Thursday, January 31, 2008

Florida Embarrasses Itself Again

It is annoying. We have now had the much discussed Florida Primary and Constitutional Property Tax Amendment Voting Day. Yes, I voted in the portion of the vote that I was allowed.

See, in order to help decide a party's nominee, you not only have to be a "member" of the party but you have had to declare for all the world your affiliation with that party 30 days ago. Well, not only was I not aware since I did not get an invitation but 30 days ago, I was not sure which party I wanted to attend. But that is only a minor portion of the annoyance.

There is all this media hoopla over the percentages that candidates or issues won by ... 64% for "property tax reform", 50% for a candidate who will get no delegates because the Republican legislature wanted to embarrass the Democrats who were more than willing to accommodate, 39% for a Republican candidate in a closed members only vote. Guess, the opinion of Independent's would only taint the gene pool. Of course, we want to keep our Parties pure of cross-over voters because then we will not get a candidate that panders to the most idealogical portion of his/her party.

Well, in all the media hype, in all the victory speeches, there was one significant fact ignored. The fact is that only about 25% Florida's eligible voters actually voted. Now, my issue is not with who or what won. Well, I lie. I have strong issue with the outcome but that will have to wait.

The "so-called property tax reform" constitution amendment was approved by 64% of 25% or approximately 16% of the eligible voters. Hardly a mandate for change. The voters and the legislature should hang their heads. There should be no articles about how anyone wanted things changed.

The candidates crowing about victory and the media touting momentum and significant additional victories. Well, if all of the voters voted Democratic, that would amount to 13% in favor of the winner. Alas, at best 50% of those voting voted Democratic. So, that would be 50% of the voters voting times 50% the winning percentage times the 25% actually voting or roughly 6.25% of the eligible voters in favor of that candidate. Hardly an event.

The Republican winner has even less to shout about. He received at best 39% of 50% of 25% or 4.875 of the total eligible voters.

So, please print the following headline: Florida Voters Once Again Embarrass Themselves.

We are given a privilege and 75% of the voters could not make it to the polls. So, when you are complaining about the outcome ... remember, chances are you did not vote. So, you get what the higher percentage of 25% of the voters wanted.

Florida Voters you should be embarrassed.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Oh The Nominating Process Part 93

Well, this is a posting to report on this weekend's latest nonsense:

Well, Mitt Romney won the Nevada caucus ... great success ... except he ran against no one because no one else thought it important ... so congratulations, Mitt you beat "none of the above".

The news reports that Hilary beat Obama in Nevada. Well, she beat him in the popular vote but not in the ever important delegate votes. Obama won that important contest but since the New York Times and other media decision makers only care about perceived popularity ... then, Hilary would be similar to Albert Gore who won the popular vote but never became president. Will Hilary rejoice in being just like Al?

McCain continues to rise from the dead by winning in South Carolina. Who declared his campaign dead? Well, it would be the same media that now declares him the riser from the dead. Fortunately he was able to out religious Huckabee, be more awake than Thompson and since Romney was off in Nevada beating no one, he was able to finish fourth.

And what of the other candidates? Well, the media can not spell their names, so they can not write front page stories about them. Therefore, the population with the attention span of a mosquito will not take the time to learn about them. And since only money talks and they get no attention, then they get no money and ergo no attention.

So, we are left with the modesty qualified.

Hilary ... the woman of experience ... I lived in the White House ... I lived in the White House ... and that experience she has from being elected to the Senate on the strength and power of being Mrs. Clinton. She did volunteer work coming out of college and married an up an coming charismatic, young Bill. Her experience then moved to sleeping with a Governor and the President. Her resume is enhanced by all those lunches and dinners with dignitaries. As a person with no security clearance, she learned about sensitive issues from pillow talk. There were of course her chances for meaningful successes. She chaired the health care reform task force. You remember that task force. Their proposal was dead on arrival before it was presented to the Democratic Congress. Hilary could not get her proposals through her own party. So, of course she will be more successful as the President with a Democratic Congress. Let's not forget her fine handling of the White House travel department ... she arbitrarily fired them ... then forced to rehire. Her resume would not be complete without remembering Whitewater. The little scandal which began with sweet Hilary being rewarded for her legal work by substantial financial gain. Let's not forget her delaying the investigation causing taxpayers to pay millions by making supporting documents disappear for several years. Let's not forget her ever so convenient position changing from being pro war to anti war ... from voting for tax cuts and now says they were unwise ... for trying to make herself appear to be Mrs. Conservative and now moving back to "I am oh so really Liberal". So, would she make a good President? Yes, if you liked Nixon and Bush II who were so good at presenting one image and really being something else when in office. There is one redeeming factor here. If you elect her, the cost of protecting her husband will be reduced because you will get two Presidents for the price of one. The woman of experience ... I lived in the White House ... I lived in the White House ... then you can elect Chelse because she has similar experience except for that sleeping with the President part.

