Monday, September 17, 2007

Hillarycare -- If it's free, its from me

TANSTAAFL = There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Our Public School Kids are Awesome


This is not a homeschooler ...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Politicians vs. Taxpayers

Politicians from every level prey on taxpayers and their family budgets. Here is a visual from Americans for Prosperity on how this constant pressures looks from the taxpayer's point of view.

What are you looking for in a president?

Hugh Hewitt's interview with Duncan Hunter at the Texas Straw poll, which Hunter won.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

My Dirty Dog


Monday, August 20, 2007

Optical Illusions via sidewalk art

I have to be maxed-out impressed by this sidewalk art that creates vivid optical illusions.

Here are a couple pictures and here is the link for more: http://o.pticalillusions.com/3d-sidewalk-art/


Friday, August 17, 2007

Drive-by Media's Hall of Shame

This from Hugh Hewitt's blog:


Thursday, August 16, 2007

The List Posted by: Hugh Hewitt at 2:01 PM

The American Thinker's Randall Hoven puts together a list of the inductees in the MSM Hall of Shame.

(MSM=Mainstream Media)

Friday, August 10, 2007

THE letter-to-the-editor of the Year, so far ...

August 8, 2007

Mr. Dean Stone, Editor
The Daily Times
307 E Harper Ave
Maryville, TN 37804

Subject: Pork Barrel vs. Bridge Repair


Dear Editor,

Nearly $7 million in U.S. Highway Transportation funds were secured by Senator Lamar Alexander for the construction of an unpopular funded Civic Arts Center located on the property of Maryville College. Most local taxpayers objected to the use of local tax money for this building which was not owned by the local governments. The Federal portion was just a forgotten background note as most citizens view Federal money as coming from some free source not directly linked to their tax dollars.

Now comes the Minnesota bridge collapse which is linked to a lack of funding (U.S. Highway Transportation) for repairing bridges. There is such a shortfall in available funding we hear that we might have to raise the Federal gasoline tax (which funds bridge repair). I say baloney! The funding to keep our bridges safe was there until numerous pork barrel projects such as the local Civic Arts Center robbed the funds.

Now to be sure, Lamar is not the only Senator to “bring home the bacon” from other Federally earmarked funds to his local friends. I am not trying to single him out. However, should Maryville College erect crosses in the lawn of the new Civic Arts Center in memory of the Minnesota people who died because someone took the funds from their bridge repair budget?

The Civic Arts Center was called a transportation improvement program in order to qualify for Federal funding. Was it given a higher priority than the Minnesota bridge? Pork Barrel projects always cost somebody; and some have paid with their lives. Kind of gives one pause before congratulating a politician for “bringing home the bacon”.


Sincerely,

W.W. (Sunny) Day
Louisville, TN 37777

Monday, August 6, 2007

Where are the weenies from the ACLU!?!

Holes were drilled into his hands and knees before both legs were broken and acid poured over his face. Finally, the 30-year-old Iraqi was shot in the head. His crime? To work as an interpreter for the British military in Basra. (Source: TimesOnLine)

Well, that wasn't so bad. At least they didn't put a wet rag over his mouth and nose, or put panties on his head. If they'd done that, the ACLU, Amnesty International, etc, would screaming like hyenas and the ultra-liberal news media would be reporting that it is Bush's fault. (Source: Big Rattler)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Pick your presidential candidate

This is a good test to see if you are supporting the presidential candidate who closely matches up with your views.

It is also helpful for those studying the candidates.

Click here to take the test.

I matched up with Duncan Hunter ... which is correct for me.

How about you ... post your comments.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Comfort level: Nudist vs. Democrat

Hat Tip to Red State Rebels:
 
But a story on the site caught my eye, about the Northwest nudists' convention in Worley. The AP story reported, "Terri Capshaw, an Idaho nudist who built a home next to Sun Meadow, says, 'Your body needs air and sunshine. To me it's just like exercise. I'm more comfortable telling people I'm a nudist than saying I'm a Democrat.'"

Monday, July 2, 2007

People for the Ethical Treatment of Taxpayers

A new pro-taxpayer protection group has been established in Florida with the fantastic name "People for the Ethical Treatment of Taxpayers."

This is one of those head-slapping names where you say, "Why didn't I think of that."

We wish them the best of results joining the ranks of the many taxpayer groups all across America, struggling to squeeze the juice out of local and state government political machines who, with the help of their private sector cronies, keep pickpocketing the families of American taxpayers.

Give a visit to their web site at: http://www.pettpac.org/.

Better yet, send them a couple bucks for help.

With a name like that ... it has to be good.
Keep rattling,

Big Rattler

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Sen. Switchback a.k.a. Brownback, a cultural moment

This insta-ad was produced by HotAir.com (Michelle Malkin). What is important to note, aside from the ad and its content, is how the old drive-by media, the dinosaur press, the mainstream media is being left in the dust heap of history. The new manner and techniques used by the American public simply by-passed the old relics of news dissemination.

The hard-fought immigration issue could be noted in the eyes of future historians as the "tipping point" when it became obvious that these electronic information transfers surrounding this bill is indeed the symbolic moment when the people who are willfully self-governed by the republic threw away the news filter of the self-anointed elites.

(Note: I did not use the term democracy for good reason. "And to the democracy for which it stands?")

With this in mind, please take a click at this wonderful insta-ad:



We see Sen. Sam Brownback switching his vote. Other bloggers and the like have posted Brownback's news release crowing that he voted against the failed immigration bill. Brownback is mocked.

This ad is prima facia evidence that the political gamesmanship practiced by too many politicians is a big reason why Congress suffers from a 14% approval rating.

Politicians are not stupid people when it comes to getting and remaining elected.

This culture shift will be duly noted. The best news is that they are now held accountable to an extent they never were before, and the drive-by media is in large part to blame for covering up this gamesmanship with their biased reporting.

Make way you biased-old, creaky, phony journalists for the blessings of liberty now create confusion in your wretched ranks. You risk being smited by drowning in your own ink.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Thou shalt not steal, even by majority vote.

An excellent article by Gary North on the Duke University scandal and its cultural importance.

North's article is titled: What I learned from Duke University

Quick excerpt:

The elite bourgeoisie and the professors are allied together in a struggle to
overcome historic Christianity and the free market. To put this as a slogan,
they stand together against Moses and Mises – against Moses, because they refuse
to answer to God; against Mises, because they refuse to answer to consumers.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Tubular Taxes -- from Government Bytes

Egad!  The stupid and wasteful government spending never stops ... Big Rattler
 

Posted by Dominic Rupprecht - June 20, 2007

In yet another local government boondoggle, the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority has spent $2 million in renovations on the government pool at Upton Hill Regional Park. The renovations featured "large tubular and open-air water slides," an "aquatic jungle gym," as well as "fountains, water cannons, and hoses."

Of course, to be a boondoggle, a project can't just be expensive and wasteful; it also has to be painfully stupid. And here, the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority comes through with flying colors. The pool was not renovated because of a lack of already-available aquatic play places. Instead, the Park Authority decided to renovate because there were, wait for it, too many private pools available in the area, which meant people didn't want to play at the government pool.

The pool's water cannons and "tubular" water slides were paid for in part by the taxpayers of Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun counties as well as Alexandria, Fairfax City, and Falls Church. Of course, no local pork project would be complete without a check from the federal government; the feds decided to toss in $75,000 (because it is vital for the federal government to purchase an "aquatic jungle gym" in Northern Virginia). Of course, just because they paid for it, doesn't mean it's free. They'll still have to cough up a few bucks for admission to the water park they paid for.

