Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tax the rich

I think Warren Buffet should be accommodated, by name, in the tax legislation Congressman Charlie Rangel is preparing. What better justification than this?

I should pay more tax, says US billionaire Warren Buffett

Since no one is stopping Buffet from sending a check to the Treasury Department, what he actually means is that everyone should pay more taxes.

Not quite the same thing.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Paulsen for Veep

Comedian Stephen Colbert is running for President. That would be unremarkable except that it's the first time a satirist has run since the advent of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform and Incumbency Protection Act. The Federal Election Commission is on high alert.

Since Mr. Colbert has a television "news" show, the FEC will be wondering if any commentary, about his own campaign or that of others, will require scrutiny as a contribution in kind to the Colbert campaign. In kicking this sleeping bear, Mr. Colbert is pointing out the absurdity of the McCain-Feingold attack on the First Amendment and bringing into question the "press exemption" for main stream media news outlets.

I refer to kicking a bear, rather than perhaps a dog, because Mr. Colbert is well known for his campaign against animals of an ursine ilk, "I believe all God's creatures have a soul...except bears--bears are godless killing machines!"

This attitude is likely to cost Mr. Colbert the votes of PETA aficionados and certain environmentalists. The Other Club is pleased to suggest a way to balance the ticket in hopes of at least neutralizing the issue. Mr. Colbert should select Pat Paulsen for his running mate.

Mr. Paulsen's credentials include multiple Presidential runs and service in the Marine Corps during WWII. In a debate, he would be impossible to defeat. Or maybe even understand. When asked if he believed in the Right to bear arms, Paulsen said: "No, I believe in the right to arm bears."

One can see at once that the addition of Mr. Paulsen to the Colbert ticket could produce an administration hopelessly deadlocked on the bear problem. From that might spring inaction on a whole host of other issues. This would attract the endorsement of former President Calvin Coolidge.

In the 1996 New Hampshire primary, Mr. Paulsen commented on Bob Dole's proposal to cut taxes by 15 percent, saying: "I think we should just tip the Government if it does a good job. Fifteen percent is the standard tip, isn't it? If they don't do a good job, give them less." Perhaps Mr. Colbert could update that proposal to cap the overall taxation rate at the square root of the sum of the approval ratings of Congress and the President.

By the objection that neither Mr. Paulsen nor President Coolidge are among the living, Mr. Colbert should not be bothered in the least. He could point to Al Gore's speeches and demeanor and ask, "Your point is?" Selecting Mr. Paulsen as Veep has the added advantage of posing a question to the FEC regarding the campaign contribution value of seances.

There is a skeleton in the closet, however, for which I do not have a ready answer. This is a heads-up to Mr. Colbert to get in front of it.

Mr. Colbert pronounces his surname, "coal-burt." In French, "Colbert" is rendered "coal-bear." The first problem, of course, is that the anti-bear wing of his supporters will wonder if Mr. Colbert is as committed as he seems to be to a jihad on bears. There will be charges of self-hatred as a potentially debilitating psychological defect. Worse, perhaps, is the fact that this is revealed only in the language of the cheese-eating surrender monkeys. Mr. Colbert's ancestry may become an issue.

One approach may be for Mr. Colbert to change his name. I suggest replacing the final syllable with "onoscopy." This would demonstrate Mr. Colbert's sincerity and revive one of Mr. Paulsen's more pithy slogans, "I've upped my standards. Now, up yours."

Mr. Paulsen's relevance is further demonstrated in this 1972 campaign comment: "Only a cheap politician, greedy for political gain, would try to single out one individual for blame. The fault lies not with the individual but with the system, and that system is Richard Nixon." Substituting "George Bush" at the end of that statement might even attract some votes that otherwise would have gone to a Democrat.


The Other Club bears only good will toward Mr. Colbert in his coming battle with the FEC. They're a bigger joke than he is.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Wealth of Station

"Anonymous" left a comment regarding yesterday's post, Unions busting you, that is worth examining. He/she writes:
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has it all wrong.

They support a low wage economic development policy which attracts footloose jobs.

Those low paying footloose jobs will come, and leave when another state or country offers them even lower wages.

Lower wages reduce the amount of disposable income, thereby slowing the economy and reducing tax revenues to unacceptable levels.
It is telling that Anonymous thinks it will be another state (in the broad sense of a sovereign political entity) offering "even lower wages," as if what people are paid is up to the government. This is true in countries like China and Cuba, but while Western democracies did get the memo, for the most part they've only partially implemented it. Check out the reasons for Ireland's remarkable turnaround. Read about Hong Kong.

The other preliminary comment I have is that a more accurate description of the Mackinac Center's position is that they advocate market-based wages, but let us not quibble. With that correction, lets assume what Anonymous said is true and follow its implications.

The argument, I think, is stated fairly as follows:
  1. If Michigan had market wages it would indeed attract employers and create jobs.
  2. Unfortunately, these jobs will vanish as soon as some other jurisdiction offers a lower cost environment.
  3. We must therefore have laws to keep wages higher than market level.
  4. This will result in greater tax revenue, or at least a slower decline.
I unconditionally grant that if points 1 and 2 are true, then they would be prevented by point 3. If employers will move "footloose" jobs to a lower wage environment at will, they will almost certainly not move them to a higher wage environment. Legislating wages unsustainable by the market, then, ensures there won’t be a net inflow of even temporary jobs. An obvious corollary, in possible contradiction to point 4, is that jobs will continue to leave.

Another consequence of legislating above-market wages will be to allow other jurisdictions to offer much smaller incentives to win the temporary jobs we disdain. However, no evidence has been offered that suggests such jobs are any more temporary than any other jobs in a global economy. Ask the 73,000 people employed in new jobs in Alabama between 2001 and 2006; a period during which Michigan lost 220,000 jobs, and the taxes associated with those jobs. On a per capita basis that's a 1.6% increase vs a 2.2% decrease.

Personally, I think no state should offer any form of corporate welfare whatsoever. Just leave the market alone, including the right of unions to bargain. That means not mandating union wages. Then we can just focus on what should be the tax rate. This can be accomplished unilaterally.

On the question of whether the The Mackinac Center is "all wrong," let's consider these facts and advice:
In 2001, per capita disposable income was $4,000 higher in Michigan than in Alabama, but by 2006 that advantage had shrunk to less than $2,000.

We should be prepared to learn from and even emulate Alabama. That means freeing up our workforce with reforms like a right-to-work law. Repeal or reform of Michigan’s strict prevailing wage law, which requires the payment of union wages on state-financed construction, would also be helpful. The prevailing wage adds 10 percent to the cost of construction, adding roughly $250 million to the cost of government. Prevailing wage also costs jobs; Alabama, which does not have a restrictive prevailing wage law, added 5,000 construction jobs between 2001 and 2006 while Michigan lost 26,000.
You may well reject the advice, your laid-off neighbor may wish we'd taken it, but the facts indicate higher employment and greater revenue is associated with market wages, as well as increases in disposable income.

The case above shows a net difference of 31,000 construction jobs. Per capita, it's a .11% increase vs a .26% decrease.

Following Anonymous' advice would apparently further depress employment and cause the economy to stagnate. We know this is likely because in Michigan it has already happened. High wage mandates haven’t worked. Why? Anonymous' answer appears to be, “Because we don’t have enough of them.”

If the formula of government mandated above market wages was a way to improve revenue, then couldn’t we just have a law that says everyone must be paid half-a-million a year? The answer is obviously not - for 100% of the population. At the moment the wage laws only benefit a privileged class of about 20% of the population who occupy the station of union member.

Anonymous argues that wages legislated to be substantially higher than market value produce more revenue than market-based wages. This requires assumptions about the difference in wages and the number of jobs lost which are not demonstrated. Jobs times wages times tax rate. The Mackinac Center presents empirical evidence arguing that Anonymous' assumptions are mistaken on these numbers.