Obama ... a man with little practical political experience ... a man with no specific policies except "change" and "hope for a better future" ... a man who has not told us how he will get the Congress which is full of the insiders he says he is not one of to go along with his "change". Yes, he did live in other countries as a child. Yes, he is only half black but the black leadership will tell you he is not really black since he and his father did not suffer here in America. Of course, for those good old boys in the North and South, Obama is black enough. Let's not forget religion because the press has helped so much to make it a criteria and a measure of political electability. He is living his life as a Christian which except for that half black thing would make him eligible to join the white Christian President club. Alas, his father was a Muslim. Like many religions, the religion of the father is the religion of the son regardless of the son's conversion to a different one. So, had his father been Jewish, Jews would hold him as Jewish. So, Muslims hold him as a Muslim. May not what he wants but in his quest for Presidency only other people's opinion count. So, by buying Obama with his long list of unknows and only promises are we getting another unknown like we got with Bush II?

McCain ... he was a prisoner of war ... he was a prisoner of war ... he was a prisoner of war ... and by the way he has spent twenty years in the Senate. He was known as an outsider and not someone who could get much done because he was outside the mainstream Republican party. Oh yes, he did lead the campaign reform ... with that other individual outside the meaningful semi-functioning Senate ... Russ Feingold. McCain ... was a prisoner of war ... he was a prisoner of war. So, twenty years in the Senate and unable to work within his own party, friend to the one Senator from the Democrats who can also not get anything done in his party, Feingold. McCain, in 2000 told us why Bush II should not be president ... and then in 2004 why Bush II was so good that he should be re-elected. He voted against the Bush tax cuts, so how can he be a Republican? He supported Bush on immigration but not the position of the Republican party. So, vote for McCain because then you will not worry about him following any meaningful Republican position ... and he was a prisoner of war ... he was a prisoner of war.

Mitt Romney ... he is Mormon, he saved the Olympic Games, he was nicely liberal to become Governor of Massachusetts, 2003-2007, liked Massachusetts so much that he decided it was better to get out and not run for re-election, supported government mandated health insurance for everyone, supported gays right to lawfully be married, and supported a women's right to choose. Oh, don't worry about those policies because now that he is running for President of the United States he had realized that those policies are not right for the rest of America. Poor Mitt also has that Mormon thing to deal with because although he is a white male which is one of the two requirements to be the president, he fails on the other requirement. The second requirement is that the president be Christian. Now, don't tell me that those are not the requirements unless you can point to one President who did not meet those criteria. Even President Kennedy had to apologize for coming close on one criteria because he was Catholic which for some reason is not Christian enough. The other Christians had trouble with the concept of a Catholic, so how do you think they will deal with a Mormon? So, Mitt, even though your willing to change all of your opinions to make Republicans like you more and your nice and you are willing to spend your own money to get elected but unfortunately, you do not believe in Jesus in the way Christians believe. Since we know from Huckabee this is a Christian nation, you just don't make the grade.

Duncan Hunter ... thank you for dropping out because I do not know anything about you.

John Edwards ... you missed the boat when you got that $400 haircut ... your staff obviously must have been working for Bush II ... so sad but you forgot the details of life that image is everything and yours ... well it lacks more credibility than Hilary's emotions.

Fred Thompson ... sorry the president must be able to work past five o'clock and may even be asked to move quickly ... so sorry but you got to pick up the pace which you have no history of moving quickly.