What's next for the Park Authority? My money's on roller coasters. God forbid anyone goes to Kings Dominion!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Drive-by Media Political Contributions

Hat tip to Drudge Report for highlighting that the drive-by media contributes 9 to 1 to Democrats over Republicans.
 
MSNBC compiled an exhaustive list of media personalities and their political donations.
 
The results speak for themselves.
 

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

GAGGLE

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

T. Blair on the news media

 
Unfortunately, Blair, who has a record of favoring the "big-government" philosophy, concludes that reviewing government imposed news standards may likely be streamlined and put under one authority instead of the various public overseers present in the U.K. today.
 
It appears that he places little faith with the punishment that the marketplace can deliver to sub-standard reporting even if the marketplace moves slowly but surely over time.  If there is a demand for delivering hard-news in an unbiased fashion, the marketplace will reward those who fulfill that what has become a rather niche market, in light of the hard news being who is up or down in the latest offering of American Idol.
 
Here is an excerpt of Blair's speech:
 

Fourth, rather than just report news, even if sensational or controversial, the new technique is commentary on the news being as, if not more important than the news itself. So - for example - there will often be as much interpretation of what a politician is saying as there is coverage of them actually saying it. In the interpretation, what matters is not what they mean; but what they could be taken to mean. This leads to the incredibly frustrating pastime of expending a large amount of energy rebutting claims about the significance of things said, that bears little or no relation to what was intended.

In turn, this leads to a fifth point which is the confusion of news and commentary. Comment is a perfectly respectable part of journalism. But it is supposed to be separate. Opinion and fact should be clearly divisible. The truth is a large part of the media today not merely elides the two but does so now as a matter of course. In other words, this is not exceptional. It is routine.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Friday, June 8, 2007

Inside Story about how the Senate Immigration Bill was killed

From the Right Wing News:


A GOP Aide, who's one of my sources in the Senate, gave me the rundown on what happened to the Senate bill today.

After the 2nd cloture vote failure at noon on Thursday, Harry Reid could not get unanimous consent to call up amendments to the bill because Jim DeMint refused to give his consent. This was extremely problematic for Reid because he wanted to get in votes on 6 more amendments before the last try at a cloture vote.

At that point, all the senators who were participants in the "Grand Compromise" AKA the "Masters of the Universe" by the opponents of the bill, leaned on DeMint to try to get him to give consent for the bill to move forward.

Unfortunately for them, DeMint wouldn't budge. This essentially killed the entire afternoon that the pro-amnesty side hoped to use to shore up support for the bill.

While DeMint was gumming up the works, the opponents of the bill, including most prominently Jim DeMint, Jeff Sessions, and Tom Coburn, huddled and came up with a list of conservative amendments they wanted considered ... [more]

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Fence First ... We'll worry about the rest later

Immigration is not that complicated if you break it into pieces and do things one-by-one.

Granted, the fedgov is very incompetent, so it makes sense to simply complete one project at a time, then move on to the next project.

Build the already authorized and funded fence -- First.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Rudy gets a shocker



Well, it seems that something is happening in the pro-life debate.

Here is the YouTube link from the GOP debate in NH (6-5-07) that shocked candidate Guiliani: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibqwKb4cCsg

Friday, May 4, 2007

Does Sherriff Allow Illegal Trespass?

Take a look at this video and tell me what you think.

You'll notice that many times they very people who stand up to defend our rights and who understand the legal protections we are supposed to enjoy are just folks trying to get by on what they have.
Those with the means, rarely lift a finger. God Bless the "Road Scholars" of America

Does Sheriff Allow Illegal Trespass?
http://www.break.com/index/sheriff-allows-illegal-trespass2b.html


Click Here for more great videos and pictures!

Keep Rattling .....

Monday, April 30, 2007

Making Statism Unpopular

Give a click to this radio ad and let Big Rattler know what you think about making statism unpopular ...

Excellent Explanations

I caught this from the Ludwig Von Mises Institutes' web site.  The article is logically outstanding demonstrating the the national Republicans and the Bush Administration -- contrary to popular PR and media spin -- actually has not cut taxes and in fact has raised taxes.  (Read, that's one major reason why they lost big in 2006)
 
What!  How can that be!?!
 
Here are some excerpts that should tempt you to read the full article:
 
(Link to full article http://www.mises.org/story/2559 )
 

First, in order to consider how Bush's policies have affected tax burdens, I need to define the term "taxes." Taxes are a revenue source for the state and the state is the entity that has a monopoly, or at least claims the right to a monopoly, over the use of coercion within its political borders. Therefore, Hans Hoppe's explanation of taxation as "a coercive, non-contractual transfer of definite physical assets" ( Economics and Ethics of Private Property, p. 28) provides us with a sound definition of taxation. Taxes are the takings of private property in order to fund the state. They are a form of aggression against private property.

 ... and ...

In addition to what we normally think of as taxes, the state also has the option of borrowing money by selling government securities in order to finance its spending. This is a significant form of finance as the federal debt, including intragovernmental debt, increased $574 billion in fiscal year 2006. Budget deficits are generally not considered to be a form of taxation and it's oftentimes useful to distinguish between revenues generated by taxing the sale of a good or service and revenues generated by selling securities. However, government debt is a coercive transfer of property from private hands to government coffers.

... therefore ...

Those who lend the government money are purchasing a promise to take someone's property in the future in order to repay the loan. If the securities that are issued are to be repaid, then the state is simply shifting tax burdens away from current taxpayers on to future taxpayers.

I know you easily see the logic and intrinsically know this to be true.  But it sure is good to have it said and written down in such a manner that arguing against these facts if futile.

Keep Rattling....

Monday, April 23, 2007

Your Gov't at Work -- Statism

How does business get done at your local State Capitol?
 
Certainly, nothing like this could happen in the hallowed halls of Congress!?!
 
The story below is about a trial of a state Tennessee senator, one of many caught up in an FBI corruption sting operation called Tennesee Waltz.
 
It's some sad reading:
 
 
By Trevor Aaronson
CommercialAppeal.com, Memphis, TN
Contact

April 23, 2007

Calling FBI agent Mark Jackson to the witness stand this morning, Asst. U.S. Atty. Tim DiScenza used the lawman as a summary witness to present a timeline that summed up the government's case against former state Sen. John Ford:


  • April 19, 2004 — FBI undercover agent L.C. McNeil introduces himself to state Sen. John Ford at a dinner in Nashville arranged by state Rep. Kathryn Bowers.

  • July 17, 2004 — In Miami, Ford asks McNeil for $3,000 to $5,000 per month to draft and pass state legislation that would benefit E-Cycle. Ford expresses interest in E-Cycle's initial public offering.

  • July 28, 2004 — "I'm ready when you get back to get that done," Ford tells McNeil in a phone conversation, referring to the E-Cycle legislation.

  • Aug. 18, 2004 — Ford tells McNeil he wants to be paid $10,000 upfront and $5,000 each month. Ford then explains which committee the bill will go to and reaffirms that he will sponsor the legislation.

  • Aug. 19, 2004 — McNeil pays first cash payment made to Ford: $10,000. Ford takes an E-Cycle brochure and company paperwork, drafted by the FBI, describing the legislation E-Cycle wants.

  • Aug. 23, 2004 — Ford calls McNeil and tells him he met with the General Assembly's legal department to talk about the E-Cycle legislation.

  • Aug. 26, 2004 — In a telephone conversation, Ford tells McNeil the rough draft of the legislation will be available next week so E-Cycle can review it.

  • Sept. 7, 2004 — Ford asks McNeil for his fax number to send the draft legislation.

  • Sept. 17, 2004 — McNeil pays Ford $5,000. Ford reads the draft legislation to McNeil and agrees with the undercover agent that the bill should be amended so public schools will not receive surplus computers.

