toledo (24) cleveland (14) ohio (14) columbus (5)

Friday, February 27, 2009

State promises crackdown on "under the table" pay

Ohio's government is complaining that they aren't able to confiscate as much money from the people as it wants. Boo hoo. They act surprised that some businesses actually try to circumvent taxes and hide their money. When you actually go and look at what your tax money supports, it's no wonder they are trying to do this.

Attorney General Richard Cordray used some pretty fuzzy math to come up with some estimates at what the State is losing... using studies of the undergrond economy in other states, which probably doesn't even apply to this situation. So please forgive me if I laugh out loud at his ridiculous claims. LOL.

What the State calls tax cheating, I would call protecting your income. The State assumes it has the right to take a portion of your money unto itself to provide for payment of "services" that people wouldn't normally want to waste their money on. I really don't blame anyone who doesn't want to play this game.

If my current employer was willing to pay me under the table, I would be more than happy to accept the offer. Alas, they aren't, so I will have to continue paying for a multitude of things I don't support. Anyone who is able to find a decent paying job under the table is a lucky bastard in my book. All the more power to them if they are able to avoid getting caught and thrown behind bars.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Cameras cut car crashes, so claim Toledo police

The Toledo Blade quotes Police Chief Navarre, referring to a mythical study done by the Toledo Police Department. I say mythical because I have not been able to find it anywhere. Not on Google, nor on the Toledo Police Department web site (which looks like it was done 10 years ago). I would like to actually see this study, rather than take the chief's word for it. Everything else I read says that red light camera results are inconclusive at best, and sometimes even increase the number of accidents.

That's the story told in the Toledo City Paper. Many local intersections really did increase the number of crashes once the cameras were put in. Then, after the initial strike, accident numbers fluctuated and did not show a trend one way or another. Their main conclusion is as follows:

Just like with rear end or side impact collision accidents, however, the data for injury and fatality accidents show that the numbers do not radically change after red light cameras are installed. Most of the records from the Toledo Police Department show that some years will contain as many as 20 accidents at an intersection, a few years later only 5, and then again back up 19 a few years after that. Blaming red light cameras, or conversely, giving credit to them, for affecting accident patterns and how safely people drive may be a futile way to measure their worth.

Other than citing one study which I couldn't find, the Blade's article is mostly emotional fluff. Even with a few cameras sprinkled through the city, there are pretty good chances someone will die in a car crash. I can understand the pain of people like Darlene Stokes, who lost her father 10 years ago when dump-truck driver ran into him. Well-intentioned though she is, installing more cameras won't bring him back. They will, however, be used as a cash generator by the city to steal even more money from hapless taxpayers. Even people who are generally careful drivers get busted.

Police departments are more than happy to use sad stories like this to their advantage in drumming up support for this stuff. Darlene is allowing herself to be used in this way. Thankfully, there is a new effort to put the issue of banning these dreadful cameras before the voting public. Police Chief Navarre reportedly said: "I'm concerned that people who have been issued violation notices will vote for the ban". You're damn right they will, Mr. Navarre. And rightfully so.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Acid dumped in Ohio city’s water supply

The good citizens of Bellaire, Ohio recently got an extra special bonus gift in their government treated water. It just happened to come in the form of toxic hydrochloric acid contamination. Fourty pounds of the stuff was dumped in there when workers noticed low levels of fluoride.

There are some major concerns that come up with this event. First of all is the wisdom of placing our water supply in the hands of the government. This kind of thing is exactly what I would expect to happen with that setup. Government ineptitude and inefficiency in the management of scarce resources is a well known economic problem that applies equally to water as anything else.

A follow-up question I would ask is why the government even adds fluoride to our water in the first place. Serious arguments exist to question why it is done this way. Leaving aside the crazy conspiracy theories, it seems like a tremendous waste of city resources. The section of that linked page titled "The precautionary principle" sums it up nicely. Please take a look and let me know if you can think of any good reason why cities should continue this policy.

I have to wonder if this would have ever even happened if 1) the government wasn't in control of the water and 2) if they weren't already adding fluoride. Sure, mistakes happen even in the private world. But private industry has built-in incentives to cover your bases first and take the necessary precautions so you don't lose customers to better organized and more effective competitors. No such incentives exist in government control of our water. They keep on doing un-necessary things to our supply, making it easier for mistakes to be made that otherwise wouldn't have happened.

It's great that there were no serious injuries, but it's only a matter of time until something worse happens. What are we going to do when there is a real pollutant added, such as nuclear waste? If someone who hates America actually got in to a centralized facility, I would hate to think of the results. Don't fool yourself into thinking we aren't vulnerable. It's a simple matter of important resources being centralized in the hands of government.

I try to avoid drinking tap water as much as possible. You can tell me as much you want that it's generally safe, I don't care. Currently, I buy gallons of spring water from the grocery store to drink at work. At home there is a reverse osmosis filter installed right in the sink. As long as the government is doing this, I will support the private production of water.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fees or taxes? It really doesn't matter.

Governor Strickland was praised for not raising taxes in his next budget. He even got a standing ovation for it. Maybe that was a little premature, before he mentioned the 163 proposed new state fees. He defended the fees, saying they are "more of a payment for state services than a tax". Being a politician, he somehow doesn't realize that state imposed fees take just as much money from the people as raising taxes does. Did he forget that the state forcibly monopolized these services so they can collect the spoils, all on the back of the working class?

Looking over the list, we can tell that everyone in the state will be hard-hit in one way or another. For one example, there will be millions of dollars in revenue for 26 new agriculture fees. I don't know about the Governor, but I'm pretty sure the rest of us need to survive by eating food. How exactly is making food production more expensive in Ohio better than higher taxes? The answer remains to be seen.

Another troublesome sector is so-called public safety, where higher registration fees for passenger and commercial vehicles (as well as other fees) is expected to bring in well over $100 million. Even before this, I have always considered our insidious vehicle registration fees to be no different than a cleverly named tax. It's hard to see how this will be good for business and commerce, given that most retail goods are shipped by truck. How valuable is this state "service" to our public safety? Somehow, I doubt the world would completely fall apart without it.

I can't even begin to get into all the other fees in this one post. It is quite a stretch of the imagination to contemplate how fees like this can be part of a free society. I guess one can say we're free from state aggression as long as we don't want to drive or eat. Who needs those things anyway?

With some included spending cuts, the state's war chest still comes to a paltry $55 billion. Even this humongous amount has them claiming severe budgetary hardship. Sorry, I just don't feel bad for you. Maybe once you cut Ohio's whole government to a few million dollars, then we can talk.