When Jack Daniel founded a whiskey distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee, in 1875, he could little have guessed that over a century and a quarter later, the company would be so wildly successful or have remained in the same county the entire time. But now, nothing less than taxes might drive it to another state. Jack Daniel’s is the largest employer in Moore County (pop. 5,740) and accounts for a third of its tax base. According to FoxNews.com Oct. 21, 60 percent of the price of a bottle of the company’s whiskey is some form of tax. The company is also the largest sales-tax generator in the county. As such, Senior VP and General Manager Tommy Beam said the company is contributing its fair share. Yet a private citizen is leading the effort to increase the distiller’s taxes by another $10 per barrel. Charles Rogers claims “We are entitled to more money from the only industry in the county — Jack Daniel’s distillery. They (Jack Daniel’s) created the image of this little old hamlet down here being the place where this fantastic whiskey is being made. And the people didn’t realize what was going on. They were being marketed all over the world as ‘the place.’ ” Rogers says the Daniel’s image comes from the town and that the community is entitled to the money the same way a film company pays “usage fees” for a location. Beam said, “It’s a job killer because it ups our costs. We’re competing in a global marketplace.” The tax would cost the company an additional $4 million a year, a cost that would undoubtedly be passed on to the consumer. Or, as Beam says, “We have been able to hire 25 or 30 people in the last four or five months. And if our costs go up $4 or $5 million dollars, that’s probably going to make us a little less competitive. So, we might not grow as much.”
On Wednesday Wells Fargo released the results of its survey of 1,500 individuals between ages 25 and 75, titling it “80 is the New 65 for Many Middle Class Americans” while another study in June by three financial service non-profits showed three-quarters of those surveyed planning to work beyond age 65. The first survey focused on middle class (incomes between $25,000 and $100,000 a year) citizens while the second concentrated on higher net worth individuals (those between ages 55 and 75 with investable assets of $100,000 or more) but the results were remarkably similar. The Wells Fargo study found that one quarter of middle class Americans say they will “need to work until at least 80” to pay their bills, while three-quarters are expecting to work at least part time to help with the bills. And when those between ages 40 and 60 were quizzed, more than half say they will “need to work” after age 65. When asked about reforming Social Security and Medicare, the younger Wells Fargo respondents were willing to accept future cuts to help reduce the country’s debt burden. The study also revealed expectations from those younger respondents about actually receiving anything from Social Security at all: more than a quarter of those in their 20s and 30s expect to receive nothing at all while others surveyed expect significant reductions in benefits by the time they qualify for them.
Barring a miracle, the Supercommittee will announce Monday morning its failure at coming up with legislation to reduce the projected combined federal budget deficits over 10 years by $1.2 trillion, or $120 billion per year, starting in January 2013. Without enactment of these cuts, under the Budget Control Act the automatic option, called a sequester, will kick in, with $600 billion of the $1.22 trillion in cuts coming from defense spending. Social Security, Medicaid, and other low-income programs are exempt from the cuts, and cuts to Medicare would be modest. Of course, there is the slim possiblity that the Supercommittee could come up with the cuts, in which case Congress would be expected to vote the legislation up or down without amendment. There are other possibilities too. The Supercommittee could “split the baby” and come up with a bipartisan deal that cuts less than the $1.2 trillion, leaving Congress to find the balance before the automatic cuts kick in. The Supercommittee could even hand Congress a package that includes tax increases as well as spending cuts. But as of this writing, these possibilities appear unlikely. What appears more likely to happen is that, following a failure of the Supercommittee to present a bill, Congress will abolish the Supercommittee and its automatic cuts and once again begin exercising its constitutional authority regarding spending.
On November 16 the Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously approved a controversial provision of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012 that sets forth procedures for processing and prosecuting individuals imprisoned on suspicion of being members of al-Qaeda. By a vote of 26-0, the committee granted power to the U.S. Armed Forces to exercise complete control over all custodial matters related to the treatment of those detained for suspected belligerent behavior in the War on Terror. Another aspect of the clause in question makes Attorney General Eric Holder the final arbiter of whether suspects are tried in federal district courts or before military tribunals. Rancorous debate over the various provisions contained in the bill have raged for months, but all argument was finally quelled by an accord reached by committee Chairman Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.)Levin and ranking GOP committee member John McCain (R-Ariz.). Despite the bipartisan support for the measure, President Obama has promised to veto the bill over his disagreement with the delegation of power over the cases of detainees. The White House has repeatedly affirmed its desire that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) should have plenary power over the disposition of issues related to the custody and prosecution of all terror suspects detained domestically.
