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Comment Re:Both (Score 1) 503

One more thing that occured to me, I remember reading that the average income of a Chevy Volt owner is $175k. That would imply that, again, it's a toy for the rich rather than a practical car, especially since YTD, they've only sold around 6,000 of them. Most consumers just aren't interested given the price point and that's with GM taking a loss/breaking even on every sale, depending on what numbers you want to believe.

Comment Re:Both (Score 1) 503

Just a nit, but a working class guy with a $40k truck that he needs for work isn't buying a toy, it's an investment that brings him an income.

With the exception of 3 work trucks, all of the top 15 best selling vehicles in the US are all under $30k, so the majority of buyers aren't going to be interested in spending at least $10k more for a less capable vehicle than what they're driving now and this car certainly isn't going to replace the F250 type of work trucks.

At this price, it remains a toy for the rich, though you'll probably get some middle class people still insisting on living beyond their means in order to keep up with the joneses.

Comment Re:The tax holiday issue (Score 1) 630

A short term extension to keep talking when both sides refuse to budge isn't going to do anything, it isn't even going to maintain the status quo because a two month deadline means people expect it to go away soon... In the spirit of working things out later, the Republicans caved and provided a short term debt limit increase over the summer and it's about to run out again. Meanwhile, the Senate refuses to take up a vote on any of the appropriation bills passed by the Senate (and they haven't passed a budget since GWB was in office, even when the Dems controlled both houses of Congress). Both houses and parties walked away from the last attempt at a deficit commission as well as the SImpson-Bowles one a year before that.

As I said, both sides are playing politics and holding the people of America hostage to get their way. What it ultimately comes down to, is a distinct difference in the fundamental purpose of government that simpy can never be resolved. Either we accept that the federal government is supposed to do virtually nothing or we accept that it is supposed to do virtually everything. A "compromise" somewhere in between is what we've been doing for most of the last century and it's gotten us a massive debt that we can never repay, numerous systems rife with corruption, a healthcare system that is pretty much the worst of both worlds, etc.

We, as a country, need to decide what we want from the federal government... and we're pretty evenly split on which way to go. Nothing is really going to happen until we pick one side or the other... but what is happening, is the politicians and their friends are profiteering at our expense, so they're more than happy to keep engaging in petty fighting with each other to keep the people fighting with each other, so we aren't busy fighting our politicians. This team sport stuff plays right into their hands. It's what they want... and too many people blindly fall into it (and that's not to say I'm perfect in keeping away from it all the time myself).

Comment Re:Expecting honesty from politicians?!???!?!! (Score 1) 630

All of which could be resolved by the long-standing "conference committee," whereby when the House and Senate pass similar, but slightly different, laws, appoint a handful of members to a conference to hammer out the details so that both houses can approve a final, agreed upon measure. The Democrats refuse to appoint anyone to the conference committe.

Both sides are playing politics here... Obama wants to vote present on the pipeline so his enviro-supporters won't be pissed at him next year. Republicans want to force his hand. Likewise, Democrats want to paint the Republicans into a corner by passing a half-assed tax cut in a form that they know the Republicans don't want to support, though the Republicans would back it in the full year form. It's all about using the legislative process for party political gain in an upcoming election year and both sides are guilty of it.

And people like the GP are the ones playing right into it by doing the team politics thing... "my side good, your side bad." Forget the notion of fully informing oneself, much having a little bit of intellectual integrity, an election is on the line! Same goes for the moderator that voted me overrated for simply pointing out a political fact that they disagreed with.

Comment Re:Expecting honesty from politicians?!???!?!! (Score 1) 630

You mean how they just voted to reject extending the payroll tax break? After that move, you can't credit those guys with being consistent.

Except that they voted it down because they want a full year tax break... and the Senate Democrats refuse to even vote on the bill that the House already passed supporting the full year tax break.

could you possibly be a little more disingenuous? You're exactly what's wrong with regards to the whole team politics thing.

Comment Re:Rochester (Score 1) 352

Businesses followed the flight to the suburbs that started in the 50s and really picked up in the 60s. Since then, the city has thrown absurd amounts of money at anything to draw the businesses back downtown, much of the money coming from state and federal grants, which those suburbanites paid for indirectly. Midtown, the Fast Ferry, etc were largely paid for by non-city residents. The RCSD's budget, the highest in the region IIRC, draws a large chunk of its funds from the state, again, paid for by those suburbanites.

