Beyond Tea-Party Somnambulism!

Archive for the ‘Delmarva Local News’ Category

Private Sector High-Tech; Better Than Our Government?

Since the introduction of www.Healthcare.gov, used for enrolling people into the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, most Americans have been underwhelmed and frustrated with its poor performance. This failure has fueled renewed attacks by the GOP and tea party members who have opposed the ACA it since it’s inception, even after the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality.

Whether you agree with the underlying legislation or not, let’s get one thing straight: the failure of the technological aspects of the website are not peculiar to the government. Critics charge the federal bureaucracy is incapable of setting up such a highly advanced website. Let’s stop being naive or so ideological that we overlook the fact that even the biggest high-technology companies have had their share of technology snafus, often hiding the damaging effects on the public. This is true even though they were not under the pressures of strict deadlines and reduced budgets faced by the government.

In case you think the private sector is any better at avoiding these high-tech snafus:

1. In 2011, Sony suffered a major security breach of its PlayStation Network on April 19. The company didn’t even disclose it until April 26 and apologized on May 1. In the days leading up to the outage, its network was hacked. Worse, the personal information of some 77 million customers was exposed. A week later, according to Japan’s Nikkei news, another breach involved the theft of 12,700 credit card numbers and data from over 24,000 users. This was the second worst security breach since the TJ Maxx and Heartland attacks.

2. In 2007, the parent company of TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods chains admitted that its network had been hacked, and personal information for more than 45 million customers had been stolen. Although first detected in December 2006, it later admitted a breach as early as July 2005, a year after a security audit revealed “serious deficiencies” in its network—with over 100 million credit cards compromised.

If you think these are the exceptions…think again. These events are far more common than we may ever know, involving millions of credit cards or other pieces of our so-called ‘secure personal information.’  You can Google “technology errors” and come up with multiple disasters for Apple, Intel, Iomega, Dell, Amazon and Sony, our technology giants.

Computer and network security is big money, from the hacker’s, as well as the security analysts’ perspectives.  My son just received his PhD in computer/network security and is being paid big bucks to help prevent these kinds of problems.

Let’s stop looking to pin the blame on the Obama administration.  These websites are not simple templates; they need lots of excellent programmers and code-writers to get it right.  Even then, as we’ve seen, the end result is not always predictable.  Pitting the private sector against the government sector will end in a futile attempt at finger-pointing.  Perhaps the technologies and abilities needed in the high-tech arena are just as much an art as they are a practice of engineering.  Let’s give the government kudos for its intentions and some time to get it right before trying to show that “all things government related are fallible.”

 

Harris Feels Safe, Continuing To Lie!

Congressman Andy Harris continues to lie and misrepresent the facts. He says that a majority of Americans don’t want to see the debt-limit raised? A straight-out lie! The highest figures I’ve seen by researching the entire internet on this issue, was 44% opposed…hardly a majority. It was a poll conducted by a Republican (McInturff) AND a Democrat (Hart), so it was not bipartisan.

Votes against ending the government shutdown

Votes against ending the government shutdown

It’s about time that Harris be called out as the easy liar he is…as was editorialized recently by the Cecil Daily Times. Add his lies to the fact that he has opposed any legislation that would help the Eastern Shore, in any way, and we have every reason in the world to look elsewhere for a candidate who will truly represent our District. My vote is with Dr. John LaFerla, a man of integrity and strong desires to see the Eastern Shore move forward, with jobs, infrastructure and balance for our farmers and the environment.

Dr. LaFerla was one of the first on the site of Sandy devastation, calling upon Congress to help fund relief efforts. Where was Harris? Devising his excuses for voting against the Sandy Relief package. John LaFerla offers ways to fix our problems; Harris just adds to the problems and refuses to accept responsibility for his actions. This is why former Congressman, Wayne Gilchrest, has endorsed Dr. LaFerla…and why we all should!

For more information on Dr. John LaFerla, go to www.JohnLaFerla.com

 

Give Obamacare A Chance!

