Saturday, 8 December 2012

Just Tired of Fairness

I sat and watch some political dimwits chat for ten minutes this morning....and the term "fairness" got thrown around six to eight times.  So I finally got tired of hearing it.

“Fairness” doesn’t get a guy to pull a 10PM to 7AM shift at a local factory for $12 an hour.

“Fairness” doesn’t ensure a decent meal at the Catfish Cabin for $9.99.

“Fairness” doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed Ford-certified transmission mechanic when you demand an overnight repair.

“Fairness” doesn’t drive a truckload of tomatoes from Texas to Michigan in the middle of a December snowstorm.

“Fairness” doesn’t clean the restaurant kitchen enough to pass the city health inspector inspection. 

“Fairness” doesn’t get you a $20k loan from the local bank when your business heating system failed in the midst of February.

“Fairness” doesn’t guarantee your kid is getting a top-notch math teacher in the sixth grade.

“Fairness” isn’t going to help you when the city has determined a year-long construction project will go by the front of your store and halt half of the profits you enjoyed for a decade.

“Fairness” isn’t helping when a city council member won’t approve your booze license unless there’s some donation to their campaign fund.

“Fairness” doesn’t help when the cops won’t come out to your area of town after dark because there’s too much crime there.

“Fairness” doesn’t sweep up a mess made by a bunch of drunks around the back of your building the night before.

I would even add this....”Fairness” didn’t exist on the 6th of June 1944 on the beaches of Normandy. For anyone who is really obsessed with “Fairness”, maybe it’s time you asked what exactly is meant by the term.

Stuff You Don't Calculate On

California, for those who aren't watching business news...is in trouble.  The budget for the state folks is bad off and there just isn't alot of money in the tax revenue bucket.

Months ago, it was decided that it'd be best to tax the wealthiest in the state and help make up for tax revenue that the state needed.

This week....the state controller....got around to announcing the total for the month of November.  There's a problem here though.....the state is $806.8 million short from the anticipated point they should be.  That's almost one billion less on tax revenue.....by their numbers....roughly ten percent below the budget.

Some analysts have quietly hinted now that various business operations and rich folks....have decided that increased taxes just weren't going to be part of their business model.  So they moved.

A new financial crisis?  Right now....no.  It'll take six months of bad numbers for the state controller to stand up and admit taxing the wealthy folks didn't help much.  Sometime around May of 2013, I would expect a public statement via the governor's office and the state controller.  They missed their budget target and doing awful on tax revenue collection.  They actually had to borrow more money to survive each month's expenditures....so by summer of 2013....they are deeper into debt than they were in the summer of 2012.

The rich folks?  I would imagine that they got creative.  They might still own property in the state but there's likely a for-sale sign on it, and the folks have taken up residence in Arizona or Nevada.  The business operations that could pack up and move?  They probably spent some time thinking about the future and likely moved two or three states over.  So the lesson learned out of this mess?  You can tax the wealthy as much as you want.....but they can always think of a better way to handle their tax situation.

At this point, it might be a wise idea to start identifying state services that you just can't afford anymore, and just shut down.  Of course, this is all stuff that you don't normally calculate on, and can't do it because folks get angry about less services.  In the end....you chased your business folks out of town, and kept thinking the town can sustain itself.  You guessed wrong.

Just Observations

The Senate floor got all active this week as they needed internal passage of a rule that would allow popcorn and drinks on the floor during a display of "Lincoln" (the movie) on the Senate floor.  As important that the sequestration might be.....it ranked second for a couple of hours while this rule was roughed out and agreed upon by a majority of senators.  Why couldn't they go to a private theater and lounge in easy chairs to watch it?

Some Homeland Security folks were told to arrange a week of various exercises that security folks from across America would pay to view and participate in....in San Diego....at a private resort island of sorts there.  For one day of the exercise, they included this piece where zombies got loose in America, and Homeland Security forces had to quickly act....to protect the public.  No joke.  So far, no one in Homeland Security will comment much on the chances of a zombie attack.  At the end of this story....you have to wonder about who they hired and put into place for exercise development for Homeland Security.

A bunch of folks are getting all upset about a new MTV series called "Buckwild" (the adventures of young West Virginia kids at age eighteen).  Basically, they run around doing crazy stuff on weekends....like crazy kids do in Bama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Texas, and South Carolina.  The only difference?  These kids are getting paid some cash for doing the normal crazy stuff that they always do.  The folks complaining?  They don't do much to get excited, and I think this wild stuff really bothers them.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the Pentagon is all upset about recent events and generals doing naughty things.  So he thinks they need more ethics training.  You can imagine the deal....all the big generals meet at some Saturday function, get a four-hour presentation on ethics, and then do a group hug as they all admit they are cured of bad judgement on ethics.  A week later, they are swapping emails with some gal in Kentucky and have a relapse of bad judgement.  They call their ethics coach, and soon, there is intervention with General Joe or Admiral Barney.  Sitting off in France, some French four-star general is just sitting there with a beautiful blonde French gal on his lap, and just giggling uncontrollably over American judgement in such things.....sipping wine and eating some pretty decent caviar.  

