Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Friday, April 29, 2011

First Amendment, Second Class Education

When I was in senior high school (let alone junior high), it was well understood that students were expected to attend classes for the duration of the class session, until dismissed by the teacher. We were not allowed to cut classes, and we were not allowed to leave the classes before dismissal.

And if, by whatever circumstance, we deigned to walk out of class (or, more commonly, were ordered out by the teacher on account of our suboptimal decorum), we were required to report directly to the Vice Principal's office for such action as he deemed appropriate. All else being equal, the consequences would be a one day after-school detention for the first offense, a two day after-school detention for the second offense, and a one-day suspension for the third offense (a level I was skillful enough to personally achieve).

But now, the New York Civil Liberties Union takes the position that students should be allowed to walk out of classes with impunity if the action is for political purposes! Some students at the Ralph J. Reed Middle School in Central Islip, NY, walked out of classes in protest against some proposed budget cuts by the school district.

Hey, aren't the students allowed to exercise their First Amendment free speech rights by talking about whatever the wish during travel time between classes, during lunch, before and after school, et cetera? Shouldn't the teachers have the right to demand the undivided attention of the students during classes? Apparently, the NYCLU (and by extension, its parent organization, the ACLU, from whose policies the NYCLU would never deviate) thinks that freely walking out of classes in the name of free expression and the First Amendment is more important than a first-rate education.

I can see reasons for prioritizing free expression over education. But if students seek to walk in and out of classes, willy-nilly, and thereby subvert the educational process and the teachers' lesson plans, then they should exercise their First Amendment rights on their parents' dimes, and not the taxpayers'. Because if the teachers are not allowed to teach, then they are relegated to being babysitters, and should be paid babysitter wages with our tax money and not teacher wages.

Better still -- Get the students who do not want to learn out of the classrooms, so that those dedicated professionals in the classrooms can get their smaller class sizes, and those students who do wish to learn can do so without the distraction of the other pantywaist.

There is a time and place for political protest. But there also is a time and place for the education of our children.

To Central Islip School District Superintendent Craig Carr, I say stand by the suspensions and tell the NYCLU to go take a hike!

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Friday, April 22, 2011

LIFO and FIFO for Pesach

Our Passover seder was very inspiring and enjoyable. This year, my wife's Cousin Shira was once again able to join us, as in some prior years. For those of you who have not been reading the postings, Cousin Shira's sociopolitical outlook tends to gravitate towards the leftward end of the spectrum. This year, she didn't seem as gung-ho about Barack Hussein Obama as in times past. I do enjoy Cousin Shira's company, notwithstanding her politics.

I am not an accountant, but, having attained a MBA degree, I do have a very, very basic understanding of some of the accounting profession's concepts and jargon. In such regard, it is noted that a merchant's inventory can be managed and valued in various ways, and the physical management is not always the same as the valuation method. The valuation method used can make a significant difference, especially when differing quantities are purchased at different times for different prices.

Without getting into too much detail, the three main methods of inventory valuation are First In First Out (FIFO), Last In First Out (LIFO), and Weighted Average. Perishable goods are usually physically managed according to the FIFO method (though they may be valued, for accounting purposes, using LIFO or Weighted Average).

Shortly after my marriage 20-something years ago, I found that I do enjoy eating pickled herring (having theretofore eschewed the food). And so, I usually eat it on Shabbat at my Shul (but that is the only time I ever eat it).

My Rabbi, who takes it upon himself to procure most of the provisions for our sit-down Kiddush meal every Shabbat (the main exception being the baked goods, which are picked up Thursday evening or Friday morning by one of our congregation's members whose office is a few blocks from the bakery we use), informed me that he was unable to find any Kosher for Passover pickled herring.

I went to the local supermarket where we usually obtain the herring, and asked the Deli Manager about it.

Turns out that the jars of the Kosher for Passover herring were still in the walk-in refrigerator, because his inventory management for such perishable goods is FIFO. I explained to him that during the eight days of Passover, certain foods, including pickled herring, need special Passover supervision or religious people such as myself will not eat it.

