Odds and ends number 58

While I ditched one long-running post series Friday night and another will soon go on its annual hiatus now that the Shorebirds season is nearly complete, the “odds and ends” series continues to be a fan favorite. (It’s also a writer favorite, which is why I keep doing these 1-5 paragraph looks at interesting items I come across.)

First up are the Libertarians, which once again have made it to the ballot in Maryland as an official minor party. This means all of their Congressional and Senatorial candidates can run under the Libertarian banner. Locally, First District Congressional hopeful Muir Boda noted:

We are so grateful for the hard work put into this drive for ballot access. This was a true grassroots political effort that will offer real alternatives to the two major political parties. Thank you to all who petitioned and to all who signed the petition giving voters more legitimate choices in November. Liberty is on the ballot!

What I find interesting, though, is that the Green Party, which also secured the required number of signatures to appear on the ballot, only has a handful of candidates running in Maryland. I encourage them to get moving and fill their ballot spaces as well!

About 18 months ago I posted about the District of Columbia’s 5-cent-per-bag tax and efforts to make it a reality in Maryland. So far our retailers have remained unscathed for the most part, but a recent study done by The Beacon Hill Institute for Public Policy Research at Suffolk University in Boston indicates that the bag tax is neither producing the revenue contemplated from the tax nor significantly reducing the number of bags in circulation, to wit:

We project that a rebound in grocery bag consumption will lead to higher Bag Tax collections. Consumers will pay $5.74 million in Bag Taxes, with D.C. receiving of $4.59 million in FY 2016 (114.8 million bags X $0.04) and retailers keeping the other $1.15 million. This revenue will drain resources from the private economy of D.C.

All other things being equal, consumers will allocate a portion of their spending to the Bag Tax or divert spending outside D.C. to avoid the tax ─ both will reduce consumption spending in D.C. As a result, retail businesses will see a reduction in sales and profits and, in turn, reduce their employment and investment expenditures leading to lower wages and income.

The higher Bag Tax collections will destroy 136 net local jobs. The job losses will cause annual wages to fall by $13.73 per worker and aggregate real disposable income to fall by $8.08 million. The tax will also lower investment by $1.58 million, with the loss concentrated in the retail sector.

The lost income and employment will be felt in the collection of other taxes in D.C., such as the sales tax. We estimate that D.C. will forgo an additional $163,510 in sales tax revenue due to the Bag Tax.

In short, people are working around the problem and retailers are lax about the collection of the tax. To them, it’s just more paperwork they can do without. Just like any other tax – such as the 2008 sales tax increase in Maryland – people eventually will pay the additional tax a little bit at a time but that will leave them less money for other economic activities.

And the bags add up. On Friday I spent $200 at the grocery store and probably received 15 plastic bags. If you figure (anecdotally, of course) that an average family gets a dozen bags a week for various purchases, that adds up to $30 a year. Maybe it doesn’t sound like much, but if you read through the study you’ll find that other places which have adopted the tax increased it after a time – that nickel today might be a dime tomorrow and suddenly it’s a $60 annual bite.

Speaking of tax raisers, I’ve been getting a lot of shrill feedback from the Obama For Against America camp regarding the Republican convention. Let’s start with David Axelrod:

Judging from the number of times they’ve said it this week, you would think repealing Obamacare on Day One is the most urgent goal of the Republican Party and number one reason to elect Mitt Romney.

I’d like to know what’s noble about making it harder for people to get health care.

I’d like to know why you’re lying about the Republican goal, since it’s YOUR Medicare cuts which would eventually make it more difficult for seniors to receive care. Unfortunately, I doubt Obamacare would be repealed on the first day because I keep hearing this crap about “repeal and replace.” No replacement is needed.

How about Jim Messina:

If you’ve seen any coverage of Paul Ryan’s speech in Tampa, you know that the consensus among journalists and independent observers is that it was … factually challenged.

He lied about Medicare. He lied about the Recovery Act. He lied about the deficit and debt. He even dishonestly attacked Barack Obama for the closing of a GM plant in his hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin — a plant that closed in December 2008 under George W. Bush. He also failed to offer one constructive idea about what he would do to move the country forward.

