Monday, June 27, 2005

What If The Government Shuts Down And No One Notices?

Here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and even more laws, we are facing the shutdown of state government over a budget impasse. At the heart of the issue is whether to raise state spending 8% or 10% and how much to raise taxes to support the chosen spending targets. As the Special Session of our state legislature has dragged on with no end in sight, the press and pollpigs have bombarded the public with dire predictions of ruin and chaos if the bloated state government is allowed to shutdown.

"Lions and tigers and bears, oh my."

What has become obvious is that the public is not buying the prevailing line of alarmist rhetoric. In fact, most Minnesotans are more concerned about the weather, the recent slump by the Twins and how to get rid of the crab grass in the front yard. And this, my friends, is precisely NOT what the political power-players expected.

Let's take a look at a few facts. The issue is not whether or not to raise state spending but how much to raise spending (8% or 10%). Any increase in state spending will exceed growth in personal income. The increase in education spending that is being proposed is primarily to cover the cost of benefits and health care for teachers. All of the increases will come from increased taxes of one form or another. The government shutdown is really just a partial shutdown.

The clowns in the Minnesota State Legislature have had many, many months to work out these issues. In those months they have managed to pass one piece of legislation that the public actually supported: the reinstatement of the Concealed Carry law. Beyond this, they have done very darned little that will ever result in a positive benefit for the majority of the voters and taxpayers in Minnesota. After being in session for months and drawing a salary from the taxpayers, they are now in "Special Session" and still drawing a salary from the taxpayers.

So now we face the Great Government Shutdown of 2005, and lo and behold, no one seems to care except those who had hoped that massive public outcry would force budget negotiators to agree to a massive new spending and tax increase package. Instead of huge crowds of angry taxpayers demanding that their taxes be increased rather than allowing the nanny state to be shutdown, the response has been a very significant

Is there an easy solution to this impasse? While it is popular to claim that the issues are so serious as to not allow a simple solution, the truth is that there are some fairly simple steps that can be enacted. For instance:

* Pass a budget that does not increase government spending or at the most, allows for an increase equal to any increase in the cost of living.

* Reduce the money needed for the rapidly failing public education system by standing up to the teachers unions and demanding that increases in teachers health care cost be paid for by the teachers themselves and not the already cash strapped taxpayers.

* Approve the Racino - this will provide a quick $200 million dollar infusion to the budget.

But the problem with any of the simple and obvious solutions is that the pollpigs will not be able to deliver the goods for the special interest groups, primarily the teachers unions, welfare recipients and Indian tribes.

Even the elected Clowns should by now realize that the taxpayers of this state simply do not want to pay more taxes to support other people nor do we really care if the bloated state government shuts down. So go ahead, shutdown the state government. Let's see just how many of the so-called vital state services are really vital. More importantly, let's see how many people actually care.

The False 55

Good morning folks. Today we have a special treat. American Iron has given us permission to publish his great piece discussing the truth behind the 55 mph speed limit. Enjoy!

"Those unwilling to learn from the stupidity of those in the past are doomed to be equally stupid or worse in the present and future."

-- American Iron

For the second time in my life I'm reading articles about how being able to drive 70 mph or higher is the root of all evil in America. Once again the hue and cry is going up from the big-government social engineer-activists that we're killing our children and the earth by driving too fast. Now, for the second time in my life I get the fun of refuting this stupidity with the hard facts these activists refuse to acknowledge.

The 55 mph national speed limit (NSL) was instituted by the Nixon administration as a feel-good program substituting as a real energy policy. Like his proposal to turn off Christmas lights, Nixon's NSL made everyone feel like they were helping America when in fact they were not helping America, but hurting it. (As a side point, note that Las Vegas and Times Square use more electricity in one night than all of the Christmas lights in America do in a day.)

Back in '84 I did a short paper in college that debunked the pro-55 argument raging at that time, which I then had to read to my classmates. Even my ultra-lefty classmates were stunned that I could prove slowing down was a bad idea. I reminded them that turning off Christmas lights was not only a poor way to run foreign policy (a swipe at the Carter administration), it was also no way to handle the energy issue (a swipe at the Nixon administration).

I'm posting that paper below to once again bring reality to the speed limit argument. Note that the dollar figures are in 1984 money for the population of that country at that time, so now those figures would be at least twice as high today.