So, again and again we are being sold people who you not hire for any position except maybe a reporter on the 6:00 news because there you can give us all the opinion and none of the facts.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

First Meeting

Today, January 15th, as the plane bounces along its way to Boston, I am contemplating a meeting that at a minimum will change my life.

In each person’s life there are meetings that are turning points. Back in grade school, the day you met the boy/girl who would be your best friend. In high school, you looked across the room and saw the boy/girl that would steal your heart and would keep it forever or at least for a long time ... that first love will always be in the back of your mind even if they are not in your current life. Of course this latter meeting might have taken place in college, or post college but it happened there was no turning back. Everyone told you to look for a mentor. You not only met him / her but they adopted you and that meeting has made your career and life immensely more successful. Oh, don’t forget the day any one of your children were born … there was no touching ground for days.

Today but more accurately tomorrow I will meet someone who will have no less and in many ways more changing impact on my life. Grandson …

How will it be? Will I be all that you need? Will I be the man that you will tell your children about? Will you write stories about me? Will you seek my counsel when you have important decisions that you might not want do discuss with your parents? Will you call me when you reach a milestone in your life or just to talk?

Now, I recognize that you are the first of what I hope will be many. So, I ask for your help and feedback so that I do this right by your siblings and cousins.

Dear Grandson, I love you more than now at your young age can imagine but I do hope I can be all that for you and more.


Please Save Me From Political Pundits

Oh Lord, please save me. Because of the cycle we are in, that is the presidential campaign which started three years ago and has almost a year to run before the new cycle begins, I wake up each day and dread turning on the radio or logging into in my computer. Everyday from now until November talking heads will continue to tell us how we are going to make our decision as to who should be the next president of this glorious country. But now, there is a quirk that no one saw coming. Imagine the pain.

Mr/Miss political pundit, you are paid a lot of money, you are provided a large staff and you have all the computing power anyone could ask for unless you were trying to put a man on the moon. People tune in to hear so that you can tell them what they are thinking. Your listeners do not know how they should really analyze the candidates and the issues but you have the power to see the forest while your listeners are only seeing trees. You certainly want us to thing you have insight ... when will you use your access to actually provide a real service?

As a side note since New Hampshire, this is now the second best story ... the fact that people actually change their minds after they tell the pollsters what they thing right now. The first story at the top of the hour is still Mr. / Miss Pundit telling us what our next decision will be.

While this illustrious crew of soothsayers are providing this service of telling us what we think, they are forgetting what their real job is supposed to be. We get no discussion of real issues. We get is what the candidate did in grade school or college. We get nonsense about their opinion on the Lord and what how the Lord would decide. This is because only a person with the right connection to the Lord would be able to govern the country. Candidates tell us generalities. What kind of generalities? You remember back in school when you had to write a book report and you forgot to read the book. The report you turned in was one and a half typewritten pages that said what a nice book it was and how the characters were so well developed, the plot intriguing and definitely a book that everyone should read. If your teacher was nice you got a “C” for effort. Our candidates get that same C.

Has any candidate told us how they will get Congress to pass any legislation they are discussing? Have they told you what spending they will cut in order to pay for the new programs they are touting? Have they told you what they will do about the Bush tax cuts that expire in 2010? As for this last item, if they say they will let them expire it will be a $1.9trillion tax increase and if they continue them it will be $1.9 trillion dollars that must be found … anyone know where you can find $1.9 trillion dollars?

If Clinton tells you that she will produce health care reform, which she and her husband could not do when they had both houses of Congress, ask her how she will get it through this time. When Mrs. Clinton tells you about her experience which qualifies her for the presidency, please ask her how sleeping with the governor / president was meaningful experience? Ask her how doing some volunteer legal work when she got out law school is transferable experience? Please tell us Mrs. Clinton how you will produce change when you have not really done anything?

But if you wonder where I stand … please Mr. Barack could you please tell us how you will get the 535 members of Congress to change their ways. Why will your nice thoughts turn into meaningful legislation? Yes, it is nice to say you will sit down with world leaders and talk things out. Could you please tell us how your nice thoughts will convince dictators who truly want us all dead that we should work together to make the world a beautiful place. Since you use the line that experience is not all that its cracked up to be … remember Cheney and Rumsfeld all that experience and it got us what? Your experience is not meaningful and when you invoke President Kennedy and his lack of experience … remember he brought us to the brink of war with the USSR over Cuba. In addition, Kennedy’s accomplishments came after he died.

I don’t want to give the impression that these are the only candidates … similar questions could be asked of all the candidates.

Alas, the pundits don’t ask the real questions. These pundits talk to 5,000 people to find 800 who are willing to answer some questions to project how 1,000,000 will vote. All this presumes that people answer honestly. All this presumes that if I ask you a question on Saturday, I will know how you will vote on Tuesday. Pundits are trying to hit a moving target and what they forget is that life is moving faster each and everyday.

Each time your going to make a prediction, Mr / Miss Pundit … remember Truman / Dewey … remember that six months ago Senator Clinton was the presumed nominee … after Iowa, her run was over … oops New Hampshire and now Obama is relegated to the back court. Then, there are the Republicans … Romney spends $7 million in Iowa sure to walk away with the state … oops who is this Huckabee? McCain is done for it … forget that he has spent the substantial time in New Hampshire and that back in 2000 that state went for him … oops McCain is the front runner.

Do any of you thing that in this day of different candidates and the internet that a small rural state like Iowa and another small rural state like New Hampshire both composed of few minorities will be meaningful indicators of how the entire country will decide. Does any one think that in this year when the nomination process will be substantially done the first week of February. All this will leave us with so little to do until the conventions in August and September. We will get to listen to all those all so smart pundits repeat themselves over and over and over saying the same thing endlessly.

So, please Mr / Miss Pundit … instead of trying to tell us how we are going to vote please ask and get answers to meaningful questions. Keep asking the questions until you get an answer.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


I face a major predicament. What could be so hard, you asks.

Well, yesterday, I received a blessing ... a gift long anticipated ... a present that allows membership into an elite coveted club.

You asks ... what club would have one such as you as a member?

Now, that is certainly a valid question but I still find the energy to respond ... "you stop talking about only yourself ... this is about me".

Me, chimes in, what is this about ... didn't even know that there was any involvement on this issue relating to me.

I respond .. back off me ... and stop confusing our one reader before that sole candidate for the loony bin actually gets their weekend pass privileges revoked.

The club which membership is both coveted and at the same time comes with mixed emotion is the GRAND PARENTS CLUB. Yes, my son and daughter-in-law got together one fateful rainy afternoon and obviously with no test to study for (daughter-in-law) and no sporting event for my son to abuse his body ... you never met someone who has more fun injuring his body... good thing he married a physical therapist ... well, without making up a lot of details that are truly none of my business ... they made one of them pregnant. No, it was not son!

Well, nine months almost to the day, at least the day predicted by the stars, moon and a medical doctor, a baby boy came forth. I will not use any of that crude language my son uses to refer to his lovely spouse. Just leave it that baby was born yesterday. A glorious day.

Yes, that is the good news. But no good deed goes unpunished.

Now, I am suddenly older ... a grandparent. Not really physically older ... I can still walk to the refrigerator during a TV football game time-out. I can still win 4-1 and 3-2 racquetball games against a youngster of 51. Generally, I can still, at least most of the time remember where I parked the car in the grocery parking lot.

But, with all this good news and only psychological nonsense about being older ... okay I am older ... what is the predicament ... what quandary do I face?

Well, the question everyone is asking for which I do not have an answer is ... so Mazel Tov, how are mother and child doing? ... and what are you going to be called?

Now, its thank you ... they are doing fine ... and ????

So much pressure. Will it be Grandpop, granddad, grandpa, gramps, zaidie, saba, maybe Uncle Jack ... the last one is a serious contender to avoid the Grandfather status.

When you are born, your parents along with a good lawyer determine your name. Weighing all the political pressure of calling the newborn ... kid with dirty diaper for an extended period of its life. The name is reviewed, discussed, analyzed, in some cases voted upon. Consideration of course is given to the likelihood of your running for the presidency ... sure, but not in my family. So, your name is given to you. The name you will have for life or at least until your wife announces that your are henceforth to be called ....

