Right Thinking From The Left Coast
Never trust a computer you can't throw out a window - Steve Wozniak

Friday, April 30, 2010

Papers Please: Democrat Edition

While the debate rages over Arizona’s new immigration law (as you can guess, my opinion is line with the traditional libertarian views expressed eloquently by Cato, Reason and McArdle), let it not be said that the Democrats are the defenders of civil liberties.  Apparently, their version of immigration reform is going to include a national ID card complete with biometric information.

A plan by Senate Democratic leaders to reform the nation’s immigration laws ran into strong opposition from civil liberties defenders before lawmakers even unveiled it Thursday.

Democratic leaders have proposed requiring every worker in the nation to carry a national identification card with biometric information, such as a fingerprint, within the next six years, according to a draft of the measure.

The ACLU, bless them, has blown a gasket.

“Creating a biometric national ID will not only be astronomically expensive, it will usher government into the very center of our lives. Every worker in America will need a government permission slip in order to work. And all of this will come with a new federal bureaucracy — one that combines the worst elements of the DMV and the TSA,” said Christopher Calabrese, ACLU legislative counsel.

To be fair, you usually need ID for a job anyway.  But there’s a large gap between your ordinary driver’s license and what the Democrats want.  Specifically, the word “biometric”.

The ACLU said “if the biometric national ID card provision of the draft bill becomes law, every worker in America would have to be fingerprinted.”

A source at one pro-immigration reform group described the proposal as “Orwellian.”

Damn straight.  Once this biometric database is created, it will almost certainly be used by law enforcement.  We can then expect partial fingerprints to produce the same problems that cold searches of DNA databases are creating.

(The above referenced article bears a mention.  It’s about cold cases being broken through searches of DNA databases of criminals.  The problem is that juries are told, or example, that the chance of crime scene DNA matching criminal X is in a million But if you have a million names in your database, the chance of matching someone at random is actually two out of three.  You can imagine what might happen with a fingerprint database of 300 million, especially with an Administration inventing entirely new categories of crime.)

The Democrats dust off the old mantra—used just this week by people defending the Arizona bill—that we have to show ID when we buy alcohol or fly an airplane.  But those are choices; this is a requirement.  (Although I will lay good odds that this new ID card will not be required to vote.) And again, biometric information is not required in those circumstances.

Then there’s this:

The Social Security Administration has estimated that 3.6 million Americans would have to visit SSA field offices to correct mistakes in records or else risk losing their jobs.

I expect this is just the tip of the iceberg for Unintended Consequences.  Eventually, the Democrats will figure out that the insurance mandate can be enforced with this national ID.

Not much changes in politics.  The Democrats who were screaming about Arizona are now embracing a national biometric ID card.  And it’s a near certainty that the Republicans defending the Arizona law will be screaming about the national ID card.  In the meantime, while they play their game of bullshit ping-pong, we ordinary Americans sit in the middle, with our freedom being slowly eaten away.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/30/10 at 04:55 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Thursday, April 29, 2010

You can’t sell them, but government can take it…

You or I don’t have the right to sell our organs (or parts of them), but in a brilliant display of what the progressives stand for, New York State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky - a demcorat, and a damned liberal one while you are at it since camouflages his party affiliation - now wants to use the power of government to take them. You can’t make this shit up. These morons not only balk at anyone proposing people be allowed to decide if they want to sell their organs – they will take advantage of the poor! – but accuse such people of being motivated by evil greed. WTF is the motivation that drives this kind of pond scum to think government can then simply take them? Even if I am dead they are mine and my families, not the governments! Is this idiotic idea more logical devolution of where Obamacare is taking us all to?

Posted by AlexinCT on 04/29/10 at 12:44 PM in Decline of Western Civilization   Health Care   Left Wing Idiocy   Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Christ Leaves

Charlie Crist has decided to run as an independent for the Florida Senate.  The usual suspects are crying that this proves the GOP are a bunch of crazy fundamentalist lunatics.

And the message from the GOP couldn’t be clearer: all moderate Republican politicians should leave now - before it gets even uglier. As for the gay ones: run, don’t walk.

This is, to be frank, bullshit.  The GOP may be run by fundamentalist lunatics or not, but that has nothing to do with the surge in support for Rubio over Crist.

