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The Southern State Fast Becoming Ayn Rand's Vision of Paradise

Tennessee lawmakers have elevated hatred for government and disgust for poor people to an art form.


If you're worried about where America is heading, look no further than Tennessee. Its lush mountains and verdant rolling countryside belie a mean-spirited public policy that only makes sense if you believe deeply in the anti-collectivist, anti-altruist philosophy of Ayn Rand. It's what you get when you combine hatred for government with disgust for poor people.

Tennessee starves what little government it has, ranking dead last in per capita tax revenue. To fund its minimalist public sector, it makes sure that low-income residents pay as much as possible through heavily regressive sales taxes, which rank 10th highest among all states as a percent of total tax revenues. (For more detailed data see here.)

As you would expect, this translates into hard times for its public school systems, which rank 48th in school revenues per student and 45th in teacher salaries. The failure to invest in education also corresponds with poverty: the state has the 40th worst poverty rate (15%) and the 13th highest state percentage of poor children (26%).

http://www.alternet.org/southern-state-fast-becoming-ayn-ran...
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GH: Tennessee starves what little government it has, ranking dead last in per capita tax revenue. To fund its minimalist public sector, it makes sure that low-income residents pay as much as possible through heavily regressive sales taxes, which rank 10th highest among all states as a percent of total tax revenues. (For more detailed data see here.)


The question leaps to the keyboard: Why do you live there? Let them proclaim themselves to be Galt's Gulch, let them secede, or (better) throw them out.

Count No'Count
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If you're worried about where America is heading, look no further than Tennessee.


This is the genius of southern politics; exploit religion and social issues to keep your poor people voting conservative. The poor then support the conservative politicians, who keep them poor and stupid through crappy schools and social programs. It's a closed loop self-perpetuating system.

My guess is that if per chance a poor goober finally wises up and sees the ruse and is inclined to vote progressive, they look around, see what a lost cause it is, and move someplace else.
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My guess is that if per chance a poor goober finally wises up and sees the ruse and is inclined to vote progressive, they look around, see what a lost cause it is, and move someplace else.

Let's hear it for self selection!

MDH and I have been debating on where to move after our two sons graduate from grad school in Missouri. Ideally, we'd like to be close to both of them, but it's looking unlikely they'll settle in the same state. Therefore, we'll likely choose based on the properties of the states they settle in.

The winner (or possibly the loser<g>) will be the state with the best climate/facilities (affordability, medical facilities, mass transit availability, lack of debt responsibility being passed on to children and similar factors) for ancient parents.

The interesting thing is that we could find people self-selecting to the extent that gerrymandering is but a drop in the bucket for the coming political landscape.

PM
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This is the genius of southern politics; exploit religion and social issues to keep your poor people voting conservative. The poor then support the conservative politicians, who keep them poor and stupid through crappy schools and social programs. It's a closed loop self-perpetuating system.


a variation on the old "keep em barefoot & pregnant"?
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This is the genius of southern politics; exploit religion and social issues to keep your poor people voting conservative. The poor then support the conservative politicians, who keep them poor and stupid through crappy schools and social programs. It's a closed loop self-perpetuating system.

Yep. It ties in to the popularity of right wing radio too. It's constantly drummed into their heads that their plight isn't anything of their own doing.... it's reinforced daily in that echo chamber that everything is the fault of libs/elitists/gun-grabbers/illegals/atheists, etc.
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The question leaps to the keyboard: Why do you live there?

Duh!
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Ayn Rand was a confirmed atheist. Why do these bible thumping idiots love her?
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Ayn Rand was a confirmed atheist. Why do these bible thumping idiots love her?


she was a prophet who didn't realize ** she was speaking for god

( Paul 'explained' Christ for first the millennium CE;
AynRand for the third
(( ??? for the second ))




** denied that?
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Ayn Rand was a confirmed atheist. Why do these bible thumping idiots love her?


Dare I suggest that it's because their bank account is more important to them than their spirituality?


"Where a man's treasure is, there also his heart will be"

- Jesus
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The question leaps to the keyboard: Why do you live there?

