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Friday, October 26, 2012

Harbor Stadium?

So, a new idea is being floated for the Harbor, and the Bills.  And, it's an idea I happen to support 100% (Which is a big deal, since I don't follow football at all):  A domed stadium on the outer harbor.

Usually, when I hear something about the Bills, I roll my eyes, and before they get a chance, I try to guess how much more money they want from us.  Apparently, $60 minimum priced tickets, paid syndication of games (Whether or not they can actually be shown to the fans at home), and $400 team jackets  don't pay the bills (Haha, pardon the pun).

But, this is a new idea:  Instead of just renovating a crap stadium, in the middle of podunkville, build a NEW one on the harbor.  While, I don't like the idea of handing any private organization $200 million in tax dollars, when they do no service for the public good; I like the rest of the plan.

Yes, it would need more infrastructure.  I'm good with that:  The construction of the infrastructure will put MANY people to work.  If we ignore the possibility of a Super Bowl game, this alone would be a much-needed injection into our economy.

Now, if we take a Super Bowl into account, wow!  The economic impact will pay for tenfold over the investment by the taxpayer.

So, for the first time, I actually agree with a plan to keep the Bills here.  Let's hope our politicians don't screw this one up.  They're trying though.  Already, "We don't want it at the harbor, it doesn't need water access, and wont be enhanced by it..."  Hopefully, we'll just get those people to shut up, and just make it as easy as possible for the Bills, the NFL, and the developer to do this.  All they need from us is the land, and they can make it happen.  Let's just not stand in their way on this, for ego's sake.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Politics of Food Production and Food Distribution

Here are some figures that will shock most Americans:

* 350 billion pounds of food are produced annually in the United States.
* 140 billion pounds of food are lost to waste annually in the United States at the retailer and consumer level.
* The United States spends about $1 billion annually to dispose of food waste.
* 12 million children in the United States are either going to go hungry today, or are in danger of doing so.

Startling.  If we were to somehow be able to distribute the food that will be wasted among all children who might go hungry today, we could give each child about 11,000 lbs of food each year.  That would far exceed their own needs.

Many of our legislators think that to solve the issue of poverty  and hunger by throwing money at the problem.  However, the problem has it's roots in money.

Food has been turned from a source of life, into a commodity.  We no longer have the innate knowledge that it took life to make food, and food will in turn provide life to us.  And, no, I'm not talking all vegan here, every face is sacred.  I like meat.  I'm talking about the sweat and blood that goes into producing food.  You waste a pound of food, you've wasted 8 hours of an individual's life.  If 1 pound of pork goes wasted, you've wasted about 16 hours of a person's life.

Thankfully, Clinton signed the Good Samaritan Act into law, which prevents retailers who donate food from being sued for it.  However, there's a definite shortcoming somewhere here.  We still have tons of food being wasted, and tons of people who need that wasted food.

What's the answer?  I don't know a complete solution, but I do know a few ways to cut back on food waste:

* Shop from local farmers.  By doing this, you are enabling farmers to accurately gauge demand, and tailor supply.
* Grow your own food.  When you see and feel the amount of work that goes into food, it will change your attitude on how you approach food, and food waste.  It will stop being a commodity.
* Compost.  This is another way to get some bang for your buck.  I don't consider anything going into a compost pile as "wasted".  You are producing a product (Soil amendment), and you are diverting it from the land fill.
* If you grow your own food, promote gleaning.  Gleaning is a term used in the Old Testament, which described the practice of harvesting only once, and leaving the hard to harvest areas alone.  And, it also allows for travelers and indigents to harvest what has been left.

These three things wont solve the problem, but it will reduce the amount of waste.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

More Faux Concern About Public Education, and Some Spin From the Left

Madigan is at is again.  Pretending to be an ally of the public education system.  His concern about public schools is so strong, that his plan to fix them is to destroy them.

