Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Death of Capitalism?

Pop quiz, what do Paul Krugman, Ariana Huffington and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have in common? Answer: They all have been gleefully trumpeting the death of capitalism. Dean has some thoughts on why the reports of capitalism's death may be premature.

By the way, leftists agreement with Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez and other assorted butchers and dictators on economic issues are all you need to know about the direction they wish to take our country.

Harry Reid and the Constitution

Rod Blagojevich has announced his intention to appoint some hack who happens to be black to the former Senate seat of Barack Obama. Harry Reid has said that any appointment by Blagojevich will be blocked by the Senate. Glad to see that Democrats' new found respect for the constitution during George W. Bush's tenure as President is conveniently chucked out the window at the first inauspicious moment.

First, consitutionally, the governor has the power to appoint a replacement senator if the legislature has previously passed enabling legislation. In Illinois, it has. Second, the governor has not been indicted nor impeached. What could the Democrats do? Instead of playing games, they could have repealled the law.

Under what consitutional basis does Harry Reid believe he can deny seating Burris? Reid makes reference to the qualification of the governor to make the appointment, seeming to allude to Article I, Section 5 of the constitution, "Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members..." However, in Powell vs. McCormack,

The Court determined in this case that no Congress could exclude a not-yet member (i.e., a candidate member) from being sworn in and taking their seat in the House. The Court found that if the Congress went beyond a determination that a candidate member had satisfied the Constitution’s qualifications for membership (and had been duly chosen by, and through the laws of their state) it could not (under the Constitution) go further in examining and possibly rejecting a candidate member before administering the oath of office, and seating them.

So Dingy Harry's only real recourse is to expel Burris after he is seated and for that he needs a two-thirds majority. Should Republicans help him? Not if they respect constitutional government. Worst of all, the President-Elect seems to share Reid's lack of respect for constitutional process.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Freedom Coalition Agenda Update and Debate

Seems I'm not the only one thinking about an agenda for conservative forces. Larrey Anderson, at American Thinker, has penned an article entitled Where should Conservatives Draw the Line? I must admit to be a little chagrined at what I see as a bit of defeatist attitude. Among other topics, he wants to punt on opposition to bailouts, socialist health care, and higher taxes. I find this frustrating.

On the bailouts, while it is true that many are a done deal, opposition to further bailouts would signal a turn around for the Republican party. Further, I sense that the public is weary of the bailouts and rightly senses that they are unaffordable. A principled position against further government debt for private ventures along with a demand for a time line to pay back the current loans would be popular AND in the best interests of the nation.

Socialist health care is also an avoidable outcome. First, there is no money to pay for this with the government piling up debt and unemployment payments growing. Obama promised to pay for this debacle by cutting other programs "that are not working." During the election season I posted about the impossibility of that working. One plank of opposition would be to loudly, vociferously and repeatedly call to attention Obama's promise to pay for universal health care by cutting other programs. As a practical matter, the United States will wreck its health care system, much as Britain has done if such a program passes. Surely we can win when the facts are on our side and shame on us if we don't.

Finally, I can't believe we would punt on the higher taxes issue, when Obama seems ready to surrender himself. He knows that politically, higher taxes during a recession are political suicide. We hardly have to work at all to win this one. If we then focus on balancing the budget, we can make the argument for smaller government.

Larrey then turns to his favorite issues: illegal immigration, education, freedom of religious expression and the "Global Warming Hoax." (Road Dawg likes that last one.)

I admit to some confliction over illegal immigration. I believe strongly in the rule of law and it is being flaunted today by illegal immigration. But the economist in me wants labor to flow like any other economic good to its place of highest utility. My only solution, unlimited immigration if you can prove you are not a criminal, is not today politically viable.

I agree on the education issue, but as I previously stated, this has to be more about choice than a particular agenda for school boards. I already discussed freedom of speech in my previous post.

Finally, as much as I would like to believe that global warming is a hoax, I find the evidence on both sides inconclusive. So while I am willing to do battle on that basis, it would wreck our credibility to argue this point too vehemently.

However, it's great to see serious thought going into setting an agenda and a recognition that it is needed.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cost of Iraq War

Current Cost of War in Iraq The little clock you see is from Zfacts, showing the current estimated cost of the war in Iraq based on congressional appropriations. My experience in that realm tells me that it is an undersestimate.

