Friday, February 27, 2009

The district "cuts" 1/10 of one percent of its budget

The district "cuts" 1/10 of one percent of its budget. Ouch. Jeff Brown and the district are really feeling our pain.

What they don't tell you is that this "save" was already wasted when the administration annexed the Shanahan library. And, you will never see this "cut" as a reduction to the district's expenditure line or as a reduction in your property tax rate. It's only a paper cut.

Finally, recognize that Brown has total contempt for the taxpayer when he states this innane nonsense, "This is yet another example of district administration and staff members working together to meet the board’s goal of providing a high quality education for students at a more reasonable cost to taxpayers."

Is Brown for real?


* OLENTANGY CONTINUES STAFFING PATTERN CHANGES TO SAVE $1 MILLION OVER NEXT FIVE YEARS

During Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, Interim Superintendent Jeff Brown announced the latest adjustment to staffing levels that is expected to save the district more than $1 million over the next five years. Over the past several years, Olentangy Local Schools has realized more than $6.4 million in savings by adjusting staffing levels as the district looks for more efficient ways to facilitate maximum learning for every student.

Previously each elementary school included a part-time library aide position. However in recent years, the district has not created these positions when new schools opened and filled this need with parent volunteers. The pilot programs were successful and the district will implement this process on a district wide basis beginning with the 2009-10 school year.

Those people who were previously filling this need in a paid position have been re-assigned to already open aide position in another capacity. This way the district is still employing quality people to meet the needs of students, but finding new ways to deliver services. “This is yet another example of district administration and staff members working together to meet the board’s goal of providing a high quality education for students at a more reasonable cost to taxpayers,” said Brown.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Same game, different city

At first, I thought this was the Olentangy school board at a local parade. Then I realized it was the thieves from DC. The game is the same: they got our money so its party time.

HT to a reader

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Liberty or Death

Our Founding Fathers rightly feared govvernment. And their fears have come true as each subsequent generation worships the state with a greater love. To think, this country was founded on the belief that the state is evil -- a necessary evil, but evil nonetheless. Oh, we have drifted so far from our founding ideals. -- Jim

The following was sent by a reader. The original text is here:

Liberty or Death

Patrick Henry

Following the Boston Tea Party, Dec. 16, 1773, in which American Colonists dumped 342 containers of tea into the Boston harbor, the British Parliament enacted a series of Acts in response to the rebellion in Massachusetts.

In May of 1774, General Thomas Gage, commander of all British military forces in the colonies, arrived in Boston, followed by the arrival of four regiments of British troops.

The First Continental Congress met in the fall of 1774 in Philadelphia with 56 American delegates, representing every colony, except Georgia. On September 17, the Congress declared its opposition to the repressive Acts of Parliament, saying they are "not to be obeyed," and also promoted the formation of local militia units.

Thus economic and military tensions between the colonists and the British escalated. In February of 1775, a provincial congress was held in Massachusetts during which John Hancock and Joseph Warren began defensive preparations for a state of war. The English Parliament then declared Massachusetts to be in a state of rebellion.

On March 23, in Virginia, the largest colony in America, a meeting of the colony's delegates was held in St. John's church in Richmond. Resolutions were presented by Patrick Henry putting the colony of Virginia "into a posture of defense...embodying, arming, and disciplining such a number of men as may be sufficient for that purpose." Before the vote was taken on his resolutions, Henry delivered the speech below, imploring the delegates to vote in favor.

He spoke without any notes in a voice that became louder and louder, climaxing with the now famous ending. Following his speech, the vote was taken in which his resolutions passed by a narrow margin, and thus Virginia joined in the American Revolution.

No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope that it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen, if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve.

This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty towards the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren, till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation?

For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth -- to know the worst and to provide for it. I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House?

Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it
not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with these warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation -- the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any
other possible motives for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the
world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies?
No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us; they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer on the subject? Nothing.

We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has
been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves longer.

Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament.

Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne. In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope.

If we wish to be free -- if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending -- if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be
obtained, we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak -- unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?

Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of the means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.

The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston!
The war is inevitable -- and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come!

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, "Peace! Peace!" -- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!