After earning an “A” for fiscal responsibility from Cato, Crist quickly went off the deep end, passing massive tax hikes and spending increases.  When the stimulus was passed, Crist didn’t just accept the money; he used it to start new programs rather than simply shore up Florida’s finances for one year and get things in order.  This has jeopardized Florida’s long-term fiscal future by, among other things, expanding hurricane insurance.  Recently, he vetoed a plan to put a few cracks in the cartel that is Florida’s pubic education system.  He did this not out of principle but to curry favor with the teachers’ unions in preparation for an independent run at the Senate.

Crist isn’t losing the Senate race because he’s a moderate or because he’s gay.  This state elected him governor, for Christ’s sake.  He’s losing because his record has devolved into pure fiscal recklessness and pandering.  His independent run is the apotheosis of a career defined by opportunism and self-promotion rather than principle.  He’s not Lindsey Graham; he’s George Bush with better hair.

Rubio has some stands I don’t like, including some support of creationism.  But he takes budgets seriously, including a potential fix to Social Security.

Moreover, Florida is a state where a conservative can win.  The place to run moderates like Crist, if you want to pretend he is one, is the northeast or the midwest.

Update: THIS:

Many observers see Charlie Crist as a patron saint of Republican moderation, a sensible pragmatist who has been driven out of his party by frenzied Tea Partiers on a jihad against common sense. Some even suggested that Crist should join the Democrats. This is, in my view, a baseless smear against Democrats, who deserve better than to be associated with the likes of Charlie Crist. Consider Crist’s reaction to President Obama’s health reform effort. Instead of defending the effort as a sensible measure that would improve the deficit while delivering a massive coverage expansion, he seemed to argue that he liked every part of it except for the fact that it would, in his words, “raise taxes significantly, it would raise rates significantly and it would take half a trillion dollars out of Medicare.” We can debate the merits of the Affordable Care Act backwards and forwards, but surely Crist understands that paying for a coverage expansion requires either raising taxes, finding savings in the Medicare program, and probably both. But rather than make the case for, say, a less expensive approach to coverage expansion that would require less in the way of revenues or spending cuts, he wished away the problem, as he so often does.

Read the whole thing.  I’ve talked about my concern that the GOP is drifting into Obama Derangement Syndrome.  But the support Crist has found among liberals and defected conservatives is a sign of Tea Party Derangement Syndrome.  They think that if the Tea Partiers hate Crist, he must be a wonderful moderate sensible conservative.  He is anything but.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/29/10 at 08:26 AM in Elections   Election 2010  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fiscal Update

The debate over fiscal reform is heating up.  We’re almost to the 0.2 Obamacares in intensity.  The GOP finally unveiled their version of the Dodd bill and it is ... better.  There are a lot of similarities (the $50 billion liquidation fund; regulation of hedge funds and derivatives.  But there are key differences.

The Republican proposal deals with two things that the Democratic proposal does not touch. First, the Republicans take on the government-sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — bailed out during the collapse of the housing bubble. Democratic staffers say that figuring out how to handle the GSEs and re-regulating the trillion-dollar market in government-backed mortgage finance requires its own bill. They have just started researching what they want to accomplish and how best to achieve it. Republicans, in fewer than 400 words, take the massive market on. They create a special regulator and indicate that no further taxpayer money should be at risk.

Personally, I would prefer to see the GSEs sliced up and sold off.  The government has no business running a mortgage industry.  But at least this does what the Republicans tried to do (and fiscal “hero” Barney Frank blocked) several years ago—get some outside supervision of the place where politicos go to get rich.

Read the whole thing, which is very detailed.  There’s a lot I don’t like, but this is a big improvement over the Dodd bill and maybe a sign that the GOP is slowly coming to their senses about governing the country.  I’m sure the Limbaughs of the world will explode if the GOP does anything other than filibuster.  But that way lies political suicide.

