The Learning Curve

New tricks for an old dog.

Future News: President Obama’s Last Day in Office


As President Hillary Clinton was standing on the Capitol steps today, taking the oath of office as America’s first female President, the White House released earthshaking news. In a simple one-page announcement, the White House press office informed the nation that on his last day in office, President Obama exercised his Article II Constitutional pardon power to grant sweeping amnesty to thousands of so-called “dreamers.”

In his final day in office, George Washington granted the first high-profile federal pardon to leaders of the Whiskey Rebellion.

Following our nation’s bloody Civil War, President Andrew Johnson granted sweeping pardons for thousands of former Confederate officials and military personnel.

In the 1970s, President Jimmy Carter’s granted blanket amnesty to thousands of Vietnam-era draft dodgers.

In that same tradition of Christian forgiveness, President Obama has granted Presidential pardon and amnesty to certain immigrants:

1. Of good moral character who graduate from U.S. high schools,
2. Who arrived in the United States as minors,
3. Have lived in this country continuously for the least five years, and
4. If they were to complete two years in the military or two years at a four-year institution of higher learning.

They are pardoned for having entered the United States illegally.


Written by Tom Fox

04/25/2014 at 6:19 am

Posted in Uncategorized

SiIde effects of minimum wage in Kentucky

(If you are looking to find out Kentucky’s minimum wage, it’s the same as the federal minimum wage. $7.25 per hour)

Whether or not you favor an increase in the federal minimum wage, as I do, the minimum wage serves as a baseline for several purposes other to set the lower pay limit for jobs. Here is a small collection of ways the minimum wage is used in Kentucky.

  1. Kentucky offers a limited amount of state tax credits to qualified companies who are approved to offer occupational skills upgrade training to existing employees who have been employed with the company for twelve months or more. The program is administered by the Bluegrass State Skills Corporation. One of the qualifications to receive the tax credit is that the employees to receive the training are paid a base hourly wage equal to 150% of the federal minimum wage, or more. (154.12-2084)
  2. KRS 154.12-207 proveds training grants. 90% of the participants must receive a base hourly wage which is 150% of the minimum wage.
  3. What’s the maximum amount of wage garnishment? Federal and Kentucky law place a lower limit on disposable earnings that be can seized to satisfy an ordinary judgment debt through a wage garnishment as a multiple of the minimum wage. This does not apply to tax levy, bankruptcy orders or support payments. Pay that does not exceed minimum wage x 30 in any one week, at the least, is exempt from garnishment to satisfy other types of debt.
  4. KRS 533.030 allows a court to impose a work requirement as a condition of probation. Where a victim of a crime has suffered monetary damage as a result of the crime, the probationer can be ordered to make restitution “by working for or on behalf of the victim” using minimum wage to value the labor.
  5. KRS 610.360 allows the court to require juveniles to perform community labor at minimum wage rates to pay off their court costs.
  6. KRS 42.4588 allows government Economic Development Programs to make job development incentive grants that will create “at least twenty-five (25) new full-time jobs held by Kentucky residents who receive a minimum wage of at least one hundred thirty percent (130%) of the federal minimum wage”. Existing employees at the project site must be paid an average wage of at least 150% of the minimum wage.
  7. The minimum budget for each property valuation administrator’s office in Kentucky, regardless of workload or need, includes the minimum wage requirements for two full-time deputies. 132.590(6)
  8. KRS 141.390 allows a state tax credit for recycling or composting equipment and defines a “major recycling project” as having at least 750 full-time employees earning an average hourly wage of more than 300% of the minimum wage, with other requirements.


Written by Tom Fox

04/07/2014 at 7:17 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Payments for bodily injury are exempt, sort of.

“Considering the fundamental purposes of bankruptcy and tort law, a meager, inflexible, legislatively ascribed exemption for a personal injury recovery is a poor way to compensate an injured debtor and afford the fresh start necessary to prevent future costs to society, creditors, and insurance companies.”


The following quote is an introductory excerpt from a pay-per-view legal paper that rubbed me the wrong way and which started me thinking. I have not paid-to-view, so I’m not starting with very much. This present posting of mine may grow and change over time as I chew on the issue. There are two reasons the following excerpt attracted my attention. First, Kentucky exemption statutes have a provision that is similar to § 522(d)(11)(D) of the Bankruptcy Code that I never really though about much before. Second, the confusion and uncertainty seemingly caused by § 522(d)(11)(D) is foreign to me. The explanation that comes to me at first blush involves the fundamental difference between how personal injuries are valued in standard tort law and how they are valued in statutory compensation schemes like Workers’ Compensation. I’ll have to work out the details later, but this is a start.   It is a note to my self.

In terms of statutory interpretation, one of the most potentially troublesome federal bankruptcy exemptions is § 522(d)(11)(D) of the Bankruptcy Code, concerning the debtor’s right to receive “a payment, not to exceed $ 16,150, on account of personal bodily injury, not including pain and suffering or compensation for actual pecuniary loss, of the debtor or an individual of whom the debtor is a dependant.” 1 At first glance, the provision seems to be relatively straightforward, but on closer examination, the terms employed by the statute seem to cancel each other out by excluding every possible element of a personal injury recovery, rendering the exemption useless.

