Don’t forget to head out today across the United States and cast your vote.
I have said many times over the years that I don’t care who you vote for, just vote. Nothing irritates me more then when someone will complain about the state of the government (not just now, but dating back to when I started voting in 1989) and then you learn they never voted. You know what? You didn’t vote? Then you have no right to complain. Vote against me, cancel out my vote, I don’t care, but you have to exercise your right to vote. Heck, I don’t care if you write a name in, knock yourself out, but just make sure you take advantage of your right to vote!
Tennessee is attempting to pass a new law that would define holding hands and kissing as “gateway sexual activity.” Next up: Lingering stares.
Both the Tennessee House and Senate have approved new bills that would update the state’s abstinence-based sex education that would deine innocent childhood behaviors as “gateway sexual activities.” Tennessee House Bill 3621 and Senate Bill 3310 both contain similar language.
According to WMC TV 5, the bills would prohibit teachers from demonstrating “gateway sexual activity.” The bills go on to state that should teachers go beyond the provided guidelines, ”The parent or legal guardian shall have a cause of action against the instructor or organization for actual damages.”
According to a 2009 study, 61 percent of Memphis City high school students and 27 percent of middle school students have had sex. This is indeed above the national average and shows the state has some issues, but hand holding? Really? I can understand wanting to protect children, but this is definitely one of those situations where a state government has gone way too far in its definitions. Holding hands is one of the most natural things in the world, and I can honestly say that I have held hands with people that I have never had sexual activity with. Oh, if we had only known the disastrous path we were heading down when we did it!
Perhaps, and I know this is crazy talk, but judging by the numbers of school-aged children that have engaged in sexual intercourse, instead of updating your abstinence-based sex education with some new draconian rules that leave it wide open for teachers to be sued, you need to completely rewrite the curriculum? I know, there I go with those crazy ideas. What could I possibly be thinking?
Oh how I love state laws that make no sense. They fill my heart with warmth … and my head with injuries as I pound it against a wall.
If Homeland Security gets their way, there will be no way to take luggage on a plane with you that somehow don’t pay extra for.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano went before Congress this week according to USA Today and told the Congressman that carry-on luggage is costing taxpayers $260 million annually. Apparently the rise in carry-on luggage due to growing checked baggage fees is increasing the work load at security gates, and is in turn causing the expenses of running the nationally mandated security system to increase.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (LA – D) asked:
Checked-bag fees are increasing, it looks like, the cost to TSA because people don’t want to pay the fees so they are not checking bags and putting more on the planes. My question is, do the taxpayers have to pick up this fee? Or should we be looking at the airlines for some of the profits that they make from these fees to offset the cost to the taxpayer?
Ms. Napolitano suggested that a $5 fee be assessed to each one-way ticket, which would in turn bring in about $600 million a year to the security agency.
Excuse me, I may not be a math expert, but if the carry-on luggage is costing the department $260 million a year, why do they need to bring in $600 million in fees? Additionally, why shouldn’t the airlines, which are bringing in billions a year, team up to pay what would be a measly bill when split up amongst them?
It is becoming increasingly less attractive to bring any luggage with you on a plane, and as much as I’m sure the airlines would love if we brought none on board, we, as humans, have this silly need for clothing at our destination. I know, how pedestrian of me.
The good news is that Homeland Security has asked for some sort of fee every year since 2002 and have yet to have it approved. The problem is, you know as well as I do, it will eventually get approved, and airline travel costs will once again rise. I had to buy a ticket last week for a business trip next week, and I don’t even like to think about how much it ended up costing. True, it was somewhat “last minute”, but considering how much it cost, I hope I’m getting a solid gold seat.
At what point are all of these fees going to end? There has to be a “breaking point”, but one has to wonder where exactly that is.
First Lady Michelle Obama has a new battle she is waging in the war for the waist lines of Americans: Portion control in restaurants.
According to The New York Times, First Lady Michelle Obama has had a team of advisors meeting with the National Restaurant Association trade organization for nearly a year now. The goal of these meetings is to come up with some form of regulations on how large portions may be in restaurants through out the nation. Also included in the discussions is talks about kids meals including fruits, vegetables and milk as opposed to french fries and sodas.