Fixing America's energy policy will take unpopular drilling, very unpopular nuclear power, and very very unpopular discipline. Slowing down traffic is no way to rapidly move forward to a sound energy policy.


American Iron


The False 55

Many articles have been written supporting the 55 mile per hour speed limit; a classic example would be U.S. News and World Report's January 6, 1975 article: "Why Auto Deaths Plummeted in '74". This article uses the same arguments as all of the other pro-55 articles I have read; it also has the same inherent fallacies and statistical manipulations. It is not only easy to show the faults in pro-55 arguments, but also that the 55 mph speed limit is an expensive and ineffective substitute for a real safety/energy policy.

U.S. News states: "The speed at which most drivers travel is considered so basic to future traffic death rates that the National Safety Council petitioned Congress to retain its present incentives for 55 mph speed limits indefinitely". It supports this action with statistics connecting the 55 mph limit to a 20 percent decrease in traffic deaths from 1973 to 1974. These are: a savings of 11,000 lives, and a drop in deaths per 100 million vehicle miles from 4.3 to 3.5. U.S. News quotes experts as saying this percentage drop is "unbelievable".

U.S. News gives other statistical credits to the National Speed Limit (NSL). One is the "halo effect": the reduction of all road speeds traveled from a reduction of freeway speeds. Another is that with only 20 percent of drivers obeying the NSL, traffic still flows smoothly at reduced speeds.

First, let's reveal the weakness' of the first major statistic given in defense of the NSL: the decrease in deaths per 100 million miles driven in '73-'74. Kevin Smith from Motor Trend Magazine indicates that not only has the death rate dropped in 1974, but: "It also dropped after General Motors introduced the X-cars (1980), during the heights of the horsepower race (late '60s), when Alaska joined the Union (1959), and when my family moved to Berkeley (1954)...the death rate has been falling steadily since the numbers were first compiled in the 1920's" (Motor Trend, p.90, November, 1984). His views are supported by statistics from the National Safety Council.

If you compared a graph of the NSC data for the deaths per million to that used in the U.S. News article, you'd see that while the U.S. News chart shows what appears to be a huge, plunging dive in the death rate, the NSC chart shows a moderate dip in a constantly downward graph. Simply put, the U.S. News article is a deliberate distortion of the facts by taking one part of a long downward trend out of context. When viewed along with all of the other annual statistics, the 1974 drop is not nearly as impressive as U.S News would have us believe. It also contradicts the pro NSL argument people barrage me with; since fewer, if any, drivers are still doing 55 (on a national scale), the death rate must be constantly going up instead of down.

Further perspective can be added to the distortion of data being presented by pro-NSL activists by looking at the types of miles driven which make up the charts created by U.S. News and the NSC. Consumer's Research Magazine reveals that: "Only about one-third of the total vehicle mileage traveled in this country is on roads where 55 mph is possible, and only half of that mileage is actually driven at or above the limit (55)" (Consumer's Research Magazine, p. 18-20, August, 1980). Simply put, most traffic fatalities occur on roads where the NSL is not even an issue. With 50%, compared to U.S. News' 20%, of all highway miles being driven at 55 or less (which should prove the pro-55 camp correct with a lower death rate), the NSC graph of the death rate actually rises from 1977 to 1980. Apparently, speed is not the critical factor in reducing deaths as U.S. News would have us believe.

A historical perspective is perhaps the most enlightening. The majority of the '73 - '74 drop in the NSC death rate happens _before_ the 55 mph limit was imposed; this was due to the lack of gasoline from poor government distribution, and the Arab oil embargo (Motor Trend,p.89, November, 1984). The NSL, therefore, had little to no effect on safety.

One might be tempted to conclude at this point that the NSL is at least saving America money in fuel costs. I agree, we are saving one percent of our fuel bill, and losing a fortune elsewhere in the form of time, cost of goods, under inflated tires, and poorly tuned engines. These major losses make our gas savings from driving slower look small. This is something that pro-NSLers never mention, and we shall see why.

Perhaps the greatest cost of the NSL is in time. Most people are willing to spend 42 percent of an hour's wage to save an hour of travel time (Newsweek, p.37, October 23, 1978). If we multiplied this amount by the number of hours lost per year due to the NSL, we would have 6 billion dollars worth of wasted productivity time (Car and Driver, p.9, May, 1983). This is the same calculation used by BART, and METRO transit companies for predicting the savings on improvements to their systems (Newsweek, p.37, October 23, 1978).