Apparently, funding schools, and ensuring good teachers working free from coercion are on the bottom of the "solution pile"; while the only sound way (In Madigan's mind) is to remove the best and brightest from the public school system, and to cut funding, via a voucher program.

Sounds like a cure that is worse than the disease to me.  How about a different solution?  Here's an idea:  Pay teachers a competitive salary, that will pull them out of the private sector, and into the classroom.  Currently, we pay a paltry wage to our teachers, ensuring we get either a) Bottom of the barrel people, who couldn't hack it anywhere else or b) People who don't care if they eat ramen for their entire life, and are motivated to change if only one student.

I can tell you from experience.  People in the "b" category can only take so much before they get burnt out, and call it quits.  The only ones who stay on for a long time are those whose intestinal fortitude is equal to that of God's (A tiny minority), or those in category "a".

Here's another solution:  Let's actually fix where the problem is.  The Board of Education.  The teachers are the ones in the trenches, doing what they're told, with the tools they have at hand.  The Board of Education are the ones who are creating the failed policies and directives.

What won't work?  Creating "vouchers".  Why?  Because the only parents who will try to get their kids into alternate schools, are the ones who are already successful.  This will leave the public education system with minimal funding, and all the troublesome students.  Public schools are the only ones that will take every student that walks in.  These private schools?  They can (And will) reject students that don't meet their standards.  THAT'S why they appear so successful.  They pick only the best.  Public schools don't pick.

Another solution?  Let's get the politicking out of the schools.  When at every turn your party is attacking science, history, and math; why would we think you truly have education at the forefront of your concern?  You picked your label (Republican), now, you've got the baggage to go with it.  Let's get educators deciding how to educate, not politicos.

Well, enough of that.  I bag on Madigan quite a bit...  Now for the "Spin Zone".  I'm hearing from some media outlets that Obama threw the debate, purposefully!  I was like,"Wut?"

Come on guys.  He didn't throw the debate.  He was off his A-Game.  Not shocking.  Not a big surprise.  Not unheard of.  Even Reagan, the "Great Communicator" performed about the same on his first debate during his re-election run.  It didn't cost him the election.

Come on...  Don't resort to Faux News tactics of basically lying through your teeth.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Cat Licenses and Co-Mingling - Pridgen's Pet Projects

I find it amazing that Mr. Pridgen can get anything done.  He seems to be overly concerned with things like licencing cats, and making sure nobody under 21 roams Chippewa.

I'm at a loss how the new law making sure nobody under 21 goes into any bar on Chippewa, but allows it anywhere else in the city can be in accordance with the equal protection clause.  While, the motivation is sound, and I prefer a 21 and up atmosphere, doesn't he realize he just slammed one of the economic hubs in Buffalo?  If the owners of the establishments want to keep it 21 and up, so be it.  It's their choice.  They sink, or swim.  But the only thing this has done is move everything to Main St, Allen, and Elmwood.  Didn't solve the issue of violence, Mr. Pridgen.  Which, no offense, your district is the primary source of violence in our city.  Maybe you should spend less time preaching that people are going to die in hell because marriage equality is embraced in NYS, and more time curbing the trend of violence in your district.

The same though goes with this cat licensing thing.  Again, while I agree, the motivation behind it is sound, but the whole method is ridiculous.  How many unlicensed dogs are roaming?  Plenty, I'd bet.  The only thing licensing does is generate revenue for the city, which I surmise is the same motivation for the cat licenses.  If strays are the issue, then fund a program that does TNR (Trap-Neuter/Spay-Release), which is a true solution.  Animal hoarding?  Then fund more mental health programs.  If you need funding for either?  THEN suggest licensing to pay for it.  Because right now, it just seems Buffalo is looking for a new revenue stream.

Mr. Pridgen, to take a quote from your "Hand Book":  Remove the plank from your eye, before you try to remove the speck from your brother's.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Primary Day Recap

Well, I'm back, as we're pretty much settled in the new house, with most of our stuff unpacked.  But, I did get to catch primary day results (The ones that are in).  It was, shall we say, mostly as expected.

