Hold the Applause….

Did you happen to listen to or read Governor Deal’s ‘State of the State’ the other night? If you haven’t, you can read the transcript here or watch the speech here. It was interjected with repeated applause, ovations and cheers as the Governor spoke. And, it’s propositions we’re quite spendy.

Much appreciation goes to the Georgia General Assembly who balanced the budget in 2011 and funded many essential Georgia programs. Appreciation is the keyword. Not applause, not praise, not commendation. We are SUPPOSED to have a balanced budget. That’s is the job of the legislature: to ensure efficiency (as well as transparency, accountability and legitimacy) and delegate good use of our tax dollars. That being said, it’s great to hear that the rainy day fund increased 183% to $328 million and that in 2012, 10% of Georgia programs will begin working off a zero-based budget. (Why it’s only 10%, I’m not sure…I don’t know how any organization or business DOESN’T work off zero-based budgeting, but I’m not in charge).

That being said, I question a lot of the spending proposed for this year.
-$20 million for the need-based one percent program (1. The title is quite the oxymoron, and 2. For the one millionth time, Education is not a right).
-$111.3 million for enrollment efforts at technical colleges & universities. (People know what college is. So what is an enrollment EFFORT? Also, I don’t like efforts, I like execution when we are talking about implementation of hard-earned tax dollars.)
-$146 million to support enrollment efforts in K-12 (Isn’t schooling mandatory until age16? Maybe enrollment efforts aren’t the right words, but I’m not keen on spending money to promote something that is already obviously mandatory).
-$55.8 million to fund salary increases for teachers K-12
-Supplemental grants of an undescribed amount to support charter schools in an Amended budget and in 2013.
-$46.7 million for deepening the Port of Savannah to improve both transportation and infrastructure.
-$10 million for Accountability Courts to lower recidivism rates in the criminal justice system. (How? Again, what’s the cost of implementing this?)

I can appreciate the efforts to rectify the failing school systems across the state and to try and improve the overall quality of the State, but where is the data that shows how this money will help? And how much will it cost to implement new programs? What about oversight to ensure efficiency? Will we need more state employees for that? I’m not a fan. As I become more frugal in my personal life, I become more frustrated with spending on the local and state level (I have temporarily given up on the federal level).

And another thing… a true pet peeve of mine is praising and applauding our legislators and executive officers. I flashed back to a recent event where Johnny Isakson spoke. He received a standing ovation and people were chanting his name, defending him as he was being questioned by other constituents. Why stand? Why clap? Why treat them like celebrities? WE elected THEM. THEY work for US. It is a privilege to serve and they should thank the people for the opportunity to do so.

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Merry Christmas: Celebrating the Birth of Jesus

In celebrating, I thought I would share my favorite Christmas song.

A Better  Reason to put a Candy Cane on your tree-
-The candy is a solid white stick to symbolize the Virgin Birth and sinless nature of Jesus
-The candy is hard to symbolize the Solid Rock of Jesus, the foundation of the Church and the firmness of the promises of God
-The candy is shaped  into the form of a J to represent the name Jesus. It also represents the Good Shepherd by which ‘He reaches down to reclaim the fallen lambs, who like sheep, have gone astray.’
-The red stripes symbolize the blood shed by Christ on the cross so that we could have the promise of eternal life.
-The candy is peppermint, similar to hyssop (Hyssop was used in the Old Testament for purification & sacrifice)

Merry Christmas To You And Your Family.

Directions to the Nearest Abortion Clinic

This week, the new Planned Parenthood ‘Sexting’ Messaging Program began in Denver.

Inquisitive youth can now text “ICYC” to 66746 followed by a question and a Planned Parenthood Community Education staff member will answer questions within 24 hours.

Planned Parenthood has emphasized that they will NOT answer questions about ‘how to have sex’. But if you think you may be pregnant, want advice on contraception or need directions to the nearest abortion clinic, texting 66746 is your solution.

Planned Parenthood is also given the ability to circumvent parents, religious beliefs and family morals to reach minors. Brilliant.

How could I even go on about this issue?.

OWS Donations & Stupidity

It was reported on Friday that Occupy Wall Street has collected more than $665,000 since the September 17th commencement.

