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September 30, 2010

Clever Political Ads - Part 3

Princess Lisa Murkowski (R - Entitled)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUsNAEIBoQ8&feature=player_embedded

Paying Federal Bureaucrats to do What?

Today’s NY Post has a story posted that reports that New York taxpayers will spend “$27 million to change NYC signs from all-caps” because “the Federal Highway Administration contends in its updated Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, citing improved readability.” According to the newspaper:

"At $110 per sign, it will also cost the state $27.6 million, city officials said.

"We have already started replacing the signs in The Bronx," city Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan told The Post. 'We will have 11,000 done by the end of this fiscal year, and the rest finished by 2018.

[ . . . ]

“Studies have shown that it is harder to read all-caps signs, and those extra milliseconds spent staring away from the road have been shown to increase the likelihood of accidents, particularly among older drivers, federal documents say.

“The new regulations also require a change in font from the standard highway typeface to Clearview, which was specially developed for this purpose.

"As a result, even numbered street signs will have to be replaced."

And federal employees deserve to earn 50% or more than private sector employees? for decisions like this? As Gateway Pundit (with H/T) puts it, “what this really shows is the outrageous overstepping of power that the federal government wallows in these days.” Don't you just look forward to the implementation of ObamaCare?

The Ruling Class - Part 8

She who would be Governor of California has an illegal problem.

http://michellemalkin.com/2010/09/29/meg-whitmans-illegal-alien-maid-problem/

 

Obeying the law, like paying taxes, is for the Little People.

 

 

The Ruling Class Does the Right Thing - Part 1

Mike Castle has decided to respect the wishes of the voters in the recent Delaware Senate primary election and will not run as a write-in candidate.

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/248281/castle-wont-pull-murkuwski-nro-staff

 

September 29, 2010

Clever Political Ads - Part 2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SadnrJbDdbE&feature=player_embedded

37 seconds

 

Part 1 was http://acta.us/growls/2010/09/we_need_a_guy_like_this_in_vir.html

The Ruling Class - Part 7

Lisa Murkowski lost the Republican Senate primary in Alaska to Joe Miller. She resigned her Senate leadership post, but kept her chairmanship of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Now she has announced that she will mount a write-in campaign, and has begun hitting up K Street lobbyists.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/20/AR2010092003019.html

 

A majority of Senate Republicans allow one of their "Old Boys', er, ... 'Old Girls' to keep her position and use it to betray the trust of her home state voters. No better example can be found to explain the motivation of the Tea Partiers. Which part of 'go home' does she not understand?

The Ruling Class - Part 6

John Kerry says voters are 'uninformed'.

http://bostonherald.com/news/us_politics/view/20100925john_kerry_democrats_woes_stem_from_uninformed_voters_its_the_electorate_stupid/srvc=home&position=0

Smarten up, morons!

 

Bill Clinton ssys it's a communication problem.

http://bostonherald.com/news/politics/view/20100927bill_clinton_dems_need_to_hone_message_to_voters/srvc=home&position=0

 

Listen up, folks. Your betters have something to say.

 

Lowest Tax Rate, But 2nd Highest Taxes

Members of the Arlington County Board like to remind voters that the county has the lowest real estate tax rate in Northern Virginia. While that may be true, Arlington County residential property owners paid the second highest taxes in Northern Virginia in 2009, according to data from the Census Bureau. The Tax Foundation writes:

“In Tax Foundation Fiscal Fact, No. 248, "New Census Data on Property Taxes on Homeowners," the Tax Foundation's Data Analysis Division uses newly updated data from the 2009 American Community Survey to rank high-population counties across the country according to various property tax measures.”

Tax Foundation Fiscal Fact, No. 248, "New Census Data on Property Taxes on Homeowners,” also provides data on Northern Virginia’s local governments.

Jurisdiction           Median Property    Rank
                                     Taxes Paid
                                      on Homes

Loudoun County          $5,032                32
Arlington County          $4,595                41
Fairfax County               $4,492                45
Alexandria city              $3,937                68
Prince William                $3,441               101

Good information to be armed with the next time a smiling County Board member tells you that Arlington County has the lowest taxes in Northern Virginia.

September 28, 2010

County Board on Bonds: Take-It or-Leave-It?

In an online article at the Arlington Sun Gazette today, Scott McCaffrey reports the Arlington County Board’s approach to the bond issues that will be on the November 2010 ballot is a ‘Trust Us' approach, and it’s raising the “ire of critics.” McCaffrey writes:

“Is it a smart approach to meeting future needs, or a multi-million-dollar slush fund?

“That’s the question surrounding $4.7 million that is part of an $18 million local bond referendum going to voters Nov. 2.

“Half of that $18 million is slated for Neighborhood Conservation projects, $2.7 million is designated for facilities maintenance and roughly $1.7 million is slated for land acquisition. But the remainder - given the only-a-bureaucrat-can-love-it title of “Emerging Facility Infrastructure Requirements” - is causing a bit of political uproar.

“The Arlington County Republican Committee’s research and resolutions committee said it was “greatly troubled” by the request for millions of dollars in funding for unspecified projects. Republicans voted to oppose this bond, as they did with two of the other three on the ballot.

“But the county leadership says there is no intent to deceive, merely a desire to keep options open.

[ . . . . ]

“Republicans were also critical of throwing $9 million in capital spending in with the $9 million for Neighborhood Conservation, all in a single bond. It gives voters a take-it-or-leave-it choice, suggested Wayne Kubicki, who heads the GOP’s research/resolutions committee.”

Sheesh!

September 27, 2010

Your Taxes At Work . . . in Houston

The Houston Chronicle reported last Thursday the city of Houston may have to reimburse American taxpayers through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development between $35 million and $45 million “for errors it made in the use of federal funds dating back to 2001.” According to the Chronicle:

“A HUD official said the agency remains in "evaluation" mode and is working with the city to resolve adverse findings, but declined to comment on any potential new problems being investigated.

“City officials characterized HUD's challenges to its use of federal money as old news, but sources with knowledge of the matter say the city could be on the hook to pay back between $35 million and $45 million due to previous issues and newly identified problems. Those include questions about "Houston Hope" homes, a signature initiative of then-Mayor Bill White that sought to help low and middle-income individuals buy their own homes.

[ . . . .]

“HUD officials believe the program may have "oversubsidized" those homes, sources said, since the city provided money to developers and assisted potential buyers who made up to 120 percent of Houston's median income with as much as $45,000 in down-payment assistance.”

