NYS

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):

Kulaks and gulags

kulak n. A prosperous landed peasant in czarist Russia, characterized by the Communists during the October Revolution as an exploiter.

gulag n. 1.A network of forced labor camps in the former Soviet Union. 2. A forced labor camp or prison, especially for political dissidents.

From the Ithaca Journal:

Despite lobbying, Cuomo shuns higher taxes for the rich

BY JOSEPH SPECTOR •ALBANY BUREAU • JANUARY 25, 2011

ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to reject attempts by education groups and unions to shift the state's tax burden to the rich, saying that doing so would further hurt the state's business competitiveness.

The issue is creating a growing divide between the Democratic governor and the more fiscally liberal members of the state Legislature, who on Tuesday called on Cuomo to maintain higher income-tax rates for people making more than $200,000 a year. They also want him to move to a more progressive property-tax system based on household income not home value.

[....]

"When government resists deep cuts, when we appropriately tax the wealthiest New Yorkers and keep on public employees and keep on supporting the private sector by keeping government intact, (emphases mine) we actually see a better and stronger recovery," urged Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, D-Ithaca.

If Assemblywoman Lifton in fact said this (and that seems likely since it sounds like the sort of thing I've heard her say with my own ears), her entire remark is absurd on its face. But let's look more closely at the parts in bold.

That last bit, about "supporting the private sector by keeping government intact," is just a wee bit bass-ackwards.  No, dear, especially at the state level where the government cannot print its own currency, the private sector props up the government, not the other way around.  

And then there's the ever-popular-amongst-progressives meme, "when we appropriately tax the wealthiest New Yorkers" (of which I am not one, not even close, according to their definition).  From a document in the Library of Congress, via Legal Insurrection (A volost' was a territorial/administrative unit consisting of a few villages and surrounding land. Think "county.")

11-8-18

                                              [...]

Comrades!  The revolt by the five kulak volost's must be suppressed

without mercy.  The interest of the entire revolution demands this,

because we have now before us our final decisive battle "with the

kulaks."  We need to set an example.

      1) You need to hang (hang without fail, so that the public       

         sees) at least 100 notorious kulaks, the rich, and the            

         bloodsuckers.

      2) Publish their names.

      3) Take away all of their grain.

      4) Execute the hostages - in accordance with yesterday's          

         telegram.

      This needs to be accomplished in such a way, that people for

hundreds of miles around will see, tremble, know and scream out:

let's choke and strangle those blood-sucking kulaks.

      Telegraph us acknowledging receipt and execution of this.

                                               Yours, Lenin

P.S.  Use your toughest people for this.

Now, am I suggesting that Barbara Lifton is on a par with Vladimir Lenin and has designs on well-to-do New Yorkers' necks? Of course not. But I'd bet good money that well-meaning people in 1875 thought that Marx had really nailed it with "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" (not that even Marx's Communist Manifesto in 1848 was so original. The Jamestown colony in 1607 and the Plymouth Plantation in 1621, for instance, tried this very thing—spectacularly unsuccessfully). Those 1875 progressives probably never anticipated that, by 1918, a disciple of Marx would have carried Marx's philosophy to such neck-stretching extremes.

But words matter. Context matters. History matters. And while I doubt that Barbara Lifton and her like-minded fellow travelers give this much thought to the absurd nonsense they spout, they should.  Already (and I know I'm mixing time periods here) the NYS kulaks are escaping from the gulag, moving to states that place a lower tax burden on their citizens. And ultimately, this sort of progressive thinking never ends well.

Redistricting--Discover the Networks

The NY League of Women Voters (LWV) held redistricting information sessions today in Ithaca. Their PowerPoint presentation may be found here, and the position paper supporting it here.

The "Discover the Networks" in the post title refers to David Horowitz's website of that name, which is described as "a guide to the political left." It's a treasure trove, a veritable candy store, of information about all those groups and individuals that you always suspected were connected, only you weren't sure how. Now you'll know. The national LWV has its very own page here. Enjoy.

