Thursday, April 29, 2010

Oil leak in the Gulf

Hey TEA party Patriots where are you on the oil leak?

I think that it is about time that companies take responsibility for the manufacture and distribution as well as the sales of their products. These companies when complaining about taxes say that they are the engine of the country and as such do not derive anything from the government. But yet they want roads built, they want the government to condemn property so that they can build a factory, mine, oil well,…they want taxpayer money to build the factories, mines, oil wells,… they want government to clean up their mess. It would be one thing if BP and the rest of the oil companies put money into a fund for the inevitable cleanup, but they don't. I find this whole thing incredibly ironic. When you have industry and an estimated 30% of the population screaming about socialism you have a company that caused the largest ecological disaster in recent times asking for the evil government to help. Isn't that by its very nature SOCIALISM!. They have the money to go on the open market and buy the resources to clean this mess up and if they don't their share holders should have to cover the cost. We keep hearing that we're entitled to our money because we took the risk, what risk, having your uncle step in and clean up your mess.

A few things about Madison

As you know I don't live in Madison. There are a few observations that I have being an outsider. First the biggest fans of UW athletics are people who never went to school there. Second is the obsession about everything that Madison governmental units do by people who don't live in the city. Case in point, the Madison school budget. My attitude is yeah they are short and they are going to have to do something about it. But I over hear all of these conversations about how the Madison teachers should get a pay cut, that our taxes will go up, and that the board won't make the tough choices. The problem with these comments is that they come from people who don't live in the school district. Another one is the Edgewater Hotel project. The proposal will use a lot of TIF money to finance. This is such a non-issue for us non-residents but these non-residents obsess over this like it is their town spending the money.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Born in East LA

The new Arizona immigration bill has got me thinking a lot about Cheech and Chong's Born in East LA (lyrics, trailer, movie). How does an American citizen prove that they are an American? We are not required to carry our papers. To listen to the right, drivers licenses are not acceptable (however, when I got mine I had to use a birth certificate). To listen to the birthers, a "certificate of live birth" is not enough. They probably wouldn't think that a passport is enough (the President has one). So what are the brown colored people in Arizona going to use? Some of these families have been here before Arizona was part of the US. Everyone knows that this law will be unfairly enforced on the hispanics just like in the Cheech and Chong song/ movie. What if the hispanic police officers in Arizona decide to start pulling over people for being white while driving and asking them to prove citizenship. I would think that it would be probable cause when you cannot produce the required documents. My guess is that the law would be short lived.

The reality of this situation is that the State of Arizona passed a law that is not enforceable and likely unconstitutional. It violate the equal protection clause, but with this court you never know. A better law would have been to require e-verify, which is already optional Federal law. E-verify requires the employer to verify citizenship and fill out an I-9 form.

This country does not have an immigration problem they have an employer problem. If the employers would not hire illegals there would be a lot less illegals in the country. Everyone concedes that most illegals have some type of job. Most of these jobs are in the underground economy of work for cash. Much of this work is done below minimum wage as well. I say we solve our emploer problem and go a long way towards solving the illegal immigration problem. It maynot result in the 12 million going back but it should result in many leaving.

The critics of such a proposal will say that they will stay and collect welfare. Again, where does it say that welfare payments can go to illegal immigrates. Citizenship should be checked when you sign up for benefits. N0w we just have the children born in the US to illegal parents to worry about. In these cases a path to citizenship should be made available.

It seems ridiculous that Cubans are granted citizenship immediately upon setting foot in the US whereas everyone else has to go through a lengthy process. This has got to change as well.

Banking Bill Dies

Sen. McConnell could not understand why we vote on a bill that would not address the problems with the banking industry. Gee Mitch how long have you been a Senator? The vote was for whether there could be debate. Can't have discussion and the chance to amend the bill. You could of had discussion and then killed the final version before there was a real vote. Could it be that he feared that he would not be able to hold together the 41 votes? Could it be amendments that would reinstate the regulations of the FDR administration might be popular? Could it be that the people want the financial markets regulated and realize that what is proposed doesn't go far enough. I'm glad that they didn't pass this bill but they need to pass something and it should be soon before the banks collapse again.

