Sunday, May 29, 2011

10 States That Profit Most From Sin

Sin! Just the mere mention of the word conjures up all types of images ranging from a deliciously sinful calorie-laden dessert all the way to the far reaches of the spectrum with the truly unthinkable and/or unacceptable.

But states profiting from sin? What's that all about?

I came across an article about state income derived from taxes on goods and services that are deemed to be sinful—sin taxes. The article's definition of sinful is all things related to tobacco, alcohol, and gambling.

In these tough economic times, states are scrambling to replace lost income and bolster their budgets any way they can. Many states have increased the percentage rate of their sin taxes in an attempt to have enough revenue to cover their expenses without making any more cuts to the state budget than are absolutely necessary. The article's ranking of states is based on the percentage of the state's total revenue that comes from sin taxes rather than the percent of the actual tax being levied or the dollar value of the income from those taxes. For example, Pennsylvania charges a 55 percent tax on slot machine profits while Las Vegas collects only 8 percent of the profits. But that 8 percent translates to a larger dollar amount than Pennsylvania's 55 percent tax on slot machines.

A few states generate less than 1 percent of their total revenue by taking advantage of people's desire for vice while other states derive between 5 percent and 13 percent of their state income from sin taxes. Something I found interesting about this list is the differentiation between lottery income and gambling income from other sources.

These are the states with the highest percentage of revenue from our proclivity for sin.

10) New Jersey: portion of total revenue from sin is 4.34 percent, most profitable sin is the lottery

9) New Hampshire: portion of total revenue from sin is 4.54 percent, most profitable sin is tobacco

8) Illinois: portion of total revenue from sin is 4.55 percent, most profitable sin is tobacco

7) Michigan: portion of total revenue from sin is 4.91 percent, most profitable sin is tobacco

6) Pennsylvania: portion of total revenue from sin is 5.04 percent, most profitable sin is gambling

5) South Dakota: portion of total revenue from sin is 5.63 percent, most profitable sin is the lottery

4) Indiana: portion of total revenue from sin is 6.11 percent, most profitable sin is gambling

3) Delaware: portion of total revenue from sin is 7.55 percent, most profitable sin is the lottery

2) Rhode Island: portion of total revenue from sin is 8.66 percent, most profitable sin is the lottery

Finally (and probably no surprise to anyone)
1) Nevada: portion of total revenue from sin is 12.83 percent, most profitable sin is gambling

Note: the article didn't say whether taxes on income from legalized prostitution in specific counties of Nevada was included.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

10 Thoughts To Ponder

These were sent to me in a email from a friend (thanks, Margaret)...some things to think about as one grows older.  Not that any of us are really getting older.   :)

10) Life is sexually transmitted.

9) Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

8) Men have two emotions: hungry and horny. If you see him without an erection…make him a sandwich.

7) Give someone a fish and you feed that person for a day. Teach someone to use the internet and that person won't bother you for weeks.

6) Some people are like a Slinky…not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.

5) Health nuts are going to feel stupid some day, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.

4) All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.

3) Why does a slight tax increase cost you $200 and a substantial tax cut saves you $30?

2) In the 1960s people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.

1)  And the thought that landed in first place:
Life is like a jar of jalapeno peppers--what you do today might burn your ass tomorrow.

As someone recently said: "Don't worry about old age. It doesn't last long."

Sunday, May 8, 2011

10 Workplace Rights You Thought You Had…

Most people think they know their rights as an employee. Unfortunately, most of their information has come from television lawyer shows—definitely not a good source for legal facts. First thing to remember—there are federal laws and state laws and those state laws vary from state to state. What's valid in one state might not apply to any other state.

So…before you inform your employer that you know your rights, you might want to double check those facts.

1) "I was wrongfully terminated."
If you live in Montana, that's a possibility. Montana is the only state that has a law saying you can only be fired for just cause. The other 49 states are referred to as at-will states which means you can be fired for any reason. Or no reason at all.

2) "I know I have the right to see my file."
Don't go storming into the personnel office or human resources office and demand to see your personnel file because you have that right. There is no federal law that requires a private employer to let you inspect your file on demand or copy information from it. There are only some states that have laws requiring an employer to let you see your file and even fewer states where you are allowed to copy information from your personnel file. Many times, only legal action (such as a lawsuit) might get you access to your file.

3) "I demand my break right now."
There are no federal laws that require an employer to give you a work break for anything, even meals. Some states have laws requiring work breaks, but certainly not a majority of them. Health issues, such as bathroom breaks, are most likely covered by OSHA rulings. Lots of people get fired for demanding breaks they're not entitled to.

