Gov. Corbett’s accomplishments provide stark contrast to Obama’s

September 26, 2012

Gov. Tom Corbett has accomplished more in 20 months than President Obama has in 3½ years. Let’s face it, folks, it is hard being a red governor in a blue state such as Pennsylvania. The polls show him down, but are you surprised when he needed to make so many tough decisions?

Let’s start with removing barriers to development in the Comonwealth. Under his leadership PennDOT permitting response time has dropped from 3-6 months, down to an average of 10 days. PennDOT has been killing jobs in PA for too long, and Corbett took action. Now, he’s on a similar course with DEP, working on uniformity of decisions throughout the commonwealth and eliminating those in power who carry personal agendas. DEP will still aggressively protect the environment, but in a uniform, predictable fashion. Such a novel idea!

Then, there’s the burden of former Gov. Ed Rendell’s free-spending ways. He left behind a legacy of debt that we’re going to be paying for decades to come. There’s no easy, quick fix for that. And yet Gov. Corbett has spent his time resolving problems left by the previous administration instead of reminding anyone who will listen that nothing was his fault. He knows the difference between fault and responsibility.

Corbett has met his campaign promise of balancing the budget two years in a row. We should be shouting this from the mountaintops and praising the governor. But with balancing the budget come tough budget cuts. This is where people get upset. No one wants their favorite government program to be cut.

As Steve Forbes pointed out in a recent op-ed, “Corbett’s 2012-13 budget took a meaningful step toward changing the culture of Pennsylvania government from ‘tax and spend’ to policies that move in the direction of market-based investment and job creation.”

Some of these reforms include changes to the state’s unemployment compensation system, a new school choice program that will help students in failing schools, prison reform, block grants for counties and tax reform, including phasing out the family farm tax and phasing out the business asset tax.
Fellow Pennsylvanians, this is a huge list of accomplishments. With these reforms, our state is turning around. Pennsylvanians are tired of finger-pointing and appreciate effective management and leadership.

The difference between Corbett and Obama is that Corbett rolls up his sleeves and does the hard job of being a successful governor. He never holds big press conferences to beat his chest about what he’s doing. He doesn’t play the polls. He has NEVER posed for a photo with one of those big, cardboard checks to brag about giving away your tax money and mine. He’s almost invisible, to a fault.

Obama, on the other hand, loves “being president”. It brings golf dates, hobnobbing with celebrities, and fancy vacations, but he is not actually doing the tough job of the president. Witness just this week, when his appearance on “The View” was far more important than meeting with a dozen or so of his peers from around the world – who were just down the street at the UN.

Keep up the good work, Gov. Corbett!

NOTE: (This is a Dave Hogg re-mix/enhancement of an op-ed in the Harrisburg Patiot-News by Anastasia Przybylski)

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Job Creation by Presidential Tenure

September 15, 2012

William Saletan: Romney Betrayed Free Speech By Championing It

September 14, 2012

Essay by Ace of Spades on his Blog, reprinted here:

What does William Saletan imagine the purpose of anti-Christian art is? I do not dabble in it myself, but it seems to me that such art is animated by several things:

1. Simple hate. There is no doubt that many anti-Christian artists simply hate Christianity, and, perhaps more than the religion itself, Christians themselves.

2. A belief that art which injects doubt into the mind of a believer is a good thing, because artists tend to think of themselves as free-thinkers, and wish to encourage free thought. They believe that Christianity (and other religions, but especially Christianity) is a silly superstition, and they think their art helps to liberate people from this superstition.

3. An anger at the political stances engendered by Christianity. They don’t like where fundamentalist Christianity leads, politics-wise, so they seem the sowing of doubt as a useful method of undermining the Christianity where the rubber meets the road, that is, at the point Christian thought affects policy choices.

Has William Saletan ever objected to any anti-Christian art? Has anyone at Slate magazine? Has any liberal in the media, the entire media, objected?

Even when the motivation seems to be simple hate — and yes, there are those who simply hate Christians and Christianity, and that bitter venom comes through — I never see anyone calling such art “juvenile provocations” or “hateful stupidity.”

Now, many of us think that fundamentalist Islam is dangerous and rather bad for those living under it. And we — is William Saletan among them? — would like to see, if possible, a movement away from fundamentalist Islam.

