Believe What You Like But Know What You Must

People are free to be consumed with contemplating their existence, their origins, the origins of the universe, supreme beings, controllers of destiny or anything else. But solving "the Great Mystery" is neither a requirement of being Ohnkwe Ohnwe nor does it provide a path to righteousness. I maintain that spirituality does not require faith or the leaps that faith requires but rather awareness. If it helps to believe that "God has a plan" and we just must have faith that "He" knows what "He" is doing, then walk that path. My interest is in taking the mystery out of life by pointing to the obvious that is ignored everyday in the midst of fanatical ideology and the sometimes not too subtle influences of promoting beliefs over knowledge. I have said it before: “beliefs are what you are told, knowledge is what you experience”. I support a culture that prepares us to receive knowledge and to live a life with purpose. I am certainly not suggesting there is only one way to do that.

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Native Spark

By Matt Hill

Inside every Native person is a spark of who we once were. In some people it shines, some it glows, in most it flickers or is almost out. This spark was strong in our society of not too long ago. We carried it throughout our territory through a network of consensus decision making and mutual respect for the earth and each other. When we shared that spark through a decision based on what was right for now, and for the faces of the grandchildren we would never see. It grew in strength as more people recognized it as being the right thing to do. Our fire was strong.

Through our exposure to the elements of corruption, brought by the colonist after a devastating mass loss of people from disease, we were very vulnerable. Temptation of material things clouded the minds of some of our people. Our decision making was "not of a good mind". The core principal of our society was breached. The respect was fading.

The loss of that spark was further snuffed out by the influences of the boarding schools. There the children were punished, abused and on occasion killed, just for being Native. Out of love for their children, some of our Grandparents thought that if they didn't expose the children to who we once were, it would spare them from the pains. We were falling to assimilation. It was getting colder.

This assimilation has become so deep rooted that some don't even recognize the most basic elements of respect. This past week has shown me a lot. There is a major disconnect from what those elements are. We as a people need to recognize that our society is broken. It is a time to heal the wounds that have cut away at our world. It is hard even for a small room full of people to agree what kind of pizza to order! How are we supposed to win a fight against attacks on our peoples sovereignty if we only look out for our own personal interests and not the good of all? Learn who we are. Look out for each other. Talk to your elders. Read a book. Google it. Whatever it takes. Get your spark back. I did and I'm getting fired up!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Once again, Indian tobacco taxes assumed

Posted on February 2, 2011 at 5:43 pm by Rick Karlin, Capitol bureau in General, Indian Taxation
This has come up before, but Cuomo’s budget plan assumes that the state will get $130 million from, finally, taxing cigarette sales on Indian reservations to non-Indians.
From the budget’s revenue projections: 2011-12 Projections All Funds receipts are projected to be $1,786 million, an increase of $165 million, or 10.2 percent above 2010-11. This increase reflects the full year impact of the legislation enacted in 2010-11, including $130 million in cigarette tax revenue from the implementation of laws requiring the collection of tax on cigarettes sold on Indian reservations to non-Native Americans.
News of the planned taxes was greeted warmly by an organization that has been pushing for that, the Enforce the Law, Collect the Tax Coalition “The Enforce the Law Collect the Tax Coalition applauds Governor Cuomo for projecting real and significant increases in cigarette tax revenue in his 2011-2012 Executive budget. By projecting excise tax collections from the implementation of laws requiring the collection of tax on cigarettes sold on Indian reservations to non-Native Americans, the Governor’s Executive budget proposal is yet another clear indication of the administration’s commitment to rectifying this long standing inequity. We remain confident that the courts will soon conclude that the state is correct on these issues and will clear the way to collect these much needed revenues.”
A reality check may be in order here, since the Indian tobacco tax has been on the books, unenforced, for years and it was supposed to happen last year as the current budget was being finalized as well.

1. MomOfThree
February 2, 2011, 7:18 PM
I thought that every Indian nation had its own separate laws and therefore are not subject to outside laws. So how can Cuomo even bring this up?

2. joe_from_france
February 2, 2011, 7:49 PM
Including revenues from cigarette sales on Indian reservations to non-Indians shouldn’t that be considered another Budget “sham” Mr. Megna?

3. Smith
February 2, 2011, 8:06 PM
Perhaps the Governor is going to finally get our money’s worth from the $100,000 per year Troopers by using them to enforce the tax collection.

4. ezpickinz
February 2, 2011, 8:35 PM
These native Americans are not going to pay NYS one single cent of tax money. They would rather owe NYS than screw us out of that tax money. I think that NYS should stop maintaining the State highways that pass through the reservations and lead to their casinos. Not too long ago, the Seneca Nation wanted to charge a buck a car for each vehicle passing through their reservation along the NYS Thruway. OK; but payback is a bitch, ain’t it?

5. thelawisclear
February 2, 2011, 9:13 PM
MomofThree, courts have said a number of times that the state would not be taxing native americans. The state would be taxing native american sales to non-native americans. Their laws/treaties have nothing to do with it. This absolutely is an issue of enforcement and each of the last three governors have basically not even tried, even though they all count the revenue.
Talk about a scam.