Meanwhile earlier this month in Louisiana, the Baton Rouge Business Report reported:

“It’s never polite to look a gift horse in the mouth. But some local nonprofit agencies have considered committing that transgression, so fed up are they with the bureaucratic hoops they have to jump through in order to participate in a federal stimulus program aimed at preventing homelessness.

“The Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program is part of the Obama administration’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The state and the city-parish are receiving money from the program, which then is funneled to more than a half-dozen local agencies to spend on programs that help homeless people find jobs, health care and affordable housing.

“But mountains of red tape, months-long delays in the reimbursement process and spending thresholds that are almost impossible to meet have made HPRP a colossal headache for nonprofits that thought it would be a boon for them and their needy clients. Already, some organizations have reduced their level of participation, and others have considered withdrawing altogether.”

Makes you wonder just who is being aided and abetted by the money of America's taxpayers that flows  from HUD. The Business Report also writes:

“Homelessness is one of those long-neglected challenges, hence HPRP, which has $1.5 billion in funds. Louisiana is receiving $26 million of that amount, $13 million of which is being administered through the Department of Children and Family Services, formerly the Department of Social Services, which doles out the money to participating nonprofits. The other $13 million is divided among several municipalities that are large enough to qualify for their own pot of money; Baton Rouge receives $1.5 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“At the same time, the city-parish also is receiving a $1.7 million share of the state’s pool, for a total of $3.2 million. HPRP funds are jointly administered through the East Baton Rouge Parish Office of Community Development.

“As a practical matter, three levels of bureaucracy have to sign off on the reimbursements that go to the nine local agencies certified to participate in the program. HPRP requires that the agencies spend the money first, and then apply to be paid back.”

Our government at work. And only a bureaucrat could conceive of the concept of getting oversubsidized. Sheesh!

September 26, 2010

We need a guy like this in Virginia

Dale Peterson ran in the Alabama primary for state Agriculture Commissioner last Spring. He placed second, but knocked out the incumbent. This is his ad supporting the winner of the primary.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GabMEHfCjT0&feature=related

Hostile to Taxpayers or Taxpayer Heroes

The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) released their 2009 Congressional Ratings last month. The report identifies both members whose voting records have earned them the title of Taxpayer Hero or Taxpayer Super Hero as well as the names of members who have consistently voted against taxpayers’ fiscal interests. This year marks the twenty-first anniversary of the Congressional Ratings.

CCAGW “scored 120 votes in the House and 74 in the Senate. The average for the entire House was 31 percent (a 4 percentage point drop from 2008). The average for the Senate was 39 percent (a one percentage point drop from 2008) . . . Members are placed in the following categories: 0-19 percent Hostile; 20-39 percent Unfriendly; 40-59 percent Lukewarm; 60-79 percent Friendly; 80-99 percent Taxpayer Hero; 100 percent Taxpayer Super Hero.”

There were seven Taxpayer Super Heroes in the House with a grade of 100% in 2009. They represented voters in Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Texas and Wyoming. In addition, there were 89 Taxpayers Heroes with grades of 80-99%. Also in 2009, the number of House members who scored an abysmal zero almost tripled from 34 in 2008 to 105.

In the Senate in 2009, there were two “Taxpayer Super Heroes” (scoring 100 percent), both from Wyoming, and 29 Senate “Taxpayer Heroes. There were no senators with a score of zero, compared to 17 in 2008.

Additional information is available in the press release. The introduction to the 2009 Congressional Ratings provides a summary of the 2009 legislative year, which can be fairly called one of Spend, Tax, and Spend Some More. CCAGW begins it this way:

“The 2009 legislative year was characterized by intense partisanship, heated debates, and calculated political maneuvering.  Lawmakers’ recent attempts to spend their way out of the nation’s fiscal crisis have only backfired, as the national debt has exploded past $13 trillion and the unemployment rate hovers at 9.5 percent.  Despite these results, Congress forged ahead with tax-and-spend policies in 2009, ignoring the massive public outcry for fiscal restraint from teapartiers, townhallers, and grassroots activists.”

The ratings of Arlington’s members of Congress are considered “Hostile” by CCAGW. They were:

  • Senator Mark Warner: lifetime rating - 11%, 2009 rating - 11%
  • Senator Jim Webb: lifetime rating - 10%, 2009 rating - 19%
  • Representative Jim Moran: lifetime rating - 19%, 2009 rating - 1%

Voice your objection to your Members of Congress by calling the Capitol switchboard - (202) 224-3121. Better yet, remember to vote November 2, 2010.

September 25, 2010

$$$ - Results of VDoT Audit - $$$

The big news out of Richmond this week was the release of the results of the audit of VDoT performance and financial management practices by the Governor Bob McDonnell administration. According to reporting by Tyler Whitley of the Richmond Times-Dispatch yesterday:

“An unwieldy Virginia Department of Transportation is sitting on $1 billion in reserve funds that could be used for new construction and maintenance, an independent audit ordered by Gov. Bob McDonnell has found.

"That is unacceptable," McDonnell said at a news conference yesterday. "Money has been sitting in the state's wallet while Virginians have been sitting in traffic."

“Because of the audit, $800 million to $900 million of maintenance and construction contracts will be awarded by Dec. 31, Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton said.”

The Washington Post also reported that:

“The bulk of the money comes from two sources: About $400 million had accumulated in construction and maintenance accounts while an additional $654 million in federal money was never allocated to any projects, the audit showed.”

Old Dominion Watchdog put it this way:

“During the 2010 fiscal year, the state didn’t spend $480 million that it was given for road and bridge maintenance. That carryover, on top of unused money from previous years, gives the state $529 million that it is not using. Over half of that, $318 million, is committed to contracts. But $200 million has not even been allocated to a contract.

“The audit says this is a result of projects taking too long to be approved and moved through the system. VDOT Commissioner Greg Whirley said that all projects see the same approval process, no matter how large or small they are.

“We manage … a simple turn lane just like we do a major interchange,” he said.”

Greater detail from the audit is available in this press release from the Governor's Office. In addition, the press release includes links to be the entire audit report and a summary of the audit in a PowerPoint presentation format.

The Ruling Class - Part 5

Conservatives have been told for years that they should support the winners of Republican primaries even when the winners are Rinos through and through.

Lisa Murkowski and Mike Castle (both R - Entitled) lost the Alaska and Delaware primaries respectively, and now not only refuse to endorse the primary winners, but are both considering write in campaigns, just like Charlie Crist.

The Ruling Class - Part 4

John Kerry (D - Married Money) says that voters are stupid.

 

http://bostonherald.com/news/us_politics/view.bg?articleid=1284069

 

So, wise up, morons.

