Will Brett Favre retire this year?

I am not going to speculate about whether or not Brett Favre will retire. Nor will I say whether or not I think he should retire. I will say that he is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL, and he deserves a lot of credit for his accomplishments.

Brett Favre played as quarterback in his first NFL regular game after Don Majkowski was injured in 1992, shortly after being traded to Green Bay from Atlanta. Since then, he’s started 237 times for the Packers (that’s 16 years!). Although he’s gone out injured a few times, he has always returned the next game to show that he is still a strong competitor. When he lines up behind his center, his love of the game is very visible. He won the MVP award three times and led the Packers to two Super Bowls, helping to win it in 1996 (Super Bowl XXXI). He played the game of his life the night after his father died (his father wouldn’t have it any other way). He stood by his wife as she battled with breast cancer. Although the Packers have had lackluster records during the last two seasons, Favre has shown them the way to winning key games. And although there is a much younger team surrounding him, his wisdom has held them through a trying season.

So whatever decision Favre decides, I fully support him and his decision. He brought the title back to Titletown, and he will always have a special place in the hearts of all football fans. He is a true sportsman, truly loves the game, and has a lot of heart and soul for football. This blog post is dedicated to him, his family, the Packers, and his fans.

Packers.com/AP article: Favre Beats Bears in Potential Swan Song

Midwest Airlines must remain in Milwaukee

I have always admired Midwest Airlines for its unwavering dedication to customer service. I have flown Midwest a number of times, and I admit that I’ve always enjoyed it. Its wide, two-across seating and excellent service make flying a worthwhile experience.

Enter AirTran Airways, who wants to have Midwest’s shareholders vote to allow it to purchase Midwest Airlines. AirTran’s president argues that Midwest will not survive in today’s competitive airline market with its philosophy.

It reminds me of another small company that, despite recent acquisitions, still manages to put customer service and satisfaction before the quick buck. Over 40 years ago, Gary Comer started a small, sailing supply mail-order company that focused more on service and quality than just a product. It soon became a clothing company, but Lands’ End never lost its philosophy of service and quality. Midwest Airlines carries the same philosophy of making the flight a pleasant experience. Other airlines focus on moving people efficiently, resulting in crowded conditions, poor service, and people that generally find flying a chore. Quite honestly, I dislike flying other airlines.

I hope that the stockholders will remember why Midwest Airlines is in business and its philosophy on providing its customers a positive flying experience. In today’s day and age of being herded through airport security and sitting elbow-to-elbow with strangers, Midwest Airlines needs to remain independent and continue its practices of wide, two-across seating and fresh-baked cookies. These are the touches that make it a better airline.

Midwest Airlines: Customer Experience

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article: Midwest sale may hinge on price

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorial: Big Questions for AirTran

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article: Independence will save Midwest, chief says

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article: Airline plans to expand service

Taxing cigarettes

I don’t smoke, nor do I condone smoking. It’s a disgusting habit that I managed to completely quit  two years ago, and I don’t expect to ever start again. I also am not a big fan of taxing those that cannot otherwise seek meaningful treatments to quit smoking.

The Healthy Wisconsin Council, a council to address health care and other health issues, recently recommended increasing the state’s cigarette tax by $1 per pack to cover costs for increased health care costs, new health care programs, and anti-tobacco education.

Senator Mike Ellis (R-Neenah) opposes this, stating his press release:

“While a huge tax increase in cigarettes may pay off in the short run, over time as fewer and fewer people smoke, those revenues will taper off but the programs they support will continue to increase in cost.”

The senator is correct to a degree. But I urge all of the legislators out there to consider the goal of the tax. Is it to increase revenues for a new program? Is the program truly related to helping smokers quit, or are there other motivations behind increasing revenues? Or is it really to “encourage” smokers to quit?

The statistics indicate that when cigarettes cost more, less people smoke. Additionally, those that do smoke add greater costs to the health care cost burden because of the complications that are related to continuous bodily damage. But the statistics do not show the powerfully addictive nature of quitting smoking. I’ve heard from others that they found it easier to quit heroin or alcohol than to quit smoking.

Four years ago, the state used money from a tobacco lawsuit to plug a hole in its budget deficit. The money was intended to help people quit smoking. It certainly was not a self-sustaining fund, but it was large enough to help many fund programs that could help smokers kick the habit. Now that the money is gone, we need to know if the increased cigarette taxes will be used only for these purposes.

I liken this to what happened in the City of London when it imposed a toll for vehicles to enter. At £5 per vehicle per day, the city hoped to increase revenue while also decreasing motor vehicle traffic. Because the public was really upset with the cost, the city ended up only seeing traffic decrease; the last I read, the city did not raise the revenues it expected.

