Ken's Project Blog

September 30, 2011

Warren Buffett

Filed under: In The News,Politics,Taxation — Ken @ 3:06 pm

Remember when then-Senator Obama was running for President how excited the left was that ‘The Wizard of Omaha,’ Warren Buffet, one of the wealthiest people in America would be advising President Obama? Well, fast-forward a couple years and we find President Obama in what one of his top political advisors described as a ‘Titanic Battle’ for re-election, and he appears to not be listening to his advisors, at least not Mr. Buffett.

Mr. Buffett has come out publicly against (or perhaps confused is a better word) this administration’s decision to rescind a generous tax deduction for corporate jet purchases made during this downturn in the economy. The tax deduction was put in place during the Bush administration, but once President Obama took office he not only extended the deduction, but increased it from 50% to 100%. But once this administration learned how well the American public reacted to the heads of the failing automakers being attacked for taking corporate jets to ask congress for a bailout, the President apparently rethought his attempts to stimulate the corporate jet industry – and held corporate jet owners out as examples of excess, and wanted to rescind the very deductions he implemented. That same deduction for corporate jets (not personal) also applied to other capital investments by American companies, but this administration is willing to hurt the jet industry to score political points. As Mr. Buffett said, why does it make sense for a company to be able to deduct the price of a new locomotive, but not a corporate jet? Both are pieces of equipment used by businesses to make money.

Now the President has set his sights on high-income earners (over $1M/year) that pay a ‘lower tax rate than their secretaries.’ this is based in part on a famous line Mr. Buffett used in a WSJ op-ed piece. First off, I thought the issue was revenue, not rates, and millionaires pay more than their secretaries, but let’s put that aside. The President has rolled-out what he calls “The Buffett Plan” – an alternative minimum tax for people that earn over $1M in income. Mr. Buffett, despite allowing the administration to name the proposal after him has come out against it. Mr. Buffett wanted the very high-earners to be subject to a higher rate than they currently are. The President’s ‘Buffett Plan’ does nothing to increase the taxes owed by say a person who earns millions a year playing a sport or in the entertainment industry – their compensation isn’t covered by the proposed change. Mr. Buffett wanted a tax on them.

Maybe President Obama should start meeting with, and listening to, the advisors he touted on the campaign trail, not reacting to polls and working on his re-election…

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September 21, 2011

OnStar is watching you

Filed under: In The News,Technology — Ken @ 7:13 am

20110921-071442.jpgOver at slashdot they have a story about OnStar logging and selling your car’s GPS coordinates, direction, speed and other data to third-parties, even if you don’t subscribe to OnStar.

While some are understandably concerned about privacy issues, I don’t think the value of this data is tied to the fact they know a particular car belongs to a certain person, I think their plan is to try and sell traffic congestion information to GPS companies for real-time updates on route times.

While there could be a lot of money in the ‘Where did my cheating husband go with his Corvette last night when he said he was working late?’ market, I’m not sure how OnStar could advertise such a service and then sell cars to philanderers and criminals. On the other hand, it would make a heck of a lojack alternative!

Sources:

Slashdot.org: OnStar Terms and Conditions Update Raises Privacy Concerns

Internet Essentials, from Comcast

Filed under: In The News,Technology — Ken @ 1:58 am

Do you (or your children) qualify for free school lunches and live in an area served by Comcast? If so, you may qualify for their new Internet Essentials service, providing you with a speedy 1.5 Mb/sec broadband internet connection for a low $9.95/month. What’s that you say, you don’t have a computer? You may qualify for one running Windows 7 for $150 from Comcast. Of course, there are a few requirements:

  1. Be located where Comcast offers Internet service
  2. Have at least one child receiving free school lunches through the National School Lunch Program
  3. Have not subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days
  4. Not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment

For it’s part, Comcast commits to keeping this offer for three years, without price increases.

Why is Comcast doing this? Because it was a requirement to curry favor with the regulators in Comcast’s bid to acquire NBC/Universal.