The other news is the continuing Goldman Sachs show.  The current cris de coeur is that Goldman continued to sell mortgage-backed securities while they bet against them.  But as Bainbridge points out, this is not illegal:

Maybe Goldman sold investors some rotten eggs. Maybe not. So what? Goldman argues that it is being “railroaded by Congress for performing a normal market function—pricing risk and providing investment opportunities for grown-up investors,” which strikes me as precisely right. It is a central tenet of the federal securities laws that you’re allowed to sell rotten eggs, so long as you disclose that they’re rotten. So long as Goldman fully disclosed all material facts, the fact that Goldman thought the securities being sold were “shitty,” as one scatological email reference by an unwise trader put it, is not a breach of the securities laws.

Again, read the whole thing.  Of course, we all know Bainbridge is a shill for big business, right?  Well, his opinion is shared by The Economist, Surowiecki, and even fricking Matt Yglesias.

In fact, at least one prominent person —holy shit, it’s Bill Clinton!—is not sure Goldman Sachs broke any laws.

That’s our former President, sounding more sensible than all the grandstanding morons on Capital Hill combined.

Congress has been looking to beat up some Wall Street execs too long to let little matters of law and business sense stand in the way.  But fortunately, it’s looking cooler heads may prevail when it comes to actually doing something about the fiscal crisis.  I’m not holding my breath—Sarbanes-Oxley had heavy bipartisan support.  But I’m slightly less gloomy than I was yesterday.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/28/10 at 07:22 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Dodd Bill

How on Earth Chris Dodd, who was neck deep in the last financial crisis, became the guru of financial reform is beyond me.  The man has a spectacular record of failure when it comes to regulating businesses.

It’s been tough keeping up with the debate on financial reform as it rolls.  The Democrats can only scream about evil Wall Street bankers while the Republicans are responding with Frank Luntz talking points.  The media is, as usual, worthless.

Fortunately, Bainbridge has been blogging on it. And today, he linked up Heritage’s 14 Fatal Flaws in the Dodd Bill.  A few choice bits:

2.Provides for seizure of private property without meaningful judicial review. The bill, in Section 203(b), authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to order the seizure of any financial firm that he finds is “in danger of default” and whose failure would have “serious adverse effects on financial stability.” This determination is subject to review in the courts only on a “substantial evidence” standard of review, meaning that the seizure must be upheld if the government produces any evidence in favor of its action. This makes reversal extremely difficult.

I’m sure this will never be abused.

7. Limits financial choices of American consumers. The bill contains a new “Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection” with broad powers to limit what financial products and services can be offered to consumers. The intended purpose is to protect consumers from unfair practices. But the effect would be to reduce available choices, even in cases where a consumer fully understands and accepts the costs and risks. For many consumers, this will make credit more expensive and harder to get.[4]

This is something the Democrats have wanted for a long time.  They think we’re all idiots and will invest all our money in penguin farms if our shoulders aren’t looked over.  It was for this reason, remember, that they opposed Social Security reform.

13. Allows activist groups to use the corporate governance process for issues unrelated to the corporation or its shareholders. Section 972 of the bill authorizes the SEC to require firms to allow shareholders to nominate directors in proxy statement. Such proxy access turns corporate board elections from a process designed to ensure that each board has a good mix of skills and experience into a popularity contest where the long-term interests of the stockholders become secondary to political agendas or corporate raiders. The process can also be used by labor unions, politicians who manage public pension funds, and others to force corporations to respond to pet social or political causes.

The more I look at this bill, the more I see the pattern we have seen in, for example CPSI, which I talked about in a post this weekend.  It’s a pattern of pretending to protect the little guy while really enriching and empowering special interests.  Heritage breaks down specifically how this bill favors the big corporations over little businesses and how it takes a “one size fits all” approach to regulation.

We need to stop judging legislation by its intentions.  We need to not be stampeded toward passage because we’re under the impression that it will finally get Wall Street under control and stick it to those evil bankers.  We need to actually look at what the bill fucking does and act appropriately.

Let’s not do to financial markets what we did to health care and the auto industry.  Let’s not make the same mistake we made with the Sarbanes-Oxley disaster.  Now is not the time to pass anything that comes down to look like we’re getting something done; now is the time to act carefully, for once.  A good bill passed later is better than a bad bill passed now.

Update: More from Cato on special dispensations within the Dodd Bill.  Again, why is this guy the hero of financial reform when his most significant recent achievement was making sure AIG’s bailout protected high-end salaries and bonuses?  When does he become accountable?