Rochester is its own worst enemy. It's desperately trying to live in the past but it's been in decline since the population peaked in the 50s. Look at Midtown, they spent tens of millions of dollars and offered all kinds of concessions to try to lure a few hundred jobs downtown. Why? Why can't Rochester accept that businesses don't want to be downtown? How can they justify $80 million to move 500 jobs within the metro area, a promise to create 300 more new jobs, and to top it all off, not even get a signed contract before setting the process in motion? That $80 million, if they had to spend it, could have gone to actually creating entirely NEW business in the city rather than trying to canabalize the suburbs because businesses prefer to be there.

Suburbanites don't want to go downtown... people that don't know the city are intimidated by the one way streets, the restrictions on left hand turns, paying for parking, their perception of violent crime (in general, the city isn't any more dangerous than the suburbs, but the triangle and a few bad neighborhoods give that impression), etc... so what does the city do? Add red light cameras to generate revenue and then add some more. They close down the few businesses that are open after 5pm, like forcing Nick Tahous to no longer be open 24 hours. Outside of a few friends that work downtown, most suburban people I know go downtown only if they absolutely have to - which basically means sporting events and a few government services that are only offered there. And you can completely forget the rural people that don't work there since they are completely overwhelmed.

Rather than actually accept Rochester for what it is and work to make it better, the city just can't get over the fact that it isn't what it was back in 1954 anymore. Times change and, like Kodak and their film business, they've refused to move on into the modern age. Instead, it's all about blaming the suburbs for Rochester not keeping up with the times. Maybe if they weren't so busy blaming everyone else and throwing crazy money around on gimmicks, they could actually do the things to make the city thrive again... but Rochester is so entrenched in its own dogma that I don't think I ever see that happening.

Comment Re:high taxes != wrong (Score 1) 352

Rochester is paying around $22k per student annually for a graduation rate under 40% and of that 40%, a study showed only a handful are actually properly prepared to go to college. One of the school board members, Cynthia Elliott, proclaimed a couple years ago, that the failure of the school district was because they had too many white teachers and the students obviously couldn't relate to them.

The problem isn't that money isn't being spent on education (roughly double the national average) or that they don't have good teachers... the problem is the mentality of educators like the above, where they believe that the teachers are too good and, thus, can't teach the downtrodden city kids because the teachers, by simple virtue of being white, came from backgrounds that the city kids just can't grasp even though the plurality of the city is still white. Elliot, by the way, is black.

And that's Rochester in a nutshell. Everyone has their dogma and rather than seriously look at the underlying problems, their dogma dictates the cause and the solution. Meanwhile, the businesses and people that see things are only getting worse because of the dogma are leaving, if they already haven't, precisely because there are no real solutions forthcoming.

Comment Re:Rochester (Score 2) 352

From the people I've known at Kodak, though they're now all gone, in addition to the problems you mention, nepotism was rampant... you got in based on who you knew regardless of your skill or ability (at least in the production lines). And once you were in, it was basically a job for life until the deep cutting started in the early 90s. Lots of people were paid to sit around and do nothing simply because, well, someone got them a job.

Then on top of that, they got obsessed with PC issues... people got fired for not wanting to have various social agendas pushed in the workplace. You either toed the line or you were gone if you dared to say that work should be about work and that it was wrong to constantly focus on race, gender, sexual orientation, etc in the workplace. The same is true over at Xerox.

Combined, workers basically learned to be yes-men. You follow the company line and do what you're told or you're gone. That type of insulated environment can scare the lesser management and engineers from challenging the guys at the top. Instead of someone saying "X is dumb, we really should look into Y," people would nod their heads and say "yes sir..." lest they lose their cushy job like thousands of their friends did.

Meanwhile, the brass drove the company into the ground, looking at short term profitability instead of long term stability and growth. They sold off the profitable divisions to keep the not-proftible ones alive. Eventually, the company had no really profitable divisions and combined with the collapse of film, their biggest worth is now in their patent portfolio. They're bleeding money badly and basically don't have anywhere to go. Of course, the brass keeps telling everyone that it'll be ok...

