Monday, April 20, 2015

Letter to Dispatch

Ohio legislators believe Julia Lease's desire to fly a flag trumps the contract she voluntarily signed ("Ohio legislators want to protect flying the Stars and Stripes").  In fact, those busybodies want to "prevent landlords and homeowner associations from restricting the display of the Ohio flag, the American flag and military service banners."

So, in the shadow of the yet waving banner of freedom, these Republican politicians want to abrogate one more property right.

Isn't this the antithesis of the ethos behind the Revolution: the rights of the citizen over an ever-encroaching government?

And isn't it the moral obligation of the state to protect the right of property, not to annul contracts to benefit one over another?

Seems our state legislators have no issue with repeating "a long train of abuses and usurpations."

Friday, March 27, 2015

Sadness of Arrowhead and the Unlikeliness of Independence

My prayers go out to the children, parents, and staff at Arrowhead -- and that is not simply a repeat of a nuanced nicety, so to speak. I really do pray for all of them.

I write to point out what I believe to be well-worn rhetoric emanating from board president Kevin O'Brien. As quoted in the latest edition of The Olentangy Valley News, O'Brien claims he will be asking "the board to complete a comprehensive, independent investigation of those events to find answers and to help us move forward."

Keep your eye on "independent."

To conduct an independent investigation, the board would have to hire outside investigators without interference from the superintendent or linked organization, such as the Ohio School Boards Association.

That means O'Brien would have to have the internal strength of character to ask the superintendent to leave closed door sessions so the board could interview, hire, and charge the investigators without input from the superintendent. That also means the investigators would have to be given broad authority to access district information and interview employees without question from the administration. And the findings would have to be delivered directly to the board, not funneled through the superintendent's office.

I do not believe that will happen under O'Brien. I just do not see him challenging the superintendent in such a manner.

Does that mean the district covered up something or that justice will not be served? Certainly not.

However, O'Brien's banal rhetoric is offensive under these circumstances.



Note: O'Brien's comment is similar to the typical politician making the rounds who claims, after some tragedy, that he "is doing everything humanly possible to ...," when he really means he is making the rounds of talk shows to preen and posture for the microphones and cameras, all the while campaigning for reelection.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

The Bias of The Dispatch

Dear Editor:

Your bias is showing.

Reporter, Jessica Wehrman, opens her article, "War on Science," with this claim, "Among scientists, questions about climate change and childhood vaccinations have long been settled." Yet, later in the article she notes a survey which claims only 87 percent of scientists accept the notion that climate change is caused mostly by human activity.

So, what is it: the implied 100 percent claim attributed to the reporter in the opening statement or the 87 percent claim arising from a survey -- a survey that itself has been challenged as overstating acceptance?

Newspapers are supposed to report the news -- the facts. So how did the editors allow a reporter's bias to lead off an article? Could it be a reflection of editorial bias as well? Hmmm.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Uncle Sam empties the barn

A post of mine over on the Blog at Mises.org:


Uncle Sam empties the barn


Jim Fedako

The nature of man being what it is, the desire for fun and leisure is limitless. After a hard week of working and saving, Friday night is enough reason to open the barn door for music and celebration.

Farmer Bob woke Monday to face another week of reaping that which he had sown. He knows the routine: out to the fields in the morning for a long day of labor. Each evening, he returns to his barn and tosses the day's bales of hay, one after the other, onto an ever-growing pile in the back. Bob recognizes that he has to store - to save - this hay so that he has something to exchange at the Saturday farmers market throughout the year. In addition, he recognizes that he has to set aside some bales to feed his animals next week and throughout the long, cold winter.
After completing this task, Bob locks the barn door and drags his exhausted body toward home and kitchen. During the season, his routine is usually the same. But this week had a little twist.
Unbeknownst to Bob, his wife invited her Uncle Sam to visit. Now, Uncle Sam is a real layabout. Sure, he is fun, always ready for a hearty laugh, yet he never works a job. At family reunions and get-togethers, Uncle Sam alludes to "all that money my wife left me." But folks who knew his wife never heard of any family wealth or riches.
For the price of meals and a bed, Uncle Sam entertains relatives for a week at a time, moving from house to house, and city of city, arranging events that become the talk for years. Now it was Bob's turn to host the party. Yet, somehow, Bob sensed something was not so.
Given the challenges of running a business, Bob relies on his entrepreneurial calculations to keep his family fed and the finances of his farm in order. So, throughout his work week, Bob mentally tallies bales of hay. There are the 100 he unloads into the barn each evening - his nominal savings. And then there are the five bales that succumb to pests and mold during the week. So, working five days per week, Bob has an effective savings of 495 bales per week - the 500 reaped less the 5 lost.
At the end of each week, Bob splits his weekly product between the 50 bales for next week's feed, the 300 he sets aside as long-term savings - for exchange and feed throughout the winter, and the remaining 145 he exchanges at the market each Saturday for current goods, services, loans, etc.
As the season is 10 weeks old, Bob has already stored 3,000 bales in the barn - a great savings to be sure.
At the start of the week, Bob had confidence in his future. But he soon experienced a nagging concern over that layabout planning the Friday shindig.
Each day, Bob labored while Uncle Sam relaxed on the porch, iced tea in one hand, phone in the other, planning the big event. Bob simply could not figure how Uncle Sam was going to pay the final bill. A concern that disturbed Bob's usually fitful sleep.
Friday evening arrives and Bob is exhausted and just a little annoyed - guests are arriving in droves. After unloading fresh bales of hay, Bob turns to lock the barn door. But there stands Uncle Sam, quickly reaching out his hand. "Bob, leave the door open. We need the space to store stuff for the party," Uncle Sam says with a coy smile. Against better judgment, Bob complies. He leaves the door wide open, wipes his forehead, and heads toward his warm meal.
We can guess the ending. The party is the event of the year. As expected, in the morning the yard is a mess and the barn is empty save a few bales littered here and there. Uncle Sam is still around, seated at the breakfast table, looking tired but happy. Bob is irate, "Sam, how could you do that? It's all gone; my savings, my future."
Uncle Sam is unshaken. "Look, I used your hay to stimulate the local economy -- it was a real boom, wasn't it? And don't worry, your barn will soon burst with hay once the multiplier takes over. Trust me."
"Multiplier?" Bob shakes his head. He knows the hard work involved in the production process. And Bob knows that it is only hard work that leads to savings and a future.
While Uncle Sam reaches for seconds, Bob quickly downs a second cup of coffee and heads to the fields. He has a lot of work to do.
The question remains: During the week of Uncle Sam's visit, what was Bob's rate savings? Is it based on the 500 bales he reaped but did not directly consume? Is it based on the 495 bales that survived pests and mold? What about the 300 set aside for the winter? How about the 195 to be exchanged at the market for current goods, services, and loans? Or, is his rate of savings based on the 3,000 odd bales that are no longer in the barn due to thate

Briggs and the Owl: a refutation of atheism

Briggs and the Owl: a refutation of atheism



"The owl of Minerva spreads its wings and takes flight when the shades of night are falling." Hegel


Or, as explained by Wikipedia, “[P]hilosophy comes to understand a historical condition just as it passes away. Philosophy cannot be prescriptive because it understands only in hindsight.”