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/27/10 at 03:05 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

GM Lies

Government Motors has been running ads claiming they’ve repaid their government loans.  Bullshit says Shikha Dalmia:

Because a loan of such a huge amount [$49.5 billion] would have been politically controversial, the Obama administration handed GM only $6.7 billion as a pure loan. (It asked for only a 7% interest rate--a very sweet deal considering that GM bonds at that time were trading below junk level.) The vast bulk of the bailout money was transferred to GM through the purchase of 60.8% equity stake in the company--arguably an even worse deal for taxpayers than the loan, given that the equity position requires them to bear the risk of the investment without any guaranteed return. (The Canadian government likewise gave GM $1.4 billion as a pure loan, and another $8.1 billion for an 11.7% equity stake. The U.S. and Canadian government together own 72.5% of the company.)

But when Mr. Whitacre says GM has paid back the bailout money in full, he means not the entire $49.5 billion--the loan and the equity. In fact, he avoids all mention of that figure in his column. He means only the $6.7 billion loan amount.

But wait! Even that’s not the full story given that GM, which has not yet broken even, much less turned a profit, can’t pay even this puny amount from its own earnings.

So how is it paying it?

As it turns out, the Obama administration put $13.4 billion of the aid money as “working capital” in an escrow account when the company was in bankruptcy. The company is using this escrow money--government money--to pay back the government loan.

It actually gets worse.  They are applying for a $10 billion low-interest loan from DOE to work on fuel efficient cars.  In addition, they’re delaying the date at which they will make a public offering to sell their stock.  In short, the company is in a worse position now than they were a year ago.

I remind you that the automakers are the biggest drain on the TARP.  The evil bankers, who are today the subject of a Congressional grandstanding hearing did not plunder the taxpayers’ wallets nearly as badly as the auto companies did, are doing and will do into the foreseeable future.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/27/10 at 11:00 AM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Indoctrinate My Parents

The NYT highlights a new paradigm for the environment.  Using kids to indoctrinate their parents into the Way of the Green.  A little light fisking music maestro.

Thursday is the 40th anniversary of the original Earth Day. Over the years, the impact of this once seminal day has lessened.

The reason the impact has lessened, as I noted in an earlier post, is that things have gotten better over the last 40 years.  Our air and water are cleaner; our utilities and cars are cleaner and more efficient; our lives are healthier, happier and longer.  Earth Day was a lot more urgent when cities were drowning in smog and lakes were dying.  The remaining problems—resource shortages, overfishing, etc.—have solutions that are being worked on.  As for global warming, it’s not at all clear how big a problem that’s going to be.

Here’s a move in the right direction: launching this Earth Day is Green My Parents, a nationwide effort to inspire and organize kids to lead their families in measuring and reducing environmental impact at home. Not just on Earth Day, but every day. GMP’s initial goal is to have its first 100 youth advocates train and educate 100 peers (who will then turn to 100 of their respective peers and so on), with the aim of saving families $100 million between now and April 2011.

Am I the only one a little creeped out by this?  We’re one step away from using kids to inform on parents. 

(I’ll also note that what I call “The Hope of The Exponent”—that 100 will teach 100 will teach 100, etc.—is usually the sign of desperate movement.)

How? By washing in cold water, walking or biking to school/work and kicking the bottled-water habit, for example. GMP’s founders suggest that by taking simple steps like those, the average family could save over $1,000 each year.

I’m all in favor of getting rid of bottled water (voluntarily).  But washing in cold water?  Walking to work?  You don’t want to be anywhere on time and smelling good, do you?  All conservation is not equal.  You have to weigh how much money you are saving against how much inconvenience you’re creating.  Kids are notoriously bad at this, as anyone who has spent an hour arguing with a kid about socks can relate.

GMP recognizes that young people are inherently attuned to their environment and understand the importance of protecting it. Conversations I’ve had with kids of late reveal real worries about the future of the planet and concerns about their inability to act.

Bullshit.  As Don Boudreaux notes:

Kids aren’t inherently attuned to the environmental condition of even their own bedrooms, as a peek into a typical twelve-year-old’s room will instantly prove.  So it’s asinine to think that children “inherently” care about the condition of Siberia or of Brazilian rainforests.

