American Elephants

If They Passed the Flat Tax, You Could Have Done It All On a Postcard. by The Elephant's Child
April 14, 2010, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Taxes | Tags: , ,

For Tax Day, here is Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute explaining how the Flat Tax would work.  If they had passed it, you could have done it all on a postcard!

Who Gets to Choose What Information You Get? You, or the Government? by The Elephant's Child

The Federal Communications Commission is holding an “inquiry” on “The Future of Media.”

As the nation’s expert agency involved in media and communications policies, the FCC has begun an examination of the future of media and the information needs of communities in a digital age. The objective of this review is to assess whether all Americans have access to vibrant, diverse sources of news and information that will enable them to enrich their lives, their communities and our democracy.

The Future of Media project will produce a report providing a clear, precise assessment of the current media landscape, analyze policy options and, as appropriate, make policy recommendations to the FCC, other government entities, and other parties.

Apparently the free marketplace of ideas just isn’t good enough.  They want Big Government to pick views with which they happen to agree.  Once, alleged scarcity was the reason for the FCC to impose the “Fairness Doctrine” on radio without running afoul of the First Amendment.  Now, it’s not scarcity but abundance that is the “problem.”

America is at a critical juncture in the history of communications. Information technology is changing our lives in ways that we cannot easily foresee.

The digital age is creating an information and communications renaissance. But it is not serving all Americans and their local communities equally. It is not yet serving democracy fully. How we react, individually and collectively, to this democratic shortfall will affect the quality of our lives and the very nature of our communities.

The layoffs of thousands of journalists have prompted concern from a wide variety of independent analysts and groups that we may end up with fewer “informed communities.”

The failure of many newspapers and layoffs of journalists certainly has the laid-off journalists upset, and the journalism schools aren’t too happy either.  Many people no longer feel the need to subscribe to a daily newspaper.  That fact should prompt some soul-searching among editors, journalists and academics, but that is not the way things work.

Much easier, and more comfortable than self-examination, is to request the hand of government to fix things.  Tell those stupid people what they should read, and eliminate any distressing news.   The free marketplace of ideas is entirely too threatening.

Freedom is, to be sure, frightening.  There is no telling
what values someone will choose to hold.
Decent and well-meaning guardians of values were horrified
by the monstrous principles  of the Declaration of Independence.
It is, of course, out of fear that the guardians preach the inculcation of values,
fear of knowledge and thought.
(Richard Mitchell)

Guess Who is Keeping the Border Patrol from Doing Their Job? by The Elephant's Child

On March 27, Arizona rancher Robert Krentz was murdered by an unknown gunman who entered and exited the U.S. illegally in an area where border agents are widely prohibited from using motorized vehicles, constructing roads or installing surveillance structures.

Four Republican congressmen introduced legislation on Wednesday that bans the Interior Department from using environmental regulation to forestall Border Patrol access.  The congressmen say that their bill will address environmental degradation of federal lands and help to close national security gaps along the border.

Securing the borders against illegal entry is a matter of national security, and the illegals who cross the border do considerable damage to the environment as has been shown on videos of the area. Internal documents show that the Interior Department and the U.S. Forest Service have actively prevented Border Patrol agents from securing U.S. borders by requiring Department of Homeland Security officials to complete lengthy environmental analyses, and even blocking agents from entering some areas.

And DHS has paid  the Department of the Interior more than $9 million since 2007 to “mitigate the environmental damage” of protecting the border.  That would be the areas where the Border Patrol is restricted from using motorized vehicles, building roads or installing surveillance.  A 2009 memorandum of agreement agrees that DHS will pay DOI an additional $50 million for mitigation funds, but DOI officials have not revealed how those funds will be used.

This is typical of Big Government.  Congress has passed their regulatory tasks off to governmental agencies, and the right hand seldom knows what the left hand is doing.  Not that Congress does a good job of regulation, but at least there is some oversight, and they are responsible ultimately to the voters.  But government money is easily shuffled around.   If we could track the useless and unnecessary expenditures, hold a lot of official feet to the fire, perhaps tax day wouldn’t be so painful.

Making Adult Decisions in the Face of a Crisis. by The Elephant's Child
April 14, 2010, 12:03 am
Filed under: Conservatism, Economy, Education, Health Care, Taxes | Tags: , ,

New Jersey is in very bad shape.  Gross mismanagement and foolish taxes have left New Jersey with a $10.7 billion gap on a total state budget of $20.3 billion.  That’s a very big gap.  New Governor Chris Christie’s answer is clear and simple: “a smaller government that lives within its means.”

Governor Christie is not going to solve the problems of New Jersey by increasing taxes. He’s going to do it by cutting spending.  The Wall Street Journal’s Bill McGurn says “Governor Christie is “offering the voters a dose of Reagan Republicanism — with a New Jersey twist.”

Cutting spending in not only not easy, but it usually results in a lot of screaming. It has been a long time since anyone in New Jersey has been serious about cutting spending and cutting $11 billion  gets a lot of screaming.

The Governor has asked the teachers’ union to take a pay freeze for one year, and to contribute 1.5 % of their income  towards their health insurance. Currently, teachers receive free family medical, dental and vision coverageFree, for life.  Comes the screaming!

The head of the teachers’ union sent out an email to all teachers in the state, asking them to pray for the death of Governor Christie.  They also wail about “the children.” As if the quality of the children’s education depends on the teachers’ not having to contribute a little to their own health insurance.

The Gormogans are also smitten.  This kind of straight talk gets a lot of respect  They have a clip of Governor Christie on “Morning Joe” that is very worth every second of your time. The governor has a long way to go yet before New Jersey is in the black, but you really have to admire what he is doing, and his straight talk, and straight thinking.

And the example he is setting for governors all around the country.  When he gets through with New Jersey, maybe we can get him to move here?

ADDENDUM: Gov. Christie is taking $65 million, the entire allocation, from the state’s global warming fund, and $9.5 million, from the toxic waste site cleanup program, to help close the over $10 billion deficit in his $29.3 billion 2010-2011 budget, the state environmental protection commissioner said Monday.

Commissioner Bob Martin said he hopes the loss of the $65 million funding, for the state’s role in a regional effort to combat global warming, will only be for one year.  The DEP staff, he told the committee, will continue to attempt to work against global warming and so-called greenhouse gasses despite the lack of money.  I expect the DEP staff will be just as effective this year as they were last year.
(h/t: Moe Lane)

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