Thursday, March 30, 2006

George Gilder on Blogs and the Media

George Gilder is one of the great thinkers of our time. -BIO- He follows and explains the leading edge technology better than anyone I know of. See his Gilder Technology Report. He was a leader in analyzing the social changes of the 1970s with the book Men and Marriage. Then he had a best seller with Wealth and Poverty explaining the causes of poverty. Along the way he was one of the leading thinkers on supply-side economics and the prosperity of the 1980s. In the early 1990s he predicted a revolution to access to information enabled by increased computing and communications power in Life After Television That vision has almost arrived with the internet and especially blogs and cheap making and distribution of videos. Gilder is a senior fellow at Discovery Institute in Seattle. Come and see/hear him in Seattle next month.
Is the Blogosphere the Death of the Mainstream Media?


George Gilder, Senior Fellow


Hance Haney, Director of Discovery's Technology & Democracy Project

Thursday, April 13

4:30 to 6:00 p.m.

Discovery Institute
Downtown Seattle
See the event description at Discovery Institute. Or call Annelise at (206) 292-0401 ext. 153.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Swedish Welfare State Collapses as Immigrants Wage War

Sweden is refusing to defend itself against the attack by Islam, report people closer to the action. "Fjordman" who lives in Norway reports at The Brussels Journal:
Last year I wrote an article about how Swedish society is disintegrating and is in danger of collapsing, at least in certain areas and regions. The country that gave us Bergman, ABBA and Volvo could become known as the Bosnia of northern Europe. The “Swedish model” would no longer refer to a stable and peaceful state with an advanced economy, but to a Eurabian horror story of utopian multiculturalism, socialist mismanagement and runaway immigration. Some thought I was exaggerating, and that talk of the possibility of a future civil war in Sweden was pure paranoia. Was it? In a new sociological survey (pdf in Swedish, with brief English introduction) entitled “Vi krigar mot svenskarna” (“We’re waging a war against the Swedes”), young immigrants in the troubled city of Malmö have been interviewed about why they are involved in crime. Although it is not stated, most of the immigrant perpetrators are Muslims. In one of the rare instances where the Swedish media actually revealed the truth, the newspaper Aftonbladet reported several years ago that 9 out of 10 of the most criminal ethnic groups in Sweden came from Muslim countries. This must be borne in mind whilst reading the following newspaper article.
Immigrants are “waging war” against Swedes through robbery The wave of robberies the city of Malmö has witnessed during this past year is part of a “war against the Swedes.” This is the explanation given by young robbers from immigrant backgrounds when questioned about why they only rob native Swedes, in interviews with Petra Åkesson for her thesis in sociology. “I read a report about young robbers in Stockholm and Malmö and wanted to know why they rob other youths. It usually does not involve a lot of money,” she says. She interviewed boys between 15 and 17 years old, both individually and in groups. Almost 90% of all robberies reported to the police were committed by gangs, not individuals. “When we are in the city and robbing we are waging a war, waging a war against the Swedes.” This argument was repeated several times. “Power for me means that the Swedes shall look at me, lie down on the ground and kiss my feet.” The boys explain, laughingly, that “there is a thrilling sensation in your body when you’re robbing, you feel satisfied and happy, it feels as if you’ve succeeded, it simply feels good.” “It’s so easy to rob Swedes, so easy.” “We rob every single day, as often as we want to, whenever we want to.” The immigrant youth regard the Swedes as stupid and cowardly: “The Swedes don’t do anything, they just give us the stuff. They’re so wimpy.” The young robbers do not plan their crimes: “No, we just see some Swedes that look rich or have nice mobile phones and then we rob them.”
.... Although Sweden is an extreme example, similar stories could be told about much of Western Europe. As Mark Steyn points out, the Jihad in the streets of France looked like the early skirmishes of an impending Eurabian civil war, brought on by massive Muslim immigration and Multicultural stupidity. Law and order is slowly breaking down in major and even minor cities across the European continent, and the streets are ruled by aggressive gangs of Muslim youngsters. At the same time, Europeans are paying some of the highest taxes in the world. We should remind our authorities that the most important task of the state – some would even claim it should be the only task of the state – is to uphold the rule of law in exchange for taxation.
Whoa!! They won't defend themselves. And they pay high taxes which pay the Muslims to sit idle!? Is that the purpose of their welfare state? But that is what they are doing.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

France pays for broadcasts in English!