So if you donated to OWS, how are you helping the movement? As of December 13th, OWS had spent $162,169. Among some of the purchases are:
-$100 button making
-$1,200 materials to treat protestors in Zuccotti Park
-$17,002 (between 11/23-11/30) on food, laundry and medical after the clearing of Zuccotti
-$5,073 on metro cards & transit.
-$4,240 on food
-$1,132 on office supplies and phone cards {This is an interesting one to me}
-$2,210 on medical & herbal remedies
-$2,852 on cleaning & laundry
-$447 on ‘other’
I’d like to know where the Occupiers purchase their food, office supplies, phone cards and ‘other’ items. Places like Kroger, Publix, Staples, Office Depot all have CEO’s who are possibly part of the 1% that they hate so much. And the items they purchase? Kraft? Nabisco? …..Should I assume that Occupiers are purchasing all of their products from local & small businesses so as not to support the very establishment they are protesting?

At the peak of their incoming donations, OWS was collecting nearly $20,000 a day. This week, donations sunk to $98 per day. So what does this mean for the OWS movement? Is it slowing down, losing steam, feeling sluggish in the cold?

I don’t care, but I do have some other questions for the occupiers.
Did they file a 501(c)3? And if so, what’s the name of that non-profit organization?
If you didn’t file a 501(c)3, whose name is on the bank account?
Where are you banking? Surely it’s not Bank of America, SunTrust, Wells Fargo, or any of the like.
And if they’re not a 501(c)3 and are operating like a business, surely they plan to file taxes in 2012, correct?

Just a few facts about New York City:
$105,368…the minimum income of a member of the NYC 10%
$493,439…the minimum income of a member of the NYC  1%.
$2,247,515…the average income per filer
71.2%…the percentage of city personal income tax that the top 10% pays (dispersed among 345,169 people)
43.2%…the percentage the top 1% pays for City income taxes. (~34,598 people)
1.18 million…the number of FILERS in NYC that don’t pay income taxes at all (Scan.IBOIncomeDistributionLetter)
-The Occupy Wall Street Movement ….Americans disgracing the meaning of America.

Exercising Our 2nd Amendment: A Case for Guns on Campus

“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms…disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes…Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage that to prevent, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” –Thomas Jefferson quoting Cesare Beccaria
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After way too much time in the heart of downtown Atlanta at Georgia State University, I developed my own opinion on whether students should have the right to carry firearms on campus. As I was getting into my car after leaving an evening class, I heard gunshots in the parking lot above me. About an hour later, I received an email from the Georgia State University Police detailing the incident. A little late don’t you think?

This semester Georgia Tech, also in Atlanta city limits, has been plagued with some pretty brutal attacks including muggings, sexual assaults and most recently, an intense robbery that left a student badly beaten. Many of these assaults occurred at gunpoint and all have taken place on campus.

Georgia Tech, and all colleges for that matter, have a DUTY to protect the students. Countless resources from Georgia Tech Police and Atlanta Police are being implemented to no avail. Both Georgia State and Georgia Tech offer ‘Courtesy Officers’ who will escort students to their cars and campus dorms but they can’t escort everyone and they can’t be everywhere. Georgia Tech’s campus spans over 400 acres and Georgia State’s campus spans 34 acres. Both touch on some of Atlanta’s roughest areas of town.

After the most recent robbery and assault, the Georgia Tech College Republicans sponsored an event for the right to carry guns on campus. Adries Celedon, the Chairman of the GTCR said in a statement to WSBtv, “From my experience, the people who have concealed carry licenses are the most responsible people”. They face significant opposition, though. In 2009, Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson said mixing alcohol, guns and 20,000 students is a “terrible combination…I think it’s a recipe for a disaster.” You know whats a disaster? The tragedy at Virginia Tech. Or how about the shooting at San Jose State this year? Ohio State University and University of Alabama-Huntsville in 2010? The list is long. Imagine if there had been students or teachers on those campuses who were armed. The gunmen could have been stopped, or what’s more, deterred all together.

Why shouldn’t Georgia Tech students be allowed to carry a firearm? These students are being targeted because criminals KNOW they are unarmed. They are walking around a gated (in a sense that all University grounds are firearm-free) area with no protection. They are sitting ducks. Note: What’s happening on the Georgia Tech campus is EXACTLY what would happen if the right to bear arms was banned: weapons would be in the hands of criminals. The advice the university is recommending (stay in groups, don’t walk at night if it’s avoidable etc) isn’t satisfactory. Students in groups have been attacked and both Georgia Tech and Georgia State offer evening classes. So what do we do?

The Right to Carry age should be reduced to 18 in order to cater to students. If you can serve in the armed forces, buy cigarettes and purchase a home, you should certainly be able to exercise the 2nd amendment. If the school cannot protect the students, the students need to be able to protect themselves.

Update: the same day this blog was posted, there was yet another tragedy at Virginia Tech What else has to happen????

