51 States?

Though it’s certainly not the first time that someone has suggested secession, the latest proposal, coming from Riverside (Ca.) County Supervisor Jeff Stone, could be the most ridiculous. Stone is now suggesting that 13 counties secede from the state of California and form the state of…South California. Okay, so while the name may not be too impressive, the idea is actually carrying some weight with local residents.

Stone’s proposal is aimed directly at democratic lawmakers, whose “liberal agenda,” as he calls it, is ruining the state government by overfunding the wrong programs, resulting in tax hikes and corporations leaving the state. One such example, Stone explains, came when bans on plastic bags spread to Los Angeles, effectively eliminating jobs when three companies were forced to close as a direct result. This illustrates why Stone has left Los Angeles off his list, but he went on to explain it further.

“The last thing I want to do is create a state that’s a carbon copy of what we have now,” Stone said when defending his decision to not include Los Angeles. Stone went on to state that to emulate the democratic legislature in Sacramento, or create another version of the same California that he is apparently fed up with is unacceptable and not the point of this proposal at all.

So what do those serving in real government positions think about Stone’s plan? Well, that its not only far-fetched, but ultimately stupid.

“It’s a supremely ridiculous waste of everybody’s time,” Gil Duran, a spokesperson for California’s current Democratic governor Jerry Brown, said, adding to the consensus that seems to be following this push for statehood.

Still, with California being one of the many states not meeting their state budgets, the scariest part of this whole suggestion may just be that somehow it could eventually gain momentum with voters.

Advertisements

Netflix Changes

This morning while checking my Facebook feed I saw that my older brother was very unhappy with Netflix. I figured it would be one of two things… Either “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” still wasn’t available for rental or his subscription fee increased. Turns out it was the latter of the two.

Like many other people my brother has the unlimited DVD rental-unlimited streaming combo subscription. A plan which had an incredibly attractive price of just $9.99. That price is now gone, and a new pricing scheme has been released from the company.

The cheapest plan available was and still is $4.99 per month. That subscription allows two DVD rentals monthly. Unlimited DVDs is now an option (one at a time) for $7.99 which is the same price as unlimited streaming. So, add those two together and you get $15.98 for the unlimited plan. See why big brother is so angry? That’s a 37.5% increase for nothing being added to his plan.

Will this change hurt Netflix? Probably not… The stock is up today, they still have the best selection of available DVD rentals, and the new price isn’t absurdly high. Streaming all those movies to their millions of subscribers is quite the cost and licensing fees increase as more and more people join their service. It was only a matter of time before such a change occurred.

Hopefully my brother doesn’t cancel his plan… I’ve been mooching off that for over a year now and the streaming service is clutch for my lazy Sunday’s.

New List Highlights Most Hyped Cities

For all those who have ever said jokingly that the “South will rise again,” a new list put out by Forbes Magazine may prove that to be the truth.

The good folks at Forbes, known for their in-depth analysis of not just how to make money, but where it’s easiest to find the opportunity to make, have put out a new list that projects what cities might become this generation’s “boom-towns.” Not so surprisingly, many of the largest cities (including those in the Northeast) didn’t make the cut. But what’s alarming to some, and comforting to others, is that the list is dominated by Southern cities. In fact, of the top ten listings, only one isn’t found in the traditional boundaries of the American South. But even this one, Phoenix, Arizona, is not Northern by any means.

The judging this year was based on many categories that cities in the American South are known for. For example, low cost of living, including great pricing on larger homes and land, lead the way for many economists. But other factors, such as the influx in immigration to cities like Austin, Texas and Raleigh, North Carolina (numbers 1 and 2 on the list) reflect the spread of culture not widely associated with the Southland.

More surprisingly still, is that cities like Nashville (No. 3), Houston (No. 4) and San Antonio (No. 5) are not only experiencing cultural infusions but creative ones as well as many educated professionals, including everything from artists to professors, are finding better pay and opportunities in these cities. They are venturing out from traditional hotspots like San Francisco (which fell into the low 40’s) and New York (dropping to 35) and claiming their places early. Even a city as culturally diverse as Los Angeles fell extremely far, to number 47 in the latest rankings, because of the largest decrease in children’s population in the country, as well as the tightening of government regulations on businesses.

Don’t be too concerned, though, if you’re not ready to buy into the whole Nashville as a powerful metropolis in the next coming years. Don’t think, either, that you can’t make a name for yourself in a town like Chicago (tied with Los Angeles for 47th overall). But do keep in mind where the economic flow seems to be spreading so that when people emerge from the South rich and educated, you’re not so shocked.

She Said Yes!

What if I told you that you had a chance with world-famous Black Swan actress Mila Kunis? You’d think I was crazy right? That’s probably exactly what Marine Corps Sgt. Scott Moore’s buddies were saying to him when he came up with the idea to send a recorded message out on Youtube asking the gorgeous actress to attend the annual Marine Corps Ball with him. But instead of never hearing of it again, Moore now has the hottest date at the ball, and all because he had the gall to send out a video message. Oh well, and a little help from Justin Timberlake.

Kunis’s newest co-star Timberlake actually informed the actress of the video’s existence. Not only that, but instead of laughing it off and resuming the interview, Timberlake insisted that Kunis go to the ball, held in Greensboro, North Carolina on November 18. Timberlake pressed further still, stating Kunis needed to “do it for her country,” even though she was not born in America.