We came here for the jobs (we both worked at a then unknown cable channel called HGTV.) After 5 years (her) and 3 years (me) we retired, bought an RV and toured the country. By then we had a house, friends, etc.

Frankly, we got used to the weather, we found a few friends (some of whom we had hired and moved here), and life wasn't (isn't) so bad. While we live in one of the most Conservative parts of the state, it's possible to find intelligent life, you just have to look harder, and not get depressed by the astonishing ignorance which so regularly smacks you in the face (google: Stacey Campfield, for instance).

If we had children who were affected by the horrible schools, or were otherwise impacted by the retrograde politics we would move (and we talk about it anyway) but we're older now and moving comes harder. And anyway, where would we go and keep the weather? Asheville, NC? It's a pocket in an otherwise retrograde state. Austin, TX? Better, but worse.

So here we are. (We have a condo we rent out in Boston, so every two years or so we get to go up there for a month or three and live in Back Bay among the literate. Then we come back to the land of big hair and bad teeth and talk about moving again, but we never seem to have the energy.)
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And anyway, where would we go and keep the weather?


Why would you want to keep the weather in Tennessee?
Oy! Come to California and enjoy infinitely better weather.
No big hair here, either. :)
And the produce! Gorgeous organic produce.
Sunshine! Mountains! Ocean! Mein Gott, man! Go West!

:)

AM
...would love to have GoofyHoofy for a neighbor....
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As you would expect, this translates into hard times for its public school systems, which rank 48th in school revenues per student and 45th in teacher salaries.

Don't confuse money and educaational achievement. In South Korea they only spend $5000 a year per student and are doing quite well, I hear. But back to Tennessee. Let's compare Tennessee and California on Proficiency Levels on Selected NAEP Tests (from the Census Bureau):
www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0269.pdf

4th grade 4th grade 8th grade 8th grade
math reading math reading
Tenn 74 63 65 73
Calif 72 54 59 64

A higher percentage of Tennessee students test above the basic level than in California in all four test categories.

DB2
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A higher percentage of Tennessee students test above the basic level than in California in all four test categories.

Interesting. Do those kids in Tennessee also know the actual age of the universe? Are they aware that we share 96% of our DNA with chimps because we have a common ancestor?

Doesn't negate your point, but selection bias (in tests presented) has to be taken into account.

I also have to wonder how much diversity plays into this. I'd guess CA has a lot more students whose first language isn't English. That will also have an effect.
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I'd guess CA has a lot more students whose first language isn't English. That will also have an effect.


I was thinking the same thing.
When I go to "DonorsChoose.org" to see what schools/teachers need help with various projects, books, etc., here in California, I see tons of them in high-poverty situations. Those children are mostly from Spanish-speaking families either on welfare or holding down hard-working blue-collar jobs.

This is not to say that Tennessee is brimming over with flush Southern families - but, mostly, they don't have a language problem in addition to everything else.

AM
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1poorguy:

<<<A higher percentage of Tennessee students test above the basic level than in California in all four test categories.>>>

"Interesting. Do those kids in Tennessee also know the actual age of the universe? Are they aware that we share 96% of our DNA with chimps because we have a common ancestor?

Doesn't negate your point, but selection bias (in tests presented) has to be taken into account.

I also have to wonder how much diversity plays into this. I'd guess CA has a lot more students whose first language isn't English. That will also have an effect."


I would also want to check the exemptions from testing and see how many of the public schools kids in each state were exempted from the test, and for what reason.

Regards, JAFO
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I'd guess CA has a lot more students whose first language isn't English. That will also have an effect.

Good point; I suppose a closer comparison would be California and Texas. California spent 11% more per student, $7511 versus $6746 (in 2002).
http://www.epodunk.com/top10/per_pupil/index.html

Test scores:
www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0269.pdf

4th grade 4th grade 8th grade 8th grade
math reading math reading
Texas 85 65 78 73
Calif 72 54 59 64

It looks like the larger Asian population in California isn't helping their math scores. :-)

DB2
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0x: Paul 'explained' Christ for first the millennium CE; Ayn Rand for the third; (( ??? for the second ))

Interesting question.