  • Sept. 28, 2004 — Ford and McNeil discuss the proposed legislation in a phone call. Ford says he'll fax a new draft of the bill to McNeil.

  • Oct. 6, 2004 — A summary of the legislation is faxed to E-Cycle's office.

  • Oct. 15, 2004 — McNeil pays Ford $5,000. Ford discusses making the legislation more exclusive for E-Cycle.

  • Nov. 9, 2004 — Ford says the E-Cycle bill will be filed in January with "a bunch of bills" so it won't draw attention, he tells McNeil in a phone conversation.

  • Nov. 11, 2004 — In a phone conversation, Ford asks McNeil to send him more money.

  • Nov. 17, 2004 — Ford tell McNeil in a phone conversation he will not pre-file the bill since it would allow the news media and others to look at the proposed legislation.

  • Nov. 19, 2004 — Ford gives McNeil the final draft of the legislation. McNeil pays Ford $5,000 at E-Cycle's Memphis office.

  • Dec. 16, 2004 — Ford reassures McNeil the legislation will pass.

  • Dec. 17, 2004 — McNeil pays Ford $5,000 at a Miami hotel.

  • Jan. 6, 2005 — Ford tells McNeil in a phone conversation he will file "our bill this week, this next week."

  • Jan. 12, 2005 — Ford pre-files Senate Bill 28. In a phone conversation, he tells McNeil the bill was filed.

  • Jan. 13, 2005 — Ford tells McNeil in a phone conversation he will put a clause in the bill that will give E-Cycle more exclusivity. "We filed it, and we just pulled the other bill," Ford says of the revised legislation.

  • Jan. 18, 2005 — The state Department of General Services recommends against passage of E-Cycle's bill.

  • Jan. 19, 2005 — Ford pre-files Senate Bill 94 with the definition of computer equipment identical to the list of equipment in E-Cycle's brochure.

  • Jan. 31, 2005 — McNeil pays Ford $5,000 in E-Cycle's Nashville office.

  • Feb. 1, 2005 — McNeil pays Ford $5,000 in his Senate office in Nashville.

  • Feb. 3, 2005 — Ford expresses to Willis concerns McNeil might be working with law enforcement and E-Cycle might be an FBI shell company. A fiscal note is filed in the General Assembly, indicating the E-Cycle bill would increase state expenditure.

  • Sometime after Feb. 3, 2005 — Ford aggressively questions General Services Commissioner Gwendolyn Sims Davis about the fiscal note and tells her she does not know "what the hell" she is doing.

  • Feb. 14, 2005 — Ford tells McNeil he'll get a new fiscal note.

  • Feb. 17, 2005 — Ford tells McNeil he talked to Senate staff about changing the fiscal note.

  • March 9, 2005 — Ford tells James White, executive director of the Fiscal Review Committee of the Tennessee General Assembly, to change the fiscal note.

  • March 10, 2005 — Ford threatens McNeil, who pays Ford $5,000 in E-Cycle's Memphis office.

  • March 15, 2005 — Ford presents Senate Bill 94 to the Senate State and Local Government Committee, then chaired by state Sen. Steve Cohen. It passes 9-0. Ford learns McNeil is coming to Nashville. In a phone conversation, Ford asks FBI informant Tim Willis why McNeil is traveling to the capital. "Hell, we passed the bill. What's his concerns?" Ford asks Willis.

  • March 16, 2005 — At McNeil's request, Ford agrees to delay the bill.

  • March 17, 2005 — McNeil pays Ford $5,000 at the Sheraton Hotel in Nashville.

  • March 23, 2005 — Rosemary Bates, Ford's research analyst, e-mails Senate Chief Clerk Russell Humphrey asking him to keep E-Cycle's bill off the legislative calendar.

  • April 8, 2005 — Ford threatens to kill FBI undercover agents McNeil and Joe Carson. Ford agrees to delay legislation. McNeil pays Ford $5,000 outside The Peabody.

  • May 26, 2005 — FBI agents arrest Ford in Nashville.

 
You should really send this to all your friends.  It clearly illustrates how business uses government favors to protect them (read, profits) from competition.  This is an example of "Statist Businessmen." 
 
Big Rattler

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Now that you've paid your taxes ...

Happy Tax Day


You've paid your taxes, now what's in it for you? What do you get from the government (besides staying on the good side of the Internal Revenue Service)?

Via Heritage's Brian Riedl http://www.washtimes.com/commentary/20070415-100128-4378r.htm , here's how your tax bill breaks down:

The federal government collects $21,992 in taxes per household and spends $24,106, leaving a per-household deficit of $2,114. (You might think of that last figure as taxes you haven't paid yet but someday will-or at least somebody will, maybe your kids.)



Per household, the government spends:

*       $8,301 for Social Security and Medicare,
*       $4,951 for defense,
*       $3,550 for antipoverty programs,
*       $2,071 for interest on the federal debt,
*       $907 for federal employee retirement benefits,
*       $664 for health research and regulation, including the Food and Drug Administration,
*       $627 for veterans' benefits,
*       $584 for education,
*       $418 for highways and mass transit,
*       $392 for administration of justice,
*       $305 for natural resources and environmental protection,
*       $304 for foreign aid, contributions to international organizations like the United Nations, and for maintaining U.S. embassies abroad,
*       $299 for unemployment benefits,
*       $282 for community and regional development, which includes the Federal Emergency Management Agency,
*       and $451 for all other federal programs, including farm subsidies, social services, space exploration, air transportation and energy.

Posted on 04/17/07 10:56 AM http://www.insideronline.org/blogarchive.cfm?month=4&year=2007#000B610D-CE46-40A5-A584E39468C29BE0 by Alex Adrianson | Blog Archive http://www.insideronline.org/#viewArchives#viewArchives

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Dubbed "The Stubborn Nail"

Here is photo of government at work.  In this case China.  A residence stands alone in the middle of a project.
 
This photo and its location (China) make the full story a bit perplexing especially as it relates to China's "evolving" property rights as if there are any in said country.  May some property rights are indeed on the horizon, given this successful defiance, which would be a huge liberty boost within China.  The reporter does little to clear the confusion, but the visual is what led me to forward this on to you.
 
I've included the photo and caption, with excerpts from the story (below) and the link, in case your interest is peaked.
 


(CAPTION) Chinese workmen demolished a house, seen here March 2007, that attained almost iconic status because of its owners' refusal to move for a huge property project. However, Wu Ping and her husband's three-year battle may have paid off with a court in Chongqing announcing they would be given a new home nearby valued at about three million yuan (390,000 dollars).(AFP/File/Mark Ralston)
 
 
CHONGQING, China (AFP) - Workmen in China demolished a house that attained almost iconic status because of its owners' refusal to move for a huge property project, but their three-year battle may have paid off. [...]
 
Their plight -- thrown into the spotlight partly thanks to dramatic photos of the house sitting in the middle of a massive pit excavated around it -- became a symbol of the little man's defiance of China's moneyed interests.

However the couple appeared to have been rewarded handsomely for holding out, with a court in Chongqing announcing Tuesday they would be given a new home nearby valued at about three million yuan (390,000 dollars).

In addition, they were awarded 900,000 yuan in damages because the developer had cut off water and electricity, and blocked traffic to their home during the three-year stand-off. [...]

Wu had incessantly accused the local government of collusion with the developer, while refusing to bow to the strong-arm tactics aimed at getting rid of her home.

Earlier this year, she filed a lawsuit maintaining that she could not be forced to give up her home.

The Stubborn Nail's case hit such a nerve in China because similar disputes are plaguing the country.

While Wu was able to stand up to the powerful and wage a high-profile publicity campaign rarely seen in China, people in countless other cases have lost their property without adequate compensation.