Killing that goose

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From Cato:

"Businesses — and hence, jobs — over time tend to migrate, other things being equal, from high-tax to lower-tax jurisdictions — and this is true both among states and countries. Many politicians — particularly those from California, Illinois and New York — seem unable to grasp this simple economic concept."

This was certainly true last year when NYS legislators only as a last resort dropped a proposal which would have forced hedge fund managers who work in New York but live out of state to pay higher taxes on their share of profits.

In fact, Connecticut's governor, Jodi Rell, had added ammunition to the concerns of NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others by using the proposal as a recruitment tool, launching what was generally described as "the hedge fund border wars." But the NYS legislators did, in the end, figure out that the tax they were proposing would kill not only NYS business and jobs but ultimately NYS tax receipts.

Same concept, larger scale, thanks to a corporate tax rate that's the highest in the world:

Tax holiday may 'repatriate $1 trillion from offshore havens

By Bloomberg News, Thursday, December 30, 2010

At the White House on Dec. 15, business executives asked President Obama for a tax holiday that would help them tap more than $1 trillion of offshore earnings, much of it sitting in island tax havens.

The money -- including hundreds of billions in profits that U.S. companies attribute to overseas subsidiaries to avoid taxes -- is supposed to be taxed at up to 35 percent when it's brought home, or "repatriated." Executives including John T. Chambers of Cisco Systems Inc. contend a tax break would return a flood of cash and boost the economy.

This has been tried before successfully:

In 2004, a tax holiday allowed multinationals to return profits to the United States at a tax rate of 5.25 percent. They brought home $362 billion, with $312 billion qualifying for the relief, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

So applying a 5% tax rate, say, to the $1 trillion that's currently sitting offshore would in theory yield a $50 billion "take" (as opposed to no take at all as it stands now). But in practice it might not prove to be quite that lucrative:

"Sophisticated U.S. companies are routinely repatriating hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign earnings and paying trivially small U.S. taxes on those repatriations," said Edward D. Kleinbard, a law professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles....

They're aided by a cadre of attorneys, accountants and investment bankers in the tax-planning industry.

"Some of the best minds in the country are spent all day, every day, wheedling nickels and dimes out of the tax system," said H. David Rosenbloom, an attorney at Caplin & Drysdale in Washington, and director of the international tax program at New York University's school of law.

So yet another cost of the high corporate tax rate and the complexity of the tax code in general is the misallocation of intellectual resources that results.  But I digress.

Another negative impact of the high corporate tax rate: John P. Kennedy, a partner at Deloitte Tax LLP, speaking at a conference in Philadelphia

...warned that booking large portions of income overseas can mean "you are going to strand so much cash offshore that your business chokes." That's because the foreign profits cannot be used for such purposes as building domestic factories without triggering federal tax.

Obviously, in the end, a tax holiday

..."is a short-term fix to a long-term problem, which is the uncompetitive U.S. tax structure," said Cisco spokeswoman Jennifer Greeson Dunn.

Nevertheless, a tax holiday would generate a sizable infusion of cash to the economy, both in terms of "repatriating" funds for investment purposes and in terms of tax receipts.  

As for the long-term picture, folks from Aesop to Ayn Rand have recognized that killing the goose that lays the golden eggs is suicidal, both personally and societally.  High tax rates kill business, which in turn eliminates jobs, ultimately leading to lower, rather than higher, tax receipts.  Why can't the powers-that-be see this? I think I know the answer, but that's another post.

on a tip from Tom.

Of cuts and cutlets

When spending>receipts, that=deficit.  And when there's year after year after year of deficits and you're a state, that leads to California, Illinois, and....New York.

A few days ago, the NYT ran this story:

Path Is Sought for States to Escape Debt Burdens

By MARY WILLIAMS WALSH, Published: January 20, 2011

Policy makers are working behind the scenes to come up with a way to let states declare bankruptcy and get out from under crushing debts, including the pensions they have promised to retired public workers.