So, poor Briggs, just like the atheists he counters, his owl has flown and he does not even recognize it. You see, Marx closed the epoch of atheism some 170 years ago. Yet Briggs and the atheists fight on, not recognizing that understanding came with the passing away. So the continued fight is pointless, indeed.

According to Marx, in a letter to Engels, “Atheism, as the denial of this unreality, has no longer any meaning,  for atheism is a negation of God, and postulates the existence of man through this negation; but socialism as socialism no longer stands in any need of such a mediation. “ [emphasis in the original]

Setting aside for now the reference to socialism, Marx is unequivocally stating that atheism requires God for its own existence. So what is atheism other than a negation God? Nothing. It cannot even explain the genesis of man or his relationship to nature.

As summarized by C.L.R James, the letter to Engels continues:
To a hypothetical person who asked him [Marx}: ‘Who has produced the first man and nature in general?’ Marx replies: ‘I can only answer. Your question is the product of abstraction. Ask yourself how you arrive at this question. Ask yourself whether your question does not occur from a point of view which I cannot answer because it is an absurd one. Ask yourself whether that series exists as such for reasonable thought. Whenever you ask about the creation of nature and man, you abstract yourself from man and nature. You presuppose that you don’t exist and yet you demand that I prove you exist. I now say to you: Abandon your abstraction and you will give up your question. Or if you hold fast to your abstraction, accept the consequences. Whenever you think of man and nature as non-existent, regard yourself as non-existent, since you are natural and human. Think not, ask me not, for as soon as you think and ask, your abstraction from the existence of nature and man makes no sense.’”

That is the cosmology you are fighting, Briggs. Atheism is so early nineteenth century; quaint, yet atavistic. Like it or not, we are in the epoch of socialism. According to Marx:
But since for the socialist man the entire so-called history of the world is nothing but the creation of man through human labour, nothing but the emergence of nature for man, so he has the visible, irrefutable proof of his birth through himself, of his genesis. Since the real existence of man and nature has become evident in practice, through sense experience, because man has thus become evident for man as the being of nature, and nature for man as the being of man, the question about an alien being, about a being above nature and man – a question which implies the admission of the unreality of nature and of man – has become impossible in practice.” [emphasis in the original]

So, it’s not turtles all the way down. In our epoch, it is nature and labor all the way down.

As a Christian and believer in an inerrant Bible, I, of course, will have none of this. Atheism is simply one manifestation of rebellion against God: one that assumes God from the beginning and is therefore meaningless.

However, rebellion is rebellion. Really, there is nothing new here. Sure, the lines of attack change over time, but it is also rebellion all the way down.

So, Briggs, take instruction from Marx and recognize the close of the epoch of overt rebellion – atheism. The real battle is concealed rebellion, such as that which Marx outlined above, where rebellion takes the form of a modern Tower of Babel – the appeal to the state to construct a new Eden for the new socialist man.


Atheism, your owl has flown.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Forgotten at the Door

An article of mine published by the Ludwig von Mises Institute (Mises.org). Relevant to any school district - including Olentangy - that is considering a tax levy. Don't forget those you will harm!

Forgotten at the Door
By Jim Fedako


"There is, in fact, only one solution: the state, the government, the laws must not in any way concern themselves with schooling or education. Public funds must not be used for such purposes. The rearing and instruction of youth must be left entirely to parents and to private associations and institutions." – Ludwig von Mises

I met William Graham Sumner's Forgotten Man — actually forgotten woman in this instance — while shopping at a local supermarket a couple of months ago. With her eighty year-old legs steadily supporting stiff knees and tired feet, this woman is cheerful and ready to share a story or a laugh as she greets shoppers entering the store. This openness endears her to customers who know her by name and smile when they see her. Though her tales and goodhearted fun remain with shoppers for a long time afterwards, she is sadly forgotten by those who live to tax and spend.

There is theory, and then there is reality. To those who adhere to the Austrian School of economics, theory and reality are the same. Yet to many, the separation between theory and reality is the gulf that drowns in anonymity those such as this eighty-year-old woman.

You see, the forgetful ones — the officeholders, bureaucrats, and rent-seekers — have no concern for this woman. Sure, they pay lip service to their beloved concept of community, but they are only concerned with the community of tax recipients; the taxpayers be damned.

The Austrian School, on the other hand, recognizes individuals — not averages, aggregates, or some other convenient statistical or rhetorical tool — just the individual acting at the margin. In the Austrian School, there is no such notion as a typical community member. There are simply individuals going about their own business, utilizing means to satisfy personal ends, all within some arbitrary lines on a map: the collectivist's revered political boundaries.

The Austrians readily recognize our forgotten woman. She is not some faceless automaton, some
Economic Woman. She is real, so real that we will give her a name: Edith.

Now, Edith truly lives at the margin. She buried her husband of forty-some years over a decade ago. Since that time, she has struggled. Money is tight and, despite what the Feds says, inflation is running high. However, the cost of consumer goods is only one of her worries. Edith also has to find the means to pay rising property taxes; taxes that are rising at a local rate of almost three times the reported consumer price index. So, she works.

Edith does not want much; she simply wants to live out her days in the house where she and her husband raised their family. Who could possibly desire to put this woman out of house and home? Well, the forgetful ones of course.

You see, in this instance, the forgetful ones want to spend more money on failed public education. There are the locally elected officials who cheer on the efforts of the bureaucrats — the school administrators who live to conceive of new ways to spend money on programs destined for failure. And then there are the hoards of rent-seekers who want others — such as their neighbors — to share the cost of personal expenses, all in the name of the public good.

The forgetful ones base their means on the theory of aggregates and averages. They note the reported average federal adjusted gross income in the area and claim that the community is wealthy. Therefore, they state, the typical resident can afford another $700 or $800 in property tax.

But the average homeowner is a nonexistent myth: a
chimera. There is no average, or typical, resident. There are the forgetful ones, plus, among others, you, me, and our dear friend Edith. And, she is certainly not average. To those who know her, Edith is something more. Yet, she cannot afford an extra $100 per year, let alone another $700 or so.

