Thursday, July 29, 2010
The local news had an expose of the waste of money of local councils, whose sole function seemed to be to sue constituents over petty and ridiculous matters. A local resident was sued for removing a tree that was threatening to fall on her house because she couldn't produce a permit at the time a council member asked for one. This, despite the fact that the tree removal firm had obtained one. This woman spent AU$30,000 in legal fees in a case that was summarily dismissed in environmental court. The show revealed that one council actually lost such cases 77% of the time at an annual cost of close to AU$1.8 million. The lady who removed her tree asked, "who are these people? I thought they represented me." Clearly the ruling class behaves the same way the world over.
The Australians are in the midst of a national election as well. Labor is leading in the polls, presently, after sacking the previous prime minister over a proposal to increase taxes on mineral extraction. What I noticed in the political advertising was that the trades unions were going all out attacking the Liberal Party (conservative) leader, Tony Abbott, over WorkChoices. Not to delve too deeply into the act, but the government's current legislation regulates dismissal practices in all of Australia's businesses. The Australian Council of Trade Unions used the issue to help defeat the prior Liberal government, and the Liberals have promised not to re-introduce the legislation. This hasn't stopped the ACTU from attacking the Liberals in this election cycle. Meanwhile, my wife's cousin complained about the lack of any manufacturing base in Australia; but the inflexibility in the work force due to heavy union and government interference are surely a reason for that.
Listening to the Labor PM, Julia Gillard talk about banning knife imports and early childhood diagnosis of development disorders brings new meaning to the term "nanny state."
Meanwhile your intrepid host shocked his guests at dinner by opining that the U.S. minimum wage was in fact too high because it is a serious cause of unemployment. We'll see if I last two weeks.
Picture at top is of Labor PM, Julia Gillard.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Let's take a closer look at these numbers. Everyone pay attention, class is officially in session. Look at the column called sworn personnel. These are the numbers of firefighters and paramedics that will actually show up at your door to provide rescue. Notice the low numbers for San Diego? So despite comparable spending on the total budget, we actually put fewer firefighters on the streets. I have done the math for you to make the comparisons easier. Click to enlarge.
San Diego doesn't have a firefighting budget problem, we have a pay and management problem. We spend approximately the same amount per resident that comparably sized cities do. What really jumps out is the outrageous cost per sworn personnel. Our firefighting department is far and away the most expensive per sworn personnel. This mismanagement is the real reason we are idling engines. A hint as to why we have the highest expense ratio is contained in my earlier post, our firefighters are significantly over compensated, especially considering how much overtime is paid to senior firefighters.
So when asked what really caused the tragic death of Bentley Do, don't blame lack of budget for our fire department. No matter what ultimate cause is assigned, it isn't that. If people are going to blame the slow response of the fire department for this death (I am not so sure) then the root cause is the greed of the unions and the spinelessness of our politicians that allowed firefighters pay to skyrocket. It's time the city got it's moneys worth for what we pay in taxes. San Antonio gets almost double the number of personnel for only 10% more budget. Not an extra nickel to the San Diego fire department until they show they can reform their management practices.
If this turns out to be a hoax I will be a bit angry, but the web site appears to be a legitimate news outlet. A second news article seeming to confirm here.
Rightpundits is reporting that rather than an actual border incursion,
This would still represent a shift in tactics, but would not be the cross-border incursion as originally reported.
The FBI is advising law enforcement across the country that a “Texas cell” of Los Zetas acquired a ranch in Texas that they are using as a base of operations.
The Houston Chronicle has in the past reported that this cell of Los Zetas uses a secluded ranch to train its members how to “neutralize” competitors in the drug trade. You’ll feel safe to know that Los Zetas is training its members within our borders about home invasion techniques, firearms, and how to run vehicles off the road to kidnap those who owe drug debts.
Friday, July 23, 2010
We will be rooting for the Collingwood (Magpies) to beat their traditional rival Carlton (Blues) on July 31. Collingwood is curently in a tie for first place on the AFL ladder.
The tragic choking death of a two year old, purportedly because of slow paramedic response due to rolling brownouts of firefighting station "brownouts" is being used to push a half cent sales tax increase on the city. You can judge for yourself if the brownout was significant by viewing the linked time line. That local politicians would choose to do so is both highly cynical and sadly typical. I did not use a picture of the deceased for illustration, because this issue is really about the two illustrations pictured, a new library and new city hall. At a time when the city council is making plans for a new city hall and a new central library, claiming that the tax increase is necessary for firefighting and paramedic services is demonstrably false.
First, by refusing to make any progress on managed competition, or outsourcing, the council has failed to reap available savings. As I posted earlier, it was no coincidence that the proposal for the half cent sales tax increase surfaced on the same day as the proposed initiative to force more outsourcing failed to make the ballot.