No shocker, Grisanti won in his district.  I really didn't expect Stocker to go anywhere here.  He tried to be the Anti-Grisanti, and basically:  It just don't fly here.  Yes, there are some conservatives here in WNY, but there's not many extremists.  Stocker wanted to be the Radicalized Republican, and we don't buy it here.

Another "no shock", was Kennedy winning the initial count.  I think he's still ahead by 100 votes.  I was surprised it was so tight, but not surprised Kennedy came out ahead.  You can't go 10 feet in Kennedy's district before coming in front of a Tim Kennedy sign.

Amodeo was a surprise to me.  I was expecting Swanick to come out ahead, but I don't have a thumb on the pulse of that area there.

But, all in all; not many surprises here.  I don't expect too many surprises in November either.  Grisanti wins. Kennedy wins.  Amodeo?  I don't honestly know, but it'll give me a reason to keep on the pulse in his district.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Still Here, and Getting Settled In

Not much of a politics posts today, or a green thing, but just wanted to let everyone know:

  • Yes, I am alive
  • Yes, I've moved into my new house
  • Yes, I will start posting regularly by next week

I've gotten totally moved in, but not unpacked.  My home office is coming together, so I can have my writing spot soon.  The family so far is loving the new (First) home.  I've got to prioritize my projects.  I've got water catchment, planting, antenna work, (tiny) data center work, and the various home other home projects.

I do have to remember not do try and take on too much at once, so I think I can get the vegetable bed started, but need tools.  And then, water catchment, but need tools.  So, my first job I think is "Buy more tools".

I'll keep home progress updated here too, as it'll give me more writing materials.  I'm hoping to get another post out by Thursday, but work catch up is killing me right now, as I was on vacation for two weeks.  At least nothing died while I was gone, just day one and two of being back.

I can see already why home ownership is important to communities, to keep them thriving.  I've spoke more with my new neighbors in 4 days than I had my old neighbors over 8 years.  It's quite the eye opener.

But, until my next post, stay sane people.  Remember, GOP and Independent Primaries are in a few days (September 19th, I believe), and elections are just around the corner.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Prison System Replacement

So, the notion that our prison system is broken beyond repair, is a belief I tend to agree with.

Right now, the US has more than 2 million citizens in prison.  We have successfully beaten Stalin in this area. In fact, we beat every nation on the planet in this regard.  Oft times, people are put into prison, for life sentences, for merely dealing marijuana 3 times (3 strike law).

Non-violent offenders, being put into prison for a life sentence, appears on it's face to be a senseless move.  What sense does it make to have non-violent offenders in for life sentences?

Violent offenders, sit in prison for life terms (Sometimes), but is it humane to do so?  We don't put violent dogs in kennels for life terms.  We understand they are not able to cope with society, so we remove them from society.  However, due to the fact that we have an imperfect justice system, the death penalty seems inhumane, in and of itself, due to the large chance for error.

Conditions in our prisons inhumane at worst, and not conducive to rehabilitation at best.  We breed the "best in class" when it comes to criminals in prison.  They learn how to break the law under to most stringent of regulation environment, making them super-criminals on the outside.

I asked in the last post, what are your suggestions.  I believe we need a complete revamp of the prison system.  Not "improvements", but a complete replacement.

The best I can come up with, is a system akin to "Escape from NY", a 1981 film, where Manhattan was converted to a maximum security prison.  I, however, differ in how the setup should be.

We would take a land mass that is capable of sustaining people.  Criminals will be sent there, for a predetermined time (Life if that is what the crime calls for).  No guards.  No LEO's.  Nothing.  They are sent to survive on their own there.  When their times comes, they are to go to the checkout point, and leave.  There is no criminal record kept.  When a person does the time, that's it.  We need to stop punishing people after they've done their sentence.