September 24, 2010

Lurching Towards Doom

Although the National Bureau of Economic Research told us this week that the “Great Recession” that “began in December 2007 ended in June 2009,” as reported by MSNBC.com, some think “the worst is yet to come.” Jim Bacon, who has an op-ed posted at Bacon’s Rebellion this week, predicts that Virginia, which has held its AAA bond rating for 70 years, will lose that rating within “20 years -- perhaps not even 15.”

While Bacon doesn’t expect Virginia to begin “an orgy of California-style taxing, borrowing, and spending, he says Virginia does “face two horrendous challenges for which we are unprepared.” Those two challenges are:

“First, fiscal pressure on state and local governments across the United States will be unremitting in the years ahead. In particular, health care spending, which has increased as a share of state and local spending from 12 percent in 1978 to 20 percent in 2008, will continue growing without let-up. Absent policy changes, concluded a June Government Accounting Office study, “state and local governments’ long-term fiscal position will steadily decline through 2060.”

“Secondly, Virginia’s economy is highly dependent upon federal spending — according to a Tax Foundation special report, the commonwealth had the 7th highest ranking of federal expenditures per capita in the country in 2004. If something happens to our No. 1 industry, the federal government, the economy is toast, and so are tax collections.”

So who is Jim Bacon? Barbara Hollingsworth, local opinion editor of the Washington Examiner, explains:

“(A)long comes Jim Bacon, author of "Boomergeddon," who not only rains on the slowly moving parade, but demonstrates -- using President Obama's own budget data -- that national bankruptcy is "a near inevitability, given the myopic, corrupt and gridlocked political culture of Washington, D.C." (link to Bacon's book added)

“Bacon, who lives in Richmond and blogs at Bacon's Rebellion, asked Richmond-based Chmura Economics & Analytics to crunch the numbers to see what would happen if growth remained just one percentage point shy of the 3 to 4 percent assumed in Obama's 2011 budget. He also asked them to look at mild recessions occurring within the next 10 years.

“Given the economy's recent history, both are perfectly plausible -- even likely -- scenarios. In the event that one or both of these things happened, Chmura analysts reported, the federal deficit would grow twice as fast.

“That's scary, because annual payments on the national debt are already expected to hit nearly $1 trillion for the next 10 years. At the end of 2020, Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Elmendorf warns, the public debt -- 48 percent of which is held by foreign creditors -- will balloon to $20.3 trillion, or 90 percent of GDP, just as 78 million aging baby boomers begin making unprecedented demands on the government's fraying safety net.”

No wonder Gallup reported on July 5, 2010 that debt and government power were among the top concerns of Tea Party supporters!

Your Tax Dollars At Work . . . in Tajikistan

Dan Joseph reports in CNSNews.com today that the “U.S. has spent $1.39 million on study surveying married Tajik migrant workers in Moscow, and interviewing some of them, their wives, girlfriends and prostitutes.” Joseph further writes:

“According to the description of the study on the NIH Web site, the research was developed in order to address “the major global health problem of HIV prevention amongst married male labor migrants in Central Asia and the public health risk for an AIDS epidemic in Tajikistan.”

“The study focuses on married men from Tajikistan working in Moscow and their risks for acquiring HIV through having sex with female sex workers and then transmitting the infection to their wives or female sexual partners,” the description said.”

[ . . . . ]

“According to the CIA factbook, as of 2007 only 0.3 percent of the 7 million people in Tajikistan--a predominantly Muslim nation in Cetral Asia near Afghanistan and Pakistan--had contracted HIV/AIDS, compared with 0.6 percent of the population of the United States.”

Just spending money that then has to be borrowed overseas. Sheesh!

HT Laura Ingraham Show

September 23, 2010

For those of you old enough to remember the USSR

One of the all time great commercials:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CaMUfxVJVQ&feature=player_embedded

Thought for the Day

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned up here (in Washington) and I didn’t really need to come up here to learn it, is the only way to get Congress to balance the budget is to give them no choice, and the only way to keep them out of the cookie jar is to give them no choice, which is why – whether it’s balanced budget acts or pay as you go legislation or any of that – is the only thing. If you don’t tie our hands, we will keep stealing”

    ~ Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Virginia)

Barbara Hollingsworth of the Washington Examiner used the above quotation in her September 8, 2010 Beltway Confidential column, writing that Rep. Perrielo said that on March 16, 2010 "when confronted by members of the Jefferson Area Tea Party."

September 22, 2010

Taxpayer Dollars Going to Radical Environmentalist

In a story posted today at Pajamas Media, Karen Budd Falen writes that radical environmental groups are extorting federal money through threats of lawsuits. She begins by saying:

“To avoid lawsuits, American tax dollars are being used to pay off radical environmental groups. The groups are using the money to threaten more lawsuits.

“Research provided to the Western Legacy Alliance has documented payments of at least $4,697,978 in taxpayer dollars to 14 environmental groups in 19 states and the District of Columbia. These payments are not being made because the radical groups won a legal battle or proved that the federal government was destroying the environment. Instead, they are being made to get environmental groups to go away — supposedly, a better option than forcing these groups to prove their case in court.

“And now these same radical groups are extorting millions from major corporations and local governments using the same tactics.”

She concludes the article writing:

“The vast majority of groups that claim a concern for the environment do not engage in any on-the-ground environmental work. Rather, if you examine the goals of most of these groups, they intend to stop American industry, hurt security, and restrain independence under all circumstances in all locations. For example: there are groups who claim that cattle contribute to global warming by “belching carbon” as if the internal gas emissions of livestock are any different from the internal working of cats, dogs, or other wildlife. These cases aren’t about the environment, but rather about eliminating land use and ownership.

“In 21 percent of the cases where the federal government has been presented with a potential legal challenge, the government pays the radical group to withdraw its case. There is no court decision and no determination that the environmental group “prevailed.” Just a request to withdraw the litigation, accompanied by taxpayer money.

“These extortion payments are occurring when roads are widened, bridges are built, water supplies are updated, timber is cut, and fishermen are out to sea. In a time when Americans are looking for work and tax relief, our money should be spent to support American business, not restrain it.”

As Mark Levin wrote in Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto:

“The Enviro-Statist’s agenda, like much of the Statist’s agenda, is  increasingly immune from the popular will. In addition to creating and controlling much of the administrative state, the judiciary can usually be counted on to give the Statist’s policies legal sanction.  Policy becomes the law and the law must be adhered to. Consequently, meaningful debate is, in fact, ended, compliance is mandated, and violators are punished”

September 21, 2010

The Tax Collector Wants Your Paycheck

Fortunately, for now at least, it’s only a proposal in the United Kingdom. CNBC reported yesterday that “UK's tax collection agency is putting forth a proposal that all employers send employee paychecks to the government, after which the government would deduct what it deems as the appropriate tax and pay the employees by bank transfer.” Robin Knight of CNBC writes further:

“The proposal by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) stresses the need for employers to provide real-time information to the government so that it can monitor all payments and make a better assessment of whether the correct tax is being paid.