When the naysayers throw out ridiculous assertions about “Obamacare“, they often overlook the facts. One of those “facts” is that when we compare the cost of medical technologies, we find that European countries have a cost that is anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 that in the US, for similar technologies.

According to investment analysts who follow the medical field closely, these reductions in cost are attributed to “socialized medicine.”

Recently, Ladenburg Thalmann & Co. Inc.’s, Jeff Cohen, whose livelihood is based on following the costs and efficacy of medical technologies, stated,

“Pricing for medical technology in European markets and the rest of the world is often one-half to two-thirds the cost of the U.S., because medicine there tends to be socialized.”

What does that mean? As “Obamacare” continues to be adopted and implemented in the US, we should continue to see medical technologies’ costs come down, which, in turn, will expand the use of better treatments and reduce the costs of health insurance, resulting in lower premiums.

As it was with Medicare almost 50 years ago, the opponents of Obamacare” should be looking past the politics and instead, focus on the benefits and advantages, from both the treatment and financial aspects. Medicare has been successful in providing health care for our seniors and disabled…give “Obamacare” a chance, and in 50 years, we’ll be able to say the same!

 

It’s All About The Ground Game, Dummy!

Running a Smart Campaign – Part 1

Also posted on www.rogerbburtphd.com.
Assumption
The first assumption I prefer is that there will not be large amounts of money available. If the big donors step forward, that’s lovely, but I stand in unpopular territory. I believe elections are won with dedicated volunteers and a top notch get-out-the-vote operation, backed with smart messaging.
Smart ground games need not cost huge amounts of money. There are a lot of “ifs” attached to that statement, but it is a conservative (in a good sense) assumption. Why not plan on a guerrilla marketing campaign? Then, if lots of money is raised, there will surely be ways to spend it.
Being a Believer
A  fundamental question we have to ask ourselves is whether we believe in ourselves and our campaign, and do we believe in our candidate? The first question seems absurd, but I have seen people launch campaigns for the oddest of reasons, where it was clear they did not expect to put forth essential effort or they were not facing reality. Of course, it is up to us, who are thinking of supporting a candidate, to decide if we really believe.
If we believe, then we seek a variety of ways to promote and support the candidacy. And that should, in all eventualities, go to something more than sending glossy brochures and buying advertising.
Getting Their Attention
Advertising people will tell you that it takes repeated contact to make a connection with people. That piece of conventional wisdom I buy absolutely. So, then it becomes a matter of how we get their attention;  and that takes thinking and planning.
In general, I also believe that most people don’t want to pay attention to politics. They have jobs, families, friends and a variety of interests. Why would they care about what we have to say, unless it is compelling or we make it compelling?
Standing Out and Making Sense
Standing out takes showing up in a variety of ways, especially when there is a lot of competition for attention. To do that takes careful attention to available alternatives. My special favorite is the one supported by research: A simple piece of literature stuck in the front door. That means a clear simple message for the particular segment of the population behind that door. It should be low cost and use trained volunteers for delivery. Why trained? Because not everyone is comfortable face-to-face, and often, people open the door when we are dropping off our message. Volunteers need to know how to handle it. And, of course, a lot depends upon finding people who are willing to get involved as volunteers.
There can be many parts to this smart, frugal ground game. It takes planning and paying careful attention, particularly as it relates to the location and campaign type.

 

Harris’ Insensitivity Requires An Apology…To Everyone!

The following is a presentation I made at the Trayvon Martin Vigil, in Salisbury, MD, on 7/13/13. The Vigil was organized locally by April Jackson, and was running concurrently with the nationwide Vigil.

Thank you, April Jackson, for allowing me to say a few words today, at a time when we are all mourning the senseless and unprovoked death of Trayvon Martin, and we cannot understand why there is no punishment for his killer.  I have been a civil rights activist, attorney and community organizer, for over 40 years; yes, I am one of those “old white men” we hear so much about in the news media.  But, I am also “an old white man” who stands in solidarity with my brothers and sisters in the African-American community, who are still the target of outrageous and unjust comments, actions and persecution, even in 2013!