The idea that we can dig an economic moat around Michigan, constituting protectionism for union jobs or wages, is well past its prime. The United States economy is not powerful enough to accomplish that, and the longer Michiganians cling to this failed strategy, in this floundering state, the longer will be our one state recession.

I recommend to Anonymous that he or she read the following books for an elementary introduction to economics:

Eat the Rich, J. P. O'Rourke
Basic Economics, Thomas Sowell
Free to Choose, Milton Friedman
The Road to Serfdom, F. A. Hayek

Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith - would be good too, but it's a bit less accessible than those above.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

BTW


It's Islamo-fascism Awareness Week.

Don't miss Ann Coulter's comments on it.

Unions busting you

Here's a follow-up to yesterday's post on local union attempts to make Lansing a closed shop.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has some thoughts on Michigan's "prevailing wage" statute, which these unions are urging be supplemented with a similar rule for private development in the City of Lansing. It's a bad idea for everyone except a few union members.

Prevailing Wage Memorandum
We have recently released a major study on the effects of Michigan's
prevailing wage law, www.mackinac.org/8907, [linked below] in which we found that the
law increased the cost of government-financed construction by 10 to 15
percent, adding $250 million to the cost of government without any
measurable improvement in quality and mixed evidence of improvement in
productivity. We found that the law disproportionately benefited
high-wage workers; workers in Michigan's construction industry
typically earned wages 28.1 percent higher than those of Michigan*s
workforce as a whole, but the prevailing wage law increased those wages
from 40 to 60 percent on state-financed construction. And finally we
found that strict prevailing wage laws like Michigan's were associated
with a lower percentage of a state's workforce engaged in
construction, indicating that prevailing wage laws restricted
opportunities for job-seekers in the construction field.

Sweet Home Alabama
Our research showed that the economies of right-to-work states grew
faster and created jobs at more than twice the rate of states that
allowed forced unionism. Naturally, with so many jobs being created,
right-to-work states had lower unemployment.

...While GM and Ford slashed their payrolls, automakers in Alabama were
building new plants and creating jobs. According to the U.S. Census,
between 2001 and 2006 employment in auto manufacturing in Alabama more
than tripled and employment in parts manufacturing increased by more
than a third.

The Effects of Michigan's Prevailing Wage Law
The prevailing wage law forces the payment of union wages on state
construction projects despite the fact that union workers made up just
22.1 percent of the construction work force in Michigan in 2006. In the
process, the law provides a boost in compensation of 40 percent to 60
percent to construction workers who already receive wages well above the
average for workers in this state. This cost is ultimately passed on to
Michigan taxpayers, who lose $232 million annually - a conservative
estimate calculated in 2002 dollars - without any discernible benefit
for the vast majority of Michiganians.

Prevailing wage laws may limit jobs in the construction industry. In 18
states without prevailing wage laws in 2004, construction workers made
up 5.3 percent of the work force, compared with only 4.2 percent for
states with strong prevailing wage laws. In Michigan, construction
employment made up only 3.7 percent of the jobs in the state*s
economy. Professor Richard Vedder has calculated that the temporary
suspension of Michigan*s prevailing wage law in the mid-1990s was
responsible for the creation of an additional 11,000 construction jobs
between 1994 and 1997.
Higher costs. Fewer jobs. More taxes. Look for the Union Label.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

We need right to work laws

Some Lansing unionists are clamoring for a local "prevailing wage" rule. They don't like non-union people making $25 an hour when they are making $35.

The Lansing State Journal reports on this issue:

Proposal for prevailing wage in city faces hurdles

A proposed prevailing wage ordinance that would require contractors to pay union wages generated a storm of controversy when it was suggested to the Lansing City Council earlier this month.

But it will have to clear two hurdles before it can become law.

First, it remains doubtful if the ordinance, which essentially would require contractors to pay union wages for projects receiving city aid, has the legal muster to stand as proposed.

A similar ordinance was recently struck down by a court in Wayne County.

Second, supporters will have to demonstrate the ordinance will help, not hinder, the local economy. [This is impossible, of course.]

...The notion of a prevailing wage is nothing new. The city already has a prevailing wage ordinance, passed in 1992, but that rule only applies to construction work done for the city. [Your taxes already pay above market wage for all City of Lansing construction projects. The proposal is to force private developers to pay a 30% premium.]

Michigan has a similar law, passed in 1965.

The proposed ordinance, should it pass, would expand the scope. Any project costing more than $50,000 that receives assistance from the city - whether in the form of tax breaks, grants or other aid - would fall under the prevailing wage rules.

That would include projects such as the proposed $182 million Ottawa Power Station renovation for Accident Fund Insurance Co. of America's new headquarters and the redevelopment of the City Market.

...Prevailing wages - the rate of pay stipulated in union contracts for organized workers - can be considerably higher than pay for nonunion counterparts. On average, union wages, including benefits, on construction sites are 30 percent to 40 percent higher than nonunion pay and benefits.

...Requiring a prevailing wage for all workers likely would kill projects such as the nearly $60 million Ball Park North and Market Place developments announced last week, developer Pat Gillespie said. Gillepsie wants to build housing, retail and office space north of Oldsmobile Park and on the site of the Lansing City Market.

"It will probably hurt it to the point where it does not make economic sense to do," he said. "There aren't enough tax incentives to make up for it."

Developer Shawn Elliott estimates the prevailing wage requirement would add $600,000 to the cost of a proposed $22.4 million downtown condominium high-rise he's working on.

"But that makes the project fail," he said, because profit margins become too small to meet bank financing requirements. He said he already expects the project would be 80 percent union labor without the ordinance.
For the record, I would prefer a regulation prohibiting any and all government "tax breaks, grants or other aid" to any developer, business, charity or cause whatsoever. That corporate welfare is deemed necessary merely shows that taxes are at least high enough to allow government to grant favors. That is - too high. Worse, whether in the form of tax breaks or enforcement of inflated wages, the smaller entrepreneurs will never have access to any substantial loot taken from taxpayers. The way to level the playing field is to stop all of it. An ancillary benefit would be the cessation of lobbying, which would be given up as futile under an appropriately limited government.

Today, a desire for limited government is considered utopian, or delusional. In defense of that desire, I will say the Founders did not consider it so, and up until just after the time of Calvin Coolidge limited government worked quite well. So, I plead innocent at least to the charge of utopianism.

But, back to the main question. If nothing else, a prevailing wage represents a special, hidden tax targeting Lansing developers. "Prevailing wage" is just a tax that goes directly into the pockets of Lansing based union members without passing through a government bureaucracy. Worse, it is a regressive redistribution of Lansing taxpayer's money in an economy that can no longer support such privilege. It's union monetary welfare, and corporate regulation welfare.

It's not as if the developers are actually going to pay this Lansing area closed shop dues stealth-tax anyway. Business doesn't pay taxes. We do. Either we'll pay more for the fruits of the project, or we'll forgo the benefits it would have brought when it's canceled. On the approximately $180 million development proposed by the Accident Fund (assuming 60% is labor) the increased cost would be around $30 million. This is money that cannot go, for example, to current Accident Fund employees, or to new hires. It cannot be used to reduce insurance premiums. Facing that large increase, it may even be that a 180 million dollar project would be canceled.

Daring this possibility, the Lansing unions are saying, "At least none of those non-union people would get any money." It reminds me of this joke about the difference between the attitude of Russians and Americans:
An American farmer lives next door to another farmer with a prize cow.
A Russian farmer's nearest neighbor also has a prize cow.
The American farmer dreams that he has a better cow than his neighbor.
The Russian farmer dreams that his neighbor's cow dies.
The idea that businesses do not pay taxes is a difficult concept for many to grasp. It is worth a small digression so that we may learn something about taxes, regulations and prices from our neighbors north of the 49th parallel.