According to the latest figures from the Ministry of Public Security, there were 87,000 protests in 2005, many of them to do with land grabs. Such protests are often crushed by security forces. [...]

The national parliament passed a landmark law last month that solidified private property rights, partly to combat such disputes.

While Wu waged her publicity campaign, her husband had staged a vigil in the home over the past week, at times waving a national flag.

During his vigil, Yang Wu also hung a banner out of the house that read: "The legal private property of citizens cannot be violated," echoing wording in the country's new property law.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Hunter Walks the Walk

Duncan Hunter Purchases Brand New Ford F-150

HUNTER WALKS THE WALK
Puts his money where his mouth and principles are

Detroit, MI – Republican Presidential Candidate Duncan Hunter gave a tangible demonstration of his support for U.S. manufacturers in a campaign stop in Detroit today.   On a mid-morning visit to Suburban Ford in Sterling Heights, MI., Hunter made good on his "Buy American" platform.  He bought American by driving off with a brand new Ford F-150 pick-up truck.  "Some may call this a cheap political stunt," quipped Hunter, "but my wife will call this an expensive gesture."

Hunter said he traveled to Michigan to make it clear that he will follow through on his commitment to American businesses.   As President, Hunter said he will restore the strength of this country's manufacturing base.

Hunter has contended, in his campaign swings, that good high-paying manufacturing jobs are being lost to China and other countries.  "Our manufacturers are forced to compete against foreign competitors that benefit unfairly from currency manipulation, and from bad trade deals."

Hunter added, "One of the duties of the American President is to make good trade deals.   We have a bad [trade] deal and, as President, I will rectify it."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Monday, March 26, 2007

My Kinda Prez Candidate

GOP '08 hopeful keeps visit low-key

By KAREN LOVETT
Telegraph Staff


NASHUA – When Republican presidential candidate John McCain toured the state on a recent stormy weekend, he hired a plow to lead his bus full of staffers, supporters and a "60 Minutes" news crew.

When fellow hopeful Mitt Romney swept through New Hampshire in February, he was traveling with a small entourage of cars full of assistants.

But when yet another GOP presidential contender, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif ., rolled into the parking lot of the Broad Street Country Store in Nashua on Sunday, it was in a rented Ford SUV.

Store owner Vahrij Manoukian rushed to the passenger side to greet Hunter.

"I said, 'Congressman, how are you?' " Manoukian recalled. "He said, 'I'm not the congressman. I'm the aide.' "

Hunter, it turns out, did his own driving during his visit to the Granite State, which included stops in Goffstown and Keene.

To a crowd of about 50 gathered at the store, the 14-term House member paid little attention to McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Romney, who are widely recognized as theHunter pointed to two recent straw polls – informal votes used to gauge people's opinions – in which he had strong showings South Carolina and Arizona.

And Hunter stands by his main concerns, which are defense, securing the country's borders and bolstering manufacturing jobs, which he says have been pushed overseas.

China is "cheating on trade" by devaluing its currency, Hunter said. The Chinese government gives subsidies to exporters, which ultimately lowers prices and pushes American goods off the shelves.

If elected, he pledged to review trade agreements and take action with countries that aren't complying.

Hunter touted his border-control record, citing a wall built in the 1990s between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, that he said knocked down drug-smuggling by 90 percent and slashed San Diego's crime rate. He has written legislation to extend that wall by 854 miles, stretching through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

An audience member asked his opinion on Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, two Texas Border Patrol agents who, while on duty, shot a Mexican drug-runner non-fatally.

They were each sentenced to more than 10 years in prison, and the issue has generated controversy because some feel the two men should be pardoned. Hunter agreed and said he would do the same if elected.

"I definitely liked his views on illegal immigration and on pardoning the agents," said Candi Mann of Hudson, adding that she didn't share his concerns about international trade because she's unfamiliar with the policies.

"He's a very detail-oriented guy, which makes an effective congressman," said Mark LeDoux of Hollis. "My suggestion in his campaign is to spare some of the details . . . and stick with the big picture."

Dan Hogan of Nashua said was impressed with Hunter's pro-life stance and said he'd keep an eye on the candidate, no matter what the standings say.

"The media has been saying for some time that the Republican people are not terribly enamored with the top three," Hogan said. "I'd say (Hunter) stands as good a chance as anybody."

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Tennessee - You gotta love this legislator

Big Rattler has friends slithering around the great state of Tennessee. I snapped a blog link to Tennessee Porch, written by a former state legislator named Jim Bryson.

Here is a sample of his work. Pull up a chair and take a quick read:

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Campfield is at it AGAIN

Rep. Stacey Campfield sure is fun to watch.

There is not a PC bone in his body. He loves to put people in a quandry. Last year he attempted to join the Legislative Black Caucus on behalf of the African-American constituents in his district. When he was not allowed to join because he was not black, he had to ask how they could get away with racial discrimination. It seems that double standards are alive and well.

It is early in the session and Stacey has already struck twice. First, he has a proposal to remove the state sales tax on food and place an additional tax on porn. This puts the liberals in a quandry because they don't want to reduce the "stable" sales tax on food and lose all that revenue that government could spend better than people buying food, but they can't come out and say they don't want to tax porn either.

What's a liberal to do? Next Stacey has pro-choice legislators in his sights. He introduced a bill requiring death certificates for aborted babies. Another legislative quagmire if you are a pro-choice legislator. Do you vote for the bill and admit that the unborn babies were alive to begin with and have just been killed? Or, do you for against the bill sending the signal to your generally pro-life constituency that you don't believe unborn babies are alive.

What's a pro-choicer to do?

What they will do is weasel out of both these bills. Speaker Naifeh will send both these bills to a sub-committee he controls of legislators in safe districts who can make tough votes. The bills will be defeated by a handfull of legislators, never to see the light of day.

Thanks Stacey!

Posted by Jim Bryson at 10:22 AM

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Too cool, the VetoMatic

This is from our fine friend from Green Bay Wisconsin, Rep. Frank Lasee. He explains how the state governor has virtual unlimited powers via the veto pen to create any he desires.

I went to the VetoMatic web site and typed in the phrase: "Spending shall exceed state revenues by 175%." Volia! the VetoMatic, using the current spending bill and replicating the awsome veto power of the governor, created just such a law.

Give it a try!

The excerpt is from Rep. Frank Lasee:

The Governor of Wisconsin has, by far, the most powerful partial-veto pen in the nation. Through a series of court decisions, the Governor has gained the power to cut out any word or number from any bill that appropriates money.

The Governor just submitted the biennial budget, which appropriates a whole lot of money ($57.7 billion). The budget bill contains 379,805 words. Through the power of a partial veto, the Governor could theoretically create a law to do just about anything. The Legislature would not be able to override these partial vetoes because of the narrow majorities in each house.

You might be thinking, “Frank, you are talking about a budget bill, how could substantive law be contained in there? Isn’t it just a bunch of numbers?” Instead of just setting the state budget for two years, there is a whole lot of policy packed into the budget on top of the spending. Right or wrong (well, wrong), that is the way it is.

How do we know that the budget bill can be manipulated into nearly any law imaginable? Well, with a hat tip to Dan Akroyd’s Bass-o-matic on Saturday Night Live, we have the VetoMatic.

The VetoMatic was created to “demonstrate just how dangerous the Governor's power is. It will take the text you give it and show you how the Governor could create your new law with absolutely no legislative oversight.” You can try the VetoMatic yourself at http://www.vetomatic.com/.

To prove the point, there was a VetoMatic contest in which people were encouraged to see what “laws” the Governor could pass using the Budget Bill. Here were some of the contest winners: “The Legislature authorizes the department of Revenue to create and implement any tax it deems necessary to fund any expenditure approved by the Secretary of the Department of Administration.” “The City of Milwaukee shall be given to Illinois.”

