Brexit schmexit

Britain’s exit from the European Union is finally here. At the stroke of midnight, Brussels time, 5 PM Central US, on Friday, January 31, 2020, the deed is done.

Britain formally exits the European Union on Friday night, casting off from the Continent after nearly half a century and ending a debate that had convulsed the country for more than three years.

Source: New York Times: Britain’s Brexit Shrug: Let’s Just Get On With It

By the sounds of it – and going by how long it has dragged on – Britons are tired of it all and just want to get on with life. Not so fast. For all this time – time supposedly used to negotiate trade deals and legal separation agreements – it seems like very little was done: for the next 11 months they’ll work out trade relations.

YouTube’s Dear John Letter

Well, I finally got my Dear John letter from YouTube. They’re raising their monetization requirements and kicking little guys to the curb if they don’t have the numbers. The new threshold is 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of view time in the past 12 months.

The Great YouTube Demonetization Controversy Continues

Folks want to blame Logan Paul for this latest policy change. He’s a popular (15 M subscribers) YouTube creator who posted a video where he showed a dead body in a Japanese forest known for hosting suicides. A YouTube spokesperson had this to say, “Sometimes our systems get it wrong, which is why we’ve encouraged creators to appeal.” (Source: The Guardian). I say sometimes they don’t get it at all, but I don’t blame Logan Paul. I blame YouTube: adopting weak business practices and morphing into a traditional media outlet replete with ass-kissers for advertising dollars.

I guess there’s Vimeo…

FCC Thinks You Should Pay for How Much Internet You Use

FCC Boss: You Should Pay for Internet By How Much You Use [POLL]. Source: mashable.com

As of May 22, 2012, 69% said “It’s price gouging”; 14% said “It’s a free market, event if I don’t like it” and 14% said “Depends on the price.”

I said:

This sounds like the best way to shut down free market and small business and lower-than-middle income consumers. The Internet is my livelihood and my entertainment. I can’t live without it and I can’t live with higher prices.

I can understand higher prices for more bandwidth limits, but a per byte charge will change my life for the worse.

I hope internet companies lobby/fight this. Like Neal Bloome says, would you pay $200 per YouTube video? How about $50 to play Mafia Wars for 1 day on Facebook? No? Well Mr. Genachowski doesn’t care, but I hope Mr. Zuckerberg cares or Mr. Kamangar cares.

The Day the Internet Went Dark

LOS ANGELES (AP) — In a move that heightens the growing tension between Silicon Valley and Hollywood, Wikipedia and other websites went dark Wednesday in protest of two congressional proposals intended to thwart the online piracy of copyrighted movies and TV programs. Source: Protest exposes Silicon Valley-Hollywood rivalry – Yahoo! News.

SOPA Getting Makeover But Still Alive #stopSOPA

I wrote the following on the PopVOX website.

I oppose H.R. 3261: Stop Online Piracy Act because…it will punish every Internet consumer. First, everyone should know that the Internet removed barriers to both legitimate and illegitimate business around the globe. Second, America is a large part of the global economy and the Internet. If Hollywood or US pharmacies want to fight piracy and fraud they need to do that on their own terms and not punish the global economy. I can sympathize that they loose billions, but every industry looses to global competition – that is a consequence of globalization. America can no longer put up barriers to global commerce.

There is a link at the bottom of the Huffington Post article, “SOPA, PIPA Headed For Major Makeover“, that goes to PopVOX.

Aging Air Traffic Control UPDATED

Thirty years ago today air traffic control was changed forever.

On August 3, 1981 nearly 13,000 of the 17,500 members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) walked off the job, hoping to disrupt the nation’s transportation system to the extent that the federal government would accede to its demands for higher wages, a shorter work week, and better retirement benefits.  At a press conference in the White House Rose Garden that same day, President Reagan responded with a stern ultimatum: The strikers were to return to work within 48 hours or face termination.  As federal employees the controllers were violating the no-strike clause of their employment contracts. Source: http://eightiesclub.tripod.com/id296.htm

Fast forward to 2011 and we face a crisis. More than half of the replacement controllers are due to retire because of mandatory retirement rules. There is a mandatory retirement age of 56 for controllers who manage air traffic. And the minimum age (now) is 30. Do the math and all of the controllers they hired in 1981 were forced to retire by 2007. They made some exceptions and they replaced several controllers early, but the fact is we’re in desperate need of more air traffic controllers.

UPDATE
I find it a little ironic that this year the FAA ran out of money and furloughed 4,000 workers. Today the FAA got funding to re-open. They were loosing an estimated $30 million per day of airline ticket taxes.

Since authorization for FAA funding expired in late July, the agency has also been unable to collect federal taxes on airline tickets — leading to a revenue loss of approximately $30 million a day. If the dispute had continued until Congress returned in September, the federal government would have lost over $1 billion in revenue. Source: Senate passes bill ending partial FAA shutdown – CNN.com.

