aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Suicidal campus closets
A new study of college kids found that gay, lesbian and bisexual students were twice as likely as heterosexuals to have planned and attempted suicide in the previous year.
Being victimized because of sexual orientation is a chief risk factor. But the most susceptible:
In the course of the study, University of Washington researcher Heather Murphy also uncovered a group of students who previously had not been studied and are at increased risk for suicidal behavior. These students identified themselves as heterosexual, but also reported being attracted to people of the same sex or engaging in same-sex behavior.
This group was three times as likely as heterosexuals to have made a plan to commit suicide in the past year and six times more likely to have actually attempted suicide in the same period.
Via Andrew Sullivan, “The closet is one of the most destructive forces around. Marriage equality is its most potent solvent.”
The stupid state sales tax proposal
What is it with Georgia and sales taxes? Last month FairTax legislation was introduced by Senator Saxby Chambliss - and promptly skewered in the Wall Street Journal by no less a conservative eminence than Reagan supply-side policy adviser and George H. W. Bush deputy assistant treasury secretary Bruce Bartlett.
It looks like I should be paying more attention to the Georgia House. House Speaker Glenn Richardson’s 4 PLUS 4 = 0 plan to eliminate property taxes, which would be replaced with a statewide 4 percent sales tax, has been floating around for some time:
[T]his would eliminate all property taxes for cities, counties and schools. It would apply a 4 percent sales tax on all services and other dollar-for-dollar exchanges and transactions, including food, legal services, accounting services, healthcare, pest control, electrical utilities and all other business-to-business transactions.
The plan would also drop state income taxes from 6 percent to 4 percent. Thus, 4 percent sales tax plus the 4 percent income tax equals zero property taxes, providing the 4 PLUS 4 = 0 a name.
Under Georgia’s present tax system, county commissioners, mayors, city councils and school board members levy property taxes and apply these revenues to local needs. If citizens don’t like how they spend this revenue, these local government officials can be voted out of office. Under Richardson’s plan, the state of Georgia would eliminate this property tax system and, in exchange, collect all taxes from sales and income. The state would then parcel out tax revenues to each county, city and school system. [...]
Will the 4 PLUS 4 = 0 system eliminate the need for local school boards, county commissions and city councils? After all, the main reason those officials are elected is to create local accountability for local services, such as garbage pickup, emergency response, fire protection, school district services and dozens of other needs.
In answer to that question, Richardson says that there will still be a need for these entities, because they will decide how to spend the revenues the state will give to each county, city and school system.
“The proposals being discussed represent radical untested changes in our tax system,” said Allen Essig, director of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute. “The consequences of these changes, if they go wrong, will be felt for generations to come.”
Essig was joined on the steps of the state Capitol by representatives from groups that represent senior citizens, teachers, local school boards and city governments across Georgia. [er, these don’t sound like what I’d imagine the most powerful lobbying interests in the state to be.]
Each of them - the AARP, the Georgia Association of Educators, Georgia School Boards Association and the Georgia Municipal Association - has a strong lobbying presence at the state Capitol. Also joining the group was the Georgia Coalition United for a Responsible Budget.
Apparently no longer called 4 PLUS 4 = 0, House Resolution 900 would need a two-thirds vote of Georgia lawmakers followed by a statewide referendum. Insider Advantage has both Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Senate President pro tem Eric Johnson saying the proposal “will probably swamp any talk of a new sales tax for fixing metro Atlanta’s transportation woes during next year’s session of the Legislature.”
Savor this Richardson quote, “I do not intend to study transportation anymore,Ã¢â‚¬Â� the speaker said. “We’ve got to do something, even if it’s wrong.” It was later clarified as the use of “humor to make a point” by a spokeswoman.
50 years ago: West Side Story opens on Bway
Fifty years ago tomorrow West Side Story opened on Broadway. This is from the 1961 movie.
Hillary v Obama “friends”
Wow. The tech president disparity between Hillary and Obama is much greater than I had realized…
Microsoft in Talks to Acquire Stake in Facebook
According to the Wall Street Journal Microsoft is in talks to buy up to a 5% stake in Facebook for $300-500 million. That would value the company at up to $10 billion. The WSJ is also reporting that Google is interested in an investment in the social network and could set up a stand off between the two rival tech giants.
The Journal reports that the discussions taking place so far are in their early stages and that Facebook could wind up not taking any investment (or could turn to financial investors, from whom they have already raised over $40 million). Spokespeople at both Facebook and Microsoft declined to comment on the matter to the WSJ, while a spokesman at Google could not be reached. I think it’s safe to assume Google would be mum on this one too. [...]
Facebook reportedly wants to raise up to $500 million to use for acquisitions (they made their first this summer when they bought web OS company Parakey), beefing up their infrastructure, and expanding their workforce. According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook is holding out for a higher valuation than Microsoft is willing to indulge—as much as $15 billion.
So is MySpace a has been? Fortune says no:
It’s easy to dismiss MySpace, with its unruly graphics, clunky navigation, and general sense of chaos. But the masses love it. MySpace is the most trafficked website in the U.S.: It registered 45 billion page views in July, according to comScore Media Metrix. Another research firm, Compete.com, calculates that Americans spend about 12% of all their Internet time there.
And apparently it’s not just kids anymore - about half of its members are over 35. Murdoch bought MySpace in 2005 when it had $23 million in revenues; he recently told analysts that in the fiscal year beginning in July, it will take in $800 million, with a profit margin greater than 20%. [...]
I’m going to go out on a limb here: MySpace, Rupert Murdoch’s four-year-old Internet plaything, may be the template for the media company of the future.
RELATED: Leading social network/teen researcher danah boyd is opting out of the academic job market for now. Unfortunately, it’s darn-near impossible to dispute her reasoning.