“Currently employers withhold tax and pay the government, providing information at the end of the year, a system know as Pay as You Earn (PAYE). There is no option for those employees to refuse withholding and individually file a tax return at the end of the year.

“If the real-time information plan works, it further proposes that employers hand over employee salaries to the government first.

"The next step could be to use (real-time) information as the basis for centralizing the calculation and deduction of tax," HMRC said in a July discussion paper.”

In talking about this news item on his talk show yesterday, Rush Limbaugh said:

“I don't know whether it's going to happen, but, remember, these are leftists. When they propose something, they never let go of it. If they lose they'll just bide their time and keep working at it . . . They'll not take too much out of your paycheck. They'll never fail to refund you or pay you the proper amount. And in the case of a dispute, how long is it gonna take to resolve one of these, and how many times would the taxpayer actually win? But this is leftists. All money, all property is theirs, until they decide what (and) who ends up with, whoever, and how much.”

Heh, it’s just government trying to make your life easier. Oh, you want liberty, too?

September 20, 2010

Repeal Health Care Law

Rasmussen Reports today said, “Sixty-one percent (61%) of Likely U.S. Voters now at least somewhat favor repeal of the new national health care law, including 50% who Strongly Favor it.  That’s up eight points from a week ago and the highest level of opposition measured since late May.”

Only 33% of those surveyed oppose repeal. For more on the latest survey by Rasmussen Reports, see here, including how those "likely voters" believe it weill affect the economy and how the responses of the "political class" compare to "mainstream voters."

September 19, 2010

Free Us From Congressional Diktats

Billy Gribbins of Americans for Tax Reform blogs about H.R. 6144, the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act (BULB Act), by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas). It is co-sponsored by Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) and Michael Burgess (R-Texas), and “seeks to amend the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 so as to repeal the portion banning nearly all use of the incandescent light bulb by 2014.” Gribbin writes:

“As might be imagined when the federal government bans something as commonly used as a light bulb, there are also severe economic ramifications. With more and more manufacturing plants shut down due to the ban, many Americans have found themselves out of work. As of this writing, the last major manufacturing plant for incandescent light bulbs in the U.S. is closing. Located in Winchester, Virginia, the GE plant provided jobs for hundreds, jobs that are being eliminated due to the ban (Washington Post, September 8, 2010). Their work is now being shipped overseas to places like China, where production of CFLs is much cheaper.

“The switch from incandescent bulbs to CFLs has been dogged by a variety of other problems, as well. Consumers have noted the extensive time CFLs’ need to “warm up” with each use, and that they can’t be turned on and off with the same frequency before dying as their venerable predecessors. In addition, CFLs contain dangerous levels of mercury, and thus need to be disposed of in a careful manner; if one of them breaks, the EPA recommends a thorough cleaning process, including the trashing of any fabrics to come in contact with the bulb’s contents. Say what you will about Edison’s original brainchild, but at least it didn’t put a health hazard in every room of the house.”

E-mail Arlington County’s representative in the House of Representatives. Jim Moran, to ask him to sign on as a co-sponsor of H.R. 6144. Or you can call him at (202) 225-4376.

September 18, 2010

Regulation Run Amok = Taxation Run Amok

CNS News reported yesterday the U.S. “Energy Department says it has ‘mandate’ to force ‘market transformation’ for household appliances,” writing:

“Speaking at the inaugural meeting of the recently reestablished Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB), (Cathy) Zoi pointed to four tactics the Obama administration intended use to advance the “deployment of clean energy.” The first three were government subsidies for private-sector green energy projects, special tax incentives for green energy projects and low-interest government-backed loans for green energy projects.

“The fourth one, which the secretary and I love,” said Zoi, “is where we have a mandate. Where we can actually just issue regulations and do market transformation. (emphasis added)

"Zoi was referring to authority the department has under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 as amended by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. That law gives the DOE the power to set efficiency standards for energy-consuming products.”

Before joining the Obama administration, “Zoi served as environmental adviser to President Bill Clinton and the founding CEO of former Vice President Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection.” CNS also writes:

“Zoi said that stricter federal energy efficiency standards will “drive innovation” and are “cost effective.”

“As the secretary [Chu] says, ‘We’re going to make people save money for themselves,’” Zoi said. “They haven’t dumped the dollar bills on the ground yet.”

In the same vein of regulatory overkill in the name of green environmentalism, Rich Trzupek writes in FrontPage Magazine about “Washington’s green power trip,” writing about a speech delivered by EPA administrator Lisa Jackson. He points out the following:

“Having set forth the case that everything the EPA does always turns a profit and that anyone who disagrees with that assessment should be dismissed as a dirty, rotten capitalist, Jackson proceeded to up the ante. Clearly stung by criticism of the incredibly onerous new set of regulations that her agency has proposed and promulgated in the last year and a half, the administrator proclaimed that these new rules would usher in a new era of green prosperity in America. The facts are quite different. Jackson has promulgated air quality standards that will make it impossible to build a new coal-fired power plant of any consequence in America, thus effectively writing off our largest pool of cheap domestic energy. Her EPA has circumvented the provisions of the Clean Air Act so it can force power plants to apply for permits to emit greenhouse gases and then demanded that the states join the feds in the circumvention. Jackson claims, over and over again, that the EPA is following the best scientific advice available, but the opposite is true. The academics that are creating new standards for industry – standards that Jackson clearly adores – offer the worst kind of scientific advice available: advice of the sort that only pie-in-the-sky academics with no real-world experience could produce. We’ve paid a hefty price for all of the environmental progress we’ve made, but that progress has at least represented a compromise forged among all interested parties. Under Lisa Jackson, the EPA will exact the kind of costs for further, unneeded progress that will make the prices we paid before pale by comparison, because she has effectively handed the keys of the Agency to the most radical of the environmentalist advocates.” (emphasies added)

For more on EPA’s power grab, Phil Kerpen of Americans for Prosperity writes about the U.S. Senate efforts to “defund the EPA’s global warming efforts" in a Fox News column.