The current economic mess reminded me of an earlier time in my life when a drawn out war became a drain upon the U.S. Treasury and was financed with deficit spending. That time was Vietnam, and I was convinced then and remain so today, that the cost of that war directly resulted in the ruinous inflation of the 1970's. Coincidentally, that was also a time of fundamental shifts in world economic exchange arrangements. In 1971, the Bretton Woods system which had governed central bank exchanges after World War II, finally came undone due to the deficit spending of the U.S. government on social programs and the Vietnam war. Essentially, the policy of pegging the dollar to $35/ounce came undone and the reality of the dollar's falling value was recognized. Wikipedia article here. However, floating the dollar against gold was a new experience for America's central bank, the Federal Reserve. As a result. they lacked knowledge of the tools needed to combat the ensuing inflation.

Fast forward to our decade. Nowadays, central banks purportedly understand the relationship between deficits and inflation. However, cost inflation was contained because of a new phenomenom, that did not escape the central bank's notice, but was seemingly beyond its power to influence. I am referring to the practice of consumers in China to save at high rates and for their bankers to invest those savings in American assets such as Treasury bonds or commercial bonds. Full article here. This sopped up the extra liquidity in our system and hid the normal effects that would have resulted in price inflation. However, the inflation did show up in asset price inflation, primarily real estate. Meanwhile, both nations seemed to benefit. China strong export growth was fueling those savings and making the citizens feel more prosperous, even though the economy was not really producing benefits to consumers. The United States didn't have to deal with the tough choices that such high deficits would normally require.

The outgoing administration and the Republican party has much to answer for. Spending like drunken sailors on both the war and social programs reminds us of the Democrats of the LBJ era. But I also object to the cost of war. Yes, I supported the invasion of Iraq. However, our nation had a proven and successful blueprint for fighting overseas ground wars called the Powell doctrine. Among its tenets was that war required overwhelming numerical superiority in order to prosecute to a quick conclusion. The doctrine also calls for a well planned exit strategy. Enter Donald Rumsfeld, a patriot, visionary, and a man who turned out to be too smart for the nation's good. I was on active duty when he was sworn in as Secretary of Defense and remember his vision pre-9/11 vision of a much smaller military with much greater emphasis on special forces. The war in Iraq gave him the chance to test that vision. But to my thinking, this was the wrong time to make such a gamble. The war in Iraq was always a gamble, in some ways a hail-mary to change the trend line in the middle east, to show the Muslim world that democracy and prosperity can coexist. To make a side bet on force structure under those circumstances seemed foolhardy to me. Ultimately a force leve was sent that could of course remove Saddam from power, but was insufficient to impose order on a post-Saddam Iraq. In hindsight, the widespread looting was a tipping point that showed the criminal and Islamofascist elements that we were not up to the job of pacifying the countryside. So here we are, over $600 billion later. Only the surge, which is a direct rebuke to Rumsfeld's arguments has saved the day. Ultimately, prolonging the war has had a direct cost to the national treasury that is calculable and has contributed to our current predicament.

Now we will be faced with tough times for many years to come. The war wasn't the only cause of increased deficits, but it hasn't helped. This kind of financial overhang is very difficult to unwind. It wasn't until 1982 that inflation got under control in the United States. The current practice of adding more government debt to go along with all the private debt doesn't seem likely to help in the long run. Might as well bite the bullet now and start focusing on efforts that will encourage saving by U.S. citizens.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Disqualified for Stupidity

The man pictured at right, Chip Saltsman, had hoped to become chairman of he Republican National Committee. He mailed out a CD to other Republicans that included a parody entitled, "Barack the Magic Negro." Article here. I almost didn't repeat the title of the song, I am so embarrassed.

While it is true that the media is again employing a double standard, no way should Republicans elect a chairman so tone deaf. My advice about email and correspondence of all types is this, expect it to be made public. I know that sounds harsh, but it is a reality in these times. This happens so frequently, I am shocked that people are still shocked when it does.

On the media bias bit, David Ehrestein published an article last March titled "Obama the 'Magic Negro'" to little outrage in the liberal press. I assume that Ehrenstein is a liberal because he writes for the LA Times. It turns out that he is also black. So there is an even deeper double-standard at work where blacks can use the N word with each other, even in the presence of whites, but no one else may.