Second, the manner in which the firefighters are paid needs to be examined. Carl DeMaio, a personal hero of mine, lays out the excessive pay and overtime in the fire department itself in the following article.
The salary list also demonstrates excessive compensation across the city's Fire Department, which is represented by what is arguably the city's most powerful union. In fact, firefighters comprise nearly half the membership in the “$100,000 Club” at City Hall. When comp overtime is factored into total compensation, the number of firefighters receiving net compensation value of more than $100,000 a year jumps to 371 – that's 40 percent of the active city firefighters earning six figures or more.
Of the firefighters who made the “$100,000 Club,” many ended up taking in between $35,000 and $45,000 in overtime during one year. One fire engineer alone was awarded $74,028 in overtime.
Michael Stetz in the Union-Tribune also looks into this issue.
Maybe the answer to the city's firefighting budget woes would be to pay far less overtime, and use the savings to hire entry level firefighters, reducing the number of engines that must be idled. The monumental waste evident in the fire department, as evidenced above, is a clear indicator that almost any reasonable management review could wring savings that would boost protection for the citizens who pay their salaries.
In 2006, our newspaper reported how four San Diego fire officials did this nifty trick: They moved up to higher-paying top management positions for a year or two, then went back to their old jobs. That boosted their pensions by as much as $30,000 a year. For one, it kicked up his pension to $133,000 a year.
In 2008, the third- and fourth-highest paid city employees were fire battalion chiefs who earned $228,000 and $209,000, respectively — more than the police chief.In 2009, our newspaper reported how 1,560 city employees made more than $100,000 annually during the previous year. Nearly one-third of those happened to be fire department employees.
Local governments have a long history of reducing vital services when faced with tax revolts. Now that we have an active tea party movement, we won't let them get away with this.
Temple of Mut has her own take on the situation and calls into question the timing of tieing a toddler's death to the brownouts. She provides convenient email addresses to contact your local council member.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Dean has the scoop on the Department of Homeland Security snooping on citizens who make Freedom of Information Act requests and making decisions on the release of information based on political affiliation. I defy KT to call that justicialism. As a federal employee who has responded to such requests, including those from groups with whom I had immense disagreement, I find this behavior amazingly unethical. I responded in every detail, carefully redacting paragraphs from classified documents, to allow release, because.... (drum roll please) it was my duty to uphold the law. Fat chance any of the political hacks at DHS will end up in jail.
Meanwhile, White House emails show improper contact between White House deputy CTO Andrew McLaughlin and his former pals at Google. From the NLPC:
Administration rules expressly prohibit former lobbyist company officials like McLaughlin from involving themselves in federal policies that materially impact their former employer. But the new emails, which NLPC obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, show a continued pattern in which Mr. McLaughlin communicates with another apparent Google lobbyist, the leader of a Google-funded organization that lobbies in support of Google’s primary area of federal interest, and the head of a nonprofit that works closely with Google lobbyists.Hey, there's that pesky Freedom of Information Act again. Dang if that isn't a pain in the side of would-be martinets in the federal bureaucracy.
And of course a little Schadenfreude for our old pal Charlie Rangle member of the most ethical Congress in history who will face an ethics trial in the House. A number of the alleged violations involve tax issues from the former Chairman of the tax-writing committee. From the NYP:
—Whether Rangel, as required, publicly reported information on the financing and rental of his ownership interest in a unit within the Punta Cana Yacht Club in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Rangel also had to pay back taxes on the rental income.
—Intentionally failed to report — when required — hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in assets. The amended disclosure reports added a credit union IRA, mutual fund accounts and stock.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Given Meg Whitman's disappointing hypocrisy of saying one thing in Spanish and another in English, I have opened a poll at right on the California Governor's race. Please vote, even if you are not a Californian and leave some commentary on your thoughts on the subject.
Michelle Malkin points out the most outrageous point on page 33 of the report:
Mr. Bloom, the current head of the Auto Team, confirmed that the Auto Team "could have left any one component [of the restructuring plan] alone," but that doing so would have been inconsistent with the President's mandate for "shared sacrifice."
In other words, concerns over social justice, rather than the most economically viable plan to allow the companies to recover, guided decision making. This will play itself out in the health care arena as all manner of insurance companies and hospitals will be harmed in the name of "shared sacrifice" as Obamacare is implemented. This is more than mere justicialism, it puts squarely on the road to socialism as the economic basis of free enterprise is destroyed.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
She will never win over those Hispanics who believe in identity politics and just want to increase the Latino presence. They are a minority. The majority of Hispanics want to work at good jobs, send their kids to college and generally live the American dream. A principled stand that ties together support for American dream because of the rule of law will respect the intelligence of Hispanic voters and still make serious inroads in peeling them away from the Democrats.
