I Have a Gripe

January 31, 2011

NJ Considers Dumping Snow in Rivers – Bad Idea!

Filed under: government,New Jersey,Outdoors — alvb1227 @ 12:27 pm
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Over the weekend I saw a report that several towns in NJ have asked the DEP for permission to dump plowed snow into NJ different rivers, like the Hackensack, because there is just no where left to put it. I have two words: ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Some of New Jersey’s rivers have pollution issues already. If the DEP grants these requests, it will just make things worse. Let’s remember, it isn’t just snow, it is salt and other chemicals mixed in that are used to reducing icing on the roadways. This would further degrade an already bruised ecosystem. Plus all the gravel, oil and other garbage that is collected during snow removal.

What makes this even worse is that several of the riverkeepers in NJ appear to have no issue with this request, saying things like “All of that salt is going to reach the rivers anyway when it melts.” Wow, way to protect the waters you are charged with caring for on a daily basis.

I urge the DEP to deny these requests. Why not throw the snow on the local town football fields? They won’t be in use for months.

They used to dump plowed snow in the Passaic River on a regular basis and look at it now. Shameful. Simply shameful.

Why not consider each county purchasing a snow melter that could be a shared resource? That would both help eliminate the large piles of snow, but help remove impurities as well.

People complain that Jersey is the butt-end of a lot of jokes. Well, how about now allowing this to happen so the rest of our state looks a little less like the industrial areas people see in and out of Newark Airport? That would be a good start.

January 26, 2011

2011 State of the Union Address

So last night was the 2011 State of the Union Address. I will admit that my eye wasn’t twitching quite as much as last year, but I still have issues with a number of the items that were discussed.

I think the President started out well by acknowledging the empty chair for Gabby Giffords. The ribbons everyone wore I thought was a nice touch. He also discussed a new level of civility in light of the shooting in Arizona. Call it the Jersey cynic in me, but the “date night” and new bipartisan effort just felt fake to me. I still get the feeling of a “hand slap” by the left and blaming the Tea Party movement, even though the nut job in Arizona didn’t appear to have a political affiliation. I find it funny that now the President wants to not think about winning an election, but doing what is necessary to pull the nation together.

I liked what the President said about simplifying the tax code, but fell short of calling for a flat tax, which would ultimately save billions by either cutting or completely eliminating the IRS. I really believe that moving away from the current complicated tax code will both save money on the federal level while making sure everyone pays their fair share.

He cited a quote from President Kennedy that “The future is not a gift. It is an achievement.” Well, I disagree with that sentiment. The future is a responsibility; first and foremost. I think we as a nation have really lost the concept of personal responsibility. Should we take care of those who need assistance? Yes. Should there be a level of personal responsibility associated along with that? Absolutely!

I found his more business-friendly tone encouraging. Again, I hope it isn’t just rhetoric and real action will follow. This means getting the government out of the way of private industry and let them do what they do best; innovate and create jobs. Remember, it is not the job of the federal government to create jobs. It is the job of the federal government to create conditions that are favorable for private industry to create jobs.

The President is still pushing green technologies, which is certainly laudable, however, I again wonder if this should be the business of the federal government. I point to California’s recent light bulb issue as the exact type of government intervention that while positive in concept can be negative in the long run.

From an education standpoint, I was very encouraged to finally hear someone (and I mean anyone) acknowledge that parents need to take a more positive role in the education of our nation’s children. For far too long, schools have been trying to be both educator and parent. Ultimately, they will fail as both. I also ask that while math and science are incredibly important, that the arts and music are not left on the side of the road. There has been study after study citing the importance of music and the arts in fostering a child’s creativity and improving math, science and language skills. I am the adult I am because of my involvement in the music program in my public school system.

It was also nice to hear there should be more respect for teachers. As someone who is married to a public school teacher, I say it is not as easy as many may think. We should be encouraging our teachers, not putting them down. Otherwise, no young individual will want to become a teacher. And that will be truly sad and detrimental to our future.