Sure glad to be living in this post-racial world where Obama has healed our racial divide. But I wonder, who is really perpetuating the divide?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

I hope you are enjoying or enjoyed Christmas as you read this. Christmas is a time of anticipation and a time to renew friendships as well. This is only right, because the first Christmas came at a time of anticipation as well. The Jews of the first century were looking for a messiah to usher in an era of Hebrew ascendancy. Signs and prophecies pointed to the coming messiah. But God's plan was not what was expected, he had bigger things in mind. He came to restore the friendship between man and God.

Our gift giving at Christmas is a reflection of God's gift to us in the person of Jesus. Like any gift, it was not earned, but is treasured no less. We are granted a peace and knowledge of the love that God has for us. And that knowledge overcomes the first sin that came into the world, doubting God's goodness. Knowing his goodness, and the plans he has for us, forms the basis for peace in our hearts and ultimately for peace on earth.

God bless you and Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Keeping the mills humming

Dean here. Hey, did you know that Planned Parenthood receives over $300 million annually from the tax payers and that this tax-exempt non-profit netted $100 mil in profits for performing 250,000 abortions? I cannot tell you how much it pleases me that I’m funding this racist, de facto GSE to not only perform abortions, but give advice to clients on how best to skirt parental notification laws and which themselves also fail to report statutory rape as required by law.

The video below was made by Lila Rose, a brave young lady, student at UCLA and the head of the human rights organization, Live Action, who posed as a pregnant 13 yr. old at abortion clinics in Indiana over the summer. Again, you’ll be pleased to see that your tax dollar is funding a completely efficient and horizontally-structured organization that “fast-tracks” its patients past any sticky legal issues and nettlesome ethics to get to what is their own core competency…. eliminating pregnancies.

While I couldn’t even get a bartender to hand me a couple of aspirins over the bar last Friday evening to help me cope with a simple headache, I marveled at the cool detachment regarding the law, medication and medical practices that was being freely dispensed by these “counselors” to the girls.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Conservative Vision Statement

I blogged earlier on the need for an inclusive agenda for the Republican Party to distinguish ourselves from the socialist rot afoot. Vision statements put such agendas in context. Over at American Thinker, Christopher Chantrill lays out the case for a Conservative Vision Statement. First he quotes Reagan, always a good start in my book:

I will lead America towards that shining city on a hill, because America is "still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom" whose best years are yet to come.
Then he lays out the case that the vision must be economic, political and cultural. The final product is pretty good.

We believe in an America that lives and works together, with limited government, under God.

Sounds simple, doesn't it? In fact, some serious thought has gone into its elements. Please read the whole article. Let me know what you think, or comment on his post as well.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

KTLT on the Air

KT at The Scratching Post and Dean at Beers With Demo have been posting their favorite Christmas songs. To date I have shied away from non-political topics, but I love this version of a very old Christmas song so much, I just had to share. A little off the beaten path and a little more modern than some of the other postings but here goes.

In case you didn't recognize the artist, that is Margaret Becker singing O Come, O Come Emmanuel from the CD Christmas Music for the Heart. I stumbled across her recording on Rhapsody. I like Rhapsody because it has allowed me to become exposed to music I never would have otherwise ever heard of. Right now Mrs. Daddy and I are listening to Wib Newberry's Gypsy Fire as a result of the strange process of searching on Rhapsody. Maybe a post on long tail economics some other day.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Jerry Brown Comes Out in Favor of Incest and Polygamy

Dean has some good constitutional analysis of Jerry Brown's recent declaration that marriage is somehow a fundamental right, guaranteed by our state constitution. I wanted to add a little about the logic of that position. Though he won't admit it, our AG is really saying that there should be no limits on marriage between consenting adults. Father marrying adult daughter aged 18? No problem, fundamental right. Dude marrying multiple women? No problem, fundamental right. Brothers getting married? OK, you get the picture, I'll quit before we all get sick. But logically, it is an unsustainable argument unless one abandon's any pretense that the word marriage is constrained in any meaningful way. And unless there are logical limits, the word has no meaning at all.

Further, I ask what right I denied gays by voting for Proposition 8? Gays can live together, share households, get insurance coverage for each other, create contractual obligations of mutual support and adopt children. It is an Orwellian twist of vocabulary to argue that they lack fundamental rights.