Does Obamacare cut Medicare? Yes. Did the stimulus waste a lot of money and have few “shovel-ready” jobs to show for it? Yes. And that GM plant actually closed its doors in 2009, when Barack Obama was President.

Oh, and by the way Jim, that idea to cut spending to no more than 20% of GDP? That seems pretty constructive to me given our spending problem, with the trillion-dollar annual deficits your guy has run ever since taking office.

The ones who are “factually challenged” seem to be in the White House these days.

And then we have John Kerry:

I have one message burned into my memory for everyone who cares about the outcome of this year’s presidential election:

Respond quickly and powerfully to attacks from the other side.

(snip)

What makes 2012 different from when I ran for president in 2004 is that the other side doesn’t have to wait for an outside group to come along with false attacks.

Consider this: Swift Boat Veterans for Truth spent about $23 million on smear ads against me in 2004.

This year, the Romney campaign and super PACs have promised to spend more than $1 billion.

Barack Obama has been a tremendous leader who has moved our country forward in more ways than we even probably now realize. He needs another four years to get the job done.

Shouldn’t that be “seared” into your memory, Senator? Of course, the $23 million in ads merely pointed out the truth! In fact, they probably didn’t go far enough in exploring your life as a turncoat.

I’ll grant that Obama is a tremendous leader – if you count leading from behind, that is – but as I point out to Jim Messina above the ones who are misleading voters are you guys. Ask Harry Reid next time you see him about the proof that Mitt Romney didn’t pay taxes for 10 years, or else just ask him to repeat that off the safe zone of the Senate floor next time.

Oddly enough, each and every one of these e-mails asked me for money. Guess what? Thanks in large part to you, I have none to spare.

And it wouldn’t be Labor Day if I didn’t mention…Big Labor. If you don’t think Democrats and their toady groups aren’t scared, witness the bus driver protest in Montgomery County the other day. Montgomery County GOP Chair Mark Uncapher had the right comeback though:

(L)et me offer the SEIU bus drivers a test.  If they want to take credit for kids making the honor roll, are they also will to accept responsibility for failing schools?

Of course they won’t, because those are always the fault of Republicans who won’t throw enough money at the schools.

Even though our convention is past, local Republicans aren’t done with the fun yet. The Worcester County Republicans will open their own headquarters on Saturday at 5 p.m. It will be located at 11934 Ocean Gateway, behind Sherwin Williams.

It’s good to see that other local counties are taking the step to open their own facilities instead of piggybacking from ours. Not that I mind the other counties coming here, but for convenience sake it’s better to spread the GOP wealth around. I was told to not forget my camera because “you may have a photo opportunity” so we’ll see.

But let me close with a sort of Labor Day-related question: is Barack Obama a communist?

Certainly he’s shrewd enough to not be a card-carrying member (not that most media would care anyway.) But this 30-minute snippet of an upcoming documentary called “The Unvetted” raises other disturbing questions about Obama’s background as well. This is what the Accuracy in Media folks write about the film:

A new film from America’s Survival, Inc. documents what journalist Cliff Kincaid calls “one of the most extraordinary cover-ups in American history — how a presidential candidate with a covert connection to a major Communist Party operative was protected by the major liberal and conservative media.” Kincaid is the president of America’s Survival, Inc. (ASI) and recently held a Washington, D.C. conference on “The Vetting” of Barack Obama. The 30 minute film “The Unvetted” is available for viewing for free at the ASI YouTube channel.

Since they’d like me to share, I will:

“The conservative media must stop protecting Obama from the scrutiny he deserves. Our film ‘The Unvetted’ explains this scandal and cover-up,” says Kincaid.

While the film is rather sensational, I get the feeling that this horse is already out of the barn. I doubt many people are going to have their minds changed by the film, about which filmmaker Agustin Blazquez says:

I’m now editing a full feature documentary that I want to have ready in September–the election is fast approaching!  I have been running a marathon working 14 to 16 hours a day in order to produce these two productions on time.

These productions need venues.

With the recent success of the ‘2016: Obama’s America” documentary, the climate could be good for another such film if it’s well made. As for this one, you can be the judge.

You can also be the judge as to how successful this edition of odds and ends will be. Now that voters will be starting to pay attention I’m probably going to get many more items worthy of inclusion.

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