Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for August, 2010

Advocates of big government think it is appropriate for the state to redistribute wealth out of a sense of fairness.  They usually claim to want some form of taking from the wealthy to give to the poor.  But the practice of redistribution is actually quite different.  In reality, redistributive states take from those without political influence and give to the politically powerful.  This results in situations like this one in Montgomery Alabama, where the city is destroying the homes of the poor and giving their land to rich developers.

…[H]ere is how it works: The city decides it doesn’t like your property for one reason or another, so it declares it a “public nuisance.” It mails you a notice that you have 45 days to demolish your property, at your expense, or the city will do it for you (and, of course, bill you).

Your tab with the city will constitute a lien on your property, and if you don’t pay it within 30 days (or pay your installments on time; if you owe over $10,000, you can work out a deal to pay back the city for destroying your home over a period of time, with interest), the city can sell your now-vacant land to the highest bidder.

Alabama law empowers municipalities to do just this. Officials can demolish structures that they determine, “due to poor design, obsolescence, or neglect, have become unsafe to the extent of becoming public nuisances…and [are] causing or may cause a blight or blighting influence on the city and the neighborhoods in which [they are] located.” Keep in mind, so-called standards like “obsolescence” are so vague they can mean anything, so even a well-maintained home that government officials don’t like the look of can be fed to the bulldozers.

While this may sound like eminent domain for private gain, it’s not. This is a completely different section of Alabama’s code that the city of Montgomery is now abusing habitually to tear down homes it does not like in a predominantly African American community — once home to Rosa Parks.

Read Full Post »

Two things struck me about this debate. First, the guy from the Center for American Progress was either clueless or dishonest about double taxation. Second, nobody seems to understand that balancing the budget is a simple matter of restraining the growth of government spending. I want deep cuts, but that’s not even necessary.

Read Full Post »

Here’s a very disturbing story I saw on Instapundit. A cop arrested a woman for the supposed crime of not getting off her own front porch. Apparently, the cop didn’t like the fact that she was observing – and perhaps even filming on her cell phone camera – a traffic stop. If there is any justification for what the cop did, it certainly is not apparent from the full story. What’s particularly disturbing is not just that the cop made a seemingly abusive arrest, but that a judge then convicted the woman. Libertarians instinctively will be skeptical of the government in this case, but I hope that view is widely share. Our Founding Fathers gave us a Constitution that limited the power of government, and there should be a clear and compelling reason before an individual is stepped on by the police power of the state. If you rob, rape, and murder, those are good reasons. Standing on your porch and filming a traffic stop doesn’t pass that test.

The resisting-arrest conviction last week of Felicia Gibson has left a lot of people wondering. Can a person be charged with resisting arrest while observing a traffic stop from his or her own front porch? Salisbury Police Officer Mark Hunter thought so, and last week District Court Judge Beth Dixon agreed. Because Gibson did not at first comply when the officer told her and others to go inside, the judge found Gibson guilty of resisting, delaying or obstructing an officer. Gibson was not the only bystander watching the action on the street. She was the only one holding up a cell-phone video camera. But court testimony never indicated that Hunter told her to stop the camera; he just told her to go inside.

Read Full Post »

Here’s another remarkable story illustrating the incompetence of government. A bureaucrat in Norfolk, VA, got paid for 12 years (including benefits) without ever showing up for work. Depending on the agency, this may actually have been a good thing (I wish IRS bureaucrats did this), but it certainly shows how taxpayer money gets wasted when nobody is accountable and there is no bottom-line incentive to use money effectively.

A Community Services Board employee collected a salary with benefits for 12 years and never showed up for work, several City Council members said Wednesday.

The head of the agency refused to identify the employee but acknowledged in response to inquiries from The Virginian-Pilot that an employee was “on the board’s payroll who had not reported to work in years.”

Maureen Womack, the agency’s executive director, said she fired the employee, informed the board that governs her agency and asked City Attorney Bernard A. Pishko to investigate the matter earlier this summer. Pishko’s investigation is nearly complete and will soon be turned over to the Norfolk police, she said.

Womack also refused to divulge the employee’s salary.

The council also was told in a recent closed meeting that at least one other staffer, a Community Services Board supervisor, is being investigated for alleged complicity.

…Councilman Tommy Smigiel said recent revelations about the Community Services Board employee and other matters, including the profligate use of a city credit card by the Commissioner of Revenue and the purchase of a cell phone with city funds for a gang member by an assistant to the city manager, are doing “serious damage” to Norfolk’s image.