Patrick Henry - March 23, 1775


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Passing Go, collecting a grand

Good ol' Wade is passing Go once again, and
collecting another grand for his efforts.

That's right, he's attending the Greater Powell Area Chamber of Commerce's Annual Meeting & Luncheon with Julie Feasel.

Poor Wade, such a tough way to make a living. But it's all for the kids. The Ben Franklins mean nothing.

Go on, take the money and run.

Monday, February 23, 2009

In a downturn, government salaries on the rise

Folks,

In Olentangy, district employees are on schedule to receive another 6.5% average salary increase next school year. The nonproductive sector of the economy is sucking more and more life from the American dream.

(Note: In Ohio, it looks as though the salaries of state government workers are going to take a hit.)

HT to Jeffrey Tucker over at Mises.org

From Forbes:

In private-sector America your job, assuming you still have one, hangs on the fate of the economy. If your employer ever offered a pension for life, like young officer Goss is receiving, odds are it has stopped doing so, or soon will. Those retirement accounts you scrimped and saved to assemble? Unless they are invested in Treasurys, they aren't doing too well. In private-sector America the math leads to the grim prospect of working longer and living poorer.

In public-sector America things just get better and better. The common presumption is that public servants forgo high wages in exchange for safe jobs and benefits. The reality is they get all three. State and local government workers get paid an average of $25.30 an hour, which is 33% higher than the private sector's $19, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Throw in pensions and other benefits and the gap widens to 42%.

For New York City's 281,000 employees, average compensation has risen 63% since 2000 to $107,000 a year. New Jersey teaching veterans receive $80,000 to $100,000 for ten months' work. In California prison guards can sock away $300,000 a year with overtime pay.

Four in five public-sector workers have lifetime pensions, versus only one in five in the private sector. The difference shifts huge risks from government to private-sector workers.

NYC socked away $20,000 per employee last year for pension benefits. Since 2000 its pension funding bill has risen ninefold, from $615 million to $5.6 billion in 2008. That's more than the city spends on transport, health care, parks, libraries, museums and City University of New York combined, says the Citizens Budget Commission.

These benefits are so sacrosanct, and such a source of union power, that labor bosses have turned them into the third rail for NYC politicians--touching them is suicide. That goes for the benefits not only of existing workers but of future ones as well.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Emasculated by the Political Class

An article of mine previously published by the Ludwig von Mises Institute (Mises.org)



Emasculated by the Political Class

By Jim Fedako
Posted on 7/17/2007
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Once again, I was emasculated by the political class. I shouldn't have been surprised since it happens all the time. However, this latest incident was one more slap in my face by those who readily spend my money as if it were their own.

Not long ago, my wife and I invited an energetic young man over to our house for dinner and discussion. This man was on a mission. Well, actually, he is looking to go on a mission. You see, our heroic gentleman is devoting his life to missionary work throughout the Third World: flying airplanes filled with supplies and hope, and landing those packed aircraft on all too-short runways carved into mountain tops and jungles. A noble cause indeed. A cause that my wife and I want to support.

So, we invited him over to learn more about his mission, and his financial needs. We fed our guest and sat down to a very interesting and enlightening presentation. It was obvious that this man was committed and ready to go.

Even though the journey through his slides and videos really excited us, my wife and I had already set our maximum contribution level during earlier contemplations. It was not going to be much, a point that really hit our hearts. Nevertheless, it was going to be something. We would rearrange some things and commit our money toward this man's mission of service and sacrifice.

This is the world of the individual. A world where scarcity limits the ability to satisfy all wants — with most wants never being addressed, let alone satisfied.

Contrast our world with that of the political class. Here, scarcity is nonexistent. While my wife and I struggled over whether or not we could commit financial resources, the politician simply commits our resources for us. No questions asked.

Soon after we had settled on an affordable monthly gift for missionary flights, I read where Bush trumped me by committing $30 billion toward fighting AIDS in Africa. Worthy? Certainly. But, that was my money he committed, not his.

"I end up emasculated by the politician's theft of my charity."
While my wife and I agonized, never feeling satisfied that our level of financial commitment was sufficient, Bush proudly committed multiples of our contribution level (when you consider the $30 billion on a per-capita basis) without taking into account our ability to pay. It was easy for him.

