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Friday, November 05, 2004

Another Bright Spot in a Dark World

While I have admittedly been in shock for the past two days over the vast ignorance of our national faith-based electorate, I was somewhat buoyed by the overwhelming supporting for the meager increase in the minimum wage here in Florida.

The amendment to Florida's Constitution passed with 71 percent of the vote, which truly is a landslide. It will immediately raise the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $6.14 an hour (with a similar increase for wait staff wages), and it will index the wage to inflation.

Most amazing about the victory was how it flies in the face of the massive propaganda campaign against it. Recall those constant TV ads showing hurricane damage and promising all sorts of catastrophes from the minimum wage increase?

The business community wanted people to think that raising the minimum wage one dollar would outsource jobs to other countries, force employers to substantially cut their workforces, and take health care away from the elderly, among other things.

The voters saw through it, and rightly so. The only objective study of the amendment showed it having a minor cost to business and a moderate but needed boost to the poor.

The study found that the costs to businesses in Florida would be $406 million, which sounds like a lot until you learn that this amounts to just 0.04 percent of the total sales of those businesses – which means business could cover the payroll increase with an almost invisible (to consumers) increase in the price of their goods or services.

Meanwhile, about 300,000 low-wage workers and their families will see an increase in their disposable income of at least $500 a year – about a 4 percent gain for families currently living below 150 percent of the official poverty thresholds. Meanwhile, that money will be spent, creating a ripple effect on the economy, according to the study.

Maybe voters are not as gullible as I think. Comments?

Scott Likes His Whine

Ward Scott, the Crybaby Candidate, can't let go of the fact that a majority of Democrats voted for his opponent in the Aug. 31 primary.

In Friday's edition of The Independent Florida Alligator, the paper reported that incumbent Alachua County Commissioner Mike Byerly easily won re-election Nov. 2 against the write-in candidate, Steve Nichtberger. Many people did not cast a vote in the race, and a few thousand voters write in either Nichtberger or Scott.

Still, Byerly received about 92 percent of the vote. In the primary, the race between Byerly and Scott was much closer, and Scott blames Byerly and Nichtberger for his loss because – Scott claims without any evidence or proof – that Byerly got Nichtberger to run solely to close the primary to only Democrats. Scott calls it voter fraud.

I've written about this false accusation a few times. Nichtberger's candidacy is legal under state law, and his entry in the race closed the primary because of a clause in the state constitution. There was nothing illegal about it – no more so than if a Republican, Libertarian or candidate from any other party had entered the race. If the winner of a primary election will not determine the ultimate winner of the election, then the primary is only open to voters of that party – in this case Democrats.

Scott claims that the outcome of the Nov. 2 election proves that he should have won.

“Clearly, those numbers indicate the popular candidate was not elected,” Scott told The Alligator. He called the write-in votes “protest votes."

Hmmmm. Byerly received more than 73,000 votes and "write-in" received just over 6,200 votes. Seems like Scott is not counting very well. That's why he is the Knucklehead of the Week. Keep on crying buddy.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Local Campaign Finance Reforms Pass Easily

Alachua County voters overwhelmingly passed the two campaign finance reform measures on the Nov. 2 ballot, proving for the third time that local voters from all parties want to reduce the influence of money on government. (Click here for Alachua County election results and scroll down to the bottom to see the campaign finance reform results.)

What is most amazing about the landslide votes -- 76 percent in favor of one charter amendment and 67 percent in favor of the other -- is that the entire campaign for the election was run on less than $500, and the person responsible for the effort was sick with cancer. And the election was still a solid mandate.

The voters didn't need convincing, and why should they? It is obvious that elections are awash in dollars, and the corrupting influence of it is apparent at all levels of government.

These reforms are modest and effect only select county-level races, but they're a start. Next we need to push to have similar reforms at the city-level in Gainesville, and the wide support for such reform should make it easy to do.

Yikes

If the post-election narrative has any truth and the religious vote carried the election for Bush, then we're in bigger trouble than I thought.

For any good Christian to believe Bush is one also is absurd -- sure, he opposes abortion, but he is for killing babies (ask most any Iraqi or Afghani citizen). Bush not only lies constantly to the American people, he lies to cover up those lies once exposed. He has no compassion for the poor, only the rich, something Jesus would have had a big problem with. He idolizes greed and power more than any god. I could go on an on.

If that's being a good Christian, then Christianity has some big problems.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Bring it on Home(r)

That's not a typo or a reference to Greek lit. And, despite my affection for The Simpsons, the headline has nothing to do with The Man Who Loves Saturated Fats.

I am referring to Homer "Scooter' Willis, who most of you will have never heard of before. But his experience running for UF's student body president in 1988 I believe will be a guideline for how the GOP tries to prevent Kerry from taking office, should he win today.

UF's student government has always been a microcosm for the type of anti-Democratic, special interest-serving, elite-dominated government in Washington. In fact it has been a training ground for many politicos more interested in pleasing wealthy lobbyists and lining their friend's pockets with tax revenues. SG breeds corruption through Florida Blue Key and the Greek system, which operate hand-in-hand to gain power and then distribute the perks of power to its chosen ones.

Willis was not part of that scam, but a backlash against it. When SG decided one year not to fund the annual engineering fair (over stupid political BS I won't go into here), the rather large population of engineering students decided to get politically active. Willis, an engineering student, was elected student body president over the anointed FBK/Greek candidate.

End of story? Of course not. The FBK/Greek-dominated Student Senate was required to canvass the election, which every other election was a brief meeting to officially announce the results. However, various people began claiming there had been election fraud of some vague and unspecified sort, so the Senate refused to canvass the election.

As Willis waiting on the side lines, the Senate and UF officials repeated debunked every claim of fraud, and it was pretty clear that the charges were merely a falsified obstacle being used to prevent Willis from actually taking his elected position.

This went on for months, almost into the summer, before the Senate was forced to finally canvass the election.

If you have been following the talk about GOP challenges to voters and the election over vague and unspecified acts of election fraud, you can see where I am going with this.

The GOP, I believe, will try everything to prevent Kerry from taking office. In 2000 Bush was appointed by the Supreme Court, not the people. The majority chose Al Gore, and if the Surpeme Court had allowed Florida to count all of the votes, then Gore would have won Florida's electoral votes and, hence, the presidency.

Today we will hopefully see a victory for John Kerry, but I fear that the GOP will stop at nothing to prevent that from happening.

Check the New Issue of The Satellite

I submitted an expanded version of "How Much Gainesville Spends on War" for the November 2004 issue. It will be my first published article since I stopped publishing MOON Magazine in April 2002 (minus of course my monthly caustic responses to editorials in the local paper).

The expanded version includes information on how that war money could be better spent at home. The Satellite is free and available throughout town.