“If gun laws in fact worked, the sponsors of this type of legislation should have no difficulty drawing upon long lists of examples of crime rates reduced by such legislation. That they cannot do so after a century and a half of trying—that they must sweep under the rug the southern attempts at gun control in the 1870-1910 period, the northern attempts in the 1902-1939 period, the attempts at both Federal and State levels in 1965-1976—establishes the repeated, complete and inevitable failure of gun laws to control serious crime.” Senator Orrin Hatch

What do you think?

Dignity for the Unemployed?

Today is a big day! It’s our first guest blogger, Jenna Howard. Jenna and I often have conflicting views on policy, legislation, candidates and everything else, however, we both oppose ridiculous governmental requirements.

Jenna holds a B.A. in Political Science from Georgia State University. She works at the Southern Arts Federation, a regional nonprofit, and plans to begin her Masters in Public Policy next fall.
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I’m pleased to do a guest blog on “The Perspicacious Conservative,” mostly because our views usually differ a great deal. I sometimes tackle my local town’s alternative newspaper, The GRIP, which covers community news and events in Spalding and other surrounding counties. I’m glad to express my views to a larger constituency! I sent some information about this topic over to The Perspicacious Conservative and was asked to write about Senate Bill 294 – a.k.a “Dignity for the Unemployed.”

If passed, the bill would require state unemployment applicants to complete 24 hours of volunteer work for a non-profit organization in order to receive state benefits. It’s worth mentioning that many states have already attempted this, but none have been successful. If this bill passes the Georgia Legislature, we would be the first state to require citizens to volunteer. It should seem a bit oxymoronic (no pun intended) to require someone to volunteer since the very definition of the word lacks any requirement other than one willingly give him or herself up for a service without penalty.

The bill’s chief sponsor is Roswell’s finest, Senator John Albers. Senator Albers did an interview on CNN where he said he thought this bill would make unemployed citizens feel better about themselves by getting up early, doing something valuable to put on their resumes, and meeting new people. This bill is inherently flawed.

Unfortunately for John Albers, the majority of the problem with unemployment isn’t that there are people out there who are unqualified for jobs. Certainly, there are situations in which that may be the case, but Georgia already has programs in place to tackle these problems (see GEDs, college, Georgia Works, and Georgia Work Ready). But incompetency isn’t the major problem here. Georgia was creating jobs in 2007 and we had a fairly healthy economy. People didn’t all of a sudden become incompetent and lose their valuable employee skills. The major problem with unemployment is that no one is hiring. The job market is simply oversaturated with applicants looking for work.

In March, Georgia’s unemployment rate hit a record high. Georgia has had higher than average unemployment in the nation for the past 4 years. Georgia continues to lose jobs instead of creating them. What good is requiring someone to volunteer when it isn’t going to force employers to create jobs in order to hire them?

Senator John Albers stated in the CNN interview that this bill would work much like the WPA (the Works Progress Administration) that President Roosevelt initiated in the Great Depression. So, why can’t the Dignity for the Unemployed work in the Great Recession like the WPA worked in the Great Depression, Senator Albers? Because the WPA employed people. It gave them jobs, income, and provided communities with much needed infrastructure. The Dignity for the Unemployed bill is nothing like the WPA. It is requiring people to work in return for no income – or they can lose the only income they are currently receiving, their unemployment package.

Now, I graduated from college in May 2011. I started applying for jobs in June (I had a part-time job that would end in August). I applied for literally hundreds of jobs that I was fully qualified, under qualified, and overqualified for. I applied everywhere including for-profit companies and non-profit organizations. Now, I don’t know when the last time Senator John Albers applied for a job, but most applications take about an hour, at least, to complete. You have to write a cover letter and tailor it to every job in which you apply. You have to tweak your resume’ so it highlights the duties of certain positions. In addition to a resume’ and cover letter, some applications require you to manually input every job you’ve had, write about why you’re the best for the position, and pass a qualifications test to weed out applicants. Requiring someone to complete 24 hours of community service when they can be applying for a job is absurd.

Bottom line, I understand some people think unemployment benefits are too lenient. I understand people have bad tastes in their mouths about unemployment entitlements. But, most people are doing the right thing on unemployment. They should not be required to complete certain hours of volunteer work to “make themselves feel better.” Many have families, had great jobs, have incredible resumes… working for free is going to give them a boost in morale. They should be doing one thing while they are receiving unemployment benefits and that’s looking for work. It is not the state’s place to force someone to “do good.” It seems that Senator Albers has his economics a little backwards. If he wants to help the unemployed, he should spend more time helping companies and organizations get back in the business of hiring and less time trying to make the unemployed have a warm and fuzzy feeling inside.

