Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Random Thoughts on a Wednesday

* A recent Blade editorial praised the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Passed by Congress and signed by the President on Monday, it expands government control over the production and marketing of tobacco products.

We all know that smoking is bad for you - but so are a lot of other things. If this product is so bad for you that government has to mandate huge warnings on the package (as if we didn't already know the facts) why not just go ahead and make the things illegal?

Because politicians (and anti-smoking advocates) know that they cannot outlaw smoking - which is what many would like - because the public would revolt. So they attack it incrementally, removing a bit of freedom here, a bit of freedom there ... all under the guise of 'promoting public health.' They know what's best for you and so they'll take things slowly until one day when you'll wake up and wonder how government was able to mandate what you eat, drink and consume.

Of course, they're also counting on the revenue taxes on these products generate - a bit of irony, don't you think?

* Congress has passed the 'cash for clunkers' provision which, in case you haven't heard, would confiscate tax dollars from everyone in order to subsidize the purchase of new vehicle for some. Now, you only get the subsidy if you're trading in a 1984 model or later for a vehicle that gets at least four miles to the gallon more than the one you're trading in.

It's no surprise that liberals love this new law...but here's the problem. The old vehicles have to be scrapped. What, you ask? That's right. The old vehicles cannot be resold or traded, they must be destroyed.

This means that people without the financial ability to purchase new cars will no longer have older cars in the market. When you reduce supply, but the demand stays the same, the prices go up, making it harder for people in difficult economic times to actually afford the transportation that everyone says is key to getting and maintaining a job.

Liberals, of course, love the fact that the cars will no longer be consuming more gasoline than they think is proper. But the 'poor' people they constantly claim to want to 'help,' will be worse off in the long run.

And then there is the unintended consequences of the law. If a dealership must scrap the traded-in vehicle, it has no value to them. They're not going to give you a fair market value for the car with the hope of re-selling it for a bit more in order to make a profit. No - because they cannot re-sell it, you're only going to get what the government is willing to pay you for the vehicle. And that amount may be significantly (at least in these economic conditions) less than what the dealer would normally offer prior to the law taking effect.

Government has now interfered again in the free market - substituting their social agenda for the fair trading of goods.

And they claim we're not heading toward socialism....

* Lucas County Commissioner and Toledo mayoral candidate Ben Konop submitted an op-ed piece to the paper, which they published. It touts his idea to take savings from privatizing the county life squad transportation services to create a scholarship fund so people in Lucas County can go to college for free. Well, almost free, because they'd have to 'give back' to the community by performing one hour of 'service' for every $20 of scholarship they get.

As I've said before, if there are savings to be had in county government, let's look at them. Konop has previously suggested a work week of four 10-hour days. I think it needs to be considered - along with any other money-saving ideas. Gather the facts, evaluate the proposals, and, if they can result in the same level of service for less cost, go ahead! Don't wait until there is agreement on how to spend the savings before creating the savings in the first place.

Of course, Konop's ideas are NOT about savings for tax payers. They're all about how to get his ideas implemented, which is why you haven't seen any of his potentially good cost-savings ideas go anywhere.

Side note: he likens the area to a "sinking business lacking in forward-thinking leadership" and says, "We're speeding in a car toward the edge of a cliff, and all anyone cares to do is argue over which radio station we're listening to."
Actually, Ben, the car speeding toward the edge of the cliff is government spending and your idea is just more of the same. So who's really playing with the radio?

* We all know how Mayor Carty Finkbeiner likes to read articles about other cities and then try to duplicate their experiments here...Well, I just hope he hasn't seen this, or this yet.

* In case you missed it, Justin's got a great clip of mayoral candidate Keith Wilkowski and Vice President Joe Biden. Apparently, Wilkowski was being so disruptive that Biden called it a 'conniption fit' in finally calling on him.

* Thomas Sowell is one of my favorites. In his column today, he starts with: "Even if the "stimulus" package doesn't seem to be doing much to stimulate the economy, it is certainly stimulating many potential recipients of government money to start lining up at the trough." So true - so true....

(And this column is also an excellent rebuttal to Konop's scholarship scheme, though I doubt Konop would heed any of it...)

7 comments:

navyvet said...

Mini Ben is everywhere...in the Blade. He shows up more than Dilbert!

His approach remains the same...say a lot and say nothing at the same time. His Clarence Frogman voice is a hoot.

