Fixing state budget problems

There are many states around the country with serious budget issues including this one in Minnesota.  By law, all states have to balance their budget so this leaves for some really interesting debate about how to go about it. Do you raise taxes to make up for the deficit? Make major spending cuts? Delay payments? The list goes on and on.

I personally feel that as long as we have a high unemployment and underemployment rate,  many of these proposals are just a band-aid way of fixing things.  With the economy down, states are not receiving the proper tax revenue to keep up with all the spending that goes on.  And many folks have to rely on help from the state when unemployed and that further adds to the deficit.  In this state, health and human services spending has gone up dramatically over the past few years. Almost a 30 percent jump per cycle.  And many people are just not spending money like they normally do and therefore, we have less sales tax revenue coming in.

So what is the solution? It is all about putting people back to work by creating more private sector jobs and helping small business. Unfortunately, the rate of public sector jobs is growing at a higher rate than the private sector jobs and this does little to help the deficits. It is just transferring money from one area to another.  By creating and making a state more business friendly, more good jobs can be created, the unemployment rate will go down, more tax revenue will be created through income and sales taxes.  When more people have jobs, hey! more spending and thus more sales tax revenue.

I think politicians need to really focus on job creation more than anything else in budget talks. They need to think long-term job growth and revenue, not just short term fixes.

The Wisconsin protesters vs. Gov. Walker

Unless you have been living under a rock, you are probably aware of the protests at the state capital of Wisconsin over collective bargaining rights of public employee workers. Many of those protesters claim to represent the average American worker and I say hogwash to that!!

Like a vast majority of workers across this country, I work in the private sector for a small business. I do not receive a pension and have a certain amount taken out of my paycheck for health insurance. It is a lot more than a typical state worker in Wisconsin gets deducted.  Quite frankly,  I’m just lucky to be getting any benefits at all. If my company is knee-deep in red, chances are extremely great that I would not receive any benefits at all and probably would be lucky to even have a job. Now can you imagine if under those same conditions, I went into my owner’s office and said I want to negotiate for benefits? My owner would probably laugh and tell me not to let the door hit me in the you know what!

So when the state of Wisconsin is facing a huge deficit like many states and the governor is trying to cut costs, why are these people out protesting and claiming their right to bargain will be taken away? Bargain for what? Why should these public workers be treated any differently than the average American worker who does not rely on their benefits from the taxpayers? We don’t get to negotiate and neither should they.  Public unions add a great deal of burden to a state’s budget and should be called out on that.  I’m sure there are many fine public workers out there and they are very well deserving of getting good pay and benefits. But when the state is having budget problems, these workers need to realize a sacrifice must be made by all, private and public. I applaud a politician like Governor Walker, who is one of the few politicians to have any common sense.

My bout with cabin fever

The other day, I noticed that something just did not seem right with me.  I could not pinpoint exactly what was wrong so I decided to see my local doctor.  All my vitals seemed to check out okay. My blood pressure was normal as were my blood counts. A scan was done over my entire body to see if anything was  serious but that came back negative as well.  The next day, the doctor called me back to his office and told me the news.  Mark, he said in a serious but half heartily way, you have a condition know as cabin fever. He explained to me the treatment program of this disease and that it should take another month of so before it is cured. Before I left, he gave me a prescription to help me heal.

When I got home, I decided to do a little research on the internet and was amazed to find that my state, Minnesota, led the nation in the number of cases of this troublesome disease.  And thanks to the effects of global warming? the number of new cases has really skyrocketed in the past few months. Much like the flu, this is a seasonal disease and usually hits the hardest in the months of January, February and March. Nearly 90 percent of all cases occur during those months.

The symptoms start off minor then escalate.  Weight gain and a rash on the body from laying on the couch too long, a lack of color in the skin and the biggest symptom, forgetfulness and a total lack of focus. This is caused by constant daydreaming. As the weather warms up and the snow banks go down, these symptoms go away and a person is usually cured by stepping outside and taking in some nice warm sunlight. Studies have shown that being in warm sunlight and being outdoors is the single biggest cure for this disease.  Medical professionals recommend visiting your local park, golf course, favorite body of water or summer vacation spot.

The prescription that my doctor gave me was actually a ticket for a week’s long vacation to a sunny vacation resort in Mexico.  As soon as pack my golf clubs, swim suit and sunblock, I am out of here.  Hopefully I can make it to the airport in this blizzard!!


Real true love

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and the word love is strongly associated with this day. Many couples will probably show their love and admiration for each other by exchanging gifts and or taking their sweetie out to dinner.  For some couples, it might be the only time during the year that they show any affection for each other but never less, it is a great time to show that someone special that they are indeed special.

But I have a question for all those intimate couples out there who talk about how they really love each other.  Suppose after that romantic dinner,  you and your significant other was involved in a serious car accident.  Maybe you survived with just minor injuries but your partner suffered major injuries and suddenly became disabled for life. How would you approach that scenario? Would you still be there for that person or would you run off and leave him or her hanging.  I’m sure that situation would split many couples apart and that is not what true love is about.  It is easy to be in love with someone when everything is rosy but to me, true love is standing by someone in all situations,  good and bad.

A rather touching story was shown on American Idol during one of its first few episodes. A young man was engaged to his girl friend and they were set to be married. Suddenly one night, she was involved in a car accident and suffered serious brain injuries. The doctors said she would not live but she did survive and the young man was right there by her side throughout this whole tragic story. She is now in a wheelchair and has probably lost a lot of her motor skills, maybe for life.  Did this young man leave her after this? No!! It would have been really easy for him just to leave the relationship but like the true man he is, he supported and helped her. Now that is what true love is. So the next time you are with someone you really love, ask yourself  the question that I brought up. True love endures everything.

Final thoughts on the Super Bowl and looking ahead

Well football fans, another season is in the history books and I have to take my hat off to the Green Bay Packers for doing what seemed to be the impossible. What are the odds that a team faces 6 elimination games in order to win the Super Bowl and survives each challenge? Every year a team emerges from the playoffs like the Packers, and wins the title.  They get hot at the right time and get on a roll.

Before I go into the game, it was a good thing that the game was exciting because the rest of  the events were far from anything super.  The pregame show was way too long, the national anthem was botched, the commercials were very lackluster and corny, more so than usual, and the halftime show was a complete joke.  It seemed like there were some major audio problems and the whole show was just extremely weird. Maybe next year, those who are responsible can do a little test run before hand?

I thought the game itself was very exciting which I expected.  Aaron Rodgers had a very solid game and is emerging as one of the top quarterbacks in the game. But I think the Green Bay defense was the biggest difference in the game. All year-long their defense has made huge plays to win games and this game was no exception. The forced fumble at the start of the 4th quarter was the difference in the game in my opinion.  Winning the takeaway game is vital to winning a football game. The Packers did it very well this year. Very similar to what New Orleans did last year.

The players and the fans of the Packers better enjoy this title and relish it because it could be another 20 years before they make another appearance. The NFL is loaded with parity and the Packers will now be the team to beat and get everyone’s A game. I heard people talk today about a dynasty for the Packers but I would not hold my breath.  They are a good team but not a great team. The load is loaded with a number of  good teams that are very capable of beating the Packers.  There has not been a repeat Super Bowl champ since the early 90’s.  I think that kind of parity is extremely healthy for the league. I just hope there is a season next year for all of us to enjoy.