NOTE & COMMENT: Confusion Over § 522(d)(11)(D): What Congress Really Meant by Exempting Payments for “Personal Bodily Injury” and Why They Got It Wrong, by Louis J. Papera (2000) Full text available for purchase on Lexis

KRS § 427.150(2)(c) provides an individual shall be entitled to exemption of the following property:

A payment, not to exceed seven thousand five hundred dollars ($7,500), on account of personal bodily injury, not including pain and suffering or compensation for actual pecuniary loss, of the debtor or an individual of whom the debtor is a dependent.

11 U.S.C. § 522(d)(11)(D) exempts the debtor’s right to receive, or property that is traceable to:

[A] payment, not to exceed $15,000, on account of personal bodily injury, not including pain and suffering or compensation for actual pecuniary loss, of the debtor or an individual of whom the debtor is a dependent.

KRS § 427.150(2)(c) is nearly identical to 11 U.S.C. § 522(d)(11)(D).

Written by Tom Fox

03/20/2014 at 6:00 pm

Posted in Legal

Kentucky Child Support Collection Report Card 2011

The Annual Report to Congress for Fiscal Year 2011 from the U. S. Office of Child Support Enforcement, published in December, 2013, discloses several interesting details about the current status of child support collection activity in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. In Kentucky, the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services is the designated State Disbursing Unit (SDU) under laws and regulations established by the federal government and it reports to the Office of Child Support Enforcement, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. Each of the several states and territories have similarly functioning administrative systems in place to establish paternity, to set child support obligations, to track the employment of non-custodial parents with support obligations and to collect support payments.

This child support enforcement system has evolved over several decades to become what it is today. See: Child Support – Garnishment or Payroll Deduction? Although the original impetus for an interstate cooperative child support system came from the need to collect child support for custodial parents, primarily single mothers, who were receiving public assistance for minor children (TANF or KYTAP), the scope of the system has grown far beyond that limited beginning. In FY 2011, for example, Kentucky’s child support enforcement efforts collected a total of nearly $392 million in support payments, but only $21.4 million was collected for children currently receiving public assistance. $154.4 million was collected for cases that had previously received welfare assistance and $138 million was collected for children who has never received public assistance for dependent children. This is not to say that many of these families are not currently receiving other forms of public assistance, such as food stamps (SNAP).

Of all the child support collected by Kentucky during FY 2011, nearly 65%, or $253 million, was collected by means of wage withholding orders. Kentucky employers are important players in this system of child support enforcement.

Written by Tom Fox

03/09/2014 at 1:09 pm

The economics and time-frame of climate change

The economics and time-frame of climate change

Do you remember the other climate change issue? Think “ozone hole.”

High altitude ozone (not ground level ozone) shields Earth from the suns ultraviolet radiation. Stratospheric ozone is nature’s sun-block and it was being depleted by man-made chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), with the DuPont trade name “Freon.”

In 1978 the United States banned the use of CFCs such as Freon in aerosol cans. This was the beginning of a long series of regulatory actions against their use. The critical DuPont manufacturing patent for Freon expired in 1979 and in 1986 DuPont, with patents for replacement products in hand, publicly condemned CFCs.

Argentine scientists recently announced, “This year the ozone hole season was much shorter than in earlier years,” and it was not as large.

The observations confirm the findings of the latest report on the issue by the United Nations published in 2010. The study concluded that CFC elimination was having an effect and the ozone hole was not growing – a sign of recovery.

However, an expert pointed out, “we have not yet returned to the radiation levels we had in 1980,” since the chemicals that destroy ozone take 10 years to reach the stratosphere, and then the ozone layer takes time to recover.

Be happy DuPont saw the government regulation of CFCs to give it a profitable competitive advantage.

Al Jazeera – Hopes grow on shrinking ozone hole
Wikipedia – Chlorofluorocarbon

Written by Tom Fox

11/25/2012 at 8:50 am

Electronic cigarette Internet scam update

Summary –

The free trial offer is not so free if you fail to jump through the invisible hoops, as outlined in my recent post, Anatomy of an Internet scam.

It is possible to telephone within the two week period after placing your order, and cancel the future automatic credit card charges you may have unknowingly agreed to (Is that really an agreement?) The number I called was 1-877-766-5306, but it may be a different number for you. Check the details in your first order confirmation email.

It’s not easy, so be persistent. The customer service operators are trained to give you a had sell. If you do not call, your credit card will be billed $99.67 for the electronic cigarette “starter kit.”

The fist thing they do is to offer to extend your free trial period from 14 days to 28 days.

Just say, “No. I wish to cancel the order and return the starter kit.”

Then they will offer to drop the price on the starter kit from $99.67 to $39.67. 

Just say, “No. I wish to cancel the order and return the starter kit.”

Then they will offer, in addition, to drop the price on electronic cigarette refills from $31.95 to $21.95.

