Thursday, May 21, 2009

Potato chips

I just read today that a British Court of Appeal ruled that Pringles' potato chips are indeed "potato chips" thus making the chips subject to the UK's 15% Value Added Tax (VAT).

In the UK most food is exempt from VAT but chips are not so clearly the government had a lot on the line here in terms of potential lost revenues!!

What an amazing world we live in when the court system has the added burden of determing what is and is not a taxable food item. A better world would be one in which all food, clothing, and shelter (yes - that means no more property taxes folks) are codified as tax exempt thus ensuring that Maslow's basic needs for human survival are not priced out of reach for our poorest citizens.

Reminder to readers -- I primarily blog here now:


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Modernizing" Minnesota Government

Ed Lotterman is a regular columnist for our Pioneer Press newspaper here in Minnesota. His recent column, "Government needs to catch up to the times", argued that given "today's modern world" we don't need the decentralized government the founders of the state created due to technological change, etc. His column can be seen in full at --


Mr. Lotterman fails to note that technology does two things -- it empowers people and it allows for things to be decentralized. He just need to look at his newspaper office to realize this since most newspapers in the USA are dying while websites and social media services are booming as direct competitors.

Instead of centralizing even more power with the Minnesota state government we should close entire departments so that the money, staff, and responsibilities can be transferred to our county governments. I would much prefer 87 "mini-legislatures" (the number of counties in Minnesota) instead of all powerful legislature that treats county leaders as vassals on the estate.

Phase two of course would be for all taxpayers to get involved in their county government which is actually much easier to do for someone in International Falls, Minnesota versus driving 6 to 7 hours to St. Paul to lobby ("beg") their state legislators on issues of concern to them.

The resulting much reduced (in power and purse!) state legislature would perhaps meet for 60 days simply to play their constitutional oversight role and to adjust the state's sales tax rate because in my reform model all other taxes -- property tax, personal income taxes, corporate income taxes, estate taxes, etc. would be phased out -- leaving only the sales tax as a revenue source to be divided on a per capita basis to county governments. The parallel reform would be that all school districts, watershed districts, soil/water conservation districts, etc. would be revised to follow county boundaries. This would create the type of transparency we need because it would end the constant finger pointing we see from public officials today.


Minnesota Department of Economic Development

Tell me again why we even bother spending tax dollars on economic development in Minnesota?

Given this pending legislation the entrepreneurs who create new jobs will be inspired to move to South Dakota and Florida which do not punish achievers:

Editorial: The new 'sin tax'The New Ulm Journal had this view: Legislators love to raise "sin taxes," those extra charges on things you shouldn't be doing in the first place, like drinking or smoking. The Minnesota House DFL apparently thinks it is also a sin to have a high income. House Taxes Committee Chairwoman Ann Lenzcewski has proposed a tax increase plan that not only raises the cigarette tax by 54 cents and the alcohol tax by 3 to 5 cents per drink, it creates a 9 percent tax bracket for people who earn more than $169,700 a year ($300,000 for married couples).

Reminder - I primarily blog here now:

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Theatre deemed a Vital Local Service

So the City of Burnsville, Minnesota's controversial (and publicly financed) Performing Arts Center (PAC) is running a current annualized deficit of about $276,000 yet in a recent newspaper article ( - by Dean Spiros) it was reported that Burnsville is "trying to trim 12 to 15 jobs through buyouts and attrition as it prepares for a projected $1.5 million loss in revenue........." which means cuts in the police, fire, and administration staffs.

What shocked me was that this article did not even mention the PAC's operating deficit. So residents can get to the theatre -- assuming there is something playing since the main stage is only projected to have acts booked for 50 nights this year -- but hopefully their homes won't start on fire during the show given the cuts at the fire department!

Again - governments should do VERY few things and it should do those things VERY well. The current Burnsville budget situation is a perfect example of public officials spending someone else's (our) money.


Talk Radio Changes

Ok, I don't understand all the changes at my favorite talk radio station in Minnesota -- KSTP AM 1500, .

