Politics and revenue

Thursday, May 27, 2004

The Missouri State Building and Construction Trades Council AFL-CIO endorsed Gov. Bob Holden for re-election (over Democratic State Auditor Claire McCaskill) and endorsed 22-year veteran state Sen. Ken Jacob (over Bekki Cook from Cape Girardeau).

"Jacob has carried a 100 percent COPE voting record throughout his legislative career," the trades council said.

Bob Kelley, president of the St. Louis Labor Council and president of UFCW local 655, one of the state's largest unions, went overboard in predicting that the loss of the governor's office to Republicans would bring right to work to Missouri. That's a good scare tactic but not so.

There are so many candidates running for county commissioner in Cape Girardeau County that almost anyone can win as the vote will be split up among the candidates. There are 10 candidates (nine Republicans and one Democrat) in the out-county District 1 primary, including incumbent Larry Bock. And there are 10 candidates (nine Republicans and one Democrat) in the District 2 (city of Cape Girardeau) primary.

As we get closer to the Aug. 3 primary, we will give you more information and biographies of the candidates. However, they will be handing out brochures, attending events, running ads and putting up signs for better name recognition in seeking to secure your vote.

A total of 24 murals will be painted on the Mississippi River floodwall. Five have already been completed or are in final stages.

When done, Water Street will be reconfigured to one way traffic.

Total state revenue in last year's state budget as defined under the voter-approved 1980 Hancock Amendment was $7.2 billion.

The state auditor's mandated report calculated the Hancock Amendment's revenue cap at $9.1 billion.

The $1.9 billion gap between the actual and maximum allowed state revenue was the largest difference in the 22 years that the amendment has been in effect.

Missourian's received tax refunds (because of rapid revenue growth in the early to mid-1990s) to comply with the amendment for five consecutive years, covering the 1995 through 1999 fiscal years.

The governor and legislature eliminated state sales tax on food and other items, which cut state revenue dramatically when the economy slowed down.

No politician to date has tried to put the taxes back. Don't blame Hancock. Government growth in expenditures have raced past the revenue growth to reduce the state's rainy-day fund and have given us state spending which has only been balanced by pre-selling our tobacco settlement, the selling of bonds and some newfound spending restraint by the legislature.

Leisure-time exercise: Like his father and grandfather before him, the typical American man of the 21st century works for his living. In most cases, though, he works with his mind, not his body.

It wasn't always that way. As recently as the 19th century, 30 percent of all the energy used in the American workplace was provided by human muscle power; today, the percentage is minuscule. In most ways, the transition from an agricultural economy to an industrial society to today's information age has been a great boon. But something has also been lost.

Technology has freed men from physical labor both at work and at home. In addition, unprecedented efficiency, productivity, and affluence have produced shorter workdays, more vacation time, and earlier retirement. It all adds up to more free time for most men.

What did you do with your free time this week -- and does it matter to your health?

The national pastime

America has become a nation of spectators. The latest statistics from the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tell the tale: 29 percent of adults are entirely sedentary and another 46 percent don't get enough physical activity. That means only a quarter of all Americans get the exercise they need.

The real situation may be even worse. Most people who say they exercise report walking as their only regular physical activity, but when researchers from the CDC evaluated more than 1,500 people who said they were walkers, they found that only 6 percent walked often enough, far enough, or briskly enough to meet the current standards for health. Even people who report intense activity often over state their efforts. Scientists from the University of Florida asked people to keep a log of their physical activities for a full week while they were hooked up to ambulatory heart monitors. Some 47 percent of the subjects reported that they had engaged in moderate activity, but only 15 percent actually boosted their heart rates enough to sustain moderate activity. The gap was just as great for more intense exercise: 11 percent reported hard activity, but only 1.5 percent boosted their heart rates to that level. Nobody achieved a heart rate consistent with very hard activity, though 1.5 percent made that claim.

"Spectator" is a kind word. In fact, we are a nation of couch potatoes.

A 12-year study of 707 retired men in Hawaii found that the death rate of men who walked at least two miles a day was more than 50 percent lower than that of men who walked less than a mile a day.

A study of Harvard alumni found that men who walked more than seven miles a week had a 33 percent lower death rate than sedentary men. Walking up stairs was nearly as good. Men who averaged about eight flights a day reduced their death rate by 25 percent.

A four-year study of 1,645 men and women over 65 found that people who walked at least four hours a week enjoyed a 31 percent lower risk of death than those who walked less than an hour a week.

A Harvard study of 72,488 female nurses found that walking for three hours a week reduced the risk of heart attacks by a third, or exactly as much as one and a half hours of intense exercise. And a companion study of 61,200 nurses linked regular walking to a 55 percent reduction in the risk of hip fractures.

A Harvard study of 39,372 professional women found that walking for just an hour a week cut the risk of heart attack by half. Women who increased their weekly mileage enjoyed additional benefits, but women who accelerated their pace did not. -- Harvard Men's Health Watch

Gary Rust is chairman of Rust Communications.

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