Reflections on Earth Day

As I think about all of the things that were done to raise the environmental awareness of the population on this the 40th anniversary of Earth Day I couldn't help but wonder where was Sarah Palin? Was she breaking ground on a new oil well with Sen. Inhofe? Was she blasting a mountaintop in Virginia? How about helping loggers clear cut part of Alaska? Or maybe she was "hunting" wolves from helicopters in Alaska? It seemed strange that there was no mention about what the biggest environmental critic in the country was up to on Earth Day.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Commuting by bike

It is no secret that I bike a lot. It also is no secret that I don't live close to work. Days when I ride it is about 20 miles one way after driving about 15 miles. Now comes this proposal from the Mayor of Madison that the goal is 20% by 2020. Currently the city is at a little over 2%. My contention is that you don't have 20% of the population who are even recreational cyclists. It is a great goal but I just don't see the numbers to draw from. The cycling community is quite small although the people who complain about us make it sound like it is 100% of the residents of Madison. A better solution would be to see if we could get 20% of school kids (not counting the University) to ride to school.

President Herbert Hoover

Sunday night on WPBS Wis channel there was a fascinating show about President Hoover. I thought that I was watching recent events, eerily similar. From the banks destroying the economy, to the constant sniping of the new President, to the former Presidents belief that charity will save the day. President Hoover was really the first President that believed that charity could improve the lives of the people. But, he also practiced his mantra in a big way. After watching his story I am convinced that he believed the wealthy would organize to help the new poor. They didn't much like today, instead much of their wealth was derived by essentially ripping off these very people, much like today.

Much of the program focused on Hoover as Secretary of Commerce. Where today you would call him a liberal. All in all a very interesting program about a President that is not covered much in history but probably should be given that the depression started under his administration so maybe it is a good thing that Texas has rewritten their history standards.

Gun rights protesters

Did anyone other than me find it a little ironic that yesterday's gun protest in the National Park about how President Obama is coming for your gun could only take place because President Obama signed a law allowing guns in National Parks. I am sorry it is hard to take the group serious. To top it off they protested in a State where you need a permit to carry a concealed weapon and had the nerve to carry signs saying what about "not be infringed don't you understand". I would say that the act of having to get a permit, which usually entails taking a class is an infringement. Much like the TEA party there needs to be more thought put in these protests. And also like the TEA party where were they 6 years ago, nothing has changed. The gun control lobby give the President an F, yeah he's coming for you in the dead of night.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tax day or Teabag party day

Ah, tomorrow is tax day. I remember when it was only a handful of Libertarians showing up at the main post office in Madison. Now we are going to have thousands at the capitol. Wow what a change. I'm with the tea party on bailouts. Unfortunately at the time I was for it, because we had all of these people saying that if we didn't rescue the banks the economy would collapse. I don't think that it could have turned out worse if we let them go under. I'm with the tea party on taxes, but what I want to know is why they haven't seized on expenditures and regulations that don't make sense. Why aren't they protesting grazing cattle on federal land. Sure the ranchers pay but it doesn't compare to say what a Wisconsin farmer pays. They own the land and pay taxes (admittedly at a lower rate) on their property. What about the subsidized water in California, Arizona, Nevada,... Do you realize that these desert states pay less for water than we do? The source of this cheap water is Federal projects paid for by the rest of the country. Isn't this odd given most of the West's anti government stance? What about Alaska? We allow big energy to lease land, at no where near fair market prices. Big energy is heavily taxed by the State of Alaska (I know hard to believe given Governor Palin) and some of that money is rebated to the citizens of Alaska. I have news for you this is really our money (those of us in the lower 48). Talk about a re-distribution of wealth money from the lower 48 to the upper 1. Finally, what about the Eau Claire rule for dairy farming? This is the dumbest regulation ever created. First of all dairy should trade like other goods. Second farmers in theis region should not be put at a disadvantage to someone who is raising dairy cows in a desert with water paid for by the US taxpayer.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Edgewater Hotel

In a supreme test of irony the conservatives are up in arms that Mayor Dave won't drop the hotel project. These are the same people who accuse the Mayor of being anti business and the guy who didn't throw enough money at Famous Footwear. Of course these people don't want their taxes to go up or be used to lure business which brings us to the Edgewater. The Mayor has gone big to get the hotel to do an expansion. He cites job creation and all of the other Republican talking points but yet they are opposed. My guess is that if the Mayor was a Republican they wouldn't be able to sign on fast enough.

The party of NO has become a detriment to this country. We can't have civil discussions about policy even when those policies are ones that they have historically favored (as recently as last year). Good luck to them on winning elections, even better luck governing.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

FDR caused the Great Depression, how's that?

