Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year's Eve!

As we say goodbye to 2010 and look forward to 2011, let us remember that freedom requires vigilance to maintain - and that it is far easier to defend against an invasion of an enemy force than it is to defend against the encroachment of our liberties by our government and elected representatives.

"Coercion by government, the main fear of our founding fathers, is now its most common attribute." ~ Philip K. Howard

"Civil libertarians must often remind government officials (and others) that if the First Amendment only protected the expression of popular and agreeable ideas, it would be totally unnecessary since those ideas would never be threatened by our democratic form of government. Our society's commitment to free speech is tested when we encounter the expression of ideas that are disagreeable -- or even offensive." ~ Timothy Lynch

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ice boating videos

We spent the day ice boating and I wanted to share some video that we took. This first one is Sam on the runner plank with our friend Josh Kerst sailing Ragtime, the Renegade that my father built. It should be noted that riding on the plank is not really the best way to ice boat, but Sam wanted to be able to show people what it's like and that is pretty hard to do when you're actually sailing and working on that whole 'safety first' aspect.

This second video was taken by our friend Scott Decker. He's sailing Ragtime now and his son, Matthew, is in our DN for his second solo ride.

I think they give you a good idea of what it's like to sail across hard water. Sam's pretty sure they hit 50 mph - and it would have been more if he hadn't been on the plank. You'll also note after watching both of them how much less 'bouncy' the ride is when you're in the seat of the Renegade like Scott, than when you're on the plank like Sam was.

This is how I spent my winters growing up and it's nice to see our nieces and nephews and our friends' children learning and enjoying as well.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Tracking Santa and 'A Christmas Story' on Christmas Eve!

Each year, we do an open house on Christmas Eve for any family and friends who are in town. We know that many people have plans for Christmas Eve, and sometimes it's just a few of us - but other years, it's a full house. And that's what Christmas is all about for us - spending time with family and friends, enjoying their company and laughter around good food and drink.

One of my personal joys is something I discovered several years ago - NORAD Santa Tracker. I open up my laptop and put it on the official NORAD Santa Tracker page and we watch as Santa makes his way across the globe. My great nieces and nephews - and our friends' children - all enjoy knowing where he is. There's a learning component as well, as you can click on his stops and get information about the place and some of their traditions.

If you've not shared this with the children (of all ages) in your family, I hope you will as it's lots of fun.

Of course, that competes with the movie "A Christmas Story" which TBS airs repeatedly beginning at 8 p.m. tonight. While "The Princess Bride" is my all-time favorite movie (which was on last night), "A Christmas Story" is my all-time favorite Christmas movie - primarily because it captures the memories all of us have of a special toy or gift we once wanted ... and the machinations we went through to let our parents know as well as the anticipation of finding it under the tree on Christmas Day. If you've never seen "A Christmas Story," I hope you'll watch it with your family tonight or tomorrow.

Besides - it's got some of the best one-liners, making it great for adults as well as kids.

Whatever you do tonight or tomorrow, I hope you, too, will do it in the company of those you love.

Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Filling in on WSPD

Save the date! I'll be filling in for Brian Wilson on Wednesday, December 29th from 3-6 p.m. You can join me at 1370 AM or you can listen live via the Internet.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

On federal authority to do whatever they want

In light of the FCC's ruling 'granting' the federal government (i.e. themselves) the ability to regulate the internet, I thought these two quotes particularly timely:

"With respect to the words general welfare, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and nlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators." ~ James Madison

"The power of the legislative being derived from the people by a positive voluntary grant and institution, can be no other than what that positive grant conveyed, which being only to make laws, and not to make legislators, the legislative can have no power to transfer their authority of making laws, and place it in other hands." ~ John Locke

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Jacob letter to alumni over union dispute on UT reorganization

This letter was sent to University of Toledo alumni from President Dr. Lloyd Jacobs. It includes a link to the court ruling denying a request for an injunction on the reorganization requested by the union representing UT faculty:

To Alumni:

Over the past week or so news reports have talked about a request by the UT- AAUP, the union representing the University's faculty, for an injunction to maintain the status quo while a grievance by the union over the University's Reorganization Plan is processed.

The Reorganization Plan merges the Judith Herb College of Education and the College of Health Science and Human Service and reorganizes the College of Arts and Sciences into three colleges. The new Colleges are the College of Visual and Performing Arts, College of Natural Science and Mathematics and the College of Language, Literature and Social Science. The Honors College and the College of Innovative Learning have also been created. Additionally, twelve interdisciplinary schools have been created.

Most importantly, the reorganization will, we believe, make the University more accessible to students, parents and other stakeholders. We believe it will create synergies that will enhance our creativity. We will always keep students in our minds as we make changes, valuing highly our commitment to student centeredness.

On December 13, 2010 Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge Gary Cook denied the request of the UT-AAUP allowing the reorganization to move forward. Should you wish to read Judge Cook’s ruling, please click on the link below.

It is important to see this occurrence in broader context. The world of Higher Education is changing rapidly. The University of Toledo is committed to staying relevant and therefore must change. Indeed, our desire to be in a leadership role for the region and nation requires flexibility and responsiveness. While I am saddened that the exchange between the Faculty and the Trustees and President took place in a courtroom, the exchange itself was healthy and addresses issues that all of Higher Education is facing.

I will continue to communicate with you our valued UT alumni about the ongoing reorganization and all of the exciting events going forward at your University of Toledo.

Happy Holidays.

Lloyd A. Jacobs, M.D.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Our founding principles transcend time

In an email from The Cato Institute:

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, together, address mankind's most basic political questions. Resting on a firm moral foundation, they articulate the first principles of political organization. Thus, they were meant to serve not merely the 18th century but generations to come, which would face those same basic questions, whatever their particular circumstances, whatever their state of material progress. Because the principles the Founders articulated transcend both time and technology, they will serve us well as we move through the 21st century, if only we understand them correctly and apply them well.

This is why we should always look to the basic principle of an issue - not the issue itself or whether a potential governmental action is 'needed,' 'wanted' or a 'good idea' before acting on it.

Of course, Thomas Jefferson also realized that not only would the Constitution give us a foundation, it was written to prevent unlimited power for a governmental structure, thus ensuring that the basic principles would be adhered to over time.

"I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground: That 'all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people' (10th Amendment). To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specifically drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible to any definition."

Do you agree?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Refraining from raising taxes is not the same as cutting them

There's been a lot of talk about the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, the fact that they expire at the end of the year and the President Barack Obama-Republican plan to extend them for two years while also providing an extension of federal unemployment.

The description many opposed to the extensions have used is 'tax cuts for the rich.' I've already blogged (insert link) about how it's not about the 'rich' but about small business owners...

But the rhetoric around this subject isn't just about the tax 'cuts.' It's indicative of general bureaucratic - big government thinking.

The key point to understand is that refraining from raising taxes is not the same thing as a tax cut.

If you are not charged more for your water usage, you are not getting your water bill cut - or reduced.

If a gas station fails to raise the price from $2.75 to $3.00, you have not had a 'cut' in your gas price.

If you continue to pay your babysitter $4.00 per hour instead of raising it to $4.50, you've not 'cut' her pay.

This is the same thing that is happening with the current tax rates. Yes, they were lowered - FOR EVERYBODY!!! - in 2001 and in 2003. But these rates have been in effect now for 10 years. If Congress doesn't raise them back up, they are not giving a tax cut.

But if you follow the failed logic of politicians and bureaucrats, you can understand why they may think so.

Too many times, we've seen this accounting gimmick. For example:

An agency or department has a budget of $100 million. For their next year's budget, they request $125 million. But members of the legislative authority (Congress or a state legislature or a city council), debate setting their budget at $115 million. All of a sudden, everyone is talking about the fact that they just can't live with a $10 million cut.

Now, if you paid close attention, you'll see that they're actually getting $15 million MORE than what they had previously. That's just common sense to anyone who bothers to note the starting point. Unfortunately, it works to the advantage of politicians and bureaucrats to try to portray the situation as a $10 million cut rather than a $15 million increase.

And, sadly, too many Americans go along with the non-logical reasoning.