Unlike cities, the states are barred from seeking protection in federal bankruptcy court. Any effort to change that status would have to clear high constitutional hurdles because the states are considered sovereign.

But proponents say some states are so burdened that the only feasible way out may be bankruptcy, giving Illinois, for example, the opportunity to do what General Motors did with the federal government’s aid.

Beyond their short-term budget gaps, some states have deep structural problems, like insolvent pension funds, that are diverting money from essential public services like education and health care. Some members of Congress fear that it is just a matter of time before a state seeks a bailout, say bankruptcy lawyers who have been consulted by Congressional aides...

In addition to the question of whether or not a sovereign state can declare bankruptcy under the Constitution, there are other issues such as how much credibility such states will have in bond markets in the future, the constitutionality of the judicial branch directing the actions of the executive and legislative branches, what to do re: public employee pensions that are actually enshrined in state constitutions, the moral hazard involved if spendthrift states are allowed to declare bankruptcy—lots of grist for the blogging mill.

Reuters reported today, however, that 

U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Eric Cantor said...that he does not support any federal bailouts for states or allowing them to declare bankruptcy.

Cantor, speaking to reporters, was reacting to reports last week that some fellow Republican members of Congress were preparing legislation allowing cash-strapped states to declare bankruptcy.

"I don't think that that is necessary because state governments have at their disposal the requisite tools to address their fiscal ills," Cantor said.

Last week, Newt Gingrich, the conservative Republican and former House Speaker, told Reuters that legislation was being prepared in Congress to let states declare bankruptcy -- an idea that the potential 2012 presidential candidate had been talking up.

Gingrich's remarks came despite resistance from states and investors in the $2.8 trillion municipal bond market to such a move.

I don't have a crystal ball so I don't know how this will play out—bankruptcies, bailouts, just plain collapse—but ultimately, spending will have to be massively cut back. And as soon as you start talking spending cuts, the "why-do-you-hate-(fill in the blank—children, old people, animals, fresh air, clean water...)" groups start crawling out from under every available rock. To wit:

New group joins N.Y. school aid fight

BY MICHAEL GORMLEY •THE ASSOCIATED PRESS • JANUARY 22, 2011, 8:25 PM

ALBANY, N.Y. -- A new, well-financed partnership plying both fundamentals of democracy and modern high-stakes lobbying plans to bring Albany's fight over public school aid into New Yorkers' homes.

The Alliance for Quality Education, a school advocacy group that helped unseat some incumbent senators in November, is joining with the powerful New York State United Teachers union to protect school funding....

"This is a different approach to politics," said Billy Easton of AQE. "This is based on the idea that all politics is local and the best way we can influence the outcome here in Albany is what we do on the ground in people's districts, and how successful we are in engaging communities in what's happening," Easton told The Associated Press.

NYSUT is providing AQE with $425,000 for use over four months to pay for staff in several counties statewide, many represented by potentially vulnerable senators. The funding will pay for rallies, local news events, phone banks to build pressure on Albany, mailings and door-to-door campaigns. It aims to mobilize clergy, parents, teachers and community leaders around their schools.

Seven more full-time organizers will operate from new offices....

But what Easton calls "bottom-up pressure" isn't aimed at Cuomo....

"Bottom-up pressure"? Shades of Van Jones? But whether this spokesman is a true believer or is just jerking our chains, it's true that AQE will certainly benefit from the largesse of NYSUT.  

Now maybe education and how it's funded is not your pet peeve.  Maybe it's something else that really hacks you off.  But no matter what it is that makes you mad, the pattern is always the same—the other side always seems to have a sugar daddy, whether an individual or a group, with deep pockets who makes it possible for them to pursue their agenda while we have—chicken BBQs.  Now don't get me wrong—I like chicken BBQs as much as anyone. But really—where is our NYSUT? Why are we always limping along trying to scrape together minimal resources when the opposition never seems to be hurting for cash or warm bodies to get the work done? Anybody?

DRAC, Shelly, Redford, & Soros

Which of these things in the post title is not like the others?  Trick question.  They're all related.