Try the VetoMatic yourself at http://www.vetomatic.com/.


Keep on rattlin'
Big Rattler

Friday, February 23, 2007

Adam Smith on new pound

The Wealth of Nations

In March, the Bank of England will issue a new 20 pound note featuring Adam Smith and the pin factory.

(Click to Enlarge)
The Pin Factory is Smith's wonderful passage about the importance of the "division of labor" whereby, you who need a pin, would likely spend the better part of a year mining, smelting and fabricating a simple pin.

Yet by the "division of labor," pins are quite available in wide varieties and at the most modest of costs.

Hooray for the Brits! The 20-pound note is the most common, according to Bank of England.

The Wealth of Nations will indeed be well advertised beginning in March '07.

Also, see http://www.adamsmith.org/ for a look at the new statue of the man who "Discovered the Moral Superiority of Capitalism" to be sited in Edinburgh. (Word has it that the Queen may do the honors of unveiling the statue later this year.)

Finally, Big Rattler is reading P.J. O'Rourke's latest book about Adam Smith's work. I say "his work" because of P.J.'s point that during Smith's time (American Revolution Era), people's work was debated, unlike today where many cackle about Britney Spears and Anna Nicole Smith's latest foibles.

Refresh yourself from mob of chatter'ers ... become a rattler ... and buy P.J.'s book. You will be surprised at how you actually have to focus to understand ... instead of just "feel."

Snapping,
Big Rattler

Transparency In Gov't Task Force

Hey all you rattlers out there ...

Here are some links to U.S. Senator Tom Coburn's effort to create 300 million volunteer government auditors who carefully watch various portions of bloated federal spending.

The idea (now law, now fact) is that all federal spending should detailed, be easily accessible and understandable and posted on the web. That way, anyone can do some digging about any federal project -- big or small. It should be right at your fingertips.

The result of this idea, is we can audit at will without all the bureaucratic hassle.

Right now it is comment time on how to construct just such a web site. The links below will get you started, especially if you have a knack for knowing what is needed.

Keep snapping,
Big Rattler

Coburn-Obama Site
Posted by Andrew Moylan - February 15, 2007

After the long, drawn-out fight that finally brought it into law, the Coburn-Obama legislation that we fought so hard for now has a preliminary website up. For those of you who don't remember, the Coburn-Obama bill will require all federal grant and contract funding to be on a searchable, publicly available website.

Check out the page at www.federalspending.gov

Write them a comment and let them know how you'd like to see the site develop. Read more


FEDERAL FUNDING ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY TASK FORCE
Have you ever wanted to find more information on government spending? Have you ever wondered where federal contracting dollars and grant awards go? Or perhaps you would just like to know, as a citizen, what the government is really doing with your money.

The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA) of 2006 asks the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to lead the development, by January 2008, of a single searchable website, accessible by the public for free that includes for each Federal award:

  1. the name of the entity receiving the award;
  2. the amount of the award;
  3. information on the award including transaction type, funding
    agency, etc;
  4. the location of the entity receiving the award;
  5. a unique identifier of the entity receiving the award.

OMB has created a Task Force to implement the requirements of this important Act. Here is where you can have an impact on how the Task Force proceeds. Please use this link to provide feedback on how you, as a citizen, would like to see the FFATA implemented and government award information presented.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Usefulness


"Unlike the organizations of government, the organizations of free enterprise are self-liquidating at the limit of their usefulness." -- Isabel Paterson


Gov't saps resources from potential advancements

Friday, February 16, 2007 ~ 1:00 p.m., Dan Mitchell Wrote:Will American politicians repeat past mistakes? Brian Wesbury's Wall Street Journal column explains that America suffered during two periods of big government - the 1930s and the 1970s, and he fears that policy makers have not learned from these mistakes:

...the last two times government seriously tried to control the U.S.
economy -- in the 1930s and in the 1970s -- they made a terrible mess of it. In
the 1930s, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act caused a collapse in global trade, while
the Fed allowed the money supply to shrink by one-third. Government regulation
in the 1920s prevented banks from branching, which caused more than 10,000 to
fail in the 1930s, deepening and prolonging the Great Depression. Herbert
Hoover's tax hikes were icing on the cake, capping off a perfect storm of D.C.
policy mistakes.

It took another 35 years, and a nice run of prosperity, but Washington
finally gathered the courage to try this again. Between 1965 and 1981, Great
Society welfare and health-care programs, wage and price controls, inflationary
Fed policy, 70% marginal tax rates, 50% capital-gains tax rates, and highly
regulated energy, airline, banking and trucking industries created severe
problems. The Misery Index (calculated by adding inflation and unemployment)
rose to 21.9% in 1980 (today it is 7.2%).

...The cost of government intervention is always underestimated in the
midst of political battles, while the benefits are always overestimated.
Impeding the free market alters the course of economic activity in ways that
cannot fully be understood in advance.

For example, tax subsidies for using existing solar technology diminish
incentives for research and development, just like welfare payments undermine
the willingness of many recipients to work or go to school. Why give up a sure
thing for a future that is uncertain?

The U.S. is subsidizing ethanol, which pulls billions of dollars of
investment capital away from other areas of the economy. When government picks
what it thinks should be the winner, it saps resources from other ideas and
potential advancements. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB117142605260108183.html?mod=opinion&oj
content=otep
(subscription required)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

"Root Shock" The Effects of Eminent Domain Abuse on African Americans

Institute for Justice
901 N. Glebe Road Suite 900 Arlington, VA 22203
(703) 682-9320 FAX (703) 682-9321
Home Page:
WWW.IJ.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 14, 2007

New Study Details Devastating Effects of
Eminent Domain Abuse on African Americans


Arlington, Va. - "Eminent domain has become what the founding fathers sought to prevent: a tool that takes from the poor and the politically weak to give to the rich and politically powerful," concludes Dr. Mindy Fullilove in her new report released today titled, " Eminent Domain & African Americans: What is the Price of the Commons?" The report is available at http://www.castlecoalition.org/publications/index.html.

Eminent Domain & African Americans is the first in a new series of independently authored reports published by the Institute for Justice, Perspectives on Eminent Domain Abuse, which will examine the different aspects of eminent domain abuse from the vantage point of noted national experts. The release of this inaugural report is particularly timely this month, as millions around the nation learn about African American history.

In this study, Dr. Fullilove, a research psychiatrist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and a professor of clinical psychiatry and public health at Columbia University, examines the effects of eminent domain abuse on the African American community. Focusing specifically on the Federal Housing Act (FHA) of 1949, Dr. Fullilove finds that "[b]etween 1949 and 1973 … 2,532 projects were carried out in 992 cities that displaced one million people, two-thirds of them African American," making blacks "five times more likely to be displaced than they should have been given their numbers in the population."

Although urban renewal under the FHA was discontinued in 1973, Dr. Fullilove reported "the tools of urban renewal had been honed through 20 years of projects. Politicians and developers found that they could repackage eminent domain and government subsidies in many new ways, facilitating the taking of land for 'higher uses.'"

Dr. Fullilove shares the story of David Jenkins-who lost his Philadelphia home to urban renewal in the 1950s-to illustrate the devastating impacts of forced displacement. "Within these neighborhoods there existed social, political, cultural, and economic networks that functioned for both individual and common good," explains Dr. Fullilove. "These networks were the 'commons' of the residents, a system of complex relationships, shared activities, and common goals"-the loss of which cannot be replaced or remedied.