This is what is happening with the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. Those opposed are saying that government cannot afford NOT to have that money. But they've been 'going without' for 10 years now - and the lack of those funds in the hands of the government rather than in the hands of the people who earned it, really hasn't stopped Washington from spending recklessly or doing whatever they wanted anyway. And it won't change now.

The current tax rates should be made permanent - not just extended for another two years. All an extension does is move the discussion into the future and allow Congress to continue the status quo instead of addressing the real problems of their massive debt and failure to curtail spending as they should.

***Aside: The Ludwig Von Mises Institute also makes the same point about the correct description of the pending tax hikes not being a 'cut.'

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hardened criminals and college co-eds

No - it's not a porn movie, though you might question the intent after reading this....

It's actually a college-level program designed to bring college students and incarcerated individuals together as equals to discuss various issues. It's called the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program. According to their website, it:

"...increases opportunities for men and women, inside and outside of prison, to have transformative learning experiences that emphasize collaboration and dialogue, inviting participants to take leadership in addressing crime, justice, and other issues of social concern."

It came to my attention thanks to an article in our local paper (link) about the class being sponsored by The University of Toledo and the Toledo Correctional Institute. The paper said four other colleges in Ohio also offer the program.

From the program website, we learn about the purpose and coursework of the class:

Inside-Out brings college students together with incarcerated men and women to study as peers in a seminar behind prison walls. The core of the Inside-Out Program is a semester-long academic course, meeting once a week, through which 15 to 18 “outside” (i.e.: undergraduate) students and the same number of “inside” (i.e.: incarcerated) students attend class together inside prison. All participants read a variety of texts and write several papers; during class sessions, students discuss issues in small and large groups. In the final month of the class, students work together on a class project.

Inside-Out is an opportunity for college students to go behind the walls to reconsider what they have come to know about crime and justice. At the same time, it is also an opportunity for those inside prison to place their life experiences in a larger framework. Inside-Out creates a paradigm shift for participants, encouraging transformation and change agency in individuals and, in so doing, serves as an engine for social change.

Through college classes and community exchanges, individuals on both sides of prison walls are able to engage in a collaborative, dialogic examination of issues of social significance through the particular lens that is the “prism of prison.”

But the newspaper article gives you a different sort of view:

"Inside-Out instructors prefer to be called "facilitators" rather than professors, because they start the class with ice-breaker exercises to spark talking and laughing before student-led discussion begins. Lucas County Assistant Prosecutor Dean Mandros and University of Toledo Interim Dean of Students Michele Martinez were among the civic leaders, university administrators, and prison personnel to participate in the final session Tuesday that started with questions such as, "What is your most embarrassing moment?" and "How would you like to improve yourself?"

After the exercise, participants sat in a circle and were asked how the exercise made them feel. Answers ranged from anxious and overwhelmed to comfortable and enlightened."

How they "feel"??? And here I thought college was all about learning how to think critically.

Having worked with the criminal justice system during my political career (as a clerk of court and as a county commissioner), I'm familiar with many types of rehabilitation programs. As a member of a criminal justice committee for the National Association of Counties, I was particularly interested in re-entry programs, so I'm supportive of the efforts to not only help incarcerated individuals when you have them as a 'captive' audience, but also the need to provide specialized assistance upon their exit from the system to reduce the likelihood that they will re-offend.

So I don't want to criticize a program based upon what I read in our local paper, which doesn't have the most stellar reputation for sharing all the facts. But the majority of Toledoans - and others who may read this - will do just that. And the impression is not good, especially when it includes quotes like this:

Liz, a University of Toledo senior majoring in political science, said she isn't curious about the crimes that resulted in her classmates' imprisonment. The experience left her reconsidering law school, in favor of furthering her education to teach in the prison system.

"All I see are people, and all I see are great people," Liz said. "And I don't want to ask that, I don't want to know. You don't have to know someone's past to know them."

Really? Your past is what forms who you are today. But this student, for some odd reason, professes not even curiosity about what her 'classmates' may have done to get them into TCI.

Interestingly, 949 of TCI's 1165 inmates are classified into level 3 Close Security (1 is minimum and 4 is maximum security). I couldn't find any listing on the Dept. of Corrections website that details what types of crimes get a person placed in Close Security, but considering it's one step down from Maximum, I'm pretty certain it includes crimes of violence.

And while the classroom setting inside the prison may be a relatively 'safe' environment, I would be cautious of someone if I knew that their past crime involved murder, or rape or assault. That would certainly make a difference to me and how I handled myself around the individual.

And it apparently matters to others, as well. From the comments on the article:

"What exactly are they learning? According to this article they discuss polictical and social issues for credit. The ice breaking questions sound like therapy not college class. This is a joke. The inmates are just gathering mental porn for when they go back to their cells and the girls get to brag about how they hang out with criminals to make their parents nervous. What a waste"

"Send your daughter to college... she can meet a convict. I believe in rehabilitation as much as the next guy, but; no thanks."

"Does getting perps and co-eds together to play pictionary serve a clear, distinct purpose in the education of either? Really? The wrap-up was prisoners singing love songs and students reciting anti-prison system poetry and stories about "getting close?" The nice thing about this is that it relieves me of the nagging need to return my alumni appeal gift."

"Forget the fox watching the hen house
Just bring the little chickies to the foxs den!"

And if you're a parent paying for your child's education, is this what you expected from a political science class? Or better yet, how many of the participants got federal grants or loans using taxpayer money? While this isn't the worst of classes I've seen offered, it certainly doesn't inspire confidence, especially when the newspaper highlights this:

Before the conclusion of the course, a prisoner sang and performed a love song on the keyboard, and a college student read a poem about the flaws of the prison system.

Our educational system has serious flaws - and I know our penal system is far from perfect. But I don't believe that this type of program is the way to address either of those issues, especially when the focus is on feelings rather than critical thinking and acceptance rather than discernment.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Top 10 worst economic myths

Every year the Business & Media Institute reviews the year's news and comes up with their top 10 worst economic myths. Here is their 2010 list:

10. GM Repayment Shows Taxpayer Bailout Worked

9. All the Economy Needs is More Stimulus

8. Soda is Like Cocaine and Ads Cause Obesity

7. Obama the Tax Cutter

6. The Tea Parties are Astroturf, but Green Groups Aren't.

5. Despite Largest Budget in History, Obama is Fiscally Conservative

4. Lack of Press Freedom in Gulf Doesn't Point to Obama

3. Nearly 10 Percent Unemployment Isn't So Bad

2. ClimateGate? What ClimateGate?

1. The Chamber of Commerce is Taking "Secret Foreign Money" for Election

For details and background on why these items made the top 10 worst economy myths list, see the full article here.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Should ethanol subsidies be on the chopping block?

I'm not in favor of governmental subsidies in any form for numerous reasons - starting with the fact that they're unconstitutional, to the interference in the free market, to the fact that they're used to extract favors and votes for politicians. As subsidies for ethanol are set to expire, I thought this, from the Cato Institute was very timely:

Lawmakers have until December 31 to decide on extending tax subsidies for corn-ethanol, and support for the once-popular biofuel appears to be wavering. So should taxpayers subsidize ethanol? Cato scholars Jerry Taylor and Harry de Gorter have looked at all the evidence and argue that the most commonly offered rationales -- that ethanol reduces harm caused by our reliance on foreign oil and a host of air pollution problems -- do not hold up to scrutiny.

Ethanol: Let Protectionism Expire, by Harry de Gorter and Jerry Taylor
The Ethanol Tax Credit -- It's Worse Than You Think, by Jerry Taylor and Harry de Gorter
An Economic Critique of Corn-Ethanol Subsidies, by Jerry Taylor

I hope you'll encourage lawmakers to oppose further subsidies for ethanol - and all other industries.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Quote of the Day

"As the Founding Fathers knew well, a government that does not trust its honest, law-abiding, taxpaying citizens with the means of self-defense is not itself worthy of trust. Laws disarming honest citizens proclaim that the government is the master, not the servant of the people... The Bill of Rights does not grant rights to the people, such that its repeal would legitimately confer upon government the powers otherwise proscribed. The Bill of Rights is the list of the fundamental, inalienable rights, endowed in man by his Creator, that define what it means to be a free and independent people, the rights which must exist to ensure that government governs only with the consent of the people." ~ Jeffrey R. Snyder

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Core philosophies shape our paths

I enjoy getting a 'founders quote daily' in my email inbox from The Patriot Post every morning. More often than not, it makes me stop and think about what the wise men who bequeathed to us this great nation were thinking.