DRAC is the Dryden Resource Awareness Coalition, a local group of folks who attend town meetings and so forth to express their opinion that fracking is bad (h/t Kathy).  Fair enough—they're certainly allowed to say what they think (as we are) and since the science on this doesn't appear to be settled, they provide a useful viewpoint.

But, as always when trying to get to the bottom of a tangled heap such as fracking, we should be asking cui bono, who benefits?  In answer to that question, the DRAC people and similar groups round up the usual suspects —the landowners who signed the leases, the fracking companies themselves as well as all of their suppliers, the nameless, faceless evil fat cats—you know the drill, so to speak.  But wait, there's more!—from the NY Post             (h/t Tom):

Shelly's $hale game    His law firm pushes gas-drill 'frack' suits

By BRENDAN SCOTT Post correspondent, Last Updated: 7:56 PM, January 17, 2011

ALBANY -- As Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver leads the fight to block a type of natural-gas drilling in New York, his private law firm is in other states trying to drum up multimillion-dollar lawsuits against the practice, The Post has found.

The speaker's massive Manhattan-based personal-injury law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg, plans a pair of public forums this week in Pennsylvania and West Virginia to "listen to the concerns of the community, share information and discuss legal options" about the gas-exploration phenomenon known as "hydrofracking" or "fracking."....

Silver (D-Manhattan) -- citing risks of water contamination by chemical byproducts from the process -- has emerged as a leading foe to expanded natural-gas drilling, which proponents argue could improve New York's energy independence and revive upstate's long-stagnant economy.

Last month, former Gov. David Paterson extended an environmental review period after vetoing a six-month ban shepherded through the Assembly by Silver.

Drilling advocates, government watchdog groups and even some Democrats say Weitz & Luxenberg's anti-drilling push, which follows a similar forum last month in Pennsylvania, raises questions about the powerful speaker's independence on the high-stakes issue....

Silver has for years refused to detail exactly what he makes and what he does for the firm, even as it plays a key role in the state Trial Lawyers Association, one of Albany's most influential lobbying groups.

Silver refused to address questions about whether Weitz & Luxenberg's anti-drilling advocacy posed a conflict for him....

That sort of changes the complexion of the thing, doesn't it?

And then at American Thinker, heartache—to think that I used to like Robert Redford:

The movie Gasland came out of nowhere to slam the shale gas industry -- an industry that has already substantially brought down the price of natural gas throughout the nation, saving consumers and business untold billions of dollars in energy costs.  The natural gas boom spawned by technologies such as horizontal drilling and fracking have also enriched citizens and states that have reaped part of the bounty brought to the surface by these technologies. Gasland casts aspersions regarding the safety of these technologies, especially to the water tables [tvm note: Gasland was brought to Albany last spring by Barbara Lifton].... 

....Did Gasland really come out of nowhere, or did it benefit from the helping hands of George Soros?

Gasland was shown at the Sundance Film Festival -- that was the first step in its journey to make the bigtime (including the HBO screenings). Gasland got a major boost in prominence when it landed a coveted spot at Sundance....

...The Sundance Institute receives funding from  George Soros; furthermore, the Sundance Documentary Film Fund was formerly known as the Soros Documentary Fund. Soros and his Open Society Institute have given many millions of dollars to the Sundance Institute. The officials who run Sundance know their donors and their special interests.

According to the Capital Research Institute, Sundance founder Robert Redford "genuflected" before Soros when Open Society gave the Institute 5 million dollars in its latest "gift":

"Sundance Institute has supported documentary storytellers since its beginning. The recognition of that history by George Soros and the Open Society Institute, and the continuation of our relationship over time, speaks to our shared belief that culture-in this case documentary film-is having a profound impact in shaping progressive change."

Soros responded that he is interested in such movies because "documentary films raise awareness and inspire action."

That presumably includes action that help prevent us freeing ourselves from being dependent for our energy supplies on unfriendly nations....

Go to American Thinker to read the article in its entirety, as well as to find other pieces in the archives that contain more "interesting" information re: hydrofracking and the leftist agenda. 