I never fail to be amazed at the inability of the left to carry the logic of their arguments to their inevitable and usually ghastly conclusion.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Freedom Coalition Agenda for the Republican Party - Update 1

Updates will be published at the bottom of the article.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to advance an agenda that would further the cause of freedom. In my experience, being right on the issues isn't enough, one's coalition must pick issues that are winners and can capture the public imagination. Ron Paul provides the negative example. He was right about the current bubble collapsing, but framed his brief in anti-Federal Reserve, "bring back the gold standard" rhetoric associated with the lunatic fringe.

The Republican party has some great opportunities to advance a popular agenda. So here is my proposed Freedom Coalition agenda and a little about why I think these issues are winners. As with any agenda, it should change with circumstances and I will update it periodically.

  • Champion Freedom of Speech. We oppose campaign finance reform that protects incumbents and vested interests. Ultimately, these laws abridge free speech. There are so many examples of small groups harassed by monied opponents when they seek to organize to protect their rights. In Colorado, some neighbors who didn't want to be annexed by another city held some bakes sales to raise money for signs and ended being fined thousands of dollars. See Sampson v. Coffman. We also oppose campus speech codes that are intended to silence any point of view except the prevailing leftist orthodoxy. See FIRE article. This issue is a winner because Americans have long rejected the claim that others can tell us how to think and what we can say, especially when it comes to politics. Although they aren't happy about money in politics, it is easy to demonstrate that opposition to free speech isn't the answer. More on the right answer below.
  • Oppose Eminent Domain abuse. Originally, the concept of eminent domain was meant to prevent individual property owners from holding the government hostage when building a road or other public good. Over time, this right of government morphed into the power to seize your land at the behest of the powerful for any reason, however flimsy. This view was challenged in Kelo vs. New London, but our side lost on a 5-4 decision, one of the most unjust outcomes since Dred Scott vs. Sandford. Fortunately, the appalling sight of the powerful and well connected preying on small business owners and individuals is fueling a backlash. But eminent domain abuse continues and this remains a powerful issue for our side. Here is an example of a hard fought victory n Long Branch, NJ, where officials want to replace middle class households with upper class ones. Frequently, the victims of this abuse are poor minorities. In this case a victorious homeowner was also presented an award from the NAACP. This is real outreach on issues that affect minorities that would benefit the GOP.
  • Support School Choice. We could continue this outreach by taking on the school choice issue at full tilt. I previously blogged where the Arizona school teachers union wants to take away the ability of special needs kids to get much needed educational help through a voucher program. I think the Democrats are VERY vulnerable on this issue. School choice is the real civil rights issue of our day. Bad schools are wrecking the chances of poor and predominately minority students of being successful in college. Even the liberal University of California agrees with me that minorities are educationally disadvantaged. Interestingly, even though the academic literature on the benefits of choice are somewhat mixed, it seems to be that the greatest beneficiaries of school choice seem to be the urban poor. Further, as we experiment with choice we will find the combination of programs and incentives that really work.
  • Oppose Partial-Birth Abortions. Because the practice is as odious and repugnant as the name suggests. Americans can viscerally understand this issue. How can it be legal to kill a baby 8 months into a pregnancy when that same child if delivered, would be afforded full protection of the law? It is illogical, and even though I am a Christian and hold all human life sacred, I don't have to rest my case on theological arguments. One need only talk to an abortion survivor to understand the horror of this procedure. I blogged about the politics of this issue here.
  • Advance Economic Freedom. The recent move to bail out everyone, everywhere who is having economic difficulties is just not going to work and will wreck our country. We need to insist that the loans made to banks and industry be paid back as soon as possible and that we take measures to prevent such loans from being made with such poor oversight in the future. Americans are very uncomfortable with mortgaging their children's future as polls still indicate. The next big battle will be around health care. The Democrats will seek a government system that will slowly drive out private alternatives. There will be fines for big business at first, later for small businesses and finally for individuals. But this approach will wreck progress in health care. We need to do a good job of explaining why such an approach inevitably leads to rationing and bureaucratic stupidity on deciding how much health care you can receive. Dean launched an excellent overview of the issue in light of Ted Kennedy's cancer treatment.
  • Support Freedom Abroad. Newly liberated peoples the world over have shown a propensity to embrace freedom and markets when the yoke of tyranny has been lifted. The policy of America should be to actively work against dictatorship in allits forms (Islamic, Socialist, Fascist and Communist). We should seek to advance the cause of freedom, not through force of arms, but through steady pressure. Every piece of foreign policy should be weighed against this end. Further, we are also ready to use force of arms in this cause when defense of our national interest requires it. Americans resonate with the concepts of helping to liberate peoples from tyranny, this is a winner.
  • Small Government and Reform. These issues go hand in glove. The public loathes the sight of big business getting handout in the form of bailouts, subsidies and tax code preferences. They see the Congress get gobs of campaign contributions and rightly conclude that the money is buying access that tilts the playing field, at best; or buying Congressman at worst. Smaller government means less goodies to hand out. A reform agenda to end earmarks, end subsidies (even for ethanol) and simplify the tax code removes the incentives for business to try to buy the votes of the Congress. I can't find the original quote, but I remember Steve Forbes saying, "If you have a vermin problem in your kitchen, you can set traps and board up holes, but sooner or later your going to have to remove the cake from under the sink."
So that's my proposal. Short, but I hope substantive. I welcome your comments, disagreements, additions and satire. And I'm looking for a better acronym.


Health Care Reform. We have shamelessly taken John Mackey's program and adopted it as our own:

  1. "Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts."
  2. "Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits."
  3. Allow competition across state lines.
  4. "Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover."
  5. "Enact tort reform."
  6. "Make costs transparent."
  7. "Enact medicare reform."
  8. Revise tax law to make it easier to donate to those without insurance.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Joe the Plumber Quick Update

I guess the wheels of justice turn slowly, but turn they do. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Helen Jones-Kelley, who was being held responsible for the inquiry into "Joe the Plumber's" records has resigned. Two other officials involved in the illegal inquiry into Joseph Wurzelbacher's records that were suspended will not be returning to their jobs. An interesting side note; the governor's investigation alleged that Helen Jones-Kelley had conducted improper fund raising for Obama as well.

Full story here.

I have spent a lot of time on this story because it goes to the heart of free speech and government tyranny. If ordinary citizens who speak out, especially if their views are unpopular, can be subjected to harassment and warantless investigation by the government bureaucrats, then we might as well not have the first amendment. Hopefully, this ending will send a message to government employees everywhere. As a government employee myself, I believe that I live to a higher standard than was on display in this case. Actions by vengeful bureaucrats tarnish good work by so many others.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Still Voting Present

I guess old habits are hard to break, like voting present. The Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich is under indictment, but refusing to resign. As I posted earlier, the Illinois house is no hurry to remove the governor through impeachment. So what can be done to prevent this sleazeball from making a senate appointment? The constitution gives the state legislature the authority to grant the governor the appointment power and they could rescind it and call a special election to fill the vacant seat.
From the 17th amendment:

When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

In my humble opinion, rescinding the governor's authority and holding a special election is the fast and constitutional method for the legislature to avoid a bigger mess in Illinois. Our man was asked his opinion about a special election to fill his old seat:

Obama was pulled into the dispute Tuesday when the president-elect refused to say whether he supports a special election.

This is a continuation of Obama's record in the Illinois state senate, where he voted present 130 times in his short tenure there. He continued his trend in the United States Senate, repeatedly not voting, see the official record. (I started to count up the numbers, but got exhausted.) This also continues a trend of partisanship, of never wanting to endorse anything the Democratic establishment is against.

Hopefully, he won't be faced with any decisions as tough as whether to hold a special election after he is sworn in on January 20th.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Call for Impeachment - UPDATE

I am calling for the impeachment of Illinois state officials today. Yes, the guy on the right, Rod Blagojevich is a sleazy, corrupt pol, who should have the good sense to resign. Short of that, the Illinois legislature should move swiftly to impeach him. Also, they should impeach the Attorney General, Lisa Madigan (at left). But that's not going to happen either, and there in lies a tale that could only come from Chicagoland.

But first, why am I calling for Lisa Madigan's impeachment? Because she has petitiioned the Illinois Supreme Court to remove Blagojevich from office using an old law intended to remove an "incapacitated" governor. What the heck? State rep Jack Franks (D-McHenry County) has it exactly right:

“I don’t think the judiciary should be telling the executive branch what to do. We’ve got to make sure we do it right. And no matter how loathsome this governor is, we cannot trample on our constitution.”
Thank you and amen.