France is hurt, very hurt, by the dominance of American culture and the English language. Especially hurt because they know they are superior to us. They can prove it! So they purposed to provide some balance. They decided to end the hegemony of CNN by adding the French point of view in their own 24-hour-per-day news channel. 3 hours per day will be in French. The balance in English! The government of France is paying the bill!The Washington Times reports:
President Jacques Chirac promised a "CNN a la francaise" in the 2002 election campaign and is committed to a station that will "spread the values of France and its global vision throughout the world." It was always known that part of the channel's output would be in English and Arabic, but champions of the French language were appalled at suggestions that its output in French be less than four hours a day. The satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine quoted Jean-Pierre Paoli, right-hand man to CII's head, Alain de Pouzilhac, as saying: "It could be half in English, half in French or a different proportion." But the weekly said CII executives told counterparts at the state-owned France Televisions, a partner with the private TF1 network in the venture, that French-language transmissions would be limited to three hours each morning. The rest, Le Canard Enchaine said, would be "in the language of Shakespeare."
Reality hits. If France wants to influence the world with its "unique French values" then the broadcasts must be in English!
A spokesman for the new channel said: "Eighty percent of our target audience will be Anglophone. If we want pluralism in the field of international television news, we cannot ignore this. "Our viewers will be opinion formers, journalists and people who travel a lot, and the language most common to them is English.
Hat tip to Gary Foss.

[posted with ecto]

Monday, March 27, 2006

Prosperous like the U.S.

As I look for signs and causes of economic growth I repeatedly find the contrast of what doesn't work - economies that stagnate and don't grow. Europe has consistently been left behind by the U.S. So have the European nations noticed? What do they think and say about this fact? Behind closed doors they desperately want the same results, but what are they willing to do? In the light they brag that they are superior to the U.S. The Wall Street Journal today has a column on the latest EU get together. First the hard reality:
According to last year's study by the Association of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Eurochambers), the U.S. economy is at least 20 years ahead of the EU in almost every key economic indicator. The current EU levels in income per capita, productivity, R&D spending and employment were reached by the U.S. already in the late '70s and early '80s. Eurochambers believes it will take decades for the Continent to narrow that gap -- and even then only if governments quickly introduce reforms. The International Monetary Fund estimates that if Europe were to raise its competitive level to the top position in the Western world, it could increase its prosperity by more than 10%.
Do they want to be like the US? They talk... In the past economic and political leaders have vowed to loosen regulations to encourage growth and to allow more free movement of workers. But when they go to implement their intentions. They don't, indeed, they can't.
Despite the leaders' promises, the freedom to provide services throughout the EU will remain restricted out of an irrational fear that older member states would be swamped by cheap labor from East Europe. The same populist fears have also led most of "Old Europe" to prolong a general ban on the free movement of workers from the East European newcomers. ... And the promise to boost employment among young and old people through guaranteed apprenticeships and active-aging policies would address Europe's looming pension crisis -- if member states could implement the necessary measures. But recent protests in France and opposition to structural reforms in Italy and Germany suggest there will be serious domestic backlashes.
I truly wish them well. I like good, clean competition. Come on, Europe, let's race!
The problem is that some on the Continent are just now waking up to the reality of globalization, a reality not always in the best interests of Europe's traditional producers. But this is not a bad thing in itself. Globalization inevitably means more competition, which leads to better and cheaper products, a more productive allocation of resources and higher economic growth. But our societies and enterprises have to face this challenge if Europe is not to lose, much less improve, its standing in the global economy.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