Would the Penal Colony be more or less humane than what we have now?  I don't know.  I figure it gives the residents the ability to create a society that meets their desired needs.  I could be way off here, but give your thoughts here.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sporadic Posting

Over the next week or so, my posts will be somewhat sporadic, as I'm now getting heavy into the process of getting everything packed, which includes the cable modem/router/etc.

I'll try to pop over to some free wifi, and get some posts out there, but don't expect them to be as regular.  Sorry guys and gals.  I'll be back no later than September 2nd, posting again.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Late Post, But With Good Reason!

I know, this post is much later in the day than I generally aim for, but I've got a great reason excuse this time.

I had a almost completed the original post (Which was about another local candidate), when I read an interesting article on our current situation with prison (The article was in N+).  And, I felt it deserved to be written about today, and not put off.

It brought up several excellent points about the demographics of the prison population (There are more incarcerated black males than we had during our period of slavery).  The fact that the only nation that has incarcerated more people than we currently do is the Soviet Union under Stalin.

The article also discussed the fact that while crime rates are going down, our prison population is ever-increasing.

The summary fact was this:  Our current prison system is broken, and designed to promote recidivism.

I'm aiming to write another article today (Or tomorrow) with some possible solutions to our prison system, which is in dire need of taking apart, and rebuilding.  Meanwhile, I'd love to hear your input.  As progressives, we need to look at HOW to fix our current problems, not just bitch about them.

I'm looking forward to reading any comments on this!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Medicaid Fraud, Illegal Immigrants, and Tax Increases! Oh My!

So, I have to say, Sen. Grisanti is starting to disappoint me.  It seems like he is trying to pander to the lowest common denominator in the GOP party, instead of running based on representing his constituents (Which he has done a pretty good job, BTW).

Biometrics on Medicaid cards.  Purported to save tax dollars due to consumer Medicaid fraud.  The problem here?  Well, firstly, only 10% of Medicaid fraud is due to consumer-side.  I mean, are you going to get 15 scripts filled for antibiotics?  Of course not.  Most of the fraud comes from the provider side, billing for services not rendered, double billing for services, and inflating costs billed, etc etc.  It's the same-old, same-old attack on people collecting benefits, instead of attacking the true source of the problem.

The second issue with the biometrics is the costs involved.  I wish Sen. Grisanti would talk to some of his constituents who are in Information Technology.  We could explain to him to steep costs involved, and the lack of ROI unless a high-dollar contract is requiring it.  In the case of Medicaid, we'd be in the same boat as Florida with their drug testing welfare beneficiaries.  It costs about 3 times what it saves, causing a net loss.  This is going to be the same deal.  We spend $15 billion, to save $3 billion.

Also, the attack on "Illegal Immigrants".  Now, the target of this measure is to keep students who have excelled in high school and grade school from collecting TAP or anything other state benefits, if their parents brought them here illegally.

Now, on it's face, this sounds like a sane enough plan.  However, it breaks down the further you look at it.  The students this will hit are those who were brought here as infants, and raised here their entire lives.  Many don't even have any sort of accent.  We are basically refusing to aid potentially productive members of our society; because of a decision that was not made by them, and they might not even know it.

It sounds like something that needs to be done, since we can't fund TAP completely.  However, when you realize we refund over $1 trillion per year in stock transfer taxes, back to brokerage houses, because of a back-room sweetheart deal that happened about a decade ago.  Most interesting about this?  You, as an individual investor, pay this tax when you buy or sell stocks.  The money is refunded to the brokerage.  You never see it again.  See how that works?

Bottom line here:  Mark Grisanti, stop pandering to the radical right in your party.  You'll get on the ballot, and win the general, if you keep the course you've been on up to this point.  Keep working for your constituents, and stop trying to pit one versus another.  Trust me.  It'll bite you in the ass at general election if you keep up the behavior over the past 2 weeks.  Words on the internet are there forever, and will return to haunt you.