The Canadian dollar is lately worth more than the US dollar. This is quite a turnaround. In the last 10 years the Loonie has been as low as 68 cents US$. The last time it reached its current heights was in the early 1970s.

Canadians have long been aware that it's quite a bit cheaper to shop in the US for many items, even with an unfavorable exchange rate. With a strong Canadian dollar, US goods are even cheaper to shopers crossing the border. You might even expect prices to go down in Canada in response. You'd be disappointed. The Loonie's surge has not resulted in a reduction in Canadian prices. Canadians want to know why.

They are getting reasonable explanations, even if they don't like them. Summed up, it's this simple: Businesses don't pay the cost of regulation and they don't pay taxes - their customers do.
Price parity with U.S. an 'economic impossibility
DAVID FRIEND
The Canadian Press

Shoppers might be hoping the strong dollar will push down prices of goods in Canada to par with what's in U.S. stores, but industry watchers say consumers can keep dreaming because there's more than just the loonie to consider in the price of everything from cameras and TVs to fruits and vegetables and clothing.

"Historically, there has been a perception that there are only price differentials between Canada and the United States because of a different currency exchange, but there are a lot of other underlying costs that tie into that," says Elizabeth Evans, director of the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto.

...Yesterday, John Williamson, the federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, fired off a letter to [Federal Finance Minister Jim] Flaherty saying that price parity between Canada and the United States isn't realistic.

"Our economy has more costly regulations and higher taxes and until this is changed, Canadians cannot expect price parity with the U.S., which has a more dynamic, lower taxed, less regulated and therefore less costly market," he wrote.

"As such, Canada cannot have radically higher minimum wages, higher business taxes and more costly regulations and suppose prices will be the same on both sides of the border - it is an economic impossibility."
Many Canadians want to achieve price parity without having cost parity. Our local unions want to enforce cost parity and insist it has no effect on prices. That is simply impossible.

To see how much attention you've been paying, TOC presents a multiple choice question on prevailing wage statutes.

A prevailing wage rule is:

1) A hidden tax increase on employers.
2) Stealth redistributionism.
3) Inflationary.
4) A way for a privileged class to restrict access to jobs.
5) A way to increase construction costs by 15% to 30%.

This is truly a multiple choice question. Pick any five.

The only advantage a prevailing wage statute has over a straight 15 to 30 percent tax on developers of major Lansing projects is that it does not waste as much in bureaucratic overhead as would administration of a more honest tax.

"The natural function of a trade union and the one for which it was historically conceived is to represent those employees who want collective representation in bargaining with their employers over terms of employment. But note that this function is perverted the moment a union claims the right to represent employees who do not want representation, or conducts activities that have nothing to do with terms of employment (e.g. political activities), or tries to deal with an industry as a whole instead of with individual employers." -Barry Goldwater

Sunday, October 21, 2007

RodhamCare, it starts out "for the children"

Today, The Lansing State Journal published my OpEd regarding government intervention in the nation's health care. They titled it Government already runs health system. I reproduce it with links, and slightly modified, below.

For background, the letter mentioned in the OpEd was this:
Extend coverage
Mel Hull (Letters, Oct. 6) has labeled Hillary Clinton's plan to provide health care to every citizen as "socialized medicine."

Do you think Hull has a problem with our socialized police force or our socialized fire protection?

I wonder if Hull drives — he's never written a letter warning us of the evils of the socialized interstate highway system forced on us by the federal government.

Do you suppose he opposes public libraries as socialized information sharing?

President Bush speaks disparagingly of government health care. In truth, the Veterans' Administration provides excellent care to our vets — as long as it is fully funded.

Our members of Congress enjoy coverage for life. If it's good enough for our vets and our politicians, why wouldn't we want it?

Bush and his supporters have no credibility on this issue. Health insurance companies exist to profit, not to help us.

David S. Campbell
Lansing
I found Mr. Campbell's naivete intriguing, even though he can't define socialism. He can recognize a good deal when he sees it, however, "Our members of Congress enjoy coverage for life." Mr. Campbell proposes that abuse of privilege is exemplary, "...as long as it is fully funded."

"Health insurance companies exist to profit, not to help us." Without health insurance company profits, where would health insurance come from? Oh yeah, the free market doctors, who currently tend to our Congresscritters, would volunteer for a new "Medicorps," program. Take a number.

We've acquiesced to the idea that some services are best delivered by the government. Most of us don't even question it. So why not go the whole nine yards? My take on health care is that we've already gone four and six-tenths yards, and it isn't working as well as most of us would prefer. I wrote:
A recent writer to the LSJ summarized the agenda for expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). I paraphrase, "If we can accept socialized police and socialized fire departments and socialized interstate highways, why not socialized medicine?"

This idea for incrementally socializing health care was outlined in a 1993 Hillary Clinton memo during the Hillarycare debacle. She wrote, "Under this approach, health care reform is phased in by population, beginning with children. Kids First is really a precursor to the new system."

Whether the idea of SCHIP expansion is incremental socialized medicine seems to be settled.

Though Clinton anticipated the LSJ's correspondent by 14 years, it is still refreshing to see a plain acknowledgment that state control of medicine is the object of expanded SCHIP entitlements. The writer's point seems to be that since police and firemen are paid by the government, you shouldn't mind if your doctor becomes a government employee.

Aside from the question of whether doctors want to be civil servants, or whether the pharmaceutical industry should be nationalized - and despite the fact a goodly part of health care expense derives from the 51 percent stake the government has already taken - the belief some public institutions are socialist is not an argument that any other institutions should be socialized, nor even that the ones we already have represent best practice.

Regarding the analogy with interstate highways, for example, the Indiana Toll Road has been privatized.

And if you find it unbelievable that government commands so much of the health care "market," Maggie Mahar, in an article in the left-wing magazine The American Prospect, titled What Would Lenin Do? - has written: "(T)axpayers bankroll 51 percent of the nation's $2 trillion health care bill ..."

Mahar sourced [sorry, I had a 500 word limit] the following percentages from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: Private insurance for public employees, 6 percent; Medicare, 17 percent; Medicaid and SCHIP, 16 percent; other public health services, 12 percent.

Private insurers "pick up just 30 percent of the tab." That money comes from tax deductible premiums [more government intervention] paid by employees as well as employers.

"In other words, private sector employers pay less than 30 percent of the total." The remainder is people paying directly (14 percent) and charity (5 percent).

So much for free-market health care as the problem.

As the biggest payer, government has a huge effect on prices. According to the Cato Institute, government programs bid up health care prices, shift costs to doctors and hospitals, and thereby push up health insurance rates. Add to that these arguably socialist regulatory costs: "(T)he total cost of health services regulation exceeds $339.2 billion," while providing only $170.1 billion in benefits, "the net burden ... (is) $169.1 billion annually. In other words, the costs of health services regulation outweigh benefits by two-to-one and the cost to average household is over $1,500 per year."

The LSJ letter writer closed with this comment: "Health insurance companies exist to profit, not to help us." Rephrased to the socialist trope espoused, this would better read:

"I'm from the government, and I'm here to help."
The Other Club has written extensively on this topic, many of those posts are linked here, or click on labels below this post.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Level has more than one meaning

Jack Hoogendyk's blog Core Principles is a recent blog roll addition. Jack has blogged from the floor of the legislature during the recent Democrat tax increase and has interesting insights.

Recommended, not least because of posts like this, which I repeat in full:

Here is a note from an alert reader:

The presumed Democratic nominee, Senator Hillary Clinton's platform is to give more power to the unions and to raise taxes for the entire country. The business owners of Michigan support Hillary because we believe it's high time for the rest of the nation to start competing with Michigan on a "level" playing field.
I think that should have been "leveled," or "razed."