Today's quote made me stop to think about a core difference between those who value freedom above government and those who value government above freedom.

"As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust: So there are other qualities in human nature, which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form. Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us, faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be that there is not sufficient virtue among men for self-government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another." ~ James Madison, Federalist No. 55, 1788

This is a core philosophical perspective and, depending on where you stand, will lead to completely opposite decisions.

If you believe that man will care for his neighbor in times of trouble, you don't seek to have a government program to do just that. If you believe that man is capable of making good decisions, you don't seek to make them for him. If you believe man will do what is right, you don't seek to mandate that of him.

Now, obviously, I'm talking about generalities for we are all human and certainly aren't perfect - and we know there are bad apples in every bunch. But we also know that making mistakes allows us to learn lessons that prevent similar mistakes in the future - thus we develop the skills and knowledge to survive better. And Madison acknowledged such when he explains that our republic presupposes the better qualities exist at a higher degree than other forms of governance - not that the worst of qualities don't exist at all.

Those who don't believe in such things - or who believe the worst of man outweighs the good - will seek a larger role for the government to, as Madison explains, 'restrain' us from devouring each other. But this is a fundamental difference in what is thought to be the role of government.

Our founders believed they were instituting a government to protect our individual liberties. That means a government would have the authority to establish laws dealing with the infringement upon those liberties, imposing penalties for such infringements - laws against theft, harm, etc. At the core of their thought was the individual's inherent (not given by government) right to life, liberty and the pursuit (not the attainment) of happiness.

They didn't establish a government to protect us from all harm because such protection is impossible, especially when done by our own hand. They didn't establish a government to do for us what we should do for ourselves and each other - only to do the things we could not do individually - like protect the nation from invasion by others.

Contrary to the perspective some would have you believe, our founders (and those who support their positions today) are not anti-government as they - and we - believe there is a proper role for the government. But determining that proper role depends upon your view as Madison describes it: one of trust in one's fellow man or one where you believe a government of despotism is the only thing that can give us a 'proper' society.

This goes right along with Benjamin Franklin's quote: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Too many Americans today believe that their own security, temporary as it is, is something to be traded for their individual liberty - and it's not just with the Transportation Security Agency.

Some today are willing to give up economic liberty for the promise of future care. That's what Social Security is - every person mandated to pay to the government an amount that is, in most upcoming cases, not going to result in being paid back out to us in the future - or, if it is, paid out at less than what we could have accumulated for ourselves individually.

Many gladly give up their medical liberty for the promise of 'all bills being paid' by the government. Of course, that also means that government gets to make the decisions about what costs you can incur, requiring you to cede your freedom to make such decisions to the bureaucrats hundreds of miles away.

The list goes on: intellectual freedom, educational freedom, freedom to make mistakes...all among the growing numbers of liberties too many are trading for not even a temporary safety, but just an often empty promise of safety.

And it all goes back to what you believe, as typified by Madison's quote.

I cannot help but wonder where men like are founders are today. If we had to establish a new country, would we have the wisdom and fortitude to create one as successful as what we have? Or are we too far gone down the road to despotism?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

FDR's Pearl Harbor Address to the nation

Today is December 7th, known forever, thanks to the speech by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as a day which will live in infamy. From American Rhetoric, here is his speech to the nation:

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph -- so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.

Monday, December 06, 2010

The 'broken window fallacy' of federal extensions of unemployment

The federal government is debating how to pay for the planned extension of unemployment benefits. While there is much talk in the news about 'whether or not to do it,' the real question is how to pay for it, as it appears many Republicans are very likely to support it if they can make cuts elsewhere to cover the millions of dollars it will cost.

So you're probably wondering where a broken window fits into all of this. Before we get there, it's important to understand how unemployment insurance works in the first place - as that is critical to the discussion.

In Ohio, employers are charged/mandated by the state to pay into a fund a specific amount based upon what they pay their employees. Being 'insurance,' there are actuarial tables and estimates, etc... to determine the rates. The state bases their rates on projections of how many people will be unemployed and for how long. Because they administer the program, the state then processes requests for the insurance payouts based upon an unemployed individual's earnings and length of time employed and pays out for up to 26 weeks.

This expense on behalf of the state is covered by what employers have paid.

The federal government, on the other hand, has no specific income to cover what they have been paying out over and above what the states have given. The federal government has been paying for up to 53 more weeks of unemployment under their Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program. That's a total of 99 weeks.

But that's not all. Ohio also has an Extended Benefits program which paid out another 20 weeks for people who'd still not found a job after 99 weeks. That program was, according to, 100% funded by the federal government.

So where did the federal government get the money to pay 73 weeks of unemployment to everyone in the country who didn't have a job? That's a good question, considering that the federal government is, essentially, broke. Obviously, they borrowed to come up with the money - which means that we (and our children and grandchildren) are paying the price of today's giveaways.

Of course, the 'logic' in Washington is that this handout is really 'economic development.' Just last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said (again), that unemployment compensation creates jobs.

"It injects demand into the economy, it creates jobs to help reduce the deficit," Pelosi said.

At least she's being consistent in her error as back in October she claimed that food stamps and unemployment insurance will grow the economy and help end the recession.

And here is where the broken window fallacy becomes so relevant. The broken window concept is part of an essay, "That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen," written by Frederic Bastiat in 1850. Lew Rockwell Jr., chairman of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, summarized Bastiat this way:

A kid throws a rock at a window and breaks it, and everyone standing around regrets the unfortunate state of affairs. But then up walks a man who purports to be wise and all knowing. He points out that this is not a bad thing after all. The man fixing the window will get money for doing so. This will then be spent on a new suit, and the tailor too will get money. The tailor will spend money on other items, and the circle of rising prosperity will expand without end.

What's wrong with this scenario? As Bastiat put it, "It is not seen that as our shopkeeper has spent six francs upon one thing, he cannot spend them upon another. It is not seen that if he had not had a window to replace, he would, perhaps, have replaced his old shoes, or added another book to his library. In short, he would have employed his six francs in some way which this accident has prevented."

You can see the absurdity of the position of the wise commentator when you take it to absurd extremes. If the broken window really produces wealth, why not break all windows up and down the whole city block? Indeed, why not break doors and walls? Why not tear down all houses so that they can be rebuilt? Why not bomb whole cities so construction firms can get busy rebuilding?

It is not a good thing to destroy wealth. Bastiat puts it this way: "Society loses the value of things which are uselessly destroyed."
So for every dollar the federal government takes from working people to give to non-working people, that is a dollar that is not spent in the economy.

Even if you believe that working people should have their money taken from them and given to those who don't work, you cannot believe that the economy will be better off, since you're not creating any NEW spending - just changing WHO is doing the spending.

And the expense is actually LESS because government has taken a percentage off the top to cover its costs of taking and re-distributing.

Politicians are trying to tie the unemployment extension to ending the expiring tax cuts for the 'rich.' First of all, the claim that those tax cuts 'cost' the federal government is a fallacy in and of itself.

The federal government has nothing that it hasn't first taken from someone. I find it incredulous that federal politicians think it 'hurts' the government to not have these funds but don't care one bit about how it may hurt the person from whom they're taking the funds.

And lest you begin to believe the class warfare distortion, the vast majority of the 'rich' that are impacted by the current proposals are small business owners whose loss of those funds, especially in this economy, will definitely hurt the individual owner and their ability to hire and expand - or even stay open.

Even if you support the idea of the government taking more from some people than others, you cannot escape the logic that it will not improve the economy to move the money from one spender (the current owner of the money - the 'rich') to another (the end recipient - the unemployed).

Is it true that people who are unemployed with spend whatever the government gives to them? Yes. That is true. It is, as Bastiat explained, what is seen.

But it is also true that the people who've had the money taken from them, in order for the government to give out unemployment compensation, will NOT spend. They won't be purchasing items they wanted, so there is no new demand. This is what Bastiat explains is unseen.

