Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ominous Rumblings . . .

The headlines from the Middle East are ominous. . . .

After Syria chemical allegations, Obama considering limited military strike

Syria crisis: Russia and China step up warning over strike

Syria accuses Kerry of lying, disregarding UN

It's interesting to compare this situation with the beginning of the Iraq war.  Then the Hussein regime was (again) threatening its neighbors.  It was feared that both nuclear weapons and WMD would be involved. We made a preemptive strike after 6 months of dithering (which gave time for the WMD (if any) to be smuggled over the border.

Now we are threatening to intervene in a purely civil war over the use of WMD in Syria.

President Bush was called a "liar"  when no WMD were discovered in Iraq, in spite of the best intelligence in the world saying otherwise.  Now that WMD are being used just across the border in Syria, we supposedly know who used them and are ready to make a strike?


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Boycotting "The Butler" . . .

I've received a couple e-mails requesting that I boycott the movie "The Butler." The Blaze  reports on one theater owner who is refusing to run the film. . . . there is even a The Butler Boycott Facebook Page.  What's the fuss all about?

While the inaccurate portrayal of the White house butler (no doubt to further an agenda to divide this nation along racial lines) is probably a good enough reason to boycott the movie, the big fuss is over one of its stars.

Jane Fonda stars as Nancy Reagan.

Folks of my generation need no explanation, remembering the Viet Nam War, the thousands of American soldiers killed, and Ms. Fonda's activities giving aid and comfort to those killing our men.

Ms. Fonda herself now calls her posing in a photo laughing and clapping with North Vietnamese soldiers "an unforgiveable mistake."

Ms. Fonda is absolutely correct, her actions were and are unforgiveable.

Those too young to remember those days should Google Jane Fonda, Hanoi Jane, and the Vietnam War.  (Throw in John Kerry while you're at it to understand who and what is running things in the country today).

I will not be seeing this movie.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Assuming Parental or Personal Responsibility . . .

Yesterday Congressman Hanna posted this on his Facebook Timeline:
Today I am announcing my support for bipartisan legislation which would require private and public universities and colleges to increase transparency about the costs of higher education so that families can make more informed decisions.

The Truth in Tuition Act would specify that every college provide each student admitted with a multi-year tuition and fee schedule, or a single-year tuition and fee schedule with a multi-year estimate of net costs. . . .
Mr. Hanna bemoans the skyrocketing cost of higher education . . . and then offers as a solution government-forced "accurate information" from each as a solution.

First, Mr. Hanna's proposal is maddening. We borrow 40 cents out of every federal dollar spent and now he proposes spending more money (because someone has to define and enforce these requirements)  to achieve a result that individual students and their parents can achieve by simply doing their homework and making proper inquiries.  In addition, there have long been publications that provide most of this information.

Second, his proposal does nothing to contain costs.  And perhaps it should not.

The entire federal system of grants and student loans that was intended to make higher education "more affordable" has had the opposite effect by providing a ready pot of money for educational institutions to tap into . . . encouraging them to raise raise tuition, fees and their own costs of labor for instructors and fixed costs for fancy digs.

Now we have thousands of graduates about half of whom cannot find a job requiring their degree that are in debt up to their ears that they are  unable to pay off.

More government involvement is not the way to go.  It will only muck things up more than it already is.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Uh -Oh: The Headline Says It All

From the Tennessean: Remington Arms scouts Middle TN after N.Y. bans its rifle
People familiar with Remington’s exploration of sites said the company looked around the Nashville area as recently as within the past month.
So let's see . . . New York drives industries out of state with high taxation, high utility costs, and a high regulatory burden . . . and when that doesn't work it passes laws that target the industries left behind.

Yet at the same time, it gives away the store for government-sponsored industry (nanotech).

Sounds like Soviet Russia, doesn't it?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Nanotech: What's the Real Cost?

Rochester's Democrat & Chronicle has an interesting article today: Nanotech: Albany's boom industry is getting traction in WNY
In Buffalo, a $250 million pharmaceutical research facility is being built. Last month, a $100 million solar-energy research and manufacturing center was announced in Rochester.

And in June, construction started on a $500 million computer chip commercialization center in Utica.

All of it is the offshoot of SUNY’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany, the wildly successful research hub that has 3,000 employees and $17 billion in public and private investment. . . .
This all sounds very hopeful . . . but you have to dig deep to figure out what this is costing the taxpayers.
A half hour north of Albany, GlobalFoundries, aided by $1.3 billion in state money, has a booming semiconductor chip manufacturing plant — a spinoff from the nanocenter’s research.
According to an article this past week in The (Albany) Business Review, that plant  has created 2100 jobs.  Do the math:  That's almost $620,000 per job!

The Rochester article describes the Utica commercialization project as "a $500 million venture with the goal of 900 jobs." That's $555,000 per job!  A photovoltaic center in Rochester is described as a $100 million facility with $65 million being from the private sector. That means $35 million is from public funding for a mere 100 jobs or $350,000 per job.

To be fair, all this "investing"  may be setting the stage for future growth.  The Albany article linked above reveals that Global Foundaries is planning to install a SECOND fab in Malta.  And there are rumors about town that there is an actual company interested in our own Marcy Nanocenter to the point where an actual proposal can be incorporated into OC's wetland's permit.  These are all signs of potentially good things on the horizon that hopefully will come to fruition.

But, with the seemingly good news, we still do not know the real costs.  The ones mentioned above are only for state money.  What about local "investments?"  Oneida County taxpayers are bearing the highest sales tax outside of Manhattan apparently for "economic development" purposes.  As noted in past posts, Greater Utica sewer users are being tapped in their sewer fees to expand facilities for "economic development."  One suspects that Herkimer County residents and businesses along West Canada Creek will be paying a price in diminished creek flows (which has an economic consequence for some) for such development since the local Nanocenter was a consideration in the Water Authority - Canal Corporation settlement that was brought about WITHOUT a formal environmental impact study and statement.  Will "success" in attracting government-sponsored private sector investment become an excuse to take even more from taxpayers?

What is the cost in NON-state-subsidized-government-beholden-nano-tech jobs that are being squeezed out of NYS by the state's policies to foster nanotech? You cannot give $billions from the taxpayers to one industry sector without it harming others.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

If Not At This Time, Then When?

OD: County to vote on maintaining sales tax rate
Oneida County still has one of the highest sales tax rates in the state at 8.75 percent. On Wednesday . . . David Gordon, D-New Hartford — wants to push to reduce it. . .
But Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, as well as the Board’s Democratic and Republican leaders and Gordon’s November election opponent all disagree. A 0.25 percentage point reduction would cut $7.6 million from the budget. . . .
. . .  planned uses of the surplus include paying off some of the postponed pension costs, upping a fund for economic development and replenishing reserves . . .

Democratic Minority Leader Frank Tallarino of Rome said he doesn’t support reducing the sales tax at this time.
Well if not "at this time"  then when?
Picente said  . . . .“Let’s see where we go in the next few years, as Marcy and a few other things come into line,” he said, referring to the nanotechnology center now under construction at SUNYIT.
There is always some excuse. . . . If the nanotechnology center does go, then that will be come a convenient excuse to spend even more money: just another Griffiss "International" Airport money pit.

Let's get serious about "economic development."  Mr. Picente and the leaders of both parties want  to shift money out of your wallet into government sponsored economic development.  Meanwhile, mom-and-pop businesses all around the region -- like the aquarium business mentioned in the OD article -- are dying, the high sales tax being an additional stress on small retailers, restaurateurs, and others.

It's time to start doing more with less.  Make the climate right for private enterprise by taxing and spending less.  We'll be better off in the long run.