Check out Core Principles.


While we're talking about taxes, it gives me an opportunity to use this chart from an article at the Cato Institute.

Observations

Tax rates on those with high incomes are far greater than for other Americans. Folks at the top pay about 25% of their income in federal income taxes, which compares to less than 5% for half of the population at the bottom end.

For the top two groups, the tax rate in 2005 was about the same as 1990. Essentially, the Bush tax cuts just reversed out the Clinton tax increases on these folks.

The Bush tax cuts substantially reduced tax rates for people in every income group. Indeed, those at the bottom had the largest relative reductions in their tax rates.
Hillary will put more tax burden on the group who create employment, just like Michigan Democrats. Here's another Core Principles link on the subject, A note from an exasperated business owner

For looters, A is not A

Mitch, at Canada's John Galt, points out that it was Corporatism, practiced under bludgeoning from at the behest of a Clinton administration Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, that presaged the sub-prime mess. He "was responsible for bullying financial institutions into making loans to various preferred groups, regardless of credit history or proof of actual discrimination."

Mitch links to a story at Reason magazine with more detail:

...Chevy Chase Savings Bank was forced to cough up $140 million to African Americans by, for example, offering below- market- rate loans to minorities and placing ads in black- owned newspapers. Justice showed no evidence that Chevy Chase, the largest thrift in the D area, had denied loans to individuals because of their race. Rather, Chevy Chase hadn't opened new branches in predominantly black neighborhoods. The bank had been operating branches in African- American neighborhoods, but that didn't satisfy civil- rights enforcers: Either those branches had been acquired in a merger or the neighborhoods in which these branches operated had been predominantly white when the branches opened.

Two governors of the Federal Reserve System have criticized the proposed CRA regulations, saying financial institutions will make risky loans to women or racial minorities so that they can avoid discrimination lawsuits. Fed Governor Lawrence Lindsey considers the regulations a blatant power grab by political micromanagers in Congress and the White House. He has recently encouraged public comments, presumably critical, of the regulations. And Governor John LaWare told the Dow Jones News Service, "I feel very uneasy about the de facto allocation of credit and banking resources by administrative fiat."
Apparently, it's only predatory lending if the government didn't mandate it. Why not just take the money in the first place, and eliminate the time lag? Because that would be too blatant, like the first try at HillaryCare.

Mr. Lindsey and Governor LaWare anticipated the current problem, but who in the mortgage industry is speaking against today's looters? Where is the T. J. Rodgers of the mortgage industry when Deval Patrick (see below) and Jesse Jackson demagogue the issue today?

A comment at Mitch's site points out that the aforementioned US AAG was also a Board member of Ameriquest. From Wikipedia:
In 2004, he was appointed to the board of directors of the firm that controls Ameriquest, the mortgage company infamous for predatory lending scandals, because of his 20 years of fighting such problems. Ameriquest subsequently agreed to a $325 million dollar settlement regarding their predatory lending practices in 49 states.[10] After this success, [he] stepped down from the board on July 2, 2006.
Loot is where you find it, I guess. In this case in the PC PR needs of Ameriquest.

Oh, and the name of that Clinton administration Assistant Attorney General? Deval Patrick.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Corporatism

Corporatism can be defined as the merging of "corporate" interests with those of the state. For a more complete discussion, I recommend Paul Weaver's The Suicidal Corporation.

Corporatism is antithetical to capitalism, though leftists would have you believe otherwise. One way in which
corporatism manifests itself is as "going along to get along" by companies whose focus is on immediate regulatory benefit and/or future political advantage - rather than on its customers. Corporatists do not compete for customers, they compete for entitlements and corporate welfare. Think of Lee Iacocca and Chrysler. Think of Archer Daniels Midland and ethanol subsidies. Think of the massive handout to health insurance companies represented by SCHIP. They lobby for it, though it is designed to destroy their industry as a private business. They'd rather be working for government.

Corporatism is the name of the philosophy at which Dwight Eisenhower's warning about "the military-industrial complex" was directed. It has much in common with feudalism and, presently in the United States, requires heavy expenditure on lobbyists as well as sucking up to populist politicians. Think of Mussolini's Italy.

Such totalitarian impulse thrives on populism, ignorance and amoral, rent-seeking pragmatism by business and government. In the case following, it requires government to disregard contract law and basic economics in favor of a mob comprised of imprudent borrowers and speculative lenders. Business is invited to participate. This attack on capitalism would have been unbelievable 50 years ago, even in Massachusetts, but businessmen have come to share the desire for hollow momentary advantage, leavened by a hope for future favors. They submit to programs that, logically extended, would destroy them. Corporatist oligarchs who go along with this looting deserve what they will get. The rest of us do not.

In this case, Patrick to press mortgage companies, it is lenders in Massachusetts who are the target:
Governor Deval Patrick [D, Mass] plans to introduce an ambitious program today to assist Massachusetts communities in preventing foreclosures by pressing lenders to accept losses on their mortgages so that homeowners are able to sell their properties and pay off smaller loan balances.
...

In one key part of the plan, the state would press lenders to agree to a "short sale" with homeowners late on their monthly payments. In a short sale, lenders accept less than the full value of the loan, so that the homeowner can sell the house at today's market price - typically less than he or she paid for it - and use the proceeds to pay off the smaller loan balance. Short sales are a way for borrowers to prevent foreclosure.
...

But Thomas Callahan, executive director of the Massachusetts Association for Affordable Housing, which provides mortgages to homebuyers with modest incomes, said the administration does not have leverage, legally, to force lenders to cooperate. He said most subprime lenders are out-of-state companies that are not regulated by the state.
I think the key phrase there is "regulated by the state." Any lender who volunteers for this insanity should just fold, put investors out of their misery, and leave the clean-up to Governor Deval "Looter" Patrick's tender mercies.

The article does not tell us if there are suicidal corporations stepping up to the sacrificial altar or not. It does tell us the governor of Massachusetts thinks it's worth a try, because he knows he isn't dealing with capitalists.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Praevaricari

Thanks to Newsbusters via A Dog Named Kyoto.

Eleven convenient untruths from An Inconvenient Truth as determined by a British Court:
* The film claims that melting snows on Mount Kilimanjaro evidence global warming. The Government's expert was forced to concede that this is not correct.

* The film suggests that evidence from ice cores proves that rising CO2 causes temperature increases over 650,000 years. The Court found that the film was misleading: over that period the rises in CO2 lagged behind the temperature rises by 800-2000 years.

* The film uses emotive images of Hurricane Katrina and suggests that this has been caused by global warming. The Government's expert had to accept that it was "not possible" to attribute one-off events to global warming.

* The film shows the drying up of Lake Chad and claims that this was caused by global warming. The Government's expert had to accept that this was not the case.

* The film claims that a study showed that polar bears had drowned due to disappearing arctic ice. It turned out that Mr Gore had misread the study: in fact four polar bears drowned and this was because of a particularly violent storm.

* The film threatens that global warming could stop the Gulf Stream throwing Europe into an ice age: the Claimant's evidence was that this was a scientific impossibility.

* The film blames global warming for species losses including coral reef bleaching. The Government could not find any evidence to support this claim.

* The film suggests that the Greenland ice covering could melt causing sea levels to rise dangerously. The evidence is that Greenland will not melt for millennia.

* The film suggests that the Antarctic ice covering is melting, the evidence was that it is in fact increasing.

* The film suggests that sea levels could rise by 7m causing the displacement of millions of people. In fact the evidence is that sea levels are expected to rise by about 40cm over the next hundred years and that there is no such threat of massive migration.

