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Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

Village Buzz - July 1st...

Village Buzz, Taxes, Political, Quality of Life

July 4th Festivities...

Taxpayer Tea Party

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Cap & Tax & Tax & Tax

Economy, Quality of Life, Taxes, U.S.

The cap and tax plan has passed the House of Representatives and will now find its way to the U.S. Senate.  That will be the last place in which it can be either defeated or modified.  It ought to be defeated, but it must be significantly modified if not defeated outright.

Our energy costs will skyrocket, but that isn't even the worst of it.  Jobs will disappear but that isn't all that will happen.  Do you now own a home or a rental property?  Do you think you'll ever want to sell that house or property?  Then you need to get in touch with the two senators from Wisconsin at the numbers you'll find below, and here is why.

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The People Have Spoken, But...

Political, Quality of Life, Wisconsin

The people of Wisconsin made clear by amending the state's Constitution that they did not want same-sex marriage or civil unions in Wisconsin.  The language of the Amendment says, "Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state.  A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state."

But, the Democrats have decided that "we, the people" can't be trusted to do what is right, so they have now done a classic end-run around that Amendment, or so they think, by including "domestic partnerships" in the recently passed and signed budget.  This originated with Governor Doyle who included it in his budget.  It was then picked up by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison), who is an openly gay man who married his male partner in Canada, and remained in the budget.

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Happy 233rd Anniversary...

Quality of Life, U.S.

233 years ago a group of patriots gathered to affix their signatures to a Declaration.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

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Village Buzz - July 6th...

Germantown, Quality of Life, Village Buzz

Week-End Thoughts


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Doyle Is Tone Deaf...

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, Wisconsin

Our governor is as tone deaf as any politician I can recall over the past decade or so.

The 'charge card receipt' thing is simply what we in business would probably call 'cheating' on the expense reports.  If any of us persisted in this kind of behavior in our work day lives, we'd soon join the ranks of the unemployed or we wouldn't be reimbursed for the expenses we couldn't verify.  Even corporate presidents aren't immune from properly reporting their expenses.

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Badger Budget Re-Visited

Economy, Germantown, Political, Quality of Life, School Board, Taxes, Wisconsin

The budget put to bed by the Democrats and Governor Doyle last week contains some bad news, actually quite a bit of bad news.  That bad news will continue to seep out over the next weeks and months.

First, we are now being told that the new budget was put together with the knowledge that it contained a $2 billion structural deficit based upon a state review just released.  Given the economic problems and the likely loss of tax revenue at the state level, we'll fall short $2 billion by the end of the current two-year budget period.  Nothing like continuing to spend, spend, spend when there is a hole in your wallet.

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Politics & Healthcare...

Healthcare, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes

John Kenneth Galbraith once wrote, in a letter to President Kennedy, that "Politics is not the art of the possible.  It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable."

That quotation could have as easily been written to our President Obama by one of his advisors in the matter of health care reform.  There is this huge politically-driven "need" to reform health care.

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Village Buzz - July 10th...

Political, Wisconsin, Village Buzz

Langer Files As Gubernatorial Candidate...

Jim Langer, former Trustee in Germantown has filed his paperwork to become a candidate for the Office of  Governor of Wisconsin.  He is running as an Independent and admits that his is a bootstrap campaign.

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Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, U.S.

We should immediately proceed to build more nuclear power plants in the United States and, if we did that, we'd be better able to wean ourselves from the fossil fuels that most everyone seems to abhor these days.  Our nuclear power plants are safe and most efficient.  We apparently decided, due to a lack of political will and to an over-reaction about Three Mile Island, to blaspheme nuclear our detriment.

  • Wind isn't going to do it for a good long time to come.
  • Solar isn't going to do it for a good ling time.
  • Carbon-derived energy will be the mainstay for many more years and we're now threatening to bankrupt our own society by "leading: the world in setting huge tax penalties on the use of carbon.

We should immediately move past this foolishness about scrapping our nuclear weapons.  President Obama extended his "olive branch" while in Russia and received their "assurances" that they, too, would enter into a good faith effort to eliminate their stockpiles if we'd do the same.  There are several problems with that:

  • we can't trust the Russians to abide by their commitments, especially when the prime minister is still a KGB man in his heart of hearts.  Medvedev is a puppet president, and Putin remains the ruler behind the throne.  Russia has maintained its nuclear tests all along while we've unilaterally decided we'll show them by no longer testing.
  • if we permit further decay in our nuclear weapons capabilities, we'll be the possessor of a greater number of weapons that we'll not know are still in working order, and we'll end up on the short end of the nuclear weapons stick.  Beyond this, we are already losing some of the great nuclear minds we have in our country and we're permitting that field to be dominated by other countries.
  • the threat of the United States having nuclear weapons has served to keep us and the world safe to this point.  We know that many other nations have developed, or are about to develop their own capabilities.  Why in the world would we lead the way to our own ability to be held hostage by a third world nation or by the terrorists who almost certainly will obtain such weapons sooner or later?

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Comics Or Agenda?