The forgetful ones ignore her plight. To most of them, her suffering does not exist. To others, her situation is a problem that has to be rationalized away. Maybe — so the line of thought goes — Edith should move to another home in a more remote area, an area with lower taxes.

Certainly, it is sad that a long-term resident must leave, but the taxes are for the kids. And, with the kids being the next generation, some eggs have to be cracked.

Whether one chooses to ignore Edith outright, or to rationalize her away, the line of reasoning is the same: the collective decides who wins and who loses. Or, more aptly, who receives, and who pays. It's this line of reasoning that is just about the only thing taught in public schools: the hammer of government creates the community that the majority of voters desires.

Students learn that might makes rights. Well, of course, it's never taught in such harsh terms. Students learn that the community (through might) decides issues of property, liberty, and freedom. This, they learn, is the American ideal.

The schools, through their unionized workforce, teach that unrestrained democracy is wonderful. The ideals of our Founding Fathers are from a time and place that no longer exists. Students can, and should, dream of anything, and attempt to have government implement it by force. Whether it’s recycling, carbon offsets, or additional coerced funding for schools, it's the vote of the majority that makes any dream ethical.

So, the schools rally their constituents — their
rent-seekers — in order to influence likely voters to support the new tax. And, the schools, again through their constituents, create the impression that those who do not support the waste that is public education are not true community members — that they do not care about kids.

But Edith does care about kids. She raised three of her own, and she now enjoys regular additions of grandchildren to her growing family. She simply wants to keep her house, which leaves poor Edith in quite a fix.

Not to worry, the occasional forgetful one will finally admit Edith's existence. He will recognize her by name and take on her cause. His solution: property tax relief for seniors. And, what a solution it is! Now we can have our public school cake and eat it too. And, we can eat it without remorse or regret.

Sounds reasonable, with the exception of that ever-so-annoying Austrian concept: the margin.

Property tax relief for Edith moves the burden of taxation to a smaller pool of homeowners. While Edith is no longer the one at the margin, now it is Henry deciding whether the new tax will drive him from house and home. Theory meets reality, and the margin exposes the lie that is the average.

OK, so what do we do? How do we solve this whole mess? How do we address education within the reality of the margin? The answer is quite simple: privatize education. Remove government from the minds of our youth. Recognize the wisdom of Mises and let parents — as consumers — decide what is best for their children. For some, religious schools, for others secular schools, and for many, such as myself, homeschooling.

In all cases, the market will generate systems of education that solve the wants of individuals. Allow theory and reality to come together so that Edith keeps her home, as does Henry, and we all get to keep more money in our wallets; money that will fund the education of the next generation.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Voting with Our Feet? Local Government "Services" and the Supposed Tiebout Effect

"It's not you choosing the mix of service and tax rate, it's the school system, or other governmental entity, making the choice for you."
Jim Fedako



Since Paul Samuelson defined the term some fifty odd years ago, public goods has entered the popular lexicon and become an established belief. From the simple technical definition as a good that is non-excludable and non-rivalrous, thus subject to free riders, and therefore can only be produced by government or through governmental action, public goods now encompass almost any good that a statist desires, whether neo-con or liberal. To question the concept of public goods is to attack mom and apple pie.

In 1956 Charles Tiebout extended the concept of public goods to the local level and created a model of a pseudo market for local government services (police, fire, schools, parks, etc.) whereby individuals sort themselves in such a manner that their preferences for government services match the services provided by the local government where they chose to reside. And just like Samuelson's public goods, Tiebout's local public goods plays a major role in how taxpayers view government expenditures.

The Tiebout Effect, the sorting of services and taxpayers, is supposed to provide a market solution that leads to a Pareto-Optimal equilibrium, guiding local governments toward providing only those services and quality of services that their respective residents want at a price they are willing to pay. Residents who don't like the mix of service, quality, and tax rate, "vote with their feet" and move to areas that better provide a mix that meets their preference rank. As residents either plant "for sale" signs and purchase homes elsewhere, or as prospective residents build new homes or buy existing homes, local governments recognize these activities as signals to either increase or reduce their service levels, depending on the perceived desires of the voting majority of community.

On the surface, the Tiebout model makes for a great justification for devolving a centralized government that can't provide for preference differentiation into many smaller local ones that can market themselves to individuals. Local governments are able to be as lean and mean as any private sector firm, at least according to Tiebout's model. But models are not reality.

Decentralized governments do compete with regard to tax incentives and public financing when trying to entice businesses to move into their area. But governments do not compete with each other by offering services in the same manner as entrepreneurs in the market place.

The easiest way to dispense with Tiebout is to recognize that the Austrian School has demolished the concept of public goods. Public goods simply do not exist. Sorry mom and apple pie. I am not going to address this here since there are many excellent articles and papers on the fallacy of public goods in general available at Mises.org .

The Rothbardian argument that a majority of voters does not speak for everyone also dispels the belief that the mix of so-called public goods, and local public goods, is a reflection of anyone's preference rank. No market in any sense exists where the majority plus one of those who chose to vote dictate the expenditures - through taxation - of all other. This is not a market, it as a coerced redistribution of wealth. Those in the voting majority simply become the net tax consumers while all others become the net taxpayers.

Despite the Austrian refutation, mainstream economists still cling to the public goods fallacy. In particular, many papers are written that cite the Tiebout Effect, especially in reference to local public schools and property values. Economist use Tiebout models in attempt to show that individuals voting with their feet drive improved school performance and increase property values.

While it may be true that individuals on initial draw seek communities that best match their preference mix of services and tax rate, individual preferences change as does the local government's mix of services and tax rate. Since the taxpayer is unable to simply move without incurring expense and the local government is a area-wide monopoly, local governments are under no pressure to satisfy changing preferences [1]. Entrepreneurs in the market, on the other hand, must quickly respond to any change in preference or suffer financial loss or ruin. Governments as monopolies are immune to such market pressures.

For sake of argument, let's agree that there is such a beast as public goods and that government is the entity most capable of supplying such services. The question I want to address is: Does the concept of local public goods provide a market that is driven to efficiency through the movements and sorting of individuals?

Like the often used example of the frog that blissfully allows itself to be boiled if the water temperature is slowing increased from lukewarm to boiling, taxpayers can also be boiled under rising tax rates simply because the marginal cost of moving exceeds the marginal cost of almost any new property tax. This has a piecemeal effect as taxes are increased every so often but each new step in tax rate does not warrant a move. Slowly the tax rate brings the homeowner to the boiling point, boiling under the collar anyway.