"What the government takes from people is not a home, with a small 'h', but Home in the largest sense of the word: a place in the world, a community, neighbors and services, a social and cultural milieu, an economic anchor that provides security during the ups and downs of life, a commons that sustains the group by offering shared goods and services," continues Dr. Fullilove.

"Dr. Fullilove's pioneering research reinforces the need for state and federal legislative reforms of eminent domain laws," said Steven Anderson, director of the Castle Coalition, which helps homeowners nationwide fight eminent domain abuse. The Castle Coalition is a grassroots organization coordinated by the Institute for Justice, which litigated the Kelo eminent domain case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005. Anderson said, "Property owners nationwide-particularly minorities, as evidenced by this paper-will remain vulnerable to seizures by tax-hungry governments for land-hungry developers until the use of eminent domain is reined in and limited to only true public uses."

A recent example of eminent domain targeting African American communities can be found in Riviera Beach, Fla. Despite the state's new restrictions on eminent domain, city officials are pursuing a plan to remove thousands of mostly low-income, African American residents from their waterfront homes and businesses to make way for a luxury housing and yachting complex. The Institute for Justice is representing property owners there who want to protect their rights and save what rightfully belongs to them.

In addition to her clinical and teaching duties, Dr. Fullilove is the author of Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America, and What We Can Do About It , which takes a powerful look at the effects of urban renewal on African Americans. She coined the term "root shock" to describe the devastating effects of forced displacement.

# # #

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

MI -- Taxpayer money used to lobby for tax hike

 Detroit News Online
 
 
 
Detroit News Editorial
February 9, 2007

Two groups funded with tax dollars lead cheer for higher taxes

A s Michigan debates tax hikes, don't forget that politicians and bureaucrats have a vested interest in squeezing as much as possible from taxpayers.

And they can be more than a little cagey in how they go about it. For example, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy points out that the Michigan Municipal League and the Presidents Council of the State Universities of Michigan are using tax dollars to agitate for higher taxes. They are joined by the Michigan Health and Hospital Association in creating the "Michigan Fiscal Responsibility Project," which has set up a Web site and issues press releases on the dire condition of the state's finances.

Mackinac Center analyst Diane Katz notes that both groups are funded by dues from local governments and the state universities. And they get their money from the taxpayers (and tuition fees and donor gifts for the universities).

In essence, the Mackinac Center contends, they are using tax dollars to lobby for more tax dollars.

David Waymire, a Lansing public relations specialist whose firm represents the so-called fiscal responsibility group, is quick to point out that it isn't lobbying for a specific proposal, merely making information available for the public. Perhaps not, but the group's dire predictions of a decline in public services can easily be taken as attempts to soften the political terrain for a tax hike, since they so neatly mirror the remarks of Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

While Michigan law forbids the use of public funds by state or local government to advocate for candidates or specific ballot issues, it allows them to "provide information" to the public. And if that "information" is sufficiently scary, members of the public might be persuaded to part with more of their money.

Further, if local governments route public money through the Michigan Municipal League, according to a 2001 ruling by then-Attorney General Jennifer Granholm, it is transformed into private money, since the Municipal League is a nonprofit corporation, not a public body, and the league can take positions on ballot issues.

In this case, the public dollars have been sent through both the laundering and spin cycles, since they have gone from local governments to the Municipal League to the "Michigan Fiscal Responsibility Project."

And the taxpayers have been hung out to dry.

We only wish government officials would exert the same mental energy they give to fleecing taxpayers on figuring out creative solutions for delivering services less expensively.

Monday, February 12, 2007

AZ -- School Districts' cash pool beefs up lobbying - East Valley Tribune - MSNBC.com

Districts' cash pool beefs up lobbying - East Valley Tribune - MSNBC.com

By ANDREA FALKENHAGEN TRIBUNE
East Valley Tribune
Feb. 12, 2007

East Valley school districts are spending tens of thousands of dollars to lobby the Legislature this year, in hope the lawmakers will send more of the state's precious funding their way.

The Mesa Unified School District, the state's largest district, has budgeted up to $45,000 to spend on lobbying by Jaime Molera, a former state superintendent of public instruction. The district hired Molera, in part, to work with lawmakers on issues related to Career Ladder, a performance pay plan that is a large piece of how the district pays its teachers, he said.

State agencies shouldn't be allowed to use taxpayers' money to lobby for more

http://www.goupstate.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007701110313

Published January 11, 2007
Spartanburg Herald-Journal
(South Carolina)

When a state agency hires a lobbyist, it is turning taxpayers' money
against them.

The State Ports Authority made the correct decision this year when it
declined to hire lobbyists to work on lawmakers in Columbia.

Usually, agencies hire lobbyists to maximize their budgets, but in
this instance, the authority is concerned about a conflict over
construction of a new port in Jasper County.

The authority chairman said the decision not to rehire lobbyists was
made because: "We've heard assurances that the state's interests will
be protected … ."

The Ports Authority should have recognized that the General Assembly's
duty is to make sure the state's interests are protected. Agencies
always speak of their own interests as if they represented the
interests of the state. The truth is that they usually hire lobbyists
to make sure they get the biggest piece of the state budget pie
possible or to make sure that their area of authority in the state is
not compromised. These interests do not necessarily coincide with the
best interests of the state.

Gov. Mark Sanford has introduced plans to merge some state agencies as
part of government restructuring to increase efficiency and save
money. You can expect lobbyists for these agencies to oppose these
plans. And it won't be because of the state's best interests. It will
be because of the bureaucrats' interests.

Agencies also will be pushing for more money in their budgets. This is
an egregious abuse of taxpayers' money. The government takes money
from the people of the state and gives it to an agency to fulfill that
department's work. The agency then uses the money to hire a lobbyist
to convince lawmakers to take more money from taxpayers and give it to
the agency.

When multiple state agencies do this, the sum of their actions is to
lobby for a larger state budget and higher taxes.

It is the job of lawmakers to look at the interests of the state, to
judge which agencies need more money and which do not, to decide which
policies are in the state's best interest. Agencies can advise
lawmakers, but it is not their role to make policy. And they have no
business using taxpayers' money to pay for lobbyists to influence
policy.

Whether the purpose is to influence a port location or a budget
decision, state agencies have no business hiring lobbyists. The
governor recognized this fact when he prohibited agencies under his
control from doing so. Lawmakers should extend this rule to all state
agencies.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Road to Serfdom (Ch IV)

Here are a couple of nuggets that reveal the "planners" mindset and why they hate the Private Property Rights enacted in Arizona's Prop. 207. This anti-competition, pro-planning monopoly is nothing new.

Many years ago in his most famous book "The Road To Serfdom," Nobel Laureate F.A. Hayek concisely explained the nanny-state planners desire to control and why we should avoid their false seductions.

Hayek's excerpts:


The Road to Serfdom (Ch IV)

The "Inevitability" of Planning

We were the first to assert that the more complicated the forms assumed by civilization, the more restricted the freedom of the individual must become. -- Benito Mussolini

Most (planners) affirm that we can no longer choose but are compelled by circumstances beyond our control to substitute planning for competition. The myth is deliberately cultivated that we are embarking on the new course not out of free will but because competition is spontaneously eliminated by technological changes which we neither can reverse nor should wish to prevent.

The tendency toward monopoly and planning is not the result of any "objective facts" beyond our control but the product of opinions fostered and propagated for half a century until they have come to dominate all our policy.

What planners generally suggest is that the increasing difficulty of obtaining a coherent picture of the complete economic process makes it indispensable that things should be coordinated by some central agency if social life is not to dissolve in chaos. This argument is based on a complete misapprehension of the working competition. Far from being appropriate only to comparatively simple conditions, it is the very complexity of the division of labor under modern conditions which makes competition the only method by which such coordination can be adequately brought about.