The Deli Manager thought about it, and then told me that he now understands why the sales of pickled herring were down this week. He instructed one of his underlings to put a few cases of the Kosher L'Pesach pickled herring (3 different brands) into the refrigerator case, so that customers holding by the Pesach kashrut laws would be able to buy it. I purchased four jars and took them to shul this evening. The Rabbi was obviously pleased.

But how much business has been lost because of deli managers who use the FIFO inventory management method with their pickled herring and other perishable foods? And how many, out of ignorance, will decide not to carry pickled herring and other such foods next year?

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Pesach 5771

Tomorrow evening begins Pesach, and my wife and I are very busy, prepping for the Passover seder we plan to host in our home. Probably will be a small and simple affair, but it is always a special thing. I have a long day tomorrow, still have things to do in preparation, and things that need to be done in my professional life before the holiday (as regular readers of this blog have surmised, I do not do any work during the holiday, including driving, turning electric switches on or off, or going online with the computer).

Here is a Pesach-relevant one now making the e-mail rounds, which I post for everyone's enjoyment, amusement, and introspection:

If the Passover Story had been Reported by The New York Times:

The cycle of violence between the Jews and the Egyptians continues with no end in sight in Egypt. After eight previous plagues that have destroyed the Egyptian infrastructure and disrupted the lives of ordinary Egyptian citizens, the Jews launched a new offensive this week in the form of the plague of darkness.

Western journalists were particularly enraged by this plague. "It is simply impossible to report when you can't see an inch in front of you," complained a frustrated Andrea Koppel of CNN. "I have heard from my reliable Egyptian contacts that in the midst of the blanket of blackness, the Jews were annihilating thousands of Egyptians. Their word is solid enough evidence for me."

While the Jews contend that the plagues are justified given the harsh slavery imposed upon them by the Egyptians, Pharaoh, the Egyptian leader, rebuts this claim. "If only the plagues would let up, there would be no slavery. We just want to live plague-free. It is the right of every society."

Saeb Erekat, an Egyptian spokesperson, complains that slavery is justifiable given the Jews' superior weaponry supplied to them by the superpower God.

The Europeans are particularly enraged by the latest Jewish offensive. "The Jewish aggression must cease if there is to be peace in the region. The Jews should go back to slavery for the good of the rest of the world," stated an angry French President Nicholas Sarkozy.

Even several Jews agree. Adam Shapiro and Arthur Waskow, who are Jewish, have barricaded themselves within Pharaoh's chambers to protect Pharaoh from what is feared will be the next plague, the death of the firstborn. Mr. Shapiro claims that while slavery is not necessarily a good thing, it is the product of the plagues and when the plagues end, so will the slavery.

"The Jews have gone too far with plagues such as locusts and epidemic which have virtually destroyed the Egyptian economy," Rabbi Waskow laments. "The Egyptians are really a very nice people and Pharaoh is kind of huggable once you get to know him," gushes Waskow.

The United States is demanding that Moses and Aaron, the Jewish leaders, continue to negotiate with Pharaoh. While Moses points out that Pharaoh had made promise after promise to free the Jewish people only to immediately break them and thereafter impose harsher and harsher slavery, Richard Boucher of the State Department assails the latest offensive. "Pharaoh is not in complete control of the taskmasters," Mr. Boucher states. "The Jews must return to the negotiating table and will accomplish nothing through these plagues."

The latest round of violence comes in the face of a bold new Saudi peace overture. If only the Jews will give up their language, change their names to Egyptian names and cease having male children, the Arab nations will incline toward peace with them, Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah declared.


And so, at a time when the whole world seems to be backing the enemies of the Jews, and insisting that the Jews do suicidal things, we will celebrate our freedom, and our faith that G-d will save us from our current enemies, just as he rescued us from Pharoah.