Lastly, if you keep having the nagging feeling that there are even more dots to connect, that may be because there very likely are. Opposition to fracking...social zoning...sustainability....it seems as though it's always the same group, or groups, of people involved and zoning and sustainability are already quite explicitly linked by those on the left.

We always seem to be behind the curve, don't we? Time to catch up.

"We are all fascists now"

Remember this Newsweek cover? It appeared almost 2 years ago (time sure flies, doesn't it?).  It was actually a reference to Richard Nixon's remark in 1971, "We are all Keynesians now."

But a little over a year before this magazine cover appeared, a book by Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, was published. The last chapter in the book is entitled, "The New Age: We're All Fascists Now." Wait a minute--fascism? the American Left? Isn't fascism a right-wing movement? Aren't conservatives forever being called "fascist"? Well, Goldberg's thesis was that fascism is in fact a left-wing movement. And to give you a little taste, on p. 51 Goldberg writes, "By the early 1930s he [Mussolini] had found it necessary to start putting Fascist ideology down on paper...doctrinal Fascist economics looked fairly recognizable as just another left-wing campaign to nationalize industry, or regulate it to the point where the distinction was hardly a difference.  These policies fell under the rubric of what was called corporatism, and not only were they admired in America at the time, but they are unknowingly emulated to a staggering degree today."

Hmmm...not sure about the "unknowingly" part. Here's the text of the President's remarks yesterday afternoon in Schenectady (accompanied by Hanna, Gillibrand, and others) at the corona—err—installation of Jeff Immelt of GE as the leader of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness (which replaces the group formerly known as the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board led by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker—you know, the guy who helped Reagan with policies that led to two decades of growth).

From FOX:

It is unclear how the administration plans to deal with the ethics challenges created by having a CEO whose income is determined by stock performance leading a panel designed to recommend government policies. G.E. (2009 revenue: $157 billion) is a huge government contractor and is always in the market for new subsidies and incentives....

Though intended to show Obama’s coolness with corporate America, the Immelt pick will likely reinforce the perception in American boardrooms that Obama likes to play favorites when it comes to the economy....

And while Volcker was said to have always been locked out of the Obama inner circle, Immelt should have the president’s ear. Immelt’s campaign donations and constant boosterism of the Obama agenda should provide a solid foundation for becoming a close adviser to the president, or perhaps just making that advisory role official.

The suspicious eye that will be cast on Immelt, though, may lessen his ability to provide the connection to the business world Obama has promised. Other CEOs are unlikely to see a competitor who pushes policies explicitly to benefit his company as an ally in the fight for a fair, free market.

No kidding.

For background on how this type of thing has come to be simply accepted by many (and to have ammunition—wait, am I allowed to say that?—for an intelligent comeback when someone calls you a fascist), read Goldberg's book. His style is entertaining, and while you might not agree with everything he says (I didn't), you'll undoubtedly be better informed.  Southworth Library doesn't own a copy but you can request one through interlibrary loan (and Tompkins County Public Library does have a copy).

"Morning after pill" for minors being considered in the Assembly Health Committee today

THE  PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEMBLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  1    Section 1. Short title. This act shall be known and may  be  cited  as

  2  the "unintended pregnancy prevention act".

  3    S  2.  Legislative  findings. The United States Food and Drug Adminis-

  4  tration (FDA) has declared emergency contraceptive pills to be safe  and

  5  effective in preventing pregnancy when used within 72 hours after unpro-

  6  tected  intercourse. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecolo-

  7  gists and the American College of Nurse-Midwives  state  that  emergency

  8  contraception  (EC)  is  so  safe, and using it quickly is so important,

  9  that it should be available over the counter,  without  a  prescription.

10  They also emphasize the need for unimpeded access to EC for all women of

11  reproductive  age.  However,  although  there  are no medical reasons to

12  limit provision of EC, the FDA only approved non-prescription access for

13  women 18 years and older....

