important locally and 2012 elections are right around the corner.  Go to VillageSquared, sign up, and also become a member of one or more of the "Groups" that appear on the right-hand side of the page. So far, there are groups for folks represented by Lifton, O'Mara, Nozzolio, Seward, Hinchey, and Hanna, as well as a Village of Dryden group and a Town of Ulysses/Village of Trumansburg group.  We're going to want to hit the ground running, so go sign up toot sweet.

Welcome, Legal Insurrection readers!

Thanks to Professor Jacobson for making us his Blog of the Day!  We really do appreciate it. Hopefully, the reports of the death of blogging are greatly exaggerated.

And now, back to work:

(h/t Chad Griffith)

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