First-class Economist Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is one of the finest researchers and thinkers in economics and social sciences. Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University, does the research in many areas of economics and race relations. Sowell was the first I saw to research and print how the people of the racial groups work together in countries with two major racial groups. In Race and Culture: A World View he studied nations around the world that have he found that the United States is the only country where the majority race gives preference to the minority race. Here is a sample of his iconoclastic data gathering and anlysis quoted in a feature in the Wall Street Journal by Jason Riley:
"The left likes to portray a group as sort of a creature of surrounding society. But that's not true. For example, back during the immigrant era, you had neighborhoods on the Lower East Side [of Manhattan] where Jews and Italians arrived at virtually identical times. Lived in the same neighborhoods. Kids sat side by side in the same schools. But totally different outcomes. Now, if you look back at the history of the Jews and the history of the Italians you can see why that would be. In the early 19th century, Russian officials report that even the poorest Jews find some way to get some books in their home, even though they're living in a society where over 90% of the people are illiterate. "Conversely, in southern Italy, which is where most Italian-Americans originated, when they put in compulsory school-attendance laws, there were riots. There were schoolhouses burning down. So now you take these two kids and sit them side by side in a school. If you believe that environment means the immediate surroundings, they're in the same environment. But if you believe environment includes this cultural pattern that goes back centuries before they were born, then no, they're not in the same environment. They don't come into that school building with the same mindset. And they don't get the same results."
Since I don't have the book I am quoting from South Paw 68, a reviewer at
The book also covers middleman minorities such as oversees Chinese in Malaysia, Indians in Eastern Africa, and Jews worldwide. It explains why such minorities are resented for their financial success in whatever country they set up shop in and how they get kicked out of the country sometimes even though they greatly helped build the economy. They get accused of exploiting the natives and political pressure is put on them to hire the natives in their industry. Sowell gives the example of Jews who charge high interest for their loans because no one else will take chances on people with poor credit history and who stand a great chance of defaulting on a loan. The Jews must be financially responsible to keep their loan business going so they don't mix too much socially with their customers so as not to take on their bad financial habits. Cultures and ethnic groups that were once backwards become advanced over time especially if they are conquered by a people with a superior culture. Sowell gives the example of the ancient Britons who were conquered by the Romans and became more advanced culturally than the Irish or Scots who were not conquered.
This is the sample from one book. He has written close to 30 books and each is thoroughly researched and well written.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Look at beautiful, mysterious Olympic National Park

Apparently a new Seattle resident Gerald Van der Leun blogs at American Digest. He made a trip to the wet side of the Olympic Mountains on Washington's Pacific coast last weekend.
This let me know that I was well on my way to what is probably the greatest collection of moss in the Northern Hemisphere, the Hoh Rain Forest. I stopped in a small store on the way in where the woman behind the counter had been waiting patiently for at least a week to sell something to somebody. She sold me a rain coat. "You'll probably need it seeing that you are going to a rain forest." What could I do but agree? Besides, it was lined with the holy fabric of the Pacific Northwest, fleece, and it doubled my holdings. Correctly attired, waterproof, I pushed on up the road past local inhabitants -- [photo of majestic elk at close range]
Great photos.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Dennis Prager on the Damage Socialism does

Dennis Prager is one of my favorites. He is bright and articulate; great to hear on the radio. Today he looks at why socialism is so damaging. Socialism is a lousy economic system, because it kills the incentive that makes people want to produce more. Since less is produced the government has to decide how to share the misery equally. But it is much worse than that. Socialism drags people down, instead of building them up. It is a moral failure. Dennis's column Wednesday at World Net Daily.
Socialism teaches its citizens to expect everything, even if they contribute nothing. Socialism teaches its citizens that they have a plethora of rights and few corresponding obligations – except to be taxed. And that is why the citizens of less socialist – and more religious – America give more charity per capita and per income than do citizens of socialist countries. That is why Americans volunteer time for the needy so much more than citizens of socialist countries do. That is why citizens of conservative states in America give more charity than citizens of liberal states do. The more left one identifies oneself on the political spectrum, the more that person is likely to believe that the state, not fellow citizens, should take care of the poor and the needy. Under socialism, one is not only liberated from having to take care of oneself; one is also liberated from having to take care of others. The state will take care of me and everybody else.
Leading to:
The socialist idea sounded altruistic to those who began it, and it sounds altruistic to the naive who believe in it today. In practice, however, it creates self-centered individuals and a narcissistic society. So while it may have begun as a way to help others, it has come to mean a way of evading responsibility for oneself and for others.
And he analyzes the high-income students in France denying the unemployed to get jobs, ending with:
That is why France is so frightened of the utterly rational idea that a young person should have a two-year trial period at work before being granted a lifetime job. Such an innovation in France would mean that young people would have to work hard and earn the right to lifetime employment. But if socialism means anything, it means that one shouldn't have to earn anything. One merely has to breathe.

Spending restraint and mirrors

The Democrats in Washington the State have an emergency. They need more revenue so they can hire each others' kids, no, this is serious. Snohomish County Judge rules that 2005 tax increases violated the I-601 laws: Seattle Times And their "reserves" are already spent: Seattle Times again Working on this....

