Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Ledger Picks up the State Park Issue

Today in an OP/ED piece The Star Ledger calls for a stable source of funding for State Parks Link. As I've stated here before, I'm all for the State Parks. Actually, I use many of them quite often and would love to see some needed improvements.

My issue, once again, is with the Ledger's editorial writers. These people have never seen a tax increase that they didn't support. Just once I'd love to see the Ledger propose which program or programs they would cut in order to fund the new program they are supporting. There is a tax rebellion brewing in New Jersey Link . The voters in New Jersey are quickly becoming aware that the unchecked spending combined with corruption are driving the State into bankruptcy. It would do the Ledger well to recognize this trend take positions more in line with the readers of the paper.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Does Anyone in Trenton get it?

Just a month or so after trying to make NJ taxpayers the unwitting margin investors in the newest Venture Capital firm for stem cell researching bio-tech companies (The State of New Jersey) to the tune of $150,000,000 of borrowed funds. Governor/Seneate President Codey has now decided that he wants to spend an additional $75,000,000 Link of bonded money backed by the Cigarette Tax, the same Cigarette Tax backing the $150,000,000 stem cell money. This can be accomplished beacause "the bonds were were authorized last year as part of Gov. James E. McGreevey's plan to balance the state budget. Because the state did not borrow as much as it was allowed under last year's plan, it can float more bonds this year."

I suspect that I'm wrong about this, but didn't the Sate Supreme Court rule that the bonding used to balance the budget last year was unlawful. They allowed it to continue because of the timing, but should we be allowed to compound the problem.

Now I like Sate Parks as much as anyone. I think Spruce Run looks a litlle shabby and I'm sure others can point out parks that need capital improvements. I want, however, to see the Philosopher/King Codey propose a $225,000,000 corresponding spending cut to balance this out. Would that be asking to much?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Enlighten-NewJersey Gets it Right on Corzine

An outstanding piece on why Corzine must be stopped today on Enlighten-NewJersey

The statement that just rings so true:

We call upon Corzine to put the pressure on Acting Governor Codey and the Democrats in the legislature, currently finalizing the state’s budget, to show us billions in savings this year. Why wait? Corzine is confident the money can be saved; let him provide Trenton with the ideas and policies that he’s developed to make Corzine Care “affordable.”

If there's so much waste and mismangement in the budget cull it now! Not sometime in the future!

Outstanding comment!

The Ledger Never Saw a Tax It Didn't Like

In an Editorial today The Star Ledger once again showed a remarkable need to confiscate more taxpayer money in the interest of fiscal responsibility. The Ledger states:

Codey's original proposal to generate $275 million in additional revenue by taxing services such as carpet and upholstery cleaning, limo rides and the like is a reasonable first step. Although no one likes raising taxes, budget experts already are forecasting a potential $2 billion shortfall for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2006, thanks to soaring pension, salary and other costs. A modest extension of the number of services covered by the sales tax is a relatively painless way to close that gap.

The Ledger thinks "A modest extension of the number of services covered by the sales tax is a relatively painless way to close that gap." "A painless way to close the gap". Painless for whom? The business owner that now has to administer the collection and submission of the sales tax? The person that has to pay an extra 6% plus the passed along administration expenses a business must now pay?

This is the thinking that every New Jerseyian needs to get over. The Ledger should be outraged over the State confiscating more of its readers and employees income. It should be issuing a clarion call for all New Jerseyians call on the State to reduce its outrageous expenditures.

Smadanek Adds to the 17th Amendment Discussion

Ken Adams at Smadanek has a great table showing the amount of money spent on the top ten Senate races of 2004. He's spot on about taking the special interests out of Washington could be easily accomplished by repealing the 17th Amendment.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

US Senators and the Loss of States Rights

No matter what the Democrats say, the rights of the minority are enshrined in the Senate. As a matter of fact, the Senate was formed during the Constitutional Convention in what is now called "The Great Compromise". James Madison came to Philadelphia fully expecting to have only one house that would based on population like the House of Representatives. The smaller states, however, wouldn't allow it realizing that this would make their state's issues irrelevant. So in the Senate today little Rhode Island has the same say as California. The founders fully expected that US Senators would vote in the interest of their state. Senators were appointed by Governors and served for six years keeping a Senator somewhat above the tides of immediate political passions. Thus minority views were protected.