I am asking Meg Whitman to change course now, before she loses all my respect. I have emailed her campaign asking for an explanation and registered my protest on her website. I await her reply. In the meantime, take our poll.
I'm not going to translate, it's too disgusting considering the ad campaigns during the primaries. Listen to the following clip and enjoy the irony of hearing Pete Wilson, the force behind Prop 187, endorse Meg.
So we have a conundrum, do we let left wing moonbat Jerry Brown take the governor's mansion or do we let another hypocritical, ruling class Republican, disappoint us? As your unofficial chief ideologist, I need your input. The comments section is open, except for roy_b.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Left Coast Rebel alerted me to very important analysis that sheds light on the real need for the Tea Party movement to save America by restoring government operating with the consent of the governed. If that sounds overblown, I suggest you read the article by Professor Codevilla in the American Spectator. The article is long, and LCR has a nice summary.
"Consent of the governed," you might be asking, "don't we have elections?" Indeed we still do, but that doesn't mean that a minority party, composed of both Democrats and Republicans (but not everyone in either party) cannot retain a grip on power through gerrymander, vast bureacracy, regulation and taxation. The shibboleths of this group are a political correctness and a belief in the stupidity, racism and religiosity of the governed, called the "country class" in the article. Consider this:
While Europeans are accustomed to being ruled by presumed betters whom they distrust, the American people's realization of being ruled like Europeans shocked this country into well nigh revolutionary attitudes. But only the realization was new. The ruling class had sunk deep roots in America over decades before 2008.Codevilla hits a home run in describing the problem. He is less sure about the exact form that a roll back of the ruling class' power will take. Given that the "Ruling Class" is a minority party of about one third of the electorate, its demise, while not assured, certainly seems possible.
Its attitude is key to understanding our bipartisan ruling class. Its first tenet is that "we" are the best and brightest while the rest of Americans are retrograde, racist, and dysfunctional unless properly constrained.
The point is this: though not one in a thousand of today's bipartisan ruling class ever heard of Adorno or McCloskey, much less can explain the Feuerbachian-Marxist notion that human judgments are "epiphenomenal" products of spiritual or material alienation, the notion that the common people's words are, like grunts, mere signs of pain, pleasure, and frustration, is now axiomatic among our ruling class. They absorbed it osmotically, second -- or thirdhand, from their education and from companions. Truly, after Barack Obama described his opponents' clinging to "God and guns" as a characteristic of inferior Americans, he justified himself by pointing out he had said "what everybody knows is true."
Our ruling class's agenda is power for itself. While it stakes its claim through intellectual-moral pretense, it holds power by one of the oldest and most prosaic of means: patronage and promises thereof.
By taxing and parceling out more than a third of what Americans produce, through regulations that reach deep into American life, our ruling class is making itself the arbiter of wealth and poverty.
Ordinary people have also gone a long way toward losing equal treatment under law. . . . The bureaucrats do not enforce the rules themselves so much as whatever "agency policy" they choose to draw from them in any given case. If you protest any "agency policy" you will be informed that it was formulated with input from "the public." But not from the likes of you.
If self-governance means anything, it means that those who exercise government power must depend on elections. The shorter the electoral leash, the likelier an official to have his chain yanked by voters, the more truly republican the government is.
In my view, and that of LCR, the "Country Party" as opposed to the "Ruling Party" is represented by the Tea Party movement. Why does the NAACP smear us with racism, with zero evidence? Because it is their natural belief as members of the Ruling Party and they realize that the Tea Party, by energizing the majority, is a real threat to their power. Why does the Ruling Party hate the Second Amendment? Because a citizenry with guns is just a little less manageable. Why do they want to control health care? To force us into dependency. Why is the financial reform bill incomprehensible, with the only sure outcome, hundreds of new regulations not subject to legislative review? To vest more power in the unelected bureaucracy and increase the power of government. Why doesn't the federal government enforce the border? Because millions of potential new voters, not steeped in our traditionally skeptical view of government, will be dependent on and grateful to the ruling class. Viewed through this lens, it all starts to come into focus.
Sarah's video production using Muse's Uprising is clearly the appropriate theme song of the Tea Party, because it is time for an electoral uprising. We must throw Republicans over the side who are really part of the ruling class. This is why victories by the likes of Sharon Angle and Rand Paul are important. And we need to light a fire in the belly of ordinary Democrats, who still believe in the limits of constitutional government, so they can rid themselves of those in their party who do not.
To put this rambling wreck of an article in more succinct terms:
Government growth threatens our liberty and our prosperity.
Please join our cause in restoring a limited government that protects our freedom.