For more on America’s federal regulatory state, see the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s 2010 edition of Ten Thousand Commandments (requires Adobe) by Clyde Wayne Crews, Jr. Another source is Cato Institute’s journal, Regulation. As Crews points out, regulation is nothing more than a hidden tax.

UDATE (9/28/10): Yesterday's Wall Street Journal ($) reports:

"(T)he annual cost of federal regulations in the United States increased to more than $1.75 trillion in 2008, a 3% real increase over five years, to about 14% of U.S. national income. This cost is in addition to the federal tax burden of 21%, for a combined cost of 35% of national income. One out of every three dollars earned in the U.S. goes to pay for or comply with federal laws and regulations, and new policies enacted in 2010 for health care and financial services will increase this burden."

September 17, 2010

Happy Constitution Day

Section 2.2-3315 of the Code of Virginia, “Citizenship Day and Constitution Week,” provides:

“The Governor shall annually issue a proclamation setting the seventeenth day of September as Citizenship Day and September seventeen through twenty-three as Constitution Week and recommending that they be observed by the Commonwealth with appropriate exercises in the schools and otherwise so that the eventful day on which the Constitution of the United States was formally adopted may forever remain enshrined in the hearts and minds of all citizens and so that they may be reminded on that date annually of the blessings of liberty that they enjoy by the adoption of the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights and all other amendments thereto.”

Peter Wehner has a nice post at Contentions, Commentary Magazine’s website, in which he explains the historical importance of celebrating the day. He writes in part:

“On this day in 1787, delegates to the Federal Convention completed their work (which began in May) and voted to approve a new Constitution, which was submitted to the states for ratification (which occurred on June 21, 1788). Now the oldest written national constitution in the world, the British statesman William Gladstone described it as ‘the most remarkable work known to me in modern times to have been produced by the human intellect.’”

Wehner includes a portion of a speech by Benjamin Franklin, and adds:

“It is hard to overstate the importance of, and the sheer brilliance and prescience of, the American Constitution. It established the world’s first stable democratic government and provided the governing framework for the most powerful and benevolent nation in human history. The product above all of 36-year-old James Madison, an unparalleled master of political and constitutional theory . . . .”

For additional information and resources, visit Hillsdale College’s new Allan P. Kirby Center for Constitutional Studies & Citizenship.

UPDATE (9/17/10): Here's the link to the proclamation signed by Governor Bob O'Donnell. Former Attorney General Ed Meese has comments on Constitution Day here, and a Heritage Foundation video honoring Constitution Day is here.

UPDATE (9/18/10): Roger Pilon writes about Constitution Day at the Cato Institute's blog, Cato@Liberty, including this:

"James Madison, the principal author of the Constitution, wrote in Federalist 45 that the powers of the new government would be “few and defined,” leaving us largely free to plan and live our own lives. If we’re to restore that Constitution of limited government, it will take more than courts and “politics as usual” to do so. We’ve got to take the Constitution seriously not just on Constitution Day but on every day. Fortunately, there are stirrings in the nation today that suggest that ever more Americans are doing so. Thomas Jefferson said it best: “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”" (emphases added)

September 16, 2010

Yours vs. Mine

The American Spectator has an online column posted today in which J.T. Young explains “the difference between thine and mine.” Young begins:

“The President's budget reform panel is being encouraged to sniff for smoke in the midst of flames. At its latest public meeting it was told that tax breaks are "backdoor spending." There is a two-fold problem in accepting such an equivalence. First, the nation's fiscal predicament is not any so-called "backdoor spending," but uncontrolled "front door" spending. Second, not only are the two not quantitatively comparable, they are not qualitatively so either.

“The budget reform panel, officially named the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, is akin to a fire marshals' convention in a burning building. How hard could it be to follow the flames to an inferno? In the case of the federal budget, the government is spending a quarter of all America produces -- the highest peacetime level in U.S. history.”

Young makes a number of good point, which I’ll leave for the reader to delve into. In his conclusion, he points out:

“To fix the nation's fiscal problems, we must control its spending. To control spending, we must recognize that the money is not government's, but taxpayers'. And to do that we must acknowledge that taxpayers have a greater claim on their money than the government ever can.

“If we are going to talk of reform, we must at least start from a common understanding, and an accurate one, of what real reform entails. This can not be done, if we fail to properly recognize what should be the first fundamental principle between a government and its citizens.”

Some sound advice, J.T. Thanks!

The Religon of Peace - Creeping Sharia Division

A New Jersey Transit worker was fired from his job after he burned pages from a Koran on 9/11.

"Mr. Fenton's public actions violated New Jersey Transit's code of ethics," an agency statement said.

 http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/09/14/2010-09-14_koran_burner_derek_fenton_fired_from_his_job_at_nj_transit.html

Now if had smeared an American flag with feces, he'd be well on this way to an avant-garde exhibit at a New York museum.

To paraphrase George Orwell, some religions are more equal than others.

 

The Ruling Class - Part 3

Congressman Rick Boucher (D - Entitled) of Virginia's 9th congressional district has been in Congress almost 28 years. Last November, he used $29352.17 of campaign contributions, which are not taxable to him, to buy himself a new car. He makes $174,000 a year.

http://notlarrysabato.typepad.com/doh/2010/09/you-have-won-a-new-car.html

 

Taxes, as Leona Helmsley famously said, are for the little people.

 

September 15, 2010

The Ruling Class - Part 2

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rolled up to the Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada last week in a fleet of giant SUVs.

http://pajamasmedia.com/eddriscoll/2010/09/14/harry-reids-four-wheel-drive-assault-on-reason/

You, of course, should take the bus everywhere you go.

 

 

The Religon of Peace - Part 1

A Seattle cartoonist who took part in Draw Mohammed Day has gone into hiding after death threats from some not so moderate Muslims.

http://www.seattleweekly.com/2010-09-15/news/on-the-advice-of-the-fbi-cartoonist-molly-norris-disappears-from-view/

Fewer Paying For More Government Benefits

Steve Keen writes, “more Americans receiving government benefits while fewer pay in” at the Heritage Foundation’s blog, The Foundry, today. He links to a Wall Street Journal story, which he says “brings some unsurprising yet alarming news about the nation’s fiscal situation.” Keen goes on to point out:

“If entitlement spending continues as scheduled under current law, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid alone will consume all federal revenue by 2052. Even if all of the 2001 and 2003 tax relief expires and the Alternative Minimum Tax isn’t fixed—significantly increasing taxes on more and more Americans each year—entitlements would still swamp the entire federal budget. You don’t need to be an expert on the federal budget to understand that we are not living within our means. Without significant reductions in federal spending, the nation faces fiscal catastrophe.”