But this new name, one that I will have for the rest of my life and for all future grandchildren, it is mostly mine to choose. Of course, there is the one with veto power over most of my adult decisions. No not my mother, she only had that power until maybe a few years ago. No, I referring to the woman who shares my bed and controls my life. She, of course, maintains veto power. So, I do not believe Uncle Jack, or just plain Jack will fly.

So, which to choose?

Stay tuned for a decision ... unless you have a meaningful opinion.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Florida Property Tax Part 2

The following was written in response to a letter to the editor printed in the Sun Sentinel of Palm Beach County, Florida. Let us say that it brought on the frustration of living anywhere near people who can not understand that there is life beyond their own window. The letter was submitted for print to the same Sun Sentinel ... which although they have been kind enough to print my knowledgeable opinion in the past have not decided whether this piece is worthy but that is what blogs are for ... the worthy, the unworthy and what are you talking about.

Mr. Alperstein of Wellington wrote on January 8th, that a vote against the proposed constitution amendment to save his potential portability of his tax basis. His comments bring us all the myths and misconceptions of this issue.

Problem: Property tax reduction for the individual is more important than equitable system of taxation. Mr. Alperstein wants to protect the long time Florida homeowner at that expense of businesses, landlords / renters and snow birds. He wants to continue a system which protects long term homeowners with both a reduced increase in property tax while making his tax burden the responsibility of businesses, landlords / renters and snow birds that are subject to annual rate increases that are two to three times higher.

Misconception: He states “portability should help our real estate market”. Who does Mr. Alperstein thinks was responsible for boosting the real estate market for the last several years? It was snowbirds coming down here, new home buyers and landlords buying property to invest in a good real estate market. It was not the long time homeowner who has sat on the side line watching his home equity increase. So, will long time homeowners move to new home because they will keep their artificially low tax basis?

Myth: Tax reduction is independent of reduction in spending. Governor Crist promised to make our property taxes drop like a rock. Did anyone ask him where either the new money would come from or what expenditures he would reduce to balance this loss in revenue? I think not. Certainly, Mr. Alperstein does not address any concern for this issue. In fact, he writes that local municipalities, police department, fire department, and the teachers are only looking out for themselves. Sir, I am not saying that there might be cost savings to be had with the state and local municipalities, but I kind of think that the personnel of police department, fire department, and the teachers are probably not compensated properly for their services. Add to lack of your concern, the fact that teachers are leaving the state to move to states where they can be properly compensated and can afford the housing. So pretty soon, you taxes will be lowered because we will not have any teachers to provide public education.

Misconception: Portability only costs the homeowner money. Mr. Alperstein, if portability comes into effect, how will Wellington handle it when twenty or thirty or more homes are sold to individuals moving from other communities with $100,000 property tax basis in their home. Under you system of portability, when those homes in Wellington are sold for $500,000 or more Wellington will loose tax basis. In fact if there are twenty homes purchased under this scenario, Wellington would have its tax base lowered by $8,000,000 and if were 100 homes … $40,000,000. How would you like that to affect the services you currently receiving?

Yes, our system is not perfect. All homes are not taxed equally. All taxpayers are not treated equally. The system currently and being proposed rewards the individual who is a resident of Florida and never moves and you want to make it portable perpetuating the discrepancy. The new homeowner pays a higher property tax on a similarly valued home. The non resident bears a higher share of the property tax while using a lower portion of the services. The landlord who helps to provide housing for those who can afford or does not desire the American Dream of home ownership is punished with higher property tax. The young family just starting out with fewer resources is taxed based upon the current fair market value of the home The Florida business considering expanding decides to move out of state because it is punished with higher property tax. The business that likes Florida’s weather but not its unfair business property tax environment decides to set up on a more friendly state … those jobs go elsewhere. But don’t worry Mr. Alperstein, that family who does not move and just watches the value of their home increase while paying property tax based closer to their original purchase price.

So, if you want a fair property tax system, value all real estate based upon its current fair market value. Total the amount of the fair market value in a tax district. Divide the total budget by that total fair market value. No significant difference for the length of ownership or type of ownership. Adjust the fair market value for all real estate every number of years, say three or five years.

Mr. Alperstein please stop worrying about yourself. If you want Florida to be a better place … make the elected officials really improve the education system and make the property tax really fair and equal. So take your blinders off and really look at your state.