I was reading the blog the Griper Blade and the first comment repeated the new version of depression history that FDR caused the depression or at the very least prolonged it. Then I was watching the train wreck of a campaign rally with Hanity, Palin, and Bachmann and it was repeated again. As was the often linked everyone knows that we only recovered from the depression because of WWII. Gee, I don't know but when FDR took office the unemployment rate was nearly 25% and it went down from there. FDR saved this country from a potential revolution. In addition to the depression you had drought across the plains. The lack of jobs in the rural areas led to young, jobless, single men to go to the cities. This is bad at any time so FDR gave them jobs and dispersed them throughout the rural parts of the country. As for the causes of the depression many economists now say that an unregulated economy was a contributing factor especially the financial sector (hmm sounds familar). This is what characterized the boom and bust economies every 10 years leading up to the depression. From the time FDR regulated the financial markets to the Carter administration when regulations started to come off this country became the world's economic power.

Now the WWII myth. It is always told like the private sector fought that war and turned the economy around. I guess that is true when you consider that the entire economy was either directly or indirectly being supported and directed by the government. This was hardly capitalism with wage controls and rationing. Where WWII can take credit for pulling us out of the depression is after the war. We were the only industrialized country that was not completely devastated by the war. American industry was the driver during re-building. But what to do to get workers, wage controls were still on? For the first time benefits were offered to Joe worker, cars, housing allowances, and the all important employer based health care.

No, it was hardly FRD's depression and it wasn't really his recovery. But he did keep the country from total collapse and successfully got us into the war so that we could help destroy the world's economic engine leaving the rebuilding to the US.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

President Karzai and what do we do

I posted way back in November that Karzai and all of his ministers should be arrested and hauled away in chains and the US should become the interim government. Think of where we would be today had we done this. We might have a new elected government, we might have roads, water systems, a police force, an army, and a school system. We might even have the people on our side. Instead we have a leader who is suggesting that if the US doesn't quit interfering he might join the Taliban. Gee, we put this guy in power, our army maintains his authority, and our solidiers are dying fighting the Taliban and Karzai has the audacity to suggest joining the Taliban. I say arrest him now for being corrupt and try him for crimes against his people.

Health care whiners

The talking point that the doctors and nurses are going to leave the medical field now that socialized medicine is here (its hardly socialized since the private companies are still allowed to make unregulated profits). I have one thing to say to these professionals, good luck in your new career. Come on you're really going to quit and then do what? How many other professions can you go into and make even close to the average doctor salary of $150,000? Not many. You could maybe find work in the sciences, average salary ~$50,000, but there aren't any positions. You could maybe become a construction laborer $10-20/hr., but again no jobs. You could maybe work in manufacturing $8-20/hr., again no jobs. You could leave the country and practice medicine in a country without a socialized medical system like Somalia.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Health care winners

Now that the bill has become law just who are the winners in health care reform? The insurance companies and here is why. They are going to get new policy holders, around 47 million. The premiums charged are not going to be controlled, double digit increases are here to stay. They have to cover pre-existing conditions but at a cost of up to 3 times the standard plan.

The drug companies also do ok. There is not going to any type of control on prices. The only thing that could have made this better would have been for a ban on Americans getting drugs from countries with socialized medicine. I think that the drug companies should have held out for this. The American people don't believe in socialism so the government should do everything that it can to protect the people from these socialized countries.

The doctors also do ok for the same reasons as the drug companies. The same warning applies for patients who travel abroad for care. The government needs to put a stop to medical tourism.

Socialism! egad!!

I was reading the Wisconsin State Journal's opinion section from the weekend and was astonished to see the piece on solving the rural doctor shortage. The answer is to throw money at the problem to help offset their education loans (sounds like Socialism). Now admittedly their loans are a big number $150,000 on average, but so are other under represented professions. Except when you consider that they can already get $120,000 from the Federal Government and another $30,000 from the State plus a job that pays on average $150,000 per year. Money is not the issue. The issue is that people don't want to work in the rural parts of the State. Even the town that I live in has a hard time recruiting doctors and we are only 20-30 minutes outside of Madison. It is about the fact that they cannot make as much money as they can in Madison or Milwaukee. It is about that in the big cities they can be a specialist and not have to treat every little hangnail. It is about having patients that are earning a good income and have insurance, unlike the rural areas where people are lucky to have a job and medical bills are at least partially covered by the government. No in short it is about greed. It isn't enough to be making 7-10 times what your patients are making in a year. It isn't enough to be earning a salary that allows to be living and working in some of the most beautiful parts of the country. No it is about the greed of not having more.