My first guess: Thomas Aquinas.

After considerable thought and ransacking of archives, my guess remains: Thomas Aquinas.

In second place, the man who provided Aquinas with most of his ideas: the second Moses, Abu ?Imran Musa bin Maimun bin ?Ubaidallah al-Qur?ubi. Most people these days know him as Rebbe Mosheh ben Maimon, or just Maimonides. That he was Jewish in no way disqualifies him.

I don't waste a lot of time reading the speculations of these medieval scholastics, but I do recognize that they occupy a position in the history of thought roughly halfway between Paul and modern science. Both would have made superb scientists or mathematicians, had they been born in this century. Maimonides was in fact a world-famous physician, in addition to being a writer of profound philosophical and rabbinical treatises.

Aquinas was brave enough to attack the notion of infinity straight on, and with greater insight than others of his time. His logic was incomplete and sometimes flat wrong, but I give him huge credit for trying. To get from Aquinas to Zermelo-Fränkel set theory and the Axiom of Infinity required 700 years of thought and argument.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axiom_of_infinity
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zermelo–Fraenkel_set_theory

LC
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0x: Paul 'explained' Christ for first the millennium CE; Ayn Rand for the third; (( ??? for the second ))

Interesting question.

My first guess: Thomas Aquinas.

After considerable thought and ransacking of archives, my guess remains: Thomas Aquinas.

In second place, the man who provided Aquinas with most of his ideas: the second Moses, Abu ?Imran Musa bin Maimun bin ?Ubaidallah al-Qur?ubi. Most people these days know him as Rebbe Mosheh ben Maimon, or just Maimonides. That he was Jewish in no way disqualifies him.



or never EVEN heard of him?
i've heard the name, didn't really know what he did.
esp'ly didn't know he was a big influence on Aquinas ...
would've guessed Aristotle was biggest influence on Aquinas ...via Maimonides?
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Why would you want to keep the weather in Tennessee?
Oy! Come to California and enjoy infinitely better weather.
No big hair here, either. :)
And the produce! Gorgeous organic produce.
Sunshine! Mountains! Ocean! Mein Gott, man! Go West!


If we didn't have all our family on the East Coast we would immediately head out to Oregon. Or possibly Washington. Or possibly British Columbia. If it wasn't for the winter, we would go to Vermont. If it wasn't for... Ah well, I could keep this up for a while, and get Italy in there eventually.
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If it wasn't for the winter, we would go to Vermont. If it wasn't for... Ah well, I could keep this up for a while, and get Italy in there eventually.

Allow me.

".... If it wasn't for the Italians."
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If we didn't have all our family on the East Coast we would immediately head out to Oregon. Or possibly Washington. Or possibly British Columbia. If it wasn't for the winter, we would go to Vermont. If it wasn't for... Ah well, I could keep this up for a while, and get Italy in there eventually.

---------


I don't see California on that list anywhere - and I guarantee you we have better weather here than Oregon and Washington put together. Everything seems to grow here - it's wonderful. My roses (recently planted) are thriving and budding out all over. The clematis is already blooming and has climbed nearly to the top of the trellis (planted the same time as the roses). Sunshine nearly all the time.

I wish I had moved here years ago.

AM
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I don't see California on that list anywhere - and I guarantee you we have better weather here than Oregon and Washington put together.

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

We have earthquakes, fires, mudslides, horrible traffic, smog. It's too hot in the valleys, and the water's too cold at the beach.
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Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

We have earthquakes, fires, mudslides, horrible traffic, smog. It's too hot in the valleys, and the water's too cold at the beach.


All that, plus everyone else wants to live there so it costs a fortune to buy a place.

I like to visit, glad we got out in '07.
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I don't see California on that list anywhere - and I guarantee you we have better weather here than Oregon and Washington put together.