P.S. Instapundit has a call to arms.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
The New York Times is reporting that now that the Health Care individual mandate is being constitutionally challenged in court; the administration has decided it is a tax after all. (The NYT article is here, but requires registration.) The Volokh Conspiracy also has commentary. From the NYT:
When Congress required most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, Democrats denied that they were creating a new tax. But in court, the Obama administration and its allies now defend the requirement as an exercise of the government’s “power to lay and collect taxes.”
And that power, they say, is even more sweeping than the federal power to regulate interstate commerce.
“For us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase,” the president said last September, in a spirited exchange with George Stephanopoulos on the ABC News program “This Week.”
So another Obama lie unravels. I had always thought that a constitutional challenge on the individual mandate would fail if the Congress worded the mandate as a tax, with a rebate if one bought the required insurance. BUT THEY DIDN'T PASS THE LAW THAT WAY. Sorry to shout, I am a tad angry that the Ruling Class (more on that in another post) lied so completely, broadly and deeply to pass this obamanation.
Congress anticipated a constitutional challenge to the individual mandate. Accordingly, the law includes 10 detailed findings meant to show that the mandate regulates commercial activity important to the nation’s economy. Nowhere does Congress cite its taxing power as a source of authority. . . .
The money quote comes at about 1:19 into the video. "For us to say that you've got to take a responsibility to get health insurance, is absolutely not a tax increase."
For any supporter of Obama who may have stumbled across this blog, I ask: How does this double-cross square with his promises of openness, transparency and all that hopey-changey crap?
Friday, July 16, 2010
The Tea Party advocates enforcement at the border, which somehow makes us racist? But crossing the border is dangerous for illegal migrants for a number of reasons. Consider this:
The number of deaths among illegal immigrants crossing the Arizona desert from Mexico could reach a new monthly high, a county medical examiner said Friday. Since July 1, the bodies of 40 illegal immigrants have been taken to the office of Dr. Bruce Parks, the Pima County medical examiner. At that rate, Dr. Parks said, the deaths could top the single-month record of 68 in July 2005.The summer heat and lack of water is killing people.
And what about the coyotes? From wikipedia:
It is often very difficult for the police to identify the suspects, because many groups might be involved. Authorities think that most of the more violent deaths were orchestrated by illegal immigrant smugglers, known as coyotes.
The coyotes (a term used to describe people who smuggle illegal immigrants into the United States for profit) are infamous for the way in which they treat their clients, who are also often deemed as "human cargo." Cases of rape and beatings by coyotes have been reported by illegal immigrants who were smuggled into the United States by coyotes. The number of times this has happened is hard to ascertain since many illegal immigrants fear they would be deported if they went to the police for help, and because the coyotes often threaten to hurt family members that are still in their native countries.
By selectively enforcing the border, the United States government policies are the primary cause of these tragedies.
What about the Obama administrations policy of "silent raids?" This is a policy where the administration reviews payroll records at plants and farms. From the New York Times:
The audits force businesses to fire every suspected illegal immigrant on the payroll— not just those who happened to be on duty at the time of a raid — and make it much harder to hire other unauthorized workers as replacements.What would one expect from the most anti-business administration in living memory? Now, I know we could say that these businesses should not be hiring illegals. However, this policy hurts everyone. The businesses lose money, hurting the economy. The communities are saddled with increased costs to support the newly unemployed illegals, because no one is sent home.
“Even if discovered, illegal aliens are allowed to walk free and seek employment elsewhere” said Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee. “This lax approach is particularly troubling,” he said, “at a time when so many American citizens are struggling to find jobs.”
My key concern is that this is not real enforcement, because only employers get penalized, and we are still left with the burden of supporting the immigrants. From the same article:
Many immigrants purchased new false documents and went looking for jobs in more distant orchards, former Gebbers Farms workers said. But the word is out among growers in the region to avoid hiring immigrants from the company because ICE knows they are unauthorized.
“Many people are still crying because this is really hard,” said M. García, 41, a former Gebbers packing house worker who has been out of a job since January.
After the firings, Gebbers Farms advertised hundreds of jobs for orchard workers. But there were few takers in the state.
I added the last point, because we are going to have to get serious about a guest worker program once we secure the border.
So I ask those on the left, which is more humane? The current policy of selective border enforcement with internal employer sanctions or a policy of strict border enforcement that would preclude people from making the trek across the desert in the first place? The results of the Obama policy are clear: dead bodies in the desert, kidnappings in Phoenix, lost production in agriculture, illegal immigrants still wandering America. Compassion?
Speaking of self absorbed, what's Obama's excuse? Didn't think he was a boomer.
From the always entertaining Tom McMahon at 4-Block World.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Now, the legislation hands off to 10 regulatory agencies the discretion to write hundreds of new rules governing finance. Rather than the bill itself, it will be this process—accompanied by a lobbying blitz from banks—that will determine the precise contours of this new landscape, how strict the new regulations will be and whether they succeed in their purpose. The decisions will be made by officials from new agencies, obscure agencies and, in some cases, agencies like the Federal Reserve that faced criticism in the run-up to the crisis.