Sources:

arstechnica.com: Comcast’s $9.99 Internet for low-income families goes nationwide and Comcast: $10/month Internet—and cheap netbooks—for the poor

internetessentials.com: Internet Essentials

Fact Check: The CNN/Tea Party Debate in Florida

Filed under: In The News,Politics — Ken @ 12:58 am


The Associated Press has put together a fairly exhaustive “analysis” of many of the claims from the GOP primary candidates – I think it’s worth a look – here’s a link to it at USAToday.

Sources:

usatoday.com: Fact Check: The CNN/Tea Party debate in Florida

Obamanomics vs. Reaganomics

Filed under: In The News,Politics,Taxation — Ken @ 12:37 am


Over at the Wall Street Journal Stephen Moore penned a great piece comparing Obamanomics and Reganomics, as he wrote in the piece:

My purpose here is not more Reagan idolatry, but to point out an incontrovertible truth: One program for recovery worked, and the other hasn’t.

I encourage you to click-thru and take a look at his piece, it’s over at wsj.com.

Sources:

wsj.com: Obamanomics vs. Reaganomics

Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Political Hack

Filed under: Education,In The News,Politics — Ken @ 12:20 am


Shortly after Gov. Rick Perry announced his run for the Republican nomination to run for President against Arne Duncan’s boss, Arne Duncan decided to inject himself into the political debate and slam the educational system in Gov. Perry’s Texas. Interestingly, Arne Duncan failed to point out that the Chicago Public School System, the very school system he personally ran before being tapped by President Obama to become the federal Education Secretary, posted worse results than the Texas school system he holds in such low regard. As but one comparison between Texas and the Chicago Public School System, let’s take a look at graduation rates – in Texas the graduation rate is about 73%, the Chicago Public School System has a slightly lower high school graduation rate… about 56%.

I wonder if Secretary Arne Duncan if he also feels “very, very badly” for the children he claims to have educated in Chicago?

Probably not.

And let’s not forget, Secretary Duncan’s boss President Obama was also a reformer trying to improve Chicago’s public schools when he led the Chicago Annenberg Challenge with his neighbor (and some would argue ghost writer), Bill Ayres.

Sources:

youtube.com: Bloomberg TV’s Al Hunt Interviews Education Secretary Arne Duncan

time.com: Arne Duncan Can’t Quite Explain Why He’s Dissing Texas

wsj.com: Obama and Ayers Pushed Radicalism On Schools

nytimes.com: Obama and ’60s Bomber: A Look Into Crossed Paths

americanthinker.com: Who Wrote Dreams From My Father?

September 20, 2011

Rep. Phil Roe

Filed under: In The News — Ken @ 11:24 pm

Over at Drudgereport they have a link to a story about Tennessee Rep. Phil Roe performing CPR on a man at the airport. Rep. Roe was talking with Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport when he heard someone shouting for a doctor.

Rep. Roe responded and found a man unconscious without a pulse. After performing CPR on the man, alternating with a woman who also knew CPR, they were soon relieved by the paramedics who revived the man using an external defibrillator. It has been reported the man is doing well, and is expected to have a full recovery.

Before running for Congress, Rep. Roe was an obstetrician for 31 years, but before entering medical school, Rep. Roe was a Boy Scout, where he earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Recently, Rep. Roe was awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.

Phil Roe: Congressman, Obstetrician, and Eagle Scout.

Sources:

reuters.com: Congressman Phil Roe performs CPR on man at airport

roe.house.com: Roe Receives Distinguished Eagle Award

Wikipedia.com: List of Eagle Scouts (Boy Scouts of America)

Charter Schools Considered

Filed under: Education,In The News — Ken @ 11:43 am

In my local paper, The Times, a reporter wrote a very thought-provoking two-part article (Part 1, 2) about charter schools and why they fail. While the article focused on the idea of mis-management leading to the closing of charter schools and the frenzy of activity that ensues when the hundreds of children are removed from a charter school and thrust back into the public schools they left, I felt it down-played what was to me the most interesting statistic in the piece:

According to the Center for Education Reform’s 2009 Accountability Report, of 19 charters that closed in New Jersey, 42 percent were shuttered for mismanagement, 37 percent for financial, 16 percent for academic and 5 percent for facility problems. [emphasis added]

Source: nj.com

The issues that plague charter schools are, in my opinion, easy to fix: charter school administrators should be required to attend the same training and have the same certification requirements that their peers in the public schools have – they are managing public expenditures, they should meet the same standards, period. In addition, oversight of charter schools should be greater than an established public school’s, not less, until a proven track record is established. Those two simple reforms would go a long way towards fixing what is wrong with many of our charter schools.

