BACK                       ANDYS PAST COLUMN IN THE PAHRUMP MIRROR       


What's the deal with school?
© Copyright 2007 0828 All rights reserved
Andrew Alberti Jr
     Hey, maybe you can tell me what is going on in the world of education. The much discussed quality of education in America seems to be the most mis-directed, mis-informed and mis-construed issue I have yet to discuss with anyone.
     We constantly see and hear the lament about our students poor performance in schools, the public schools, supported by taxpayer dollars. I begin today, to explain to students that your education is a gift to you. You most likely know that the money is taken by government mandate, by people elected to public office, who want you to remember their generosity when you are old enough to vote. It's free to you. They gave it to you. You should feel good about this.
     Wrong!! The money for your education is extracted from those who work so you can have a good education. Although I use the word extracted, the money would still be willingly given by most, with the expectation that those who are privileged to attend our schools will understand their part of the deal.
     Deal? Oh yes. Any deal requires both sides to participate or no deal.
     We pay.  You study, get good grades, do your best, respect the buildings, equipment and most importantly the teachers who are there to help you. Respect yourself because if you don't know one else will either.
     We expect that when you graduate high school you are good at math, science, writing and have skills to make your way in the world. No one wants to support you. We expect you to support yourself.
     Now that all the excitement of graduation is over lets review a few things. We do not need to give you a reward for finishing 12 grades of education. Your expectation of gifts, money and accolades are family issues. When your family is proud of your accomplishments it is they who are most pleased. Oh, the rest of us are pleased too, but not to the point of showering you with gifts, gala events and rewards.
     Our gift to you is the education you received. Maybe you think it was only money that paid for your education. That is probably because you have been told when someone was robbed or your bicycle was damaged or whatever, that these things can always be replaced. It was only money. You have been misinformed or given this information under a misunderstanding. It was a partial truth.     
     In reality, every dollar put forth for your education was earned by an adult giving a part of their life. Many hours were worked to earn those dollars that paid for your education. We do this so you can work to have the potential for a better future. We also do it because we want doctors, mechanics, teachers etc that are qualified to work for us. Every hour on the job is taxpayer time working. This is what earned the money to pay for your education.
     I have not heard from the public school establishment that students need to understand this concept. I can assure you that every student who attends a private or Parochial school understands how the cost of their education was paid.
     It may be law that education is public and paid by taxpayer working hours. We need to add an obligation to that. In return, you, the students, are expected to prove that our investment in you is working. The best measure I know is final testing to determine if you have learned the expected material so you can move on.
     There should also be a requirement for your obligation to return something to your community, something of value to improve where you live. To acknowledge the community's support for you. It could be an annual cleanup of the town by all high school students, participation in town beautification, or some public service. Or is there another reason for summer vacation.

Cooking the books
© Copyright 2007 0701 All rights reserved
Andrew Alberti jr
     Are you one of those who deal with issues quietly. One of those, who through fear, blind obedience, or lack of knowledge never challenges anything? Or maybe you just don't give a damn.
     The truth in this instance is ugly and you can hide from it all you want, but it's like when you were little and your folks put you to bed. They turned out the light, closed the bedroom door and left you all alone in the dark. That's when the 500 pound gorilla that you knew for sure was hiding under the bed, or in the closet, brought fear to your little heart.
     Did you slide under the covers, press your back in to the mattress and lay as flat as you could so the gorilla or bogey man wouldn't see you? Then did you lay quiet as a mouse until sleep came?
     Today and for many years prior to now, there are those among us, who for their own reasons, have ignored a bogeyman in their bedroom. The one who brings fear and intimidation for real.
     With this we now go to California. Not for any special reason other than that it is a semi-perfect example of the real bogeyman in your bedroom. California has a state board of equalization and a franchise tax board. One of them, The Franchise Tax Board, administers the California income tax program.
     As I see it, the California legislators have been cooking the books and no one is saying anything about it.
     I have had personal conversations with a number of people who have received communication from the California Franchise tax board demanding they file California income tax returns. The surprising thing is that these people are citizens of the great state of Nevada. They may have lived in California at one time, but that was long ago. So why, you may ask, are they receiving requests for income tax returns in California.
     Here's a fairly accurate example. You have a license in California to perform a certain service, real estate agent, contractor, doctor etc. You have moved to another state and no longer make income from California but you have maintained your license. This could be for many reasons such as the possibility that in the you might return to the California Republic, there my be information you receive which is not retrievable any other way other than to have your license active, or you just have pride that you made the grade.
     Historically there is this thing called imputed interest, or income, which means you didn't really get it but you could have. Now what California apparently does is to scour their records to see if you have one of these licenses and they match it up with tax returns, filed or not filed. If you have not filed a California return and have no need to file, they take the initiative and file one for you. Their assumption, which you will read when they send you your notice of tax due, is that their statistics show that people in your field earn on average, lets say, $53,000 per year in income. You have not filed a return and since you have a license, they assume you earn that amount in California. They request that you either file a return or the state  will file one on your behalf showing an income of $53,000 and calculate the taxes due.
     Later you will receive a notice of taxes due. They will attempt to file liens in California and report to the credit bureaus that you have unpaid taxes, interest and penalties due. OK! So you say why not just give them a return. Well on principle they are not entitled to one and realistically if you send do decide to send one, you have opened the door to entanglements with them which can be debilitating.
     Here comes the other part. Now you contact them to tell them you have no California income. Their response, and this has actually happened,  ...”prove it or pay the tax.”
     Oh, this isn't the only scenario. In 1982 a friend had another experience when he went to a convention in New Orleans. He had a booth at the convention to promote a client database program. He filled out the New Orleans seller forms and obtained a sellers permit.  He did not sell anything at the show and submitted a zero sales return. He never returned to New Orleans and the form showed he was based in California. It was ten years before they finally stopped sending him an annual request for returns. Now Nevada University Chancellor, Jim Rogers, is advocating an income tax for Nevada.
     I can't wait.