"Get over it!", says Harris.

“Get over it!”, says Harris.

“GET OVER IT!”  The other morning, I was reading The Daily Times, when my jaw dropped, figuratively and literally, as I read these words…the response of our Congressman, Andy Harris, to the Zimmerman verdict.  “Get over it!”

This was something I might have told my son when I was coaching Little League baseball and we lost a game: “Get over it, son; it’s just a game and you did your best, which is all you can do.”

Or, perhaps something the Nazis said, after gassing 8 million Jews, gypsies, blacks, gays, disabled and other “undesirables”…”sich aufrappeln” – German, for Get over it!

As I tried to digest that statement, along with Harris’ use of the word, “political”, in describing why the Justice Dept was considering Federal charges against Zimmerman, I became outraged by his insensitivity and his refusal to acknowledge the emotional pain of millions of Americans.

I, like you, was bewildered by the prosecution’s failure to secure a guilty verdict.  As a retired trial attorney, it was clear to me that Zimmerman failed to follow standard “Neighborhood Watch” protocol, which is to report any suspicious activity to the police, so they can follow up, and then stand down.

Instead, Zimmerman followed his own idea of what a Neighborhood Watch volunteer should do (he was not a member of any official NW group): “identify, target, pursue and confront. When he reported “suspicious activity” of an African-American youth, he was asked whether he was following the youth, to which he answered, “Yes, I am” and was then told, “We don’t need you to do that”;  his response was, “ok”, according to his 911 transcript, and he was told that officers were being dispatched.

Martin - killed, based on "suspicions."

Martin – killed, based on “suspicions.”

Zimmerman - "Not guilty!"

Zimmerman – “Not guilty!”

Zimmerman’s injuries, and Martin’s death, are directly linked to his failure to follow the dispatcher’s directive. Instead, without legal authority, and in the face of obvious danger, he followed, approached, confronted and killed a young man who was not armed (contrary to the prosecutor’s assertion that Martin was “armed with the sidewalk”) and who had committed no crime.

These weren’t the actions of a hero or even a moral person; they were the actions of a bully vigilante, intent on pure retaliation, with impunity, against “those punks who get away with everything.”

Young black men don’t deserve to be profiled, targeted and killed, while walking home, enjoying a bag of Skittles and a bottle of juice or because a vigilante’s preconceived “suspicions” were used to justify his adrenaline rush.

Mr. Harris needs to apologize for his insensitivity; this wasn’t a Little League game! And Trayvon’s family will never ‘Get over it!’

The IRS Scandal – A Different Perspective!

The following is a letter-to-the-editor of the Daily Times, Salisbury, MD.  It was written by attorney, Mike Pretl and he has given us permission to post it on Delmarva Progressive.  It is an authentic appeal to look at the IRS issue with a fresh face and to realize that when dealing with the IRS, there are no good guys and bad guys, only well-documented applications and questionable ones.         

Perhaps I am the last person who should be coming to the defense of the Internal Revenue Service, and its Exempt Organization office in Cincinnati.  I have had numerous legal battles – detailed requests for information, and a few arduous audits, initiated by overzealous agents at that office.  Nevertheless, I am convinced that the current “scandal” is overblown and purely political in nature.  I find it incredible therefore that Administration officials are grumbling excuses and apologies, rather than defending themselves by explaining clearly what that office does every day, and is supposed to do.

In 40 years as a Maryland attorney, I have been pleased to create more than 75 nonprofit, tax-exempt corporations.  I have represented nearly all pro bono (without fee).  With few exceptions, all of these groups operate at the progressive end of the spectrum – environmental activists, health care reformers (pre-Obamacare), community organizers, juvenile service providers, charter schools, church-affiliated entities, and “friends” of a scout troop and  child advocacy center.  Exempt status has been sought under various sections of the Internal Revenue Code, chiefly Sections 501(c)(3), (c)(4), and (c)(6).  Perhaps half of all the applications were greeted with IRS questions — a “request for further information” – sometimes elementary, and often  detailed and onerous.  In the past I would tell my clients to expect a determination letter in about 120 days. More recently I have had decisions delayed for months, or for a year or two, always without explanation.