The back and forth in Washington over the issue is political posturing. But the basic economics of the idea are irrefutable - and just common sense. You cannot improve the economy by taking from one person, deducting your percentage and then giving to another - nor can you expect that more goods will be produced, more demand will be generated and the economy will grow by taking such action because you've eliminated a corresponding action from the person who had their money taken from them in the first place.

So if the logic is faulty why are they employing it? Because if they tell the truth the American people won't support it.

While it's a declining percentage, a slim majority still pay the bills for everyone else and too many of that majority are hurting themselves. Individuals who've lost jobs and have taken a new one at less pay don't want to foot the bill for those still not working. And they shouldn't have to. Many do choose to help by giving to food banks and other charities, or by helping to support a family member. But that is a choice - not something being forced upon them through penalty of law as taxation is.

So the politicians will twist the words and present fallacies hoping we, the American public, will either be so greedy as to not care who isn't getting money so we can have some - or that we won't be knowledgeable enough to know the truth.

And then they'll come back to us in two or four or six years and tell us how grateful we should be for what *they* did for us. Logic will be trumped by emotion - and the economy, and our own individual situations, won't be any the better for it.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Observations from UN-COP16: indoctrination

Thursday in Cancun for the UN Climate Change Conference, we visited their Green Village. As we waited for the doors to open, we were in line with quite a lot of school children – primarily in the 10-14 age range. The exhibits made for a great field trip for kids – except for the message.

As we entered the first exhibit area, we were greeted by an interesting display showing the sources of fuel/energy over the time that man has been on earth. It started with fire and wood for the cavemen and ended with today’s sources of oil, water, nuclear, wind, solar and coal. Included in the timeline was the population for the various time frames.

What was missing was context. Why did we see such an explosion of population numbers as we became more advanced as a society? What enabled people to stop being nomads and live year-round in colder areas? What technology gave us the ability to not worry about gathering wood or water and to build houses and hi-rises for housing?

Energy sources for machines and heating/cooling; coal and steam that are much more effective and efficient than wood and open fires; oil and electricity from coal or nuclear – these are what has allowed us to be where we are today. And, without having to worry about such things and warmth in the winter, we have focused on other technological advances and have grown our families and population.

But that wasn’t being explained to the children. They were being shown has the evil energy sources have led to overpopulation and an ‘attack’ on the planet.

The next exhibit was a world map on a large board. You would press a button in front of one of the energy sources and boxes next to each nation would digitally display what percentage that nation used of that particular source for their energy. France, it was no surprise, had the highest percentage from nuclear power. Mexico, if I remember correctly, had the highest percentage usage of oil. The United States, according to the map, got about 20-30% for a number of sources.

But clearly, there was a problem with the map, so we were told, as not one nation got more than a minute percentage of their energy from wind or solar or other ‘renewable’ sources. Some didn’t even register a full percentage point. The exhibit wanted you to conclude that the use of readily available and proven sources was a bad thing while the non-use of wind and solar was a problem to be corrected.

The common sense conclusion from the exhibit is that various nations use what they have a natural abundance of – Mexico using oil; the US using coal and Iceland using geothermal. France, without an abundance of natural energy sources developed their nuclear power grid. After all, when people look around for a way to improve their lives, especially since the days of the cave men, they don’t look to other continents – they look around and find, then use, what is available to them.

This could have been a great lesson in creativity and ingenuity that led to our industrial revolution and today’s comforts. But the children weren’t there to learn to think critically about such things so they could come to a common sense solution. They weren’t even there to understand why wind and solar aren’t more dominate. They were being a taught a political message and, being children, appeared to be learning it eagerly.

Perhaps the scariest exhibit I saw was one done by children. It consisted of great pictures that they’d done all displayed on the walls of the booth along with two large globes of the earth.

***Aside: I took a nice video of a young lady by the name of Stephanie explaining this project that her school did, but my videos were corrupted in the download process.

Stephanie, who spoke very good English, explained the ‘let the children speak’ exhibit, pointing out the differences between the two globes. The first one was very black – black buildings, dark colors, and lots of garbage and pollution all over the place. The shores of the continents were marked by cigarette butts, paper, wrappers, plastic bags, etc… In the Pacific Ocean, there was a huge ‘raft’ of aluminum can tabs. There were very few animals.

The second globe was very green and had beautifully-colored oceans. There were no hi-rises, lots of trees and lots of animals of all kind. Stephanie explained that one globe represented where we are today and how man has contaminated the planet by tearing down trees and polluting it. The second globe represented how the planet could be with houses powered by solar panels on the roofs and a restoration of extinct animals and more trees. When asked where she thought the world was today, she said somewhere in between.

But I was curious – as she should have been – and asked her about the lack of buildings on the future globe. I said that Mexico has millions of people and many of them live in cities in apartment buildings and hi-rises. I asked where all those people would live on the future globe. Either she did not understand my question due to the language barrier, or she didn’t know how to answer this common sense issue. She explained the hi-rises contaminate the planet because you have to cut down the trees in order to build them, but that people in the future globe would live in houses powered by the sun. She explained that we needed to stop cutting down our trees.

When I said that it didn’t seem like enough houses for everyone, she had no response. By that point, I decided my next question might actually produce a scene because I could only wonder how many more trees would have to be cut down to build one- or two-story houses to contain all the people who now live in hi-rise apartments. All those houses would have a much large impact on the number of trees to be cut down than a single apartment building. That common sense perspective – the innate curiosity that should have led to Stephanie and her fellow students wondering the same thing – was missing. But the political message was very clear.

There were actually two problems with this exhibit. One was the merging of issues like pollution (garbage) and conservation with the global warming scare tactics. The second was the indoctrination.

I’ve yet to meet someone who believes it is okay to pollute the planet. No one wants to see garbage by the side of the road or on the beach. Preventing such an outcome really has nothing to do with whether or not the temperatures of the earth are rising due to man’s actions. But again, that common sense observation was absent. But to the believers, common sense and critical thinking are not wanted as they might result in a challenge to the political message. This is indoctrination of young minds so eager knowledge that they soak up whatever authority figures, like teachers and the state (but I repeat myself), tell them. There is no context of opposing views – at least, not without derision and ridicule – and no encouragement of their natural curiosity, lest they ask a question that challenges the ‘consensus.’

And this is our biggest problem. President Ronald Reagan once said ‘the problem with Democrats isn’t that they’re wrong – they just know so much that isn’t true.’ If don’t stop trying to tell our children *what* to think, we will soon end up with a society that doesn’t know *how* to think. And when that happens, we are all doomed.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Observations from UN-COP16: UN over USA, unemployment vs. green energy

As we drove along the main route to the United Nations global village yesterday, we noticed this woman standing on the median and waving the peace sign at passing motorists.

While we were not able to stop and speak to her, we all thought the placement of the UN flag above the US flag must have been symbolic.

Yes, we recognized that this was our own interpretation, and we discussed whether or not her nationality might be a factor in the message she was trying to convey.

But in the end, just like other motorists passing by and seeing the display, we had to judge for ourselves and I believe the placement of the UN flag above our own is a message that we, the United States, should be subjugated to the UN. And I cannot and will not support that.

Strangely, this concept seems to permeate the thoughts of many across the globe. 'The US must sacrifice for the greater good of the world.' 'The US government must forcibly take money from its citizens to pay for things the UN believes are needed.' 'The US must be brought down a notch or two - its success as a nation isn't "fair" when other nations are suffering.'

Of course, some of these thoughts are found among our own citizens and, increasingly, among elected officials.

The problem is - we are successful as a nation for a reason. No matter how much any other country or governmental body like the UN tries, they will not experience similar successes unless they adopt the principles of freedom, liberty and free markets that we have.

Sadly, people like our president and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton believe that the best way to *help* other nations is to throw money at them. Our money.

As I wrote previously, the current plan is to give the UN $100 billion (yes, billion with a 'b') of our tax dollars so 'developing' nations can pursue 'alternative' energy. Never mind that most of these alternative energy programs are not cost effective to begin with - even here in the USA where they survive currently only because of massive federal (meaning our tax dollars) subsidies.