The legislation creates a council of regulators to monitor economic risks; establishes a new agency to police consumer financial products; and sets new standards for the way derivatives are traded. "These reforms will benefit the prudent and constrain the imprudent," Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a press conference. "Strong banks, the well-managed financial innovators, will adapt and thrive under the new rules of the road."
Republicans said the bill could jeopardize the recovery by constraining credit and crimping the banking industry, and chided the expansion of government power it envisions.
To quote The Joker (Jack not Heath) "Who you gonna believe?" I always put my faith in economic incentives over regulation as a means of modifying behavior. The fact that there will be a council of regulators, a sort of Über-regulator, only disperses responsibility and guarantees the next financial meltdown will happen sooner. Ask yourself this, by way of analogy. Did creation of the position of Director of National Intelligence, who was supposed coordinate all those intelligence agencies, prevent the snafu that allowed the crotch bomber to buy airline tickets for cash in Ghana, travel to Yemen, Amsterdam and then the U.S. while his father tried to warn the authorities of his son's intent? I boldly predict the same outstanding results for the council of financial regulators.
Meanwhile, the Hammer points out that Obama has in fact been wildly successful in implementing his agenda, even if his poll numbers tank and he has set the stage for a protracted struggle for the soul of the American economy. Obamacare and this financial Peronism (thanks KT) are going to have lasting impact. Most worrisome he has built out a structural deficit that is very tough to deal with, because it accrues primarily to entitlements. KT points out that it is all unaffordable, but considerable damage may be done before we come to our senses.
I spread this gloom and doom not for its own sake, but because I think the Tea Party is too complacent due to some of these recent electoral successes and the primary victories for Nikki Haley, Sharon Angle and Rand Paul. The work to undo the Obama legacy is a marathon, not a sprint, even though we pride ourselves on not being a movement with definite leadership, we need to be thinking about how to be organized for the long haul.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
By the way, does David Alvarez sound like a wishy washy weakling or what? Glad I'm not in district 8. I am also concerned that Lorie Zapf, whom I have endorsed, can't get herself on TV.
For those of us in the Tea Party, keep in mind the last little sentence about this tax increase only needing a simple majority vote to pass. Time to get busy, this is our issue, we are Taxed Enough Already. And what's this crap about San Diego being one of the lightest taxed cities in the nation? California has both a high sales tax rate, and a high income tax rate, fact. Sick of this union crap to extort more money from us. With the parcel tax on the ballot, we have some work to do.
I would like to thank Steve Rivera, Howard Wayne's campaign manager, for providing the link to the KUSI piece.
Monday, July 12, 2010
"I know two states Obama's not going to carry next time, Arizona and Louisiana."B-Daddy was in no position to elicit follow on commentary, but I wonder what the connection was, if any. Also heard, which would have been amazing any other year in this city:
"Only one more month before we can start watching NFL."
Also, the restaurants are hurting as the there is a real run on seafood. Couldn't get any steamed mussels appetizers at the after work meeting social; no biggie, perhaps, but Landry's, one of the better known seafood restaurants in the city (even if it si a chain) was practically deserted, despite a very generous happy hour menu that included $5 martinis and various seafood samplers, except where they had run out. While waiting for a Shrimp Po' Boy at the hotel restaurant, I caught a CNN piece on the fact that restaurants are also hurting due to oil workers having fewer dollars to spend. When CNN starts jumping on Obama, even if indirectly, you know he has troubles.
By the way, the hotel had a house beer, a microbrew made on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain. It was a medium dark lager, trending towards the nut brown ale taste. What was surprising was that you could taste the hops, something I had not experienced in a micro-brew from outside of California. All in all, a nice pairing with the po' boy loaded up with Tabasco.
And yes, your humble servant actually did some work for the taxpayers, so I don't want to hear any crap.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
The San Diego Unified School District has proposed a parcel tax for the November ballot to help pay for teachers, protect class sizes and maintain education programs. It would generate $58 million annually over five years.
If the measure is placed on the ballot and approved by voters, single-family homeowners would be charged $98 annually while condominium and apartment owners would be taxed $60 per unit. Low-income seniors would be exempt.
I am now hoping that both the half cent sales tax and the parcel tax increase make it on the ballot. Given the falling property values, high unemployment, and generally difficult economic times, this is a great opportunity to let the politicians know that more taxes are unacceptable. The city is contemplating building a new city hall with your hard earned scratch. The district wants to keep the teacher's unions happy with this tax rather than deal with needed structural reforms. Fortunately the parcel tax requires a two-thirds majority to pass. I guarantee, right here and now, that the San Diego Tea Party won't let this happen.