It is no exaggeration to say that if we had had to rely on conscious central planning for the growth of our industrial system, it would never have reached the degree of differentiation, complexity, and flexibility it has attained. Compared with this method of solving the economic problem by means of decentralization plus automatic coordination, the more obvious method of central direction is incredibly clumsy, primitive, and limited in scope. That the division of labor has reached the extent which makes modern civilization possible we owe to the fact that it did not have to be consciously created but that man tumbled on a method by which the division of labor could be extended far beyond the limits within which it could have been planned.

Any further growth of its complexity, therefore, far from making central direction more necessary, make it more important than ever that we should us a technique which does not depend on conscious control.

There is yet another theory which connects the growth of monopolies with technological progress. It contends not that modern technique destroys competition but that, on the contrary, it will be impossible to make use of many of the new technological possibilities unless protection against competition is granted, i.e., a monopoly is conferred. No doubt in many cases it is used merely as a form of special pleading by interested parties.

While it is true, of course, that inventions have given us tremendous power, it is absurd to suggest that we must use this power to destroy our most precious inheritance: liberty. It does mean, however, that if we want to preserve it, we must guard it more jealously than ever and that we must be prepared to make sacrifices for it.

While there is nothing in modern technological developments which forces us toward comprehensive economic planning, there is a great deal in them which makes infinitely more dangerous the power a planning authority would possess.

We all think that our personal order of values is not merely personal but that in a free discussion among rational people we would convince the others that ours is the right one. The lover of the countryside who wants above all that its traditional appearance would be preserved and that the blots already made by industry on its fair face should be removed . . . know that (his) aim can be fully achieved only by planning.

The movement for planning owes its present strength largely to the fact that, while planning is in the main still an ambition, it unites almost all the single minded idealists, all the men and women who have devoted their lives to a single task.

It (planning) would make the very men who are most anxious to plan society the most dangerous if they were allowed to do so – and the most intolerant of the planning of others.

From the saintly and single-minded idealist to the fanatic is often but a single step.

Quotes from Chapters I & II can be viewed here: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1775089/posts
Chapter III:
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1778528/posts
THE ROAD TO SERFDOM in movie form, 5 minute cartoon:
http://www.reference.com/go/http://one.revver.com/watch/10904/format/flv/affiliate/5157


Friday, February 9, 2007

Finally, some good transportation ideas

Toll Road Trend Hits Arizona
Reason Founder Robert Poole is scheduled to testify before a House committee on toll roads and using public-private partnerships to build new highways on Tuesday.

And next week, Reason's Geoff Segal will be appearing in Phoenix to testify about Arizona's plans to convert carpool lanes into high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes and to partner with the public sector to build new freeways. In a column for the Arizona Republic, Poole and Leonard Gilroy write, "The private sector has committed nearly $2 billion to add high-occupancy toll lanes near Washington, D.C., and $7.2 billion to build toll roads from Dallas to San Antonio.

There are more than $25 billion in public-private partnership highway projects planned or already approved across the United States. Arizona's freeways don't have to resemble parking lots. The Senate bills encouraging toll roads and public-private partnerships are significant steps in the fight against gridlock."

The full column is here.

Reason's Toll Roads Research and Commentary

Thursday, February 8, 2007

I'll kill your competition, if you kill mine

Washington Bureau - bizjournals.com

Banks praised legislation that would keep retail chains like Wal-Mart out of banking, while Realtors applauded a bill that would keep banks out of real estate.

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., introduced legislation that would prevent major retailers from owning federally insured banks through an industrial loan corporation. Frank is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

"Commercial firms should not own banks," says Edward Yingling, president and CEO of the American Bankers Association.

The legislation is timely because of recent applications for ILCs from large commercial firms. An FDIC moratorium on new ILCs was scheduled to expire Jan. 31.

"We urge Congress to act now before the wall between banking and commerce is damaged beyond repair," Yingling says.

Allowing big retailers to own banks concentrates economic power, hurts local merchants and threatens the soundness of the nation's financial system, contends the Independent Community Bankers of America.

Realtors make similar arguments in their long-standing effort to keep banks out of the real estate business. They've got a powerful ally as well: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., is sponsor of legislation that would define real estate brokerage and management as commercial activities, not financial activities, and therefore make them off limits to banks.

"Without passage of this legislation we are concerned that national bank conglomerates will continue their attempts to enter into the real estate industry, putting both competition and the nation's economic health at risk," says Pat Vredevoogd Combs, president of the National Association of Realtors.

Realtors failed to win passage of this legislation in the past, but Congress has used spending bills to block attempts by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department to define real estate as a financial activity.

For more information, see http://www.aba.com/ or www.realtor.org

Maybe just tax the ammo and leave property owners alone

Big authoritairian government squabble in Idaho over this very same issue. At least the NoDaks' respect private property rights.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ Fenced game preserves may spark impassioned debate about hunting ethics, but the Legislature should defend landowners' right to operate them, the state Senate decided in rejecting legislation to ban them.

The bill, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Tim Mathern, sought to prohibit hunters from paying to shoot deer, elk and other big game on a private hunting preserve.

The measure was often called the "high fence" hunting bill, a reference to the fence that game preserve operators are required to have around their land. North Dakota has more than 100 registered deer and elk farms.

North Dakota's Senate voted 44-3 on Wednesday to defeat the legislation.

The proposal's supporters argued that game farms were the equivalent of shooting animals in a cage.

Snapping,
Big Rattler

Bullet tax @ 10 cents a round -- Where do we go to surrender?


What could be the nation's first tax on bullets is being floated as a way to help balance Cook County's budget.

Commissioner Roberto Maldonado wants to slap a 10-cent-a-bullet tax on those buying ammunition in the county. It's one of dozens of plans offered to close the county's $500 million budget deficit.

The plan comes as the County Board raids the Forest Preserve District for $13 million, demands millions more from state government and considers slapping fees on SUVs, towed cars and other items. It's all being discussed to try to lessen the impact of thousands of job cuts, as proposed by Board President Todd Stroger.

Stroger said he'll listen to any ideas to increase fees but wouldn't change his commitment to a no-tax pledge.


Maldonado said an ammo tax "is as close as possible to a sin tax" and could bring in more than $250,000 a year.

A National Rifle Association official urged the County Board to look elsewhere for funds.

THE BULLET POINTS A look at how much of an effect a fee on bullets would have - from small fries to big shots: 10 cents: Deputy Barney Fife, if he bought his own police-issued bullet and was able to join the Cook County Sheriff's Department.

$50: Terry "Tank" Johnson, if the Bears defensive tackle made the trip across the county line for the 500 rounds of ammunition allegedly found in his Lake County home.

$530,368: If every person in Cook County, 5,303,683 according to 2005 U.S. Census estimates, were to do his or her part and buy one bullet.


Snapping without a silencer,

Big Rattler

The Paradox of the Statist Businessman

Ever wonder why your local chamber of commerce(rads) seem to always side with big government dreams and schemes? You question what happened to good old fashioned competition, to free-market, to limited government?

Businessmen are just trying to make a living within the "rules of the game," but resist bucking the system to change the rules ... why? Is it because of fear from retaliation from the government commissars? YOU BET!

Is it because some businessmen have secured an advantage over their competition via cronyism with the government commissars? YOU BET!

Are there still businessmen out there who have spent lifetimes struggling up the ladder and are completely disgusted at the "rules of the game?" YOU BET!

Here are some snakebite bits from a classic Theodore J. Forstmann's article.

Biography: Theodore J. Forstmann is a founding general partner of Forstmann Little & Co., a private investment firm, and a member of the Cato Institute's Board of Directors.