Comment Re:Rochester (Score 5, Insightful) 352

The city itself now owns Midtown Plaza, but they plan to give portions of the land away to companies in exchange for moving downtown (cannibalizing the suburbs). IIRC, one of the local mall developers had owned the property before that and was more than a million dollars behind in tax payments, but the city chose to pay them $10 million for the building. The local mall developers are also active in local government (though I don't remember if this particular one was).

The mayor prior to this one didn't actually live in Rochester, he lives in Batavia but owns property in Rochester. During the development of one of the sports stadiums built during his term, he directed the stadium to be built on property he owned even though it wasn't the best overall fit for the stadium.

For the most part, the local newspaper turned a blind eye to the behind the scenes shenanigans since they were very loud avocates of both projects. Not to mention the Fast Ferry, which lost $60 or $80 million over the course of 3 years. The paper also withheld publishing the fact that the city council had been told the ferry was going to fail and was a waste of money. Alas, the paper is VERY beholden to the government and its executives often serve on local community advocacy type panels, further clouding its supposed independence. The local tv and radio news personnel have been gutted over the last decade, so they don't really have the manpower to do much actual investigating themselves.

The city government is controlled by one party and the county government by another. There's a lot of animosity between the two which trickles right down to the residents. You know the typical stereotypes... the reality of the situation doesn't matter. On top of that, the city desperately wants to merge with the county, effectively taking over the county government, so the city can bleed the county to fill the coffers that have long been drained at further expense to the suburbs. The whole thing is a giant mess, partisanship reigns supreme and all that matters is the dogma, because nothing else gets published in this area and few on either side bother hear the other side's dogma.

You could argue that, since George Eastman's suicide, the city has suffered the exact same fate his corporation has... and for largely the same reasons. Complete and utter mismanagement based on a total misunderstanding of what is happening on the ground, no ability to realistically plan for the long term and the desire for the brass to aggrandize themselves in the short term.

Comment Re:Rochester (Score 3, Interesting) 352

A lot of this comes down to Albany and NYC just not caring. Downstate dominates the state legislature and you have to go back decades to find a Governor that isn't from the NYC-Albany-Hudson Corridor area. The state has all kinds of crazy mandates that have strangled upstate - the Medicaid burden in particular is strangling most upstate counties since NY is the only state to mandate every one of the federal governments optional Medicaid supplements AND then passes the costs on to the counties. Downstaters don't care because as long as things were good for Wall Street, things were good for NYC and as long as things were good for NYC, they were good for Albany.

In terms of the land, there's nowhere else I'd rather live... the Finger Lakes, Letchworth, a full four seasons, and the worst natural disasters tend to be snow or ice storms, which we're well equipped for. Politically and economically, the placve is a wasteland and the same solution - spend money on some grand government scheme like the Fast Ferry, Midtown or High Falls - is tried time and time again at great expense to the taxpayer. I mentioned Midtown below, for the outsiders that don't know, the taxpayers spent on the order of $80 million dollars to buy a building, tear it down and planned to give it to Paetec based on the premise that it would move a few hundred jobs a few miles from the suburbs downtown. We're blowing money to canabalize what is working here... oh, and the city never got a contract with Paetec, whom sold itself to Windstream this year anyway, and years later construction still hasn't started, so it was basically all for naught.

And that's just Rochester, look west to Erie County and the corruption is even more profound. Then we get into the hundreds (over 800 IIRC) governemnt "authorities" which are a way for the government to appoint friends to high paying political positions and waste more money off the state's books even though the government is ultimately responsible for them. All of it has caused business to flee... manufacturing used to dominate urban western NY, along with agriculture in the rural areas, and most of it has left, many for better states, not even foreign countries. Rochester's biggest employer now is the University of Rochester and while businesses flee, we seem to grow non-profit special interest organizations and healthcare jobs (just not specialists since they can make better money elsewhere) like there's no tomorrow.

And there's one other thing that keeps people here that should, under any rules of sanity, leave... their familes. That, ultimately, is why I've stayed. Lots of people, especially single people and/or young adults don't really care about moving away from their family, in fact, many of them relish it. But once you end up planting roots, it's hard to move away from the people that support you and that you support. The best thing that can happen is just admit that Upstate and Downstate have nothing in common, splitting the state into two states so that Upstate can operate free from the Downstate mandates and Downstate can stop whining about sending their tax money Upstate (yeah, lots of Upstaters think we send our money there, but the truth is it flows into here, just not at a high enough level to support the Downstate mandates).