So what could be done to plug the hole in the school district budget? If you look at the ratio of teachers to non-teacher employee counts in the district, compared to say the ratios in the private school systems, you will find a huge disparity. Time to cut administrative positions. This would expose the hypocrisy of the teacher's unions, because they would decry such cuts, as they have in the past. But such cuts protect class size and teacher salaries. Some cool facts:
Number of teachers: about 8100.
Number of staff members: about 14500.
Ratio of teachers to non-teachers: about 1.25 to 1
Ration of teachers to non-teachers, Chicago Catholic schools: about 7 to 1
(data derived from multiple sources)
Just something to think about.
Friday, July 9, 2010
However, our position is pro-market, which is distinct from pro-business. The problems with businesses colluding and using government to further their own ends have been known since the birth of the study of economics. Adam Smith himself is widely quoted as saying:
“People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”
In fact, we see business interests arrayed against the public good in any number of ways. Look at how many pharmaceutical companies and insurers, at least initially, supported Obamacare when it looked like they had something to gain from it. The Tea Party platform, to the extent that one exists, opposes all manner of government support of business, especially at the expense of the public. Crony capitalism is as corrupting in America as it is in Latin America.
The left sees Big Government allied to Big Labor as the sole counterweight to a tyranny of Big Business. They assume that our opposition is because of a love of big business, it is not. We believe that competition and markets and the rule of law tame business far better than government. In addition to the practical problems of substituting the wisdom of bureaucracies for the wisdom of markets, the regulatory regime is subject to capture. We end up worse off than we started, because there is an assumption that we are being protected by regulation, even among the regulated, so correct precautions are overlooked.
Bottom line, free markets are our best defense against the rapaciousness of big business. The trick is to prevent big business from capturing government and skewing the rules in its favor.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Likely included as organizations will be my SD Tax Fighters, San Diego County Taxpayers Assn, the GOP, the Libertarian Party, … major “Tea Party” operations in the county, the SD Restaurant Association and hopefully several others...I have to admit that I almost want to see this tax increase on the ballot, because it will so energize those sympathetic to the Tea Party, that it may influence the outcome of local elections, in particular, Council District 6, which looks to be close. My lefty buddies at OB Rag points out that Mayor Sanders used this issue to pillory Donna Frye in their mayoral contest. However, OB Rag doesn't appear to be opposing the tax.
(Picture of Richard Rider from "A Brief History" blog.)
“On a five-year contract worth $96 million -- what he'd get from the Knicks or the Heat -- LeBron would pay $12.34 million in New York taxes.” Florida has no state income tax.Theoretically LeBron could have stayed in Cleveland and earned more money. But remember, its not what you make, its what you keep. Because of the so-called "Larry Bird rule" Cleveland could have, and maybe did, offer LeBron $100.2 million vs the paltry $96.1 million offered by the Heat. How would that work out?
Let's say LeBron has the choice to stay in Cleveland or go play with the Miami Heat. James may have a higher salary in Cleveland, but Florida has no state income tax. Ohio, on the other hand, has a top rate of 5.925%, plus Cleveland's own income tax rate of 2%, for a total of about 8%.
That makes Miami look like a clear winner because 8% of $100 million is $8 million, almost double the Cleveland salary advantage. But not so fast Florida. True, if James plays in Miami, none of his neighbors will be paying state income tax, but thanks to the jock tax, LeBron will. [ed. note, the jock tax somewhat diminishes the tax advantage of Miami, but not completely.]
I have no way of knowing if these considerations weighed on LeBron's mind when he made his decision, but interestingly enough his final choice aligned with his economic self interest. Don't profess yourself shocked.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
And no, it doesn't involve hot red heads, that role is already filled out nicely in my life. The Russians have come up with a diabolical plot to destroy American business, worthy of Dr. Evil.
KT, this link is for you. Details are at B-Daddy's other blog.
Why are Democrats to intent on doubling down on stupidity this year? Despite repeated set backs that indicate their agenda is not popular, they forge ahead, seemingly oblivious to the looming electoral disaster that awaits them. Health care, cap and trade, amnesty are a few examples. At the top of the Democrat ticket in California both the nominees for governor and lieutenant-governor, Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom are still supporting the so called Global Warming Solutions Act, AB 32. I think it gives the Republicans an opening in an otherwise challenging political environment. (Jerry Brown is touting the creation of a "Renewable Energy Jobs Czar" who will singlehandedly create 500,000 green jobs. Beyond parody.)
The proposed repeal is actually a very modest roll back, saying only that its draconian provisions would be suspended while unemployment remains above 5.5%. Just a quick common sense note. How can anyone in their right mind think that California, by itself, make a dent in carbon emissions. Given that energy production and use are somewhat fungible, at least on a national scale, doesn't this effort ignore physics and economics.