And I repeat, these are virtually all liberal advocacy organizations, and the hassles and delays have occurred during the last seven administrations – four Republican and three Democratic.

In my ongoing role as unpaid counsel to these groups, it is my duty not only to collect data and file IRS applications, but to advise what they can and cannot do to retain their exempt status.  Many leaders of (c)(3) charities are surprised to learn that they may lobby the legislature to a limited extent, in support of their goals, but of course cannot engage in elective politics.  The (c)(4) (“social welfare”) entities are told that they may support candidates who support their goals, but under the IRS Code, elective politics cannot be their “primary” activity, or a “substantial part” of their daily efforts.

Which brings us back to the current “scandal.”  Despite some apparent excesses and unfortunate statements, it appears that the IRS agents have been caught doing just what they are paid to do – enforcing the Code.  Following the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2009, numerous organizations were formed, most of them on the right, and sought (c)(4) status so their contributors need not be disclosed.   Many Tea Party chapters and similar groups did not disguise their role as primarily political efforts, however, so the non-political career employees at IRS marked them presumptively ineligible for exempt status.  The agents perhaps went overboard in a few cases – but that zeal hardly suggests a conspiracy.

A final personal story:  A few years ago, the leading Maryland handgun control advocacy group –which had established separate (c)(3) and (c)(4) entities — was wrongly accused of improper election-year activity. IRS auditors promptly served each entity a series of 82 detailed document requests.  The IRS agents were far from friendly, and we spent nearly a year in proving our client not at fault.  At the end, however, we explained to our volunteer board of directors that occasional scrutiny, often unpleasant, is the price we must pay, to secure the invaluable benefits of tax-exempt status.  Perhaps Congressional investigators will soon  get the same message.

 Mike Pretl is a semi-retired attorney, residing in Riverton, in Wicomico County.

Harris Has Let The Eastern Shore Down…Again!

We have all heard Rep. Andy Harris recite how much he cares about the people on the Eastern Shore.  Harris is from Baltimore County, but a large part of his Congressional District is on this side of “the Bridge.” (See http://harris.house.gov/)

Harris defeated Kratovil with support by Koch brothers and Club for Growth

Harris defeated Kratovil with support by Koch brothers and Club for Growth

With huge out-of-state support, by right-wing extremists, Harris was able to defeat Frank Kratovil and Wayne Gilchrest, representatives who lived and worked here on the Delmarva Peninsula, and who represented our best interests.  On the other hand, we now have a representative who is from Baltimore and contrary to his rhetoric, cares little for Eastern Shore people or the Bay.

You don’t need to take my word for it; let’s look at his record.  While in the Maryland State Senate, Harris had one of the worst environmental records, and his lack of interest in helping to save our greatest natural resource, the Chesapeake Bay, was well-known.

His position hasn’t changed.  In fact, if Harris gets his way, instead of wind turbines off the shore of Ocean City, there will be oil rigs.

Oil Rig On Fire In Gulf. Is Ocean City Next?

Oil Rig On Fire In Gulf. Is Ocean City Next?

Yes, just as in the Gulf of Mexico, we will be creating an environmental disaster, just waiting to happen.  Can we imagine the devastation even a small spill would cause to the beaches and resort areas along Maryland and Delaware shores?  Such a catastrophe will make Hurricane Sandy seem like a non-event.

Speaking of Hurricane Sandy, which he referred to as an “historic storm”, what was Harris’ response to the record flooding and damages in Crisfield, Smith Island, Marion, Fairmount, Deal Island, Ocean Pines and Princess Anne? He, again, turned aside the interests of the Eastern Shore, and instead, voted “No” on the Sandy Relief bill. Even worse, he voted on a doomed bill that would provide $17 billion in aid, but only if it was offset by cuts elsewhere, something that had never been required in catastrophic emergencies like this. He knew it wouldn’t pass, but he and his Tea Party allies pointed to it, saying, “We tried!”