Mrs. Obama has already had two victories in her battle of the bulge in the form of regulating school bake sales and food sold on school property, as well as getting Walmart to agree to sell fruits and vegetables at lower prices while also reducing salt, fat and sugars in the foods the retail chain makes itself. While I don’t have a hole lot of problem with the latter, I have been very vocal in my disagreements with the former.
Parties close to the talks with the National Restaurant Association have said that no agreement is close to being settled on.
Personally, my feeling is she should have been shown the door. In no way, shape or form should anyone be attempting to set guidelines on how they choose to serve their customers. Yes, there are regulations about discrimination and such, but this is an entirely different beast. Will you also be making sure that businesses reduce their prices to meet with the smaller portion size? What will you be doing about all you can eat buffets? ”Oh, I’m sorry, but you’ve exceeded the amount of food you may take from the buffet according to federal agreements.”
As I have said before, this country does have a weight issue, but it is in no way the job of the government to step in and tell us what we should and should not eat. No, what is being discussed here is not a law, however, what was done to the schools was, so what’s to make us think this wouldn’t eventually go the same route?
It is time for Mrs. Obama to take a step back and think very hard about what she is doing. If she wants to go have private one-on-one discussions with companies such as Walmart, fine. But trying to talk with an industry wide trade group to pass sweeping guidelines? No. I do not need the government telling me what I should and should not eat, and neither do you.
Whenever I see governments getting into “Nanny State” mode, it gets under my skin. Whether it be banning Happy Meal toys, or putting a tax on slicing a bagel, it’s just silly, and something they shouldn’t be involved in. That being said, the latest move by the federal government may be the most asinine example I’ve seen yet.
New legislation was passed by the U.S. Congress this week that is now on its way to President Obama for his signature, and he is definitely expected to sign it as it is something the First Lady, Michelle Obama, has fought for. Once signed, the Dept. of Agriculture will have one year to come up with new guidelines for school lunches, what is sold in vending machines on school property … and regulate how often bake sales can be held.
Yes, the U.S. government has decided it’s time to take down that staple of school fund raising, the bake sale.
All of this is being done in an effort to fight childhood obesity, which I agree is a growing concern in the United States, but is it something that actually needed to go to the level of federal legislation? While changing to leaner meat for school cafeteria hamburgers, and removing the worst foods out of school vending machines, are good ideas on the surface, it is not something the cash-strapped federal government should be concerning itself with.
The bake sale aspect is the part that really got me going. Sadly, the best source for this story is a report from The Associated Press, which I dare not quote because they will actually send a bill out to bloggers based on the number of words you quote. (apparently the AP has never heard of “fair use“.) It boils down to that items from a bake sale will no longer be allowed to be sold in the cafeteria, vending machines and limits will be put on the frequency of the use of baked goods in fundraisers.
Exact wording of the bill actually gives a presidential administration the right to ban bake sales altogether, but there have been indications that won’t be happening (for now).
As a former “band kid” that was around when we had to buy several hundred new uniforms, I can tell you that if it wasn’t for bake sales, we would have been sunk. The government is saying there are other means of raising funds out there, and it’s time to move away from the bake sale. What exactly would that be? Tell me another activity where a parent can donate their time to make something that is relatively cheap, donate it and then the people raising funds can sell it for what amounts to a silly amount of money. I’ll be waiting for your answer, but I won’t be holding my breath.
I can get behind fighting childhood obesity, it is a problem in this country, and I won’t even try to say differently, but this is not something the government needs to be involved in. Even setting aside the expenses to come up with these new rules, implementing, the costs of informing schools and so on, this is not the sort of activity the government needs to be involved in at all. These are local matters, and state government at best, and even then I feel like I’m being generous. Those two examples I gave at the outset of this article was local and state issues respectively, these sorts of matters never need to rise to the level of federal legislation … ever. This is not what the federal level is for, and it is over reaching at its finest.
Without having read the legislation myself, I wonder if they covered the very first loophole I thought of: “FREE Brownies … With $2 Donation”. Somehow I doubt it.
The U.S. government has much larger issues to deal with, and the idea that it is wasting valuable time, money and resources on fundraising bake sales is just simply appalling to me. If they want to make suggestions, that’s one thing, but to pass actual legislation? Are you out of your ever loving minds?
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go meet a man in a trenchcoat out in the parking lot to buy some black market bake sale goods.
While turning 30-years-old isn’t usually something people celebrate, when it’s a product, that’s pretty impressive. You know what you should do when a product turns that old? Decide to treat it like the greatest threat to children ever.