People tend to fall on the sword of collectivism and believe that a community is based on homogenous preferences. Nothing could be farther from the truth. School districts like to create the ideal-type resident and then assign attributes. Districts say that, "Our residents want program x." Does their community -- an aggregation of individual acting residents -- really want program x offered at the local schools? No, some parents want program x offered because they would rather not pay the full cost themselves but favor having their neighbors forced to split the bill. Districts like having program x simply because they now have a dependent constituency that will support additional tax increases.

Assume that you are offended by this machination of democracy or recognize yourself to be a net taxpayer for someone else's wants, what do you do? Is moving to another school district that has a better mix of service and tax rate the efficient and rational response. Not usually since the likely closing costs, moving expenses, and other real estate fees, drain about 10% off of the paper value of a house. The cost, real and assumed, to the owner of a $250,000 house is close to $25,000 with each move. It becomes obvious that it make sense to let the tax temperature rise just a few more degrees, even though the boiling point is rapidly approaching.

What about improved efficiency and performance of the local public school system due to the Tiebout Effect? From a market standpoint, the consumer must be able to operate in an free, unhampered market in order to guide the economy. The public school market is neither. Given that my singular vote has no impact on a tax levy and that I can't simply cross district lines without incurring a large cost, I am captured by the school market. If I am a regular at Burger King and the service or price changes in a manner I do not like, I can easily cross the street to McDonald's, Wendy's, etc., without having to bear any additional cost. In fact, the managers of the other restaurants will welcome me with open arms. There is no system of local public goods ready to serve me in the manner of the fast food market since I can't really "vote with my feet." The school system recognizes this and therefore sees no need for improvements in services relative to costs.

Oh, sure there are studies that show the occasional Tiebout Effect in the housing market, but here are also many studies showing no effect whatsoever. Certainly acting individuals sort themselves on any matter in question, but we can never know what the true reason for the sorting is. When econometricians use models that are based on the idea-type community member and then make assumptions about preference rankings, they are operating without a solid epistemology.

The above analysis shows that no free market for supposed public goods exists, local and otherwise. But if you require empirical data, just look around. Have you ever seen school districts, or any other local political entity, embrace improvements in order to capture a better market share? What you will see is school districts spin any change in outcome, whether positive or negative, as improved academic performance, and any additional cost as improved service. You will also see school districts claim that the school market is such that any reduction in funding or salaries will hurt student outcomes even though government expenditures and quality outcomes are inversely related.

School districts do not fear rising costs the same as the local businessman. Districts show no concern when their tax rates begin to exceed neighboring districts, in fact they will sell their need for operating levies on the basis that they spend less then neighboring districts -- cost equal service.

Imagine if McDonalds refused to acknowledge the hamburger price at Wendy's across the street. Imagine if consumers of computers could be led to believe that quality cannot go up even as prices go down. That would make for a strange market, but it is the market for supposed local public goods.

In addition, as Rothbard showed, taxation reduces the value of the item taxed. There you have it, schools don't improve, but taxes rise and potential property values fall.

A Tiebout Effect? Local public goods? No, you have been convinced by the fallacies and captured like the soon-to-be-boiled frog. It's not you choosing the mix of service and tax rate, it's the school system, or other governmental entity, making the choice for you.

Note:

[1] Due to government being an area-wide monopoly, school districts, and individual schools for that matter, typically cannot be switched without a move. This creates an issue that is not a concern where area-wide monopolies do not exist, namely the issue of switching suppliers requiring the selling of one's home. I can switch between McDonalds and Burger King as often as I like and not incur moving expenses. If McDonalds was granted an area-wide monopoly which forced me to buy Big Macs based on my current address, I would end up in the same situation as that with public schools. Unlike the standard neoclassical transaction cost, the cost of moving is the result of a government-imposed monopoly. End the area-wide monopoly and the moving cost issue disappears.

Jim Fedako

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Tax Burden -- Letter to Editor Unpublished

Dear Dispatch:

It is important for readers to keep in mind that the state's local tax-effort index is more political than factual (”Affluent districts pay less in school taxes by this count”).

The original index – developed by the Ohio Department of Taxation – was simple: divide the amount of district local revenue by the total amount of income earned by its residents. So, if on average, residents paid 2% of their income in local school taxes, the index for the district was 2.

If another district had an index of 4, it was obvious its residents paid twice the percentage of their income to their local schools. This allowed for objective comparisons between districts.

That all changed during the Strickland administration. The Ohio Department of Education took the index and made it political. Once the revised formula is resolved to its mathematical equation, it becomes apparent that the local tax-effort index is now heavily weighted against wealthier districts.

If a district's medium income is twice that of another district, the residents in the first district are expected to pay an amount equal to four times the amount paid by the second district. This is due to the squaring effect of the new formula.

You can apply the calculation to individual taxpayers, as well. Based on the formula, if one taxpayer makes (say) five times that of another, the first taxpayer is expected to pay an amount equal to 25 times that of the second. So, should the second taxpayer be paying $2,000 to his local district, the first taxpayer is expected to pay $50,0000 of his income to his. 

Talk about a subjective index. And talk about the politics of redistribution gone mad. 

The economist and Nobel laureate, Ronald Coase, is quoted as saying, "If you torture data long enough, it will confess." 

The Department of Education certainly tortured its data long enough to confessed to its political agenda.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Unpublished letter re. Jack Hanna

Submitted to the Columbus Dispatch:


Dear Editor:
 
Are both The Dispatch and Jack Hanna serious ("Hanna's outrage is on the mark," Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014)? Have they never seen giraffes rock themselves into oblivion at the Columbus Zoo while pacing the same footsteps, day in and day out? And what about the trail of blood that leads from the wilds to the cages. Jack, what isn't "abominable" about that?
 
Sincerely,
 
Jim Fedako

Guess what? Another unpublished letter

Submitted to the Columbus Dispatch:


Dear Editor:

In her column, "What if more women ruled the world," Georgie Anne Geyer wonders whether more female presidents and prime ministers would make a difference relative to our current situation. FA Hayek, Nobel laureate in economics, answered that question 70 years ago in his seminal work, "Road to Serfdom."  

Gender is neither the issue nor the solution. It is the essence of government that the worst rise to the top. This is true since it is they are the ones with the greatest desire to seek the means to control others. 

If our lot is to improve, the size and reach of government must be reduced. For when that happens, we will only be harassed by petty tyrants, with little resources to truly burden us with their every decree and edict. 

Sincerely,

Jim Fedako

Third Unpublished Letter

Submitted to the Columbus Dispatch:


Dear Editor:

In his recent column, ("Sometimes values don't align with the real world," Dispatch, Sunday) Jonah Goldberg reiterated the core tenet he and his fellow neocons share with their collectivist brethren on the left: government is the moral agent.
 
