Monthly Archives: May 2009

Governments Collapsing In Tough Economy

In the Wall Street Journal today, an article is published that details how cities are disincorporating as a result of the declining economy. Cities are dissolving themselves in order to escape city union contracts, among other things.

As the recession batters city budgets around the U.S., some municipalities are considering the once-unthinkable option of dissolving themselves through “disincorporation.”

Benefits of this move vary from state to state. In some cases, dissolution allows residents to escape local taxes. In others, it saves the cost of local salaries and pensions. And residents may get services more cheaply after consolidating with a county.

In Mesa, Wash., a town of 500 residents about 250 miles east of Portland, Ore., city leaders have initiated talks with county officials about the potential regional impact of disincorporating. Mesa has been hit by a combination of the recession and lawsuits that threaten its depleted coffers, leaving few choices other than disincorporation, said Robert Koch, commissioner of Franklin County, where Mesa is located.

Two California towns, Rio Vista and Vallejo, have said they may need to disincorporate to address financial difficulties; Vallejo filed for bankruptcy protection last year. Civic leaders in Mountain View, Colo., have alerted residents that they are left with few options but to disincorporate because the town can’t afford to pay salaries and services.

Incorporation brings residents a local government with the ability to raise money through taxes and bond issuances. It also gives them more control of zoning decisions and development, and usually provides for local services such as trash pickup and police as well.

On the national level, the Federal government would simply cease to exist. You’re probably wondering that’s not possible. Well, given the extreme financial conditions of borrowing nearly 50 cents of every dollar spent, fighting two wars, having massive entitlements like Social Security and Medicaid that cannot be funded at current levels of taxation, having government expand at unparalleled levels, and the fact that Americans are already spending nearly half their income in taxes and other compliance costs as is; perhaps the Federal government may have to disincorporate.

The problem is cultural, we Americans have never learned to live within our means. That’s why we have the credit crunch and that’s why we have these outrageous government programs we can’t fund. We need to have a serious discussion about the role of government and how we should pay for it.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at The and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

California Supreme Court Upholds Proposition 8

After I listened to the oral arguments of the California Supreme Court’s hearing on Proposition 8 and gay marriage, it seemed pretty obvious that the Court would find, based on state law that had nothing to do with the gay marriage issue, that Proposition 8 was a proper amendment to the state Constitution.

And, it turns out I was correct:

The California Supreme Court upheld a ban on same-sex marriage today, ratifying a decision made by voters last year that runs counter to a growing trend of states allowing the practice.

The decision, however, preserves the 18,000 marriages performed between the court’s decision last May that same-sex marriage was lawful and the passage by voters in November of Proposition 8, which banned it. Supporters of the proposition argued that the marriages should no longer be recognized.

Today’s decision, written by Chief Justice Ronald M. George for a 6-to-1 majority, said that same-sex couples still have the right to civil unions, which gives them the ability to “choose one’s life partner and enter with that person into a committed, officially recognized, and protected family relationship that enjoys all of the constitutionally based incidents of marriage.” But the justices said that the voters had clearly expressed their will to limit the formality of marriage to heterosexual couples.

This is hardly the end of the issue for either the nation as a whole or California specifically. Despite the setback in California, same sex marriage is now the law in Iowa and Vermont, and is close to becoming law in New Hampshire. At the same time, the groundwork is already being laid for yet another referendum in California that would seek to overturn Proposition 8 — that is likely to be on the ballot in either 2010 or 2012 depending on how the petition drives go.

This is far from over.

Quote Of The Day

From our newly-named nominee to the Supreme Court:

I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.

Three problems with this:

1) Who is to say that the experiences I have, as a white male, aren’t rich?
2) Why do the proper adjudication of questions on law change based on the “richness of experience” of the judge?
3) What is a “better conclusion”? According to whom?

About the only way that such a statement makes sense is if you assume that the role of a judge is more “nuanced” than simply to apply the law dispassionately and predictably, but rather to enforce “social justice”. I am, of course, not surprised by such a conclusion from one of this administration’s nominees. But I’m a little surprised that it’s stated this blatantly.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall in the fights that Sotomayer will have with Clarence Thomas.

Hat Tip: Jonathan Wilde @ The Distributed Republic

Let’s get some freedom watched on Fox News

A bunch of us are trying to get Judge Andrew Napolitano’s online program Freedom Watch into a televised slot at Fox News. According to an e-mail I received from Judge Napolitano’s colleague Shelly Roche, the Fox producers are telling her the two most important things we can do are “flooding Fox with emails and showing high view counts on the videos.”

If you don’t blog, but would like to see more libertarians on national television, please quickly e-mail Fox and let them know you’d like to see the Judge get his own TV slot.

If you’ve got a blog, you can help out even more. Details are here.

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