April 2008


Earl Humphreys, owner of Lawn Boyz off Volunteer Pkwy. in Bristol is organizing a gas price protest at his business. On Monday, May 5, Humphreys, along with other lawn care companies, 20 trucking companies who plan to park their trucks in protest, and concerned citizens will be staging a Gas Price Protest.

Humphreys is just one of many whose business has suffered due to increasing gas prices, and plans to provide a voice for those of us being “held over a barrel.”

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey has cleared his schedule to attend the event.

I would be there, but it would take quite a bit of gas to drive from Jonesborough to Bristol and back, so that kind of defeats the purpose. You can bet I’ll be there in spirit!

Former House Majority Leader, Kim McMillan (D), who is planning a 2010 run for governor, now says she is against the income tax.

McMillan, a Clarksville Democrat, voted in favor of an income tax in Tennessee in 2002. What I find interesting – and laugh-out-loud amusing – is the reason she gave for voting for the measure.

McMillan told Nashville’s City Paper, “When I had to choose between a plan that would allow us to remove the sales tax on food and make us competitive with Kentucky or increase the overall sales tax with no benefit to anybody, I think that was the choice that I took at that time in line with what the constituents of the 67th District told me that they thought was more appropriate.”

Huh?

So, what McMillan is saying is that her constituents told her they would rather have a state income tax than a food tax? Is she serious? What kind of idiots live in Clarksville nowadays?

You know how I like to do simple math, so indulge me for a moment.

We’ll use Virginia’s income tax system as an example. Let’s say you make $25,000 of taxable income. Now, – using Virginia’s tax schedule – you would pay $1,181 in taxes to the state (not counting sales taxes on other items). If, however, we decide against having an income tax and keep the food tax exactly as it is now, and you spent $100 per week on food, you would pay $286 in taxes each year. Even if you eat a whole lot more than that and spend $200 per week on groceries, you’d still only pay $572 in taxes each year.

So, these morons in Clarksville actually told McMillan that they would rather the government take $1,181 out of their paychecks each year than pay $286 on top of their grocery bills? Something must be terribly wrong with the schools ’round those parts. Either that or McMillan is a dirty, dirty liar (kind of like Bob Patton who said that his constituents favored an income tax).

McMillan knows that the income tax is a terribly unpopular issue, so she’s trying her best to distance herself from her vote. The funny thing is that she inadvertently called her Clarksville constituents stupid. Whoops.

It would seem that I’ve been an unimaginable slacker in my blogging over the last several days. You got me. I’m in another one of my funks, wishing to forget that there’s anyone else on the planet but my friends, family, and me. Alas, I managed to dig through the news tonight and actually found a few things that have happened in our fair state over the last few days that interest and irritate me enough to shove me back up onto the blogging horse.

  • AT&T Bill Passes House: Good news? I’d like to think so. I’m always up for encouraging competition, especially when it comes to competing with businesses like Comcast – yick. Oh, how I long for my reliable Charter internet service (glorious memories of days gone by…). However, here’s what I fear: AT&T only offers cable to certain areas, so some of us are left out of the competition offer. Companies like Comcast (my only option out here in Leesburg) raise their prices to make up for lost revenue in areas that have AT&T service. The Oliver family gets it straight up the tailpipe. Jama blows a budgetary gasket. Ugly, eh? While getting government out of the way and allowing the market to decide who gets what for how much is nearly always a good idea, I’m a little nervous about this little arrangement. That’s not to say I’m unhappy that the legislation passed. I’m generally opposed to government meddling, and this is no exception. The fact that cable companies actually have to dig through government red tape to offer services irritates me to no end, so if this tiny move in the right direction (of getting government out of the way) causes my cable bill to go up, then so be it. We’ll adjust. We’ll make sure we’re in a decent coverage area the next time we buy a house. Or we’ll cancel our cable and get some cool wireless internet service via Verizon or Alltel. But I will not whine about the government finally butting out (even if they only butted out a little bit…).
  • Still waiting to find out if slackers can hang on to their lottery scholarships: I’m sure I’ve talked about this before, simply because it irritates me so very much. The move in Nashville is to allow students to keep their lottery scholarships even if the little buggers can only maintain a 2.75 gpa. The current requirements are a 2.75 after the freshman year and 3.0 thereafter. Forget the fact that we’re facing a budget shortfall this year, only to get worse, I’m sure, as the economy continues down the toilet, but our legislators want to ensure that even mediocre students can take up space in a college classroom – all on the taxpayers’ dime (you’ll recall my reference to the lottery as a “tax on people who are bad at math”). Thanks a lot. A former Sigma Kappa gal who’s now an instructor at UT has an excellent take on this measure (I think this is the first time I’ve ever actually agreed with her on anything).
  • Finally, the yearly “Close the State Tax Loopholes” measure is causing a buzz. Nashville’s Waller Lansden law firm offers an excellent summary of the increases, but I’ll just go over a couple of my favorites.  1.) Digital Products/iPod tax:  This measure would subject digital downloads, including music, television, movies, books, ringtones, etc., to the retail sales tax. Way to encourage illegal downloads and keep folks like me from downloading ringtones for my cell phone! 2.) Biodiesel: This bill would subject biodiesel to the standard $0.17 per gallon diesel tax. Way to encourage the use of alternative fuels and pour salt in the wound that is current gas prices! 3.) Business Software: This bill would tax, at the retail sales tax rate, the leasing, installation, support, modification, or repair of computer software. Let’s continue to dump on businesses and see how many new companies decide to open in Tennessee, shall we?