We don’t like that it justifies murder in the name of “god.” We do not like that it turns women into de facto slaves — every wife is the slave of her husband, to be beaten, or raped, or disposed of as the husband may wish. Every non-married woman is in an even worse position, except to the extent her male relations may protect her. But even in that case, a woman’s status comes through the men around her.

We do not like its rejection of the Enlightenment, or of its reactionary opposition to unobjectionable (or so we thought) universal values of human dignity. We do not like its insistence on championing believers in a faith with a superior legal status over nonbelievers (also known as “polytheists,” “blasphemers,” “apostates,” “dhimmis,” or, worst of all, “Jews”).

We do not like its apparent political agenda of building a bridge to the 14th century.

For nonbelievers like myself — agnostics — and believers in other creeds as well, it is alarming in its championing of anti-blasphemy laws (punishments ranging from long terms in prison to execution) and its insistence that everyone living in an area controlled by Islam give praise to a “god” and an ideology that we do not actually believe in.

It is unobjectionable in the modern age to express hostility towards the Catholic Inquisition. It is, however, very strangely considered something approaching a hate crime to express hostility to the currently existing Islamic Inquisition.

Now, if someone like myself would like to encourage people to abandon this hidebound, hateful, backward mode of thought, we might take a page from all that anti-Christian art the country has been awash in for 70, 80 years, and think to ourselves, “Perhaps spoofing this religion, pointing out its absurdities, pointing out its true evils, will help inject a modicum of useful doubt into the minds of the believers, and perhaps cause a moderation, a skepticism of things like woman’s servitude and especially Murder In The Name of ‘God.'”

Would I be wrong in thinking this? To read William Saletan, I would, because his piece says, with very little caveating at all, that to offend the dignity of Islam (especially fundamentalist Islam) is not a use of free speech — not a permissible use of it, like all that anti-Christian art he’s never got ’round to condemning — but an an abuse of it.

One might have certain beliefs — such as the idea that a religion predicated upon the de facto slavery of women, the rejection of the reason and humanism, and ultimately, even the rejection of the Commandment Thou Shalt Not Kill — and one might think he would be on firm ground to use the exact same methods and techniques of subversion and spoof and plain ol’ vitriol directed against the Faith of the West for coming on a century now.

But no, William Saletan sharply disagrees, and calls such things an “abuse” of free speech.

Not a legitimate use of free speech. Not a true expression of truly held beliefs (and, again, does William Saletan disagree that fundamentalist Islam could use some reform and rethinking? Let’s get him on the record).

But an abuse of free speech, and if not a crime, per se, at least such a transgression as requires the mobilization of social pressures (ostracization, demonization, even threats to physical safety — ask Salman Rushdie about that) to punish those who would give themselves to such “abuses.”

Am I wrong to think that fundamentalist Islam is in dire need of some doubt?

William Saletan, I am fairly confident, would be quite effusive in describing all the manifold ways in which the Christian mind is “closed” and “hidebound” and “haunted by superstition.” He would, I’m reasonably certain, be quite in favor of any artistic project which undermined the foundations of Christian thought.

And yet, when we turn to fundamentalist Islam, he becomes… a censor. He becomes not an agent of the Inquisition per se, but a bit of a fanboy of it.

And why? Why the anger directed towards someone who is doing what Saletan would almost certainly praise were it directed at any other religion?

I think I know. There is a line of magnificent wisdom in the film The Spanish Prisoner (by David Mamet). It is spot-on about human nature.

The circumstances of the quote are that a young financial wizard has created a “Process” which is worth, literally, trillions. However, it was created as work-for-hire. He created it, but the company owns it. And he’s wondering if the company will actually compensate him for it, as they have promised.

Steve Martin gives him the bad news (paraphrased): “I think if they have a moral obligation to you but not a legal one you will begin to find them behaving cruelly towards you. You will find them treating you poorly, isolating you, speaking badly about you when you are not present. Even as they decide to stiff you out of what they owe you, they will compound that with bad manners and worse intent. They will not be apologetic about it; they will become increasingly hateful towards you.”

The reason is this: When people know they have a moral obligation towards someone which they do not feel like honoring, for reasons of personal interest, or personal safety, or personal political agenda, they feel awfully bad about themselves for not honoring the moral obligation. They feel awfully bad that they are ignoring a moral obligation in favor of their own personal interests.