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

We have earthquakes, fires, mudslides, horrible traffic, smog. It's too hot in the valleys, and the water's too cold at the beach.



and those are the pro-s

don't EVEN list the con-s
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We have earthquakes, fires, mudslides, horrible traffic, smog. It's too hot in the valleys, and the water's too cold at the beach.

All that, plus everyone else wants to live there so it costs a fortune to buy a place.

I like to visit, glad we got out in '07.

-----------



Did you go someplace better?

AM
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Did you go someplace better?

Better for my family, yes. The timing worked well because we got out before the housing crash.

I visit often. Was in LA last Saturday.
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Did you go someplace better?

Better for my family, yes. The timing worked well because we got out before the housing crash.

I visit often. Was in LA last Saturday.

------------


Where did you go that was better?
In what ways is it better?

AM
...having trouble envisioning any place that would be better enough to tempt me there...
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Good point; I suppose a closer comparison would be California and Texas. California spent 11% more per student, $7511 versus $6746 (in 2002).

Why not just compare to the national average? CA falls short, being below average (why?).

Your school spending link does not appear to be the same time period as the testing performance link. So the amounts very likely have changed (maybe reinforcing your point, or undermining it).

Wolfram Alpha says in 2009 the US spent (on average) $11476 per pupil. If your 2002 numbers were at all relevant they would both be below the 2009 average, but as I said I think we have to just throw them out as too old.

http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=us+spending+per+pupil

Texas appears to be at $11496 (slightly above average): http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=texas+spending+per+pupi...

CA is slightly higher at $11653: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=california+spending+per...

With an alarming drop in 2009. Did they identify and eliminate waste, or did they simply cut the budget because kids don't have good lobbyists? Either way, Texas has closed the spending gap.
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Where did you go that was better?
In what ways is it better?


I said it was better for the family. We moved from LA to Ohio, where my wife is from. Here we have family and many friends. In LA no family and few friends outside of work. We have 3x the house for half the cost. I think schools are better here (though we had no kids in school there).

I do miss the weather, the mountains and my BFF.
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Good point; I suppose a closer comparison would be California and Texas. California spent 11% more per student, $7511 versus $6746 (in 2002).
---
Why not just compare to the national average?


Because it was suggested that the difference between Tennessee and California was due to the large immigrant population in California.

Wolfram Alpha says in 2009 the US spent (on average) $11476 per pupil. If your 2002 numbers were at all relevant they would both be below the 2009 average, but as I said I think we have to just throw them out as too old.

More recent numbers can be found in this January article:

CA student spending near bottom
http://toped.svefoundation.org/2012/01/13/ca-student-spendin...
The latest Quality Counts report from Education Week ranks
California 47th overall in how much it spends per student – $8,667 when
adjusted for regional cost differences, about $3,000 below the national
average of $11,665. This is a drop over last year, when California spent
$8,852 per pupil, with a ranking of 43rd in spending adjusted for
regional cost-of-living variations.


I'm not sure the 'cost-of-living' adjusted numbers are a good approach. The difference is mainly labor costs for teachers. If you as a school district agree to pay the union members more then you do so with the knowledge that it will mean either fewer teachers hired or less spending for educational materials or both. Either that, or there is an expectation that the higher pay costs will result in higher educational achievement with the students, and I don't think that's a clear relationship.

At any rate, the bottom line -- student test scores -- are not so good for California, and we won't even talk about things such as special ed. I have a niece with two autistic sons and the family moved five years ago from California to Colorado because of school services, and that's even with the majority of special ed funding coming from the feds. As parents they had to fight for everything. They are much happier campers now.

DB2
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I don't see California on that list anywhere

Lived my early life in California. Walnut Creek, to be specific (outside San Francisco.) And we'd go there, except we fell in love with Oregon even more.

But the rest of our family is East Coastal, so we sort of feel we have to stay closer than all that.
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We have earthquakes, fires, mudslides, horrible traffic, smog. It's too hot in the valleys, and the water's too cold at the beach.
--
and those are the pro-s
don't EVEN list the con-s


Although one might want to mention the schools (see previous post)

or grinding poverty, where people live in dirt-floor dwellings with no running water and no electricity
www.healthycal.org/archives/11479

or a poverty rate that is the highest of any state
www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p60-244.pdf

or a third of the nation's welfare recipients.
www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/resource/2010-recipients-tanf

DB2
Believe it or not,
You won't find it so hot
If you ain't got the do-re-me.
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Where did you go that was better?
In what ways is it better?

