Archive for November, 2013

Free Phones For All Except Taxpayers

Monday, November 25th, 2013

November 25, 2013

I Did Not Know I Was Paying For Free Phones Every Month

As I was looking at my phone bill yesterday (it was up from the month before) I noticed that the Federal Universal Service Charge was up from $3.07 to $3.61 cents per month. I decided to investigate and this is what I found.

The Lifeline program began in 1984, an attempt to ensure that America’s poorest had access to landline phone service to call 911, work, or family members. But in 2008, the FCC expanded the service to include mobile phones, and under the Obama administration, as welfare rolls swelled, more people became eligible for a subsidized phone — part of the reason they’re often known as “Obamaphones.” The following article is from National Review and reports on an effort by the state of Georgia to reign in abuse of this program.

By 2012, the cost of the national Lifeline program had risen to $2.189 billion a year, up from $822 million before cell phones were included. In Georgia, after Lifeline expanded from landlines to mobile phones, the number of users shot from 150,000 to almost 1.1 (more…)

The Truth About Sales Taxes

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

November 21, 2013

 

Close to $400,000 spent to pass this 1/2 cent sales tax increase. This is a top down proposal, we know better than you, type solution. City finances are on fire compared to the County which is in relatively good shape. This reminds me of Washington DC top down proposals. Shea Flinn and Jim Strickland are good guys and if they could get seven votes, they would reform city finances. Pastor  Whalum knows the problem and the people and I think he has a better handle on the solution.

The real problem that this is intended to address is simple in origin.

The problem is single parent families from which comes illiteracy and welfare dependency.

The answer is a stable family, a good education encouraged by the parents and taxpaying work.

This proposed solution nibbles around the edges and throws money at the problem with a little left over to reduce property taxes, maybe.

The proponents of this proposal think sales taxes are the answer to everything. Finance Bass Pro, rebuild the Sears Tower, finance fairgrounds, finance heritage trail, finance a new convention center all from increased sales taxes. Have you looked at your Memphis CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports)? The local share of State Sales taxes have gone down by $4.5 million dollars from 2008 to 2012. And they tell you that all these projects can be financed by the incremental amount of sales tax collections generated by these multimillion dollar projects. Go figure!

Concierge Medicine In Memphis And The Nation

Monday, November 18th, 2013

November 14, 2013

There was a very interesting article in the Wall Street Journal last Monday (November 11) that was titled “The Pros and Cons Of Concierge Medicine”. With the looming advent of Obamacare everyone should be looking at options for their future medical care.

Here are some of the points made in the article which describes the features of MedLion clinics of which there are 16 locations in five states. They charge $59 for monthly membership and $10 per visit. The concierge business ranges from high end practices charging thousands of dollars per month for lavish celebrity-style treatment to the other pared down clinics which charge $50 to $100 a month for basic primary-care medicine. Of the estimated 5,500 concierge practices nationwide, two thirds charge less than $135 per month on average.

Unlike high-end concierge practices, the lower cost practices don’t accept insurance. Instead they charge patients directly for (more…)

Sales Taxes-The Answer To All Problems

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

November 14, 2013

Voting is proceeding on the ½ cent sales tax increase. There is a lot of money being spent to pass this initiative as evidenced by the two expensive direct mail pieces I received yesterday. This was paid for by the Memphis Pre-K initiative.

You know my position on this as I am against it until City Hall and the City Council reform their finances and get them on a sustainable basis. For more information on this question, there is a very good article in this week’s Memphis Flyer.

However look at the whole question of sales taxes. According to Robert Lipscomb there is an endless source of money for development in Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) developed by Tourist Development Zones (TDZ) in Memphis. According to Mr. Lipscomb all you have to do is build it and it will be paid for by the incremental amount of sales taxes spun off from the development. Don’t worry about whether the incremental amount of sales taxes will be there to cover the principal and interest. The full faith and (more…)

Death Of Baby Joseph Saino

Monday, November 11th, 2013

November 11, 2013

Death of Baby Joseph Saino

 

My mother was Cecilia Neuhoff from Nashville and she married my father, Felix Saino on September 3, 1925. Their first son was born June 21st 1926 but died at childbirth at St. Joseph hospital. His name was Joseph.

 

My mother and Dad never talked much about the loss of their first child as the following three Saino boys grew up. Felix was the oldest, then John and then me. Much later in life I was at the history room of the Memphis Central Library and I picked up a book listing deaths in Memphis during the period that my dead brother would have died. I found the listing and was shocked to see that he was named Joseph. Up until then I did not know his first name was the same as myself. My Mother’s beloved brother was named Joseph and that was why her first child was named Joseph. I said that I needed to look up his death certificate and locate his grave site but life got in the way and I never took the time to do that.

 

Last week Claire and I went to a supper put on by the Descendants of Early Settlers historical society and the speaker was the Shelby County Register (more…)

The Arrogance of the School System

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

November 7, 2013

 

I sent the attached open records request to the Shelby County Board of Education addressed to the records custodian. I got the answer shown in the attachment. Since then I have called twice and have gotten no return call. I then sent an email to Jennifer Collins and requested that she put the documents at the front desk a week ago Friday which I would pick up with a check. In the email I said if that was not possible to let me know. I arrived Friday morning and there were no documents and they could not get Ms. Collins on the phone. Also I was not allowed into the general counsel’s office in contradiction to the Tennessee open records law. I snail mailed the check and I finally received some documents about the books by return snail mail rather than by electronic mail. This cost them $2.32 to mail them.

 

The arrogance of these people is amazing. They don’t think they work for the taxpayers. They get this attitude by watching what goes on in Washington DC. Nothing really has changed since the consolidation. It seems to still be the Memphis School System. Obviously (more…)

Vote No On Sales Tax Increase

Monday, November 4th, 2013

November 4, 2013

This is an issue that the City of Memphis is trying to sneak by the voters in a vote that will probably have a low turnout. These are the reasons to vote NO. Early voting starts today. As they say in Chicago, vote early and often.

  • The Commercial Appeal writes that 63% ($30 million) goes to Pre-K and the rest (1$17 million) to property tax reduction. However look at the wording of the Ordinance which states that the money goes to a Pre-K Commission appointed by Mayor Wharton which will make the decisions. Do you trust such a commission?
  • Our sales tax is already very high (9.25%) and this would take it to 9.75%, the highest in the state, a very regressive tax.
  • There is no evidence that Pre-K works and has any long term benefits,.
  • There should be no new taxes until the City of Memphis and the City Council reform pensions and health care costs and get on a path to reduce unfunded liability as pointed out by the State of Tennessee.

Here is what the Ballot says.