Just say, “No. I wish to cancel the order and return the starter kit.”

The final price is about in line with with other e-cigarettes cost from other companies. But, it is my advice that you do not do any business with this company, even at the reduced price. If they try to scam you once, they could easily try to scam you again.

 Just say, “No. I wish to cancel the order and return the starter kit,” and then actually return it promptly. Keep your proof of mailing.


Written by Tom Fox

11/20/2012 at 12:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Anatomy of an Internet scam

I’m fairly careful when it come to taking the online bait. I like to read the fine print and I know if an offer sounds too good to be true,  it’s probably not true.  But, sometimes I slip up and make a mistake.

Recently I’ve been looking at electronic cigarettes as an alternative to smoking, but I don’t know anyone personally who has any experience of them. Online testimonials from strangers don’t count much with me, but a free trial offer online did catch my eye. Trial offers are a standard marketing strategy for new products. The company is betting that you will like the product and buy it. This makes sense for consumable products like razor blades and electronic cigarettes. The razor blade doesn’t last long and if you like it, you have to buy more.

It’s the same way with electronic cigarettes that use consumable nicotine cartridges. The electronic cigarette is a smokeless nicotine delivery system, and as cigarette companies have known for a long time, nicotine addicts make good long-term customers. So, a free trial offer of an electronic cigarette starter kit seemed reasonable to me. The company might lose money on the starter kit, but they would make it up on the refill cartridges.

But it was a trick. It was a nasty little trick that more than a few fell for. The company website intentionally hid the full terms of the deal by linking through using black type on a black background. The nasty details were there, but they were literally invisible to casual inspection. Only by selecting the text and highlighting it is reverse color did the link to the full terms of agreement become visible.

As you can see at the bottom of this web page screen shot, indicated by the white arrow which I added, there is nothing but blackness. But, once I highlighted the text, voila!

The invisible becomes visible. There is a  “Terms Conditions and Refund Policy” that was intentionally hidden as dark type on a dark background. You are not supposed to see it.

The terms of the “Free Trial Offer” include:

“….In other words, upon enrollment in the Program, you authorize Company to charge your credit card $4.95 (USD). As a member in the Program, you have 14 days to try the Product (the .Trial Period.). Please note that delivery time is subtracted from your Trial Period, and will reduce the number of days allocated to your Trial Period. If the Product is not right for you, call 1-877-647-3625 during the Trial Period, as long as you return the product in accordance with the time limit described in Section 4, Company will not charge you another dollar. Otherwise, at the end of your Trial Period, as a member in the Program, your credit card will be charged $99.67 (USD) for the Product you already received. Then 30 days from your initial order of the Product (and every 30 days thereafter), you will be sent a new supply of the Product containing 4 packs of cartridges, (A total of 24 cartridges) and your credit card will be charged $79.62 (the .Monthly Fee.). Please note that Florida residents must add sales tax. “

The important point to notice:

1. The 14 day trial period starts from the order date and not form the date you receive the electronic cigarette starter kit.

2. To avoid further charges to your credit card, you must first telephone before the end of the 14 day period to get a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) , and as stated in Section 4 (which is actually Section 6) you must “return the starter kit with a Return Merchandise Authorization (a RMA) number within 30 days from the date you placed your order.”

More than a few have been deceived by this. Their first clue that the “Free Trial Offer” is not free is when their credit card gets hit with an unexpected $99.67 charge.

The company:

S. Krieger Enterprises LLC d/b/a No Flame E-Cigarette

6538 Collins Avenue #95 (This is a UPS Store mail drop)
Miami Beach, FL 33141



If you wish to cancel future deliveries of the Product or receive an RMA number, you must call 1-877-647-3625. If you cancel prior to the expiration of the Trial Period and would not like to be billed for the full amount of the Starter Kit you must return the starter kit with a return merchandise authorization (an .RMA.) number within 30 days from the date you placed your order. If you do cancel within the 14 day trial and do not want to be charged for the starter kit we must receive your starter kit with an RMA number 30 days from the date you placed your order otherwise you will be billed $99.67. If you fail to cancel prior to the expiration of the Trial Period or you fail to return the starter kit with an RMA number within the 30 days from when you placed your order, your credit card will be charged $99.67 for the Product that was shipped to you.

If you cancel after the expiration of the Trial Period, you may receive a refund, but only if the starter kit is received by us with an RMA number within 30 days from the date you placed your order. Refunds will not be given on packages marked .Return To Sender.. All Product returns must be sent to No Flame E-Cigarette. For purposes of calculating the 30 days for this refund/return policy, each Product that is shipped to you after the expiration of the Trial Period is deemed to have been ordered when such Product is billed to your credit card.

Buyer beware.  Cavaet emptor.  Don’t whine … COMPLAIN!

Federal Trade Cmmission Bureau of Consumer Protection – complaint form online

Southeast Florida Better Business Bureau
Florida Attorney General Economic Crimes Contact Form

Written by Tom Fox

11/12/2012 at 6:57 pm