Comment Re:Rochester (Score 4, Informative) 352

Kodak's decline obviously had an effect on Rochester, but the total ineptness of government combined with the people's failure to hold the government responsible had more to do with the fall of the city. Crazy spending, high taxes, race problems causing white flight starting in the 60s, anti-business regulations like the NET offices, one party government, an unaccountable school system, a police system that was so bad that Rochester because the murder capital of NY and required the State Troopers to work with local police to get minor crimes under control, etc.

Business, not just Kodak, has fled Rochester and skilled workers need to follow the businesses to get jobs. Meanwhile, thanks to NY's lax and generous welfare policies, people are coming in to suck off the government's teat. The state itself is tone deaf since all that matters to the state is Albany and NYC. Of course, the fact that the incompetent police chief turned mayor that caused half the problems above got promoted to Lt Governor means that we'll chuck some more money on wasteful projects like his grand idea to buy and tear Midtown down to the tune of tens of mllions at taxpayer expense, only to turn it around to a business that never actually signed a contract to develop the land in the way he announced. Oh, and the property was in tax arrears and could have been foreclosed on, but why bother when he's not spending his own money to buy it?

Kodak, while painful, has been the least of Rochester's problems... and today, it's almost irrelevant, save for the outdated, often abandoned, infrastructure they've left all over the city.

Comment Re:Open up the books (Score 1) 211

Teddy Kennedy called from 1973... he used the same reasoning to create the HMO system. You know the insurance system which was basically run through government oversight - ranging from the price insurers could charge on premiums to what services they had to provide. It was supposed to be the solution to Medicare and Medicaid screwing up the insurance of the working class, which in turn were the solution to insurance screwing over the elderly and poor since workers got their health care covered and they didn't, which was the solution to the government, through the National Recovery Act during the Great Depression, telling businesses that they had to pay their workers a fixed government rate.

Every time the US government has stepped in, it made the situation worse... so what was the solution to our current health care problems? More government. What could possibly go wrong?

Besides, the entire purpose of the ACA/Obamacare is to collapse the insurance industry so that the government can come in and rescue us with socialized medicine. Because, hey, the governments of the US run like a well oiled machine, so it'll clearly be better than everything else and to top it off, everyone will get every bit of the care they ever need without having to pay anything!!! woohoo! It's not like we're already broke. What's another new entitlement? pfft!

Comment Re:Just judges? (Score 1) 123

I don't have kids myself, but I am friends with a couple people that serve on my school's Board of Education. The #1 complaint I constantly hear from them is that the mandates imposed by the federal and the state governments tie their hands when it comes to really having much of any influence over what actually happens at the local level. Other than picking a Superintendent of Schools and negotiating contracts, about all they have control over is building maintenance schedules.

Maybe other states aren't as bad as NY is... but it seems like the "local" is mostly gone from the education system here. Getting involved in your kid's education is vital, but the PTA or BoE route may be meaningless.

Comment Re:Cost of education is increasing! (Score 1) 551

and a fifth:

The federal government is willing to subsidize your education with grants and low interest loans. Knowing that you have this money out there and knowing just how little most people care how that money gets spent since it's "free money", colleges charge as much as they can to get all of that guaranteed money that they can. They don't care so much if you pass, fail or even enroll if costs get too high for you, because there's another person in line applying with that government money to spend too.

Of course, it all ties back into demand. People want to go to college because if they don't, it's hard to get a job. Most people don't care about expanding their knowledge or their ability to learn, they just want to be able to earn more than what McDonald's pays. And why do you need a degree to get a job outside of the professions where the knowledge is clearly needed before you can learn on the job? Well, because the boomers got sent to college because their WWII generation parents wanted something better for them. They're in charge now and since they got a degree, they think everyone should get a degree, if only to validate what they did themselves.

The whole system is a waste for most people, for most of society, from actually getting a degree they don't care about and don't really need, to blowing billions of dollars of tax money a year encouraging them to do so. Chapter 4 of Thomas Sowell's "Economic Facts and Fallacies" explains it all in far greater detail.

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