Still, the military-friendly actress obliged, and will be present and accounted for come November. This isn’t just a great story about a guy taking a chance, however, but also great to see that celebrities can give back to help troop morale in more than just sappy television commercials asking you to donate money. Kunis’s presence at this ball is bound to inspire an injection of good spirit into all who attend, or at least give them something pleasant to gawk at. Well, done Mila, well done.

Dodger Blues Continue

One of the most storied franchises in baseball history took a huge hit today, when they announced that they would be filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. As many analysts predicted, the fate of the Los Angeles Dodgers was sealed yesterday when their owner appeared in court to say that the team was officially bankrupt. And even though Frank McCourt’s divorce appears to be the biggest issue contributing to the owner’s inability to make payroll for his team, McCourt is instead blaming baseball commissioner Bud Selig.

Selig, who recently vetoed a proposal that would have given the Dodgers $385 million up front, and up to $3 billion over the course of the next few years, says that the 17-year television deal wasn’t just bad for the league, or even for the Dodgers themselves, but would have given McCourt the available funds to keep fighting his wife in court, obviously not what the money was intended for. McCourt contends that Selig maliciously obstructed the deal so that McCourt would inevitably have to sell part of the team. And while Selig has only commented to say that this was not the case and left it at that, McCourt’s own debt totals and personal finance woes show that the owner has been misusing funds appropriated for the team for some time now, and it has finally caught up with him.

The sad fact now remains, however, that even though McCourt will be able to make payroll and potentially sign new players, the franchise that can trace its beginnings to 1884, is now going to be forcefully split up by the league. What’s even worse, still, is that McCourt, who is still the principal owner (even though he is unable to control the team’s day to day operations due to league suspension), doesn’t have to sell the team outright, and can even remain the majority owner.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt sad for L.A. Dodgers fans. Many of them live in beautiful Southern California, and their former owner did steal the Dodgers from Brooklyn, a borough that loved and cherished the fact that they had a team (even though they consistently lost to the Yankees time and time again). But ultimately, no team deserves an owner that’s so shallow that he uses the team’s own money to fund his divorce and lavish lifestyle. I know athletes make a ridiculous amount of money to begin with, but when you’re paying your lawyer and home decorator before your star outfielder, you’ve got some serious problems and don’t deserve to own a baseball team.

Visit Washington! (But You Didn’t Hear It From Them)

Have you ever wanted to visit the state of Washington? Perhaps you wanted to catch a Mariners game, or drive on out to Mount Rainer. Maybe you even wanted to cruise on up to Puget Sound, or enjoy one of the numerous state parks that are scattered all across the Washington frontier. These all seem like great choices for a vacation destinations, until you realize that after today you’ll be planning any of these vacations by yourself.

That’s right, to rectify the current state budget crisis, the Washington state government has one-upped states like New York that have cut the funding for promoting tourism by completely doing away with all funding. The state’s current tourism expenses have dropped from over $7 million to only $2 million in recent years, which may not seem like much until you realize what else would have been cut instead.

I applaud the effort here because it means that instead of tuition hikes and health-care cuts, the state’s actually risking money out of its own pocket to keep its current residents happy. In fact, tourism accounts for $15.2 billion of the state’s annual revenue, it’s fourth largest market. This means that the risk is pretty steep, but the reality is that this keeps money in the pockets of Washington’s residents for even longer, which is quite a feat in today’s economy. Hopefully our national government, and even our own home states will also take a long hard look at the sacrifices that the government of Washington appears to be making here just to keep a little bit of money in the pockets of its residents.

Don’t worry, though, the state has set up a program so that its tourism website will still be functional, and popular recreational facilities will be staffed. But don’t expect to see any commercials advertising for you to come visit anytime soon.

Fan Who Caught Jeter’s 3,000th Hit Will Meet the Tax Man

20110712-113801.jpg

Christian Lopez, a New York native and die hard Yankees fan has been on top of the world since Saturday. The 23 year old was lucky enough to catch Derek Jeter’s 3,000 career hit as it sailed over the left field fence into the bleachers. Many people would have held the ball for ransom or attempted to auction it off to the hightest bidder. Not Lopez, who unselfishly gave the ball back to Jeter without the expectation of receiving anything in return.

The Yankees however, would not let such a gesture go unrewarded. Lopez was given luxury suite tickets for the remainder of the regular and post season, as well as several pieces of autographed memorabilia.

Like anyone riding high after winning it big on “The Price is Right,” Lopez will have to pay taxes on gifts totaling around $32,000. He will now have an additional $5,000-$13,000 income tax to pay on top of his $100,000 student loan debt.

I like to think of the IRS as Paulie from one of my favorite movies, “Goodfellas”. Now that Lopez received all these expensive gifts he’s gotta come up with the IRS’s money… Business bad? @$&! you pay me. Oh you had a fire? @$&! you pay me. Place got hit by lightning? @$&! you pay me. Only difference for Lopez is he can’t light a match to burn down his debt problems.

Given the fact that $5,000-$13,000 is pennies to the Yankees or Jeter I expect them to help pay the tax, but only time will tell.