I almost fell off the couch when the President actually used the term “illegal immigrant” and not “undocumented” or other term. Whether the individual is a child or an adult, they are here illegally and thus breaking the law. They shouldn’t be here sucking up resources like locusts they have no right to access. And these aren’t all the wonderful young individuals looking to better themselves the President mentioned. They are often gang members trying to sneak people and drugs into our country. This is the single issue that will kill us as a nation if it is not dealt with, and I mean NOW.

Infrastructure “investments.” OK, moving on…

Social Security? Well, let’s just say I believe that Area 51 exists. I don’t believe the money I have been paying, and will continue to pay, into Social Security will ever come back to me. My eye is starting to twitch, so moving on…

I also agree the federal government should reorganize and streamline, however, again, call me a cynic, I really don’t see this happening. I hope I am wrong.

I found it interesting that the President is open to make some of the very healthcare bill changes the GOP suggested originally and he wouldn’t he even consider. Amazing what a shellacking can do for bipartisanship. And by the way, I hadn’t heard that word since I was a kid and my Uncle Sonny would threaten us with a shellacking that would never appear. If anything, he was the one to protect us all from the shellacking.

Of course, no State of the Union would be complete without a discussion of our military. Again, I refer back to my previous thoughts about illegal immigration. These two issues go hand-in-hand in my opinion. Illegal immigration is a serious national security issue.

So, as usual, I am hopeful, but not betting the house on it. The only reason the President has moved to the middle, I believe, is because he got beat and I mean seriously beat. I would like to see him not spend on infrastructure and instead let private industry develop tomorrow’s high speed railways. Again, just allow for private industry to do what they do best and get out of their way.

Only time will tell…

January 25, 2011

Legislating to Protect Against Stupidity

Filed under: General Annoyances,Laws — alvb1227 @ 11:05 pm
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We’ve all heard about laws to protect people from their own stupidity. The latest is to actually ticket people who talk, text or listen to devices via headphones while walking. Yes, you read right…while walking.

This discussion has come to the forefront in light of the recent video that went viral when a woman fell into a mall fountain because she was texting and not paying attention to where she was going. She is threatening to sue, by the way. Not sure what exactly her lawsuit would be based on, since it was her own fault.

Now, I have been known to walk and read at the same time. How can I do these two tasks at once you may ask? I’m not an idiot. I can actually do two things at once.

There are also proposed laws around the county to prevent people from smoking on the street and selling food made with trans fats. My personal favorite is one that I heard just this morning. A father (and doctor) is on a one-man crusade to make bath salts illegal because his son sniffed them to get high and died. While I am sorry for this man’s loss, should people not be able to have a relaxing bath that includes bath salts because his son tried to use them to get high? From what I understand, people sniff a variety of different things in an attempt to get high, such as glue and inhalants. So should I not be able to finish craft projects or purchase Pam for cooking because little Johnny is looking for a cheap buzz?

Call me cold, but if you need laws like this on the books to protect yourself from, well, yourself, then maybe we should just call it thinning the gene pool and call it a day.

January 24, 2011

The Real Story About New Jersey’s State Pensions

Filed under: Economy,Finances,New Jersey — alvb1227 @ 7:47 pm
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As of late, it has become very fashionable to beat up on state employees, their unions and so on. Especially in New Jersey. Now, while I am not a huge fan of the union establishment, I will stand up for those public servants just about every time.

There is an important story that is not being told about the New Jersey pension system “issue” and I feel it is important to get this information out. For close to a quarter century, the state government has been using the pension system as their own personal piggy bank.

From NakedCapitalism.com:

“Governor Chris Christie skipped the required $3.1 billion pension fund contribution last year. He claimed this move was to force reform, but what impact does another $3.1 billion failure to pay have on an unfunded liability that was already over $50 billion?”