Politicians can proudly proclaim their gifts to the world, and never worry about the source of funds, nor weigh the gifts against alternate choices. They simply get to give, smile, and sit back to receive the accolades that fall at the feet of the political don. What a life — though a life devoid of reason and reality.

You see, by acknowledging the reality of scarcity, we actually create more value. Scarcity causes us to provide funds to the producers of only the most worthy goods produced most efficiently. This is true whether the good is a producer good, consumer good, or charitable good.

Recognizing scarcity and alternative costs is essential for progressing economies. The consumer or donor quickly notes wasteful activities and excludes these from further investment or giving. Under a system of recognized scarcity, the wants of the consumer force entrepreneurs and charities to allocate resources to the most valued activities. This allocation benefits the consumer and the investor, as well as the sick and the poor.

Bush's gift is unrecognized by me, financially speaking. I have not given any thought to which of my wants will go unsatisfied due to his political philanthropy. The rearrangement of my finances will become reality when his bill is finally due — at the checkout line. When that reckoning occurs, I will not put two and two together — or $15 billion and $15 billion in this case — and note that changes in the marketplace are the result of Bush's gift. The beauty of political philanthropy for the politician is that the gifts appear to be free.

But such gifts limit my ability to fund the mission work of my pilot friend. I end up emasculated by the politician's theft of my charity. Bush gets to stand proud while I try to come up with excuses for why I can't give more. While I shuffle my feet and avoid the direct eye contact of the adventurous pilot, Bush looks the camera in the lens and proclaims his righteousness.

Isn't it high time that we demand that our so-call representatives quit giving our money in their names? We will help the sick and poor if only we can keep our money in our own wallets.

In fact, our giving will have a greater effect since our gifts will be subject to the constraints of alternative costs. Donors will award funding to the efficient providers of service and sacrifice. Those providers that cannot meet the demands of donors — donors who face the reality of scarcity — will quickly disappear. Market pressures will create an efficient delivery system of charity, one that far exceeds the current system run by government agencies.

We are continually emasculated by DC thugs who steal our dollars and then hand them out as their own, leaving us to distribute whatever change is left in our pockets. The politicians get to stand proud while we have to make excuses.

How dare they do that to us! How dare we let them!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Keynes of Marx; the brother Groucho that is

An old blog post of mine over at Mises.org. It has relevance today.

While watching the classic comedy
Animal Crackers, I laughed as Groucho Marx – playing the character Captain Spaulding – engaged a gentleman named Chandler in a very funny Marxian discussion of inflation and fiat money:
The nickel today is not what it was fifteen years ago. Do you know what this country needs today?...A seven-cent nickel. Yessiree, we've been using the five-cent nickel in this country since 1492. Now that's pretty near a hundred years' daylight saving. Now, why not give the seven-cent nickel a chance? If that works out, next year we could have an eight-cent nickel. Think what that would mean. You could go to a newsstand, buy a three-cent newspaper and get the same nickel back again. One nickel carefully used would last a family a lifetime! (from Filmsite.org)


Note the absurd application of a Keynesian Money Multiplier effect, where inflation allows a carefully spent nickel to last a lifetime. Of course, the gentleman falls for the muddled logic and obfuscation, responding, "Captain Spaulding, I think that is a wonderful idea." One wonders if the Chandler character isn't simply a composite sketch of the typical congressman.

Oh, if life was only so easy.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Squealer and socialism

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










Squealer and socialism

Jim Fedako


Ah, irony. I had just finished reading excerpts from Animal Farm when I pick up my local paper and read this article from Llewellyn King, "Don't let cries of 'socialism' mislead you."

It's been years since I've read the book or saw the movie, yet I am now almost certain that King was the inspiration for Squealer, the court propagandist and sophist. Or, at least he could have been..

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Wade Lucas: Being paid a grand to attend the debutante ball

That's right. Olentangy taxpayers are paying Wade close to $1000 to attend his taxpayer-funded welcome reception. You know Wade is going to continue soaking this district for all its worth. He's doing it already. Wade is all about the kids.

