Vision Properties Gave $1,000 to Oppose Prop. 8

21 11 2008

Southern Voice did a little digging and found that Georgia residents and businesses gave $71,579 to California during the Prop. 8 battle, with over 80% going to opposition of the measure that banned gay marriage.

Among the four groups/individuals that gave $1,000 or more to the opposition was Decatur’s Vision Properties, along with a local Decatur resident.  If you want to see the resident’s name click over to SV.

Vets Need More Than a Holiday

11 11 2008

Every year Veterans Day rolls around and media outlets around the county flood the news space with stories about homeless and ill vets.  With 154,000 veterans living on the streets and only 15,000 transitional housing beds provided by the federal government, news outlets have their pick of stories each year.

Though we often debate the size and competency of government and how much it should “influence” or “interfere” (depending on your position) in our daily lives, I can find few substantive arguments that claim it isn’t our government’s full responsibility to look after the men and women it sends to war upon their return.

But even though the issue seems so cut-and-dry, it is still generally unaddressed.  Even in the midst of two wars, we did little to address the needs of those returning home alive.  It wasn’t until Walter Reed Medical Center was exposed as the nation’s shame two years ago that Congress fully funded the VA and passed the biggest increase in veterans health care in the last 70 years. But we’ve gotta keep going.  This is an issue of national morality that can’t only be bandaged up when things get really bad.

In today’s tough economy, its easy to see how those homeless and ill vets might continue to be overlooked to deal with issues more threatening to the nation’s security.  But this is an issue where we can no longer afford to cut corners.  We must take responsibility for our country’s actions and the undue burden it has placed on a select few, making sure we provide them with the care they deserve.

A day of rememberance should not be the cornerstone of our veteran care policy…a day when we say “we haven’t forgotten you!”.  It should instead be merely a complement to the constant attention and great care that’s already being provided, a day when we recognize and celebrate the service of those that have given so much.

Public Financing for State Races

23 10 2008

While the big national story surrounding public financing has been Obama’s smart decision to forgo it, my native state of CT has done something that is also attracting a lot of attention: providing public financing for contestants in state House and Senate races.

The result seems palpable…

Under Connecticut’s new law, candidates for the House and Senate must first raise threshold levels — $5,000 for the House and $15,000 for the Senate in small contributions of $5 to $100, excluding firms doing business with the state. If they reach that, they then get an additional $85,000 for a Senate race and $25,000 for a House race. They can get more if their opponent decides not to accept public financing. Money comes from the sale of unclaimed and abandoned assets in the state’s possession.

For challengers, the appeal is obvious. Suddenly, they can have resources equal to an incumbent’s without hitting up major donors.

Incumbents have mostly gone along either because it looks bad not to or because, like challengers, they’d rather be campaigning than raising money.

Bush Ups Fuel Economy Standard 4 mpg

22 04 2008

For an automakers collective fleet…from 27.5 mpg today to 31.6 mpg by 2015. Click here for the full story.

If only he had been a lame-duck 4 years ago.

Happy Earth Day!

Planning A City’s Decline

14 04 2008

Planning and managing a city’s growth is nothing new. But what about when a city population drops dramatically, as it has in countless industrial centers across the country?

In Youngstown, Ohio they’re employing something called “Youngstown 2010“, which involves both tearing down houses and tearing up streets to fight crime and drugs that have moved into deserted areas. Check it out here.

It’s a seriously interesting topic. In a country that propagates myths of unending prosperity, we generally only focus on managing growth. But what about all of the industrial towns across the country, where plants close and jobs move elsewhere?  Shouldn’t they be just as concerned and adjust for the future?

But what about historic inventory?  There’s no chance for any revitalization if you tear down entire neighborhoods.  And isn’t it wasteful to just bulldoze an entire neighborhood?

The Emerging Realities of Universal Healthcare

7 04 2008

It’s on the lips of Democratic presidential candidates and on the minds of many voters.  But beyond the usual disputes over universal healthcare (taxpayer cost, responsibility, innovation), the harsh reality of implementation is rearing its ugly head in the state of Massachusetts.

There just aren’t enough general physicians to take on the 600,000 uninsured.

Appointments are being scheduled a full year in advance.  Older physicians’ retirement have the potential to outnumber incoming, younger physicans.  And oh yeah, that aging population of boomers and will soon require even more healthcare.

From the NY Times…

Dr. Patricia A. Sereno, state president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, said an influx of the newly insured to her practice in Malden, just north of Boston, had stretched her daily caseload to as many as 22 to 25 patients, from 18 to 20 a year ago. To fit them in, Dr. Sereno limits the number of 45-minute physicals she schedules each day, thereby doubling the wait for an exam to three months.

“It’s a recipe for disaster,” Dr. Sereno said. “It’s great that people have access to health care, but now we’ve got to find a way to give them access to preventive services. The point of this legislation was not to get people episodic care.”

Whether there is a national shortage of primary care providers is a matter of considerable debate. Some researchers contend the United States has too many doctors, driving overutilization of the system.

If universal healthcare is the answer, how will we prepare to manage the general onslaught of deferred care on top of an already aging population?  I haven’t heard much from the candidates on this one.  It’s much easier to just use “universal healthcare” as a Democratic battle cry.

Boomers, you’re retirement scares the bejesus out of me. This Atlantic article from January about your impending (and potentially devastating) retirement didn’t do much to calm my young nerves either.

Brother, can you spare a young man a dime?

Borders Books Ponders Selling Out

25 03 2008

While Decatur works to establish itself as the book capital of the South, the two national bookstore chains, B&N and Borders, are struggling.

The reasons are numerous; from online competition like Amazon (which runs Borders website), to the decline in CD sales. I would also add that the PRICE of their CDs is a real issue. Even with the advent of iTunes, the big box book/music stores are still charging $18.99 for a CD. What is this, 1998?? If I want to pay an extra premium for an album, I’ll go to Decatur CD and still probably shell out $3 or $4 less than that. Or maybe even get it used for only $7.99!

And then a couple days ago it was announced that the big-box book/music business is SO bad that Borders has put itself up for sale.

This has folks all over the internet speculating about whether Barnes & Noble will take the plunge and buy its arch rival. The potential sale even has MSNBC asking “Did Borders Kill the Independent Bookstore?” and tells the tale of a struggling indie shop outside of Wilmington, DE.

Personally, I think that the tale of B&N/Borders and the local shops closely mirrors that of Starbucks and the indie coffees. The national chains have taught the indies some big lessons, as well as put many of them out of business. But just like SBUX, the big brick and mortar bookstores have overextended themselves and now find it hard to post growth or even survive. And while many indies have gone under, I’d bet that the threat of elimination has made many of them stronger, better businesses.

I may still pay a premium at the indie book shops, but I also receive much better customer service. That’s worth a couple extra bucks. Plus more money stays local. But you all know that old sales pitch.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Especially those of you that might, say, own bookstores.

h/t: ATLarts