Here is some of the pretzel logic used in support of AB 32, courtesy of reason.com:
AB 32’s proponents say it will create a plethora of new “green jobs.” Cynthia Verdugo-Peralta, founder of VPC Energy and of Strategic Energy, Environmental & Transportation Alternatives, recently declared, “When it comes to job growth, there is substantial, irrefutable evidence that growing more efficient and greener will create jobs, not kill them.” That, she explained, is “why I am heartened that CARB’s new economic analysis reaffirms the benefits of implementing California’s Global Warming Solutions Act.”
Verdugo-Peralta was referring to a March report from the California Air Resources Board, the agency that will oversee carbon rationing. Its analysis finds that implementing emission cuts will increase the price of electricity by up to 20 percent, the price of natural gas by 13 percent to 76 percent, and the price of gasoline by 6 percent to 47 percent.
Wow! If I had only know that increasing energy costs resulted in more jobs; I guess I forgot about the famous example of the 1970s, where the Arab oil embargo resulted in record dips in unemployment.
Temple of Mut alerted me to the opportunity for the Tea Party to make a difference on this issue. Besides suspending a stupid law, good turnout on this measure may help defeat leftist candidates supporting such tomfoolery. Check out the Proposition 23 web site and support the effort to suspend AB 32.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
[Arizona]...may not establish its own immigration policy or enforce state laws in a manner that interferes with federal immigration law. As such, Arizona’s immigration policy does not simply provide legitimate assistance to the federal government but instead exceeds a state’s role with respect to aliens, interferes with the federal government’s balanced administration of the immigration laws, and critically undermines U.S. foreign policy objectives. S.B. 1070 therefore exceeds constitutional boundaries.
S.B. 1070 will also impede the federal government’s ability to provide measured enforcement of criminal sanctions so as to accommodate the many other objectives that Congress enacted into the immigration laws. As a matter of law and in the public interest, this Court should enter a preliminary injunction to prevent S.B. 1070 from going into effect.
I admit I am not a lawyer, but I don't find these arguments persuasive on their face. In what way has the state of Arizona done anything that is inconsistent with federal law? The states have already been brought into immigration enforcement, so that particular horse has already left the barn. To now assert that the states can not pass enabling statutes that support the same federal laws seems like a losing argument. From a 2006 report Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress:
Congress, through various amendments to the INA, has gradually broadened the authority for state and local law enforcement officials to enforce immigration law, and some recent statutes have begun to carve out possible state roles in the enforcement of civil matters. Indeed, several jurisdictions have signed agreements (INA §287(g)) with the federal government to allow their respective state and local law enforcement agencies to perform new, limited duties relating to immigration law enforcement.Here is my concern, the conservative justices on the supreme court typically take a dim view of state usurpation of federal power. Whereas, the leftists on the court are known to use any logic to support their political view point, see the dissent in McDonald vs Chicago:
Given this make up of the court, there is a chance that the Supremes may find a federal supremacy argument sufficient to carry the day. However, I think the federal government's own precedents of enrolling the states in the enforcement will be more important. Hopefully, the Court will look at the fact that Congress passed the laws that gave the states the limited authority to cooperate with federal immigration officials by turning over illegals. They should then say to the Justice Department, too bad, you don't like this, get Congress to repeal the laws that require cooperation of state law enforcement.
In his dissent in McDonald, signed by three liberal justices, Justice Breyer argues that gun rights deserve little or no judicial protection at least in part because they put lives at risk:
Unlike other forms of substantive liberty, the carrying of arms for that purpose [self-defense] often puts others’ lives at risk.... And the use of arms for private self-defense does not warrant federal constitutional protection from state regulation.
This argument ignores social science evidence suggesting that extreme gun bans like those of DC and Chicago cost at least as many innocent lives than they save. Still, gun rights probably do cause at least some deaths that might otherwise have been prevented.
P.S. Dean makes some of the same arguments here. KT points out the absurdity of suing Arizona while effectively declaring portions of national parks off limits because they have been ceded to illegals. Temple of Mut provided the graphic for this article and a little link love.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Photo courtesy CNN.
Obama is blaming Republicans in talks before Latino groups on the lack of progress on immigration reform. Setting aside that he has had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate most of his term, and a very large majority in the House, why do we think this is? Because the so called "reform" he is offering is a charade. Let me be clear; I too, favor comprehensive reform, but only after the politicians secure the border and only if there is no path to citizenship for those who entered the country illegally, they should never be allowed to vote. First let's hear what Obama is proposing from a CBS News article:
The public has been burned by this before. We don't want the stinking empty promises that we will fix the border only after we have "comprehensive reform," to include amnesty. We have been lied to enough on this subject.