Expressions of joy were muted on Wall Street at Friday's release of the latest report from the Conference Board (CB) showing its Leading Economic Index (LEI) jumping 0.9 percent in October, following just a 0.1 percent gain in September. Economic analysts had a field day trying to read the CB’s tea leaves heading into the Christmas holidays and the new year. Economists at the Conference Board were guardedly optimistic. Ataman Oxyildirim said, “The October rebound of the LEI largely due to the sharp pickup in housing permits suggests that the risk of an economic downturn has receded.” Added Ken Goldstein, “The LEI is pointing to continued growth this winter, possibly even gaining a little momentum by spring. The lack of confidence has been the biggest obstacle in generating forward momentum, domestically or globally. As long as it lasts, there is a glimmer of hope.”
Presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum said they'd wage war against Iran if it didn't prove it had given up any hope of obtaining nuclear weapons, while Rep. Ron Paul deferred, saying he'd follow Christian just war principles. The comments were made at a November 19 forum in Des Moines, Iowa. "Nothing takes life more than the declaration of war," moderator and pollster Frank Luntz asked the six GOP presidential candidates who participated in the "Thanksgiving Family Forum," sponsored by a division of Focus on the Family. "Can you define the moral justification for war?" Texas Congressman Ron Paul answered first, explaining: "Early on, the Church struggled with this and St. Augustine came up with the principles of the just war. I believe in them. I think we should follow them from a religious viewpoint. But we have a Constitution that is very clear to guide us to try to prevent these wars. And that is that we don't go to war without a declaration." Traditional Christian just war principles stress that wars must be declared by the lawful authority; under the U.S. Constitution wars require the declaration of war by Congress. But Paul noted that recent U.S. wars have not been declared by Congress. "It was tragic because we did it by failing the rule of law," Paul added.
After decades of helping to place children in foster homes, Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, announced on November 14 that it would be transferring all of its current cases to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Across the state, Catholic Charities and the Evangelical Child and Family Agency in Wheaton found that they would no longer be able to continue playing a role in placing children in foster care because the state government was going to require them to place children in the homes of same-sex couples — a practice that both Roman Catholics and Evangelicals believe to be contrary to their faith.
Roland Emmerich’s long-awaited big-screen production of a movie based on the Shakespeare authorship controversy has turned out to be a great disappointment. While technically brilliant, Anonymous turns the Elizabethan era into a heathen, barbaric époque with none of the strong religious values characteristic of the time. Queen Elizabeth is not depicted as the Virgin Queen, but as a lascivious victim of double incest: with her son, Henry de Vere, and grandson, Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southamption, who, as the story goes, should have become Henry the Ninth. In short, the story is so historically grotesque as to make of the authorship controversy a gaseous bubble of ridiculous and obscene fantasy.
Nashville-based mixed martial artist Ed Clay underwent waterboarding after last week's GOP presidential debate where Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain announced they favored waterboarding terror suspects. He emerged a critic of waterboarding and said that if the the pro-family values Bachmann agreed to be waterboarded "I bet you would get Bachmann to admit that she supports gay marriage." Bachmann told the press November 16 that submitting to waterboarding would be "absurd." "Until I'd been waterboarded," Clay said in a YouTube video where he underwent the procedure. "I really didn't have an opinion whether it was torture or not. So I wanted to find out for myself." He emerged with a clear verdict: It is torture. Waterboarding is the forcing of water down the nose and throat of prone prisoners involving the pouring of water, usually with a wet cloth over the nose or mouth of the immobile prisoner. The procedure is generally described as creating the sensation of drowning, but it is more than that since water seeps into the breathing passages and lungs. The gag reflex is induced immediately.
In a move that has already been dubbed a “game changer,” Internet behemoth Google has launched a digital music service, a frontline challenge to the market dominance of Apple’s ubiquitous iTunes store. Google’s catalog of music will be available on the Android Market, the storefront it maintains for users of Android smartphones to download apps, books, and movies. The service is being rolled out this week to consumers in the United States with plans to offer the product to the estimated 200 million Android users worldwide. The long-awaited announcement was made at an event in Los Angeles on November 16. The California-based company’s senior product manager, Michael Siliski, hyped the new music store with a demonstration worthy of the company whose name has become a verb. There are similarities to the iTunes distribution scheme. There is a segment of the catalog being offered for free download, while most of the tracks available carry a by now-familiar price tag of around $1.00 (69 cents to $1.29, to be exact). The initial cache of songs includes work by chart toppers Adele, Jay-Z, and Pearl Jam.