4) "I'm working in a hostile environment."
Unfortunately, a hostile environment is not illegal. Workplace harassment and bullying are not illegal, either. However, hostile environment or harassment due to race, age, sex, religion, national origin, disability, color, taking family and medical leave, whistle blowing, or other legally protected status is illegal.

5) "I exercised my First Amendment rights."
If you work for a private employer, that wasn't a good thing for you to have done. Only government employees have free speech protections, and those are very limited. In most states you can be fired for your speech, including political speech, both in the workplace and outside of it. There are specified exceptions, but it would be wise to make sure your situation falls in those parameters before speaking out.

6) "My boss invaded my privacy."
Your boss has the legal right to read your emails and monitor your internet usage at work. However, if your employer wants to listen to or record your phone calls, there are some legal restrictions. You also have privacy rights regarding your medical information. There is no federal law protecting your social security number, but New York and California have limited protection against your employer displaying it.

7) "But this is a right to work state."
A non-compete agreement and right to work are not the same thing. Right to work only means you cannot be compelled to join a union in order to work for that company. Right to work doesn't mean your employer can't restrict your ability to work for competitors after you leave. Some states are right to work states, but not all of them. If someone tells you that the non-compete agreement you signed is meaningless or won't be enforced, don't believe it.

8) "I was retaliated against after I complained."
There is no law prohibiting an employer from retaliating against you for reporting or objecting to policy violations, ethical violations, bullying, or the fact that your boss is a jerk. If you do something that puts you in a legally protected category (such as making a worker's comp claim), you might be protected from retaliation.

9) "I was discriminated against because my boss didn't like me."
It's not illegal for your employer to discriminate against you for being yourself. Favoritism, nepotism, and being obnoxious are not illegal. There are situations where your employer discriminating against you are illegal (see item #4).

10) "I not only want to sue my company—I want to sue my boss."
Even though it might be satisfying to sue your ex-boss personally, you probably can't. Federal and many state discrimination laws simply don't allow it.

So, before you mouth off to your boss you might want to check the laws in your state to see exactly what your legal rights are in the matter.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

7 Signs You're In A Manipulative Relationship

I was looking through some of my old/rejected proposals and came across one that grabbed my attention. The heroine's backstory had her involved in a relationship where her ex-fiancé manipulated and controlled her without her realizing it at the time. And that, of course, made her go overboard on being totally independent and not needing anyone in her life which presented a major roadblock to any future relationship with the hero.

While thinking about whether or not to revive the shelved project, I came across an article that listed seven signs that indicate someone might be in a manipulative relationship that certainly tied into my partially completed synopsis from years gone by. Coincidence or the universe talking to me? :)

My blog topics have been in a lighter vein for the most part, but this time I decided on this more serious topic.

According to Dr. Mary Casey, author of How To Deal With Master Manipulators, "Manipulators aim to control their partners by pressing the buttons that get them emotional, whether it be making them feel afraid, unworthy, stupid, insecure, angry or frustrated."

Manipulators are usually passive-aggressive in their dealings which differentiates them from domestic abusers who use violence. If you're sad more often than happy in your relationship and feel that something is wrong but you can't figure out what, that could point to a manipulative relationship.

1) You're always falling short of your partners expectations.
In an argument, the person being manipulated is often made to feel that they are at fault all the time. What's happening is that the manipulator is shifting blame to them in subtle ways by saying things like, "So we're going to have the big interrogation are we?" Or perhaps, "Are you going to get all emotional again?"

2) You often feel guilty in your relationship and are always looking to repair the 'damage.'
This is a skill used by manipulators who says things like, "You have trust issues—why don't you trust me?"

3) You don't often know where you stand with your partner.
A manipulator often uses threats, both concealed and open, to keep a partner anxious and holding onto the relationship. It could be something like, "I don't even know why I'm here anymore. This isn't working for me."

4) You often feel like you're walking on eggshells around him or her.
Sometimes you're given lots of love and affection then at other times you're given the cold shoulder for no apparent reason.

5) You feel confused in the relationship and keep questioning or blaming yourself for making your partner angry or frustrated.
Manipulators excel at never being to blame for any problem in a relationship.

6) You're unhappy in your relationship at least 90 percent of the time.
Bottom line—if this is the case, then it's time to reevaluate why you're with that person, whether your partner is a manipulator or not.

7) You're anxious (as in anxiety rather than excited) about telling your partner your plans or about something you bought.
If this is the case, there's a good chance you're being manipulated or controlled.

If a few (or several) of these statements define the relationship of someone you know, that person is most likely involved with a manipulator and a manipulator is unlikely to change. That person is better off getting out of the relationship immediately and not allow herself to be coerced back into it with promises of changed behavior patterns.