Goldberg defends the firebombing of Dresden during the final death throes of Nazi Germany as a moral act, even though the intended target was the civilian population and converging refugees. His argument is simple, yet specious: government deemed it necessary to win the war. To Goldberg, government is the moral agent of final appeal. So, by the government deeming the action necessary, it is necessarily moral. No objections allowed.
 
This is the very same argument used by all governments: when their actions are necessary, they are moral. However, when that argument was used by the Nazis after the war, it was correctly rejected out of hand.
 
Though Goldberg claims few would call the attack on Dresden murder, he must know that because it, and similar firebombings, the Allies at the Nuremberg Trials did not hold the Nazis responsible for their air raids against civilians targets. Why? They did not want to provide the Nazis with a means to call similar actions of the Allies into question. 
 
Despite what Goldberg believes: an action is not necessary, nor is it moral, simply because government claims it is. That is true regardless of the government making the claim.

Sincerely,

Jim Fedako

Another Unpublished Letter to the Editor

Submitted to the Columbus Dispatch:



Dear Editor:

According to the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute ("Minimum wage to increase by 15 cents," Dec. 27, 2014), an increase in the minimum wage will lead to an increase in consumer spending. But, how is that going to happen?

If I must pay more for goods and services, I will buy less. That is an economic law. It cannot be the case that I can pay more and purchase the same amount at every register.

Some businesses will win, while others will lose. And in those losing businesses, jobs will be lost. 

In the end, the consumer will have less goods at the end of the day and more folks will be unemployed. 

It is true that some workers will benefit by the increase, but most of their nominal benefit will be wiped out by rising prices.

Is this really "a terrific thing for workers and the economy"? 

Sincerely,

Jim Fedako

Unpublished Letter to the Editor

Submitted to the Columbus Dispatch:


Dear Editor:

It's the New Year and Cal Thomas ("If it's not careful, America could be nearing the end of the road," January 1, 2015) already fears he may not be able to shout, "Hail Caesar," throughout 2015.

Thomas should be lamenting the passage of the Republic a hundred or so years ago, not an end to an empire. Yet he argues for increased militarization and interventions, since only that can save us from, what he terms, our "age of decadence."

In the end, Thomas dreams of a larger US empire, Spartanesque in style, with a Roman sense of grandeur. 

However, if strengthening the empire is the direction for 2015, we should all expect a bloody year.

So I ask Thomas, "How many of my sons and daughters need to die to satisfy your love for an empire?"

Sincerely,

Jim Fedako

Talk by David J. Theroux

Here is interesting and informative post from David J. Theroux, founder and president, C. S. Lewis Society of California. It is his keynote talk at the first annual conference of Christians for Liberty, that was held at St. Edwards University in San Antonio, TX, August 2, 2014?

"C.S. Lewis on Mere Liberty and the Evils of Statism”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvlRL0u_fBs

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Note from David J. Theroux

More good stuff from David J. Theroux and the Independent Institute. Take a look and enjoy! Jim



Dear Jim,
We recently had the pleasure of holding a sensational event featuring former Congressman and bestselling author, Dr. Ron Paul, entitled "Liberty Defined: The Future of Freedom."  This sold-out program was co-sponsored by the Independent Institute and the Smith Center for Private Enterprise Studies at California State University, East Bay.

Could we interest you in please posting a notice on your blog of the very timely and far-reaching, new video from the program?

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you again for your kind assistance!

Best regards,

David
------

David J. Theroux
Founder and President
The Independent Institute
100 Swan Way
Oakland, CA 94621
(510) 632-1366 Phone
(510) 568-6040 Fax


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Julie Feasel Follies (4) -- Is Olentangy's Julie Feasel above the law?

Originally posted on 4/17/09 -- Jim

She must think so.

It's amazing what you can get with the right public records request. Note the email exhange between Feasel and Jennifer Smith (below). It certainly appears that Feasel is skirting Ohio's sunshine laws by conducting a serial meeting -- you know, polling votes with a nudge, nudge, say no more, say no more.

Feasel is president of a board that has already been in hot water for violating sunshine laws, so she should know better. Maybe she does and doesn't care. You know, power and corruption.

Note:
1. At least one board member (Smith) follows the law, the rest just hold the public in contempt.
2. OFK, How can you still support Feasel in the face of all this? Hmmm.


To: "Julie Wagner Feasel"
Cc: jaheavilin@insight.rr.com
From: "Jennifer Smith"
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary="--=_--0291526e.0291429d.c60a67a8"




Julie,


I have not returned your phone calls soliciting my opinion regarding an upcoming work session, because you made it clear in voicemails that you were - and now have- contacted every other board member and polled them as to whether or not Kathy LaSota should be hired to facilitate a future work session. It is improper to discuss board business outside of public view (properly notified public meetings). This "round robin" voting and discussion is highly improper and there is case law that substantiates that this activity is a violation of ORC 121.22. I will not be party to violating the law.


Jennifer



Julie Wagner Feasel writes:

Jennifer,

I didn't get to make any board calls on Saturday because we spent the day doing graduation and prom stuff so I made my board calls tonight. What I've been asking the other board members is there thoughts on hiring Kathy Lasota for at least one more work session to help us finalize the items we didn't finish on Thursday. So please let me know your thoughts as I would like our next work session to be sooner rather than later and everyone's (sic) schedules will have to be coordinated. Also, I was talking to the other board members about their thoughts and opinions on Thursday's session so I'd like to talk to you about that as well. Finally, I never got to talk to you about your thoughts on the budget subcommittee meeting. I've spoken to Sue, Teri, Mr. Lidle and Becky on their thoughts and I'd like to talk to you as well, specifically about making the budgeting process better next year.

Let me know when a good time to call you will be. I don't have anything on Monday night so I'm open. Or I can call you during my lunch hour noon-1 on Monday.

Julie Wagner Feasel, member
Olentangy School Board
Please note that all e-mail communication to elected officials is public record and maybe viewed by anyone who requests it.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Julie Feasel Follies (2) -- Olentangy School Board in Wonderland

Originally posted on June 5, 2008.

If reelected, Feasel will continue to keep the sunshine from board deliberations. -- Jim



Down is up, and illegal is now confidential. We are now lost in the rabbit hole.

Starting with
Edward Bernays, propagandists have lived by this maxim: Tell a big lie, repeat it over and over, and the masses will accept it as truth. In accordance with this, board has told the big lie and is now in the repeat phase. The question remains: Will the community accept it as fact.

Board member Jen Smith notified the board of a pending sunshine violation, yet the board voted anyway. Why? I assume arrogance. Now the board majority is taking Smith to task in a
letter to the Olentangy Valley News (below). The goal is to repeat the lie until it is believed.