The Statist Worldview
One view begins and ends with government. It is of a statist society in which the government regulates and mediates most human relationships--economic and otherwise. The other view begins and ends with the individual. It is of a civil society in which people organize themselves through voluntary association and exchange. Statist society promises you happiness in exchange for the better part of your freedom. Civil society merely guarantees your freedom. Happiness is up to you.

Perhaps we can understand the statist impulse on behalf of the unskilled and unschooled, the disabled and the disenfranchised, the infantile and the infirm. But why would the businessman choose to bargain with his most precious capital--freedom?

It would be easy to dismiss the statist businessman as either a knave or a fool. The sad truth is that he's neither. Remember what Voltaire once said: "It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong." The statist businessman is simply doing his job. He's probably just part of a big corporation. He didn't make the rules; he just follows them. He doesn't ask why the government holds all the cards; he simply accepts the hand he's dealt. To play it safe, the bureaucratic businessman plays along.

But by joining rather than fighting the forces of an activist big government, he becomes part of the problem. Indeed, he becomes a significant part of the problem to which he contributes in three ways. Number one, he is a conservator--not a creator. Number two, he is a lobbyist. And number three, he is used as an argument against capitalism even though he is not a capitalist at all.

Businessman as Lobbyist
The statist businessman is, by definition, a lobbyist. Having made his peace with 20th-century collectivism, he is fundamentally concerned with "who gets what" from government's redistributive powers. He seeks subsidies for himself and penalties and regulations for his competitors. He is the miserable figure Ronald Reagan described as the fellow who hoped the crocodile would eat him last.

Take a good read of Forstmann's full article and coil you mind around his pearls of wisdom.

Snap at you later,
Big Rattler

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Eat the Rich -- (Nod to PJ O'Rourke)

New tax proposal combines social engineering and class warfare. Congressional Democrats want to use the tax code to penalize large corporate severance packages. But this should be a matter for stockholders to decide, not headline-seeking politicians. The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, explains that the middle class often feels the brunt of tax schemes designed to punish the so-called rich:

One of the ways the Senate bill does this is to place a cap on the amount of "deferred compensation" that a company can award its top executives in a given year. The cap is equal to $1 million or the executive's average salary for the previous five years, whichever is lower. But rather than simply tax any deferred compensation above that threshold as income, it imposes an additional 20% penalty tax on deferred comp above the limit. The Joint Committee on Taxation predicts this provision will bring in $800 million over the next decade. We'll go out on a limb and predict it brings in an amount closer to $0.

AZ -- Killing us softly with their voyerism


I've snaked down these roads with the "government photo cash registers" flicking flashes of new found fortunes for fat bureaucrats.


What happens ... free-flowing traffic abruptly slows with tail lights flaring and rear-end collision avoiding maneuvers abound when approaching the government photo cash registers.


Another wreck avoided, almost all the time. At least the government gets more money for our hassle. And, what about "due process" under the law? A photo is a far cry from traffic officer wouldn't you think?


Here are quick snaps from another liberal rag-paper:



Two Scottsdale companies submitted proposals Tuesday to operate the city's
lucrative photo enforcement contract, which could include the speed cameras on
Loop 101. And just hours later, the Scottsdale City Council agreed to oppose a
photo enforcement bill - one of a number introduced at the Legislature - that
would divert a city's profit away from any municipally-run freeway program.


During the [Scottsdale] council's discussion Tuesday on photo enforcement
legislation, members agreed they did not like a bill introduced by Rep. Michele
Reagan, R-Scottsdale, that would require any city that runs a freeway photo
enforcement program - Scottsdale is the only current one - to send any profit to
the Arizona Highway Patrol Fund, Criminal Justice Enhancement Fund and Crime Lab Assessment Fund. Scottsdale has made more than $850,000 to date, and is
projecting a $1.2 million general fund profit by the end of June.


Snap at you later,


Big Rattler


Minimum work for minimum wage

Sali is right on

Rep. Bill Sali is right on the money in opposing minimum wage laws. The Employment Policies Institute, a nonprofit research organization, recently released a study that revealed some of the unintended consequences of such laws.

The study found that for every 10 percent increase in the minimum wage, unemployment jumped 3.9 percent among minorities overall, 4.9 percent among Hispanics, 6.6 percent among teenagers and 8.4 percent among African-American teens.

Sali was viciously attacked for his position. Logical review of the facts reveal the result of increases in the minimum wage. I would very much like to help the intended target recipients/beneficiaries of an increase in minimum wages.

The problem is, the very people we want to help can be hurt more by our meddling with the market, by meddling with employer's choices to hire, determine pay levels, and reward for merit and for the increases in business income due to employee efforts. Bill Sali took the position that is most likely to promote job growth and allow for a free market to thrive, and is most optimal for minority Americans. Good for him.

Terry Silsby -- Meridian, ID

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Arizona Taxpayers Pick Up $10 Million Tab for Government Lobbyists


GI logo
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News Release

Arizona Taxpayers Pick Up $10 Million Tab for Government Lobbyists
New report exposes practice of government lobbying

Contact: Ann Seiden
(602) 462-5000 x 223

PHOENIX - A Goldwater Institute study released today reveals that government lobbyists in Arizona outnumber legislators 10-1. The report reveals how much money is spent on taxpayer-funded lobbying, that is, the practice of government agencies hiring lobbyists to promote their agendas. Author and Goldwater Institute constitutional policy analyst Benjamin Barr offers two paths to reform: disclosure and prohibition.

Your Tax Dollars at Work: The Implications of Taxpayer-funded Lobbying tracks Arizona's public lobbying expenditures from 2000-2005, and finds Arizona government bodies spent more than $10 million in taxpayer funds on lobbying activities during that time. The Department of Transportation alone spent more than $1.3 million.

"Government lobbying is toxic to representative democracy," says Goldwater Institute Chairman Tom Patterson. "It distorts the democratic process by pitting government interests against those of citizens." The United States and Arizona constitutions protect the right of citizens to petition their government. Mr. Patterson continued, "Letting government agents lobby with taxpayer funds, however, drowns out the voices of regular citizens, putting private citizens at a distinct disadvantage."

The report includes a list of Arizona state agencies that employ more than 900 registered government lobbyists. Government agencies from the Department of Education to the Board of Barbers hire lobbyists. Cities and counties also use registered lobbyists, with Maricopa County, the city of Tucson, and Phoenix listing 85, 71, and 43, respectively.

Your Tax Dollars at Work also examines the effects of government lobbying on the democratic process. In particular, the report discusses the implications of requiring taxpayers to fund advocacy they might not otherwise support. Mr. Barr uses the Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA) as an example of this conflict. In 2003, the ASBA spent over $200,000 on lobbying expenditures. The association actively lobbies against school choice programs and has even brought suit against tuition scholarship organizations. Meanwhile, public opinion polls show 90 percent of Arizonans support these programs.

More than 10 states have considered reforms to eliminate or reduce taxpayer-funded lobbying. Your Tax Dollars at Work explores two such reforms that have been implemented in other states. Washington State adopted a Public Disclosure Act, which requires detailed financial reporting on all public lobbying activity. Florida, meanwhile, has taken a more aggressive approach by prohibiting state entities from using public funds for lobbying purposes altogether.

Mr. Barr says, "Government officials should be allowed to testify or share information with other branches of government, but they should not be permitted to hire lobbyists to influence and mold public policy. While there are different models to consider, the best way forward is clear. True reform requires the outright prohibition of government bodies lobbying with taxpayer dollars."

Download Your Tax Dollars at Work: The Implications of Taxpayer-funded Lobbying here.



Goldwater Institute | 500 E. Coronado Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85004
Phone (602) 462-5000 | Fax (602) 256-7045 | Email info@goldwaterinstitute.org