As I’ve been covering before, it seems that everyone and their dog has decided that the toys packed in Happy Meals are produced by Satan himself. From bans to lawsuits, it seems everyone is after those toys that come in the kid’s meals. According to SF Weekly, last night while you were watching the election results, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors passed a ban on the toys effective in Dec. 2011. The vote 8-3, making it veto proof, an action San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom had promised to take if this passed.
The new ban says that no toys may be included as a promotion in any meal that is more than a total of 600 calories, including the drink, and they must have less than 35 percent of their calories come from fat. Adding insult to injury, the promoted meal must also include fruits and vegetables.
Speaking to Reuters, San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar, who sponsored the measure, said, ”Our children are sick. Rates of obesity in San Francisco are disturbingly high, especially among children of color.” He went on to add, ”This is a challenge to the restaurant industry to think about children’s health first and join the wide range of local restaurants that have already made this commitment.”
Danya Proud, a spokeswoman for McDonalds, told the news service, “We are extremely disappointed with today’s decision. It’s not what our customers want, nor is it something they asked for.” She went on to add, ”Getting a toy with a kid’s meal is just one part of a fun, family experience at McDonald’s.”
Look, I understand obesity is out of control in this country, but dictating to businesses what they can do to promote their wares, in a totally legal way mind you, is just absurd. Taking away the toys will not make kids eat healthier no matter how much you try to fool yourself. Kids are suddenly going to stop despising vegetables and eat them because they now come with a toy? HAH!
This ordinance, like so many others we have seen (we’re looking at you Baltimore!) is just another case of the government turning into a nanny state. How about you try educating the populace on healthy eating as opposed to instating some ban that will have absolutely no impact on childhood obesity rates. Is this going to stop kids from eating candy bars? From drinking sodas? From plopping down on the couch after school with a bag of chips? No, it isn’t, but oh happy days, you got rid of the evil Happy Meal toys! The world is saved!
You know, why stop with banning the toys? How about you just start dictating all the menu items? I mean, you know what’s best for everyone apparently, so why not just start saying that restaurants can’t sell burgers with cheese, or bacon … or meat … or bread … why, all restaurants in San Francisco must now be tofu joints or salad bars (but mind the dressing!).
Some people are crowing what a victory is for the kids out there … tell ya what, when they move on to banning some other useless item that has absolutely no impact, come back and talk to me. Maybe you’ll finally realize educating people as opposed to taking away choices is where the smart people are.
Once again voting day is upon us, and I hope that no matter who you intend to vote for that you will get out there and exercise this right so many of us take for granted.
It seems like every election cycle gets harder to get through due to the overwhelming amount of negative ads out there. One has to wonder when the politicians will realize all those ads really accomplish is to turn us off to the whole process. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could focus on the issues as opposed to who did what 20 years ago? Oh, wait, that would mean we might figure out that none of them actually know what they’re talking about … my bad.
No matter who you are choosing to vote for today, I hope you will get out there and vote. I hate to belabor a point, but this is a right, and it’s one that we should embrace more fully. There are places all over the world that people are dying for this right, and yet we somehow view it as a hassle to go down to our polling places. That being said … I’ve already voted. Our county offers anyone the ability to go to the County Clerk’s office up to a month before the election and vote “absentee”. I was there over two weeks ago and there was actually a small line that formed after me to vote. I was absentee ballot 296, and the box was already getting full.
That actually warmed my heart a bit. I don’t care when someone votes, so long as they do it.
Get out there today, vote the way you want, and wear that “I Voted” sticker with pride … and prepare to hear a whole lot about the 2012 election tonight.
There is nothing wrong with warning your citizens of potential health issues with foods, but acting as a nanny state that will tell me what I can eat is a whole lot stupidity.
This past Sept. Baltimore passed a law that no trans fats may exceed .5 percent in any non-prepackaged food. If a business is found violating the new law once they receive a warning. If they are found a second time they can receive a citation for a fine of $100. If they are found doing it a third time the business could be shut down.
According to WBAL, a take-away restaurant called Healthy Choice (oh no, no trademark infringement there) inside Lexington Market was the first establishment to receive the citation back on Oct. 21st. On the first visit back in July they were found to be using a margarine that had three percent trans fats, and on this newest visit they were found to be using one with two percent. They have now switched to a zero trans fat margarine.