* WELCOME RECEPTION SET FOR WADE LUCAS, ED.D
The Olentangy Board of Education is hosting a Community Welcome Reception in honor of Superintendent Wade Lucas, Ed.D. Lucas was recently hired by the board to serve as the district’s new superintendent and he will begin a regular schedule with the district on March 23. All community members are invited to attend the Welcome Reception set for March 17 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the Team Room of Olentangy Shanahan Middle School, 814 Shanahan Road in Lewis Center. The board will conduct a regular meeting immediately following the reception.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Spinning to nowhere

This evening, I was down in my basement working out. While I sweated, spinning to nowhere, the CD player was spinning 10-year old music from Jars of Clay. I would never claim Jars of Clay as my favorite band, but there I sat spinning and listening, and enjoying.

I think back some 15 odd years, back to when Shelly and I served in Jamaica with the US Peace Corps. Before landing on that sandy shore, I hadn't given much thought to Jamaican music. Yes, I had a couple of Bob Marley albums, but they never sat at the top of the pile.

Yet, within a few weeks, I found myself drawn toward the Jamaican beat. In a process that was as gradual as definite, I became a fan of the latest Reggae and Dance Hall songs. The Jamaican sounds had replaced my previous favorites.

Back in the states, I slowly began finding the Jamaican tapes near the middle of the pile. Today, they sit in dust, near the bottom of a cluttered box.

The same can be said of Jamaican food. I can no longer taste the patties and coca bread that once filled my pre-lunch daydreams.

What's the lesson here? It's obvious. We have a natural tendency to adopt the sounds, tastes, etc, that are part of our daily lives. This is why the Bible instructs Christians to separate from the world. Yet ...

We send our children to government schools, 180 days a year. And we expect them to somehow remain separate from the culture of the schools. In essence, we ask our children to go to Jamaica for an extended vacation and not enjoy the music or the food.

The question is this: How can Christians remain pure in a sex-saturated world? I ask, "Why does anyone think they can be part of that world and remain pure?"

Putting children and young adults in such a world and asking them to separate is to believe the devil’s lie; a lie that Jesus answered in this manner, "Again it is written, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’"

Look at this statement: "Perhaps what is MORE alarming is the fact that church stats mirror the secular world." As long as the Church remains part of the secular world, expect it to mirror the secular world. You can expect nothing less.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Uncle Sam, Cousin Maynard, and the miracle seeds

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










Uncle Sam, Cousin Maynard, and the miracle seeds

Jim Fedako


When trying to explain complex economic situations, it sometimes best to abstract from money and look at a simple economy -- a barter market. Assume that the only market for a society is its Saturday farmers market. Folks come from far and wide to exchange goods (that which they can produce efficiently for that which they cannot).

One day, Uncle Sam and Cousin Maynard come to town with their wagon of stuff. In it, they have miracle seeds, which they exchange for real goods. The locals are excited; Cousin Maynard says these miracle seeds will triple the harvest next year.

Everyone goes into a frenzy based on these future crops -- farmers trade for all kinds of current goods, using lines of credit based on next year's abundance.

Everything goes swimmingly. The local economy appears to be booming. Then, a new visitor with a strong accent comes to town. Since this gentleman -- who goes by the name Ludwig -- is a horticulture specialist from a far-off society, the locals rush to show him a few of their miracle seeds. Ludwig takes a look, and then a second one. He laughs, "These are junk seeds. They won't grow anything."

With that, the economy goes into a tailspin. The farmers recognize that they will not be able to payoff their lines of credit as there will be no harvest next year -- or, if there is time for a second planting, a small harvest at best.

Everyone is angry and scared. They turn to Uncle Sam. He smiles and opens the wagon once more to show an abundant supply of paper notes. "Don't worry," he says, "These can paper over any mess."

We all know that this society has to go through some real pain. And we know that there is no way to paper over the mess. So why do folks continue to believe that things change when the numbers get bigger and the economy more complex?