Today’s prattling by young people about how awfully dirty the globe is reflects not kids’ “inherent” tuning-in to the global environment but, instead, their indoctrination – performed by teachers and popular media – into the Church of Gaia.

Children who express concern about the environment do so because they are impressionable and are, more often than not, being told doom and gloom stories by their teachers.  Sal 11000 Beta is not old enough for this, but all of my friends with older children have had the experience of their children coming home from school, filled with despair that the planet is being destroyed.  Even in my kid’s day care, she had to bring a list of three things she was doing to save the planet.

Children believe the planet is dying, not because they are inherently attuned to the Earth, but because their teachers tell them the planet is dying.  Even problems that have long been on the upswing—deforestation, acid rain and overpopulation—are still trotted out as the End of the World in our nation’s classrooms.  I once spent part of an afternoon deprogramming a nephew about the deforestation of North America.

The NYT story gets even worse from what I’ve quoted above.  It praises kids for “not thinking about limitations, but about good ideas”.  But our world is defined by limitations.  And the problem with green policy being implemented is not that people don’t care or are unaware of environmental concerns.  It’s that there are always tradeoffs involved and not everyone agrees on the relative weights of the important concerns.

Honestly, Earth Day brings out the worst ideas.  This article is literally praising the indoctrination of impressionable kids so that they can be used to emotionally blackmail their parents into engaging in “green” activities (which are often not green at all).

Sigh. At least there’s always George Carlin to set us right.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/25/10 at 06:35 PM in Science and Technology  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The March of the CPSIA

Periodically, I’ve been noting the results of the CPSIA.  This is the legislation supposedly aimed at getting lead out of our toys.  However, because it applies to thrift stores, small toy makers and even garage sales, the primary effect is to bankrupt small toymakers, take used toys off the market and force everyone to buy from big monolithic corporations.

Two stories this week illustrate the point.  The CPSC is started an online database that will allow people to look up products to see if they’ve been recalled and file complaints about products that injure them.  Sounds like a good idea, right?  But Point of Law notes the lack of information control.

“Unless done very carefully, the database will be of little use to the average consumer, but subject to potential mischief in the hands of plaintiff lawyers,” warns Sean Wajert. As with the already existing NHTSA database, high rates of consumer complaints filed by lawyers organizing suits against a company (like Toyota) will then be cited in credulous media as proof that the company’s products must indeed have a problem. Hugh Hewitt calls it “the database that ate American business” and writes, “Reputations will be ruined and brands deeply damaged once the Congressionally-mandated internet bulletin board becomes operational.”

Of course, we all know that the very existence of complaints proves their allegations.  The experience of NHTSA’s database has not deterred anyone or raised a caution flag.  Quite the contrary, in fact.  The ability of slimy lawyers to drum up bullshit scandals is a feature, not a bug.

This effects both large and small companies, of course.  And big companies are fatter targets for lawyers.  However, big companies have lawyers of their own and politicians in their pockets.  What happens to small toy makers when ADA lawsuits become toy lawsuits?

What makes this really enragifying is that while the government is putting together an uncontrolled database that can ruin companies, it is still handing out waivers to ... wait for it ...

The nation’s biggest toy maker, Mattel Inc., is getting another exemption on federal safety rules even as smaller companies struggle with testing costs imposed after a rash of Mattel toy recalls in 2007.

Under the law passed after the recalls, the makers of children’s products must perform independent third-party tests for lead, lead paint and other potential dangers.

On Friday, however, the Consumer Product Safety Commission voted unanimously to approve Mattel’s request to use two more of its own company laboratories for the third-party checks on its toys.

CPSC said Mattel was able to show that its in-house testing would provide equal or greater consumer safety protection than an outside lab.

Mattel’s Lisa Marie Bongiovanni said the company has a rigorous testing program, but that it also continues to send some of its products to outside labs for testing.