Sad days for Texas education, public services

This practice is reverberating around the country. As good as  Texas is, as well as it weathered the recession, public services are not immune to budget cuts.

The Texas Education Agency is laying off 178 employees this week as part of budget cuts ordered by the state Legislature. via KBTX  Texas Education Agency to Lay Off 178 Employees.

The Texas Legislature had to cut something, unfortunately education was a big looser when the budget was finalized.

Media is reporting many local job cuts. College Station is cutting 27 positions. Bryan is cutting 20 jobs. Texas A&M already cut more than 150 jobs and more may be on the way.

“This Legislature will go down in the history books as the worst for public education in a generation,” said Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio. “Now it’s time for legislators to go home and explain to their communities why they voted for or against these historic education cuts. via The Three Way Attack on Texas Public Education; Part One: Fiscal Responsibility « Education in Texas.

The Hammer Falls on Texas Budget

So, we knew it was going to be bad before we elected this legislature, and here it is, the hammer driving the first nail in the coffin that is the Texas budget.

Public schools, college students, Medicaid hammered in Texas House budget plan

AUSTIN – Texas would slash support for public schools, cut at least 60,000 college students from financial aid and decrease Medicaid fees by 10 percent to doctors, nursing homes and hospitals under a budget plan that House leaders unveiled late Tuesday. Source: Dallas Morning News

Mark these words…

No taxes would be increased, as GOP leaders have pledged. Nor would the state tap any of $9.4 billion in the state’s rainy-day fund.

I’ll hold on to that quote so I can pull it out when cigarette taxes or gas taxes go up.

This article goes on to articulate cut after cut. Legislators have until May to finalize the bi-annual budget, and I think it’s going to be a very lean 2012-13. Don’t forget we have to pay forward the debt of 2010-11. Those cuts are still being felt. Also, remember we are in a supermajority so there is a 99% chance of passing whatever lands in the budget.

Texas House Republican Supermajority [UPDATED]

The Republicans will have a “supermajority” in the Texas House when the new session starts January 11, 2011 (01/11/11).

The new Republican House members are expected to give the GOP 101 seats in the lower chamber in the 2011 Legislature, a number that will allow the party to exercise power not seen in the House since the early 1980s, when the Democrats had more than 100 of the 150 seats.

With a supermajority, House Republicans will be able to conduct business and approve constitutional amendments without Democratic support.

Soruce: Dallas Morning News | Second Democrat in Texas House announces switch to GOP.

What does this mean for the Texas Constitution or the bi-annual, balanced budget in Texas? It means the Republicans have carte blanche to amend the Constitution, raise taxes and slash the budget.

This is a perfect storm. The Democrats lost the majority of the U.S. Congress which means few things will change in the next two years. (Although the Senate just pasted legislation extending tax-cuts and unemployment benefits.) I expect Texas taxes will go up and the budget (jobs) to be cut. Then, in 2013, the trend will continue at the federal level.

I just wrote about La Niña and the drought Texas faces from that. Now it appears we are headed for an economic drought as well. I wonder if there is a connection?

UPDATE:

How will the federal tax cuts affect you? As promised the next 24 months (or two tax seasons) will remain at current levels. This may sound like an early Christmas present or simply a good thing, but look closer, it reads like the fine print of a credit-card offer: no interest ’till 2013. By then we may be out of the “economic ENSO cycle”, but be prepared to pay more for this tax cut than we would have originally. On the flip side, Obama probably doesn’t care too much because in 24 months he’ll be packing his things.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Now that Congress has passed the Tax Hike Prevention Act of 2010, it will be sent to President Obama for his signature. And taxpayers will have some certainty about their tax situation, if only for the next 24 months. Source: CNN.com | Tax cut deal: How it affects you

Smokers Hit With Fees On Health Insurance

A survey done by Hewitt Associates reveals that the trend is growing. Nearly half of 600 large U.S. employers around the country either do, or plan to penalize employees who engage in unhealthy behavior.

Pat Mione is an insurance expert in Houston. She says the idea behind turning up the heat on smokers is simple.

“From a claims perspective, if you can get people to get healthier, you will have an impact on premiums, on claims — and that’s the driver,” Mione said. Source: Smokers Get Hit with Extra Fee on Health Insurance.

This is bull! They’ve done this in the past and I guess they’re still trying; anything to squeeze a buck out of customers. It makes me mad that it’s smoking – ’cause it’s not like we don’t have enough “sin taxes” – but the principle stinks. The article had another quote that said, “you know after you open up the floodgates, where do you stop at?” Exactly!

Another quote makes my argument even stronger. “Since smoking is considered a behavior and not a medical condition, companies don’t have to butt out.” By this logic insurance companies can rape customers for just living. Life is a behavior, or a choice, if you will. It’s optional. You don’t have to live. Do you breathe? Well smog in the air kills people everyday. Do you drive a car? You are contributing to the smog not to mention the danger of accidents. Do you bike to work? Then you are a hazzard to the people that are making smog; that’s “unhealthy behavior.” Where does it end?