And people do not like feeling bad about themselves.

So what people do, is this: They begin demonizing the person to whom they have an inconvenient moral obligation, convincing themselves that he is in fact the Bad Guy because, hey, he makes them feel bad. So he must be the bad guy.

In fact, he must be a Monster.

And no one owes a moral obligation to a Monster.

So, as William Saletan, and the news media generally, gives up completely on its own duty to protect free speech, they have to explain this to themselves in terms of No Duty To Protect a Monster.

Indeed, they will even, at the end of the day, help jihadists find the inconvenient Monster in order to murder him, and thereby make the Bad Feeling About Oneself go away.

If left to his own devices, without any contrary narrative to cast doubt on his claims, a coward can write an account of his heroic deeds in battle that would make Achilles himself quail.

Real Unemployment Rate is 11.4%

September 8, 2012

Economist James Fitzgibbon of the Highlander Group says that “If we impute the data samplings of non-working citizens at the labor force rate of January 2009 (when this Obama term began) we would have a Household U-3 Unemployment rate currently of 11.4%.”
       
Fitzgibbon notes that the unemployment rate is being held down by 368,000 new people who have dropped out of the labor force.  He says “Labor Force Participation rate, which has fallen sharply to 63.5%, a new 31 year low reading.”

Summarizing the data, he writes that the higher unemployment rate “which is much closer to seeming accurate and indicates this economic malaise and decline is worse than the contraction of 1980 – 81.”  Grimly, he adds “I remember 1981, it was awful!”
       
So now we see Obama’s real program for coping with unemployment:  Discourage people from even looking for work.  Encourage them to leave the labor force and rely on government handouts instead.
       
With almost 90 million working age adults not participating in the labor force, we are close to become a nation that does not work (less than two-thirds of us do), gets entitlements (50% of us do – compared to 30% in 1980), and pays no taxes (50% of us don’t pay federal income taxes).
       
A new America — the America that will emerge if we re-elect Obama.

(Plucked word-for-word from an e-letter by Dick Morris of today’s date.  I only wish I’d written it.)

Top U.S. Earners’ Incomes Drop 36%

July 15, 2012

The top 1 percent of U.S. earners’ pre-tax incomes dropped 36 percent between 2007 and 2009, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Average pre-tax income for all earners dropped during this period.

The last time the CBO looked at these numbers was for 2007. The results showed the top one percent of earners experiencing huge income growth, which caused a stir over “rising income inequality”. 2007 was the peak of the business cycle, so income growth experienced by top earners that year was abnormally high.

The most recent data show that because top earners’ incomes have dropped significantly, income inequality has also dramatically narrowed. Advocates of the “rising inequality” theory will likely remain silent on these most recent numbers, because they do not support their narrative.

The Internal Revenue Service’s total revenue went down from 2007 to 2009, while the effective tax rate for the top quintile earners went up, from 19.4 percent to 21 percent. Meanwhile, tax rates for the bottom two quintiles went from -5.8 percent of income in 2007 vs. -9.3 percent of income in 2009. The IRS actually paid the bottom two quintiles a year-end bonus of nearly 10% of their earnings in 2009.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not making any political arguments or conclusions one way or the other about these government-sourced numbers. What I do say is that if you debate this topic, first understand the facts. Then, go ahead and have a civilized, intelligent discussion.

I’m so tired of political sound-bite debates! Thank you.

Americans Plan to Spend More on Travel this Summer

May 25, 2012

(Edited down from a May 21, 2012 story By Kate Rice)

Americans plan to spend more on travel this summer than last year, according to a recent Orbitz survey. More than half plan to spend over $1,500 on the trip, while only 39% said that in the 2011 survey. 77% plan on taking a vacation this summer. 56% plan to drive even though 60% said gas prices would impact their travel planning.

July is the hot travel month, with 31 percent saying they plan to travel during the month. Orbitz said that New York City moved up from the sixth most popular destination in 2011 to the number two spot this year.

Nearly half of survey respondents are getting summer travel ideas through social media platforms such as Facebook and Pinterest. Most American consumers plan to travel domestically (81%), and 19% are planning to travel internationally this year.