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Hope You Like That Candy, Cause It’s Bug Poop.

I recently read an article posted on a friends Facebook wall describing all the nasty ingredients that are included in foods without our knowledge. It reminded me of all the foods that I’ve given up over the last year because of the true ingredients or effects of those foods on the body. The things that are adding to our food are truly disturbing (in addition to being disgusting) which is why Tuesday’s will now be ‘Toxicology Tuesdays’. (But we’re kicking off on a Thursday!)

This week…foods with ingredients that you’d never eat alone but are considered “acceptable” by the FDA because it’s a ‘low ratio’. They claim that these ingredients are not hazardous to health and are perfectly acceptable for human consumption. It’s certainly not for those who have a weak stomach, but eye-opening information nonetheless.

Ingredient Name

What it actually is…

Found in…

Confectioners glazeResinous glaze Bug poo Shiny candy, chocolate, jelly beans, shiny apples, mascara, lipstick
Natural Red # 4
Cochineal
Carmine
‘natural color’
Ground up bugs Cherry icecreamStrawberry/cherry yogurt
Ammonium sulfate Fertilizer Breads & Subway products
Castoreum
‘natural flavor’
Beaver anal glands Raspberry candies
vanilla flavored icecream
L-cysteine
Cysteine
Human hair
duck feathers
Bread, dough conditioner
Allura Red AC Coal Tar Red candies, soda
Cellulose Wood pulp Foods with “dietary fiber”
bottled milkshakes, flour
shredded cheese
Lanolin, gum base Sheep secretions Bubble gum, shampoo/condit/soap
Silicon Dioxide Sand Wendy’s Chili, condensed milk, pudding, mustard, vinegar, American cheese
Rennet Calf stomach Cheeses
Shellac Beetle juice Cupcakes, shiny candies, sprinkles
Gelatin
collagen
Boiled bones, skin & connective tissues of cows, pigs & horses Jell-o
Barbacoa Cow face Tacos
Menudo ‘tripe’ or skin peeled off the cows stomach Mexican food
Worcestershire sauce Liquefied anchovies melted down in vinegar (bones & all)

Are you grossed out yet? Take a look at items listed in the FDA Defect Handbook. This is a list of food items that are permitted to have mold or insect parts based on their non-defect ratio. This is PUBLIC INFORMATION. Parts per million or not, I don’t want these things in my food.

Food

Amount of ‘additive’ allowed per packaging serving

Apple Butter Rodent hairs, 5+ whole/equivalent insect parts per 100g (excludes mites, aphids, thrips, scale insects)
Apricots (Canned) 2% damaged/infected with insects
Berries (frozen, black & raspberry) 4+ larvae per 100 grams
Asparagus (Canned, frozen) 10% damaged/infested with insects
Broccoli (Frozen) 60+ aphids/thrips/mites per 100 grams
Brussel sprouts (frozen) 30+ aphids/thrips/mites per 100 grams
Ground capsicum Average 50+ insect parts per 25 grams
6+ rodent hairs per 25 grams
Group paprika Average 95+ insect fragments per 25 grams
11+ rodent hairs per 25 grams
Ground cinnamon 400+ insect fragments per 50 grams
11+ rodent hairs per 50 grams
Cocoa Beans Avg 10+ mg of mammalian excreta per pound
4% damaged by insects
Canned Sweet corn 2 or more 3mm insect larvae
Cornmeal 1+ whole insects per 50 grams
1+ rodent hair per 25 grams
Cumin seed 9.5% allowed to be ash
Curry powder Avg 100+ insect fragments per 25 grams
Dates (sliced, chopped) 10+ dead insects
Figs 10% infested with insects
Macaroni/noodle products 225 insect fragments per 225 grams
(AKA 1 insect fragment per gram!)
Nutmeg (Whole) 10% infested by insects
Nutmeg (ground) 100+ insects per 10 grams
Black olives 10% infested by fruit flies
Oregano 1250 parts per 10 grams
Peanut Butter 30+ insect parts per 10 grams
Peas (black eyed) 10% infested by insects
Pepper (ground) Avg 475+ insect parts per 50grams
Raisins (gold) 35 Drosophilia eggs per 8 ounces
Sage (ground) 200+ insect fragments per 110 grams
Sauerkraut 50+ thrips per 100 grams
Thyme (ground) 925 insect fragments per 25 grams
Tomatoes (canned) 10+ fly eggs, 2+ maggots per 500 grams
Tomato puree 20+ fly eggs per 100 grams

Maybe you’ll think twice before you head to the grocery store, no? I can’t think of a better argument for local foods and homegrown products–Anything without a bar code. You can find a local market close to you here.