And even if you are in favor of alternative energy and using tax dollars/legislation to prop it up for or force it on people, doing so in other nations cannot be a priority over the other items on the agenda of our lame-duck Congress. Right now, the House of Representatives is discussing extension of unemployment benefits. The Democrats want to give more money to the unemployed and the Republicans are asking 'how do we pay for it because we have no money.'

Now, I'm not saying spend money we don't have on the unemployment benefits rather than the transfer of our wealth to other nations based upon the false conclusions of junk science, but shouldn't those who want the spending for the unemployment be insisting upon that as a priority instead of giving the money away to companies and governments of other countries? Is there no sense of priority for the American people over the rest of the world?

Obviously not - or perhaps the argument will be that both are equally important and the 'rich' need to pay for all of it. But when you have limited - or in our case right now - NO funds, limitations need to be imposed. Without money - and I don't mean money borrowed from the Chinese - we cannot do everything, no matter how much we *want* to. And it's time the American people and our representatives understand that fact.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Live from Cancun - AFP Hot Air Tour - Part 2

apologies for any misspellings ...


Ohioans Gena Bell and Nita Thomas from Cincinnati are part of the activities here in Cancun - they've already done their skype broadcast to conservatives in Cinci.

Tim Phillips is speaking:

* started the Hot Air Tour to highlight how the left and the environmental movement efforts with Cap-and-Trade would lead to less jobs, higher energy prices and less freedom.

* we're winning the war against these draconian measures, thanks to the American people who have spoken loudly about what a bad idea this is.

* we now see that what they've failed to do legislatively, they're going to try to do through regulatory means via unelected bureaucrats in the EPA.

* the other purpose for today's efforts in Cancun is to highlight the hypocrisy of the people who want all of us to give up our luxuries while they don't - everything from big homes to SUVs to private planes and limos.

* the idea of rationing was promoted just before this conference began - showing a short video to emphasize the hypocrisy. While promoting rationing for us, they held a beachside fiesta with no rationing whatsoever.

* we also don't want Americans to forget the disasterous impact these policies will have on us. Mentioning Hillary Clinton's $100 billion transfer of wealth from us to developing nations to help them meet global warming goals.

* It's one thing for me (Tim) to talk about this - it's another to hear from Americans who know the impacts on real people.

Glenn Callas from Hot Springs, Arkansas:

* shocking to see how many Americans don't have a clue about what's going on. People are making decisions that will hurt my business - and you business - to address a cause based on junk science.

* there is a direct cost to us for these environmental policies - gas prices, according to the Congressional Budget Office, could double. If my gas prices go up, my profits go down and, in this economy, that could put me out of business.

* but it's not just the direct costs, the costs of materials (indirect costs) will also go up. Every piece of material has to be shipped and it will cost more to do that.

* and then there's the cost of compliance - forms and rules and regulations - paperwork that we have to complete.

* and that doesn't even get to the cost of failing to comply - the cost of enforcement and the fines if you don't cross your t's and dot your i's the right way.

* we cannot afford this - we need to stand up for freedom and capitalism and for the principles that made our nation great!

Tim Phillips:

* complimenting James Inhofe from Oklahoma - shared a video with us since he couldn't be here personally -

Sen. Jim Inhofe:

* describes himself as the top watchdog against the Obama Administration efforts on global warming regulations.

* emphasizing how the EPA had taken over the push to implement the negative policies that Congress cannot pass.

* He said in Copenhagen last year that, under no circumstances, would cap-and-trade pass in the Senate. I was right...and I couldn't be happier and Al Gore couldn't be more depressed that nothing is expected to come from the meetings here in Cancun.

* Kyoto protocol was "the first step toward creating one world government" ... it's one of the greatest hoaxes every perpetrated on the American people.

* we must continue to be courageous in this fight and in restoring the American Dream and turning around our economy.

Andrew Breitbart: (has book coming out called "Righteous Indignation")

* glad to be part of these 'hysterical shenanigans'

* amazing to see what's happened in the last 2 years - not about the science, but about the narrative. New media has started to fill in the void about what the American people really think.

* main stream media describes the tea-party movement as extreme, even though a vast majority of Americans agree with tea-party issues.

* media paints the majority opinions as 'extreme' and outside the norm...they are controlling the narrative - but that is changing.

* not an expert in global warming. But I don't need to be an expert to know that they are speaking in language intentionally designed to confuse and they're not saying anything worthwhile.

* they use peer reviews to justify each other and denigrate anyone who dares to question and hold them accountable.

* Gore's movie "Inconvenient Truth" was destined to receive an Oscar and Pres. Obama was destined to win the Nobel Prize just to show that they do control the narrative. But then along come bloggers who help expose the lies and hypocrisy and dare to point out that the emperor has no clothes.

* spent some time at Ariana Huffington's 8,000 square foot home, heard them talk about their private jets and they don't really want to change their lives to help the environment - why don't they use (as I asked in my earlier blog post - great minds....)

* Then came Phlem McAleer and his movie "Not Evil, Just Wrong" to point out all the errors in Gore's film. And adds that it's not about environmentalism - it's about capitalism...

* Compares that film to "Avatar" - the two things you see from the left is a desire to take the United States down a peg (militarily and economically). "Avatar" was anti-military and pro-environmentalism.

* Got a call from handler of James Cameron inviting him to a debate on global warming. Said 'good - we're finally able to engage where we've never been able to engage before.'

* We wanted to put it on film, but Cameron said audio only... Then we realized that they wanted us to back out so they could claim we were chicken ... So the rules continually changed all the way to the point of changing the topic from does the problem exist to what are the solutions?

* Of course, we said how do we discuss particular solutions to a made-up problem? At the last minute, Cameron backed out. And we called him out on it on

* After the fact, we learned that Rusty Humphries also agreed to do the same thing (debate James Cameron) earlier in the year only to have Cameron cancel that event as well.

* The joke is getting old - we have to take them on and make sure we make it not fun for them to show up to these events and promote their lies.

* Take your cameras and ask a simple question of these delegates: Do you have a message to tell the United States? When they answer, they will degrade our nation, our military and our people and that will expose their lies for what they really are.

Tim Phillips - introducing the UN Global Village (which I'll be blogging about later when my video uploads), and the American pavillion - paid for by your tax dollars.

****To Watch live:

from the video: we ought to ration the number of UN conferences these people can take on our tax dollars.

* today is the 40th birthday of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

* last year in Copenhagen, the head of the EPA, cheered on by bureaucrats from around the world, said, "even without congressional action, the EPA was going to change the way America works."

* The left has told us where they're going - we need to believe them. They're going to push through the cap-and-trade legislation that you stopped by promoting rules and regulations that accomplish the same thing, despite the opposition of the American people.

* urges everyone to call their representatives and tell them not to let the EPA take over the responsibilities of the duly-elected representatives in Congress.

Live from Cancun - AFP Hot Air Tour

apologies for any misspelling ...

I'm sitting in one of the ballrooms of the CasaMagna Marriott in Cancun as part of Americans for Prosperity's Hot Air Tour highlighting the outrageous costs of implementing the United Nation's recommendations regarding global warming.

Tonight, we'll have Glenn Callas, a businessman and activist from Arkansas, Andrew Breitbart, and Tim Phillips, president of AFP Foundation. They'll all be talking about the negative impacts of the proposals being discussed here in Cancun to address what many are still billing as 'the most serious threat to mankind that exists today.'

If you're a reader of my blog, you already know my opinions on the subject. Tonight I'll be blogging the discussions and highlighting some of the details that help me to come to the conclusion that global warming is so NOT about the temperature of the earth but definitely about controlling our lives and our behavior, along with transferring wealth from people like us in America to, well, everyone else.

In fact, facing massive deficits and fights in Congress over the lack of funds to extend unemployment - again, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has recommended that the United States spend $100 billion of our tax dollars to pay for developing countries to cut their own energy emissions in order to stop global warming.

We're about to get started so refresh for the next update.

Tis the season and nativity scenes abound in Mexico

My husband, Sam, travels often to Mexico as his clients have facilities in that country. One of the things he's noticed over the years is the open display of nativity scenes during the Christmas season and the "Merry Christmas" greeting extended to others.

Upon arrival at my hotel here in Cancun for the UN climate change conference, I was able to witness this display first hand as the centerpiece in the lobby was a huge, beautifully lit Christmas tree with an almost life-size nativity scene next to it.