Rather scary! Sure sounds like a good reason to follow the Tea Party Movement to me.

September 14, 2010

Class Warfare or Income Mobility

We growled on July 2 that American taxpayers were set to get hit with the largest tax hiks in history on January 1, 2011. Now, according to Reuters today, there is talk in Congress on whether to extend all the expiring tax cuts or to allow those for “the wealthy” to expire at year end.

Among other questions, who are “the wealthy” or “the rich,” and should they be the target of liberal politics? Or is there a more appropriate way of looking at income? I think there is, and that is to look at income mobility. A U.S. Treasury Department study, released November 13, 2007, looked at “income mobility of U.S. taxpayers from 1996 through 2005.” The press release summarized the results this way:

“The study showed that, just as in the previous 10-year period, a majority of American taxpayers move from one income group to another over time.  The study also recognizes that the dynamism of the U.S. economy significantly contributes to income mobility.”

The full Treasury Department income mobility study is here. Key findings, according to the press release, included:

  • Income mobility of individuals was considerable in the U.S. economy during the 1996 through 2005 period with roughly half of taxpayers who began in the bottom quintile moving up to a higher income group within 10 years.
  • About 55 percent of taxpayers moved to a different income quintile within 10 years.
  • Among those with the very highest incomes in 1996--the top 1/100 of one percent--only 25 percent remained in the group in 2005.  Moreover, the median real income of these taxpayers declined over the study period.
  • The degree of mobility among income groups is unchanged from the prior decade (1987 through 1996).
  • Economic growth resulted in rising incomes for most taxpayers over the study period
  • Median real incomes of all taxpayers increased by 24 percent after adjusting for inflation
  • Real incomes of two-thirds of all taxpayers increased over this period; and
  • Median incomes of those initially in the lower income groups increased more than the median incomes of those initially in the high income groups.

The Tax Foundation has released a new study that presents income mobility data for the period 1999 through 2007. We’ll growl about it later this week.

Meghan McCain (Rino - Nowhere)

http://newledger.com/2010/09/review-meghan-mccains-dirty-sexy-politics/

A withering review of a book by she who might have been First Daughter.

The Ruling Class - Part 1

 

http://weaselzippers.us/2010/09/13/queen-michelle-wore-200-designer-t-shirt-to-paint-with-her-subjects-on-911-national-day-of-service/

 

Helping out the Little People while dressed in designer clothes on a National Day of Service, aka the anniversary of the deadliest terror attack on America to date.

 

 

Coming Soon to a Dog Park in Arlington


http://www.physorg.com/news203575072.html

 

The bad news is that it will require 2.5 FTEs to keep it stocked.

 

The good news is that they will be green jobs.

September 13, 2010

The Choices in November’s Election

Last May, we growled about a Washington Post op-ed by Arthur C. Brooks about America's culture war between free enterprise and government control. In this past weekend's Wall Street Journal, he and Paul Ryan discuss “the size of government and the choice this fall.” The context for the weekend column, as the newspaper points out:

"In polls, Americans overwhelmingly prefer small government and low taxes to the alternative. Yet they've been given big government, one program at a time.”

 In the weekend essay, Brooks and Ryan begin:

“As we move into this election season, Americans are being asked to choose between candidates and political parties. But the true decision we will be making—now and in the years to come—is this: Do we still want our traditional American free enterprise system, or do we prefer a European-style social democracy? This is a choice between free markets and managed capitalism; between limited government and an ever-expanding state; between rewarding entrepreneurs and equalizing economic rewards.

“We must decide. Or must we?”

How is it that we’ve grown from a small federal government envisioned by the Founding Fathers to today’s Leviathan government? The authors explain, and conclude the column this way:

“Millions of Americans instinctively look to our leaders for a defense of our culture of free enterprise. Instead, we get more and more publicly funded gewgaws and shiny government novelties to distract us. For example, the administration stills touts the success of programs such as "Cash for Clunkers" in handing out borrowed money to citizens while propping up a favored industry. Yet Rasmussen found 54% of Americans opposed the program (only 35% favored it). Plenty of people may have availed themselves of that notorious boondoggle, but a large majority understand we were basically just asking our children (who will have to pay the $3 billion back) to buy us new cars—and that's not right.

“More and more Americans are catching on to the scam. Every day, more see that the road to serfdom in America does not involve a knock in the night or a jack-booted thug. It starts with smooth-talking politicians offering seemingly innocuous compromises, and an opportunistic leadership that chooses not to stand up for America's enduring principles of freedom and entrepreneurship.

“As this reality dawns, and the implications become clear to millions of Americans, we believe we can see the brightest future in decades. But we must choose it.”

Take a few minutes to read the entire op-ed. By the way, on page 73 in “Liberty and Tyranny,” Mark Levin wrote. “By wresting decision making from the free market, the Statist is able to exercise enormous control over the individual and society generally.” It’s time for “We the People” to exercise our stake in limited government.

September 12, 2010

Debt and Clunker Economics

George Will devotes his column in today's Washington Post to America’s “clunker economy.” Paraphrasing Winston Churchill famous statement thanking British pilots during World War II, Will says:

“Looking ahead with trepidation, Americans are thinking: Never have so many of us owed so much.”

He then ticks through a number of statistics about the state of the economy as well as the failed $862 billion 'porkulus,' and then describes the liberal view of economics this way:

“Sin is understood by liberals as government austerity, which is understood as existing levels of government spending, whatever they are, whenever.”

The best part of Will’s column, however, is devoted to used cars. He explains the administration’s failed Cash for Clunkers program this way:

“The used-car market is an important mechanism for redistributing wealth to low-income persons: The price of a car drops when it is driven out of the dealership, but much of its transportation value remains when it enters the used-car market. Unfortunately for low-income people, the average price of a three-year-old automobile has increased more than 10 percent since last summer. This is largely because the Car Allowance Rebate System, aka "Cash for Clunkers," which ended in August 2009, cut the supply of used cars.

“Cash for Clunkers provided up to $4,500 to persons who traded in a car in order to purchase a new car with better gas mileage, but it stipulated that the used car had to be scrapped. The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby reports that a study by Edmunds.com shows that all but 125,000 of the 700,000 cars sold during the clunkers program would have been bought even if no subsidy had been available. If this is so, each incremental sale cost taxpayers $24,000.”

Extending what Will asked at one point: Does any of this increase anyone’s confidence in the administration’s economic and tax plans? The column is an insightful, yet entertaining, read.

September 11, 2010

Never Forget

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9PZ7Qz24jc&feature=related

Thought for the day

"Fathom the odd hypocrisy that Obama wants every citizen to prove they are insured, but people don't have to prove they are citizens".