* The film claims that rising sea levels has caused the evacuation of certain Pacific islands to New Zealand. The Government are unable to substantiate this and the Court observed that this appears to be a false claim.
Obviously, the Internet is not all Gore invented, so by all means let us draft Albert Arnold Gore Jr., man of "science," to run for President - and give him a Nobel Peace prize to go with his Oscar.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Operation Mincemeat II?

In June of 1942, the Chicago Tribune published a story about the Battle of Midway wherein it was made obvious that U.S. cryptanalysts had broken Japanese Navy's code.

How did the Tribune come to have this information?
No American correspondents were at Midway, but a colorful Tribune reporter, Stanley Johnston, was with the carrier Lexington when it was sunk in the preceding Battle of the Coral Sea. Johnston was a giant Australian, a champion sculler and a World War I hero. He had been recommended for a Victoria Cross for his valor at Gallipoli and in France. When the Lexington was hit, he made heroic efforts to rescue badly burned sailors from the ship's hold. He was very popular when transferred to another ship for transport back to the United States, and spent much of the time in the quarters occupied by the Lexington's executive officer, Cmdr. Mort Seligman.

Johnston, writing his account of Coral Sea while in Seligman's cabin, noticed a blue-lined paper that had the names of Japanese warships in an order of battle. He copied the list and later took this "dope" with him into the Tribune offices. His editor, Pat Maloney, was interested mainly in the Coral Sea account, but he accepted a sidebar on the Japanese order of battle at Midway, which Johnston hurriedly wrote. Johnston wouldn't reveal his source, but assured Maloney he had checked the list against the authoritative reference, "Jane's Fighting Ships." Maloney rewrote the first two "muddy" paragraphs, then wrote a headline that was not justified by Johnston's text:

NAVY HAD WORD OF JAP PLAN TO STRIKE AT SEA

Maloney did not clear the story with censors, convincing himself that there was nothing in the guidelines to suppress news about the movement of hostile ships. And then, to protect Johnston's real source, Maloney attributed the story to "reliable sources in naval intelligence" and put on it a fake Washington, D.C., dateline.
Charges of treason were contemplated, but the Navy refused to participate in a Grand Jury investigation in order to stop even more publicity for the story.

It's too bad charges weren't laid, because if the effort had succeeded we might not have had ABC News nattering about our penetration of Al-Qaeda's internet communications system, Obelisk.
...the disclosure from ABC and later other news organizations tipped off Qaeda's internal security division that the organization's Internet communications system, known among American intelligence analysts as Obelisk, was compromised.
There has been speculation, which has been denied, that the White House is the source of the leak to the MSM. White House or not, someone leaked, and whoever it was should be charged with treason (with an exception I'll note below).

Worse, perhaps, is that this is the third or fourth time the media has published top-secret information. The CIA "rendition" centers, the Swift bank data mining, and the covert surveillance of foreign terrorist phones were all front page news for the New York Times

In the present case, we know the information was released deliberately and would obviously damage an intelligence resource being used against Al-Qaeda, so the exception to a charge of treason I noted would involve a authorized release. Why do that? Well, there is specific traffic associated with starting up such a network, different from the steady state. Perhaps it is possible to detect new nodes we hadn't before seen as they come in contact. Maybe it is actually possible to detect the "fist" of some of the people setting it up. Perhaps bots are being injected into the new Obelisk as I write.

Perhaps there was a reason for it as there was in another WWII intelligence ploy "Operation Mincemeat," in the Spring of 1942. Let us hope so.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

THOU, too, sail on, O SCHIP of State!

Sail on, O rising nanny state...
Apologies to H. W. Longfellow.

Michigan statists are all over Mike Rogers and Tim Walberg about their objections to socializing health care in the United States. These GOP congressmen both voted against expanding SCHIP, the State Children's Health Insurance Program. Rogers and Walberg are being accused of cruelty to poor children.

Actually, based on an example formally and officially put forward by Democrats as their response to Dubya's veto; these children seem to be better described as the offspring of looters.

Rogers, whose vote is wobbly, said "... an almost-unanimous vote for passage can be worked out "when they're [Democrats] done with their political theater."" Tim Walberg whose vote isn't, "... remains staunchly opposed to the bill, which one analyst said makes him out of touch with his constituents." You go, Tim.

Incremental Socialism was hatched in the nineteenth century. This instance has been a specific medium term Democrat strategy since it was revealed in a 1993 RodhamCare memo. Apparently unaware of the subtleties of stealth care; Democrats have rushed to confirm their statist agenda by giving us their quintessential idea of who truly needs the SCHIP expansion:

The "Not So Poor" 12 Year Old Who Rebutted Bush on SCHIP Veto

One has to wonder that if time and money can be found to remodel a home, send kids to exclusive private schools, purchase commercial property and run your own business... maybe money can be found for other things...maybe Dad should drop his woodworking hobby and get a real job that offers health insurance rather than making people like me (also with 4 kids in a 600sf smaller house and tuition $16,000 less per kid and no commercial property ownership) pay for it in my taxes.
The "Poor" SCHIP Kid
So here are the facts as laid out by the Democrats. The kids parents only earn 45 grand a year and they receive no insurance through their work. Getting insurance on their own would cost 1200 bucks.

Lets do the math here. The value of their house is up over a half a million, the value of the commercial property would have to be close to 300 grand or so now, and the family may be renting some of the property out to another company for more income. Now we come to their mortgages which I'm sure cost a bit but this family was able to send two of their kids to a private school at 20 grand a piece, so the mortgage's couldn't be killing them.

About that tuition. Didn't the article state they only make 45 grand combined per year? So after sending their kids to school they take home 5 grand for the whole year. Riiiiight. I smell unreported income here or they received tuition assistance from the Park School which would mean a couple with four children have two of them attending a private school rather then a public school at the expense of taxpayers.
Brother, can you spare a CHIP?
Bad things happen to good people, and they cause financial problems and tough choices. But, if this is the face of the "needy" in America, then no-one is not needy. And, if everyone needs assistance from the federal government, so be it. But I don't think I want to drive down the road where Bonnie Frost wants to take us - because at the end of it there are no free-born citizens, just a nation where everyone is a ward of the state.
2007 is the 50th anniversary of the publication of Atlas Shrugged. If you haven't yet read it, now would be a fine time.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Good news

Nineteen percent of registered Democrats think it would be a Good Thing were the United States to be defeated in Iraq. More precisely, that means they think the United States should be defeated by the Democrats in Congress, since an actual military defeat is inconceivable.

An additional twenty percent of Democrats say they don't know if an Al-Qaeda victory would be Good, or Not.

However you slice this, nineteen percent would seem to be the irreducible proportion of Democrats who can unequivocally be described by any reasonable observer as unpatriotic. I'd say some of the "I don't know" Democrats could be added to that, but let us just agree to add half of them to a super-set labeled "Naively, or otherwise, dangerous to themselves and other members of Western Civilization." That's twenty-nine percent of Democrats, in all.

Five percent of Republicans and seven percent of Independents also hope for a US defeat in Iraq. Eight and seventeen percent, respectively, are not sure whether they are on Al-Qaeda's side, or what could putatively be called their own.

Story here.

I thought - because of Bush Derangement Syndrome - that it would be more like thirty-three percent of Democrats actively rooting for Osama bin-Laden. The good news is that the total of those Democrats you could perfectly reasonably call treasonous is only twenty-nine percent, and it could, charitably, be as low as nineteen percent. Further, the total of voters of all persuasions who desire a victory by Al-Qaeda in Iraq is just thirty-one percent. Given the large ongoing doses of multi-culturalist induced guilt about, and disdain for, Judeo-Christian traditions, it could have been much worse.