This shouldn't be a surprise in a country where Roman Catholics comprise 89% of the population (according to Wikipedia). But as an American who is seeing a constant assault on such religious displays in the public domain because they have the gall to 'offend' someone, it is a welcome site.

Even though my church (the church of Christ) does not celebrate Christmas as Christ's birth, I like the open display of a person's faith. The Mexican government has not sanctioned these displays, nor have they opposed them. As a result, businesses like this hotel are not concerned with whether or not a person takes offense at the display, nor are they worried about being sued for it. They have put it out and if you don't happen to like it, you don't have to look at it - or you can go to a different hotel if you choose.

Perhaps those who oppose such displays in the United States could learn something from the Mexicans and show a bit of the 'tolerance' for other peoples' religion that they expect for themselves.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Did you know there was a climate change conference going on?

I'm sitting on my balcony overlooking the hotel pool and the Caribbean Sea answering emails when I come across one from a friend who was surprised to learn there was a UN climate change conference going on. The next email was this article from The Business and Media Institute:

Cancun vs. Copenhagen: Have the Media Forgotten About Global Warming?

A Year after broadcast network-hyped U.N. Climate Change Conference in Denmark, same networks don't even mention same event in Mexico.

Crickets chirping

That's the sound you would hear if you were looking for any sort of broadcast media coverage on site at the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference going on now in Cancun. A survey of the broadcast networks over the week leading up to the Cancun event and two days into it shows it hasn't even been mentioned on any of the evening news broadcasts, morning shows or Sunday morning public affairs programming.

However, the same event hosted in Copenhagen in 2009 was all over the radar of the broadcast networks. A similar survey of the same programming leading up to Copenhagen show five reports about the event, with ABC and NBC having reporters on-scene at the conference.

So what happened? Do the media finally getting it about climate change and the United Nations' conference? Or are they just reluctant to cheer-lead alarmism about climate change with a sour economy and lower poll numbers for President Barack Obama?

It's a good question. The article details the coverage and the optimism of so many news anchors and show hosts over last year's conference, but notes that nothing is really expected from this one. The article then explains, perhaps, why the media isn't paying too much attention:

But the most amusing commentary on the Cancun climate summit came on 'Fox News Watch' on Nov. 27. Host Jon Scott referenced 'Red Eye' host Greg Gutfeld's attack on the entire concept of global warming and a psychoanalysis some University of California-Berkley professors offered on alarmism.

"So climate change experts finally got the message and the message is their message reeks," Gutfeld said. "In fact, their scare-the-hell-out-of-us screed was so awful researchers claim that it actually undermined their mission, which I always thought was to scare the hell out of us. But according to Cal Berkeley shrinks, dire predictions about global warming can, quote, 'backfire if presented too negatively,' end quote. Of course, that raises one question, how do you offer dire predictions positively? Hey, we're all going to die, LOL?"

Gutfeld went on to reference other over-hyped 'scares' like the coming ice age, the dangers of nuclear power, artificial sweeteners and DDT. He noted the ad hominem attacks on those pushing back against global warming alarmists but declared these 'shrinks' had it wrong. Global warming isn't an issue the public should be worrying about at all.

"Worse, with global warming, we saw that anyone questioning that hysteria would be labeled a skeptic and treated like a leper,' Gutfeld continued. 'But the ClimateGate scandal proved that inevitably these cocky experts would overstep the science, get humbled, retreat into therapy. Have you seen Gore lately? So now finally shrinks are saying these experts should rethink their messaging. But, no, the shrinks are not telling experts to stop exaggerating consequences, instead, start offering solutions too. Meaning, just assume your lies were right all along and push those curly light bulbs. That ain't going to work either. The jig is up."

We'll see. Tomorrow morning I'll be at the entrance to the conference where I hope to get interviews with attendees and I'll ask them if they've noticed the lack of coverage, too.

What's better for the environment?

I'm on a plane, flying to Cancun to join Americans for Prosperity in their Hot Air Tour during the United Nations conference on climate change. (I love the free internet service Delta is offering through the end of the year!)

As we've learned in various news reports, some of the people at this conference want to impose taxes on some countries - like America - in order to pay other countries. We're supposed to 'pay' for the privilege of using the energy we produce. Who are we supposed to pay? Well, the UN, of course, who will then use our money to pay for their programs.

Now, they say this is all to help the environment because we should be scared to death over their predictions of the temperatures rising a couple of degrees. Personally, having left snow showers and below freezing temps on the first day of December, I really wouldn't mind a couple of extra degrees now and then.

But my wants are certainly not anything the UN concerns itself with - it only cares about the wants of the bureaucrats that run it. And they want control - control of production and manufacturing, control of funds, control over our lives because, as we should know, they're so much more qualified to make decisions for us.

So these bureaucrats and control freaks are gathering in Cancun to 'save the environment' from certain destruction caused by man.

Now, as I'm on a plane flying to Cancun, I suppose some would find it hypocritical of me to condemn others for flying to this conference. However, I'm not one of those who believe that man-made warming is harming the environment. Yes, I do believe in global warming. I also believe in global cooling. Living on the edge of Lake Erie, I'm very familiar with the glacial grooves on our islands and know that at some point in time, this area had to have been cold enough for glaciers to exist here. Common sense also dictates that, since there aren't any glaciers here now, the temperature has clearly warmed.

The earth is a magnificent thing and it has cycles it goes through that cover centuries, so what little impact we may have on the temperature certainly won't make a difference one way or the other. Besides, the temperature was much warmer in the Middle Ages and there was no manufacturing to blame it on, so....

Which leads me to my point. All the people participating in the UN Conference believe man is to blame for the temperatures and they have various proposals and taxes and treaties and rules they want to impose to limit the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Yet nearly all of the participants are flying to this event.

So what would be better for the environment: to expend a bunch of carbon to attend in the hopes of coming up with something everyone will agree to in order to limit carbon - or to participate in an electronic format so no one would have to expend the precious carbon they want to regulate?

I believe the latter is better - especially with today's technology.

We've all seen the commercials touting the connectivity provided by the internet. We have distance learning websites that allow students from all over the world to join a class taught by a professor at a university we'd never be able to attend in person. advertises almost non-stop, promoting the ability to hold a meeting with any number of people anywhere.

So why can't the UN use this technology to hold their conference - especially a conference devoted to addressing the 'devastating' impact of carbon dioxide on the environment? If the participants really cared about the environment and reducing their carbon footprints, wouldn't they be demanding the use of such available options?

Well, if they're not hypocritical, they would.

Instead, they're taking a junket to a resort area to discuss how they're going to impose draconian measures on the rest of the world. Correction - on countries like the United States, because, according to too many at the UN, some countries are more equal than others (thanks, George Orwell).

Again, using common sense, I look at the very existence of a conference in Cancun and conclude that it's really not about the environment, so it must be about control. And being the independent, conservative/libertarian, tea-party supporter, personal responsibility person that I am, I'm 'offended'!

Well, actually, I'm much more than that, but 'offense' seems to be the thing that so many seem to care about these days.

Over the next several days, I'll be trying to ascertain just why it is the conferees are really at this meeting. Do they really believe man is to blame for a slight change in the earth's temperature and that developed countries need to pay a tax so that non-developed countries can continue to develop without restrictions? Do they really think that those of us who don't believe man is to blame are akin to heretics for having the temerity to doubt and/or question? Why did they travel if they're so concerned about the amount of carbon in the atmosphere? Would they be willing to participate via internet and would they lead a charge for doing such meetings electronically in the future? Do they really think that laid-off Americans should pay billions (collectively) more for energy just to prevent the temperature from rising a fraction of a degree? Do they believe we need to turn to a World War II type of rationing as one scientist has suggested?

What happens if the scientists are wrong and nothing man does impacts the temperature in any discernible way?

These are the questions I have and I hope some of the attendees won't be afraid to answer these questions - after all, I'm not Phelim McAleer.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Live from Cancun: Bureaucrats gone wild!

Yes, it's a catchy headline invoking thoughts of crazy spring breaks and outrageous behavior. But I believe it's a fitting title for the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 16) taking place in that city today through December 10th.