Political, Quality of Life

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published the comic strip named Baldo in its Sunday edition.  I read it and had to sit back and reflect for a few minutes.  You can see it here if you missed it on Sunday.

Is this an example of a political agenda masquerading as a comic strip?  Some of the readers would say "absolutely not", this was simply a way to communicate the news to younger readers.  Others would say "absolutely", this was a poorly disguised attempt to begin the political influencing at an early age.

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People Making A Difference - July 14th...

People Making A Difference, Quality of Life, Germantown

Our first edition of People Making A Difference features a couple, Kevin and Donna Nash.

It is difficult to think of two people more dedicated to their community than these two.   They are nearly omnipresent and yet they do not get a lot of "press".  This recommendation was made by Chief Pete Hoell, without "mug shots" by the way.

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Ban Smoking In The Military?

Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, U.S.

The nanny state is expanding by leaps and bounds.  It is obvious that most of the real juicy issues must've already been resolved since banning smoking in the military has now taken center stage.

Our troops are threatened with death from training accidents, from friendly fire, from hostile fire and roadside bombs.  The death rate from smoking in the military has to be close to zero given the age of our active duty military personnel.  Some 20% smoke now and that is down significantly from my era where I suspect that 50% of us smoked.

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G'town School Funding Dilemma

Education, Germantown, School Board, Taxes

The Germantown School District is, as discussed last week, between that proverbial "rock and hard place" that confronts us all from time to time.  Ric Ericksen, whose responsibility is the business side of school administration, was quoted in the article posted on July 14th on the Germantown Now website, indicating that the district is wrestling with the various options.

The options as he described them are tax increases, expense reductions or borrowing from a fund maintained by the district.  Presumably a fourth option would be the use of each of the three mentioned in some kind of cumulative manner.

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An Issue of Carelessness or Lack of Integrity?

Political, Wisconsin

Governor Doyle has been in the crosshairs of talk radio for some time now concerning the issue of his charge card receipts, or rather the lack of his charge card receipts.  The mainstream media has been lacking in its coverage and in its ferocity at gaining information.  The governor simply refuses to answer questions on this issue that are put to him, and that seems to end the "discussion".

Any of us who have been on, or are now on, expense accounts with our employers know how the rules work.  You either can account for your expenses with properly-maintained receipts or you do not receive reimbursements for the expense.  If you had use of a company issued charge card and did the same, you would lose the use of that card and you would be docked to recover the improper expense monies spent for which accounting wasn't made.

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No More Cronkites

Potpourri, Quality of Life, U.S.

There are no more Cronkites.  He was the epitome of the news person who reported evenly and without bombast.  He was to be believed because he had never let us viewers down in any capacity.  He was a fixture in many homes every weekday evening for decades.  He was never involved in any journalistic chicanery.  Simply stated, he was the news person's news person.

There are no more Cronkites.  Journalism seems to have devolved rather than evolved over time.  The people who would be a "Cronkite" do not hold the proverbial candle to that great news person.  We didn't know at the time that Cronkite was a "liberal" as that term was then used.  He was a political person but we never saw that; he never intimated his personal beliefs so far as we ever knew.

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Brain Teaser...With Answers


A Monday morning brain teaser that a "former" friend sent to me over the week-end.  Answers will be posted later today but yours can be posted as comments if you like:

  1. Name the one sport in which neither the spectators nor the participants know the score or the leader until the contest ends.
  2. What famous North American landmark is constantly moving backward?
  3. Of all vegetables, only two can live to produce on their own for several growing seasons; all others must be replanted every year.  What are the two perennial vegetables?
  4. What fruit has the seeds on the outside?
  5. In many liquor stores you can buy pear brandy with a real pear inside the bottle.  The pear is whole and ripe, and the bottle is genuine; it hasn't been cut in any way.  How does the pear get inside that bottle?
  6. Only three words in standard English begin with the letters 'dw' and they are all common words.  Name two of them.
  7. There are 14 punctuation marks in English grammar.  Can you name at least half of them?
  8. Name the only vegetable or fruit that is never sold frozen, canned, processed, cooked or in any other form except fresh.
  9. Name six or more things that you can wear on your feet beginning with the letter 's'.

I wasn't nearly as sharp as I should've been with a week-end of rest behind me.

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Mile Wide And An Inch Deep?

Economy, Healthcare, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, U.S.

The rapidly changing political landscape seems to be telling us that President Obama's support is a mile wide and an inch deep.  The issue of health care appears to be lagging even as Obama presses for passage with every tactic at his disposal.

A recent Rasmussen poll shows that 78% of voters believe that the Democrat health plan will mean higher taxes on the middle class as well as the rich.

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Drip, Drip, Drip...Updated

Economy, Healthcare, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, U.S.

The water torture that is health care reform continues to release its content a drip at a time.

The latest bit of information should be quite concerning if we are retirement age or if we know people who are retirement age or if we plan to be retirement age some day.

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Village Buzz - July 23rd...

Village Buzz, Quality of Life, Police, Political, Germantown

Germantown Police Department Serves Drug Search Warrant...