In the tradition of Lord Haw-Haw, these doughty individuals are at least willing to consider giving aid and comfort to a sworn and active enemy of the United States. You have to think some of those wishing for an Al-Qaeda victory are aware of that context - yet they freely reveal an arguably treasonous attitude to a pollster. This may be a demonstration of a freedom of speech and of consciousness unprecedented in human history, despite BusHitler and his minions. It may simply be a case-study in the stupidity of some potential voters. It may be a combination. In any case, it is what we have.

So, the total of Americans registered to vote who support Al-Qaeda is thirty-one percent. This is the definitely unpatriotic segment. However, fifty-three and a half percent constitute the "dangerous to Western Civilization" contingent.

Contemplate the current conventional wisdom giving some Democrat or other the best chance of being our next President.

Sleep well.

Intelligentsia Derangement Disorder

Now I get it.

You will too, when you read the results of the study identifying the symptoms of the mentally debilitating and apparently incurable disease; Intelligentsia Derangement Disorder, or "Lee Bollinger's Disease."

Psychiatric Association Releases Final Report on "Lee Bollinger's Disease"

(SATIRENEWSSERVICE) The World Psychiatric Association (WPA) today issued its long-awaited, massive study on Intelligentsia Derangement Disorder (IDD). Known popularly as Lee Bollinger's Disease, IDD is characterized by profound disruption in cognition involving the most fundamental human attributes: language, thought, perception and desire for self preservation.

The disease has been found in epidemic proportions on university campuses. The WPA study, which included extensive case histories of every single academic in the United States and Western Europe, reports that 99.99999% of all, non-economist social science professors are affected as are almost all tenured members of the "Arts" faculties of universities throughout the developed world.

According to the Report's main author, Dr. Edith Erwachsenenwelt, M.D., Ph.D., the cognitive development of most sufferers of IDD ends in early adolescence whereas non-sufferers experience continued development of their cognitive capacities throughout adulthood. "The cessation of the process of adult cognitive development," said Dr. Erwachsenenwelt, "produces the following symptoms, all of which are exhibited by each and every IDD sufferer":
Read the rest here. ;->

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Mike Simpson, D-Liberty Township

The following is cross-posted by TOC from Nick De Leeuw at Right Michigan. It deserves as much distribution as it can get.

Portrait of a Tax Hiker: Mike Simpson (D-Liberty Township)

By Nick, Section News
Posted on Thu Oct 04, 2007 at 09:29:24 AM EST

"Basically, this entire package was delivered by Democrats." - Andy Dillon, Detroit News, October 2, 2007.

This is the second in a series of looks at specific members of Dillon's tax hike caucus. The Democrats hold a 58-52 lead in the House. A shift of just four seats returns control to the Republicans, a caucus, for what it's worth, that held the line in impressive fashion against the Democrats' tax and spend gambit. According to Andy Dillon anyways.

Four seats is more than doable. A move to a common sense approach that protects jobs and Michigan families is doable. Just a matter of getting rid of a few bad apples. Today we take a look at Jackson County and the first of two conservative districts with tax-and-spend liberal Democrat state Reps.

STATE REPRESENTATIVE MIKE SIMPSON (D-LIBERTY TOWNSHIP)

Just when you start to doubt the idea that every vote makes a difference you meet someone like tax-and-spend liberal Rep. Mike Simpson. The Brooklyn area native is serving his first term in the Michigan House after eaking out a narrow 1,600 vote victory over Leslie Mortimer during last fall's Democrat tsunami.

But for every doubt an election result like that puts to rest, it stirs another to vibrant life. The doubt, for instance, that any Michigan Democrat can be trusted when they say they don't want to raise your taxes.

Late last Sunday night Simpson joined his colleagues in voting YES on HB 5198, a bill that raises taxes on Michigan job makers by $613 million. This followed a campaign that saw him promise to eliminate taxes (the SBT), reduce and consolidate government spending and to defend Michigan small business owners.

And it was followed by this statement.

When the question of a sales tax on certain services was brought into the negotiations, I agreed to support it ONLY if the tax would be on a very limited number of services...

That very limited number of services included, of course:

Astrology services, carpet cleaning, consulting services, investigation, guard and armored car services, janitorial services, commercial landscaping services, baby-shoe bronzing, bail bonding, balloon-o-grams, coin-operated blood pressure testing, coat check room services, concierge services, dating services, escorts, fortune telling, house sitting, coin-operated locker rental, palm reading, party planning, porter services, psychic services, restroom operation services, shoe shines, singing telegrams, wedding planning, wedding chapel services, scenic transportation services, skiing services, tour operator services, personal care services, security system services, mini-warehouse and self-storage unit services, business service center services, investment advice, consumer-buying services, discount-buying services, genealogical investigation, social introduction services, numerology services, pay telephone services, personal fitness training, personal shopping services, coin-operated photographic machines, phrenology services, packaging and labeling, specialized design services, passenger and ground transportation services, courier and messenger services and document preparation.

But the sad reality with Simpson, like so many of his colleagues in the House Democrat caucus, is that his support for massive tax-hikes during a single-state depression (7.4% unemployment rate anybody?) is really only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to broken promises and disastrous public policy.

Read on...

Take Simpson's pre-election discussion with the Lansing State Journal :

LSJ: What are voters top three concerns and how would you address them?

SIMPSON: JOBS- Total business tax review, seek "new-tech" jobs and open a trash reclamation facility in Jackson County, which would create approximately 200-300 jobs.

HEALTHCARE-Create "risk assurance pools" and "2nd generation MSA's."

SMALLER GOV'T-Downsize the state legislature through a constitutional amendment by merging the Senate and the House into a one-house General Assembly with 60 seats. The plan would reduce the state legislature by 88 seats, give the remaining 60 seats a 10% pay cut and make all future pay raises subject to voter approval. The plan would save the taxpayers of Michigan approximately 50 million dollars annually.

Oh those pesky pre-election interviews... mix them with the internet and voters all over the state might find out how full of... bologna sandwiches... a candidate really was.


Lets take a look at how Simpson has delivered thus far.

Smaller government. Well, $613 million in new taxes not withstanding how's he delivered on those other promises? Saving taxpayers 50 million dollars. Not quite. Subjecting future legislative pay raises to voter approval. Nope. Downsizing the legislature through a constitutional amendment? Hardly. He strikes out there.

What about healthcare... he wanted to create "risk assurance pools." Actually, Simpson had a chance on this one. The House approved SB 418, a bill to save the state of Michigan $200-400 million a year by ending handouts to Democrat special interests at the MEA via MESSA. It accomplished that by allowing local school districts to get together, form pools and collectively bargain for better prices at huge overall savings.

Simpson voted no. Not exactly living up to those campaign promises so far.

But he'll hit one out of the park on jobs. After all, he'll tell anyone who'll listen that he's a small business owner himself. He knows what it takes to create jobs. He must. And he really likes those "new-tech" jobs.

Which is why it's so hard to fathom his decision to take a leadership role on the Democrats' attempt to repeal Michigan's FDA defense law by sponsoring HB 4044.

By way of background, and I've said this before, drug companies create drugs. They research them, they test them, they rework the formulas, they test them again and once they have something that will save lives or improve quality of life they send it along to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their own testing and approval.

The FDA tests these drugs. They make sure they do what the drug companies say they do. They make sure they're safe for use under a doctor's supervision and that all of the correct interaction and warning labels are properly applied and ready for marketing. Then it's back on to the drug companies to sell them in compliance with those FDA standards.

In Michigan, if you believe the warning labels misrepresented the risk, or you think the drug company foisted something on you fraudulently you go to the FDA, you tell them what happened (they take these sorts of things seriously) and if the FDA figures out the company really did misrepresent their drugs or didn't tell the whole story about them then you get to sue!