I said it was better for the family. We moved from LA to Ohio, where my wife is from. Here we have family and many friends. In LA no family and few friends outside of work. We have 3x the house for half the cost. I think schools are better here (though we had no kids in school there).

I do miss the weather, the mountains and my BFF.

------------------


I see.
Well, you are always welcome out here in sunshine land. :)

AM
....of course...I wouldn't want to live in LA, either. :)
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I don't see California on that list anywhere

Lived my early life in California. Walnut Creek, to be specific (outside San Francisco.) And we'd go there, except we fell in love with Oregon even more.

But the rest of our family is East Coastal, so we sort of feel we have to stay closer than all that.

----------


Oregon.... too cold...too rainy....too foggy.
It is pretty, though - in places.
Eastern half looks pretty desolate, though.
I think I'm really happy in CA because I was born and grew up in FLA.
I was used to all those tropical and sub-tropical plants blooming nearly all the time and I really missed that (and the sunshine) in the PNW.
I'm also really in love with the conveniences here - so many stores to choose from for fresh produce and lots of organics.

I guess if we ever leave here (at our age, doubtful now unless we make it within the next few years) we would go to Florida. But I hate Florida's politics. I hate the bugs. I'm not fond of hurricanes. I dislike the muggy humidity. But I love the beaches - much more beautiful (and swim-friendly) than California's. And you can buy a small, liveable house for the change in the bottom of your purse.

We moved to where we are (a 55+ manufactured home park) because we haven't sold our house in WA yet so that money is tied up. But I was shocked at how much we like it here. We are not bothered with solicitors because the manager will escort them out of the park - pronto. It's quiet. No yard work to do. Nice neighbors. I feel rather safe here. And that's, somehow, becoming more and more important as I age. The house is plenty big enough for the two of us so we don't feel at all cramped - AND....I don't have any stairs to climb here (except for the 6 steps to get from ground level into the house). I believe I would again choose a manufactured home park if we should move elsewhere. Inexpensive...and it just works. Have NO desire to ever again have to clean up a big house. :)

Lazy in my old age, I am.

AM
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If you as a school district agree to pay the union members more then you do so with the knowledge that it will mean either fewer teachers hired or less spending for educational materials or both.

Or raise taxes to pay for it.

I don't like how we tax today. Seems arbitrary. Set a rate, gather some money, and then start portioning it out. Better to have the funding required for each line item in the budget, and then figure out the necessary taxes and collect them. But I digress...

I have a niece with two autistic sons and the family moved five years ago from California to Colorado because of school services, and that's even with the majority of special ed funding coming from the feds. As parents they had to fight for everything. They are much happier campers now.

Cool. That sort of a move can be difficult (usually people have to move for a job...harder to move and then find a job).

Honestly, this is why I think schools should be taken away from the states. There is no reason a kid in Alabama (or California) should be at an educational disadvantage because of the state in which they live, nor should a parent have to leave a job to move to a state with better schools and then hope they can get employment there. That's just crazy (the system, not the parents). We're all at the mercy of local school boards, and in addition to what you and I are discussing you sometimes get a coup at a school board resulting in Dover or Texas sorts of nonsense (that then have to get battled out in court, or have recall elections, and all the while the kids suffer). Put a stop to it and nationalize the whole shebang. Eliminate all the BS I just described and start educating the kids so they can compete globally.

And NO VOUCHERS!!!!

1poorguy
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But the rest of our family is East Coastal, so we sort of feel we have to stay closer than all that.

If that's how you feel, then you do. Nothing wrong with that.

For me, I'm gonna live where I'm gonna live. Family can come visit if they want. I'm not going to reorganize my life for them.