Farmers here on the Eastern Shore, also found out the truth about Harris, when he voted “No” on the extension of the Farm Bill (actually, the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012), even though it had come out of the GOP-led Agriculture Committee.

Harris cons 1st Dist Farmers, while voting 'NO' on Farm Bill

Harris cons 1st Dist Farmers, while voting ‘NO’ on Farm Bill 

Harris cons Women while voting 'NO' on VAWA

Harris cons Women while voting ‘NO’ on VAWA

Women, too, were brushed aside by his “No” vote on the Violence Against Women Act. Even though VAWA has been proven beneficial and effective, reducing violence by 50% – 67%, since its passage in 1994. What was Harris’ excuse for his “No” vote?  He released statement said, the bill didn’t contain a “conscience provision” for “religious organizations that want to help prostitutes but don’t want to tell them about abortion.“  So, instead, he is content with 1,200 women killed and 2 million injured, in domestic violence, annually.  According to the CDC, 25% of all US women are subjects of some domestic abuse.

As I said, the record speaks for itself. Of course, I don’t have room to report all of Harris’ “No” votes, from education to jobs, Medicare to veteran benefits. Stay tuned, because I will be exposing Harris’ record from now until 2014, showing why he is no friend of the Eastern Shore or America.  We deserve better than a puppet to out-of-state puppet masters, interested more in profits than people.  Shouldn’t it be People Over Politics? That’s what I was taught, anyway!

 

Even the Educated Can Be Ignorant!

The following is the response I gave to an Editorial in the Cecil Whig (Cecil County, MD). The editorial was written in response to Governor O’Malley’s push to repeal the death penalty in Maryland, and the passage of such legislation by the State Senate.  The House is now reviewing it, but it looks as though it will easily pass.  The editor believes that we need to support the death penalty. Why? Not because it is a deterrent or saves money, or any other reason that might carry with it some form of logic or reason; no, the editor believes that it is because most people polled want to retain it.  So, if the majority want to kill off all seniors over 75, should it be the people’s right to vote on it? That’s what the editor seems to be saying!  Here is the link to the editorial, with my response following: http://www.cecildaily.com/opinion/editorials/article_ff2aa1a0-89e9-11e2-bd75-001a4bcf887a.html

I was surprised by how limited your argument is for keeping the death penalty: “The majority wants it!” Nowhere do you present a case that it is a surefire deterrent or that it is cost effective; simply, it seems, you support it because it’s a way to get rid of murderers and the people demand it!

You refuse to even consider what professionals in the corrections field think, including criminal psychologists, corrections experts and those who have shown, study after study, that the death penalty is not an effective deterrent to murder.death_penalty_LethalInjection

Further, if you checked out the real cost of the death penalty versus life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, you would have found that it is equal to, if not more than, the cost of life without parole. According to a recent study, performed by John Roman, PhD, Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute and Executive Director of the District of Columbia Crime Policy Institute, et al., in Dec. 15, 2009, entitled “Reassessing the Cost of the Death Penalty Using Quasi-Experimental Methods: Evidence from Maryland,” published in American Law and Economics Association:

“On average, a death notice (by the State) adds about $1,000,000 in costs over the duration of a case (than a non-death penalty case).” Simply stated, the process needed to assure that a person targeted for the death penalty, must be beyond reproach, and so, there are at least three phases of the appeal process involved. This process can take anywhere from 20 to 35 years, depending upon the study looked at. During the appeals process, the victims are waiting for “finality” that rarely comes.

Let me state one other study, showing the high rate of errors at trial, found on appeal: “The rate of error found in appeals in death penalty cases, from 1976-1995, was 100 percent in three states — Kentucky, Maryland and Tennessee.” This means that in every death penalty-related case, appealed in MD, a serious error at trial level was found, allowing for the conviction to be overturned. This 2000 study was conducted at Columbia University, led by Dr. James S. Liebman.