*** Aside: At least they picked a place where it isn't likely to snow - wonder if they banned Al Gore?

And what, exactly, will the bureaucrats be doing in Cancun? Besides lounging on a beach, that is?

Well, they'll be talking about how to curb greenhouse gas emissions; transfer wealth and technology from developed to developing nations; and raise the cost of traditional energy in order to prop up politically popular new sources. At least, that's how Americans For Prosperity and other free-market groups describe it.

I plan to be there to find out. Thanks to a scholarship for travel expenses, I'll be attending COP 16 as well as the AFP Hot Air Tour on Thursday. If you're in the Cincinnati area, you can participate as well - in conjunction with AFP-Ohio and COAST.

Even the introduction to the conference explaining it, makes my eyes swim:

The United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Cancun, Mexico, from 29 November to 10 December 2010, encompasses the sixteenth Conference of the Parties (COP) and the sixth Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP), as well as the thirty-third sessions of both the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), and the fifteenth session of the AWG-KP and thirteenth session of the AWG-LCA.

To discuss future commitments for industrialized countries under the Kyoto Protocol, the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) established a working group in December 2005 called the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP). In Copenhagen, at its fifth session, the CMP requested the AWG-KP to deliver the results of its work for adoption by CMP 6 in Cancun.

But I'm sure bureaucrats love that sort of thing. As for me, I can't help but think of the scene in Monty Python's "Life of Brian" where they hold the conversation and decide to hold a meeting to form a committee to examine the options of acting together to form a plan .... to rescue Brian.

Or perhaps the Robin Williams 'acronym' scene from "Good Morning Vietnam" where he says, "Excuse me sir. Seeing as how the VP is such a VIP, shouldn't we keep the PC on the QT, because if it leaks to the VC, you could end up an MIA, and then we'd all be put on KP."

Here is a link to the various discussions and the schedule for COP 16.

I'll be blogging from the event beginning Wednesday and will cover AFP's event Thursday evening.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Quotes of the Day

"In every declining civilization there is a small "remnant" of people who adhere to the right against the wrong; who recognize the difference between good and evil and who will take an active stand for the former and against the latter; who can still think and discern and who will courageously take a stand against the political, social, moral, and spiritual rot or decay of their day." ~ Donald S. McAlvaney

"Contrary to the Marxists, the Nazis did not advocate public ownership of the means of production. They did demand that the government oversee and run the nation’s economy. The issue of legal ownership, they explained, is secondary; what counts is the issue of control. Private citizens, therefore, may continue to hold titles to property—so long as the state reserves to itself the unqualified right to regulate the use of their property." ~ Leonard Peikoff

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

There are so many things I'm thankful for that they cannot be listed in a blog post and would take me more than a day to recite.

As I think upon those things, I cannot help but be forever grateful for our founding fathers and the courage and wisdom they displayed in bequeathing us this great nation:

"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as Freedom should not be highly rated." ~ Thomas Paine

I'm also thankful that the nation has survived, so far, with the focus on freedom and what has become known worldwide as 'The American Dream.'

"America's abundance was created not by public sacrifices to "the common good," but by the productive genius of free men who pursued their own personal interests and the making of their own private fortunes. They did not starve the people to pay for America's industrialization. They gave the people better jobs, higher wages and cheaper goods with every new machine they invented, with every scientific discovery or technological advance -- and thus the whole country was moving forward and profiting, not suffering, every step of the way." ~ Ayn Rand

So as you enjoy your day with family or friends, don't forget that the reason we have so much to be grateful for, even when we don't have material possessions, is because we were fortunate enough to be born or now live in these United States.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fixing Transit and that 'evil' word: privitize

The Cato Institute, a libertarian think-tank, had a great article about how to fix transit problems that many think plague the United States. In Ohio, we're having the on-going discussion about so-called high-speed rail.

I write 'so-called' because the latest proposal to spend $400 million in federal stimulus dollars would give us a system that connects only three of Ohio's major cities; costs more than $400 million to build; won't be 'high' speed as it is projected to be slower than actually driving; and, worst of all, will require Ohio taxpayers to subsidize it to the tune of $17 million a year! Oh - and that $17 million of taxpayer funds it will need is only if the rail system actually meets its ridership projections. And that's the supporters' own projection of costs!

Incoming Governor John Kasich is opposed to the plan and wants to use the $400 million for other transportation purposes. But the federal government is threatening to 'give' the money to another state if we don't do what they want us to do with it.

Convoluted and completely lacking in common sense - I know. But, sadly, that is the way government works these days.

On a local level, voters just approved a renewal of the TARTA levy and Perrysburg is still trying to opt-out of that service because they believe they can provide a better service for the costs they're paying. Other communities are opposed to being forced to join the TARTA service area - or to have a county-wide sales tax fund the organization - because of problems they see in the operation, the service and the failed concept.

Which is why I thought this article from Cato was important to share. The transit needs in Los Angeles are much different from the needs in New York City - and those are much different from our needs here in Northwest Ohio. If we can get government out of the way, including not giving them our tax dollars for one-size-fits-all solutions, we'd all be better off.

Here is the summary of the article:

America's experiment with government ownership of urban transit systems has proven to be a disaster. Since Congress began giving states and cities incentives to take over private transit systems in 1964, worker productivity — the number of transit riders carried per worker — has declined by more than 50 percent; the amount of energy required to carry one bus rider one mile has increased by more than 75 percent; the inflation- adjusted cost per transit trip has nearly tripled, even as fares per trip slightly declined; and, despite hundreds of billions of dollars of subsidies, the number of transit trips per urban resident declined from more than 60 trips per year in 1964 to 45 in 2008.

Largely because of government ownership, the transit industry today is beset by a series of interminable crises. Recent declines in the tax revenues used to support transit have forced major cuts in transit services in the vast majority of urban areas. Transit infrastructure — especially rail infrastructure — is steadily deteriorating, and the money transit agencies spend on maintenance is not even enough to keep it in its current state of poor repair. And transit agencies have agreed to employee pension and health care plans that impose billions of dollars of unfunded liabilities on taxpayers.

Transit advocates propose to solve these problems with even more subsidies. A better solution is to privatize transit. Private transit providers will provide efficient transit services that go where people want to go. In order for privatization to take place, Congress and the states must stop giving transit agencies incentives to waste money on high-cost transit technologies.

The complete policy analysis is here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Toledo's 2011 budget

Press release:

November 15, 2010

Bell Administration Releases 2011 Operating Budget
Mayor Michael P. Bell today released the 2011 Operating Budget at a press conference that included his administration’s finance staff, Safety Director, Police and Fire Chiefs and other directors. The Mayor made clear that 2011 again poses fiscal challenges for the city, noting an environment of increased expenditures and declining resources, but also emphasized that the budget includes no new or increased general fund taxes or fees.

As previously announced, the administration is anticipating a slight increase in income tax collections and have projected $145.5 million in 2011, 3.0% over 2010 collections. However, also as expected, local government funds from the state are projected to drop by $3.8 million as the state works with an $8 billion projected deficit.

The Bell Administration has recommended bridging the gap with $6.3 million transfer from the Capital Improvements Fund to the General Fund; $4.85 million in sale of assets, part of real estate negotiations that are currently in progress, but not expected to come to fruition before the close of 2010; and $3.3 million from trust fund balances moved to the general fund.

The administration will also work on a health care dependent eligibility audit, reduced utility expenditures and medical coverage savings. An early retirement plan will also be pursued. Responding to a survey taken in Spring 2010, approximately 150 City of Toledo employees said they may be interested in an early retirement buy out, however the administration hopes that some may have re-considered since that time.

The budget also maintains city services with the addition of a fire class and police class. Both safety forces expect significant retirements in 2011 contributing to lower manpower levels and making it necessary to continue to train new recruits to ensure delivery of safety services. The proposed budget includes funding for a class of 50 firefighters as well as a class of 25 police officers.

The Bell administration has also proposed to turn control of the City’s refuse collection operations to the Lucas County Solid Waste Management District beginning September 1, 2011. It costs the City approximately $16.3 million annually to collect and dispose of refuse, including the debts service on the new automated trucks and carts, landfill cell development and replacement costs for vehicles and carts. Current refuse fees bring in approximately $8.9 million in revenue per year. It is expected that regionalizing the service with the county will bring greater efficiency in service delivery and will save approximately $2.8 million in 2011.