So what's Simpson's deal all about? He thought it'd be nice if you could sue for millions because you catch a sniffle. He's encouraging frivolous lawsuits and looking out for his trial lawyer buddies by trying to repeal the FDA defense law enabling anyone to sue any drug company for any reason, whether they met every single FDA standard or not.

You know how governor Granholm's always talking about life sciences and incubators and new economies? So much for that.

MichBio reports that more than 540 life science companies are up and running in Michigan. They've got over 30,000 employees creating drugs to save lives.

Now take those companies, already limping through Granholm's single-state depression and take the leash off the trial lawyers. Sure, some of the companies will survive. Lots of them won't.
And believe me, when they go away, it's a big deal. Remember Pfizer?

But Mike Simpson wasn't done. He then cosponsored HB 4045, a measure one-upping his own legislation by making it retroactive!

Yep, Simpson wants Michigan businesses to be sued for things they did years ago under a different set of rules! That'll be good for business. And there aren't any Constitutional issues at all.

And there is nothing... absolutely nothing... that job makers in other states looking to expand like more than a legislature that votes to raise their taxes AND threaten to change the rules on them years down the road so that the trial lawyers can rip them to shreds. Really inspires confidence in the business community.

One heck of a record Mike Simpson's compiled since taking the oath of office back in January. 1,600 votes away from getting he and his crippling economic policies out of Lansing.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Phonies, each and every one

Several things you should read regarding Democrat phonies.

Limbaugh Makes His Case, by Byron York at National Review Online:
On Monday evening, September 24, Rush Limbaugh was struck by a story that appeared on ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson. “A closer look tonight at phony heroes,” Gibson said in his introduction to the report, which was about men who claim to be veterans but are not. In the story, reporter Brian Ross discussed two men who claimed to have served in wartime, possibly to receive free veterans’ hospital and other benefits.

And then this: “Authorities say the most disturbing case involves this man, 23 year-old Jesse Macbeth,” Ross continued. “In a YouTube video seen around the world, Macbeth became a rallying point for anti-war groups, as he talked of the Purple Heart he received in Iraq and described how he and other U.S. Army Rangers killed innocent civilians at a Baghdad mosque.” Ross played video of Macbeth saying, “Women and men, you know — while in their prayer, we started slaughtering them.”

As it turns out, none of that happened. Macbeth was in the Army for just six weeks, was discharged before completing basic training, and was never in Iraq. “Last week in federal court in Seattle,” Ross concluded, “Macbeth offered an apology for defaming the real American heroes as he admitted to lying about his service record and his supposed atrocities.” Ross’ story was headlined “Phony War Vets” on the ABC News website.
In trying to divert attention from the full page "Betray Us" ad that their ardent supporters at MoveOn ran in the New York Times, the Dems have been pontificating, laughably, on the floor of the Senate about how Rush Limbaugh gave deadly insult to our troops. Harry Reid persuaded all but 10 Senate Democrats to sign a letter demanding Limbaugh apologize for a 2 words taken out of context by Clinton/Soros apparatchiks. The good news here is that there are 9 Democrats aside from Joe Lieberman who are smarter than a bag of hammers.

Given the facts, what these 41 Democrats are saying is that they support phony soldiers like Jesse Macbeth. Who'da thunk it? Well, I might have, they nominated one to run for President. But, what about Democrat stalwarts beyond John "reporting for duty" Kerry?

Hillary Clinton said to General Petraeus that his report to Congress on Iraq required a "willing suspension of disbelief." Harry Reid has told the world "the war is lost," and then had the gall to misrepresent General Petraeus' words in defense of that gaffe. Jack Murtha called several Marines, since acquitted, bloodthirsty murderers over an incident in Haditha. Barack Obama claims we are conducting air raids on civilians in Afghanistan. Nancy Pelosi couldn't find the time to attend a Petraeus briefing in April on the major issue she claims to have been elected to address. Coming full circle, John Kerry spoke of our soldiers in Iraq "terrorizing women and children in the dead of night," adding to the legacy of lies about the military he began in 1972 after his 6 week tour in Vietnam.

These same Democrats routinely threaten to cut off funding for the war. Because they never actually do it, they have another problem with their loony-left base. So they hope attacking Rush Limbaugh based on a twisted report from the far left Media Matters, an organization of which Hillary Clinton is a proud founder, will turn attention elsewhere.
In addition to its ties to major Democratic donors and to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Media Matters is a deeply politicized organization down to its lowest levels. In the past few days, it has posted eleven stories on the Limbaugh matter. Those postings were written by, among others, Julie Millican, a veteran of the Kerry campaign, MoveOn.org, and the Democratic turnout organization America Coming Together; Sarah Pavlus, formerly of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee; Andrew Ironside, who worked for the Howard Dean campaign; Adam Shah, a lawyer who worked for the Alliance for Justice, the organization best known for opposing President Bush’s judicial nominees; Jeremy Schulman, a former spokesman for Colorado Democratic congressional candidate Dave Thomas; and Matthew Gertz, former deputy campaign manager for Connecticut Democratic congressional candidate Diane Farrell, as well as intern for New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer.
This faux eruption of Democrat sensibility is carefully orchestrated to make people forget to ask how it is, exactly, that Democrats "support the troops." And since Democrat public disrespect for the military is not enough to placate the puling pseudo-pacifists who are their main support, they've got a "combat" veteran, Senator Tom Harkin, making ad-hominem attacks on the floor of "the greatest deliberative body in the world:"
Well, I don’t know. Maybe [Limbaugh] was just high on his drugs again. I don’t know whether he was or not. If so, he ought to let us know. But that shouldn’t be an excuse.
Senator Harkin is less a phony soldier than Jesse Macbeth only in degree:
While running for his Senate seat in 1984, and again while running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992, Harkin has faced criticism for claiming that he had flown combat missions over North Vietnam. In a 1979 round table discussion with other Congressional Veterans, Harkin said of his service as a Navy pilot: “One year was in Vietnam. I was flying F-4s and F-8s on combat air patrols and photo-reconnaissance support missions”. These comments were later published in a 1981 book by David Broder. After subsequent inquiries by Barry Goldwater and The Wall Street Journal, Harkin clarified that that he had been stationed in Japan and sometimes flew recently repaired aircraft on test missions over Vietnam. His service flying F-4s and F-8s was later, while he was stationed in Cuba.[6] [7] References to this controversy were deleted from Wikipedia by staffers from Harkin's senate office.[1]
Like Jesse Macbeth, Harkin supports the troops by pretending to have been in combat. He then contrives to deliberately misunderstand the plain language of someone who has always clearly supported the military. So it goes among the hypocrite party.

Better the Democrats would have had John Kerry deliver Harkin's lines. At least we know that Kerry directly witnessed combat, even if there's some speculation regarding degree of participation.

But, back to Senator Harkin's record:
...What he did while on active duty is even more confusing. In 1979, Mr. Harkin, then a congressman, participated in a round-table discussion arranged by the Congressional Vietnam Veterans' Caucus. "I spent five years as a Navy pilot, starting in November of 1962," Mr. Harkin said at that meeting, in words that were later quoted in a book, Changing of the Guard, by Washington Post political writer David Broder. "One year was in Vietnam. I was flying F-4s and F-8s on combat air patrols and photo-reconnaissance support missions. I did no bombing."

That clearly is not an accurate picture of his Navy service. Though Mr. Harkin stresses he is proud of his Navy record--"I put my ass on the line day after day"--he concedes now he never flew combat air patrols in Vietnam.

He was stationed at the U.S. Naval Air Station at Atsugi, Japan. Damaged aircraft were flown into Atsugi for repairs or sometimes flown out of Atsugi to the Philippines for more substantial work. Mr. Harkin says he and three other Navy pilots flew these ferry flights. And, when the planes had been repaired, he and his fellow pilots took them up on test flights. "I had always wanted to be a test pilot," he says. "It was damned demanding work."