A search warrant was served yesterday at an Abbey Court address that resulted in an arrest and discovery of drugs, paraphernalia and evidence of other criminal activity, the nature of which couldn't be disclosed at this time.  The District Attorney will make the charging decisions.

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Yippee! Minimum Wage Up 11+%

Economy, Political, Quality of Life

The minimum wage goes up from $6.55 to $7.25 today, an increase of more than 11%.  That should be cause for cheering.  Right?

The minimum wage applies heavily to service businesses, and most of those positions are found in food service preparation and serving.

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It's The Law. Really?

Education, Political, Quality of Life, Wisconsin

There is new federal give-away program called "Race to the Top" that involves stimulus funds for schools that have innovative proposals for improving teaching and learning.  Wisconsin may be one of few states unable to qualify due to a law that sits on our books.

That law is found in Chapter 118.30(2)(c) of Wisconsin Statutes which states, "the results of examinations to pupils enrolled in public schools, including charter schools, may not be used to evaluate teacher performance, to discharge, suspend or formally discipline a teacher, or as the reason for the nonrenewal of a teacher's contract."

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G'town School Funding Follow-Up

Education, Germantown, School Board, Taxes

The July 16th blog dealt with the dilemma that is faced by the Germantown School District as it works to make ends meet in the face of significant reductions in state contributions.  Ric Ericksen is the Business Manager of the District and has written the following in response to the blog (and possibly to one or more of the comments):
"Maintaining a fund balance is necessary to meet the district's cash flow needs until such time as state aid and taxes are received. It is NOT a rainy day fund and, in my experience, most districts try to maintain a reasonable balance for only cash flow management purposes. By having some reasonable amount it helps minimize the need for short-term borrowing.
There are some experts (municipal bond advisors, auditors, GASB officials, DPI accountants) who strongly encourage schools and other local government agencies to maintain about a 30% fund balance as measured against the total general fund expenditure budget. If Germantown hit that target, the figure would be about $12 million. That would be nice, but it is a lot of tax dollars.
Without the borrowing and including the roughly $4.5 million on hand at the end of the fiscal year (June 30) our greatest deficit each year is in early January. That cash flow deficit is about $6.5 million dollars. Therefore, to meet our cash flow needs in 2008/2009 the district borrowed $6.5 million. Proceeds are invested until needed.
As a veteran school business manager it will be my suggestion to the Superintendent and Board of Education to minimize the impact on local property taxes resulting from the large reduction in state general aid. One way it could be done is to use fund balance with the intent on paying it back over several years. A bit of a "crap-shoot" ... yes, I suppose. But these are the most extraordinary economic times that most of us will ever be confronted with in our life time. Inasmuch as interest rates on both the borrowing and investments are very low and have been for the last year the option seems reasonable. It also seems prudent to help the local taxpayer with some sort of effort, this being one option.
Due to revenue controls imposed for over a decade, Germantown schools (like most) have cut significantly through the years.
For what its worth I have sat on my state association's accounting committee for over the last four years. We provide leadership and advise the state in all areas of school finance, accounting methods, and budget development."
Thanks Ric for taking the time to write this piece.
The Curmudgeon Blog today is titled Time For A Deep Breath.

A Giant 1990s Style HMO

Economy, Healthcare, Political, Quality of Life, Taxes, U.S.

As I read the House of Representatives health care reform bill (HR3200 at 1,018 pages), I am reminded more and more of the old fashioned HMOs where the providers were all capitated (limited payments each month that caused providers to have to limit patient appointments when the money ran out before the month ended).

Those HMOs also told doctors what they could and couldn't do for their patients.  Doctors just loved that as you can imagine.  Hospitals were told how long the stay could be for patients.  If a patient had to be re-admitted, the hospitals would be "dinged" for that having happened.

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Obama Agenda Slowing While Stock Market Increasing?

Economy, Political, Quality of Life, U.S.

There is a school of thought that believes the slowing of the Obama agenda can be directly tied to the stock market's increases.  It could be argued that this is simply a Republican canard offered when the Democrat agenda is facing difficulties.  The people looked at this 'phenomenon' today.

It is interesting, however, that there would be such a rally now when the market went down the tubes as investors looked at the programs that were being proposed in the early months of 2009.  There was real concern that we were in for a ton of new spending, there were threatening bills on many subjects that were being touted, etc.

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A Little Of This & A Little Of That...

Potpourri, Germantown, Healthcare, Political

County Line Road Closed July 29th...

The money for County Line Road (Hwy Q) re-construction has obviously been pulled together and the construction begins on Monday, July 29th.  The last time I looked, about a week ago, it sure didn't look as though the Pilgrim Road re-construction between Hwy 41 & County Line Road was anywhere near finished.

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Political, Quality of Life

Imagine, if you will, that the auto sales stimulus program, popularly known as "Cash for Clunkers", represents the nationalized health care program.

You have been diagnosed as requiring heart surgery if you are to live.  You worked your way through the process, waited for the several months necessary until you were a day away from the long ago scheduled date for your surgery.

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