“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Better Way To Pursue Infrastructure Spending

As the New Messiah's infrastructure pork barrel has rolled into Congress this week, conservatives everywhere worry about the waste and corruption sure to follow in its wake. Congress has already passed several hundred billion dollars worth of road and bridge spending bills following the collapse of the Minnesota highway bridge two years ago. How could we possibly still need even more of this spending?

As Frisco Nan and Harry Reid blathered about the necessity of this Federal spending orgy, my conviction that it is exactly the wrong thing to do has become ever stronger.

What else might one do if infrastructure repairs and improvements truly are necessary?

Well, other pundits have observed something that concerns me, as well. That is, states and municipalities find dozens of 'necessary' projects when someone else- the Federal government and other states' taxpayers- pays for them. In fact, in this sort of game, the winner is the one who loads up his request with the highest dollar amount of projects, since taxes from other states will be, in effect, paying for them.

Therefore, the best way to avoid the waste we've already seen in this infrastructure bill is to approach it in an entirely different manner.

First, make the originating state or municipal authority issue bonds for the projects. After all, if they are truly economic in nature, and will improve business volumes, add jobs, or otherwise improve and enlarge economic activity, then a bond issuance should make sense. If not, the project isn't worthwhile on its own merits.

Where the Federal government can help is to offer, for a price, bond insurance. By using an objective scoring mechanism for risks, costs and benefits, bond insurance could be provided less expensively by the Federal government, thus reducing borrowing costs for the local authorities. After that, the actual raising and paying off of the invested amount is in the hands of the requesting communities, as it should be. There's no reason why Federal money should be borrowed for local projects, when the locales can do the same.

In this manner, the Federal debt level doesn't rise, and only projects which communities feel they can actually pay for will be built. No ice skating rinks in Texas or prostitute service projects in California.

As it now stands, thousands of communities, and the states, are behaving like the spending authorizations are coming from somebody else's money. Which is ultimately not true. As citizens, we'll all be liable for repaying all of this dubiously-spent largess from additional Federal borrowing, or inflation-creating printing of more dollars to pay for these projects.

There is a better way to assure Americans that whatever infrastructure projects are put forth are truly economically viable. Shouldn't we try that, instead of wasting so many tens of billions of dollars of taxpayers' money?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

More Cabinet Embarrassment for The New Messiah: Tim Geithner's Tax Problems

More embarrassment and vetting failures for the New Messiah's team. It seems Treasury nominee Tim Geithner, besides having blood on his hands for his role in the failed Treasury actions of the past year, now has a more personal issue- nonpayment of taxes and failure to properly handle tax matters relating to household help.

Oh my!

Of course, Democratic Senators one and all claim it's irrelevant because:

1. The tax code is so darn complex (gee, I wonder why?) that Geithner can be forgiven for his 'mistake.'

2. Geithner didn't try to cheat, he just made a mistake. Honest!

3. The economy is so bad that we MUST overlook Geithner's personal judgment lapses and confirm him anyway.

Wow. Doesn't this sound like how dictatorships begin? Rules and other conventions are set aside in light of the 'emergency.' A man on horseback is required. No one else will do. We must simply suspend normal conventions and judgments.

But, there are two big problems with this attitude.

First, Geithner received special treatment already. How many of us believe that, were we found guilty of Geithner's sins, but not in line to become a cabinet member, we'd be afforded such amnesty?

Second, it will permanently damage Geithner's credibility in his prospective new job. How can we trust the judgment of a man who either was not sufficiently intelligent to correctly interpret tax laws in his personal situation, or decided against, though being paid well, hiring a competent accountant to advise him on said matters?

If the argument is that he isn't that intelligent, then he shouldn't have the Treasury job.

If the first objection is simply ignored, then we have to consider his intent. That is, maybe it was deliberate. Or deliberate dismissal of his needing to observe rules and laws applying to everyone else.

You know. Those little people. The people who aren't Tim Geithner, important financial sector hotshot.

From such small beginnings do large problems grow.

Isn't it rich that, while publicly displaying a desire and attempt to become President before being sworn in, in a manner never before seen, the New Messiah is concomitantly stumbling badly on cabinet choices?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

More Congressional Embarrassment By Harry Reid's Democrats

You have to love the melodrama being displayed by Harry Reid's Senate.

First he refuses to seat Roland Burris, the duly-appointed hack from Illinois, to replace the party's newly-elected First Rookie President.

In a move calculated to give heartburn to every Democrat of national stature, the about-to-be-impeached Governor Blagojevich stuck his thumb in the eye of the President-elect and his own state's party officials, appointing Burris over everybody's objections. No general election, as many Illinois legislators demanded.

Back in Washington, Reid foolishly refused to seat Burris, claiming the chamber's right to determine who is qualified to sit.

Too bad for Harry that Burris is black. That only made the situation look racist, in addition to just plain stupid.

You see, back in the late 1960s, New York's Harlem Representative, Adam Clayton Powell, was refused a seat in the House because of his involvement in a bribery scandal. The case went to court, and Powell won.

So Reid fell back on something more tangible than just Blago's tainted appointment. He demanded the Illinois Secretary of State's certification of Burris.