Lives and gasoline saved are also directly relatable to cost. It costs about 102 man-years of added travel time in the U.S. alone to save one life by traveling at 55 mph (Car and Driver, p.9, May, 1983). If all of the tires on U.S. vehicles were properly inflated at all times, we could save as much gasoline as with the NSL, doing 65-70 mph, and not lose the 6 billion dollars in wasted time (Car and Driver, p.9, May, 1983). If lives are saved by doing 55, they cost 1.3 million dollars each (6 billion dollars in wasted time, divided by 4500 National Highway Administration lives = 1.3 million dollars). By putting smoke detectors in every home we could save as many lives for only $50-80,000 per life (Newsweek, p.37, October 23, 1978). By using safer roadside obstacles such as break-away light poles and road signs, we could save lives for a mere $20-100,000 each. We could also save 4500 lives a year with kidney dialysis machines for $30,000 each or with cardiac care units for a scant $2000 each. With all of this in mind, the NSL is a relatively ineffective and costly method of saving lives compared to other more practical methods.

There are even more costs to going slower. It will cost $646 million in federal tax money from '79-'89 for enforcement of the NSL; fewer tickets were issued for drivers exceeding 75 than are now given for over 55 (Business Week, p.36-37, March 28, 1983). It will also take other funds in the billions of dollars for local and state enforcement to actually man the radar equipment, and do the paperwork to enforce the NSL (Consumer's Research, p.19, August, 1980). By eliminating the NSL, America would give officers more time to fight serious crime instead of chase frustrated drivers.

Since people hate paying for something when there is no practical reason to do so (as with the NSL), one would assume that there would be great unrest over the NSL. There is. In 1983, Colorado and California tried to pass a bill that would repeal the NSL in their states (Business Week, p.36-37, March 28, 1983). Kentucky has already passed a bill that would automatically drop the NSL if the federal government does so (Business Week, p.36-37, March 28, 1983). In Nevada, a $5 fine is given to motorists traveling between 55 and 70 mph for "energy wasting" instead of higher fines like other states (Business Week, p.37, March 28 1983). This movement is continuing in 1984, but the legislative results remain to be seen.

It is good to see that people are waking up to the fact that the NSL is an expensive and ineffective way to save lives and energy. What America really needs is better driver education, coupled with required safety belt use along with an energy policy that does not require hindering the present form of popular transit, instead of finding a more efficient one (Car and Driver, p.9, May, 1983). Perhaps enough time has passed since the energy crunch for our politicians to get rid of the "false 55", and actually do something constructive to save more lives and energy than the program(s) will cost.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Are You Anrgy Enough To Do Something Yet?

This will be short and sweet.

The Supreme Court has gone off of the deep end. Once the protector of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has clearly shown itself to be an enemy of the people hellbent on dismantling our Republic in favor some socialist utopia. No single decision in recent years has more clearly demonstrated than the recent decision support the expansion of eminent domain allowing units of government to confiscate private property to support private development projects. With just this single decision, as Justice Sandra Day O'Connor put it, church property can be taken for a Costco, a farm can be turned into a factory, and a neighborhood can be leveled for a shopping mall.

Of the nine members of the Supreme Court, one stands out as particularly deserving of criticism: Justice Anthony Kennedy. While Kennedy was only one of five votes, he has also been one of the more vocal proponents of individual and property rights, at least on the lecture circuit. To quote Justice Kennedy, "individual freedom finds tangible expression in property rights." And yet he voted to destroy the very right that he has so often held up as crucial to our way of life.

Since members of the Supreme Court are appointed for life, there is little we can do to remove traitors such as Justice Kennedy. But we can take this issue seriously and lean as hard as is humanly possible on local politicians to pass legislation to protect the rights of the individual to own and control property. We can work to make sure that no local unit of government is ever allowed to confiscate personal property without consequence, such as being removed from office.

Ultimately, the defense of this Country is the responsibility of the citizens. While our federal government fields a military to protect our borders and foreign interests, we the people must come together as an army to defend our way of life and the founding principles of this great nation. It is a war folks, a war that if lost, will result in the death of America. It is a war that must be fought with the gloves off, using any weapon we can. Our voices, Our votes. Our labor. We must quit bickering amongst ourselves and fighting small grass fires while the country burns around us.