Finally, Bell emphasized the future challenges lying ahead as the administration looks toward collective bargaining with six of the City’s eight unions. As costs, especially wages and benefits, continue to outpace revenues the City must make significant structural changes in employee compensation and benefits. The Mayor noted the critical role cost containment plays for the financial survival of the City and asked for Council’s help in making those needed changes.

The full City of Toledo 2011 Operating Budget is available online at

Mayor's cover letter to city council is available here.
Budget is available here.

I'll be looking at the budget over the next several days and will post further after analyzing it.

Quote of the Day

As the lame duck Congress comptemplates the extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, it would be good to remind them of this quote:

"You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it." ~ Dr. Adrian Rogers

Also, the concept that government "cannot afford" to go without that income is ludicrous! The government can do without it much more than the small business owners can.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saturday's light moment

With the recent fog and mild fall weather, I still have roses in bloom, though I believe these are probably the last ones that will actually open. Hope you enjoy your Saturday!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Finding common ground on U.S. fiscal problems

I received this email from the National Taxpayers Union about a joint effort with U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups, where they announce their joint effort to find common ground in addressing the nation's fiscal issues. NTU is a conservative group and U.S. PIRG is a liberal group - but they agree on numerous ideas to cut spending. Below is the email with links to their report. I hope you'll read it and support their efforts to help put our nation back on track when it comes to federal government spending.

NTU joined with the liberal group U.S. PIRG to release a list of $600 billion worth of specific federal spending reductions. It is available online at It can also be found on our blog here:

With all the talk about debt and deficits, we thought it would be useful to reach across the ideological divide to find spending cuts that the left and right can agree upon. We saw an opportunity to put together a true left-right coalition in order to begin the conversation about the difficult choices we’ll have to make as a nation.

The U.S. PIRG and NTU study identifies 30 specific, actionable items to cut in federal spending, including:

* $62 billion in savings by eliminating wasteful subsidies to farmers and large corporations.
* $354 billion in savings from reforming inefficient contract and acquisition procedures.
* $77 billion in savings by improving execution of existing government programs as well as eliminating unneeded programs.
* $108 billion in savings from ending low-priority or unnecessary weapons systems, along with rightsizing other programs.

We will be submitting this list to the President’s Fiscal Commission for consideration, as serious reductions in spending will no doubt play a large role in their report. Also, keep an eye out for post-election efforts we’ll be engaging in to further raise the profile.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank you, Veterans!

Thank you - for your service, your honor and the sacrifices you - and your families - have made!

Thank you - for preserving our Republic, protecting our liberties and ensuring our continued freedom!

Thank you - for your selflessness - for volunteering or being willing to serve when called; for the difficult conditions you've lived in while doing your duty to our country!

Thank you - for being the protectors so we can live our lives not worried about danger!

Thank you!

And a special thanks to my father-in-law, dad and brother on Veteran's Day.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

An end to out-of-state beer?

From National Center for Policy Analysis comes this summary of a pending bill:

The United States has seen a massive increase in the number of microbreweries in the last decade. Many bars now pride themselves on offering a wide variety of on-tap beers from smaller producers and stocking bottles from around the country. But that could soon come to a grinding halt pending the decision of H.R. 5034, the Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness Act of 2010 (the "CARE" Act of 2010), in the U.S. House of Representatives, says Michelle Minton, director of the insurance studies project at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

The CARE Act is a response to a Supreme Court decision, Granholm v. Heald, in which the Court ruled that states could not pass laws that discriminate between in-state and out-of-state wineries in violation of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. While the ruling was specifically about wine, it should apply to all types of alcohol, says Minton.

If the CARE Act or a similar bill passes:

* It could potentially bar out-of-state beers, ensuring a captive market for home-state breweries.
* Not only would this eliminate certain beers from the market, but also it would likely increase the price of those out-of-state brews that could make it across state lines, as they would likely pay a fee for the privilege of competing with in-state breweries, vineyards or distilleries.
* It would also mean an end to online sales of alcohol.

The biggest supporter for the CARE Act comes from beer distributors and individuals who act as middlemen between producers of alcohol, says Minton.

Source: Michelle Minton, "An End to Out-of-State Beer?", November 8, 2010.

For text:

Happy Birthday U.S. Marines!

Today is the day we celebrate the birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps. As they sing in their hymn, "first to fight for right and freedom," they are known for leading the way. This is the third stanza of the hymm:

"Here's health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve
In many a strife we've fought for life
And never lost our nerve;"

To all Marines (as you're never a 'former' Marine), thank you - and Happy Birthday!

This website gives the history of the celebration if you'd like to know more.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Quote of the Day

As we look to the new Congress, I can only wonder if they will do anything about the bureaucrats to whom they have abdicated their authority. And then I came across this quote:

"[I]f we won’t choose to pay the price of liberty, then by default we shall suffer the cost of servitude -- whether it be the iron chains of a tyrannical oligarchy or the regulatory chains of unelected, faceless bureaucrats. When we witness our neighbors abused by tyrants, will we skulk away and hope we’re not next? Or will we stand by them and challenge -- as freedom-loving Americans—the tyranny of lawless leaders." ~ Phil Trieb

Friday, November 05, 2010

Alarms and a Quote of the Day

As you know, my posting has been very light with my work load leading up to the election. It will increase beginning next week, which is when I hope to have caught up with everything that didn't get done over the past couple of months - including sleep.

Last night, as I was finally having a good night's sleep and moving toward one of those 'catch-up goals,' I was brutally awakened by the sound of our house alarm going off. Once I realized it was actually my alarm, I got up and found the side door was locked, but ajar. Looking back on my decision to just turn off the alarm, I'm wondering if I did the right thing. Being half asleep, my first thought was that my niece must not have shut the door the entire way and the wind blew it open. It did not occur to me that anything nefarious was going on.

While that turned out to be the case, in hindsight, I'm grateful that I have the ability to own something with which to defend myself, should that be necessary...which leads me to the Quote of the Day:

"Pity the poor opponents of the right to keep and bear arms! They must distrust just everybody except criminals and except the tyrant to whom they concede the armed monopoly of their protection." ~ Pierre Lemieux

Have a great weekend!

Monday, November 01, 2010

The impossibility of an informed electorate

This was article published by the Ludwig von Mises Institute. As tomorrow is election day, I thought it timely:

The Impossibility of an Informed Electorate
by D.W. MacKenzie on October 11, 2010

Ordinarily I agree with John Stossel. Stossel does what many would have thought impossible: he uses economic reasoning to defend individual liberty and free markets on national media outlets. In a 2008 article Stossel claims that uniformed people should not vote. Stossel illustrates this idea by questioning audience members at a Rock the Vote concert. Many of the attendees of these events could not recognize pictures of the vice president or the Speaker of the House, and did not even know how many senators there are in the US Senate. Stossel suggests that people who lack such basic information have a duty not to vote. Conversely, people who are informed about politics should vote.

There is a veneer of plausibility to Stossel's argument. The idea that democracy works better when informed people vote would seem to make sense. However, the case for informed voting breaks down when we consider the difficulties of being well-informed about political options. In economic terms, voters need to evaluate alternatives for public policies and programs.

Strictly speaking, a rational voter must first estimate the overall effects of altering or abolishing specific public policies and programs. For each federal program or policy there are a range of reforms that might improve its functioning. A fully informed and rational voter would ascertain the best options for governmental reform. It is, however, very difficult to ascertain the effects of reforming even one policy or program. Changing one program or policy typically produces unintended consequences. Given the complexity of the United States — and the world for that matter — a significant change in public policy will cause a series of reactions from the people who feel the effects of these changes. No one person can predict these unintended consequences.

Another complication arises when you consider the sheer number of federal policies and programs that currently exist. The US government has dozens of agencies that implement thousands of policies. No one person can understand all of these programs and policies. The federal government is complex beyond anyone's comprehension. Of course, people who don't recognize the vice president do not understand what they would be voting for or against this November.

But how could even the most highly informed voters navigate the options that face modern voters?

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