Welcome to the Finger Lakes! Our theme song:

In a town this size, there's no place to hide
Everywhere you go, you meet someone you know...
In a smokey bar, in the backseat of your car
In your own little house, someone's sure to find you out
What you do and what you think
What you eat and what you drink...

(Kieran Kane)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Recommendation from Santa himself

Santa's bold statement from the outstanding Maggie's Farm, a communal blog you should visit daily, right after you read South of 5 and 20. The Farmers explain:
We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cyber Monday - best deals!

Support South of 5 and 20 - click here to get Amazon's best Cyber Monday deals.  This blog will earn a little cash, which we will use to help pay New York's highest-in-the nation taxes!

Sunday in Syracuse

Some headlines from Sunday.  We await Mayor Miner's resignation.

Update: 1 1/2 year-old boy dies after being shot in Syracuse

Police say Midland Ave. shooting under investigation

Police: Two Syracuse brothers argue, stab each other

Two Syracuse teens accused of robbing four people at gunpoint

Friday, November 26, 2010

High NY taxes result in construction boom...

...in Pennsylvania.

New York's ever-increasing cigarette taxes, the highest in the country, have not provided the revenue windfall our rulers were expecting.  The New York Post reports:
Sales of taxed cigarettes have plummeted 27 percent since July, when state lawmakers raised the excise tax to $4.35 a pack on top of the city's tax of $1.50, making the average price of Marlboros here $11.60, with some shops charging as much as $14.
But every cloud of cigarette smoke has a silver lining.  Tobacco shops on the Pennsylvania side of the NY/PA line are booming as tax-avoiding New York smokers stock up for less.
Where there's smoke there's profit in Westfall and Matamoras, Pa.
In a two-mile strip of Route 6/209, from Westfall to the Port Jervis bridge, there are eight — count 'em, eight — tobacco shops, with two more on the way.
New Yorkers looking to escape that state's $4.35-a-pack cigarette tax cross the Delaware River for Pennsylvania's per-pack cigarette tax of $1.60.
"There's lots of call for it. This is cigarette haven, I guess," said Matamoras Mayor Richard Gassmann. "I wish we had a variety of businesses, but we don't."
Tobacco King, next to the Westfall Fire Department, opened last week, and manager Jimmy Patel is confident the business will do well.
"This is the golden period to make a profit," Patel said. He compared tobacco shops to gas stations. Consumers will go to the one in the neighborhood offering the lowest price, even if the savings are just pennies.
More on the PA construction boom in the Pocono Record.  Previous discussion here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

One more Upstate district turns red

Buerkle in downtown Syracuse
 The Post Standard is reporting that Ann Marie Buerkle will defeat Obama/Pelosi lap dog Dan Maffei in NY-25.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Stop apppointing commissions

Another deficit reduction commission has now made its recommendations. My own recommendation for dealing with deficits would include stopping the appointment of deficit reduction commissions.
Economist and philosopher Dr. Thomas Sowell explains how politicians will use the "Deficit Reduction Commission" to increase government spending and raise your taxes:  Deficit Reduction.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Modern is better

Whether it's food, shelter, or medicine, we've arrived at the current state of technology because it's proved better than whatever it replaced.  Millions of free people make individual decisions to maximize their own happiness.  Our servants in industry struggle to give us what we demand.  The results of this process of free choice gives us a selection of foods in our local supermarkets that is the envy of the rest of the world.

So, of course, our self-anointed elites tell us we're all wrong, and try to force us to allow them to make our choices for us.  They prefer we pay more for old-technology products, because the elites feel "they're better."  When it comes to beef, however, John Stossel points out Natural Isn't Always Better
Once again, modern technology saves money and is better for the earth. By stuffing the feedlot animals with corn, farmers get them to grow faster. Therefore they can slaughter them sooner, which is better for the earth than letting them live longer and do all the environmentally damaging things natural cows do while they are alive.
"Absolutely right," Capper said. "Every single day, they need feed, they need water, and they give off methane nitrous oxide -- very potent greenhouse gases that do damage."
But what about damage to people? Some advocates of grass-fed beef claim that the more naturally raised animals are healthier to eat.
"There is absolutely no scientific evidence based on that. Absolutely none," she replied. "There is some very slight difference in fatty acids, for example, but they are so minor that they don't make any significant human health impact."
But what about those hormones the cows are given? Surely that cannot be good for us.
"What we have to remember is every food we eat -- whether it's tofu, whether it's beef, whether it's apples -- they all contain hormones. There's nothing, apart from salts, that doesn't have some kind of hormone in them."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"Quick small victories"

Instapundit reader  Richard Samuelson forwards some excellent suggestions for the new Congress:
How about pushing for a some quick small victories?
Repeal the ban on the incandescent bulb.
Repeal the limit on the size of toilet tanks in our homes.
Those are the first two that come to mind for me. I am sure there are many others.

Little Deuce Coupe

No album cover car photo can top the shot of the stacked headlight beauty on The Beach Boys' 1963 release "Little Deuce Coupe".  Many of Detroit's styling advances first appeared on custom cars and hot rods, only to be copied by the major design studios.  A few years after this album hit #4 on the national charts, stacked headlights became a Pontiac trademark.  Check out this '65 Catalina:

And, of course, this.
The Deuce on the album cover belonged to Clarence Catallo, who as a teenager in Detroit bought the car for $75.  Clarence eventually moved to Southern California and went to work for George Barris.  The album cover photo was originally taken for the cover of a 1961 edition of Hot Rod Magazine.  An excellent investigation of the Ford's history and cultural context is available at the New York Times: Surfers Met Rodders, and a Genre Was Born . We recommend you click.

Rules for the Blues

Jake and Ellwood
You got to know the rules before you can sing the blues.  See the complete list in Comrade Whoopie's comment at The People's Cube (third comment).
5. Blues cars: Chevys and Cadillacs and broken down trucks. Blues don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or SUV's. Most Blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet aircraft and state-sponsored motor pools ain't even in the running. Walkin' plays a
major part in the blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die.
10. Good places for the Blues: a. highway b. jailhouse c. empty
bed d. bottom of a whiskey glass Bad places: a. ashrams
b. gallery openings c. Ivy League institutions d. golf courses

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Taxes up, revenue down

WSYR-TV explains Economics 101:
The governor wants legislators to return to Albany and balance the budget before the end of his term. Some of the $315 million budget gap come from lower-than-anticipated cigarette sales tax revenue, despite a tax increase last July.

Many smokers have quit, and many are taking advantage of the tax free status of cigarettes enjoy on reservations.

"I just go to the reservation now and get them instead of buying them downtown where it's maybe a little more inconvenient," said smoker Leanne Harper.

Lawmakers increased the tax in order to quickly raise more revenue for the cash-strapped state, but it seems to have backfired.

In June, 48 million packs of cigarettes were sold. The month after the tax hike, the total dropped to almost 29 million.

That number remained level through October. The drop parallels a previous decrease in 2008, when the state hiked the tax by $1.25.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank you, veterans!

Town of Veteran, NY
Organized by an act to the legislature of N.Y. State, in 1823, The Town of Veteran was formed from the town of Catherine in Schuyler County.  Green Bently, a native of Rhode Island and a veteran of the Revolution, was the first settler.  The town was named "Veteran" in his honor.

Will the bullet train connect with the high speed ferry?

RIP 2004 -20007
The New York DOT held a meeting in Rochester this week to push high speed rail.  Rochester's party-line Democrat spendthrift made the usual pitch:
According to Representative Louise Slaughter, the project will create jobs and boost the economy.
"Economically, I think we can only begin to count the blessings we're going to get from this train," Slaughter told reporters during a press conference before the meeting.
It's beyond parody that Louise is pushing high speed rail in Rochester, where taxpayers are still recovering from the multi-million dollar fleecing they took on the high speed ferry scam.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pataki for President

Former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) is weighing a bid for president in 2012, he said in an interview on ABC's "Top Line" on Monday.
"Just look at the state I ran, sure, we're bankrupt, but California's worse."  Dennis Rivera could be his campaign chairman:
Exactly how much damage have Pataki's deals with Rivera done to the state's health-care system? A recent study by the Data Advantage consulting group found that New York's hospitals collectively ring up the second-highest average bills of any state in the nation—$6,204 per hospitalization, or 30 percent above the national mean, even after adjusting for the severity of cases New York hospitals treat
Meanwhile, the state spent $7.4 billion in 1999 on hospitalized Medicaid patients, or $4,180 per patient, compared with $9.2 billion, or just $2,377 per patient, in Texas and California combined.
As costs have soared, the ranks of the uninsured have swelled from 13.5 percent of the state's population in 1990 to 18.5 percent by decade's end.
New York State's health-care-cost explosion has left many individuals unable to afford insurance, and it has made businesses, especially small ones, unable to offer it. The typical family policy offered by small businesses in New York these days costs between $5,000 and $6,000 per year, depending on deductibles.
No wonder that the state's small businesses listed health-care costs as the No. 1 impediment to economic growth in a poll by Rochester's Center for Governmental Research.
This from Steve Malanga back in 2001.  That family policy now costs New Yorkers $13,164.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

All aboard!

Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo made a pitch Friday to snatch $1.26 billion in high-speed rail money from incoming Republican governors who don't want it.  In a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Cuomo said New York would be happy to grab the federal funding that Govs.-elect John Kasich (R-Ohio) and Scott Walker (R-Wis.) campaigned against.
"High-speed rail could be the 21st Century Erie Canal for New York State," with bullet trains zipping from New York City to Buffalo, Toronto and Montreal in the future, Cuomo said.
 Insanity per Daily News.  For previous discussion of this scam, click here.

Seafood tonight?

Fish Pier, Boston
Fresh seafood served in the Finger Lakes may have come ashore here.  If you're in the neighborhood, a good place to get some fresh air.  Just try to look like you work there.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Solar plant closes, you pay

One billion dollars

The federal government has "invested" billions of our tax dollars in questionable solar energy projects.  One of those "investments" is in California solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, Inc. Facing strong price pressure from Chinese competitors, Solyndra will close a factory and release up to 190 workers. The LA Times reports:
The company said Wednesday that it is shuttering one of its factories to save $60 million in capital expenditures, laying off 40 employees and letting the contracts for more than 100 temporary workers expire.
All this despite a $535-million federal loan guarantee, more than $1 billion in private equity funds and supportive visits from luminaries such as  Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and President Barack Obama.
The NY Times places the total layoffs closer to 190.  

In July, Ed Lasky looked into Solyndra's financing and learned that the Chinese price competition situation was known long before the feds forked over the subsidies.  Yet, they moved ahead anyway, effectively handing over bundles of taxpayer cash to wealthy investors, including one George Kaiser.
One of the biggest investors in the company was Oklahoma billionaire George Kaiser - a big bundler for the Obama-Biden campaign. Not to worry for Mr. Kaiser. The administration is looking to extend hundreds of millions of dollars in additional loans (our money) to the venture.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hanna ousts Arcuri in 24th

Richard Hanna and supporter
Congratulations to Richard Hanna, winner in the 24th congressional district.  While Richard will not take his seat until January, he's already provided a valuable service to the Finger Lakes and the nation by sending Michael Arcuri to early retirement.

Richard can count an South of 5 and 20 to provide helpful advice during his first Congressional term.  We'll start out with an easy one.  We need to abandon this perennial money pit immediately (to quote from Arcuri's re-election platform):   
Calling it the “Erie Canal of our time” he has been a loud, vocal proponent of high speed rail.
In Monday's Washington Post, columnist Robert J. Samuelson provided a succinct lesson in the absurdity of Arcui's party line porkfest:
Let's suppose that the Obama administration gets its wish to build high-speed rail systems in 13 urban corridors. The administration has already committed $10.5 billion, and that's just a token down payment. California wants about $19 billion for an 800-mile track from Anaheim to San Francisco. Constructing all 13 corridors could easily approach $200 billion. Most (or all) of that would have to come from government at some level. What would we get for this huge investment?
Not much. Here's what we wouldn't get: any meaningful reduction in traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions, air travel, oil consumption or imports. Nada, zip. If you can do fourth-grade math, you can understand why.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Marine drama on Keuka Lake

A fine looking craft

Former dinner cruise vessel and current floating controversy, the Keuka Maid ran aground on Keuka Lake Monday, drawing the attention of law enforcement, the courts, and protesters on the shore.  Gwen Chamberlain tells the tale at the Chronicle-Express.

Strangely enough, Mrs. South of 5 and 20 was crewing on another boat that ran aground in that very same lake several years earlier.  Mariners beware.

Election day: confiscate your 401K?

Teresa Ghilarducci wants your 401K
It's a golden autumn day in the Finger Lakes.  Enjoy the view as you head to the fire hall, school, church, Legion, highway barn, auto showroom, library, village hall, town hall, or wherever you vote today.

Before you mark your ballot, please be aware of a hearing held in Congress down in Washington, DC on October 7.   A scheme to confiscate tax-deferred retirement accounts, such as your 401K, has been around since the Clinton administration.  After today's election, lame duck Democrats may have the opportunity to make this happen. 
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee heard from hand-picked witnesses advocating the infamous "Guaranteed Retirement Account" (GRA) authored by Theresa Guilarducci....
In a nutshell, under the GRA system government would seize private 401(k) accounts, setting up an additional 5% mandatory payroll tax to dole out a "fair" pension to everyone using that confiscated money coupled with the mandated contributions.  This would, of course, be a sister government ponzi scheme working in tandem with Social Security, the primary purpose being to give big government politicians additional taxpayer funds to raid to pay for their out-of-control spending.
Before you vote, read the rest at Humans Events, and be sure to listen to Mark Levin's interview with Professor Guilarducci.

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Monday, November 1, 2010

What are those Duke boys up to now?

1968 Dodge Charger
Our Southern Tier correspondent provides a photo of his new ride. 

"a semi-criminal enterprise run out of Manhattan"

Let's face it - the territory South of 5 and 20 has survived the last twenty years on public employment, the crumbs from Albany's bloated spending.  Now that our state and local governments are facing bankruptcy, that chicken has crossed the road.  Our decimated private sector can no longer support Albany's demands more and more tax money, so even public employment is shrinking.  In the past year we've suffered the latest symptom: long established restaurants are suddenly in trouble, or in many cases have already shut down.

Writing in the Manhattan Institute's City Journal, Fred Seigel makes a good attempt to explain why us hicks are so angry:
Nationally, most Tea Partiers look favorably on their state governments, but upstaters often consider Albany a semi-criminal enterprise run out of Manhattan. No wonder: the state’s executive-level leadership—its governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general—all hail from the New York City metro area, while upstate New York contains nine of the ten counties in America paying the highest property taxes as a percentage of home values...
 A patch of another upstate region, the Southern Tier, resembles Appalachia in its poverty. 
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