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

French health care is poor. Attention Krugman

I am back from four days offline in Phoenix, Arizona. Not for baseball's Spring training; we have friends there. The partisan professor strikes. Out. Prof. Paul Krugman of the partisan New York Times says the French got it right on health care. He hasn't been reading the news. We rely on reputable sources like Bad Hair Blog to correct the distinguished partisan professor. Bad Hair has long list of the problems in France. Most of his sources are the BBC. A few:
May 10, 2005 Hundreds of French surgeons have begun a symbolic "exile" in Britain to demand the right to charge higher fees Jan 22, 2004 Thousands of French health workers have held a one-day strike to protest against government plans to cut costs in the country's health system. Jan 22, 2004 Doctors, nurses and other health professionals have taken to the streets of Paris to protest against government plans to cut back on a health service which has a projected overspend this year of eight billion pounds. 15,000 elderly and frail dead during a heat wave in 2003 Aug 14, 2003 With temperatures soaring above the 40C mark over a two-week period, France's poorly-prepared hospitals never stood a chance, since they lack air-conditioning.
Krugman doesn't stand a chance.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Aging more gracefully

Good news from Andrew Ferguson at Bloomberg. Future retirees will be less of a burden, not more, than present ones.
The Census Bureau has taken a second look at these gloomy numbers and found more than a silver lining. The very trends that foretold actuarial doom -- greater longevity and the sheer size of the boomer cohort -- will not only postpone the day of reckoning but lessen its effects. The future, in other words, may not be what it used to be. Unfounded Alarm ``Many people have an image of aging that may be 20 years out of date,'' said Richard M. Suzman from the National Institute for Aging, which conducted the report for the Census Bureau. And that outdated image, he suggests, is the source of the unfounded alarm. Older people (those over 65) in the next generation will be healthier. Twenty-five years ago, more than one of four old people suffered from a chronic physical disability. Now the figure is fewer than one of five. The proportion of old people in nursing homes has declined. Older people are richer than before. In 1959, 35 percent lived in poverty. Now it's 10 percent. Their per capita net worth, even apart from Social Security payments, is rising. And older people are better educated. By 2030, more than 25 percent of the senior population will have a college degree. Higher levels of education usually signify a healthier population enjoying a higher standard of living. Not So New The picture the Census Bureau presents is of an aging generation that will be working (and paying taxes) longer and placing fewer and less costly demands on the health care and pension systems than we expected. Actually, this optimistic interpretation isn't so new. In the aging debate, the optimists -- on whose side the Census Bureau has now weighed in -- have recently seen their numbers grow.

Murdoch sees the world has changed

There are millions of media people who are living in the 1980s, telling each other the internet is another distribution method for what they have done for decades. And there is Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch, CEO of News Corp - Fox, etc - sees the world has changed (The Guardian, UK):
Rupert Murdoch last night sounded the death knell for the era of the media baron, comparing today's internet pioneers with explorers such as Christopher Columbus and John Cabot and hailing the arrival of a "second great age of discovery". The News Corp media magnate nurtures a long-held distaste for "the establishment" but last night confided to one of the few clubs to which he does belong - The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers - that he may be among the last of a dying breed. "Power is moving away from the old elite in our industry - the editors, the chief executives and, let's face it, the proprietors," said Mr Murdoch, having flown into London from New York after celebrating his 75th birthday on Saturday. Far from mourning its passing, he evangelised about a digital future that would put that power in the hands of those already launching a blog every second, sharing photos and music online and downloading television programmes on demand. "A new generation of media consumers has risen demanding content delivered when they want it, how they want it, and very much as they want it," he said. Indicating he had little desire to slow down despite his advancing years, he told the 603-year-old guild that he was looking forward, not back. "It is difficult, indeed dangerous, to underestimate the huge changes this revolution will bring or the power of developing technologies to build and destroy - not just companies but whole countries." The owner of Fox News added: "Never has the flow of information and ideas, of hard news and reasoned comment, been more important. The force of our democratic beliefs is a key weapon in the war against religious fanaticism and the terrorism it breeds."
I guess it's obvious that he is saying people in the old media industries have to change:
But he combined his new-found enthusiasm for the digital future with a "change or die" message for the monolithic media empires of the 20th century. "Societies or companies that expect a glorious past to shield them from the forces of change driven by advancing technology will fail and fall," he warned. "That applies as much to my own, the media industry, as to every other business on the planet." Two hundred liverymen and freemen of the trade guild were joined by family and friends who then dined in Stationers' Hall, a Grade 1 listed building near St Paul's Cathedral in London.
And those who adapt will prosper.
"Great journalism will always attract readers. The words, pictures and graphics that are the stuff of journalism have to be brilliantly packaged; they must feed the mind and move the heart," he enthused. Following its chairman's change of heart, News Corp has splashed out close to $1bn (£578m) on internet investments.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Shortage of workers in China!