If you want the facts, read the newspaper articles on this issue. The board schemed to violate Ohio sunshine laws, with the smoking gun -- the instructions on how to circumvent state law -- penned by McFerson (as reported on the OVN).

It seems like the board has taken a very Bernaysian turn. Will you believe them?

note: You have to love the implication that board policy trumps state sunshine laws, along with the mention of ethics from one (Dimon) whose own actions caused then-governor Taft to commit ... you guessed it ... ethics violations.


Letter: Smith should not have given confidential info to press

Published: Wednesday, June 4, 2008 11:11 AM EDT

To the Editor:

In the news recently, our fellow board member Jennifer Smith attacked the process the Olentangy School Board is using to hire a new superintendent. As two fellow board members, we feel that these attacks are unwarranted and simply untrue.

Dr. Davis told the members of the Olentangy Board of Education that he would be stepping down due to his illness in a closed executive session. Board President Scott Galloway appointed Vice President Dimon McFerson to lead the search committee. Since three out of the five board members had never participated in a superintendent search, McFerson's background made him the best person to head up this process.

For some reason, Mrs. Smith felt the need to share confidential information discussed in executive session with the press. Mrs. Smith has always voted to go into every executive session the board has had this year, and at no time during any of our executive sessions has she voiced any opinion about why the board should or should not be in executive session. By sharing this executive session information with the press, Mrs. Smith broke the board's governance policies GP 4.1 in the code of ethics, which states "respect the confidentiality of privileged information," and GP 4.2 in the code of covenants, which states "remember that board business at times requires confidentiality, especially in the process involving personnel, land acquisitions, negotiations and the need for security."

Mrs. Smith also told the press that Galloway and McFerson screened the 15 applicants to pick the top five for interviewing -- that is true. What she didn't mention was that she reviewed the same 15 applications herself and picked out five applicants to interview. Ironically, she picked the exact same five candidates that Galloway and McFerson selected. Thus, this process is hardly "rigged" as she told the press it was.

Did the search firm hired to find the best superintendent for Olentangy personally contact potential candidates and talk to them about applying for the position? Absolutely. Did McFerson himself talk to potential candidates about applying for the position? He did. There is no law in Ohio that says these actions cannot be done. That is why the process is called a search. This is done all the time in the business world and in superintendent searches as the great leaders are usually employed. Once candidates apply, their names then become public and the entire board is involved. But until the candidates apply, it is just one person talking to another to get them interested in the position.

Both of us are hopeful that Mrs. Smith will realize she jeopardized the work of the board by discussing confidential information with the press. We also hope she realizes she will get more accomplished through collaboration. She has some good ideas and a passion to improve where improvement is needed. However, she needs to follow the board's governance policies just like every other board member.

Julie Wagner Feasel and Dimon McFersonOlentangy Board of Education members

Copyright © 2008 - Columbus Local News

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Julie Feasel Follies (1) -- Olentangy Levy: Most inane comment from a board member

First published on February 29, 2008. At least the calendar can stretch a month ever now and again. Too bad Feasel can't stretch one simple buck. -- Jim 

Note: Is Feasel the Nancy Pelosi of Olentangy? Hmmm. Something to think about.


Olentangy board member Julie Feasel posted this comment on another
blog:

I just want to point out that Olentangy did make $6 million in cuts to future spending BEFORE even going on the ballot and we continue to look at how we can trim costs. (emphasis added)

Did you get that? The district made cuts to future spending when the issue is this fiscal year and next fiscal year. Is this her idea of cutting costs?

Really, why do I care that they cut projected costs, effective FY2010, when it's FY2009 that has the supposed negative balance (I say supposed as there is no real deficit -- read my previous post)?

Inane!

Just think about it: There are costs that can be cut, yet Feasel and company are waiting until 2010. And, they want to raise your taxes for such nonsense.

This is the logic which guides the district. Amazing!



note: According to Feaselian logic, I am a financial genius and a good steward of my money since I decided not to buy an aircraft carrier in 2010. I cut $1 billion in future spending. Wow!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Letter to Wall Street Journal

Dear Editor:

Whenever I hear Richard Dawkins champion his selfish gene theory ("Richard Dawkins's Big Idea"), I cannot help but feel a touch of sympathy.

Assuming arguendo that Dawkins is correct with regard to genes ruthlessly seeking to replicate themselves, he, with one child, must therefore be host to defective genes -- ones without a level of ruthlessness to adequately replicate.

So, based on his own theory, Dawkins is not a pinnacle of his beloved evolution, he is but an evolutionary defect whose genetic legacy is bound for extinction. I assume he recognizes this, hence my sympathy.

Maybe, for his own sake, he should consider an alternate theory, especially the one he so whimsically denies.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Letter to WSJ

Dear Editor:

Edward Frenkel displays a high level of acuteness with regard to the esoteric boundaries of mathematics  ("Weekly Confidential," August 24, 2013). Nevertheless, his keen insight is not omnipresent.

To wit: In defense of the Common Core Standards Initiative, Mr. Frenkel makes an analogy to the heights of doorways. He claims the varying standards found in the several states are akin to doorways of different heights -- this notion he challenges and fears. Though, one stroll through, say, the Notre-Dame de Paris reveals the error in the analogy: doorways are set at different heights for reasons that make perfect sense.

The same is true for academic standards. No one -- no entity -- can define a set of standards that serve all purposes. To claim and advocate otherwise is to miss the lesson to be learned at Notre-Dame, or any building for that matter.

The Common Core Standards Initiative will not improve educational outcomes in the US, just as standard doorway heights would not have improved the Notre-Dame. Furthermore, to conceive of an entity setting standards that are neither political nor lacking is to view the process of zoning as the means to structures that have a greater sense of beauty than a French gothic cathedral.

 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Brian Helwig for Olentangy School Board

Support Brian -- website found here.

It's time to bring more common sense back to the board ... Adam White is only one vote, he can't do it alone.

According to Helwig:

I am a better candidate because:
 
                    I do not believe in common core!
                    I believe we have a huge opportunity to improve our education system!
                    I know we don't need another levy!
                    I want to put Student Learning over Student Testing!

For me, opposition to additional taxes is a sufficient. Throw in Common Core and you got a winner.

Vote for Helwig!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mark Gerber -- a political thug

Dear Editor:
 
In his recent Letter to the Editor, Mark Gerber, Liberty Township fiscal officer, perverts the ideals that founded this nation. He desires a country (or township, at the very least) where the majority are wholly unconstrained – for his benefit, of course. So he agitates for a tax that is paid by only 5% of the township, but is reaped 100% by his parochial political class. This he terms democracy.

He shouts in the streets, “Tax the 5%!”
 
But didn’t this nation rebel against King and Parliament when it was 95% of the population taxing the other 5% – the Colonies?
 