Person of the Week: 11/30

This weeks PC POW WOW goes to the gentleman in Seattle who returned the money he stole from Sears Department store 65 years ago. Anonymously, the gentleman walked into Sears and left a note with $100 at the Customer Service desk. In the note, the man explained that he had stolen around $25 in the 40’s but felt so guilty, he wanted to repay with interest. Sears intends to donate the money to needy families this Holiday season.

Obviously this man committed a crime but I think the situation was handled with great dignity. It seems these days that so many things are taken to extremes. I half expected to see that Sears called the cops to try to identify the man from security video in order to press charges. I am happy to see that the gentleman who stole the money has a conscience that drove him to repay the money and the store manager who accepted the repayment without causing any grief- especially since so much time had passed.

Birth Control: We Can’t Afford it!

Amidst the health care debacle and the ensuing arguments over the last 2 years, a few themes have been recurring: women’s health care rights. There has been a huge movement to, in the new health care law provisions, grant all women access to birth control for free. But who is going to pay for this?

According to the US Census, 2010, there were 308,745,538 {documented} people in the United States. 50.8% of those people were women (156,842,733) and studies show that roughly 80% of women have used birth control at some point. So…125,474,186 women. Granted, not all of those women would concurrently be taking birth control, so let’s take Age 2000 estimates of 81.5 million women ages 15-49. According to US News-Money, birth control pills cost on average $160 to $600 annually. On the low end, you’re looking at:
      $160/year X 81.5 million women= $13,040,000,000 A YEAR!

Fighting for exceptions to allow for coverage for the pill for women who suffer from disorders is one thing. An argument claiming that all women should have the pill covered – at the expenses of others- for them is another. Women already have free access to birth control – it’s called saying no, or at least “not until you put a condom on”. Why should taxpayers, who morally and religiously don’t agree with the concept, be forced to pay for others’ irresponsibility? Okay, that’s a tangent. Bottom line: It’s too expensive!!!

Avoiding pregnancy is not a difficult concept to grasp. It really pushes on the concept of necessities versus luxuries, or rights and privileges.  Don’t get me wrong: I believe people should have the access to whatever contraception they deem appropriate (i.e.- birth control should not be banned) however, it cannot be at the expense of taxpayers.

This brings up another interesting aspect that is often forgotten: Nonprofits. Nonprofit organizations are supposed to be the bridge between the public and private sector. They often fail because they seek federal grant money which muddies the water of religion, morals, etc. (Example: Planned Parenthood using federal monies). If nonprofits sought private donations and provided to these underprivileged women, it would no longer be a burden on the taxpayers nor would be a government issue. To go full circle, the government has no business in health care especially if you look at it from a simple financial standpoint.

I like one rebuttal to the feminist notion that women are entitled to birth control: “Frankly, it paints a pretty dim view of women to claim that they need access to the pill in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies. They should be strong enough and smart enough on their own to avoid doing that before they are ready.”

Giving Thanks

 

A Thankful Thanksgiving

The America we witness today has seen much sacrifice
This sacrifice for many, has meant a total giving of life for liberty
Do all truly realize what the human cost of freedom is
All citizens should understand what has kept us whole
Should it not be the duty of each American to know this
To become familiar with the reasons of why we exist today
The notion that “that’s the way things are” is ludicrous
When a firm explanation is so easily understood
We’ve survived because of faith, determination, and great sacrifice
The backbone of this country is the strength of its good citizens
Each true American is worth more than all the gold found in history
Selfishness does not rule their home, nor does it drive their thought
And don’t just look at our military as a magnificent force
Rather look at each member of our soldiered family with pride
“Ready, willing, and able” have been the finest of each generation
Whether in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, or any other place of danger
Whenever an American military presence moves into action
Behold the continuation of an outstanding tradition
Formed through freedom, it bravely faces all adversaries
And the flag under which it stands will always fly in freedom
We are and always will be one nation under God
He is the strength we have turned to time and time again
If we did not have Him, we would have perished long ago
God Bless America is more than a song, it is our national prayer
Finally, I wish each fine American a thankful Thanksgiving Day
May you truly realize what we are, and pray to Almighty God for continuation
Be ever thankful for our Armed Forces, and give them the total support they need
And please pray for all American families who have paid the price for freedom
                   –Roger J. Robicheau

May you give thanks for your Faith, your Family, your Freedom and your Friends.