People are the most valuable resource. Even in China with 1.3 billion people. How do we know people are valuable? Because the cost of employing them increases. Julian Simon, the late University of Maryland economist spent much of his career showing that "natural resources" have no value until people use them. The value is in their use; it's not intrinsic. And over time the value of almost all resources was going down because people were inventing new ways of doing things and funding substitutes. A great example is silicon chips; they are made of some of the earth's most abundant materials - sand, which is silicon, oxygen, and aluminum. But he found one resource that keeps increasing in value - people. In his book The Ultimate Resource 2 he analyzes all sorts of resources and finishes withthe most valuable one - the ultimate resource - that keeps increasing in value. Does China have too many people? Then pay should be low and decreasing. For the unskilled in rural areas pay is low. But it is higher in the areas that manufacture for export - and rising. The Times (UK) reports
Sweatshops are becoming a thing of the past as skilled staff won't get out of bed for less than £50 in prosperous southern China The world’s most populous nation is suffering from a shortage — of people. The workers who churn out bras for the British high street and toys to go under the Christmas tree are no longer happy to work in factories where security guards keep them behind locked gates or where taking a lavatory break of more than a minute could mean a fine. Since China has been transformed into an industrial juggernaut, demand for labour has soared so that it outpaces supply. This may not be the case in every province, but it is becoming a pressing problem for factories in the prosperous south, which rely on migrant workers.
They are considering raising the minimum wage! But the real bind is for skilled workers.
Brawn is easily available and university graduates are two a penny, but skilled workers with technical training are at a premium. Mr Chen said: “The Government doesn’t have the resources to train and encourage young people, so it is up to enterprises to solve this problem.” ... China has about 200 million migrant workers who have left their farms and roam coastal and bigr cities for better-paid jobs Southern Guangdong province has a shortage of about two million workers Wages in cities are rising at 13-15% a year, while rural wages are rising by 17% The number of labourers aged 15-24 and the share of this age group in the total population is falling The number of people working in manufacturing has dropped dramatically, with 98 million employees in 1995 down to 83 million in 2002 Salaries in urban manufacturing have more than doubled since 1991, from $642 a year in 1991 to $1,329 in 2002
The "ultimate resource."

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Tax proposal that reduces productivity

A University of Michigan professor turns success into a problem. And he has a "solution" to reduce the hard work that results in success. A tax on people who work hard. But it is for their own good. You know by the length of his job title that he is at the pinnacle of success. Joel Slemrod, Paul W. McCracken Collegiate professor of business economics and public policy at U-M's Stephen M. Ross School of Business and director of the Office of Tax Policy Research says in a U of Michigan news release:
"High-income, highly educated people are particularly likely to suffer from workaholism with regard to deciding when to retire—going cold turkey on their addictive behavior..." Workaholism, he says, has been linked to a variety of health problems, including exhaustion, stress and high blood pressure, and can take an emotional and mental toll on a worker's family.
... Using data from U-M's Retirement History Survey and Panel Study of Income Dynamics, Slemrod and colleague Daniel Hamermesh of the University of Texas found that workers with more education are less likely to follow through with their intended plans to retire. In fact, each additional year of schooling reduces the likelihood of being fully or partly retired by about as much as one-third of a year's increase in the planned age of retirement.
"The results suggest that certain more educated and higher-income respondents simply cannot help themselves," Slemrod said. "They express an expectation of retirement, but when the time comes, they are less likely to be retired."
Since they can't help themselves Professor Siemrod finds he is needed.
According to the study, workaholics misjudge the benefits and costs of working more hours in their careers and working beyond their intended retirement date.
If he had stopped with that economic analysis I could accept it. But he suggests to slow down some of the most productive people in our economy by taking money out of their pockets.
Unlike cigarette excise taxes, which are highly regressive (those with lower incomes pay a greater proportion of income in taxes), the appropriate corrective policy for workaholics—who tend to make more money—might involve a more progressive income tax burden (those with higher incomes pay a higher proportion of income in taxes) than otherwise, Slemrod says.
Will his tax hit only workaholics? No. It will hit every successful hard-working person and penalize their efforts -- and their success. Many of these successful people are not workaholics. They have jobs with a lot of responsibility and can see the results they produce. They know that people benefit from their work. An MD I know can't find a way to work a comfortable 35 to 45-hour week. Calls come in that he can't turn down, so he usually works 55 to 60 hours a week. He is not a workaholic, but a responsible leader of his practice and responsive to his patients - yes, I am one of them. Prof Siemrod would put a marginal tax rate of 70% on him and leave him with only 30 cents of a dollar he earns. The 70% is a guess because he conveniently forgets to say what his high tax rate would be. I thought it was only assistant and associate profs that were desperate to come up with a novel idea so they could publish. Siemrod is a very senior full professor; he has no need to attract attention to himself. He is influential on tax policy and is serious about taxing successful people.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Protect free speech on the web - HR 1606