In the secular world, there is no more powerful force than a motivated American population. When we come together, no one or nothing can stand in our way and this includes our own corrupt government and political system. We are not powerless peons dependent upon a nanny state for our survival. We are not morons unable to thing for ourselves. We are not puppets who's strings can be pulled by unions, media and politicians. We are not insecure children who tremble at the sound of any foreign voice of disapproval. We are Americans and when we work together, with God on our side, we are unbeatable. Isn't it time we started acting like Americans.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Supremes Destroy Property Rights While Congress Fiddles

While our Congress bickers over a Constitutional Amendment banning flag burning, the Supreme Court has just delivered a serious blow to individual liberty and property rights [Source]. June 23, 2005 will go down in American history as a very sad day. To allow state and local governments to take away private property for use in private development is just plain wrong and opens the door to abuses and corruption. There is no bright side to this decision.

Given the importance that the Founders placed upon personal liberty and private property rights, it would seem that our Congress would be doing everything in their power to protect these rights. That is, after all, part of their job and something that they take an oath to perform. Instead, our Congressional Clowns are busy bickering over a Flag Burning Amendment, a least when they are not busy arguing over judical appointments or taking one of their many vacations.

The right of individuals to own private property and to be protected against the government taking it for any purpose that clearly defined public requirements, is fundamental to our way of life. Until now, only those projects that benefitted the public qualified for eminent domain. This included new roads, water treatment facilities, hospitals and other easily defined public benefits. Now eminent domain can be used to take a citizens property to make way for private economic development using the logic that increased property taxes is a clearly defined public good. In
other words, it is okay to take your home to make way for yet another strip mall as long as the local government gets a few more property tax dollars to waste.

For those unfortunate folks who have their private property confiscated, some might say stolen, by their local government can take great comfort in knowing that the Congressional Clowns are hard at work making sure that burning the US Flag is a crime.

Burn the flag and go to jail. Steal a person's property and collect extra property tax. Sure seems like something is out of whack.

It is long past time for the American people to quit whining and unite in an effort to restore our government to the original form as specified by the Founders. We while we are busy whining and crying over minor issues, our Country is being destroyed at an ever increasing pace. It is long past time to pass term limits and then clean house and sweep these clowns and idiots out of office and send a new slate of elected officials to Washington DC and our local state houses.

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Lies and Denials Continue

Sen. Dick Durbin, Dem, Illinois, seems to have a hard time getting his words right. The number 2 Democrat in the Senate has now issued at least two wildly different apologies/excuses for his comments likening US troops to Nazis.

"It's not that my remarks were wrong or that there's any need for apology," Durbin told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Friday. "It's the fact that [my critics] have successfully twisted them out of context."

Let's see if we get this straight. Durbin compares our troops and their actions to Nazis. The public and the free media properly calls him on his own words and demands an apology. Dickie D. apologies and then decides to take back his apology and, in the finest tradition of leftist worldwide, blame others for his problem. In this instance, at least as the so-called leader and public servant tells the story, it is the vast right wing conspiracy that is twisting his words.

Sorry Dickie D. but your crap simply does not float. If you have neither the moral backbone or courage to stand up like a man and answer for your comments, then maybe it is time that you slink back into the slime and ooze from which you emerged. Leave the public stage and your spot at the public trough and go back to being just another bitter, unsatisfied, wacko leftist. The rest of us have lives to live and sure don't need any more of your lies and posturing.

Friday, June 17, 2005

PETA Employees Charged With Animal Cruelty

PETA spends millions of donated dollars attempting to convince the public that they care about the mistreatment of animals. Little did anyone know that PETA was involved in the very mistreatment they protest.

Police have filed charged Andrew Benjamin Cook, 24, of Virginia Beach, and Adria Joy Hinkle, 27, of Norfolk, VA, each with 31 felony counts of animal cruelty and eight misdemeanor counts of illegal disposal of dead animals.

As well as being employees of PETA, they were caught driving a van registered to PETA.

What makes this report especially disturbing is that the dead animals were supposed to be collected from local animal shelters supposedly to protect them from euthanization. PETA president Ingrid Newkirk has already issued a conflicting statement claiming that the animals were being collected and returned to the PETA office for euthanization.