1poorkid is getting ever-closer to leaving home. One more year and then it's college time. After that, who knows where she'll end up. She'll always be welcome to visit us wherever we settle, but we won't be following her around or staying here just because she ends up settling here. But that's just us.

AM has me thinking wine country (been there, and it is very nice). My main concern is that I prefer the ground not move (which in Arizona it almost never does), and the cost of living is obscene.

Frankly I wouldn't even consider the east coast, for a variety of reasons. Again, that's just me.
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AM has me thinking wine country (been there, and it is very nice). My main concern is that I prefer the ground not move (which in Arizona it almost never does), and the cost of living is obscene.


That rec was from me.
Actually we don't notice the cost of living much higher than anywhere else - except for electricity. For some reason, electricity is pretty high here. But you can keep the costs down by having gas heat and a gas stove, etc. And housing can be found for almost all budgets - it just depends on where you want to live.

I guess you have to weigh what you get for the money.
Would love to meet you. So come on up. :)

AM
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For some reason, electricity is pretty high here.

Yep. In the most recent national survey here are the costs for 1250 kWhr (residential rates):
www.jea.com/Manage_My_Account/Get_Help/Understand_My_Bill/JE...

Southern California Southern California Edison $349.74

Fairbanks, AK Golden Valley Electric 272.49

San Diego, CA San Diego Gas & Electric 272.02

Newark, NJ Public Service Electric & Gas 202.81

Los Angeles, CA Department of Water & Power 183.31

Sacramento, CA Sacramento Mun. Util. Dist 180.66

The list does not include PG&E as their rate structure was too complicated for easy comparison. They were, however, higher than southern California rates.

DB2
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GH: If we didn't have all our family on the East Coast we would immediately head out to Oregon. Or possibly Washington. Or possibly British Columbia. If it wasn't for the winter, we would go to Vermont. If it wasn't for... Ah well, I could keep this up for a while, and get Italy in there eventually.

Don't forget that Italy or Canada doesn't want any emigrants from the US.

Count No'Count
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I>I wish I had moved here years ago.

AM

JP and I both tried to tell you, but would you listen? Noooo!

CNC
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JP and I both tried to tell you, but would you listen? Noooo!

CNC

----------------


Sometimes I have to think about things for a while. ;o)

AM
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And by the way....
My electric bill (PG&E) for last month was $53.04 :)

AM
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1pg: 1poorkid is getting ever-closer to leaving home. One more year and then it's college time. After that, who knows where she'll end up. She'll always be welcome to visit us wherever we settle, but we won't be following her around or staying here just because she ends up settling here. But that's just us.

Somebody quick bookmark this for future reference. When 1pk starts her own little poor house, your tune may change, or 1pl may change it for you.

CNC
8^)
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Heh! It's a lot harder to try to tag us for babysitting service if we're 500 miles (or more) away! ;-)

Done all the baby time I care to do...young adult is much better.
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And by the way....
My electric bill (PG&E) for last month was $53.04 :)



and mine $38.54

..... but nowhere near the 1250 kwH (419)


[my partial take-away, 1250 is ALOT .... and PG+E does have a progressive system ....makes sense to pick some ridiculous high number of kWh to make them look more expensive
[[made me look -- my highest month: jul-09 760 kwh = $143


o wait! i'm wrong..... California is APPALLINGLY expensive! stay away!!
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my highest month: jul-09 760 kwh

www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=97&t=3
In 2011, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 11,280 kWh, an average of 940 kilowatthours (kWh) per month. Louisiana had the highest annual consumption at 16,176 kWh and Maine the lowest at 6,252 kWh.

DB2
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For the past year, after the subtraction that occurs due to my solar panels, we consumed 5961 kWh.

:-)

(Without the panels it would have been 14943 kWh. Last August was the worst single month at 2130 khW (before solar subtraction). Most of that is A/C.
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The Southern State Fast Becoming Ayn Rand's Vision of Paradise

Precisely why I moved my young family to Minnesota last year. Hardly the perfect fix but definitely a step up from Nashville, TN. (Though I miss a couple of good friends down there)

-canam
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