There is a real threat to speech on the web. Senator John McCain, having failed to get the money out of elections, is happy to let the courts take his next step. McCain always said the intention of his McCain-Feingold campaign finance regulation increase was to stop Senators from unethical actions because they were corrupted by campaign contribution. Of course he would never name a Senator who was corrupted. And his bill was supposed to get the money out of campaigns. It was a rousing failure. There was more money spent in 2004. But it was forced into structures that are harder to oversee. McCain-Feingold prevents you and me from taking out advertisements on an issue we are concerned if a politician is involved - always - and particularly in the days before an election. But McCain has special treatment for the press that fawns over him. The press is exempt. They can say whatever they want whenever they want. There is every sign that McCain would love to apply his restrictions to bloggers to shut us up - you and me! When there were questions the Federal Election Commission voted 4-2 to exempt bloggers in 2002. But but U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly last fall overturned that decision. CNET - World mag So the threat is still alive. CNET - Political Web ads may be curtailed

Right and Left and HR 1606

Bloggers Michael Krempasky and Markos Moulitsas Zúniga join hands across the left-right divide to urge Congress to act. Red State There is a bill in Congress to preserve our speech. HR 1606 expects a vote next week.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Democrats win on ports and blame Bush

We can't make this up. Blame Bush for everything. The Democrats are so concerned about national security that they vetoed the operation of some port facilities by Dubai Ports World. Some facts here: DPW was not going to be in charge of security. DPW was not "buying" the ports. They won. Thursday DPW agreed to allow a US company to own the operations. They won. So they blame President Bush. On Good Morning America the line is Bush pulled a fast one to save his reputation. Bush did what they say is the right thing - what they say they wanted - but because Bush did it, it was the wrong thing to do. Well, I guess it takes the issue off the table to score political points for distinguished Senator Chuckie Schumer and his Democratics. To prove that they care one micron about national security. And now we know who writes the Tele-Prompter for Good Morning America, the Comedy Channel. But we are the losers. Dubai and the United Arab Emirates are among our best allies in the Middle East and this port operation deal should have been approved. Rush can brag about being right on this.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Every bit helps - Line-Item Veto

Every president - Democrat and Republican - wants to be able to cut out frivolous spending. Until Richard Nixon was weakened by Watergate the president could just refuse to spend some of the allocated funding. But Congress made it illegal and made Nixon sign the bill. The Republicans passed a line-item veto in the Contract for America in 1995, but the courts knocked it out. But there was one side benefit - or was it term limits? - Tom Foley, who was the Speaker of the House, sued the voters of the State of Washington and the voters in his district returned the favor and voted him out. Maybe a way has been found to make it legal again. The AP reports:
Bush asks Congress for line-item veto power...
In its 1998 ruling striking down the Line Item Veto Act of 1996, the Supreme Court concluded that the Act “g[ave] the President the unilateral power to change the text of duly enacted statutes.” The Legislative Line Item Veto Act does not raise those constitutional issues because the President’s rescission proposals must be enacted by both houses of Congress and signed into law.
Here is hoping. We need it. Even the elected Republicans are breaking the bank on spending. Via PowerLine Blog.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Frivolous Law Enforcement - Banned from WA State Park

