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Michael Miller

Viewpoint

By Michael Miller
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Incredible, Amazing Mindblowers!

1. July 20, July 17, July 7, July 2, June 18, June 8, June 4, May 30, May 16. These are the days the postal carrier delivered publicly-funded mail featuring County Executive Ed Mangano. That’s only what has arrived since he threatened a $40 million budget cut if legislators didn’t approve additional borrowing. On July 13, we learned that Nassau County finished 2011 with a $50.4 million deficit and faces, conservatively, a projected $45 million deficit for 2012. One hundred more county workers were sacked last week, and it’s just starters. Yet the brochures, postcards and booklets keep coming, some from the Industrial Development Agency, which doesn’t need to mail anything to residents, let alone “Thanks to County Executive Ed Mangano” postcards. Clearly the county executive doesn’t do subtlety or nuance. Half the space on the new county prescription discount card, initiated by former County Comptroller Howard Weitzman, is now taken up by Mr. Mangano’s picture. It was mailed to hundreds of thousands of families that never asked for another one. Some other public officials are abusers, but given the county circumstances and the timing, scale and seven-figure cost of it, this is way over the top. Incredible!

2. When I first became eligible to vote, I would not have had the identification now required under the Pennsylvania “Voter ID” law. The law requires photos on identification, which New York Driver’s Licenses didn’t have, and requires photo ID to have an expiration date, which my college ID didn’t have. An estimated 9.2 percent of Pennsylvania citizens don’t have the required identification items, but it’s double that in heavily-Democratic, heavily-minority Philadelphia. Amazing!

3. Not every state is committed to raising barriers to voting. Washington, which already has conducted entire elections by mail and has processed 500,000 online voter registrations over the last four years, will now allow voter registration via Facebook. Registering using the online “app” will also allow access to customizable voter guides with information about candidates and ballot proposals. Mindblowing!

4. Quote from a corn farmer in The Gazette, daily newspaper of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on July 17:  “I think this year’s drought is worse than the one in 1988, but we will come out a lot better because of crop insurance,” referring to a federal program established in 1994. The Iowa Pork Producers Association is strongly supporting the new farm bill pending in Congress for its provisions to help distressed pig farmers. Only six months ago, the Iowa Caucuses turned into a virulent Trashfest against government. In his victory speech, Senator Santorum equated social welfare programs with the Fascist Italy his grandfather left in the 1920s. Then he praised “the Republican vision, which is, let’s just cut taxes, let’s just reduce spending and everyone will be fine.” Something isn’t matching up here. Confusing!

5. National candidates want to appear to be “happening” and relevant. Twitter.com displays the number of people who want to follow one’s posts. Guess where this is going. So far, it’s only been reported by technology writers, but Governor Romney’s campaign was outed apparently buying ghost Twitter followers (it’s a growing business). Beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday, July 20, the Romney campaign gained 100,000 new Twitter “followers” out of nowhere, added at a steady 10,000 per hour. Many names seemed to be random assortments of syllables. Transparent!

6. In this past month, in rapid fire succession, we have learned that some of the largest banks have allegedly perpetrated conspiracy, collusion or fraud to: Manipulate worldwide interest rates; fix prices of energy markets; inflate investment fund performance data; launder money for rogue states, drug cartels and terrorists; fix credit card fees for small businesses. Probably I’ve missed some. Several banks, we learned, created handbooks on how to avoid surveillance. Meanwhile, the statute of limitations (five years) for the SEC to bring charges related to the 2008 meltdown is running out. Attorney General Holder and the head of his Criminal Division, SEC Chairperson Schapiro and the head of her enforcement division, all came directly out of the financial services industry. No one ever goes to jail. The problem is food stamps, or Medicaid, or immigrants. I did build it. There are no words. Exclamation point.

Michael Miller is a freelance writer, designer and strategic consultant who has worked in state and local government. Email: millercolumn@optimum.net