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Michael Miller

Viewpoint

By Michael Miller
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A Bunch of Numbers

2216: The section of the Nassau County Charter law that allows for the appointment of an emergency interim successor in case of a vacancy in the office of County Executive. However, it only applies in the case of a devastating attack upon the United States that threatens the continuity of local government. This section was adopted in 1963. Nassau County may have the only county charter in America that actually mentions “the inevitable hazards of radioactive contamination.”…

10.2: The latest percentage of national unemployment. Government officials admit that when “discouraged” and partially employed workers are taken into consideration, the real unemployment figure is 17.5 percent.…

15: The federal tax rate paid by many investment bankers, hedge fund managers and some others in the financial services industry on seven or eight figure incomes, because what they earn is treated by our government as capital gains.…

250 billion: The total budget deficits in dollars of state governments for the 2008-2009 fiscal year and the current 2009-2010 fiscal year.…

85 billion: The dollars state governments have cut from their budgets since the 2008-2009 fiscal year. During this time, states raised taxes and fees by $31.8 billion: $135 billion in emergency federal aid closed the remainder of the $250 billion in shortfalls…

36 billion: The dollars of additional deficit state governments must now close. The National Association of State Budget Officers projects that state revenues will remain depressed at least through 2012.…

1: The percentage of gross revenues the New York and North Shore Traction Company was to pay Nassau County for the right to build and operate a rail trolley line from Roslyn to Little Neck along Northern Boulevard. The franchise agreement was approved in 1908, but the 1 percent fee didn’t kick in until 1922. After ten years, the fee was to go up to 2.5 percent, but by that time the trolleys had been bought by railroad and bus competitors and shut down. Revenues from the fees were strictly dedicated to maintaining county roads.…

3 to 5: The typical percentage of gross revenues charged by Long Island municipalities to cable operators. The fee is passed along directly to consumers and revenues are not dedicated to anything. More on this in the near future.…

5,197: The number of casualties caused in 2008 by landmines. Most of the casualties were civilians and one-third of them were children. 156 countries have signed on to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, but the Obama administration reiterated last week that it will not change our policy. The U.S. is not deploying new mines, as it did in the first Gulf War, but maintains a stock of 10 million antipersonnel mines. Our government insists that the mines play a critical role in meeting our military commitments, particularly on the Korean peninsula.…

300: The number of Vietnamese civilians killed each year by unexploded cluster bombs left over from the Vietnam War, which ended in 1975. Cluster bombs and shells release 100 to 200 little bomblets. In some designs, up to 30 percent of the bomblets don’t go off immediately. These submunitions are often the size of a tennis ball and are particularly attractive to children. 85 percent of the world’s cluster bomb casualties are civilians.…

12,882: The number of cluster munitions the U.S. and United Kingdom dropped or fired during the first six weeks of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, generating at least 1.9 million bomblets. Two weeks ago, Iraq became the 103rd country to sign on to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. 24 countries have taken the final step of fully ratifying the treaty and pledging not to use, stockpile, manufacture, sell or assist another country in using cluster bombs, including eight of our NATO allies and also Japan, Mexico, Ireland and the Holy See. Cluster bombs were originally designed for use in Central Europe against a high-tech opponent; one bomb could break up the attack of a Soviet mechanized infantry battalion. The bombs, stockpiled by the millions, have been used against targets for which they were never originally intended…

6.9 million: The number of dollars the federal Environmental Protection Agency places on an American’s life. The figure is used by the EPA and by industry to estimate corporate liability and risk. The figure was reduced in 2008 from $7.8 million.

Michael Miller is a freelance writer, designer and strategic consultant who has worked in state and local government. He lives in New Hyde Park.

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