Now, it isn’t any secret that Christie has been gunning for the teacher’s union and their membership since his candidacy. I really what to know what a teacher did to him as as kid. Personally, I think Christie is turning into a one-trick-pony: beating up the teachers of this great state.

I am disgusted by those who make it sound so easy to just cut benefits because these state employees are lazy and looking for handouts. I ask if any of these individuals have ever walked into a classroom? Anyone remember Columbine? Pulled over a car unsure if the officer will be shot? I highly doubt it. Despite what some believe, these are not easy jobs.

Are there bad teachers, police and other state employees? Sure. Just like there are bad private sector employees. However, I do believe the large majority of them are good people who go into public work to truly serve their communities. Like I said, these are not easy jobs.

So, while those are finding it fashionable to follow Christie’s rhetoric and beat up on the NJEA and teachers, I ask you really think about who really started us all down this slippery slope.

January 18, 2011

Counts vs. Quotas

Filed under: General Annoyances — alvb1227 @ 11:21 pm
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So I just saw a segment on my local news about a new book out called Women Count: A Guide to Changing the World. They also highlighted a company that has taken great steps to recruit, retain and promote women. I have to tell you, this bugs me. Yes, I am a woman and yes, this bugs me.

Businesses should look to recruit, retain and promote all employees. Not just women. Not just minorities. Not just to meet some quota. Should business be a reflection of society whenever possible (in a positive sense, that is)? Yes. However, we shouldn’t say “well, we need to hire one woman for every man” or “we need to promote one minority for every Anglo.” It should simple be “we need to hire or promote the right PERSON.”

This also means that those in charge shouldn’t act like a “boy’s club” or whatever other type of club. They should be gender and color blind when making personnel decisions. The fact that we as a society have to have gender or race quotas to try and level the playing field shows that we are in a sad state of affairs.

So, I say programs that promote one gender or race over another do not work. While the intentions may be admirable, it only creates potential animosity between colleagues and questions as to why a person was really hired or promoted. It doesn’t bring out the best in people. It can bring out distrust, and create a poor workplace morale.

January 14, 2011

Kidzilla: Just Annoying

Filed under: General Annoyances — alvb1227 @ 11:23 pm
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As many of my faithful readers know, I tend to highlight atrocities in politics and general stupidity. This one isn’t such a big issue; it is just something that bugs me.

You may be familiar with the “Kidzilla” commercial from Nissan. From the first time I saw this commercial, it has completely bugged me.

So, let’s think about this for a moment. We have a rotten little brat, doing everything in his power to destroy his toys. The point, obviously, is to show that the Nissan can easily take whatever this spawn of the Devil dishes out.

Yes, I know. It is a kid acting in a commercial. But all I can think every time I see this is how I would’ve had my head handed to me if I ever did this to my toys.

Ah, I feel better now.

January 13, 2011

The Tucson…Memorial?

Filed under: General Annoyances,government,Politics,Security — alvb1227 @ 2:31 am
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So, I just sat through the “event” in Tucson. I am hesitant to call it a memorial because, well, it felt more like I was watching a college pep rally.

First of all, let’s start with that opening blessing. It should’ve just been a blessing, not a history of the individual’s family. Also, I thought it would make more sense to open with a blessing from a Rabbi, since the Congresswoman is Jewish.

We had our country’s Homeland Security Secretary start her remarks with what sounded like the start to a rock concert; “thank you Tucson.”

We had the student government president speak? Um, why? And while we are at it, why was Congresswoman Pelosi there? Oh, let’s also not forget the falling all over the President done by the college president.

Governor Jan Brewer, I felt, struck a better tone in her remarks. The President started to attempt to tone down the cheering a bit, but it quickly turned into what sounded like a stump speech to me. He then turned to the “tone of the discussion,” which I really thought he would stay away from tonight. This just wasn’t the place.

All the time I am watching this, I am thinking about those who were killed. The families of those left behind. The Congresswoman’s husband who probably had to be torn away from his wife’s side to attend this.