Mr. Obama advocated a comprehensive approach that would insist the government, businesses and illegal immigrants themselves live up to their responsibilities within the law. Focusing on a "border security first" approach would fail, he said, because the system is too big to be fixed "only with fences and border patrols."
Obama also wants to create a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States; critics call that amnesty, which Obama denies because he would ensure that immigrants must first acknowledge that they had broken the law, pay fines and back taxes, perform community service and learn English.
Once we secure the border and we are happy with the security, I am perfectly willing to talk about massive expansion in guest worker programs, a path to normalcy (not citizenship) for those here illegally, a sub-minimum wage for guest workers and many other topics. BTW, Obamacare has really poisoned the well on this discussion, because another demand should be that those who came here illegally be ineligible for any federal subsidies for health care.
Bottom line: No immigration reform without enforcing the border first, that's it, that's final, we're not negotiating.
At Church this morning we sang America the Beautiful. I'd like to add the second 3rd stanza as another thing that's great about America:
O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!
Friday, July 2, 2010
Voters overwhelmingly passed proposition C in 2006 to require the city to use regular competitive bidding on city services with the exception of police and fire. And so four years have passed, not one city service, not one function not even one taxpayer dollar in the city budget has been subjected to managed competition under proposition C.Richard Rider discusses the idea of a ballot measure in the article about the tax increase:
Exaclty. If there is an issue that conservatives, libertarians, Tea Partyers and taxpayers can get together on, this is it. If Sanders proposes this initiative, I will never vote for him again.
Taxpayer advocate Richard Rider said any proposed tax increase from Sanders would be shot down by voters because they believe they’re already paying enough.
“If he likes to get his teeth kicked in, I guess he can go ahead,” Rider said.
Rider also said the proposed ballot measure would stop financial reforms already under way.
“Nobody is going to do anything else in terms of reform,” he said. “They’re going to hope that they can get bailed out with taxes.”
Not convinced of the efficacy of outsourcing? See Adam Summers article for the Reason Foundation. Just one example:
The City of Phoenix implemented a managed competition program in the late 1970s to address a looming fiscal crisis. One of its successful competitions was for trash and recycling collection. The city was divided into six geographic regions and collection services in each sector were put up for bid on a rotating basis. Some bids were won by the city, and others were won by private providers. As a result of the competition, the city has saved about $25 million over the past 30 years. Add in savings for competitions for solid waste transfer hauling and landfill operations and the city has saved a total of almost $40 million.I would like to hear Howard Wayne and Lori Zapf provide their views on the proposed tax increase. I have my suspicions, but maybe we can find out.
On a more uplifting note, here is Ray Charles singing a classic.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Now the San Diego City Council is considering banning future such events as follows:
The report proposes to extend the language in the original ban to define “bathers” as “a person floating, swimming, wading, or bodysurfing, with or without the use of a floatation device, including, but not limited to,… a surfboard, …innertube, life preserver…” Lastly, the amendment proposed to extend the ban of alcohol consumption of bathers to the city’s legal limits- three nautical miles from the coast (3.45 miles).Well, this is certainly a crisis that needs to be addressed by our city fathers.
Thinking about the root cause of how we came to be in this situation, I think it is alack of shame. There was a time when a young man or woman would have been ashamed to be drunk in public, at least after the fact. There was a stronger sense of propriety among the public that didn't require the police to arrest that many people for such a crime to make enforcement and effective deterrent. What has been lost is a shared sense of public propriety. I don't think we drink any more today, see Wes Clark's Avocado Memories discussion of patio culture in the 60s. (One of the best blog posts of all time.)
Today we are less mindful of our behavior overall and are filled with resentment at all manner of constraint. The result is that each new constraint is met with more resentment and attempts to break out of stultifying straitjackets on behavior. It is as if most adults have entered a never-ending adolescence and the only authority remaining is the policing power of government. It is a recipe for disaster. It makes me a criminal when I drink my one or two beers at the beach. It displaces the responsibility for maintaining societal norms from individuals to the government and that is untenable. Contrary to popular belief, a strong sense of shared morality does not subvert freedom, but makes freedom more possible, because we need fewer laws to maintain order in society. (And don't get me started on what those shared values are; Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Atheists agree on all manner of morality, including the impropriety of indecent exposure and public drunkenness.)
What is to be done? We should recognize that more and more laws to regulate behavior are actually counter-productive. Too many laws, and ridiculous ones at that, and people lose respect for the law. Look at how often the speed limit is violated. But fewer laws are insufficient of themselves. People who do stupid things need to rap the consequences of their actions. So, if someone is drowning due to excess alcohol consumption, they should pay for their rescue, as a modest example. Finally, we all need to just pitch in and let those who behave badly know, that their behavior is not welcome, nor will it be tolerated. A little shame isn't such a bad thing.
Now I think I'll have a martini.