Dave Hogg

Cash For Clunkers Hurt the Auto Industry

November 2, 2011

See my Cash For Clunkers article that I wrote at the time, predicting that the program would bring tough times on those in the car industry. Now, an article in Central Penn Business Journal proves I was right. Here is an edited version:

CarMax Inc. on May 5 broke ground at the intersection of Manheim Pike and Plaza Boulevard…

CarMax suspended all new-location plans in December 2008; after three quarters of sustained growth, it restarted those projects in April 2010, Imler said…

The cost of a new CarMax facility typically is between $15 million and $25 million for the land and construction, Imler said. Between 50 and 75 employees will be hired to run operations when the franchise opens in the spring, she said…

CarMax is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol KMX.

The small growth in car sales is good news, considering the past few years in the industry, Lukasiak said.

“There aren’t as many used cars available for sale as there used to be,” he said.

Lukasiak blames the Cash for Clunkers program begun in 2009 by the federal government to help stimulate the auto industry, he said. No one anticipated the volume of people who would participate in the program, he said.

Officially called the Car Allowance Rebate System, the program offered rebates of up to $4,500 from the federal government for trade-ins. One of the program’s goals was to put more fuel-efficient cars on the roads. Older vehicles that were traded in were disabled and sold for scrap, according to the program’s website. In a matter of weeks, almost 700,000 cars were exchanged for new models. Auto dealers were reimbursed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration after submitting the trade-ins for approval, according to the program’s website.

The time and energy it took to transmit car sale information to the government, the wait time for dealerships to receive the funds for the discounts they provided to customers and the hundreds of thousands of cars that were taken out of the market all affected the industry negatively, Lukasiak said.

Losing the plentiful used fleet and rental cars from automakers such as Detroit-based General Motors made the remaining used cars in the market more expensive, he said.

“Those things plus the current state of the economy made it real tough for (car) dealers,” he said.

Springwood Among Central PA’s Fastest Growing Businesses

September 21, 2011


Springwood Companies is proud to announce its rank of “37” on the fifteenth annual list of the fifty top businesses making significant contributions to the growth, strength and success of the Central PA economy.
“The combined strength of our hotel and multifamily divisions has driven significant returns for our investors in recent years. It is an honor to be recognized by the business community for the growth that has led to this accomplishment,” said David Hogg, CEO of the Springwood Companies.
The Central Penn Business Journal hosted an awards breakfast event Friday at the Hilton Harrisburg to recognize the winners and announce their ranks. In addition, the “Top 50 Fastest Growing Companies” will be profiled in a special supplement to the September 23, 2011 issue, with information on each company’s financial growth.
In order to be eligible for nomination, companies had to be public or private, for-profit entities headquartered in Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry or York County. They were required to show revenue of at least $500,000 in each of the fiscal years ending 2008, 2009, and 2010; then demonstrate revenue growth for 2010 as compared to 2008.
SF&Company calculated the nominations and then ranked the companies according to revenue growth over the three-year period. Both dollar and percentage increases were taken into consideration, which led to the list of the 2011 Top 50 Fastest Growing Companies, consisting of both large and small companies.
Springwood Companies, based in York, PA, have developed and operate more than one million square feet of property in central Pennsylvania, including nearly 450 hotel guest rooms and nearly 700 apartments. It has been honored with numerous industry awards for operational excellence. Its hotel developments are funded by private individuals seeking portfolio diversification and better-than-stock-market returns.
The “Top 50 Fastest Growing Companies Awards” are a program of the Central Penn Business Journal and is presented by SF&Company. More information about the awards program and winners can be found on the Central Penn Business Journal’s website at http://www.CentralPennBusiness.com.

Affordable Housing Success Story: Stewartstown, Pennsylvania

September 21, 2011

http://tinyurl.com/692lrh9

And the great press just keeps coming! Cut and paste the link to read our latest accolades.

Springwood Makes National News!

September 7, 2011

Springwood Real Estate Services is honored that its newest development, in Stewartstown, PA has become the lead story on the website of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh. It’s the housing developer’s largest and nicest development to date. Cut and paste to follow the link here:

http://www.fhlb-pgh.com/housing-and-community/real-life-stories/affordable-housing-program.html