The mantra of the libertarian is that incentives matter.  The federal government, under the guise of protecting children, is giving Mattel a huge advantage over small toy makers and used toy sellers.  In other words, contaminating two millions toys with lead could turn out to be the best business decision Mattel ever made.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/25/10 at 01:08 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Girls of the SEC

I’m sorry.  I’m having a hard time getting choked up like a chicken about this:

The Securities and Exchange Commission is the sheriff of the financial industry, looking for crimes such as Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, but a new government report obtained by ABC News has concluded that some senior employees spent hours on the agency’s computers looking at sites such as naughty.com, skankwire and youporn as the financial crisis was unfolding.

The basic thrust of the story is that a bunch of guys (and at least one woman) had to do quite a keyboard cleaning before leaving work each day. It’s not that I think this is a good use of taxpayer money.  And anyone who watches porn at work is stupid.  But the turgid rhetoric from the critics is a bit overblown, especially given the size of the problem.  You’d think these guys had been out flogging dolphins or something.

The investigation, which was conducted by the SEC’s internal watchdog at the request of Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, found 31 serious offenders during the past two and a half years. That’s less than 1 percent of the agency’s 3,500 employees but 17 of the alleged offenders were senior SEC officers whose salaries ranged from $100,000 to $222,000 per year

OK.  Fire their 31 ass-lookin’-at asses (if the SEIU will allow it.  I’m sure it will tell them to take the fifth).  I’m sure the SEC can hold its own without these guys playing the other kind of solitaire. But the idea that the financial crisis occurred because these guys were spending all day giving themselves a low five is absurd. In the case of Bernie Madoff, the SEC was warned, repeatedly, that there was something suspicious about the way Bernie Madoff was doing his homework.  They ignored the warnings.  Not because they were too busy taking a load off but because they refused to listen and take matters into their own hands.

(Aside: I have to love the heavy breathing from the media over how many websites these guys visited and how many images they had. Anyone familiar with porn knows how quickly that particularly link-heavy part of the internet can fill up histories and hard drives.  If I heard some guy had 600 porno images on his computer, I would assume it was only because he was using dial-up.)

To be honest, I’m surprised at how few of the SEC’s employees were playing five on one during work hours.  I had assumed, based on their record, that everyone down there was playing in the Onan olympics. And, to be really honest, I’d almost prefer that most government employees did spend their time getting to know themselves.  OK, maybe not cops and firemen.  And I’m sure there’s at least one SEC employee with more iniative than a three-days-dead hamster.  But maybe if they spent more time doing to themselves what they usually do to the taxpayer, we’d all be better off.

Post Scriptum: In all seriousness, I actually am stunned that the problem is so small.  Federal work rules are so strict that most federal bureaucrats have very narrow ranges of duties and thus a lot of time to do nothing.  Phillip Howard has a great chapter on this in Collapse of the Common Good. In that environment, having less than 1% of your employees looking at porn (or at least 1% unable to cover their tracks) is an accomplishment, not an indictment.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/24/10 at 02:00 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

“Public Unions! Huh! Good God! What Are They Good For?”

According to a couple of links posted by Mish at Global Economic Analysis, “absolutely nothing.”

Hal’s video in his most recent post struck a particular chord with me, not just because the same money-grubbing, society-damning attitude by the unions is going on in my own city, but because it’s merely one example of a much broader trend nationwide of how public unions have been increasingly at war with the people who pay their salaries--which shows that unions haven’t really changed all that much in 120 years.  Except this time they aren’t at war with some Snidely Whiplash-type “industrialist” Marxist bete-noir, but with everyday taxpayers.

The first one is to this pathetic/hilarious protest sign by teachers and their brainwashed students in Des Moines:

According to the link, the teacher had the students chant, “Show Us the Money!” I can’t think of a better example of the modern entitlement mentality that’s infected society than this, especially the schools--rather than focus on the quality of education, they’re homed in like a laser on the government tit.

For people who think that this won’t come to a head eventually, California, once again shows that it intends to lead the nation (from Steve Malanga at the City Jounral, again, via Mish):

The camera focuses on an official of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), California’s largest public-employee union, sitting in a legislative chamber and speaking into a microphone. “We helped to get you into office, and we got a good memory,” she says matter-of-factly to the elected officials outside the shot. “Come November, if you don’t back our program, we’ll get you out of office.’