I haven’t even talked about how DNA evidence is leading to the overturning of murder and other serious offense cases across the country, including MD.

As of Oct, 2012, over 300 people have had their convictions reversed, based on DNA evidence.

As of Oct, 2012, over 300 people have had their convictions reversed, based on DNA evidence.

Finally, you’re argument that the people should decide, is the raving of an uneducated and superficial advocate. There has been a history of issues in our country where “the people” have come down on the wrong side, including slavery, women’s suffrage and civil rights, especially for African-Americans, LGBTs, and others.

When the evidence is clear that the death penalty doesn’t work, people’s emotions should not be the deciding factor. There is too much at stake to allow emotions, alone, to dictate the results. There is no convincing argument for the death penalty, other than revenge and anger; the argument against the death penalty involves logic, reason, analysis and the fear of error, which appears to happen in more cases than we’d like to admit. And for those who believe in the “sanctity of life” for unborn fetuses, shouldn’t that sanctity be applied for those fetuses, once they become viable human beings?

 

The Working Poor…Not Looking For Hand-Outs!

Judy Davis, an activist from Worcester County, MD, is involved with important issues in our state. She recently participated in the Marylanders Against Gun Violence rally, in Annapolis, MD and is a participant in the Emerge program, which trains women around the country to take more active roles in leadership positions in their communities.

It would be hard to ignore the working poor, while living in a seasonal beach town, as I do. Although many unskilled jobs are filled with visiting foreign-exchange students, “locals” hold about half of those positions.  These “locals”, some of who are lifelong residents, live in the area year-round and find that they’re without work when the businesses close for the season. The fortunate ones are able to receive a modest unemployment check, twice a month. Renting in our area is expensive and lodging is only available in the off-season. Those that choose to remain in a year-round room/apartment, pay much higher rent than a comparable living space, elsewhere.

During a recent conversation I had with two local business owners, I heard claims that people are living off “the system”, wanting “hand-outs”, and “those people” are not properly planning for emergencies or their retirement. When I asked how anyone, especially those of advanced years, could pay for living expenses at wages of $7.25 hour, there was no response.

Our society’s perception of the working poor has deteriorated, from one of providing an honest day’s work, to one of expecting entitlements and being shiftless. According to Charlie White (Think Reality: Wealth Inequality in America), 15.1% of the U.S. population (approximately 47 million people) lives below the Poverty Line.  An average worker needs to work one month to equal one hour of income that an average CEO earns. That equates to about 160 hours to 1 hour.  Some figures have shown that to be as high as 400 hours to 1 hour!

The working poor have no discretionary income. If they are lucky enough to own a vehicle and a tire goes flat, the choice is between buying groceries to feed their family or purchasing another used tire.  Trying to save money for deposits on utilities, medical emergencies, gasoline, school supplies, clothes or other basic needs, is impossible, as there isn’t enough money to cover everything. Many parents go without, in order to provide the very minimum subsistence for their children.

The frustration of “just scraping by” impacts a person’s self-worth, causing a cyclical, downward spiral, which is difficult, if not impossible, to recover from.  Don’t forget who also suffers, aside from the parents: Approximately 19% of children in my county live below the Poverty Line (One Maryland: The Plight of Maryland Distressed Jurisdictions).

Rather than blaming the working poor for their situation, how about giving a “hand-up” to help people have their basic needs met, especially where they are desperately trying? In my county, over 25% of female-headed households make just $14,900 per year. Most of our lives would look very different if we suddenly became unemployed, developed significant health issues, needed elderly care or had another traumatic event crossing our paths. Instead of criticizing and demeaning people who are dependent on some form of assistance, in order to survive, their critics should be saying, “There, but for the grace of God, go I!”

The following is a video that clearly explains wealth distribution in America, including how Americans think it is, how they think it should be, and finally, the reality of the way it really is.  It will open your eyes and may, in fact, surprise even the most conservative among you!

V

The Fight To Keep Corporations Paying A Fair Share!

