Monthly Archives: January 2009

USPS Looking To Cease Saturday Mail Delivery

In typical government (well, quasi-private) bureaucratic “sense”, a failing government service needs a bailout. Rather than face the music and look for ways to streamline their operation and improve efficiency, they just figure they’ll piss off voters quickly enough to get the sniveling, cowering politicians to hand over a few billion. They’re not saying that up front, of course, but believe me, that’s the goal:

The U.S. Postal Service may be forced to eliminate a day of mail service because the economic downturn has led to plummeting volume and revenue, the postmaster general said Wednesday.

Postmaster General John E. Potter, in testimony before a Senate subcommittee, warned of a possible worst-case scenario: eliminating the requirement to deliver mail six days a week to every address in America.

If the recession continues to hammer at USPS revenue, six-day delivery may not be possible, Potter said. Federal law has mandated the six-day schedule since 1983.

In fiscal 2008, total mail volume fell by more than 9 billion pieces – 4.5% -compared to the previous year, Potter said. And the agency suffered a greater-than-expected net loss of $2.8 billion last year, he added.

USPS is “a vital economic engine in our national economy,” Potter said, noting that USPS is the country’s second-largest employer and the mail affects both jobs and commerce.

“We could experience a net loss of $6 billion or more this fiscal year,” Potter told the subcommittee. That shortfall would exceed the Postal Service’s credit limit under current law.

“We believe that legislative relief is necessary to preserve the nation’s mail system,” Potter said.

Do you think the postal service really wants to cease Saturday delivery? I don’t. And they’re not throwing out terms like “bailout” quickly. They are asking for relaxation of the regulations meant to wean them off the federal teat; while it may or may not make sense, it’s slightly too far to call it a bailout.

But let me ask you a question… If the automakers, and the banks, and every other failing private enterprise can get bailed out, you think the USPS will give in? No, they’ll make a few noises about canceling Saturday delivery, the public outcry will begin, and Congressmen will be beating down their doors with checkbook in hand.

Maybe some people older than myself might remember the days where business success in this country was based upon performing at a level that exceeded that of your peers. Some unlucky souls — like me — delude ourselves into the belief that we can still succeed under those terms. Instead, we’re the asses bearing the load. Not only do we watch as our government rewards failure, we live under the knowledge that it’s our money paying for it.

Judge Demands Remorse From Criminal For Victimless Crime

In the year of my birth, Jimmy Carter actually did something good: he legalized homebrewing of beer. About 27 years later, I took advantage of that legality by beginning to do so myself, and have been enjoying the hobby ever since.

I appreciate the fact that it’s legal. While I’m not one to personally respect laws criminalizing acts which hurt nobody, I also prefer not to worry about getting locked in jail for what I’m doing.

Home distilling, on the other hand, isn’t legal. I’m not a big fan of hard liquor, so I’ve never tried it myself, but I know that I wouldn’t let some law stand in my way of distilling a liquor for my own consumption. Either way, though, it would be criminal.

Tennessean Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton, who’s likely been distilling liquor longer than I’ve lived, also doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong. He’s a remorseless criminal, and he’s headed to the clink for it*. In fact, his lack of remorse is part of his problem:

He gained fame through a book he wrote called “Me and My Likker,” as well as through Internet videos and cable TV documentaries in which he demonstrated how to make moonshine.

That notoriety may have harmed him in the sentencing hearing. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Reeves introduced several of the videos as evidence Monday, claiming they showed Sutton “flaunted criminal activity.”

The judge appeared to agree.

“Your moonshining is a violation of the law,” Greer told Sutton. “I don’t care how it is glamorized on the History Channel or the Discovery Channel.”

The testimony, he added, showed that “not only are you not remorseful for your criminal conduct, you seem to be proud of it.”

Now, I can’t speak for Sutton. But I can speak for myself. If homebrewing were illegal, and I was caught doing it, would I be remorseful? Not a chance.

Remorse makes sense when you’ve wronged someone. It doesn’t even need to be a criminal matter, if I say something unkind, or treat another person disrespectfully, I’m not a criminal — but I am remorseful. It is not difficult to break a law without remorse. If you’re at a deserted stoplight in the middle of the night, and there’s a “No Turn on Red” sign but you do so anyway, will you feel remorse if you’re caught?

Demanding remorse for committing victimless crimes is demanding fealty. It is demanding obedience to an unjust law.

I brew good beer. I like my beer. My family and my friends like my beer. If it were illegal, I would still be brewing, and that beer would be bringing pleasure to myself and those around me. Any law infringing on that deserves to be broken, and without a shred of remorse.

Hat Tip: TJIC
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House Republicans Grow Some Cajones

The big news isn’t the stimulus package just passed the House, but that Obama’s “bid to woo Republicans failed to convince even a single GOP member to join Democrats to back the bill.”

“I can also promise that my administration will administer this recovery plan with a level of transparency and accountability never before seen in Washington,” said Obama in a statement from the White House. ” Once it is passed, every American will be able to go the website and see how and where their money is being spent.”

I’ll not hold my breath on the transparency, as we still have no idea where a good chunk of money from the previous bailout went.

While I’m sure a handful of Republicans opposed the bill on principle, it’s at least refreshing for it to be politically expedient for the rest of them to cast a “no” vote on one of the worst fiscal bills of my lifetime.  Unfortunately, it seems the only way to get the GOP to pretend to be responsible stewards of our tax dollars is for the Democrats to be in control.

This bill can’t be considered a bipartisan bill with no Republican support (and 11 Democrats voted against it, too).  It’s your political hot potato now, Democrats.

More Government Spending Required to Stimulate the Economy? At Least 207 Economists Disagree

Notwithstanding reports that all economists are now Keynesians and that we all support a big increase in the burden of government, we the undersigned do not believe that more government spending is a way to improve economic performance. More government spending by Hoover and Roosevelt did not pull the United States economy out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. More government spending did not solve Japan’s “lost decade” in the 1990s. As such, it is a triumph of hope over experience to believe that more government spending will help the U.S. today. To improve the economy, policymakers should focus on reforms that remove impediments to work, saving, investment and production. Lower tax rates and a reduction in the burden of government are the best ways of using fiscal policy to boost growth.

[See full list of economists who disagree here @ Cato’s “Fiscal Reality Central”]

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