On a positive note, I’ll be attending Matthew Hill’s reelection shindig on Thursday night. I hear soup beans will be served and I’m a pregnant lady with a big appetite…wild horses couldn’t keep me away!

The Northeast Tennessee Republican Club will be meeting tonight at 6:00 at the House of Ribs in Johnson City.

Featured speaker will be Candidate for State House and former Legislator, Jerome Cochran.

Dinner is available for $12; meal, drink, dessert, and gratuity is included.

I’m so tired of all the bad news that, although I still scan the headlines each day, I’m reading fewer and fewer articles. “Food Prices Soar!” “Oil Nears $120 a Barrel!” “Economy in the Toilet!” “Clinton Still in the Race!”

It’s no secret that gas is up to $3.46 per gallon for regular in our fair town of Jonesborough; $3.50 in Johnson City. And I’ve certainly noticed that it’s getting increasingly difficult to stay within our grocery budget each month. By the way: if you have any tips for keeping my grocery budget down, let me know. It seems that everything that’s being suggested nowadays is stuff I’ve been doing for years: buying generic, buying on sale, buying in bulk, baking my own bread, blah, blah, blah…give me something creative, people!

Anywho, I know that things are getting tough, so the last thing I want to do is read doom and gloom articles about it. If the headlines read something like, “How to Save on Your Gas Bill!” or “How to Keep Hillary Out of the White House!,” I might be interested. Instead, I ignore the media. It’s kind of nice, really.

I do, however, have a few things to discuss on this fine day, which by the way, has so been one of those days:

  • There seem to be at least a few of you who are either misinterpreting my smoking posts or simply aren’t reading them all the way through. Or maybe you’re just having a hard time seeing the screen through your haze of cigarette smoke. Allow me to clarify: I’m on your side, smokers! Sure, I don’t like the smell of cigarettes. It could be my asthma or the fact that my pregnancy nose makes me sensitive to odors, but I’d really just rather not have to smell cigarette smoke. This does not, however, mean that I think the government should tell people when, where, and if they can smoke. I am opposed to the government-instituted hospital smoking bans and I don’t think the government should tell people they can’t smoke in their cars simply because there’s a child present. That being said, I also don’t think that non-smokers – especially those of us who suffer from medical conditions that make us particularly prone to illness or injury due to noxious gases – should be forced to breathe smoke-filled air. I would imagine that smokers wouldn’t appreciate excessive farting or large amounts of old-lady perfume permeating the air when they’re trying to eat dinner or enter a hospital. All that being said, I fully support your right to die an early, smooshy-lunged death if you want to! Here’s a little secret – I smoked as a teenager, so I understand the appeal. If you want to smoke, have at it and enjoy yourself thoroughly…I certainly don’t want to stop you (and I don’t think the government should stop you either). All I ask is that you give me the same courtesy I give you when I refrain from farting in public – nice people keep their gases to themselves. And stop threatening to blow smoke in my face or shove my nose in an ashtray or I might just change my mind and start lobbying against you…
  • Why is it that doctors don’t seem to understand the concept of time? All those years in medical school and you think that they would have had at least one class on scheduling appointments. Time and again I’m stuck waiting 30 or 45 minutes past my appointment time on a doctor who’s “running behind.” How many times can you possibly be “running behind” before you stop trying to schedule so many patients in an afternoon? I hate to think it all has to do with making as much money as possible by squeezing in as many patients as one can imagine seeing in one day. In the back of my mind, of course, I think that it might be conspiratorial readers of my blog who are making me wait because of my criticisms of MSHA…
  • Finally, I have some juicy information on possible scandal within the Todd Smith campaign, but I find myself as of yet unwilling to verify the info. Do I want to be “that girl?” You know, the one who comes across some information and runs with it, making that phone call that says, “I’m sorry, but I gotta turn you in…”? I’ll keep you posted. But I don’t think I could have ever made it as a journalist…

