Cap-n-Trade is Dead – Hopefully

One of the best things I’ve read all day

Carbon rationing is dead on Capitol Hill. The Democratic leadership in the Senate has concluded that they cannot round up enough votes to pass a cap-and-trade carbon rationing bill that aims to cut the emissions of greenhouse gases …

Now that’s good news, but whenever you’re dealing with politicians, there’s always some bad news to go along with it.

… in the face of the catastrophic Gulf oil spill, congressional leaders feel that they must be seen as doing something about energy. And if that something provides members of Congress an opportunity to hand out federal pork to their friends, that’s a bonus.

The whole article is a worthwhile read, and I recommend it. The conclusion of the article is fantastic. Unfortunately, the politicians that need to understand the reality of forcing renewable energy aren’t likely to read it.

Ultimately, the top-down imposition of a renewable energy standard now being considered by Congress is a stupid and costly way to cut greenhouse gas emissions; will destroy more jobs than it creates; is just another wasteful subsidy showered on depopulating rural communities; will do nothing for the chimerical pursuit of energy independence; and will, in fact, increase energy prices to consumers.

Right on. Read the article, Forcing Consumers to Buy Renewable Energy at Reason Magazine.



Government, Free Speech and Voting

I read a very interesting opinion piece today by Todd Henderson of the University of Chicago Law School regarding the Citizen’s United case. I highly suggest reading the entire piece, it is very well written.

At the very beginning of the article, Mr. Henderson makes a great statement:

… we should view extensions of government activity under a presumption of error, especially where there is no evidence of a market failure …

I was hooked after that, and I took the time to read through the rest of the piece. Mr. Henderson makes a number of excellent points and I find that I agree with him all around.

The quote stood out to me for more areas than just speech. Consider the massive expansion of government that is likely to be voted on this weekend. Actually, it may not be voted on, it may just be “Deemed to Pass” (Google that) instead of requiring the House to actually vote.

Why wouldn’t the House want to actually vote on the Health Care bill? Mostly because the bill is very unpopular, and many current representatives are nervous about the people in their districts at home removing them from office. If that’s the case, why are you voting for the bill in the first place.

Last time I checked, the US is a Representative Democracy. We elect people to serve in Congress and vote on our behalf for the things we believe in. If the Heath Care Takeover bill is not wanted by the people, then why is it being pushed for so hard?

Going back to one of Mr.  Henderson’s best points – “we should view extensions government activity under a presumption of error”.

Agreed.


Cash For Clunker Glitches

The Lawmakers in the House and Senate are due for some well earned rest. Both bodies will be taking a month off in the very near future. Okay, while it’s not likely they earned anything, this adjournment really is a good thing.

If the Senators and Congressmen are not in session, they can’t screw with the economy, add taxes, impose further burdens and we don’t have to listen to them as often on the television.

One fairly large issue that just came up is the Cash for Clunkers program. Turns out that this massive spending rebate program is already out of money. Maybe. No one is really sure.

A number of lawmakers have said that the administration is struggling to count the number of deals that had been made under the program, to monitor the number of customers who have taken part, and to match that number to the money available.

According to Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak:

The administration is “going to have to make a best estimate,” Levin said. “There’s lots of glitches in this system.”

That’s not really that surprising, is it? When people hear there’s free money, they’re going to try to get some of the action. Never mind that the money didn’t just appear, but had to be taken first, in the form of taxes, its still seen as free.

There’s another massive handout spending program in the works too. Don’t forget about Government Run Healthcare that’s looming on the horizion. For some reason, that I simply don’t understand, a number of people think having the goverment offering health insurance is a Good Thing (TM).

Get Free* Money
Get Free* Money

The Cash for Clunkers program had an initial bill of $1 billion. Its already out of money. There’s a potential for another $2 billion to be spent on the program now.

Contrast that with the estimates you’ve heard for the government’s health care plan. That plan starts out in the trillions. Yes, trillion, with a T. If the government can’t even give a solid, workable estimate for a plan that only has $1 billion dollars attached to it, how can we expect that something with an order of magnitude more money will be even close?

What will Rep. Sander Levin have to say about the accounting for the health care plan? Something tells me that “There’s lots of glitches in this system.” will be far short of acceptable.

Thoughts on Michael Vick

You’ve probably heard that Michael Vick has been conditionally reinstated by Roger Goodell, so Vick is now eligible to be signed by a brave, probably desperate, new team.

Lets take a look at what you get for your hard earned cash …

  • Three time Pro Bowl Quarterback, 2002, 2004, 2005
  • Lifetime quarterback rating of 75.7
  • In six years, a 53.8% pass completion.
  • An exceptionally medicore quarterback (stats).
  • Well rested – hasn’t played a game since the 2006 season.
  • Conditional reinstatement – might not be available until the middle of October.
  • Baggage – think Barry Bonds, but with the crazies from PETA.
  • By the way, Sage Rosenfels has a QB Rating of 81.2, with a 62.5 pass completion percentage
Free-agent quarterback, Michael Vick
Free-agent quarterback, Michael Vick

There will be many that say the additional punishments by the NFL are just piling on, “He’s paid his dues,” “He’s done his time for his crime”, etc., however, I think it is fairly consistent. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said on numerous occasions that playing in the NFL is a privilege, not a right. He frequently takes a very tough stance on any behavior that draws unwanted attention for the league.