The complete text of the bill as well as other info may be found here.

(h/t Jim & Tom)

Compare & contrast

The three states in the worst shape financially are California, Illinois, and...New York.  From today's Ithaca Journal USA Today page:
Illinois enacts tax increases to cut $15 billion deficit
CHICAGO — Debate is raging across Illinois about tax increases passed this week by a lame-duck General Assembly: Are they job killers that will drive employers away or a vital step toward erasing a $15 billion budget shortfall?

The latter, says Ron Howell, executive director of Recovery Resources, a non-profit substance-abuse treatment center in Quincy struggling with a 30% cut in state funding and a 90-day lag time for state reimbursements.

"The bigger the (state budget) hole gets, the bigger the problem becomes," he says.

In Danville, though, owner Bob Watson of Watson Tire and Automotive Service says he might scratch his plan to hire another worker and may even consider a move 5 miles away to Indiana.

"I have to live on what I make," he says, "and so should the government."

Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, signed the legislation Thursday. The measure could add $6.8 billion a year to revenue by temporarily raising income taxes from 3% to 5% and increasing the corporate tax rate from 4.8% to 7%.

Quinn says the increases are necessary to stop the state from "careening towards bankruptcy."....

Interestingly, the New York Times reported that same story this way:

Illinois Legislators Approve 66% Tax Increase

By MONICA DAVEY

Published: January 12, 2011 

CHICAGO — With only hours left before new state lawmakers were to take over, Illinois’s State Legislature narrowly approved early on Wednesday an increase of about 66 percent in the state’s income tax rate.

The vast size of the increase, the rarity of such increases here — the last one came two decades ago — and the hour of the vote (in the wee hours of Wednesday) all reflected the urgency and depth of this state’s fiscal crisis.

Even grudging supporters of the tax increase, which won no Republican support in a state capital controlled by Democrats, voiced a desperate sense of regret over the circumstances in which Illinois finds itself. State Representative Elaine Nekritz, a Democrat who voted for the increase, described her decision as an alternative “between bad and worse.” Another Democrat cautioned his colleagues: “We don’t have a better choice today.”...

Creates a very different impression from the first version, doesn't it?  

A couple of things come to mind: first, particularly where numbers, percentages, etc., are concerned, beware of spin and use common sense. The other side is banking on our "innumeracy" to cloud the issues.

Secondly, this probably isn't going to end well for Illinois (from John Kass's column in the Chicago Trib, via Pundit & Pundette):

They forgot to earmark some extra funds for that great, big wall.

You know, that wall they're going to need, 60 feet high, the one with razor wire on top and guard towers, equipped with police dogs and surrounded by an acid-filled moat.
 

The wall they're going to have to build around the entire state, to keep desperate taxpayers from fleeing to Indiana,Wisconsin and other places that want jobs and businesses and people who work hard for a living.

Something to keep in mind, NYS leaders.

And as for "Pundit and Pundette": we only wish we'd thought of it first.

UPDATE: NO 'Stache in Albany on January 25th

UPDATE (1/20): Heartache! There'll be no 'Stache in Mudville next week after all.  Now the scheduled speaker is slated to be Chuck Cunningham, Director of Public Affairs for the NRA.  No offense to Chuck, but...bummer.


From Dave Henderson's Outdoors column in the Ithaca Journal:

Bus To Albany

I haven't heard of any groups chartering buses from this area for the Jan. 25 second Annual Sportsmen & Outdoor Recreation Legislative Awareness Day in Albany, but you can catch a bus at the Gander Mountain store in Cicero that morning.

The Oswego County Federation of Sportsman's clubs is sponsoring the bus, which will make a 5:30 a.m. pick-up. The bus will leave Albany at 2 p.m....

NRA head Wayne LaPierre will not be the speaker this year. In his place will be former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton. (emphasis mine)

 

Whoa!  Much bigger deal than Wayne LaPierre, frankly.  Methinks perhaps the 'Stache is running for President in 2012.

An earlier post on this event is here, and it also is listed on our calendar.

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