A few years ago, a local charter school was shuttered because they couldn’t seem to manage the “attendance problem”. It is inexplicable that a group of “educational professionals” were able to petition the state, put forward a plan, and then when given millions of dollars and responsibility for educating a few hundred children couldn’t even figure out how to report how many students were attending school each day to the state! This “challenge” befuddled them for months and persisted despite repeated warnings from the state. There were, obviously, other challenges at this school – this is but one of many failings – but since attendance translates directly into state aid, and it is arguably one of the easiest activities in running a school, this points out the failure of the vetting process used to decide who gets to start a charter school.

I work part-time at my local school district, and every year our district is audited, yet it seems that charter schools are reviewed every five years? Why are charter schools held to a lesser standard regarding financial oversight? The tw-part article mentions there are currently some 70 charter schools in New Jersey, yet the office tasked with overseeing these schools has a staff of seven – I suggest that each charter school be forced to budget for one full-time “inspector” that will be part of the oversight office at the Department of Education, and once the charter school demonstrates they are succeeding, the inspector position would come off the books of the charter school and then be replaced by a fractional inspector funded by the state.

Public school teacher unions like to hold up every failure at charter schools as an indictment against wasteful spending of precious educational dollars, but they ignore the reality that it is the failing or middling performance of many public schools that led to the creation of charter schools, and the rules that close failing charter schools are not applied to public schools. I’d like public schools to be held to the same standard charter schools are, with the same consequences for failure – I wonder how many public school teachers would agree with me? How many of their union leaders would agree with me? If not, why not?

Sources:

nj.com: Once-promising charter schools go off course – They’re favored by reformers, but have a high rate of failure and Charter schools caught in the middle of ideological fight

September 16, 2011

Nineteen Billion in Improper Unemployment Benefits?

Filed under: In The News — Ken @ 7:18 am

Over at the Wall Street Journal they have a sensationalist piece describing almost $19 Billion in improper Unemployment Insurance Benefits payments made during the last three years ending in June – but once you get past the great interactive graphic from the Department of Labor and read the piece you find out that the issue may not be that bad. (more…)

September 7, 2011

According to a 10 year-old…

Filed under: Politics — Ken @ 4:16 pm


Back in June, Lawrence O’Donnell and a Democratic Congressman discussed the possible illegality of Sarah Palin’s Sarah PAC “One Nation” bus tour and, amazingly, bemoaning the reality that “celebrities” and politicians get offered benefits at National Parks (special tours, off-hour admission to the parks, etc.) that “ordinary Americans” don’t get.

Mr. O’Donnell and the Representative based their “investigation” of these supposed wrong-doings on the “special wisdom” of a 10 year-old (non-Latina) girl named Piper Palin who, at one point refered to the bus tour as a vacation. Based on that revelation, Mr. O’Donnell proceeded to declare the tour illegal, because it was funded by Ms. Palin’s Sarah PAC… Is it inconceivable to Mr. O’Donnell that this was a fundraising tour for Sarah PAC, the opinions of a ten year-old not withstanding? Is it legal or illegal for Political Action Committees to underwrite fundraisers?

Besides, they missed the truly abhorrent element of her tour – her use of the U.S. Flag on the side of her bus! (I guess Martin Bashir never saw then-Candidate Senator Obama’s Campaign Tour Bus or Campaign Logo – which are equally as Red, White and Blue and also equally not actual flags or depictions thereof… Just like Sarah Palin’s bus.)

Sources:

youtube.com: O’Donnell and Dem Rep Attack Palin Based On 10 Year Old Piper Plain Saying She Was On Vacation

abcnews.com: Sotomayor: Wise Latina Woman Joke ‘Fell Flat’

sarahpac.com: Sarah Palin’s Official PAC

theweek.com: Is Sarah Palin’s bus tour really illegal?

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