Here’s my issue (and I talked about this on Scattercast this week), and that is I have no problem with a health department inspecting for cleanliness and the such, something customers have no say in, but deciding what I can eat? That is something that should be left up to he consumer and not the government.
There is also the issue of the fact that over 100 businesses have received the first warning, but only one has gone to the $100 fine, so how much has Baltimore spent on this? There is no better way the city could spend this money? In 2008 Baltimore was the leading city in the nation for homicides, possibly you might want to spend some of this money on your police force?
Then there is the idea this could lead to businesses being shut down. Oh, yes, because putting more people out of work is always a good idea.
Yes, people are saying tans fats are bad for you, and so is high fructose corn syrup, but, funny, I don’t see any bans on that yet. Oh, I get it, those are packaged foods, so lets just ignore it’s one of the leading causes of diabetes, a health issue that is getting worse by the year. Yep, lets spend local money going after local businesses. Good idea, Baltimore.
Thanks to Jo for sharing this story on Google Reader.
Okay, fine, the problem in Philadelphia isn’t a “blog tax”, but it is a stupid tax none the less.
Back in late August I wrote about how the city of Philadelphia had sent a blogger a letter stating she needed a “Business Privilege License,” which costs $50 a year, or $300 for a lifetime. The reason being is that her blog runs ads, and apparently the second you collect any sort of money in the city, you become a business. During a happy hour where the city tried to calm the fears of bloggers, a city official told NPR’s Marketplace the following:
ANDREA MANNINO: In our city, you know, unfortunately, the second you generate a dollar, we go after it. That’s just the way our tax code is currently written.
To which a lawyer with his own blog about the law replied:
ANDREW BAER: Regardless of what’s on the books, any tax compliance agency, any department of revenue has discretion in deciding who to go after and who not to. I would love to know whose decision it was to go after people earning $11 a year from Google AdSense, and give the city this very public, very national black eye.
I’m going to have to go with Mr. Baer on this one.
While it is certainly not the city’s problem if you run an unprofitable business, I think the venture has to be a business to begin with. The vast majority of bloggers out there throw ads on their sites in the hopes of making a dollar or two here or there, but rarely do they even make enough to cover their server costs. For instance, my blog has been running for over five years, and while I used to make enough to cover my hosting costs, my traffic grew to such an extent I had to get my own server, and now I make enough in a year to cover about six weeks of hosting. If I as a logical person I’d shut this site down, but that’s not why I do this. I do it because I love it.
And that is where Mr. Baer is correct. If a blogger receives one of these letters and shows the city they made under X amount of dollars a year, it should be considered a hobby and be exempt from this silliness.
Is the city going around to every little kid’s lemonade stand in the summer and demanding that they buy this license?
Is the city going around to every yard sale and demanding they buy this license?
Is the city locating every kid that mows a neighbor’s yard for a few dollars and demanding they buy a license?
The answer is, of course, “no”, but you see, blogs are visible. The city has found a new group they can track, so they went after it. Don’t try to feed me this baloney about “the second you generate a dollar” because you are using discretion. Some pencil pusher in an office somewhere saw a blog from Philadelphia one day and went, “Oh, hey! More money for the city coffers!”
Here’s a simple solution for all of you Philadelphia bloggers: unless you are blogging about something to do with the city, simply don’t list where you’re from. Make the city track you down and check the domain registration files for millions of sites, they’ll love that.
So, no, it’s not a “blogger tax”, it’s just that bloggers make a really nice, stationary target.
Here we go again, another town is going to be levying fines and community service at people who wear baggy pants. Really? This is what you are doing with governmental time in a time of financial crisis? Wow.
According to CNN, the city of Dublin, GA will begin fining people $25 for the first offense of wearing pants or skirts that fall more than three inches below their hips, exposing flesh or under garments. On the second offense you will be fined $200, and both offenses carry the possibility of community service time with them.
Didn’t I already write up this story in 2008? Oh yes, I did, except it was in Florida.
Since I already expressed my exasperation with the insanity of such laws back at that time, let me wonder this time why clothing laws stop a sagging pants. In the case of the city of Dublin they are counting it as indecent exposure, so lets wonder about some other possible cases, shall we?
When will women who expose their bra straps be fined?
As I noted last time I wrote this story up, what about women who wear corsets as a top to go out?
Plumbers are well known for exposing their butt cracks while working, I assume those fines will be beginning at any moment now.