Expecting the stimulus package to be the solution is a chasing after the wind -- no matter what Uncle Sam and Cousin Maynard claim.

note: Cousin Maynard is JM Keynes; Ludwig is Ludwig von Mises; and, Uncle Sam is the power drunk spender.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Where's Wade (Lucas)

You know, the taxpayers pay Wade close to $1000 to attend things like bingo night and other frivolities. Why? Well, he is still officially employed by Green Local, so your board pays him a per diem to have face time in this district. Yet ...

Where is Wade during the redistricting debates? Nowhere to be seen. I guess leading the district is not part of his future contract. Better to yell "Bingo" while collecting a grand than to get dirty doing the real job.

Wade, You are off to a grand start (pun intended).

Amazing.

The Olentangy Moral Dilemma

A real world example of a moral dilemma.

The Situation: Two local school board members are up for reelection. One lied (Julie Feasel) to the public about the cost of the Wade Luca contract; the other (Teri Meider) smugly sits on property appraised at half its value.

The Moral Dilemma: Which of the two should you support in November?

The Definition: A moral dilemma is a choice between two moral imperatives.

The Conclusion: Hey, wait, there is no moral dilemma here. There is only one moral imperative -- vote both out of office. Now, that was easy.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Billions down the rat hole

An education listserve response to this article:

"Anyone who calls me a conservative gets a punch in the nose." -- Frank Chodorov

That statement holds 80 years later. For those who do not recognize the name, calling Chodorov a liberal would have resulted in the same response.

The Hess conservative is a liberal 5 years later. Nevertheless, Hess is correct in his undertones: We are moving toward a confluence of ideologies; a confluence where there is not even a dime's worth of difference separating the means and ends of the two sides of the aisle. The debate over big government versus small government has given way to the debate over the degree of big government -- a government bigger than could have even been conceived just 8 years ago.

The past few months have been an interesting lesson in dialectics and its evil twin: consensus. Where once the parties would have debated the evils and the benefits of repeated almost $1 trillion interventions, the debate has shifted to the synthesis of views. Now the interventions are the correct course, and all that remains is the debate over whose friends receive what.

Instead of being a principled man, Hess joins the rush to consensus by presenting the middle ground (synthesis) as the correct position. Hess wants to play with the Leviathan because either he believes in its goals, or he benefits from its largess, or both. On one hand, he is a fool. On the hand other, a thief. Neither speaks well of him.

Government and its agent of change -- government schools -- created this mess. Today, children in the government's schools were being told that this latest stimulus package is the best solution for our ills. Sure, it puffs up the pockets of government school employees, but it also robs our posterity of a future similar to ours.

Anyone who thinks pounding another $100 billion -- give or take -- down the rat hole of government schools is going to correct any of our ills needs to write his posterity a note: Your mess was my doing. I sold you out for a few pieces of paper.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Yelling, "Fire!"

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










Yelling, "Fire!"

Jim Fedako


For all the hyperbole, where is the wildfire causing all the hysteria? Oh, sure, we have problems -- big problems. But the continued source is those government agents over there, huddled in the tall grass, nervously fanning growing embers in an attempt to ignite a wad of bills.

For months, Obama and crew -- right and left -- have implied that the fire is just over the time horizon. But with each delay in DC, the horizon extends just a few more days, with the fires of doom still nowhere to be seen.

Look, if I see smoke billowing in the distance, I'm on the move. And this is where a real danger differs from an opportunistic one. Obama and crew really don't fear some impending doom, they are not in panic mode. No, they simply see this downturn as an opportunity to wrest more power from an ailing Liberty. To do this, Obama and crew must convince us that there is a fire out there, that it's wild and out of control, and that they are the firemen -- Trust us. And they must do so before we catch on to their ruse -- so, maybe there is a panic of sorts.

In our current situation, without the blanket of green fiber acting as the never-ending fuel source, the financial flames would have burned hot and fast, with new growth already appearing over the darkened ground. But the continued supply of dollars will create a huge wildfire on the other side of the horizon, a fire that will finally catch a wind and ravage the US as no fire before.

Note: If they can delay legislation for just a few more weeks, can't we just say the danger of fire has passed? Nothing to see here folks?

