Monthly Archives: February 2010

Quote Of The Day

From The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude by Étienne de La Boétie:

Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces.

Hat Tip: Mises.org

Porkulus III Passes Senate With Republican Help

The Senate passed Porkulus III by a vote of 70-28 with 13 Republicans demonstrating their party’s new found fiscal conservatism by crossing over to vote with every Democrat present for the bill. Like the first Porkulus signed by George W. Bush in 2008 and the Porkulus II passed last year, Porkulus III forks over billions of borrowed dollars to fund various special interest projects and tax gimmicks in the name of “creating jobs”.

The gimmicks funded in this lastest round of Porkulus include a tax holiday for the remainder of the year on Social Security payroll taxes, but only if the company hires someone out of work for more than 60 days. In addition, Porkulus commits to billions in in more mass transit spending and more highway projects (ie. more pork barrel spending).

The Senate’s version of Porkulus must be sent over to the House where it must be reconciled with the House’s much more expansive $154 billion Porkulus bill. However, the Senate plans to pass more items in the House’s bill one at a time so that Senate Majority Harry Reid and other Democrat leaders can find out how much the prices of the votes of “fiscally conservative” Republicans are.

Included are proposed Senate bills giving away corporate welfare to ethanol producers, which is expected to be supported by farm state Republicans. In addition, there is another planned Senate bill to keep Americans out of work longer by extending unemployment benefits and COBRA.

The RINOs who supported Porkulus III today are:

Alexander (TN)

Bond (MO)

Brown (MA)

Burr (NC)

Cochran (MS)

Collins (ME)

Hatch (UT)

Inhofe (OK)

LeMieux (FL)

Murkowski (AK)

Snowe (ME)

Voinovich (OH)

Wicker (MS)

Kay Bailey Hutchinson (TX) deserves special recognition for not even bothering to show up to do her job and vote either way. While the other choices in the upcoming GOP primary for governor are not that great either with ex-Democrat and Bush acolyte Rick Perry and birther/truther Debra Medina, Hutchinson deserves some um…recognition for not doing her job today.

In addition, Richard Burr and Lisa Murkowski are also up for reelection this year and both of those politicians deserve recognition for their vote to add to our national debt and for more wasteful spending. Finally George LeMieux was recently appointed by Florida Governor Charlie Crist to the Senate seat. Crist is looking to join the Senate himself. Florida voters should keep this in mind when they vote on Crist’s promotion.

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 IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

The Lean Years?

It seems that a town in Northern California, Tracy, is having some budget problems. So what do they suggest? Charge for 911* calls! And it has aroused the ire of Thomas Friedman:

A small news item from Tracy, Calif., caught my eye last week. Local station CBS 13 reported: “Tracy residents will now have to pay every time they call 911 for a medical emergency. But there are a couple of options. Residents can pay a $48 voluntary fee for the year, which allows them to call 911 as many times as necessary. Or there’s the option of not signing up for the annual fee. Instead they will be charged $300 if they make a call for help.”

Welcome to the lean years.

Indeed, to lead now is to trim, to fire or to downsize services, programs or personnel. We’ve gone from the age of government handouts to the age of citizen givebacks, from the age of companions fly free to the age of paying for each bag.

Did I hear that right? Do we have a return to the Clintonian pronouncement that “The era of big government is over”, where Thomas Friedman has just suggested that we’ve seen the end of the “age of government handouts”? I suppose we’ll see a quick retraction from $3.8T federal budgets down to less exospheric levels.

Wait, let’s step back a bit. I’ve heard nobody else suggest that we’re going to see major cuts in budgets. So what exactly is the issue here? Why would a local government cut funding for something that is so highly visible, so near and dear to city residents’ hearts, and such a vital service? Particularly when I’m sure that the revenue raised by this move will not be exactly world-changing (I’m hearing numbers of between $400K and $800K, when the city is facing a $9M shortfall).

I was struck by something I’ve read over and over at Coyote’s place:

The second thing that governments do is cut their MOST important, MOST valuable operations. In Seattle, it was always fire and ambulance services that would be cut. Because the whole game was to find the cuts that would most upset the public to try to avoid the necessity of having to make cuts at all. Its an incredibly disingenuous process. Any staffer of a private company that made cost savings prioritization decisions like government officials would be fired in about 2 minutes.

It becomes immediately clear that the city of Tracy isn’t doing this to raise revenue — they’re doing this to piss off residents. An easier way to cut the budget would be to scour the books for non-essential services, or bloated departments, or redundancies and inefficiencies in their system. I would find it hard to believe that there’s no padding in the city government. I’ve worked in the corporate world, and I know that during times of heavy growth and good days for the balance sheet, departments sometimes grow fat and happy. But something happens differently in the corporate world when the balance sheets start bleeding red — the departments shrink.

Tracy does not want to cut their budget, and they don’t want to make hard choices. If they really wanted to raise $400-800K, I’ll bet they could find all sorts of hidden fees, taxes, regulatory compliance nightmares, etc to put together that money. But they want to bluff the residents into the false choice of paying more in taxes or seeing vital services taken away. They want local residents to make the tough choices — or maybe just scream to Sacramento or Washington for relief — so they can remain fat and happy.

Thomas Friedman suggests the lean years are upon us. Somehow I have a feeling that my tax bill and our federal debt won’t reflect this.

* Note — the charges don’t apply to every 911 call, they are targeted at calls where medical response is necessary but provided by city personnel rather than an EMT. This does not change the fundamental analysis of the situation, but I want to be clear lest someone suggest I’m not providing a clear picture.

Also Blogging: Bruce at QandO. He went a different route with his response, so I had no need to quote him, but his take is valuable as well, so I suggest you head over and give it a read. And of course there’s Russ Roberts at Cafe Hayek, who is much closer to my line of argument.

Ron Paul Wins CPAC 2012 GOP Straw Poll

It doesn’t necessarily mean much of anything, but I’ve got to admit that this libertarian was quite pleased to hear that Ron Paul won the straw poll at this year’s CPAC gathering in Washington, D.C.:

Ron Paul won the CPAC straw poll today, ending Mitt Romney’s streak and serving notice that about a third of the attendees at the gathering — and a good chunk of those driving the conservative revival — stand pretty well outside the Republican Party mainstream.

Still, Romney scored second at 22%, the only other candidate in double digits, and the results are a reminder of his pre-eminence as the establishment GOP and conservative frontrunner.

What there wasn’t: A groundswell for Palin, who didn’t show. She came in third at 7%, in a pack with Tim Pawlenty, Mike Pence, Newt Gingrich, and Mike Huckabee, in that order.

Full results:

Screen shot 2010-02-20 at 5.48.10 PM

If nothing else this does seem to show that libertarians aren’t sitting back and letting the conservatives run things.

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