Laying out in a bikini in your front yard?
Going around town in just a bikini top?
Women who wear a top cut too low? Will we begin measuring the amount of cleavage, and will it be based on a percentage of cup size? (I.E. four inches on an A cup is a world of difference to that of a D cup)
Men walking around with no shirt on.
What about women who go out in public wearing men’s boxer shorts? (I live in a college town, you wouldn’t believe how much of this actually goes on)
How are baggy pants riding low any different than the things I just listed? I think baggy pants are idiotic, but at the same time someone may think the way I wear a certain piece of clothing is equally idiotic.
People claim this is offensive and indecent … I suggest you get a new sense of decency. There is actually far worse going on around you than the baggy pants, but for whatever reason you choose to ignore all of those things. How about this wild idea that you just keep it with it so long as no sexual anatomy is shown, it’s good enough. Spending time, effort and government funds on enforcement of some sort of dress code is waste at its best. You have absolutely nothing better to do with your time? Bull.
Although I am still fully in favor of arresting frat boys who “pop the colla”.
Apparently these is absolutely no limit to what governments think they can tax, but when a state passes a tax that is so obviously directed at one city, it just becomes insulting.
State legislators in Albany, New York decided to classify a sliced bagel as a “prepared food”. This means that if you go into a bakery and buy a bagel whole, there is no tax on it, but if you ask them to slice it for you it turns into a prepared food and that means it will receive roughly $.08 in tax. If you choose to eat the bagel in the store, sliced or un-sliced, that is also an $.08 tax. However, if you buy a loaf of bread from bakery and have it sliced … no tax.
How is slicing a bagel different than slicing a loaf of bread? Well, I’ll tell you how, and it is what really got my ire up even more so than just the tax.
When you think New York City, bagels almost immediately pop into mind. It is one food that is almost synonymous with the city, just as is their pizza by the slice. However, if you go into other parts of New York state, sure you can find bagels, but there is no where near the proliferation you will find in the city. Now, loaves of bread? Well, those are sold everywhere under the sun and … you get the idea.
Essentially New York state legislators just taxed New York City for its love of a food that it is known for. Yes, there will be instances of it happening outside of the five Burroughs, but nowhere near the amount of tax that can be collected just off of the city proper.
Way to go New York, you almost rank up there with Philadelphia now with its blogger license.
There are times when you wonder if there are any brains in government at any level. The city of Philadelphia is definitely making me wonder.
It seems that Philadelphia has determined since bloggers are earning such huge amounts of money, that we are businesses and they must get a “business privilege license”. This little license will either cost you $50 a year or $300 for a lifetime one.
All of this came to light according to the Philadelphia City Paper, when Marilyn Bess was sent a letter back in May demanding she get a license due to her blog, Philly Organic. Ms. Bess works in this site infrequently, and on occasion writes some posts for eHow. She says over the last few years she has made a total of $50 from her various excursions into writing.
There is one major problem with the situation of her blog, however, and that is the fact that it is hosted on WordPress.com. For those of you unfamiliar with the site, it is a blog host that allows you to st up a free blog, but it strictly enforces a “no advertising” rule on the site. Since they host you for free, they don’t see why you should be making any money either. I’m not quite clear how she made her $50, but it certainly wasn’t from her blog.
It seems Philadelphia isn’t a fan of writers, period. If you are a freelance writer, you are also expected to get a business privilege license, and then pay the city taxes on your earnings in addition to what you pay the state and federal. As it is described in the article, any activity done with the potential of making a profit, whether it did or not, is expected to have one of these licenses.
I’m sorry, but they are out of their ever loving minds. A freelance journalist is nothing more than an employee who just moves around from job to job. You know why blogs keep us on a freelancer status? So they don’t have to pay any benefits or anything else on us. We’re already paying for everything, so, yes, please take some more of our money.
As for blogs needing a license … do you have any clue how much revenue is generated? This is far from a money making operation. In fact, I lose money every month. There is also the question about what happens with the blogs where they don’t identify where they are? Sure Ms. Bess had her city in the title, but what if the blog has no identifying marks, how are you going to track down every blog? That isn’t going to work so well, now is it?
I understand all governments are hurting for cash, but come on, there is a point where it just becomes silly. So, Philadelphia, I’m coming to town next month on vacation, and I will be writing while I’m there, do you expect me to pay you anything? Good luck with that.