Monday, February 09, 2009

The billion is the new million

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










The billion is the new million

Jim Fedako

Not too long ago, a billion dollars was a big deal -- something to stop and consider. Now the billion's site value has been reduced by three zeroes. Today's Columbus Dispatch has this headline: State revenue falls further than expected, Ohio has $85 billion gap so far this fiscal year. Of course, the budget gap is really $85 million, but editors are so used to seeing billions when discussing budgets that this slip passed their pens. Amazing how the word billion has been deflated in such a short time.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Here's a shocking headline

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










Playing cards and drinking tea

Jim Fedako

According to this headline, "Watchdogs: Bank bailout overpaid $78 billion." Wasn't that the whole point of the bailout: money for nothing -- or for next to nothing, anyway?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Teri Meider, Olentangy, and property owners

Owners of Commercial Property in the Olentangy School District:

The district employs a law firm to search the tax duplicate for commercial properties that the law firm believes have been appraised, by the auditor, at below market value. The law firm then challenges the appraisal before the county board of revisions. Why? Because the district wants every possible penny it can get from your wallet. Yet ...

Now we have Teri Meider, board vice president, living in a house that is grossly undervalued. Keep in mind that late last year, Meider -- just like every property owner in the county -- received notification from the auditor of her property's 2008 appraised value. She must have looked at it and snickered, "Let the other folks in the district pay the my new tax. I'm going to eat cake."

The hypocrisy is this: Meider votes to employ a law firm to go after your property -- and your money -- while turning her back on her own property.

When the last levy was being debated, Meider was the cheerleader. To her, the district deserves every penny possible. Not her pennies or dollars, mind you. But the hard-earned dollars from the rest of us.

One of you must challenge her valuation before the board of revision. Seriously, you will already be there fighting the district with its efforts to steal your money. So you might as well make Meider feel some of the pain of her new and unneeded tax.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Teri Meider: property taxes are for the little folk

Teri Meider, board vice president and head cheerleader, loves to fight for tax increases for the local school district. Why not, she only pays half the taxes her neighbors pay.

Did you get that? Half.

According to the county auditor's website, Meider bought her house in April, 2008, for $318,500. Yet -- now get this -- the auditor appraised the house at $185,800. Amazing!

Those readers who know just a bit about property taxation will say, "Sure, but when was the house built? Maybe the auditor appraised a partially finished house." Not true in this instance. The property was completed in 2007, so it was a finished house as of the 2008 tax lien date (January 1, 2008).

The question is this: Will Meider ask the auditor to value her house at its market value -- the arm's length transaction? Or, will Meider cut an extra check to the school district?

Anyone want to bet that Meider says and does nothing? Taxes are for us little folk, not the seemingly powerful.

note to Meider: Since I do not like paying your school tax either, can you send me the contact info for your "in" at the auditor's office. Maybe I can get my taxes cut in half too.

Second glaring error

This one is minor quibble.


To make it clear how arbitrary the current system can be, one may examine a case where there are two districts with virtually identical tax rates on Class I property, but the districts have different types of levies, so that one is at the 20-mill floor and one is not. Dover CSD has an effective Class I operating tax rate of 25.90 mills (it also has nonoperating levies: a bond levy at a 1.75 mill rate and a permanent improvement levy with a 0.16 mill rate). It is a 20-mill floor district, because it has 4.4 inside mills, and current expense levies that have been reduced to 15.6 mills by the HB 920 TRFs. The other 5.9 mills of operating taxes come from an emergency levy. (emphasis added)
The system is not arbitrary. It may be complex, etc. But it is not arbitrary.

note: Went with a minor error this time. Didn't want to steal any thunder from the Meider money machinations. Bigger error to follow in the coming days.

The Answer

The error: The paragraph from the executive budget is tied to an example where property values increase by 20%.

Take the district with 22 effective miles, of which 4 are inside. The 20% increase applies to the 18 outside mills only, reducing the effective rate from 18 to 15.

But, wait. Add the 15 outside mills to the 4 inside mills and you end up with only 19 mills -- below the 20-mill floor. So the effective rate cannot be reduced the full 20%.