How much time did he actually spend in Vietnam? "I wouldn't really know," he says. He estimates that over a period of about 12 months he flew in and out of Vietnam "a dozen times, maybe 10 times."

But what about those combat air patrols and the photo-reconnaissance support missions? He says he did fly combat air patrols, in Cuba, in 1965 and 1966. He was stationed at Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. base, "and we were on frigging alert for 18 months, the whole time I was there." He would take off whenever a U-2 American spy plane flew by, in case Cuban dictator Fidel Castro scrambled his fighters to intercept it. And he says he flew photo-reconnaissance missions too, out of Andrews Air Force Base, near Washington, D.C., while he was serving in the ready reserve.

In explaining his Vietnam experience at that congressional round-table in 1979, Sen. Harkin says that in retrospect "maybe I didn't say it right."

The round-table wasn't the only time he talked about extensive Vietnam service. In April of 1981, Mr. Harkin told Harold E. Roberts, publisher of the Creston, Iowa, News Advertiser, that in Japan he was assigned to a squadron where "we flew many missions to Vietnam and the Philippines." And in a short April 1, 1980, statement in the Congressional Record attacking the Veterans Administration for the way it was handling claims related to the herbicide Agent Orange, Mr. Harkin said that "as a Vietnam veteran in Congress, I feel particularly responsible for seeing that this issue continues to command our attention." Mr. Harkin says he always refers to himself as a "Vietnam-era veteran," and thinks the statement in the Congressional Record might be a misprint.

Mr. Harkin's Navy record shows his only decoration is the National Defense Service Medal, awarded to everyone on active service during those years. He did not receive either the Vietnam Service medal or the Vietnam Campaign medal, the decorations given to everyone who served in the Southeast Asia theater. "We didn't get them for what we did," Mr. Harkin says. "It's never bothered me."
That last is certainly true. It's never bothered him. And it is indicative of what doesn't bother the Democrats in general.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Michigan breaks into the Top Ten

Captain Ed points out that Michigan's elected representatives have succeeded in catapulting our state from fourteenth place into the Top Ten - in total tax burden:
...Adding taxes to Michigan amounts to a domestic Smoot-Hawley approach. Michigan already had the 14th-highest tax burden in the US. State and local taxes took 11.2% of their income before these tax increases. They now appear ready to leapfrog Arkansas, California, Minnesota, and New Jersey to enter the Top Ten of tax-burden states.

Note, too, that the Michigan government solved the problem by a 3:1 ratio of sacrifice. They increased taxes by over $1.4 billion, thanks to increases in both income and sales taxes that go into effect immediately. They only managed to shave $440 million off of their own budget. Given that the state budget planned for $42.6 billion in spending for FY2007, this represents a whopping 1% decrease in state spending. It hardly seems as though Michigan lawmakers even cracked the books of their budget to look for other opportunities for savings. [Note: The Republicans in the Senate Senate did come up with a plan that required no tax increase. The Democrats in the House, and the Governor, wouldn't discuss it.]

The increased burden of taxation will not help Michigan recover its economy. It will pressure businesses to move elsewhere at a time when Michigan needs investment and commitment to improve its financial stability. Instead of reversing the decline, the increased burden will escalate it, and next year's revenue shortfalls will create the exact same problem for Michigan.

It's a disaster in slow motion. Instead of taking a critical look at the reasons why Michigan's economy has plunged, the state legislature has punted and stuck its citizens with the bill. That's hardly a profile in courage.
Make no mistake, the Democrat majority could have passed this in the House months ago, but a handful of them hadn't the guts to face recall elections. No, and the weasels had to spend eight months damaging Michigan's credibility in financial markets to arrive at their denouement. It hasn't gone unnoticed outside the state. Rich Lowrey at National Review provides some background and notes some reasons we have come to this pass:
...[Michigan] is suffering from a one-state recession all its own, mostly because it has failed to foster the most profound economic force in the universe — opportunity. The state has been losing out to more business-friendly environs both overseas and in other states for decades, but has refused to adapt accordingly.

...Michigan was the only state in the country not hit by Hurricane Katrina to lose jobs between September 2004 and September 2005. The state unemployment rate just ticked up again to 7.1 percent, substantially above the nation’s rate of 4.7 percent. The rate of growth of its per capita gross state product is 49th in the nation; lowly Mississippi is 44th.

Michael LaFaive of the Mackinac Center calls Michigan “the France of North America.” Economically competitive states might have a personal income tax, or corporate income tax, or sales tax — Michigan has all three. It has long been the only state with a European-style, value-added tax — the Single Business Tax.

...Meanwhile, unions make the state an inhospitable place to do business. A company can be bankrupt in Michigan and still face threats of a strike, as Northwest Airlines and the auto-parts maker Delphi have learned. Michigan’s unionization rate of 21.8 percent is much higher than the national average of 13.5 percent. This accounts for it having the second-highest unit-labor cost in the nation, according to the Mackinac Center. States with right-to-work laws, and consequently less unionization, experience more growth and create more jobs, at the expense of troglodytes like Michigan.

It used to be that unions could force unnaturally high wages and benefits on U.S. manufacturers, and the costs would be passed along to consumers. Those were the days prior to globalization when the U.S. auto industry had a lock on the domestic market and experienced little international competition. It was inevitable that Michigan would find the new competition disruptive, but not that it would react to it so poorly.

The way to thrive in a globalized environment is to create a low-tax economy without the rigidities that come with heavy unionization and regulation. For those who disagree, Michigan beckons.
As Alice the Camel noted last week, it's only Liberals for whom political economy is a mystery. The problems have been well known to conservtives for a long time:
The natural function of a trade union and the one for which it was historically conceived is to represent those employees who want collective representation in bargaining with their employers over terms of employment. But note that this function is perverted the moment a union claims the right to represent employees who do not want representation, or conducts activities that have nothing to do with terms of employment (e.g. political activities), or tries to deal with an industry as a whole instead of with individual employers. -Barry Goldwater

Paladin fleshed this out in Michigan's case in February: If Jobs Really Matter ……

Jobs. Michigan needs more jobs. Ask anyone. Read any newspaper. Listen to any politician. More jobs are what we need. Better jobs are what we need. Manufacturing jobs are what we need.

The Wall Street Journal reports that in the 20 years between 1986 and 2006 right-to-work States like Alabama, Texas, and South Carolina added 104,000 auto industry jobs while union-fair-play States like Michigan, New York, and Ohio have lost 130,000 auto industry jobs.

Union membership in the United States has gone from 34% in the fifties to 12% in 2006. How much longer can Michigan afford to ride this curve? Where are the politicians who really do care about jobs? And why don’t we elect them?

Unions were needed in the 1930s. Unions thrived from 1945-1970 in the environment of the auto industry quasi-monopoly. And as long as the monopoly lasted, Michigan’s “fair play” laws could not do serious damage.

Those days are gone. Only free markets for capital, goods, and labor can restore Michigan’s greatness.
I will note that 2 Republicans in the House voted in favor of this idiocy. It did not change the result, but you have to ponder what this sort of behavior implies about the value of term limits. Their defection did provide a margin of safety for a Democrat to vote against the measure. Jack Hoogendyck notes:
In the end, Chris Ward (R) Brighton, and Ed Gaffney (R) Grosse Pointe, voted with the majority of Democrats to approve the new tax. Both are in their last terms. They are not worried about reelection.

Mike Simpson (D), a vulnerable from Jackson voted NO. He got off the hook, thanks to two Republicans.
The only good news to come out of this is that MESSA and the MEA are facing a "reform." The Democrats must be profoundly embarrassed.