Personally, I think the terms of the conditional reinstatement are a way to protect the teams that may be interested in the second rate quarterback. While Goodell has said he would review the case by week six of the schedule, there’s no guarantee that Vick will be allowed to play.

This review will give the signing club a bit of cover. Consider the likely scenario; the team that signs Vick is overly troubled by the media circus, public outcry, craziness that results from the signing. There could easily be some behind-the-scenes discussion with the commissioner to ensure that Vick isn’t fully reinstated.

I’m not really sure who would want to be part of this mess. I suppose the Oakland Raiders might be willing to sign Vick. Al Davis just loves to show-off how dysfunctional his organization is. Maybe a strong team, with a good foundation and a reputation for keeping things in-house would sign Vick, so I guess you could consider the New England Patriots. There’s always Cincinnati, they seem to value a criminal record, so Vick would be a super star there.

No doubt about it, this will be fairly uninteresting to watch. And you will have to watch it. ESPN will be all over this, along with every news organization with a sports reporter. On the bright side, maybe Erin Andrews will cover the story.

Government Run Health Care

What is this all About?

Many people believe that a government run health care system will provide medical care to millions of people. Unfortunately, that is not what this is all about. The bills that are being discussed are about providing health insurance. Insurance does not equal health care.

Medicare Drug Benefits
Research by the Heritage Foundation

I’m sure that you’ve heard of Medicare. Medicare is a federally run program that provides health insurance to a large number of people that wouldn’t otherwise have insurance. Medicare pays hospitals, doctors, etc., a portion of the costs for medical treatment for covered individuals. In most cases, the payment from the government is in no way related to costs associated with providing those services.

You will also hear people talking about the government run system ensuring that people who need emergency treatment will be able to get it. That’s partially true. Anyone that is need of emergency medical assistance will already receive treatment if they go to an emergency room. There are already laws on the books that require hospitals to provide treatment, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay. So the new government run plan would have the same benefits, because the benefit already exists.

What Else do I Need to Know?

The U.S. spends over $2.4 trillion on health care (nearly 17% of GDP), and the government accounts for almost one-half of all health care spending. Premiums continue to rise for private insurance. Costs for health care continue to spiral out of control. A large percentage of employers only offer one type of insurance, usually with considerable costs for the employer and the employee.

The various plans and bills that are being circulated around the halls in Washington are not good. The choices you will no longer have, will be far worse then your health coverage today. Many employers will stop offering the health insurance you’re used to having if a government option was available.

You’ll still be paying for your insurance, which again, is not related to health care. You simply won’t have the options you had before. Add in the fact you will no longer be the primary decision maker regarding your health care, and it seems obvious that this is a Bad Idea(TM).

Understand that the cost projections coming from Congress and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) involve a lot of smoke, mirrors, tricks, and gimmicks. You can’t count on the group that wants to take your money to give you an accurate accounting of what it will cost.

What Other Options do we Have?

Lead the Way
Lead the Way

Instead of a new program that is even larger than Medicare, our Representatives should:

  • Create legislation to give families more control over their insurance and care.
  • Make health insurance portable, so you don’t lose your coverage when you change jobs.
  • Reform the tax system to provide the same tax benefits and incentives for all insurance purchasers – Employers and self employed should be able to deduct their costs.
  • Reduce / Reform the legal system to decrease malpractice and liability claims in all medical professions and industry.
  • Allow the customers of health care determine what they will spend for a procedure. Put the control back in the hands of the end consumer. Let the market work to drive competition and prices.

How can I be Heard?

The Tea Party Patriots have put together an impressive list of things you can do to be heard and get the word out. You can use this form to record your answers and the number of calls you made.

House Energy and Commerce Committee

Call the House Energy and Commerce Committee members [List (pdf)].  Let the committee members know how you feel about the bill and the prospect of government run health care. Tell them not to pass the government run health care bill out of committee.

According to Tea Party Patriots sources, all of the Republicans will be voting against the legislation already so you may choose to focus on the Democrats. However, you may wan to remember how a number of Republicans voted on Cap and Trade – let them know you’re out there too.

Blue Dog Democrats

Blue Dog CoalitionThe Democratic Blue Dog Coalition is a group of currently 52 moderate and conservative Democratic Party members of the United States House of Representatives. The Blue Dogs promote, among other things, fiscal conservatism and accountability. The Blue Dog Coalition is often involved in finding a compromise between liberal and conservative positions. Blue Dogs are an important swing vote on spending bills and as a result have gained influence in Congress out of proportion to their numbers.