6. Parma Ham
February 2, 2011, 10:26 PM
Smith, good point about the troopers, how about starting them at $45k and letting them up to $60k after 10 years. i bet you’d get no shortage of quality applicants

7. Lwoodbluz
February 3, 2011, 3:37 AM
What the state really needs to do is set up checkpoints right outside the reservations to collect duties(taxes) from people leaving the Nation. Just a simple “Do you have anything to declare?” and a search if necessary should bring in the revenue.
And don’t worry about the Native Americans closing off the Thruway like they did in 1997. They want thier casino money, they won’t close thier lifeline to all that revenue.

8. ResidentX
February 3, 2011, 5:54 AM
its really not a big problem… if the taxes arent collected we can just layoff more state workers. I mean, thats what they are there for… right?

9. Walt
February 3, 2011, 7:20 AM
The state will lose on this as well as all the other bullying tactics they are attempting!

10. UnCivilServant
February 3, 2011, 7:41 AM
What I don’t get is why we continue this farce. The residents of these “nations” have Us Citizenship and the right to vote in US elections, and thus should be subject to all taxes imposed on the rest of us. We should stop pretending that they aren’t part of this country. The annexation was complete almost a century ago, sweep away the last vestages of deceit and bring our fellow citizens into the fold.

February 3, 2011, 8:02 AM
The tribes want New York services? The Tribes should then pay New York taxes. What’s complicated here? The Tribes can’t have it both ways.

12. Albany Resident
February 3, 2011, 8:50 AM
How about we cut the $130,000,000.00 out of the budget. If the blood-suckers at the capital don’t have it, maybe, just maybe, Cuomo won’t let them spend it. But thats probably as much a pipe dream as collecting the tax is in the first place. However I do like Lwoodbluz take on it. We have checkpoints at the entrances/exits to our other “Nation” neighbors, they want soveriegnty then treat them like it!

13. K2
February 3, 2011, 9:28 AM
@ mom of three, if they are a sovereign nation why do they receive state and federal funds.
They can accept our tax dollars but can’t collect taxes on non-natives? It is one or the other not both.

14. From Western New York
February 3, 2011, 10:41 AM
The new tax revenues will NOT be achieved. First off, there is the whole issue of elasticity. People will buy fewer cigarettes. Second there is whole substitution issue. People will seek other, cheap sources. Finally, part of the tax revenue will need to be diverted to pay for unemployment, welfare, WIC, etc. as New York Jobs are killed by the Governor.

15. Robin Hackett
February 3, 2011, 11:02 AM
@From Western New York…you’re right. I already buy my ciggarettes in the states I travel through. I haven’t bought a pack in NY since Patterson’s last luxury tax increase.

16. jimbo
February 3, 2011, 12:55 PM
If the Tribes have to tax non-residents, their cigarette sales will drop like a rock anyway, so the revenue the budget is projecting in new taxes is just an excuse to spend more money they won’t have.
The border patrol checkpoints on the tribal territory boundaries is an interesting idea. I wonder how many state workers they would have to hire to man those stations? They could easily suck up all that extra revenue and create new state worker jobs at the same time. The additional funds would never make it out of the administrative funds necessary to implement it, the unions would look good and a few western state lawmakers would look good come next election……

17. WNYTaxpayer
February 3, 2011, 1:10 PM
All DTF has to do is to subpoena the Merchant Account Processors for the Indian retailors and compare the list of who made purchases with visa, mastercrad, etc. that did not report it on their state income taxes and issue notice of deficiencies to them.

18. can't uc
February 3, 2011, 3:16 PM
If the plan is imposed on the natives to collect taxes on sales to non-natives , it will only create a huge black market making more natives very wealthy.

19. pragmatic
February 3, 2011, 7:26 PM
It is time for Andy to stand up and shut down the indian casinos. Spitzer had the chance but lacked the courage. Lets see if Andy has the guts to stand up to this special interest group

20. John Kane
February 4, 2011, 10:10 AM
We should be clear that the state knows this new law will not generate revenue from Native sales. The intent of the law is to shut off supply to Native retailers of unstamped product. If Native retailers lose their regulatory advantage, Native sales will end. The question is will those sales be made elsewhere and where? The numbers that are being used in this budget are a sham. They are based on past sales and assume that as Native sales are lost that a significant portion of them will become taxed sales. Over the past year Native sales in Western New York have fallen by 80% due to shutting down the US Post Office from delivering remote sales of tobacco. Even without Native sales, the state loses far more than $130 million in revenue leakage to out-of-state sales; this would obviously increase with the loss of Native sales, which by the way still contribute to the NYS economy. Of couse a fair amount of people will just not be able to afford to smoke and while that maybe a good thing from a health standpoint, it certainly does nothing for the state’s budget. The other thing, only lightly touched on by other comments is the price of enforcement. The last time the state did battle with the Indians it cost $23 million per month and that was before troopers were making $100,000 per year. The final point overlooked is the resiliency of Native retailers. They will still find product to sell, with or without New York State wholesalers.

21. John Kane
February 4, 2011, 10:19 AM
Another point that the media refuses to point out is that the state allows everyone in the state to purchase and consume in the state cigarettes without NYS tax applied up to two cartons per consumer. NYS Form CG-15 for Cigarette Use Tax clearly lays out the exemption ( Apparently, the state’s position is that these untaxed sales can be made anywhere outside New York's jurisdiction except on Native lands.