   - Ben Stein

September 10, 2010

Thought for the Day

"But ambitious encroachments of the federal government, on the authority of the State governments, would not excite the opposition of a single State, or of a few States only. They would be signals of general alarm... But what degree of madness could ever drive the federal government to such an extremity."

    ~ James Madison, Federalist No. 46

HT Patriot Post

September 09, 2010

Virginia Schools Average But Arlington Lower

Barbara Hollingsworth, local opinion editor of the Washington Examiner, reported last week that the non-profit group Sunshine Review gave Virginia schools “a mediocre “C” average for making public information easily available to parents and taxpayers.” Scores for Northern Virginia schools ranged from “B” for Alexandria and "B-" for Falls Church to “C” for Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties to “D” for the Arlington County Public Schools.

Hollingsworth says, “Northern Virginians should not be satisfied with these grades,” adding:

“There is simply no excuse for public school officials to withhold information from the people who pay their salaries and trust them to educate their children. This is not proprietary information. The public is entitled to know exactly how their tax dollars are being spent.

“It’s also interesting to note the three top categories that school districts across the commonwealth consistently refuse to release complete information to the public include background checks, contracts and audits – all of which should be totally transparent – leading to the obvious question: Is that because there’s something to hide?”

An Arlington taxpayer could be forgiven for thinking the APS school folks could use a couple dollars from the $18,569 cost-per-student (FY 2010), second highest in Northern Virginia, to increase transparency for parents and taxpayers. Although Alexandria spent $19,341 per student in FY 2010, Fairfax and Loudoun counties spent $13,407 and $12.751 per student, respectively. but received higher transparency grades.

September 08, 2010

Thought for the Day

"It is not just free market economists who think the government can make a mess bigger with its interventions. It was none other than Karl Marx who wrote to his colleague Engels that 'crackbrained meddling by the authorities' can 'aggravate an existing crisis.'"

    ~ Thomas Sowell

HT Townhall.com

September 06, 2010

Is Labor Day Today's Government Day?

Citing data from earlier this year from the U.S. Department of Labor, James Sherk of the Heritage Foundation writes at their blog, The Foundry: “This Labor Day marks a milestone in the history of the U.S. union movement. It is the first Labor Day on which a majority of union members in (the) United States work for the government.” He adds:

“Three times as many union members work in the Post Office as in the entire domestic auto industry [2]. The face of the union movement is not a worker on the assembly line but a clerk at the DMV.”

He explains the importance of the shift this way:

“So what? Why should Americans care if unions are now dominated by workers who get their paychecks from governments, instead of workers who get their paychecks from private firms? There’s one simple reason: private firms face competition; governments don’t.

[ . . . ]

“The shift from private to public sector has fundamentally changed organized labor’s priorities. Unions used to support policies that would help their private sector employers grow. But now that they are largely dependent on the government, the only growth that unions are interested in is the growth of government. So unions push for tax increases across the country.”

Could this help explain why government compensation is now significantly higher than compensation in the private sector, according to the Cato Institute's Downsizing Government project?

September 05, 2010

Congressional Spending; Like There’s No Tomorrow

Dr. Bruce Yandle, adjunct professor of economics for George Mason University’s Mercatus Center has written a paper, Spending Beyond Our Means (Number 78, July 2010) (requires Adobe), in which he argues, “The U.S. fiscal picture is shaping up to be a category 3 hurricane of red ink. Unless Congress takes action immediately to reduce the deficit, the deficit will inflict devastating damage on our economy.”

Last month, we growled that the problem with the current economy, the so-called Great Recession of 2007-2010, is not low taxes, but lousy lawmakers. In explaining why “we are facing a financial hurricane is simple: we spend more than we take in,” Yandle writes:

“Nobel Laureate James Buchanan and his colleague Richard Wagner describe the situation this way: To get their jobs, politicians always promise not to raise taxes. To keep their jobs, they direct money back home to their districts and constituents, which means that most politicians favor increased spending over spending reductions. If they are unconstrained, then, policy makers will always tend to increase spending while avoiding the pain of raising taxes. This behavior leads to systematic deficits.”

Yandle writes that “(i)t is one thing for the government to borrow money to build assets that will make people and the economy more productive. It is quite another for it to borrow year-in and year-out to pay for food, housing, and health care. The difference, of course, relates to the fact that eventually, we taxpayers will have to pay those debts.” Later, he notes that, obviously, none of the choices of reducing the deficit are pleasant, but adds:

“(R)eeling in federal spending must be the first step in taming an unruly deficit. The reason is simple: Raising taxes enough to close the gap would require a doubling of tax rates. This is far more than taxpayers will tolerate. Of course, some tax increases may be feasible, but feasible increases will not be nearly enough to close the deficit gap. Printing enough additional money to do the job would also be futile as it would drive up inflation. Inflation robs savers and rewards borrowers, and continued inflation destroys incentives that support work and wealth creation.”

The paper is short -- four pages -- and is well-worth reading in its entirety.

September 04, 2010

Foreign Travel Abuse by Congressional Solons

HT to Jodan Forbes, a National Taxpayers Union (NTU) staffer who blogged about the “lack of transparency and misuse of allotted travel funds” by members of Congress yesterday at NTU’s blog, Government Bytes. She cites articles by both Roll Call and the Wall Street Journal documenting Congressional abuses.

Roll Call, a newspaper that focuses on Capitol Hill, reports:

“Members of Congress routinely fail to report millions of dollars’ worth of costs that they are racking up on foreign trips, according to Treasury Department reports on the actual price tag of foreign travel.

“Over the past 10 years, the cost of Congressional travel abroad has tripled, from about $6.4 million in 2001 to $19.4 million in 2008, dipping to $17.6 million last year, according to annual reports published by the Treasury Department covering the account that the State Department uses to pay travel costs for Members.

“In total, according to the Treasury reports, the government has spent about $110.5 million on Congressional foreign travel since 2001.

“That is $30 million to $40 million more than Congress detailed in routine reports published in the Congressional Record on foreign travel expenditures, though those reports are so rife with errors and inconsistencies that it is impossible to get a reliable total for any single year, let alone an aggregate for a decade.”

The Wall Street Journal, which has reported on Congressional travel abuses before, writes:

“Congressional investigators are questioning a half-dozen lawmakers for possibly misspending government funds meant to pay for overseas travel, according to people familiar with the matter.