This means that there is a tax increase in this district -- those mills do grow.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Find the Error: it's glaring

See if you can find the glaring error found on page D-30 of Strickland's Executive Budget:



School districts that are at the 20-mill floor get revenue growth from 20 mills (2 percent) of property taxes on existing property when the property is revalued at reappraisal or update (every three years). School districts that are not at the 20-mill floor get growth only from their inside (unvoted) millage, which is typically only about 4.5 mills. On all the voted millage, the H.B. 920 TRFs act to reduce the effective rate of taxation so that there is no growth in revenue from the voted millage at reappraisal or update. This “all or nothing” growth in property tax revenue under the current school financing is not well understood by the public. A school district with 20 mills of property taxation that counts toward the 20-mill floor gets growth on 20 mills of tax when property is revalued. A school district with, for example, 22 mills of property taxation gets growth on its 4 or 5 inside mills, but no growth at all on its 17 or 18 voted mills.

I'll have the answer tomorrow.

There's at least one more glaring error that I will share on Friday. In the meantime, keep in mind that the above is the foundation of school funding in Ohio. If the budget analysts can't get this essential piece right, what can they get right?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Is this Italy of the 1920's

The Public Private Collaborative Commission emphasized the importance of this relationship in its report, Supporting Student Success: A New Learning Day in Ohio, by stating, “Educators, especially school leaders, are centerpieces in this work, but they cannot do it all, and they cannot do it alone. Entire communities must share responsibility for the well-being of children, youth and families – and also for the educational performance of every student. Nothing short of this kind of sustained accountable, representative engagement, evident in the ability to organize and mobilize for collective action to achieve common purposes, will get the job done. As the job gets done, the education system will change for the better and all Ohioans will
benefit.”


-- Ohio's 2010 - 2011 Executive Budget


When Ohio Governor Strickland refers to the community, be certain that he means the state.

A reader regularly posts comments containing information on
communitarianism. I don't know if all readers of this blog consider what she has to say, but you should. You must.

Take some time to read Strickland's executive budget to see that the goals of communitarianism are about to become law in Ohio.

Of course, many folks (such as Paul over at SavetheHilliardSchools) adhere to a worldview that supports this nonsense. They see the community sitting above the family as the single most important concept save the state -- which they refer to as the nation.

Oh, sure, they won't be so bold as to make such claims. But they will act in what they believe are the best interests of the community, regardless of who they harm along the way. In their minds, they easily balance any action (the means) with its corresponding community benefit (the ends) in favor of the community.

And these folks will read the executive budget and see the good. Sure, they may question and debate a point here or there, but the essence of the budget will never be challenged or denied. It will be the starting point of their plans and schemes to bring about Fourier's Utopia. And we will end up with Dante's Hell.

Keep in mind that this very same belief was the center of the evils of the previous century. You see, when you accept the community as the foremost entity, it's a small step to begin legislating against the family and the individual. The family becomes the stumbling block to achieving what is best for the community. Add in the Progressive love of scientism and positivism and you have a system that can advocate horrible evils without any remorse.


Consider a bill recently introduced in the Netherlands. This bill would allow the state to force-sterilize women who are not fit to have children -- based on the state's definition of fit. For a communitarian, the bill is sound. The last thing the community needs is children from unfit mothers.

I bet that more than a few readers will consider that bill. They will attempt to balance the community against the individual. And I bet they consider it twice.

Get a hold on yourself. Slap your face if necessary. The siren's song of the community and the utilitarian approach to life is oh so close to the Gulags and ovens.

This isn't over-the-top stuff. The world is changing. And as long as we simply rationalize each new law, program, etc., we will follow in step toward our final resting point. And that resting point will not be heaven on earth. No matter what the peddlers say.


notes:

1. Paul drops off with the community. That is where he stands today. I do not want to imply that he holds any other communitarian ideal. But, he has certainly fought on their side.

2.Women who plan to have children better be prepared to have a state agent perform maternal depression screening (in the executive budget). If you don't find that intrusive and frightening, welcome to the Brave New World.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Playing cards and drinking tea

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










Playing cards and drinking tea

Jim Fedako

The US Post Office wants to reduce its work week by a day. Hey, why not stay home every day of the week and let the private sector deliver the mail? And, why not invite the folks over at Homeland Securty to join you for lazy days on the porch, playing cards and drinking tea. Wouldn't we all be better off?>