Let's see if we have this straight - PETA is now in the business of killing animals? The great protector of animal rights is in the business of murdering helpless homeless animals? We certainly believe that all PETA members must demand a full explanation from their leaders for this even and for Newkirk's statement regarding euthanization. Alas, we know that ain't going to happen and somehow PETA will try to dodge responsibility and claim victim status.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Put It Back The Way It Was

Professional sports have elevated self destruction to the level of an art form. The very real possibility of a lockout looms over the NBA. Steroid use scandals and rumors have place both the athletes and the leagues squarely in the cold glare of a disappointed public. And the all time leader in shooting themselves in the foot, the NHL, still does not have a clue as to whether they will play this season and if so, how they will repair the damage done to the sport and fan base.

While most of the problems stalking professional sports are obvious in cause, greed, the solutions are never easily discerned. An exception to this is interleague play in major league baseball. Whatever novelty value provided by pitting AL teams against NL teams during the regular season, has long since disappeared. Few natural rivalries actually exist and face it folks, watching a bad NL team is no different from watching a bad AL team. In this case, the solution is easy: get rid of all regular season interleague play, with the exception of the All Star Game.

Our local worthies, the Minnesota Twins, are currently engaged in a desperate struggle with hated rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers (sarcasm intended). Local media has been busy digging up any possible tidbit from the 1965 World series won by the Dodgers in a desperate attempt to generate interest. Of course, with the games being played in LA at night, it is highly unlikely that many Twins fans here in Minnesota are still awake when the games end.

There are other reasons to trash interleague play including the potential to disrupt division races. It is not necessary to rehash the full list of interleague play negatives: a quick google will turn up more information than you probably wanted to see. All that remains is to once again make a public request of Major League Baseball:

"Go back to your roots and put it back the way it was."

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

2005 Canadian Flatcoated Retriever Specialty

If you are into Flatcoated Retrievers, be sure to check out the Canadian Specialty, July 21 through 24 in ThunderBay. This will be a great time for anyone with an interest in Flatcoats.

2005 Canadian Flatcoated Retriever Specialty

In the interest of total disclosure - yes I am a Flatcoated Retriever admirer.

Property rights / education gathering this Friday

Dear all,

This Saturday, June 11th, is the Republican Party State Central meeting at the Doubletree Park Place Hotel in Minneapolis. There will be election of state party officers.

A get-together is planned for the Friday evening before at 7:00 the Hotel to discuss primarily property rights issues, though it will be tied to education, too. Legislators, candidates for party officers, delegates and alternates, and the public are invited to attend. There is no cost, but a contribution to cover the cost of the room is welcome.

Please come if you are interested. You may invite others to attend. The event is sponsored by the Minnesota Property Rights Coalition, Dr. Steve Peterson, Chair.

There will be a presentation on the Clean Water Legacy Act and other Minnesota property rights issues. Property rights and education will also be discussed.

Doubletree Minneapolis Park Place Hotel,
I-394 at Xenia/Park Place Blvd.
Go South off 394 onto Park Place. At the second stoplight go Right.

Friday, June 03, 2005

A "Socialist America"? No Thanks

"Our task of creating a Socialist America can only succeed when those who would resist us are totally disarmed."

A "Socialist America"? Sounds like something that one would expect to hear coming from some neo-hippie, Ward Churchill-type on the fringe of the loonie Left. Imagine my surprise (sarcasm intended), to find that the author of this quote is none other than the Chair of Handgun Control, Sara Brady, the wife of Jim Brady, Assistant to the President and White House Press Secretary under President Ronald Reagan (The National Educator, Jan. 1994; page 3).

Over the years, we have heard Brady and her ilk spew forth a never-ending stream of touchy feely reasons for removing our Second Amendment Rights. You can visit their web site if you really need a refresher course in the liturgy of the Left. But disarming those of us who would dare to resist the attempts of the enlightened Left (yup, sarcasm again), to establish a "Socialist America" is not one of the more commonly publicized excuses.

Folks, with one simple quote from 1994, Brady has presented the best example of why we must fiercely and without compromise defend our Second Amendment Rights, as well as the entire Constitution. Read it one more time and let it sink in:

"Our task of creating a Socialist America can only succeed when those who would resist us are totally disarmed."

Ultimately, it is up to us to take personal responsibility for the defense of what we believe in and hold near and dear to our hearts. We the Citizens. Not BigMedia, not self-serving politicians and political parties, not the public education system. Only We the Citizens can protect the country that allows us the liberty to pursue our lives, raise our families and tilt after our own windmills without the control of a tyrannical socialist government.