So why is the Illinois legislature moving so slowly? Turns out that the speaker of the Illinois House is Michael Madigan, father of the aforementioned Attorney General. His daughter has admitted a desire to run for governor in the future, so speculation is that going slow gives the spotlight to his daughter, enhancing her future electability. If true, this is a sad state of affairs in our era, that blatantly trampling the principles of the state constitution, which is modeled on the federal, would help any politician.

But wait, there's more. Turns out that an impeachment hearing might get nasty, with Blago naming names and all. Seems like the legislative leadership isn't down with that. See the video below of Bill O'Reilly interviewing Chicago Sun-Times correspondent John Kass. (H/T Bill Baar's West Side)


On, Wednesday, Dec 17, the Illinois Supreme Court rejected, without comment, the AG's request to remove Blagojevich from office. Thank God someone still believes in constitutional government.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Caption Contest

There is a caption contest over Bill Baar's West Side, a Chicago blog (plenty of spicy mustard and peppers, I imagine.) If you don't recognize the characters at left, read the article.

Don't Blame the UAW - Update

Senate Republicans shot down a bill to bail out the Big Three automakers yesterday, demanding that the UAW agree to pay cuts before they would agree to a deal. The Republicans are shooting themselves in the foot. First, the labor cost differential is not driving down Big Three profits by very much. Fact: the average labor cost differential on a $24,000 sedan between the Big Three and Honda and Toyota is about $600, and was projected to trend lower in the future in the last Harbour survey. Maybe the reason labor costs aren't as big a factor as they once were is because so many workers on the right have been replaced by those on the left. (Both pictures from Ford factories.) The real problem is that the two Japanese car makers (who make their cars in Ohio (Honda) and Kentucky, California, Indiana (Toyota)) can sell an equivalent vehicle for about $2000 more than their Detroit brethren, because consumers value the higher quality of their vehicles. Click on graph for larger view.

Second, by falsely blaming pretty decent workers, the Republicans send an anti-union message not helpful to their electoral prospects. I am no fan of unions, and I especially loathe the teachers' unions. But the UAW has gotten serious about productivity and it is starting to show. For instance, the most recent labor agreement had stiff penalties (reading firing) for no show absenteeism because the average worker resented picking up the slack when the slugs didn't show up for work. This shows that unions could be forces for good in our country. If unions helped ensure a higher quality workforce in addition to protecting their members you might see higher union membership as employers dropped opposition.

Third, by blaming unions they obscure the role of the incompetent management that is asking for the bail out in the first place. l that said, I am still absolutely opposed to a bailout for the Big Three. They need to declare bankruptcy, reorganize and have new management brought in. A bailout will only leave in place management that has allowed quality to slide, and continued a lazy design approach that makes cars difficult to manufacture. But to couch opposition to this bail out in anti-union rhetoric obscures the real issues and is a recipe for electoral disaster.

H/T Carpe Diem. I just discovered Professor Perry's blog yesterday. He is an insightful, even entertaining economist, and that's saying a lot. Full disclosure: He disagrees with me about unions not being the problem in a later post, but he blames work rules, not wages, as the culprit.

Update - The Intellectual Redneck (it's not an oxymoron, trust me) has a picture of the current UAW contract, weighing in at 2215 pages and 20 lbs. His blog has a series of articles on the auto industry that are clearly the product of a keen intellect and personal knowledge. KT at the Scratching Post also, weighs in, stealing material that I stole with a pretty decent analysis as well. Despite some differences of opinion, consensus among conservative/libertarians is trending towards letting the Big 3 file for bankruptcy.

Small Favors

At least we can be thankful that a certain bad 70's hairstyle, helmet hair, probably won't be making a comeback anytime soon due to recent events.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Foxes and Henhouses

Over at BwD, Dean has a terrific post on how the foxes in the hen house (House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform) are holding hearings to purportedly prove that it was the rooster that ate all those chickens. Also, Franklin Raines, disgraced CEO of Fannie Mae, argues that it wasn't his fault either, the farmer should have stopped him.