“The investigation follows a Wall Street Journal article in March that said lawmakers had used daily cash stipends, meant to cover certain costs of official government travel overseas, to cover expenses that appeared to be unauthorized by House rules. An independent ethics board has referred the matter to the House ethics committee.

“Congressional rules say the daily travel funds, called a per diem, must be spent on meals, cabs and other travel expenses. But when lawmakers travel, many of their meals and expenses are picked up by other people, such as foreign governmentofficials or U.S. ambassadors.

“That can leave lawmakers with leftover money. Lawmakers routinely keep the extra funds or spend it on gifts, shopping or to cover their spouses' travel expenses, according to dozens of current and former lawmakers.”

Forbes points to two bills introduced by Rep. Tim Johnson (R-Illinois). H.R. 4447 would put a 6-month moratorium on travel by Congressional delegations while the GAO studies such travel with recommendation on greater transparency and fiscal responsibility. H.R. 5957 would improve reporting of travel expenses along with a mechanism to require return of excess travel monies.

In addition, the Roll Call article notes, “Neither the Treasury numbers nor the Congressional Record reports include the millions of dollars that the Pentagon spends each year on air travel for Members traveling abroad.” Finally, Al Kamen of the Washington Post, offers a handy guide to distinguish between foreign jaunts that are working trips from taxpayer-funded travel. For example, the first rule, "Try to travel to places that have a direct relationship to important foreign policy issues."

September 03, 2010

Like a Bad Slasher Film

Taxpayers for Common Sense (TCS) writes in a well-documented weekly Wastebasket today:

“In a feeble attempt to rebrand and repackage a bad idea, the Department of Energy announced last month that our old friend,  FutureGen would be undergoing another facelift. With a new moniker, FutureGen 2.0 calls for retrofitting an existing Illinois coal plant, rather than the construction of a brand new “clean coal” facility. But it’s still the same wasteful product. Either way, taxpayers get stuck with a $1 billion+ price tag - from funds strategically earmarked in the 2009 Stimulus package and subsidies we’ve already wasted on the white elephant.

“Proposed by the Bush Administration in 2003, FutureGen was originally a large-scale, multibillion dollar initiative of the Department of Energy (DOE), to build and operate the world’s first coal-fueled, zero emissions power plant. FutureGen was intended to produce hydrogen and electricity from coal, while capturing and storing carbon dioxide emissions underground, a process known as carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). The massive “clean coal” facility was to be built in Mattoon, Illinois.”

Over the years, increasing costs, political controversy, and technological challenges have caused the project to be reworked, repackaged, and finally canceled by the Bush Administration in 2008. But like a bad slasher flick, the villain was quickly revived by the Obama Administration. This, unfortunately, wasn’t surprising considering the project’s biggest boosters have been the Illinois Congressional delegation, including President Obama while he was a Senator.  This latest proposal, although well-received by Senator Durbin (D-IL), seems to be getting mixed reviews from Illinois lawmakers. (emphasiis added)

“Beyond the FutureGen politicking there is a deeper problem. In fact, to get to the heart of FutureGen’s problems you simply need to start with its foundation - the very idea of “clean coal.” A catch all term, “clean coal” is generally used to describe several technologies used to reduce coal pollution and greenhouse gas emissions - including gasification of coal to remove solid waste, scrubbing to remove sulfur dioxide, and carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) where carbon emissions are collected and stored underground in geological formations.

“Although talk of clean coal has been going on for years (and billboards across many coal-state highways have you believe it’s a huge success already) a 2008 Congressional Research Service report suggests that CCS technology is so uncertain and expensive that the private sector isn’t willing to fund it, and the federal government may be misguided in trying to create a market for CCS with taxpayer subsidies. Adding to “clean coal’s” dismal prospects is the recent drop in natural gas prices. If natural gas is cheap and abundant then dirty coal and its far off promises of being clean and green are even more unattractive to investors.” (emphasis added)

TCS concludes this week’s Wastebasket, saying:

“You can pump a locker room full of perfume, but it still stinks. As trendy and modern as the 2.0 name sounds, FutureGen is still a bad bet - relying on the same tired, unproven, costly, “clean coal” technology and pie-in-the-sky plans. Facelift or not, there is no future for taxpayers and FutureGen.”

That conclusion is virtually impossible to follow.

September 02, 2010

Arlington County Moves in Lockstep

A new study by the Tax Foundation (Fiscal Fact #243, August 31, 2010) found that between 2007 and 2008 property taxes increased nationwide as property values fell.While property values fell 16, according to the Case-Shiller index, per capita property tax collections increased 4.2% nationwide. The Tax Foundation explains:

“The recession that began in December 2007 was precipitated by a financial crisis which in turn was triggered by the popping of a real estate bubble, particularly in residential property. And indeed, property values did decline dramatically. The Case-Shiller index, a popular measure of residential home values, shows a drop of almost 16 percent in home values across the country between 2007 and 2008. As property values fell, one might expect property tax collections to have fallen commensurately, but in most cases they did not. (emphasis added)

“Data on state and local taxes from the U.S. Census Bureau show that most states' property owners paid more in FY 2008 (July 1, 2007, through June 30, 2008) than they had the year before (see Table 1). Nationwide, property tax collections increased by more than 4 percent. In only four states were FY 2008's collections lower than in FY 2007: Michigan, South Carolina, Texas and Vermont. And in three states—Florida, Indiana and New Mexico—property tax collections rose more than 10 percent.”

In Virginia, per capita property tax collections increased from $1,304 to $1,362, an increase of 4.5%, and ranked 30th among the states.

From 2007 to 2008 in Arlington County, according to the FY 2011 adopted budget, the average assessed value of the average single family home, to use the terms used in the the county’s adopted FY 2011 budget, decreased from $537,500 to $530,800, or 1.25%. During the same period, the average real estate tax payment increased from $4,397 to $4,501, or $2.37%.

Although residential property values in Arlington County did not drop as dramatically as they did nationwide, the solons on the County Board did raise the real estate tax rate from $0.818 per $100 of assessed value to a rate of $0.848. Just keeping the size of local government growing, eh?

September 01, 2010

Something for Nothing? No Way!

Dr. Walter E. Williams, an economist at George Mason University uses his weekly column at Townhall.com to explain “that we live in a world  of scarcity and everything has a cost . . . (because) “Scarcity exists whenever human wants exceed the means to satisfy those wants.” However, he also explains that it’s probably “the most difficult economic lesson.”

It’s a short column, but worth the read. Here’s the lesson, however, which he applies to Social Security:

“The vision of getting something for nothing, or getting something that someone else has to pay for, explains why so many Americans are duped by politicians.”

Something to remember when listening to political ads this fall.