Read Full Post »

I think I did okay in this debate, but my opponent wanted me to defend Bush and didn’t seem to get my point that I don’t like big-spending interventionists, regardless of whether they have a D or R after their names.

Read Full Post »

One of the many disappointing things about Republicans is that they fail to correct problems when they get power. After the 1994  “Gingrich Revolution,” the GOP had complete control of Capitol Hill. This meant complete authority over the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation. Did Republicans use this power to fire the old staff and put in people who understood economics? Of course not. I don’t know if this is because Republicans are stupid or if it’s because they’re too timid to take steps that would generate complaints from their enemies. Regardless, what really matters is that CBO and JCT are just as biased today as they were 20 years ago. Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Hudson Institute exposes CBO’s latest shoddy Keynesian analysis. She is correct, and the people making these same arguments 20 years ago were correct. And I’m afraid people will be saying the same things 20 years from now. Which leads me to think that maybe the best approach is to get rid of these bureaucracies.

…on Tuesday the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office issued a report showing that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 increased the number of people employed by between 1.4 and 3.3 million people in the second quarter of 2010 and lowered unemployment by 0.7 to 1.8 percentage points.

CBO concludes that without the Recovery Act unemployment, which stood at 9.5% in July, might exceed 10% and possibly be above 11%.

There’s just one problem. CBO’s latest figures are inconsistent with its claims of the effects of the stimulus bill when it was passed in February 2009. If its models failed to accurately predict the effects of the stimulus bill then, why should we believe the models now?

This is important because some are taking the CBO report as proof that the stimulus bill is working and so we need…more stimulus.

…After passage of the stimulus bill, in a March 2009 letter to Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, CBO predicted that the unemployment rate in the last quarter of 2009 would rise to 9% without the stimulus package, from its then-current level of 8.2%. With the stimulus, CBO said, the unemployment rate would range from 7.8% to 8.5%. The actual rate in December, 11 months after enactment of the stimulus, was 10%, far higher than CBO said it would be absent the stimulus.

…If Americans had known in February of 2009 that the $787 billion stimulus package (whose cost CBO later raised to $862 billion) would not lead to declines in unemployment, but instead a substantial increase in the unemployment rate to 9.5%, opposition to the spending would have been practically universal.

Put it another way – if Americans were asked now whether they would prefer today to have back the February 2009 unemployment rate of 8.2% and the $862 billion spent on stimulus, they would say yes.

Some say things would have been worse if the stimulus funds had not been spent. They assume that more government spending, including the $862 billion stimulus, must be good for the economy. This form of Keynesian economics fell out of fashion decades ago everywhere, except in the halls of power in Washington.

If more government spending always helped the economy, why stop at $862 billion? Why not give each American an unlimited bank account? Then the unemployment rate would likely rise to 100%. But some economists would still offer unverifiable models to “prove” the benefit to the American public.

Read Full Post »

I thought it was shocking when Senator Bennett of Utah was denied renomination, but I’m even more stunned that Senator Murkowski of Alaska is trailing her opponent in preliminary results from Tuesday’s primary. As the Wall Street Journal explained in an editorial this morning, this is a big sign that voters are not merely interested in electing big-government Republicans instead of big-government Democrats. They actually want leaders who will fight to limit government and expand freedom. After nearly 10 years of Bush-Obama statism, I’m very happy to see the American people still value liberty.

GOP Members of Congress who think they can return to business as usual if they regain the majority should pay attention.

The biggest shock came in Alaska, with incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski trailing unheralded challenger Joe Miller by roughly 1,700 votes with as many as 16,000 absentee ballots still to be counted.

…Though heavily outspent, Mr. Miller was helped by former Governor Sarah Palin’s endorsement and especially by Ms. Murkowski’s failure to understand the anti-Washington mood. When he asked Senator Murkowski in a debate which part of the Constitution permitted Roe v. Wade and bank bailouts, she responded that the nation might suffer if the government only funded things explicitly authorized by the Constitution. Bad answer.

Ms. Murkowski opposed ObamaCare but Alaskans punished her for her 2009 refusal to rule out a government-run health-care plan. She is learning the lesson that ousted Utah Senator Bob Bennett did: GOP voters don’t want their representatives to negotiate with President Obama. They’re looking for people who can defeat his agenda.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: