Confirmed: We Pay More In Taxes to Get Less from the Gov’t

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From the NY Times today:

Region Gets Less Federal Money for Taxes Paid, a Study Finds

By Ronald Smothers

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. Oct. 28 – If the tristate region seceded and established itself as a separate country, it would replace the United States as the second-wealthiest nation in the world behind Luxembourg in terms of per capita income, according to a new study by Rutgers University.

Given their wealth and the nation’s progressive tax system, taxpayers in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey pay a disproportionately high share of the nation’s federal income and employment taxes, the study found. Those states rank 49th, 40th and 50th, respectively, in the amount of federal aid they receive per tax dollar, according to the study.

With 10.8 percent of the nation’s population, the tristate region had 13.1 percent of the nation’s personal income in 2003, and was responsible for 15.8 percent of the income and employment taxes collected by the federal government.

In New Jersey, the gap between what was sent to Washington in tax dollars and what came back to the state in federal assistance was $26 billion, an amount greater than the state’s 2003-2004 budget. New Mexico, on the other hand, got $2.08 in aid for every dollar of federal income tax its residents paid.

James Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and principal author of the study, said the figures underscore the responsibility that comes with affluence in a system of progressive taxation.

“To the degree that the money is going for valid public policy purposes, it is fine,” he said. “But if it goes for subsidies and unfair tax breaks for cowboy capitalists in other states, then it is not fair.”

The study,”Tri-State Affluence: Losing by Winning,” was the first, Mr. Hughes said, to view the three states as a group in analyzing the return they get for federal tax dollars. Similar studies for New York were done in the 1970’s as the city grappled with a fiscal crisis and sought a rationale for increased federal aid.

Joseph Seneca, a faculty member at the school and a co-author of the study, said the region has been the nation’s richest since the 19th century, and had “reinvented itself” as manufacturing declined to become a hub for service and financial businesses, which boomed in the 1990’s.

In the study, Connecticut ranked first in per capita income in 2003 at $43,173, New Jersey second at $40,427 and New York fifth at $36,574. The national average is $31,632.

In terms of median household income, New Jersey led the nation with $58,588 annually, 34 percent above the national average. Connecticut ranked third with $56,803, while New York was 17th with $46,195.

The study found that those higher incomes were not consistently spread throughout each state, but concentrated in a “wealth belt” made up of eight counties, including Manhattan, whose greater concentration of wealthy individuals outpaced all of the other counties in the nation in per capita income at $84,591.

The higher incomes were concentrated in Fairfield County in Connecticut; Somerset, Hunterdon, Morris and Bergen Counties in New Jersey; and Manhattan and Nassau and Westchester Counties in New York.

The wealthier areas of all three states were disproportionately dependent on the high salaries of the financial sector, said Mr. Hughes, and consequently were more sensitive to the volatile boom and bust cycles in the stock market. One consequence, he said, was that soaring tax receipts in the 1990’s during the economic boom financed an expansion of government functions that became “embedded” in state spending.

With the downturn in the economy and the stock market in particular between 2000 and 2003, this level of spending became harder to sustain.


I am the Ostrich

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I’ve basically been depressed by the upcoming election and the incredible Yankee debacle that I witnessed last week so I haven’t been posting. I’m still catching up on the sleep I missed by watching all of those 9 hour baseball games and I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea that Boston is up 2 – 0 in the World Series. I’m also trying to wrap my head around the idea that GWB might actually win again and that about 50% of the country actually likes him and/or his job performance well enough to vote for him again. As Madeline Albright said on the Daily Show last night, “Voting for him legitimizes what happened in 2000.”The latest news from Reuters puts GWB up by 3 points. What the fuck gives? Seriously, I’m acting like the current administration because I have just stopped reading my usual news sources and have buried my head in the proverbial sand because I just don’t like anything that the newspapers are publishing. Not to say that I’m turning into a GWB myself, I will pay attention to reality again soon, I’m just waiting for election night and for the World Series to end. God helps us on November 3rd if Boston has won the World Series and GWB is our president for another 4 years. I might just take off from work for the rest of the week and drink Jim Beam all…day…long…


NeuCom: The Not-So-Daily Show

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From Neu:

Crossfire had Jon Stewart on last week while his TDS was running re-runs for the week. They expected him to come on the show and add some comic relief while plugging “America (The Book). Boy did they get more than they bargained for.

Of course, as a result, the blogs of the world are on fire criticizing him as a hidden leftist (insert “commie pinko” if you so desire) who disguises himself as a centrist / apolitical comedian. This is because it was Tucker Carlson (from the right) that took most of his flak. However, if you really watch it, Stewart is indicting neither the left not right, but (rightfully so) the media for just being so damn stupid.

It kept coming back to “do shows like crossfire asks the tough questions,” but I think the point Stewart was trying to make was that, regardless of the questions asked, no one presses on the answers anymore. The hard question can be asked but when it is skirted or responded to with campaign talking point fluff no one ever presses the guest / spinner (see also Chris Matthew’s grilling of Republican S. Carolin Senate candidate Jim DeMint this Sunday – here is someone who actually WON’T let the squirmer off the hook. Too bad it’s just the S.C. Senate race and a rare moment). In all honesty, Sterwart looked a bit haggard, which is probably why he was off his game, but also why he was so brutally pissed and honest to begin with that we get this golden TV moment.