The following is submitted by Guest-Blogger, Burkely Hermann, from Baltimore. He is an online blogger, in his own right, and a student who writes about National, State and International issues, in order to educate the public.

Recently, on my blog, I launched a campaign to combat, what I believe, is a bad proposal that will harm Maryland. Its called the #STOPBS campaign, which comes from the first letters of the sponsors of companion bills in the Maryland House and the Senate. It aims to make the bill that seeks to lower corporate income tax rates in the State, die, effectively telling legislators “it’s not okay.”Most already know that on the Federal level, politicians are trying to lower the Federal corporate income tax rate. But right now, it is happening in people’s backyards, in State legislatures across the country.  Senator David Brinkley (R-Dist. 4), who proposed SB 34, seeks to lower Maryland’s corporate income tax rate from its current 8.25% to 6%, a 2.25% drop! Brinkley, who has gotten campaign contributions, since 2005, from corporate giants, like Bank of America, Comcast, BGE and Constellation PACs (among many others), as I detailed on my blog, believes that such a tax break will make Maryland competitive with the State of Virginia. The sponsor of the same bill in the House, concurs.  HB 261 is sponsored by Del. Kelly Schulz (R-Dist. 4A). Hearings in the House Ways & Means Committee are scheduled for February 26th.

Republican Sen. David Brinkley

Republican Sen. David Brinkley

Conservative Del. Kelly Schulz

Conservative Del. Kelly Schulz

In order to denounce such arguments for this tax break, one must look at what this bill actually does. The net loss in tax revenue for Fiscal Year 2014 would be over $381 million dollars. These cuts in Fiscal Year 2014 would include a decrease in funds for transportation by $63.1 million, most of which goes to the State transportation budget, a decrease in funds for Higher Education by $22.9 million, and a decrease in revenues from local highway users, by  $6.1 million. As a result, the current State budget deficit, which is already insurmountable, would increase, and $37,000 dollars would be needed just to notify the 62,000 corporate filers in the State about the new rate reduction. All of these numbers are thanks to a report by the Department of Legislative Services on the matter. To summarize, these cuts would hurt students, as well as reduce the amount of money going to maintain an already failing infrastructure, which will make matters worse, and local governments, which are already feeling budget cuts.

Michael Hudson explained this in a CounterPunch article he wrote last August: “Unlike the U.S. federal government, most states and cities have constitutions that prevent them from running budget deficits. This means that when they cut property taxes, they either must borrow from the wealthy, or cut back employment and public services…Cities are defaulting from California to Alabama…This has become the main cause of America’s rising unemployment, helping drive down consumer demand… Most urban revenue is a free lunch created by taxpayer-financed roads, schools, sewers and water systems….State and local pension funds are $3 trillion behind because they are only making 1% returns these days…Debt-ridden austerity and downsizing government is being urged as if it is inevitable, not a policy choice to put bondholders and the 1% over the 99% – a reward for the lobbying money it has spent on buying politicians and misleading voters, to believe that cutting property taxes and cutting taxes on the rich will help the economy.” Hudson proposes that we default, but I believe there is something more imperative that we must deal with.

Times are tough for Americans. Nearly half of America is at or near the poverty level.  Cases of individuals suffering from depression have increased in areas affected by SuperStorm Sandy. Youths, from 5th to 12th grades, are optimistic about their future, but adults are not so sure, according to recent Gallup polls. This is not the time for corporations to get a tax break. People are suffering and justice is not furthered by corporations not paying a fair share in taxes. Simply put, it is matter of fairness, equity and justice. They can cough up the money. They can stay afloat. There is no danger there. Over the past few years, corporations have been hoarding cash, and now hold more cash than ever before.

This is why I urge you to help spread this message, far and wide, across Maryland, by signing this petition, telling your legislators you want corporations in Maryland to pay their fair share of taxes and not to reduce the current tax rates. Share this with your friends; tell everyone you know about it. If enough people are mobilized, we can stop this in its tracks and let legislators know that now is the time to create jobs, invest in schools and improve infrastructure, not lower taxes for corporate entities!

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