Karl Marx, (not Groucho) said that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. We seem to have evolved to an era where we get both at once.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mumbai and Gun Control

So why is the terrorist gunman, pictured at right, in the Chatrapathi Sivaji Terminal railway station in Mumbai, able to walk around with impunity, no protective cover, so much so that a photographer can get a clear picture of him? American Thinker has a solid piece on the failure of poorly paid police and a regime that actively discourages ownership of guns by its citizens and the comments of the photographer, Sebastian D'Souza who took this photo:

There were armed policemen hiding all around the station but none of them did anything. At one point, I ran up to them and told them to use their weapons. I said, "Shoot them, they're sitting ducks!" but they just didn't shoot back. I told some policemen the gunmen had moved towards the rear of the station but they refused to follow them. What is the point if having policemen with guns if they refuse to use them? I only wish I had a gun rather than a camera.
American Thinker lays out the long history of the Indian government's hostility towards gun ownership by it's citizens. The end result:

At the Jewish outreach centre, bystanders pelted the terrorists with stones in a vain attempt to ward off the attack, but had to retreat when the terrorists opened fire with automatic rifles. Our citizens were trying to ward off the terrorists with stones! I cannot think of a more extreme example of how helpless the government has rendered it's own citizens.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Why School Choice is Important

A little off the beaten path of auto company bailouts and Senate seats for sale comes the following news. The Arizona Supreme Court heard oral arguments today on the issue of school vouchers for special needs and foster children. This is an important case for America. As has been par for the course, the teacher's unions are arguing against anything that improves education for America's children, in this case our most disadvantaged.

The vouchers for special needs and foster children were approved two years ago, and they have been challenged twice. The lower courts have ruled that the use of vouchers at private schools is unconstitutional.
On what grounds you might ask? Because sometimes the funds are used at private schools that are ... gasp... associated with religious (read Christian) entities. Yes, my friends, some Americans are Christians. So if I donated my tax rebate check last summer to my church, has the federal government subsidized United Methodism? Quelle horreur! Someone notify the ACLU!

But the real tragedy is human. Despite assertions to the contrary, the public schools are not meeting the needs of these children (and most children, but one case at a time). Please view the video below to see the effect an adverse ruling would have on one family.

H/T: Institute for Justice

Friday, December 5, 2008

Joe the Plumber Poll Wrap

89% of you thought that Joe was getting the shaft again. Only one vote that Obama's peace takes precedence over all else. Mongo, you amaze even me. (Actually, I have no way of knowing who voted, much less who voted for what.)

Meanwhile, back in Ohio, the plot just keeps getting better. Vanessa Niekamp, the woman who called up Joe's child support records, is now alleging that her department deputy dictated precisely how she should cover up the activity. I'm no lawyer, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, so I'm thinking, obstruction of justice, a criminal offense. And what prize do we have for the clueless Ohio bureaucrats? Some jail time, maybe? Regardless, I'm not holding my breath that state employees will get more severe punishments than the private sector firings at Verizon for perusing Obama's cell phone usage.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Why This Fed Solution Won't Work

Ben Bernanke wants foreclosure rates to decline. So do I, but it's not going to happen anytime soon. Forbes online explains why. Before I explain, a pop quiz related to this subject: Who owns the mortgage debt of America's homeowners?
a. Mortgage brokers
b. Banks
c. Foreign governments
d. Who knows?

If you answered d., you are correct. Amazingly, telling banks to stop foreclosures is futile because the loans have been sliced between so many different investors, that no one really knows who owns the debt!

From the article:

Who is supposed to take the loss when these debts are reduced? Servicers don’t have any skin in the game, beleaguered lenders who originated the poorly underwritten loans often quickly sold them and the investors who ended up owning many mortgages through sliced and diced securities called collateralized loan obligations would probably be better off with a foreclosure.

Ultimately, the lack of transparency for all parties involved, along with a lack of accountability for bad practices led to the mortgage mess. If an individual homeowner could go back to the holder of the note and re-negotiate, all parties would be better off. But there is no one with whom to negotiate. This mean this mess will be terribly difficult to clean up. I am a firm believer in free markets, but any economist will say that free markets require transparency to operate properly.

Final quote:

The behind the scenes debate over who should take the loss on mortgage workouts is one of the most important issues that U.S. policymakers and lenders are faced with, and one that they are most loath to discuss. This is because unjustly hurting investors would create an alarming precedent that the American government no longer considers a business contract sacrosanct, which runs the grave risk of alienating those abroad who have looked to the U.S. as an investment haven governed by the predictable rule of law.