Two bills that would have prohibited smoking in certain situations were killed in the house today.

A bill that would have prohibited smoking within 75 ft. of a hospital was killed in committee with six voting in favor and 9 voting against.

While we’ve talked about the hospital smoking ban before (when it failed to pass committee in the Senate), I’d just like to reiterate the point that keeping people from smoking really isn’t the government’s job. While I don’t want to be exposed to cigarette smoke while entering the hospital to, I don’t know, have a baby or something, I’d rather the hospital make the rules against it than the government.

The other anti-smoking bill that failed today – and this is a doozy – would have made it illegal to smoke in the car if a child is a passenger.

I’m serious.

Despite the fact that my asthma was probably at least partially caused by growing up in a house with a smoking father, I can say that I’d rather have asthma than live under a government that would tell my dad that he can’t smoke in the car with me. What’s next? Curling irons may not be used in homes with children because they can burn themselves! Only raw foods may be served because of the risk of oven fires in homes with children! One may not drink a soda while driving a child to school because it is a distraction and an accident may result, in which the child may be injured!

It certainly pains me to meet a child who smells like an ashtray, as I would have hoped that his/her parents would have sense enough to take their butts (heehee) outside, but, sweet fancy Moses, is this really what we pay taxes for?

Thankfully, the members of the House committee that discussed the bill saw it the same way – it failed to even get a motion for passage, leaving it dead in the water.

I’ve not paid a lot of attention to the news this week, but this particular story piqued my interest. A detailed version of the events can be found on myway.com.

Most of the people I’ve seen on the news or with whom I have spoken about the abduction of over 400 children by the state seem to be in favor of the government’s actions. I think at first glance, it would seem that the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saint Church is strange, if not downright creepy, and most assume that they’re probably abusing their children. Those with young teenage girls are the first to say, “I can’t imagine my daughter getting married to some old man at her age!” What many are forgetting, though, is that the FLDS culture is drastically different from ours.

While I’m not condoning forcing 13-year-old girls into marriage with much older men, I’m not sure that I understand why Americans have adopted this arbitrary age limit at which point one is mature enough to get married. I know 40-year-olds who aren’t at a mature enough point to marry. Then again, I know 16-year-olds who could feasibly get married tomorrow. It is a result of our culture that most believe that children are still children when they’re teenagers – and, in “normal” US culture, they are – however, under different circumstances, there are 13-year-old girls who are more mature than I am.

Again, I’m not defending the “child brides.” What I am trying to point out is that our government has decided to take on a culture that is so drastically different from ours that it cannot possibly be understood from the outside.

My major concern with the whole situation is with the fact that the state actually has the authority to go in and take children from their homes due to suspected abuse. No hard evidence. No real facts. Simply based on a, what has now been determined to be false, phone call and the fact that this particular group of people live worlds differently than the rest of us.

Of course I want to side with the children. I want children to be protected, and it is our job as a society to make sure that the weakest among us are safe. Is this, however, a job that I trust the government to do? Hardly.

Obviously, if these children are truly being abused – raped, beaten (not merely “spanked,” but real physical abuse), neglected – then actions should be taken to protect them. Merely disregarding what our society deems “normal,” however, is no good reason to take 416 children from their parents. What’s next? Taking kids away from their parents because of spankings? Putting kids in state custody because some D.A. thinks their parents’ religion is “oppressive of women?” This is not a power I am comfortable with our government having.

I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for those children to be dumped into a culture that they don’t understand. How scared they must be. And how their mothers must feel knowing that their children are being faced with a big, scary world without them.

All of this thanks to our government who, at some point in the last 100 years or so, decided to deem itself “rescuer of the universe.” Whatever happened to Superman? I’ll take him over our government any old day.

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