As for the Jewish leftists who back the enemies of the Jews (and of civilization), they are the Wicked Son as noted in the Haggadah. Had they been in Egypt, they would not have been redeemed.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Obamacare Erosion Begins

Yesterday, President Barack Hussein Obama signed into law the Comprehensive 1099 Taxpayer Protection and Repayment of Exchange Subsidy Overpayments Act of 2011.

BHO's statement upon signing the legislation:

"Today, I was pleased to take another step to relieve unnecessary burdens on small businesses by signing H.R. 4 into law. Small business owners are the engine of our economy and because Democrats and Republicans worked together, we can ensure they spend their time and resources creating jobs and growing their business, not filling out more paperwork. I look forward to continuing to work with Congress to improve the tax credit policy in this legislation and I am eager to work with anyone with ideas about how we can make health care better or more affordable."

What does this legislation do? It repeals the selfsame onerous tax reporting requirements imposed upon small businesses by Obama's own Obamacare legislation!

Another flip-flop for BHO!

I am pleased to no end that another misbegotten statutory creation has been removed from the books, in this case very quickly and relatively unobtrusively. But there comes a point where one must question the reliability of a President (or other official, American or otherwise) whose support for the things he advocates wavers, in such short order, on so many issues.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

New Levy on Account of Levy?

This Blog has had prior occasion to mention Steve Levy, the County Executive of Suffolk County, NY. Steve is once again in the news; specifically, his political career is now on indefinite hold after it came to light that, notwithstanding Steve's public pronouncements of the need to reform the campaign finance laws, his own campaign contributors have included many contractors working on Suffolk County public projects.

This posting will leave to other pundits the issues of the extent of Steve's questionable doings, (2) the terms, if any, of any deal that may have been made with the Suffolk County District Attorney regarding Steve's nonprosecution, (3) the effect of the current Steve Levy scandal on New York politics in general, and (4) speculations regarding Steve's short-term or long-term political future.

What this posting will note is the reactions of two Suffolk County Legislators to the Steve Levy scandal.

Legislator Jay Schneiderman (a political Independent) announced that he wishes to reanimate his proposed legislation to ban "pay to play" political contributions. Schneiderman's bill would impose fines and/or jail time for the tendering of contributions by County contractors and the acceptance of same by officials and candidates.

Legislator Jon Cooper, who co-sponsored Schneiderman's legislation in the past and is doing so again this time around, would go even further. Cooper wants to create a commission to oversee campaign finance in Suffolk County.

In an already overtaxed county, Cooper (a Democrat) seeks to add another governmental agency! This, in my view, is a cure worse than the disease.

Cooper's proposed solution is just so Democrat and Obama! Government bureaucracies cost taxpayer money! While some bureaucracies are needed, the excessive proliferation of bureaucracies is an engine of tyranny, and a menace to our personal freedoms.

What should be done is to add to Schneiderman's bill a provision to provide for the compensation of whistleblowers, or, perhaps, a False Claims Act type provision allowing private parties to initiate lawsuits against contractors and/or politicians who violate the law. This approach could use the existing bureaucratic infrastructure, and not create any new tax-guzzling bureaucratic apparatus.

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Friday, April 01, 2011

Mona Lisa

The world's most famous painting is arguably Leonardo Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa." Though relatively little is known about Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo, the subject of the painting, she is a very classy woman, if only by dint of Da Vinci's painting (and probably was more than a little bit classy in life).

Not so with one of her namesakes. The U.S. Tax Court case of Mona Lisa Herrington v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2011-73, is the tale of a poor excuse for a woman who was abused by a poor excuse for a man, but who prevailed in Tax Court (against a poor excuse for IRS case management) on her contention that the money her abuser expropriated from her business constituted a deductible theft loss.

That this Mona Lisa was in the business of tax return preparation with her H & R Block franchise, and that she had in a separate criminal proceeding pleaded guilty to willfully failing to file her own tax returns, does not alter the situation except to make it more grave.

So read it and enjoy it, and remember that the deadline for filing your tax returns is fast approaching (I received my refund earlier this week, thank you).

The case is Mona Lisa Herrington v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2011-73.

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