He speaks of his many accomplishments and yet he has accomplished nothing...except perhaps the free Tarta schuttle..Cosi/Zoo/TMOA...wonder how that is going?

The only real thing he has "honestly" accomplished is breaking his word...twice...serving a full term as County Commish...and running a clean campaign for mayor (while remaining on the County payroll.) He has made some inane comments and charges against his opponents. He gets away with it because there is no follow up by media.

Maggie Thurber said...

Navyvet - I just read the paper's review of the forum last night - mentioning Ben first and then the 'also rans...'

I think the editor is afraid that his golden boy won't do so well, which is why they're promoting him so much.

I think their support is a sign of his weakness...at least, in this race.

navyvet said...

I think the Blade is riding a horse with "two flat tires."

Ben is like Dennis Kucinich "lite."

Hooda Thunkit (Dave Zawodny) said...

Maggie,

Although I missed last night's fiasco, I will watch the posted replay shortly (because I have an unnatural fascination with train wrecks)

From what I've been hearing though, the candidates have adjusted/adapted to the format, which has rendered it as no longer useful...

DeeDee Liedel said...

While no formal proposal has been made to the EMS Board or the individual entities that actually host a life squad, I have to venture in to the discussion of privatizing the Life Squads:

While Mr. Konop is targeting Mayors Brown and Wagener as 'playing politics' the reality is that he has not fully comprehended (or perhaps does not care) what his proposal means to the communities who host Life Squads. Under his proposal, the Sylvania Township Fire Department stands to lose approximately 10% of our budget; Toledo Fire Department would lose over $3 million; and Oregon, Maumee, Springfield Township, and the Village of Waterville all stand to lose $650,000+ of revenue.

I'll admit that we would no longer have to staff the Life Squads, however, our current union contract does not base staffing levels on whether or not we have a Life Squad. We potentially stand to lose the revenue but have to maintain the staffing. Even without the Life Squads, we have to consider what is a safe and effective staffing level for our communities, and we would have to do so without significant revenue that we have been receiving for years (albeit, the contract for Life Squads has not increased in amount in 4-5 years).

Clearly, this would affect our ability to provide EMS and fire services to our communities. How would we deal with this loss of revenue? Decrease services or increase revenues, those are the only two options.

So while Mr. Konop would be sending local high school graduates and unemployed workers to college without raising taxes, those of us who have taken on the obligation and commitment to our communities of hosting Life Squads would have to raise taxes or cut services.

Maggie Thurber said...

DeeDee - I appreciate your perspective and think the information you present would be critical to evaluating whether or not to privatize the service. Of course, we've not even gotten to the point that citizens have voted to fund this particular service through a portion of the sales tax imposed in the county.

But it is my belief that there will never be a good discussion on the pros and cons of privatization, since the only reason it's being suggested is to fund Konop's hairbrained idea of 'free' college education.

Once he realizes that the taxpayers don't want to have government continue to take money from the producers just to give it to someone else in the manner a politician wants, he'll drop the whole privatization idea.

Mad Jack said...

Well, this brings back a few memories:

Many were bright enough but often gave the impression that they would rather be somewhere else, doing something else. Some of their teachers also thought that they should be somewhere else, doing something else.

During my first semester of teaching, my grading standards caused most students like that to transfer out by the second semester.

Oh Hell yes! Why can't we get a few more like this man in universities?

When I was in college, way back in the old days before the ball point pen and the electronic calculator ruined the experience, I dared to complain about my English class. I met with the head of the English department, who turned out to be an affable, unassuming man of some forty years and complained I wasn't learning anything. After some discussion he inquired after my grades.

"What kind of grades are you getting?"

"A's."

"I beg your pardon?"

"A's. I'm getting A's in the class. Last week I got an A minus, but the instructor couldn't defend his criticism of my paper."

"Ah, heh, well... I see. Are you on scholarship?"

"No. I'm a cash customer. Understand?"

As it turned out, he did. What followed was an explanation about what should be happening and a request to major in English. My point is that once the clowns were re-routed to marketing and management classes and the losers dropped out to devote time to their work-study programs in alcohol abuse and felonious assault, classes got a lot more interesting. My grades dropped slightly, but I was really learning instead of being bored all the time.

So I'm wondering if I could go back to college under Ben Konop's free education for everyone plan. Any thoughts or suggestions? And remember, I'm not getting any younger here.

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