The power of the internet. You used to need buy $1 million worth of machinery and start a business with dozens of employees to get your message out. Not anymore. Ben Livingston was ticketed for walking a public road to a park in Olympia, Washington.
Why was he ticketed while many people walked by doing the same thing without the same "law" being enforced? He says there is no due process of law when one is banned from a State Park. The legal authority for the General Administration department to ban citizens from state parks doesn't seem to exist in written form.
OK, this is just one person with one small infraction. But the mighty State of Washington has to pay attention to him, because he has an audience.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Chrichton on Complexity

I want to take more time to develop this. But today I am leaving a link in case I am wireless at the beach tonight and Sunday. Michael Crichton, the novelist who is an MD, gave a talk on how complex our world is last year. He illustrated it with pictures and graphs, so it is digestible. It is long because the subject is - complex. How can the people who can't predict the weather tomorrow know what it will be 50 years from now? And they are sure it is your fault and you have to give up your car to ride the bus, while they drive whatever they want - or fly in private jets. Chrichton
Some of you know I have written a book that many people find controversial. It is called State of Fear, and I want to tell you how I came to write it. Because up until five years ago, I had very conventional ideas about the environment and the success of the environmental movement. The book really began in 1998, when I set out to write a novel about a global disaster. In the course of my preparation, I rather casually reviewed what had happened in Chernobyl, since that was the worst manmade disaster in recent times that I knew about. What I discovered stunned me. Chernobyl was a tragic event, but nothing remotely close to the global catastrophe I imagined. About 50 people had died in Chernobyl, roughly the number of Americans that die every day in traffic accidents. I don’t mean to be gruesome, but it was a setback for me. You can’t write a novel about a global disaster in which only 50 people die. Undaunted, I began to research other kinds of disasters that might fulfill my novelistic requirements. That’s when I began to realize how big our planet really is, and how resilient its systems seem to be. Even though I wanted to create a fictional catastrophe of global proportions, I found it hard to come up with a credible example. In the end, I set the book aside, and wrote Prey instead. But the shock that I had experienced reverberated within me for a while. Because what I had been led to believe about Chernobyl was not merely wrong—it was astonishingly wrong.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Bush victory with Patriot Act - Patty and Maria opposed

I posted at Sound Politics about Maria Cantwell voting against the renewal of the Patriot Act before she voted for it. The Story

Europe's Economic Flu Harms U.S. Also

Bird flu is an impending threat to Europe, but it already has made itself sick economically. The Flu is dependence on government. Its effects reported by Discovery Institute's Richard Rahn
Europe's share of world gross economic product (GDP) has fallen from roughly a third, two generations ago, to only one-fifth today. The U.S. economy has grown about twice as fast as major European economies for the last two decades, resulting in the average American living about 40 percent better than his European counterpart. In the last quarter-century, Europe has created only 4 million new jobs (almost all in government). The U.S., despite a smaller population, has created 57 million new, overwhelmingly private sector, jobs. The portion of the U.S. population working is about 20 percent higher than in Germany, France and Italy. The U.S. unemployment rate is about half theirs (5 versus 10 percent). U.S. total government spending is about one-third our GDP; in Germany, France, and Italy the average is about half their GDP. Homeownership rates are far lower in Europe than in the U.S. -- where more than two-thirds of the people own their homes, which on average have about twice the square footage of the average European home.
Even more disturbing
... is the decline of optimism in Europe. A recent Harris Interactive poll found 57 percent of the people in the U.S. were very satisfied with their lives, compared with an average of only 16 percent in Germany, France and Italy.
Europe's various forms of market socialism have failed. Government squelches the efforts of individuals so there is less reward for working hard, investing and taking risks. So people make less effort. Even though we can be satisfied that our economic system has proven to be the best, we cannot rejoice at Europe's misery; it is not in our interest or the world's. Can the U.S. do anything to help? Rahn has two ideas:
... supporting the pro-growth policies of some of the smaller and newer free market countries. Many in the European ruling elite put down pro-growth policies by disdainfully referring to them as the "Anglo-Saxon model." Yet, perhaps, the most influential architect of the high-growth economic policies followed by many countries was the great 20th century Austrian economist F.A. Hayek. The U.S. government ought to wage an aggressive information campaign in Europe to offset many factual misrepresentations about the U.S. in the European press -- particularly in health care, levels of poverty, schooling, crime, justice, etc. By almost any measure, though far from perfect, the U.S. comes out better than much of Europe. Such a campaign will not cause Europeans to love Americans, but it might help force them to view their own failed policies more critically, the first step in bringing about change.