One can assume that if Gerber found five wallets on the ground, instead of returning them, he would dredge up 95 folks willing to say, “Just keep ‘em.”
 
What Gerber terms democracy is the means that affords him – and his political class – the ability to use the majority to exercise ”a long train of abuses and usurpations” on the minority.
 
Seem liberty is lacking in Liberty.

The sweet irony that is the Joint Economic Development Zone

Dear Editor:

Oh, the sweet irony that is the Joint Economic Development Zone.

First, there is Republican Curt Sybert who recently announced he would not seek reelection to his Liberty Township trustee post. Instead, he will abuse the concept of no taxation without representation as he champions his new tax night and day.

Then, after burdening folks under the yoke of rising taxes, Sybert will run for Delaware County judge. Will he run on his conservative legacy: the perversion (er, reinterpretation) of an obscure tax law for the purpose of growing local governments? If so, his platform must not include integrity.

Finally, there are those most vocal against the new tax: local government employees. Liberty Township firefighter and union President Chalaco Clark lamented the dent the proposed tax will make in his wallet. But he made no similar declaration in defense of taxpayers when it was his levy on the ballot.

Doesn’t he realize the money Sybert wants from him was first found in the wallets of Liberty residents? In this instance, it sounds like the fox is being out foxed, and whining about the outcome.

The sweet irony of it all.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Anthony Gregory on Rand Paul's Senate Filibuster

Here is a new "video with Research Fellow Anthony Gregory regarding Senator Rand Paul's powerful and heroic filibuster defending the Bill of Rights and attacking the Obama White House's claim to be judge, jury and executioner and kill Americans at will with drones on American soil."

"Anthony Gregory on Rand Paul's Senate Filibuster," featuring Anthony Gregory
http://www.independent.org/multimedia/detail.asp?m=335

Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Here is a recent piece by Senior Vice President Mary Theroux of the Independent Institute regarding the shameless and hypocritical use of the Oscars to promote the Obama social and economic agenda? The Presidency as Theater: The Fa├žade Continues.

"Hurray for Washington," by Mary Theroux
http://blog.independent.org/2013/02/25/hurray-for-washington/

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Philosopher Alvin Plantinga Receives Prestigious Rescher Prize

"Philosopher Alvin Plantinga Receives Prestigious Rescher Prize" -- a very interesting and insightful article from David J. Theroux, Founder and President, The Independent Institute.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Begging your neighbor for a handout

Dear Editor:

Based on the results from the Orange Township community recreation center survey (itself a $55,000 cost to the taxpayers), 1/6 of the 1,500 households surveyed favored having health club memberships subsidized by their neighbors (the study reports only 46% of the 559 survey respondents favored a rec center).

One of those seeking a handout, former township trustee Mark Robertson, said $96 a year for the bond issue is not too costly to homeowners. Maybe not to him, since he will be getting the benefit. But for those not planning to use the facility (the majority of the township), a $96 transfer from their wallets to Robertson's personal recreation fund is costly indeed.

Of course, Robertson could seek his handout directly by knocking on doors near his home, but such an approach would expose his aim. It is always much cleaner -- more sophisticated -- to have an issue placed on the ballot. That way he, and those also seeking a benefit at the expense of others, can position their gain as some sort of public good.

Sincerely,

Jim Fedako

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A public rescue

Last week we camped at Van Buren State Park in Michigan. The park has sand dunes that reach some 100 - 120 feet above lake level. There are a few rope swings on top of the dunes -- all illegally placed, for certain.

One day, as we sat at the bottom of the dune (I found a Youtube video that shows the dune in question), there was some commotion. Two very large MI DNR employees came racing down the beach in quad runners and proceeded to attempt to ride up the dune, quickly bottoming out as the tires on the overloaded vehicles sank deep into the sand.

I asked what was going on.

One DNR officer replied that a young child had injured her neck after falling from one of the rope swings. Not knowing if the child was one of mine, I raced to the top of the dune. A young girl lay motionless in the shade of a log while other adults kindly tended to her, waiting for professional assistance.

Our two public heroes trudged up the sand, both surrendering less than halfway to the top. They stood bent over, desperately inhaling air, unable to speak coherent directions to the forthcoming EMS guys -- who, by the way, easily raced up the dune, carrying back brace and sled.

Later, I jokingly told my brother-in-law I was going to review the official report. I wanted to make certain the DNR guys did not state they arrived on the scene. In the vicinity, maybe. But certainly not on the scene.

I vaguely remember officers having to pass annual physicals. But that was before public employee unions overthrew the taxpayers.

And they call themselves public safety officers.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Can my neocon Christian brother justify their political beliefs?

I would like my neocon Christian bothers to realize the US has suffered (to date) almost as many military casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan as were suffered in the Revolutionary War. In promoting the supposed wars, neocon Christians have cheered the spilling of blood, as well as the commissioning of all the other atrocities associated with war.

But for what? For the god of democracy -- the Baal of the Neocon Christians. And for these words (from the constitutions of Iraq and Afghanistan):


Iraq Constitution:
Article 2
First: Islam is the official religion of the State and is a foundation source of legislation:
A. No law may be enacted that contradicts the established provisions of Islam

Article 92
Second: The Federal Supreme Court shall be made up of a number of judges, experts in Islamic jurisprudence, and legal scholars, ...

Afghanistan Constitution:

Article One Afghanistan shall be an Islamic Republic, independent, unitary and indivisible state.

Article Two The sacred religion of Islam is the religion of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Followers of other faiths shall be free within the bounds of law in the exercise and performance of their religious rituals.

Article Three No law shall contravene the tenets and provisions of the holy religion of Islam in Afghanistan.

When confronted with these words, can neocon Christian still cheer? Is the god of democracy really the savior of souls?

Friday, January 06, 2012

A great article from David J. Theroux

For your review, here is a new article from me that draws on the work of William Cavanaugh, C.S. Lewis and others:

“Secular Theocracy: The Foundations and Folly of Modern Tyranny,” by David J.
Theroux

Part 2 will appear in January.

David J. Theroux
Founder and President
TheIndependent Institute

Friday, August 26, 2011

Adam J. White signs available


If you want a sign, leave a comment (which I will not post) that includes your name, address, and phone number, and I'll forward to Adam.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Adam J. White's Platform


Adam J. White for Olentangy School Board


My name is Adam J. White and I’m running for Olentangy School Board. I work in the private sector and spend my free time studying/participating in local politics and engaging government entities through personal interaction with our political leaders, writing letters to the editor and serving on the Republican Central Committee.