Finally, an interesting move by the Supreme Court occurred this week....where they said they'd like to review two cases over gay marriage.  One involves an appeals court overturning the ban of gay marriage in California (after the population voted to say no for gay marriage).  The second case is whether Congress could enact a law that says that gay couples can't have federal benefits like a straight couple....which came out of 1996 legislation (the DOMA act).  I would suspect the Supremes will come to two different decisions....that a state can regulate itself by its own Constitution.....so California ends up with no gay marriage unless another vote occurs.  The second part to this will be asking the question of how you can invent a very limited and defined way of handling federal benefits....from the Constitution.  If this had to do with commerce....the Congress might have a better foot to stand on, but it doesn't.  So prepare for a fairly wide array of shots by the Supreme Court....making most everyone unhappy.

Suffering

At some point this week.....at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.....pop singer James Taylor got around to a political speech.  He wanted folks in the audience to know that he had suffered greatly during the Bush/Cheney years.  His quote: "Those were—it was a tough time for me.  I really suffered.”

I sat and paused over his comments.  He wanted everyone now to know that he felt better....more positive, and life was better.

So I pondered.  During the Bush/Cheney years, what did he do?

James Taylor still bought his coffee at Starbucks during the Bush/Cheney period.

James Taylor still drove his SUV around the countryside during the Bush/Cheney period.

James Taylor still sold albums and did concerts during the Bush/Cheney period.

James Taylor likely still bought his clothing at L L Bean during the Bush/Cheney period.

James Taylor likely stayed at coastal hotels along the Outer Banks during the Bush/Cheney period.

James Taylor probably lounged around swanky hotels in California during the Bush/Cheney period.

During that eight-year period....he suffered better than suffered badly. If that is truly suffering....there’s about 900 million guys around the globe who’d be happy to suffer like that...in America.

My Neighborhood

The FBI, for those who didn't know, have this old obsolete headquarters facility in DC....the J Edgar Hoover building....which started construction in 1965 and was completed around 1970.  Rather than put a massive amount of money into a building with various limitations, in the center of DC....the FBI would like to actually leave and move out....preferably over into Virginia.

The talk over the last month is that they have a couple of places in mind, near Fairfax.  The plus-side is that most of what they want is already sitting there and little would have to be done to change things.  Additionally, it's near the interstate and Metro.

Things looked pretty good on the FBI getting what they want....up until the end of this week.  Then, talk started up with DC city council folks and Prince George's county folks (Maryland).  They want a "deal", with the US federal government.

Years ago, the Washington Redskins played at RFK stadium in DC.  It was a decent stadium, able to hold around 56k folks (absolute maximum).  For years and years, the Redskins played there, until it was deemed too obsolete for the team, but not for the local government   The Redskins moved out into Prince George's county to FEDEX Field, where they play roughly eight home games a year.  RFK stadium?   It still stands there on the east-side of DC....in fairly obsolete shape, used for soccer and public events only, and ought to be torn down.

What happen over the past decade is that Prince George's county in Maryland has come to realize that for everything they did to acquire the Redskins into their county...it's simply not returning the value hoped for, in tax revenue and fees.

The Redskins will tell you that Fedex Field is a decent stadium with a number of negative factors.  Their owner would desperately like to have a new stadium built....in DC....then just pack up and go (not paying a fee to Prince George's county for violating the contract deal).

So there's the FBI building.  What Prince George's county wants....is a swap deal with the federal government where the FBI is forced into relocating deep into Prince George's county and they would allow the Redskins to leave without any legal action or extra fees.

Yeah, it all sounds pretty hokey.....the FBI building tied to the Washington Redskins.

What's brewing behind the mess?  There's some property down in southeast DC (the bad part of town) that the city is holding for long-term development.  One area is the old mental health facility where a massive stadium and parking could be built.  It's near the interstate and would crowd out the poor section of town within a decade, if something that massive was built there.

The FBI guys have to be laughing over this suggestion.  What Prince George's county wants....is for the FBI building to be located there and over the next decade....hundreds of the agents would eventually relocate up into the area....to pay hefty Maryland taxes (income, sales tax, and property taxes).  It'd all add up to a better deal than this lousy eight games a year played currently in Prince George's county.  You can also figure that the hotel use around Maryland for the eight games....isn't that great, and maybe half the incoming fans lounge over in Virginia rather than Maryland.

The DC city council knows that they have a trusted source or two within the White House team who could get the President to push the FBI over to a Prince George's county solution....so this all makes good sense to them in the end.

A comedy of sorts?  Yes.  The curious thing is that no one has spoken of the J Edgar Hoover property in the middle of DC and what might end up there.