Highlights include when Jon Stewart tells Tucker Carlson that he won’t “be his monkey” and when he calls Carlson a dick on live TV.

Thanks to Stewart for another shining moment of public service, and I am sorry he is getting skewered for taking off the satire suit for a moment and making a real point on the state of affairs in the modern American political machine. I am also sorry that the most lucid popular voice in American politics has a lead-in show where puppets make prank phone calls.

The link

I was also lucky enough to see Jon Stewart’s follow-up on TDS last night (now that they are back), although I did not at the time have any idea what he was referring to. He was pretty brutal there as well, and I am trying to find a link.


NYC Walking Tours

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This weekend my friend Erik wanted me to join him on a Haunted Pub Crawl around the West Village run by Street Smarts NY. I love learning about interesting historical tidbits and I don’t mind walking so it sounded like a good idea – the only problem was that my apartment was trashed due to a fall cleaning exercise (is there such a thing?) and I passed. However, the month is young and there are still many fun walks to take all around NYC. I might go for a walk – I’ll willing to spend $10 to see if it’s cool or not. Anyone interested in joining?


Magic Hat #9 Bottle Caps

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I’ve been watching a lot of sports on TV this past week: 3 Yankee games and counting and the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets this afternoon. Sports plus TV equals Jeff drinking beer and the latest sixer I bought was Magic Hat #9, a terrific microbrew out of the Green Mountain State of Vermont. The beer is good, the web site is pretty nifty and the bottle caps have some very amusing messages on them. Here are the top 3 that I’ve read:

3) Take a Day to roll in the Hay

2) Don’t Climb a Ladder with a Full Bladder

1) To conceal a Fart is an age-old Art

I wonder if “He who Smelt it Dealt it” is on a beer that I have not yet opened…


Words of the Day

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I found these words on an index card while cleaning this past weekend. I finally looked them up and I’ve posted both the words and their meanings:

Perspicacity: Acuteness of perception, discernment, or understanding.

Occidentals: Natives or inhabitants of an Occidental country; a westerner.

Syllogism: A form of deductive reasoning consisting of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion; for example, All humans are mortal, the major premise, I am a human, the minor premise, therefore, I am mortal, the conclusion.; reasoning from the general to the specific

Engender: To bring into existence; give rise to: “Every cloud engenders not a storm” (Shakespeare); to procreate; propagate.


Newsweek’s Interview with John Stewart

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This was in the October 18th, 2004 edition of Newsweek:

NW: Thanks for taking the time. I know you’re busy these days.

JS: I’m just sitting here playing minsweeper

NW: I don’t kow if you read the reviews –

JS: I can’t read. I did the book phonetically.

NW: Anyway, The New York Times suggested that perhaps your book should be nominated for a history Pulitzer.

JS: Hmm. Is that a cash prize?

NW: What’s your political leaning? I heard your nickname is Lefty.

JS: Lefty? I didn’t realize that. That’s actually a testicular condition. I do write left-handed.

NW: Do you find it hard to be light-hearted sometimes?

JS: Absolutely. Many days start with a soul-crushing analysis of the state of the world. Then the entire digestive process of the show is to try and turn whimpers into laughter.

NS: How do you see the election shaping up?

JS: Any pundit asked what’s going to happen should answer the same way: “I have no fucking idea.” They don’t, you don’t I don’t.

NS: From a purely comic perspective, do you want four more years of Bush.

JS: From a purely comic perspective, you’d want Mr. T to be president. That would be truly fun. But no, I don’t cheer for the demise and erosion of the world purely for my own professional standing. I can write jokes about anything.


NeuCom: Magic Keyboard

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From Neu:

I have been having some bad problems with my neck and shoulders as of late. After seeing numerous professionals it seems the root cause is my failed attempt at ergonomics.

You see, in order to fend off carpel-tunnel (sp?) I have always sat with my chair raised very high, my knees at right angles and my feet firmly on the ground, my posture straight and my arms and hands angled comfortably to my desk / keyboard. This means that I sit, all in all, very high up in relation to my desk. Unfortunately, since I work 100% on a laptop, it means that I have had my head pitched down at a 20 degree angle to see my screen for the past four years. My attempts to save my wrist have fucked my neck.

The solution, which I talked my bosses into, is to put my laptop on top of 3 ream of paper to eye level. This also makes it very hard to type. While it would be preferable just to use this as an excuse to never do work again, I had to wind up stealing USB keyboards from whatever location I was sitting at. As a portable consultant, however, I needed a portable solution.

Here is where Think Outside’s portable bluetooth wireless keyboard comes in.

The company covered my bluetooth transmitter, the keyboard, and (soon, just to free up one USB port) a wireless mouse. I freaked out a coworker by walking with my keyboard into his office and IMing him while standing right next to him. I am using it right now. So cool!