Despite many interactions with Olentangy School Board members and administrators to discuss escalating taxes and problems with Olentangy’s Curriculum, my efforts have been unsuccessful. Refusing to speak, answer or acknowledge my questions, the Olentangy School Board leaves me with only one option: Acquire a seat on the Olentangy School Board to penetrate the bureaucracy and start resolving the $400 million debt and curriculum problems.

The solutions to Olentangy’s problems are:
1.Cut Taxes
2.Curb Spending
3.Construct a Better Curriculum

The Olentangy School Board is responsible for creating a debt close to half a Billion dollar$. Olentangy is taxing the private sector for overpriced debt that is beyond the useful life of their purchases. For example, purchasing books (average life span of 7 years) with bond money (a.k.a. money from a 30 year loan) and taxing the public for an additional 23 years after the books are no longer being used. Unable to stop spending, Olentangy has resorted to passing permanent levies (taxes) and 30 year bonds (taxes).

Spending on entitlements for school employees is excessive and causes financial hardship on the private sector. Healthcare, retirement, mandatory pay increases, sick leave payout, and other lavish benefits given to every Olentangy school employee lack any comparison with the realities of private sector job benefits. While the private sector must contribute funds for the retirement plans of Olentangy employees, the Olentangy Administrative staff does not contribute anything toward their own retirement and will still receive approximately 66% of their highest earned salary at retirement. The 11% extra contribution from taxpayers toward the administrative staff’s retirement is not mandated (a.k.a not required by law) and should be eliminated from taxpayers’ expense.

While healthcare premiums, deductibles and out of pocket limits have increased dramatically for private sector employees over the past few years, Olentangy has maintained its zero dollar ($0) deductible and 100% coinsurance coverage plan for its employees at the taxpayers’ expense. Changing the employee healthcare deductible from $0 to $1000 could save $1.7 million dollars annually (based on 1,718 employees). Olentangy’s refusal to address any significant benefit cuts (Salary / Benefits are approximately 85% of the budget) is leading the way for the financial collapse of Olentangy and the taxpayers that support our district.

Furthermore, Olentangy and American schools have fallen behind the rest of the world in math, science and reading with their “Diversity” curriculum. Injecting “diversity” into every subject has jeopardized the teaching of basic skills in many ways. Olentangy’s continuous improvement plan divides students by skin color rather than scholarship. Olentangy’s curriculum advocates dependence on government rather than self and steers children toward the need for public services; thereby, increasing the size and cost of government and the size of your tax bill.

If the top school in America only ranked 25th against other countries in math, then where does Olentangy rank?


Adam J. White for Olentangy School Board
-Cut Taxes
-Curb Spending
-Construct a Better Curriculum

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Adam J. White for Olentangy School Board

From Adam:

I will be hosting a meet and greet this Sunday (8/28/11) at Hoggys on Polaris
from 1 to 3pm for those interested in hearing my views and/or showing support.
Drinks and appetizers will be served.

Adam J. White for Olentangy School Board

-Cut Taxes

-Curb Spending

-Construct a Better Curriculum

Monday, June 06, 2011

The next levy is in the works

Based on the district's rationale for needing levies, the next one is due in 2012. That's right, we just passed a 7.9 mill levy and the district is bleeding red. Amazing.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Political Doublespeek

In today's edition of the OVN, Wade-O claims that the district will be doing more with less -- and this after passing a $25 million levy. Doesn't he really mean more with more?

In addition, Feasel states she has her work cut out for her -- and this after identifying only $100,000 in cost reductions. What a way to put a dent in the budget (or is it really a ding, or maybe a scratch, or ...?).

Thursday, May 05, 2011

No promise made

A reader left this comment:
Jim,

To my knowledge, there was never a timeframe stated for how long this levy money is to last before another one is presented to voters. Do you know if this is true?

Also, what are your thoughts regarding district size? How much growth is permitted? Is there a stopping point or does the ogre just keep growing until tax burdens overwhelm the majority and "No" finally wins?
Great question. To my knowledge, no promise was made. So the district can be back in two years with its hand out once more.

Does anyone think the lack of a promise was an oversight?

Until the taxpayers yell, "Enough!" there is no stopping the ogre.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Voting yourself a raise and increased benefits

Once again, we can assume the levy passed on the vote of district employees and their spouses. And we know the levy was simply about money for raises, benefits, etc. So, in the end, the employees voted themselves a raise and increased benefits. Hmmm.

Note: I know, I know, the levy was about the cuts and the kids. But the cuts were the hammer used to pass the levy. Rein in costs and the levy wasn't needed.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Friendly reminder -- tax effective day was 122 days ago

During the campaign, Olentangy for Kids made this statement: These additional taxes will not be collected until 2012.

For those of us who escrow our tax payments, we are already four months behind. Remember, taxes are always paid in arrears. But they are effective the first day of the year in which a new levy is passed. That means this new levy is effective January 1, 2011.

Better tighten your belts extra hard today and begin making additional escrow payments. You don't want to face a big escrow catch-up bill early next year.

Note: The sweet irony is that as you tighten, others loosen.

It's OK to vote No

A reminder on election day!

The district can go back to the ballot in November with a scaled-down issue. -- Jim

Monday, May 02, 2011

OFK spins a response

In an earlier post, I rhetorically asked, "How do the current heads of OFK spin that little nugget?" Now I know (number 5 below).


Real quick response to the OFK response to my 10 reasons not to vote for the levy:


Intro: Is the bond expert the same district resident (is the expert even a district resident?) who also is the district bond consultant? If so, working the weekend was not just a freebie. I bring this up only because OFK makes the claim.

1. Bond Residuals: Call the money what you want. The interest earned is not an investment (I explain that in a couple of blog posts). The IRS does not allow governmental entities to make an arbitrage profit on tax-free bonds. So the interest is equal (dollar for dollar, for the most part) to the interest current residents have been paying on the bonds. In other words, if the revenue from the bonds earns 5%, the district can only earn 5% on its investment -- there can be no "money mak[ing] money."

2. Search the web for O'Brien's comments as reported in ThisWeekNews. He changed his story with his letter to the editor. Also note that Lucas's responses to my letter to the editor did not refute my claim about O'Brien's comments.

3. The district is using previously-taxed dollars to pay-down the current bond payments, so to speak. How is that forcing future residents to pay their fair share? The older levies actually did what they said.

4. The elementary cost is 32% higher than the last elementary ($10.035 million to $7.8 million). And that is an acceptable increase?

5. Check the current five-year forecast on the district website to see that the district planned to lower the ratio.

6. This response has never made sense. As I read it, if the levy fails, the district will ask for MORE money to offset the proposed cuts in state funding that will drive lower expenditures if the levy passes. Or something like that. The argument sounds good but does not hold up to scrutiny.