Earlier this week Dave Thompson was released (fired?) from his noon show and today I read that Bob Davis was gone/fired from his 9 am talk show. This inspired me to switch the office radio to Cities 97 which is the headquarters for anyone who matured musically in the 80's and 90's. Cities 97 produces an annual CD of exclusive recordings to raise money for charity -- it is a must purchase which sells out at Target stores in less than an hour.

So goodbye and good luck Dave and Bob. Dave plans to run for chairman of the Republican Party of Minnesota now but he is late in joining the race I believe. No idea where Bob Davis is but I have to guess he will pack his bags to head back to his hometown of Chicago. Bob's show is fun and he is very well read so it is worth watching his next move.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

National Bargain Association

Reminder -- I primarily blog at this site now:

Today's Wall Street Journal sports page (page B16 if you love the paper copy like I do) noted that the Los Angeles Clippers of the National Basketball Association recently sold game tickets for 10 cents if you bought one ticket for $12.00 thus making the tickets $6.05 each.

Not only is this a great bargain but it is clear evidence the market forces work for consumers. Residents of Los Angeles have two NBA teams to choose from -- Lakers and Clippers -- yet only one team is putting a great product on the hardwood thus the ticket prices for the lowly Clippers with their .234 winning percentage are very low.

Now if only a school choice revolution in Los Angeles would harness similar market forces that would allow parents and students to flee their failing government schools.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Drunk Driving in Minnesota

I don't know Daryl Dean Fleck and I have no idea if he has a drinking problem but based on the article I read ( - March 25, 2009) I have to applaud his decision to avoid drunk driving.

Mr. Fleck , age 55, was arrested on June 11, 2007 in East Grand Forks, Minnesota but was just recently convicted of two counts of driving while intoxicated. Mr. Fleck's blood alcohol tested at 0.18 and three open beer cans were under a blanket on the passenger seat of his car which was parked in his assigned parking spot at his apartment building.

Ok, so far so boring you say -- but wait. Mr. Fleck was actually SLEEPING in his car with the keys set on the center console. Apparently Mr. Fleck knew he was drunk so he avoided driving by simply in his car during what was probably a beautiful summer evening. The problem however is that Minnesota state law states that if such a person has "physical control" of a vehicle - which Mr. Fleck did since the keys were in his possession and he was sitting in the car - then that person can be charged with drunk driving.

Again, based on what I read in the news coverage Mr. Fleck did the correct thing by sleeping in his car in an attempt to protect himself and others from drunk driving. Perhaps Mr. Fleck should have placed his car keys under the car and slept in the back seat to help his line of defense!!

I fear that such enforcement of our DWI law will actually encourage drunk driving.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

More Football This Year!!

The United Football League - - is set to kick off its inaugural season in October 2009 which is great news not only for football fans but also for the US economy since they have many jobs to fill to run the league.

I have been very interested in their contest asking fans to generate mascot names for their teams which you can find at their website noted above.

I would only ask readers to promote my team mascot suggestion -- the "San Francisco Firestorm"

Now that would be great fodder for some cool t-shirts!!


French Women

My local newspaper recently carried a book review for "French Women Don't Sleep Alone: Pleasurable Secrets to Finding Love" by Jamie Cat Callan. The review stated that "Callan is clearly trying to cash in on 'French Women Don't Get Fat'" by Mireille Guiliano.

So that got me wondering about books regarding French Women. A search on produces 154 results but perhaps the inevitable next book was missing which I call:

"French Women Don't Age or Die"

Such a title would help bring this genre to a close I believe!!

Au revoir,


See more of me at -

Time for a Blood Test

Today is "Alert Day" for the American Diabetes Association:

So please get off line for 5 minutes today to call your doctor for scheduling a routine blood test. Then once you get your appointment schedule please send an email to your friends and relatives to join you in taking action for their health.

Please do not wait for Congress to create a universal health care system that will require blood tests and the rationing of services based on your station in life.


Reminder - I primarily blog here now:

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sharing Books

I had lunch at Potbelly Sandwich Works last week ( where I noticed a book shelf with a sign on it -- "Take a book, leave a book".

I thought this was a nice feature for the restaurant so patrons could feed their head along with their stomachs!!

Read on, Todd