Fast forward to today and the Judicial filibuster or the No Child Left Behind Legislation. The fight now is not between little state and big state or region against region, but of ideology. Because the Constitution has been overridden allowing Senators to be directly elected today instead of appointed (and recalled by their Governor) we are at a cross roads. Imagine that Governors still appointed Senators. New Jersey would have it's two democratic Senators, but New York would have two republican Senators. New York (I assume based on its Governors party)) would be for breaking the filibuster and New Jersey against. What about the No Child Left Behind Bill. Would the Governors of New York and New Jersy instructed their appointees to vote against it, protecting their States from unfunded mandates? Instead we have New York and New Jersey aligned on ideological terms because of having popularly elected Senators, but not necessarily on the States executives position.

The founders were always States Rights Firsters. They believed that a State was more powerful than the Federal Government. Therefore a Governor, the chief executive, one who can call out the militia, the person that sets their State's policy and direction should be able to rely on his Senators to back positions that help his cause. Because we now directly elect Senators, making them as powerful or more powerful than a Governor, Federal policy and State policies are almost always misaligned because a Senator must cave to popular opinion.

It is popular to think that the people should be allowed to vote for everone directly. It can be a large mistake. Popular elections of Senators has done more to erode States Rights than anything Lincoln did.

Lions and Tigers and Bears... Revisited

Another dog was attacked and killed in Vernon according to the Ledger. This one was a puppy and it had it's back broken by the bear.

What I found interesting about this article were the statistics on bear damage and sighting reports. Last year, after the bear hunt the previous year, for the period of Jan 1 to May 9 there were 48 reported bear sightings and 172 damage reports. This year for the same period, after the hunt was cancelled last year, there were 307 damage reports and 180 sightings.

Does this mean that with no hunt this year there will be 570 damage reports next year? Did the bear population grow by 40% last year? Is the bear population larger than the 1500 to 3000 that the state estimates?

Monday, May 23, 2005

Real Estate Bubble?

The Star Ledger had an article Sunday about private investment companies helping people that want to invest in properties but can't get a conventional loan from a bank. Business Week had a stat this week that 31% of single family homes purchased in the last year were purchased with interest only loans.

For the life of me this real estate boom looks and feels mighty similar to the tech boom. Articles in magazines and newspapers are talking about the "new" reality of real estate and how this is a supply and demand driven boom. It seems like people can't wait to jump into the housing market. The question, however, is can they get out quick enough.

Just last week I stopped in at an open house in High Bridge. The house was well kept, but old, small(900- 1200 SF) and in a difficult location. The seller was looking for $280,000. I asked the realtor what was a typical rent for this type of house in the area and he told me that it would rent for $900 to $1200 per month.

If you mortgaged the entire amount of the house and included property taxes the monthly payment on this house would be around $2700 per month. The rent would only cover 30 to 40 percent of the cost not counting repairs. In effect that house is selling for 70 times earnings! People that are buying houses as investments have better beware. If this bubble bursts a 20 to 30 percentage fall in prices will drive many of these "investors" into bankruptcy.

I think that if I sold my house today I wouldn't buy another at these prices. I'd rent. It's cheaper right now. I'd also be tempted to hold my cash... Keep my powder dry, so to speak. When this ends there is going to be tremendous values out there for the savvy investor.

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Highlands Act was Political. Say it isn't so

"An environmental study of water sources in the Highlands region invalidates the legislative division of the region into planning and preservation areas, Hunterdon and Warren County officials said Thursday"

Of course this was a political decision to force development into areas the State wanted and to protect the rest without paying for it.

"...18 percent of land with major aquifers is in the preservation area."

Again, of course! If your forcing development into specific areas there better be water there to support it.