Reporting the invisible
© Copyright 2007 1003  All rights reserved
Andrew Alberti jr
     Would you like to be anonymous? How about invisible? Believe it or not there are people who desire invisibility when it comes to who they are, what they have done, even when these are good things that have occurred. Now this is not a bad thing for our citizens. They deserve their privacy but when should privacy of individuals not be protected.
     There can be several instances that come to mind. The first is government employees. How often have we watched, listened to or read about some unidentified person in government making a statement that referred to the finance department, the maintenance department, or statements such as “we decided” or “after review it was determined” etc in reference to bad press. There was a Federal employee in California who wanted to shut down Interstate ten in Fontana to preserve some tiny fly. Her, comment was, “I'm with the government. We can do anything we want.” I never saw her name in print. Oh, there are lots of these around. Give me names of who is responsible for the screw up or the good job.
     I recall one meeting I attended where the government representative was discussing a particularly overbearing action by their county government. He had used the phrase,”We decided to implement this plan”, and so I asked him just who is we. He responded that the department reviewed the data and decided to move forward with the plan.
     I pressed him and again got the standard line. Since I had the floor I asked the same question again and again and watched him dance the dance. The rest of the audience wanted to know also but could not extract a specific name. He either didn't know the answer or was protecting a specific individual. Eventually the meeting moved on. He won, we lost. He kept his job, we paid the price.
     There are other instances of hiding an individuals identity from the public. I recently watched a news story about an unnamed woman who wore excessive and powerful perfume to work that was too much to bear by her co workers. The company she worked for had a conference with her requesting that she tone it down in deference to the other employees. Now I do have a solution to the situation to be withheld. The woman filed a lawsuit against the company claiming discrimination. In all the reporting, the company was publicly interviewed but the womans identity was never reported. It should be. Once she filed a lawsuit it became public record. Oh, maybe it was because of her race and color. That part was openly mentioned in the report.
     Another area of anonymity is with organizations. Can you believe that right here in Pahrump there are some individuals who have some of their personal information in published club or organization lists and then complain, more correctly, want to know, how other members got their Email address. The message seems to be do as I say but don't communicate with me about it.  There are also instances of the organizations bylaws being withheld from the members when they asked for a copy. Now as you may know, organizations run by rules are set in the bylaws. Every member should receive a copy when they sign up and pay their required fees. In one instance I know of, even directors do not have a copy. In situations like this. Administrations can run amuck and the members, who have voted these individuals in to a position of responsibility can wind up being very unhappy. Having access to the instructions as to how the organization works is essential to good governance.
     Consider the issue of age. Oh yes, there is anonymity there too and only one day can make the difference. We are constantly aware of someone under eighteen years old committing a serious crime, robbery, murder, arson and having their name withheld because of their age. So at seventeen years and three hundred sixty four days you are invisible, but at eighteen we can finally see you, maybe. I hear too often about intentional acts being characterized as mistakes. He robbed the convenience store. He made a mistake. Oh, he was on video shooting the clerk but his name is withheld and is referred to as the suspect. What???!!!  Well for my side of all this I want to know who did the act, whether it is government, organization or private citizen.
     One of the rationales for hiding identities is fear of lawsuits. You hear it all the time. Well this should not be too difficult to solve. The lawyers in the legislature can write protections in to the law protecting honest reporting. I mean, didn't the Nevada legislature remove the word idiot from the language. Any persons involved in newsworthy acts should be named in the reporting without fear of reprisal.
     I truly believe that, for the most part,  reporters want to report what they see and accurately tell what transpired and I feel quite confident that we, the public have the desire to know. This is not to suggest that the New York Times, among others, has not had its own issues with false reporting.
     Now what about those ID chips that have been implanted in animals and medic alert chips in people. The ID chips are being put in the wrong people. I would like a paper trail of where all my elected officials and government employees are at any given time. This would help to establish the truth about what they have been up to on our behalf.  Public should mean public. No hiding. Got GPS, Cel phone, video phone, video cam, license plate readers, face recognition equipment, DNA, fingerprint or street camera? The invisible starting to become visible?  Now for the truth.