The video has become a sensation among California taxpayer groups for its vivid depiction of the audacious power that public-sector unions wield in their state. The unions’ political triumphs have molded a California in which government workers thrive at the expense of a struggling private sector. The state’s public school teachers are the highest-paid in the nation. Its prison guards can easily earn six-figure salaries. State workers routinely retire at 55 with pensions higher than their base pay for most of their working life. Meanwhile, what was once the most prosperous state now suffers from an unemployment rate far steeper than the nation’s and a flood of firms and jobs escaping high taxes and stifling regulations. This toxic combination—high public-sector employee costs and sagging economic fortunes—has produced recurring budget crises in Sacramento and in virtually every municipality in the state.

Seriously, read the whole article; if it doesn’t make you want to slap a public sector union worker, you have no soul.

It’s stuff like this that really makes me miss Lee--I can just hear him say “Man, I love being proven right--again!”

Posted by on 04/24/10 at 09:54 AM in Cullyforneah   Left Wing Idiocy   Life & Culture  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Illegal Immigration - Our Cross to Bear

Immigration will be the issue that determines the fate of the tea party. Arizona’s newest law is the litmust test:

The law makes it a crime under state law to be in the country illegally. It also requires local police officers to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are illegal immigrants; allows lawsuits against government agencies that hinder enforcement of immigration laws; and makes it illegal to hire illegal immigrants for day labor or knowingly transport them.

I’m in a minority here with my view of illegal immigration. I disagree with the “round ‘em up, ship ‘em out” folks and am against this law for two broad reasons: For one, the so-called “threat” of illegal immigration is illusory when one looks at the numbers. They are not a bunch of violent criminals and terrorists – in fact the numbers show that they commit crimes at a lower rate than legal American residents because they fear deportation. Secondly, economically, they are a net benefactor to the country. Their work has the effect of reducing production costs and overall increasing the American standard of living.

Illegal immigrants are an albatross of the American political psyche, scapegoats for our frustration with the welfare state. The problems we hear about hospitals losing money because of illegal aliens using emergency rooms are really caused by bad healthcare policy. We forget about the myriad legal residents who use hospitals the same way. The same goes for the bad economy and the recession. The real enemy during a depression is not people who are willing to work for less, but a government that puts so many burdens on employers that qualified people cannot find a job.

The second broad reason as to why I’m against the Arizona law has to do with what such laws force us to become.

Posted by The Contrarian on 04/24/10 at 07:24 AM in • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Friday, April 23, 2010

Fighting the Good Fight

I defy anyone—especially anyone who has lost or is danger of losing a job—to watch this video and not get enraged.

There is no sense of solidarity with the state here.  In a way, I admire the woman saying, “give me money”.  At least she’s honest.  She’s not cloaking her greed in self-righteous rhetoric.

It’s this relentless demagoguery, enabled by a compliant media, that has paralyzed efforts to cut spending.  It’s so effective that anyone who opposes it is political fodder.  Chris Christie, for example polling in the 30’s.

(Inspiring moment for me—Christie doesn’t give a shit about the polls.  He’s determined to save the state of New Jersey despite itself.  More of this, please.)

This is only going to get uglier.  When even modest budget cuts and spending freezes are met with the kind of hysteria, you can imagine what might happen when the budget axe really comes down.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/23/10 at 07:03 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

5 reasons why Bret Michaels has to pull through
by JimK

For those who have a thing called a “life” and may not keep up with the latest celebrity goings-on, Bret Michaels is gravely ill. He had acute appendicitis the other day, came through the surgery, but had to be rushed to the hospital due to a massive subarachnoid hemorrhage - bleeding at the base of the brain stem.

Some of you know...we have a personal connection to the man, Donna and her friends followed them on tour back in the day and made friends with the band, and of course I savaged the shit out of two years of that God-forsaken Rock of Love show. And all his douchiness aside, I’m still a Poison fan. If you cut me, I bleed, among other things, neon green.  And so, I have compiled a list of 5 reasons why Bret has to make it:

5. Every group deserves a spokesperson - even douchebags

4. Spray-painted straw cowboy hats. That’s right. I said it. Spray-painted straw cowboy hats. With writing on them. Who the fuck else is gonna rock that look?