But....this created a collateral problem.

Minnesota Democrat and Senatorial election thief Al Franken was heading to Washington to be sworn in, at the urging of his state's still-sitting Senator Amy Klobuchar. But....with his Republican opponent, Norm Coleman, suing over the many shady ballot decisions in the process of robbing him of his several hundred vote victory over the challenger, Franken can't be certified.

So, when Reid demanded Burris' certification, he pulled the rug out from under Klobuchar and Franken.

You can't make this sort of amateur-hour theatre up. No, you have to watch Congressional Democrats in action.

At least the entertainment is free, once you've paid your taxes.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Frisco Nan Guts Minority Protections In The House

Friday's Wall Street Journal chronicled a quiet change by Frisco Nan Pelosi, Speaker of the House, in the way the chamber will conduct business.

As John Fund wrote,

"Gone are term limits for committee chairmen, a big comeback for seniority over merit. Cost containment measures on Medicare, one of the fastest growing programs, are simply suspended for this Congress.

Tax increases now will be easier to pass, because opponents will not be allowed to offer a simple motion to strike any increase without making up for the "lost revenue." In addition, tax cuts are made more difficult, because they cannot be offset with spending cuts. The new rules will mean that the only way to push for a tax cut will be to propose a tax increase elsewhere.

Democratic leaders said these changes were needed to make the legislative train run faster. "Congress has to accomplish things," said Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern of the Rules Committee. "This is designed to help us do just that." "

So much for debate in the People's House, eh? As Fund noted, it wasn't always this way. Only five years ago,

"Mrs. Pelosi used to see things differently. Back in 2004, she unveiled a proposed "Bill of Rights" to protect House minority interests. It called on Republicans to allow more meaningful substitutes to bills, give members enough time to read bills before final votes, and stop holding roll-call votes past the normal 15 minutes. She had a point. In late 2003, Republican leaders held open a roll-call vote on the Medicare drug entitlement for three hours until they bullied enough wavering members into voting aye.

Mrs. Pelosi warned in 2004 that "When we [Democrats] are shut out, they are shutting out the great diversity of America." We want a higher standard." In 2006, just before becoming speaker, Mrs. Pelosi reiterated her plans to promote "bipartisanship" and "to ensure the rights of the minority." "

Now we know that Frisco Nan only likes minorities of the liberal Democratic sort. Other minorities, such as whites or conservatives, have to be blown out of the way of Congressional 'accomplishments.'

Of course, there is a price to be paid. Remember all those centrist candidates from the Heartland that incoming Presidential chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, recruited to run for the House? Well,

"Ironically, some of the biggest losers from the Pelosi rules changes will be fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats. The "pay-go" rules they fought so hard for two years ago -- to require new spending proposals be balanced with additional revenue or cuts elsewhere -- have been gutted. And no term limits will mean they will have to stand in line for a taste of real power.

"All those nice pro-life, gun-owning young Democrats recruited to run by Rahm Emanuel will never have any real influence now," says Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform. "They were useful in getting Democrats a majority but now they'll be in the back of the bus." "

Hhmmm....I wonder how long those new Democrats will be around? Either they'll have to defend the policies passed by Frisco Nan with which they don't agree, or they won't defend them and, what? Switch parties? Be defeated?

This is looking positively delicious for conservatives in the House over the next two years.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ayn Rand Comes To Life In 9 More Days!

In the past few months, my business partner and I have been tossing Ayn Rand's name around a lot. We both see the evolving governmental reaction to our recent and current economic challenges as beginning to resemble all too-closely Ayn Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged.'

We are not alone.

In Friday's Wall Street Journal, Stephen Moore voiced all my fears, and then some. Like my partner and I, he first thought it really couldn't happen now, like this.

But Moore recounts the book's tale of governmental seizure of the ownership of Hank Reardon's new metal for 'the public good,' comparing it to Hank Paulson's mandatory purchase by Treasury of stakes in America's largest banks.

He also pokes fun at various real names of Federal programs- "Emergency Economic Stability Act," "Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act," and, now, the New Messiah's own "American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan"- for sounding like the book's "Anti-Greed Act" and "Equalization of Opportunity Act."

It's a little too scary to be laughing at, isn't it?

After all, the First Rookie's nattering about paying higher taxes to help unskilled waitresses 'just because,' is precisely the kind of baseless socialism of which Rand warned. Appropriating assets and revenues from you and me because we may have talent and work with it to earn our own rewards. When the President-elect frowns on that, and, instead, tells you it's your solemn duty to pay more taxes simply to enrich the less-fortunate, we're surely on the brink of Rand's novel as reality.

Moore points out how liberals hounded Rand and her book from its publication, but, he writes,

"As recently as 1991, a survey by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club found that readers rated "Atlas" as the second-most influential book in their lives, behind only the Bible."

Further, the current president of the Atlas Society, David Kelley, says there are now plans to make the book into a major motion picture.

Too bad Coop is dead and can't reprise his work in "Fountainhead."

Moore ends his piece by quoting Kelley,

"We don't need to make a movie out of the book. We are living it right now."

Thank God it ends on an upbeat note, albeit after much national pain and suffering.