I agree with Senator Ellis’ point on increasing taxes for the sake of starting a new program. It’s irresponsible, and there is plenty of evidence that shows why it doesn’t work as a long-term solution. If it is used as a way to cover increased health care costs because of the burden of smoking, then we could be sending the wrong message to the health care companies: we are willing to pay increased costs. I don’t agree with that either. If we are using the funding to help smokers quit, then we are forcing them to subsidize their own programs, and I’m willing to accept that. Again, legislators need to seriously consider the true motivation for these increases before making their final decisions.

Ellis Blasts Call for Cigarette Tax Hike

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article: Cigarette tax increase has support in Senate

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial: Taxing what kills us

NBC releases New Orleans “O Holy Night”

I enjoy watching NBC’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. It’s fairly witty, and the acting and writing are quite good. I was watching the Christmas episode last week when they had a group of New Orleans musicians play “O Holy Night.” It was quite moving. So it turns out that NBC has released the song on its Web site as a free download. See my link to it below.

Studio 60 – O Holy Night

The Tipitina’s Foundation

Milwaukee incomes flat while Madison incomes soar

The following article has some interesting perspectives on the economies between Milwaukee and Madison. What I find interesting is that these two cities, only 75 miles apart, have different economic bases. Madison is known for its academic university, its research facilities, its high-tech base, and the seat of the state’s government. Milwaukee has traditionally been a manufacturing city, but has also attracted some major service-based industries.

Milwaukee’s demographic has a strong tie to manufacturing. I think that it needs to move forward with re-educating its residents and trying to attract high-tech and service-based industries. Milwaukee has a wonderful culture and many wonderful features that should attract businesses, and the city really needs to play those up.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article: Income gap widens

Corporate tax collections low

According to a recent report, two-thirds of companies that operate in Wisconsin do not pay income taxes. However, the findings could be misleading. If a parent company does not pay, but instead its subsidiaries cover those expenses, then is it fair to say that the company does not pay? I’m all for companies paying their fair share of the tax burden (on top of a number of other things they should take responsibility for). But I also believe fair, objective analysis must not mislead people, and that analysis must be just that: fair and objective. Further evaluation should be done, but only by an independent organization that has nothing to lose or gain from such a study.

Wisconsin State Journal: 2 of 3 companies pay no state income tax

Wisconsin State Journal: Corporations: We paid taxes

Remembering Pearl Harbor

On December 7, 1941, Japanese bombers and fighters destroyed 21 American battleships stationed on Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor and killed over 2,000 soldiers. Yesterday marked the 65th anniversary of this tragedy. The memory of what happened still haunts us today. It should be a glaring reminder to us that our actions set the stage for world events, no matter how small, and that we are never invulnerable. I dedicate this blog to all of the veterans that continue to fight for liberty and against tyranny.

Pearl Harbor Memorial: History

Wisconsin’s Office of Privacy Protection

The Office of Privacy Protection housed at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection opened earlier in 2006 to deal with the growing issues of identity theft and fraud. As these problems continue to grow, it’s nice to know that there is a source at the state level to help victims of identity theft. I know that it can be slow-going at times, but I find it at least somewhat useful to know that Wisconsin is serious about combating this problem.

Racine Journal Times: ID theft is growing, but there is help

More on sales tax initiatives

If there is one thing to be said about sales tax, it’s that people really don’t like them at all. As I’ve stated, I’m no major fan of them either. Although the following editorial voices opposition to Senator Erpenbach’s (D-Middleton) proposal to re-evaluate and expand the sales tax, it does offer another viable option: join the Streamlined Sales Tax Project.

Wisconsin reported significant decreases in sales tax collections just a few years ago when the shopping on-line took off. This proposal does not introduce new taxes, but instead enforces the current tax laws. I think it makes perfect sense for Wisconsin to pass legislation to adopt this initiative. In the long run, it will help reduce the overall state tax burden. But I still also encourage the Legislature to review the current sales tax exemptions for frivolous goods and services.

Wisconsin State Journal editorial: Reject expansion of state sales tax

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Doyle urges uniform sales tax rules

Merry what?

About three-and-a-half years ago, I turned my back on religion and chose to live my life as someone that does not believe in a god or some higher power. I did so because of two reasons: first, I did not like the false justification of one’s religion over another’s to assert one’s agenda. Second, I realized that I was not taking full accountability for my own actions, even though they were entirely my own.

So over three years later, I still stick by my decision. However, I also understand that other people have their beliefs, and I respect them for that. But when someone wishes me a “Merry Christmas,” I don’t get upset. Heck, I even say it once in a while.

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