3. Paris Hilton and Lady GaGa can’t keep the Los Angeles hair extension industry alive by themselves!

2. VH1 won’t have anything to air anymore, they’ll just have to shut the doors. Especially since Flava Flav is about two weeks from a crack overdose.

1. And the number one reason why Bret Michaels has to survive this health scare: Those god-damned Ed Hardy shirts aren’t gonna sell themselves. That shit is an industry now, and the American economy just can’t take the hit. Besides, folks going to Wal-Mart gotta have something to wear besides Juicy Couture and Miley Cyrus shit.

Posted by JimK on 04/23/10 at 05:45 PM in Celebrity Idiots   Fun and Humor  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Well Blow Me Down!

Ain’t it quite funny how all the usual morons in the MSM that propagandized for the Obama WH’s healthcare takeover are now finally coming out of the woods to admit the very same thing most of us that opposed this travesty did, namely that this bill would reduce quality of care and access to care and drastically increase cost. Well, it would be funny but when you remember that this usurpation of power by the federal government will cost us trillions more, mostly to pay bureaucrats and feed the new massive bureaucratic machine that will be created around this thing, and in that the government will now run healthcare with the same efficiency they run your DMV or for example the INS, then you just end up feeling like crying. Anyway, here is some fun new facts for ya.

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law is getting a mixed verdict in the first comprehensive look by neutral experts: More Americans will be covered, but costs are also going up. Economic experts at the Health and Human Services Department concluded in a report issued Thursday that the health care remake will achieve Obama’s aim of expanding health insurance — adding 34 million to the coverage rolls. But the analysis also found that the law falls short of the president’s twin goal of controlling runaway costs, raising projected spending by about 1 percent over 10 years. That increase could get bigger, since Medicare cuts in the law may be unrealistic and unsustainable, the report warned. It’s a worrisome assessment for Democrats.

Not so new I guess for those of us that had not drank the koolaid. So, now many more people will be covered, but the quality is gonna go down and cost is going to go up for all of us that actually work for a living! Yay! I am sure glad some lazy scumbag can now get free healthcare so he can make even more illegitimate babies that will then also be requiring government to support their needs, by stealing even more money from me first me, and then my children. Social Justice at its best. And that projected 1% raise? Its going to be more like 200%. That’s a historical fact with any and all of these social programs the government runs. The one and only outlier is Medicare Part D, and that’s because the private sector runs it. Don’t worry. Demcorats won’t let that stand for too long either.

There was a great laugh in this article though:

The report from Medicare’s Office of the Actuary carried a disclaimer saying it does not represent the official position of the Obama administration.

Well, they aren’t lying through their teeth then I guess.

Posted by AlexinCT on 04/23/10 at 12:47 PM in Elections   Election 2010   Health Care   Politics   Law, & Economics   The Press Machine  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The Right To The Beach

On the same week when one of their most overspent countries is teetering on the brink of complete fiscal collapse owing to over-generous government employee benefits, the EU is closing in on securing humanity’s newest “right”.

AN overseas holiday used to be thought of as a reward for a year’s hard work. Now Brussels has declared that tourism is a human right and pensioners, youths and those too poor to afford it should have their travel subsidised by the taxpayer.

Under the scheme, British pensioners could be given cut-price trips to Spain, while Greek teenagers could be taken around disused mills in Manchester to experience the cultural diversity of Europe.

The idea for the subsidised tours is the brainchild of Antonio Tajani, the European Union commissioner for enterprise and industry, who was appointed by Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister.

The scheme, which could cost hundreds of millions of pounds a year, is intended to promote a sense of pride in European culture, bridge the north-south divide in the continent and prop up resorts in their off-season.

The man literally claims that tourism is a right.  But let’s not give him too much credit by assuming he’s an idiotic idealist. Tajani is a product of one of the most comically corrupt governments in the Western world—that of Silvio Berlusconi.  This declaration is mostly an excuse for governments to subsidize the tourists industry.  Getting people on their vacations is a side effect of that funneling of taxpayer cash.

I think the EU should solve both their problems at once.  Send all the young people and pensioners to Greece so that they can tour and simultaneously see the massive economic collapse that awaits all social welfare states.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/23/10 at 10:52 AM in Europe and the UK  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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