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Archive for December, 2011

“I’ll Have the . . . WHOOOPS!”

I’ve spent the morning reading papers by John Boyle, a Michigan n actuary with a strong interest in government. After covering local government meetings for various outlets for about a decade, I have rarely heard the remotest hint of what Boyle believes is key to bankrupting governments.

Fiscal conservatives have a record for paying much attention to a piddly thousand here and there in outside agency funding. Department heads cut travel and education expenses. But Boyle says the majority of local government fat is in wages and benefits. In terns of national averages, public sector workers make substantially more than their counterparts in the corresponding private sector. What is worse, healthcare and retirement benefits are promised without a realistic forecast of costs.

Boyle also teaches math at Eastern Michigan University. On his last final exam, one question asked students to make a simple projection for the year 2040 based on the president’s indication that the cost of government, currently at $4.7 trillion, should double in the next ten years, and economists’ projections that the GDP, currently at $14.6 trillion, will increase 3% per year. (The cost of government was assumed to continue to increase at the same rate.)

Boyle’s papers may be accessed via this site.

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Is the Jail Too Big?

The Buncombe County jail annex has been closed for renovations. The facility is perhaps best known for stashing as rebar the confiscated firearms that took a walk from the county’s evidence room. To my knowledge, no x-rays were ever taken to verify the claim. It may be the claim was too preposterous to justify investigation.

Regardless, the facility increased the county’s incarceration capacity from 524 to 624. Last year, thanks to numerous sentence diversion strategies, an average of 394 inmates per day were housed. The data was presented in a article calling attention to legislation that will soon allow the county to accept misdemeanants from other jurisdictions, who would formerly have gone to the state pen.

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Representation without Taxation

Tryon Township owns the bed of Lake Lanier, but all properties surrounding the lake are in Greenville, SC. The lake is private, so citizens of Tryon do not get to use it. The township owns the lake for water treatment purposes.

Problems arise, as they recently did again, when somebody feels lakefront property owners are not upholding Tryon zoning ordinances. The city must use taxpayer dollars for enforcement, which has in the past included court battles. Lakefront residents do not pay Tryon taxes, so some have questioned why they are entitled to zoning “services.”

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Soak the Rich while Reclaiming Their Assets

Asheville city councilman and Congressional candidate Cecil Bothwell would like the city to put all its funds in local banks. The city’s operating budget for FY 11-12 was around $132 million. In the past, critics have argued that local banks lacked the capacity. Bothwell responded by saying the city could put its funds in four local banks. He is hopeful anti-Wall Street sentiment will help him advance this agenda in the coming year.

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I’s Cans Adds with 37% Right

If your college degrees are getting you nowhere, I found out at the job fair yesterday that JobLink has received an award from the state to certify basic skills proficiency. I may just accept your forced tax contributions and take the test – but then, the state might have to hire a league of psychologists to analyze my results. Oh, well.

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Can You Read in a Small Room?

The new, $8 milloin Jackson County Library is a prize-winner.

The library recently won the Outstanding Facility Award for new libraries larger than 26,000 square feet presented by the N.C. Public Libraries Directors Association.

It recalls to mind Asheville City Councilman Jan Davis’ remarks that, “Some of Asheville’s libraries are better buildings than libraries.”

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Soak the Rich & Rob Their Lifestyle

Cherokee’s golf course is running a deficit, so the tribe intends to supplement its income with $1.2 million next year. Like municipal governments, the tribe is perplexed at how to make a game for the snooty-snoot wealthy accessible to peons.

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Green Settlement

$11 million from the TVA has been awarded to the state in reparations for pollution caused by coal-fired power plants. Payments will be made in amounts of approximately $2 million a year. Reportedly, the Energy Office invited members of the community to comment on how they would like to blow the wad. Of course, people want to buy green this and that. This is the first I’ve heard of it.

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Booming Economy

I waited around in the lines at the largest job fair in the region today. 80 booths were attended, but a lot were occupied by colleges or training agencies rather than job-givers. Of note were the number of companies recently in the news for accepting stimulus: GE Aviation, Ingles, Linamar, Nypro Asheville, Sonoco Plastics, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and UPM Raflatac Inc. The second item of note was the number of applicants and company representatives in microskirts. (My mother yelled at me for going to work in blousy sleeves!) The third item of note was the (helium-filled) Santa sock stuck on the ceiling. Most people leave them on the floor.

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Electrical Brotherhood Helps Women Unionize for Extra Potty

Workers at the Asheville Sitel office attempted to form a union, and allege management threatened they would lose their jobs if they persisted. They responded by filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. According to a representative of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, complaints were raised because over 150 women had to share a single toilet.

Now this seems a little silly. First of all, toilets normally don’t run on electricity. Second of all, wouldn’t it be easier to ask the employer for another toilet, or pretend one is going on smoke break and duck behind the bushes? Rather than forming a union, all the women could have protested by soiling their chairs. That should have raised enough of a stink to get some results.

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