You can find the Blue Dog Democrats on this list (pdf). Call each of them and let them know how you feel about the tremendous, irresponsible spending that will be required to fund government run health care.

Senate Finance Committee

Call the Senate Finance Committee [List (pdf)] tell them our economy cannot afford another massive government spending bill. We’ve spent enough already and we can not afford the taxes required to “pay” for this new spending bill.

Senators & Representatives

Call your Senators and your Representatives! Tell them as a constituent you are asking them to vote NO on the government take over of Health Care.

Resources

The Government Doesn’t Understand the Internet

There’s an excellent article by Tom Steinberg on mySociety about how the government doesn’t understand the internet and what needs to be done about it.

The Internet has been relentlessly undermining previous practices in the running of businesses, dating, parenting, spying, producing art and many other areas. So, however, did electrification and shipping containers. From cheaper raw materials, to cheaper cars to have sex in the back of, economic and social change has always been driven by technological change.

While I’m sure some would argue that technological change is driven by economic and social change, that’s really not the point.

The point is that law makers, government officials and civil servants need to understand what the internet is all about. Instead of trying to protect old ways of doing business, they need to embrace the change that is coming. Instead of trying to apply laws and brick and mortar tax policies, new strategies need to be envisioned and implemented.

The article talks specifically about the government in the UK, but I think it applies elsewhere, and it would be great if the US government, at all levels, started thinking about these issues as well.

Read the article: What the government doesn’t understand about the Internet, and what to do about it

A Thought on Taxes

I think this is an excellent summary of taxes and how taxes are used by the government.

People are tired of wasteful government programs and welfare chiselers, and they’re angry about the constant spiral of taxes and government regulations, arrogant bureaucrats, and public officials who think all of mankind’s problems can be solved by throwing the taxpayers’ dollars at them.

Government can’t tax things like businesses or corporations, it can only tax people. When it says it’s going to ‘make business pay,’ it is really saying it is going to make business help it collect taxes.

We don’t have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven’t taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much.

Our tax policy is engineered by people who view tax as a means of achieving changes in our social structure.

Raising taxes will slow economic growth, reduce production, and destroy future jobs, making it more difficult for those without jobs to find them and more likely that those who now have jobs could lose them.

My friends, history is clear: Lower tax rates mean greater freedom, and whenever we lower the tax rates, our entire nation is better off.

–Ronald Reagan (1911-2004)

Nationwide Tax Day Tea Party :: April 15th, 2009

National Tax Day Tea Party

The Tax Day Tea Party is a national collaborative grassroots effort organized by Smart Girl Politics, Top Conservatives on Twitter, the DontGo Movement and many other online groups/coalitions.

There are Tea Parties being planning for all over the United States on Tax Day. If you’re thinking about attending, you’ll want to be wearing the coolest rally gear you can find. You can even win some sweet party gear to wear to your local rally. If you don’t win, you can always show your support and stimulate the economy by buying some swag from the Tea Party Online Store.

In an effort to build exposure for the Nationwide Tax Day Tea Party events through subscriber lists and e-mail campaigns, we’ve decided to launch a new contest that will give YOU the chance to win all kinds of free Tea Party Gear.

If you’re interested in more information check out the following links:

Be heard. Get involved.

E-voting, fraud and misinformation

Just came across a very interesting article by Dan Wallach about e-voting machines, policy and misinformation.

Here’s a quote from Dan that sets up his article pretty well:

At this point, the scientific evidence is in, it’s overwhelming, and it’s indisputable.  The current generation of DRE voting systems have a wide variety of dangerous security flaws.  There’s simply no justification for the vendors to be making excuses or otherwise downplaying the clear scientific consensus on the quality of their products.

As we’re push, pulled, tricked and forced into use electronic voting machines, these problems are going to become more and more prevalent. There is considerable money to be made in this area and as the voting public, we need to  demand open software, common sense security and a review process.

Comparing slot and voting machines
Comparing slot and voting machines

Contrast our current e-voting machines and systems with how the gambling industry tackles security. The gambling systems are open to inspection by a public agency. The state has access to all of the software and they hire people with the know-how to understand the software to review it.

It seems like the current market place and electorate would welcome an open (open source even) developer. The Open Voting Consortium seems to be leading the way, but the states don’t seem to be on board yet. You can be certain that the companies currently making the lackluster, insecure voting machines will fight the changes tooth and nail.

Read More:
Vendor misinformation in the e-voting world by Dan Wallach
The Open Voting Consortium

Polishing the Written Word

I’ve spent some time over the past week working with Danny Sichel who specializes in refactoring the written word.

If you need a second look at your fiction, your thesis, your application essay, your resume (or “résumé”, if you prefer)… your assignments, be they for middle school or grad school or anywhere in between… Danny will help you polish it until it shines, but is still recognizably yours.

The best way to get the help you need with your written work is to send Danny an email at dsichel at gmail.com.