Call me old fashioned, but I really think a memorial should be a bit more subdued. I am thinking of the memorial service for those lost after the West Virginia mine disaster. That was a memorial that struck the right tone. This was along the lines of a political rally or college basketball game. A memorial is to remember those who have perished and to comfort their families. It is important to recognize those who were injured and recovering, as well as those who tried to help and the first responders that came to aid the injured and dying.

This whole evening was just wrong.

January 12, 2011

Haiti: One Year Later

Filed under: International News — alvb1227 @ 11:54 pm
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Today is one year since the tremendous earthquake. Since then, Americans have donated $1.4 billion (with a “b”) to help with their rebuilding. As I watch the coverage on television, I am left feeling both sad and frustrated.

Just about the entire world came to Haiti to help. However, as the infrastructure crumbled around them, their government crumbled as well. What was once a corrupt government is now in complete disarray. So, I ask, just like many others, where did the money go?

Are there some small improvements? Absolutely. Is it anywhere near enough? Not even close.

Sadly, I wonder if that small nation will ever rise up again, regardless of any amount of money that is sent for aid for their people.

As I have done since a year ago today, I continue to pray for the people of Haiti.

January 4, 2011

I’m Sorry Mr. Steyn, You’re Wrong

Filed under: Healthcare,Terrorism — alvb1227 @ 1:47 pm
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Yesterday I was listening to Mark Steyn who was subbing for Rush Limbaugh and I feel I need to verbalize my objection to some comments he made yesterday regarding the 9-11 health care bill passed during the lame duck session of Congress.

Mr. Steyn is claiming that because these 9-11 first responders, emergency personnel and construction workers who are part of this coverage shouldn’t get more money from the government. Why you ask? Well, according to Mr. Steyn, since they are more than likely part of a union, they already have a great union-negotiated health plan, so we as tax payers shouldn’t have to give them more money. I’m sorry Mr. Steyn, but you couldn’t be more wrong.

This really burned me. First of all, I believe these heroes should be taken care of like our soldiers and get whatever is needed to care for their health issues that are a result of working on the pile, looking for survivors, recovering those who were killed and clearing debris. They were there on Thanksgiving. They were there on Christmas. They took this job seriously and were both determined and respectful of their duties.

I am guessing you, Mr. Steyn, have never lost someone due to catastrophic illness. It can financially and emotionally devastate a family, often ending in the loss of homes or the need to declare bankruptcy. There are often lifetime limits that are paid and benefits can quickly run out when individuals so young are struck with illnesses like lung cancer, mesothelioma,  thyroid cancer and other horrible illnesses that often end in death.

I know it is fashionable right now to “union-bash,” and trust me, there are a number of things unions do that I do not agree with, however, this shouldn’t be labeled as a “union issue.” As I have said in a previous post about the need to pass the 9-11 health care bill, it is simply the right thing to do. Period. I do not appreciate your attempt to turn this into another way to “union-bash.”

As I said earlier, I’m sorry Mr. Steyn, but you are wrong.

January 2, 2011

2010 WordPress in review

Filed under: Uncategorized — alvb1227 @ 3:53 pm

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2010. That’s about 4 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 70 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 78 posts. There were 2 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 74kb.

The busiest day of the year was September 12th with 168 views. The most popular post that day was My Thoughts Today on 9/11.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, twitter.com, en.wordpress.com, newjerseyhunter.com, and mail.yahoo.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for health care bill cliff notes, ihaveagripe.wordpress.com, 1600 new irs agents, dream act, and healthcare bill 1600 new irs employees.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

My Thoughts Today on 9/11 September 2010
8 comments

2

A Cliff-Notes Version of the Healthcare Bill March 2010
2 comments

3

I’m Sorry Mr. Cavuto, You’re Wrong May 2010

4

Princeton’s Immigration Policy May 2010
1 comment

5

About Me and My Gripes November 2009

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