"Adam Zellner, executive director of the Highlands Council, acknowledged the Highlands boundaries resulted from a political process and said the council is willing to support efforts to preserve water-supplying land in the planning area. Zellner also said Getchell's information could be used to justify an expansion of the preservation area"

Let's steal some more land from the people that never raise a voice! I just can't understand why the people in this sate aren't in a state of revolt. Our political process is out of control with Judges writting laws and our elected (chosen) leaders taking our income and physical assets. This situation can't continue!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Pension Fund Blues

The Ledger Reports today that the State Pension Fund is under funded by close to 2.7 billion dollars. This fund is for State workers as well as many municipal workers. It is expected that the taxpayers will have to ante up the money to fully fund the account. Surprise, surprise, surprise.

Corrupt and greedy public officials with their patronage positions, the public workers unions and the teachers unions with their absurd benefit packages are driving the state into bankruptcy. We must get the state to stop spending. Aren't the people in this state fed up?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Highlands Bill Discussion in Warren County

The Express Times reported that on May 17th Jim Florio and his partner Michael Perrucci talked about the Highlands bill and compared it to the Pinelands legislation passed in the 1970s.

"For the most part, folks are fairly comfortable with what occurred in the Pinelands area," said Florio, who was a sponsor of the bill that created the Pinelands. "While the Pinelands system, when it was put in, was somewhat controversial, the good news is that after this long period of time there's virtually unanimous approval."

Well, Duh! Everyone that had their land value destroyed for a few ugly pine trees either has died or had to move because you confiscated their only hard asset.

Why is Doug Forrester Running for Governor

I started thinking about this this morning on the way to work. I heard a commercial on either WABC or WNBC where Forrester promised all taxpayers a constitutionally guaranteed property tax break of 30% if elected. For the life of me I couldn't figure out what this meant. Perhaps I'm as daft as people say. But, being a curious I poked along to Doug's Website. I couldn't find any mention of a constitutionally guaranteed property tax cut. I did, however, find some interesting items.

Under Doug's agenda I found out that:
"My wife Andrea and I moved to New Jersey nearly 30 years ago with just a few dollars in our pockets. New Jersey has given us the opportunity to work hard, raise a family, educate our children, and start a business. Andrea and I care deeply about this state. "

Under Doug's policies I found out that:
"My wife Andrea and I moved to New Jersey nearly 30 years ago with just a few dollars in our pockets. New Jersey has given us the opportunity to work hard, raise a family, educate our children, and start a business. Andrea and I care deeply about this state. "

Under about Doug I found out that:
"Doug and his wife Andrea moved to New Jersey 30 years ago with just a few dollars in their pockets because they believed that New Jersey could provide them the opportunity to build their life together. They raised their family, built their business, and became active members of their community."

I hate it when politicians make these statements.. This guys website screams LIGHTWEIGHT. Can anyone tell me why this guy is running?

Lions and tigers and bears... Oh my!

We who live in the hinterlands of NJ have adjusted our lifestyles to fit the naive outlook of anti bear hunt people. Two dogs recently have been attacked. One in Vernon and one in Rockaway. Domesticated animals have been attacked and killed. I have had my children startle a bear and get chased down a 400 foot driveway. The extent of the damage done to domestic animals by bears is lightly reported by the press. We are told to put our garbage away and don't feed the birds. When we who live with this problem ask for a bear hunt the anti bear hunt people especially, it seems to me, the East Jerseyites protest and Trenton buckles.

This past weekend a young black bear decided to wander through Woodbridge, NJ. The resulting spectacle was something to see. Hundreds of spectators came to see the bear, Fish and Wildlife came to tranquillize the bear and believe it or not the police responded to the call about the bear (unlike here where, when a bear is trying to get into your barn, they tell you don't hurt the bear and stay inside it will go away).

Now, all of a sudden, the Star Ledger has an OP/ED piece advocating bear hunts. After years of living with much more of a problem than what happened in Woodbridge, one incident in East Jersey brings on a call for a bear hunt.

I guess it only matters when it is an East Jersey problem.