Wednesday, April 28, 2010

So you want to build a wind farm?

From The Boston Globe:

The nine-year regulatory battle over the nation’s first proposed offshore wind farm is expected to end this week, when US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar plans to issue a final federal decision on whether to permit 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound.

But some opponents of the wind farm are making it clear that if Salazar approves the project, they will go to court to try to overturn his ruling.

The Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe, on Martha’s Vineyard, issued a statement yesterday saying they will sue if Salazar approves the project in the 560-square mile sound. The group is one of two Wampanoag tribes that say the proposed turbines, which would be more than 400 feet tall, would disturb spiritual sun greetings and threaten ancestral artifacts on a seabed that was once exposed land.

The Aquinnah tribe said it has hired a lawyer experienced in tribal historic preservation efforts to “fully prepare for administrative and judicial relief should the project move forward.’’ The statement said the tribe has identified more than 14 “legal shortcomings’’ by the Minerals Management Service under the National Historic Preservation Act and may also allege violations of other federal laws.

The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the main opposition group to the proposed wind farm, has also indicated it will probably sue if the project is permitted.

Advocates for wind energy are closely watching the progress of the Cape Wind project. A flurry of wind farms have been proposed along the East Coast over the past several years, and as technology improves, more are expected.

Supporters say approval of the Nantucket Sound project would pave the way for the United States to catch up to European countries that already have offshore wind farms, and even to surpass them eventually.

But wind energy advocates are also worried that if Salazar denies the project over the concerns of the tribes, other Native American groups — or owners of historic properties — will be emboldened in their efforts to quash proposed wind farms elsewhere.

All I can say is---Go Wampanoag Tribe! Don't trust government! They have screwed you for hundreds of years and they will screw you now for a deranged cause!

Wind farms are the great pie-in-the-sky "clean" energy that environmentalists and their political enablers love to trumpet whenever they find an appropriate situation that may be susceptible to their argument. In this case, it's a great swath of land that can be easily exploited, in their opinion, at the expense of a lowly Indian tribe in the "Blue" state of Massachusetts. The truth about wind farms is that they take up a LOT of land to produce a comparable amount of power that a nuclear power plant could. So imagine massive amounts of land being carpeted by these ugly beasts. Of course, those that are well connected and politically powerful--like a Kennedy--will always be able to stop any plans to block their beautiful view with ugly wind mills. But in Massachusetts, a lowly band of Indians are acceptable fodder.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Advice to Tea Partiers

The Cato Institute has 5 pieces of advice for Tea Partiers:

1. Republicans aren’t always your friends.
2. Some tea partiers like big government.
3. Democrats aren’t always your enemies.
4. Smaller government demands restraint abroad.
5. Leave social issues to the states.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Rothbard tackles the insidious VAT

In this essay criticizing the possible implementation of a Value Added Tax back in the 1970’s by the Nixon administration, Murray Rothbard once again exhibits the sharp insight and the scalpel like perspicuity that he would readily wield into a cogent libertarian argument. In the case of the VAT, the argument raised by Rothbard against it still remains strong and very convincing. Here is an abstract:

The American public will pay a high price indeed for the clandestine nature of the VAT. We will be mulcted of a large and increasing amount of funds, extracted in a hidden but no less burdensome manner, just at a time when the government seemed to have reached the limit of the tax burden that the people will allow. It will be funds that will aggravate the burdens on the already long-suffering average middle-class American. And to top it off, the VAT will cripple profits; injure competition, small business, and new creative firms; raise prices; and greatly aggravate unemployment. It will pit consumers against business, and intensify conflicts within society.

I urge you, dear reader, to read this essay. It is as relevant today as when it was written thirty-eight years ago.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cash for dishwashers!

From SFGate:

The federal government is giving away $35.2 million to Californians who are buying energy-efficient appliances, but consumers will have to act fast to get the mail-in rebates provided by the latest federal stimulus program.

Rebates will be distributed through the "cash for appliances" program beginning Thursday — Earth Day — to boost the economy and cut energy use in the nation's most populous state.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to buy energy-efficient appliances, recycle their old ones and take advantage of the program's three rebates: $200 for refrigerators, $100 for clothes washers and $50 for room air conditioners.

The federal program was created last year, but each state is distributing the money according to its own rules. In California, the Energy Commission is administering the rebates.

Here we go again. They are transferring wealth from one group of taxpayers to another group--One group doesn't need to buy anything but they still have to chip in for the group that was going to buy anyway. Absurd. Well, at least appliance makers and suppliers make a killing, right? Of course, our government doesn't have the cash to fund this program so it has to do some borrowing by selling government bonds, and therefore pay interest to bondholders, to "give away" these rebates. Ladies and gents, your tax dollars at work.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What ever happened to protesting being patriotic?

Partisan liberals are currently working hard (again!) on a smear campaign against Tea Party protestors. Here are two great excerpts of posts by conservative bloggers on the subject. The first one is

The narcissistic and condescending views of Presidents Obama and Clinton is not peculiar to them. Such views are an inherent part of being a true-believing Progressive. Progressivism is based on a fundamental lack of faith in individual citizens or in organizations of citizens to make the best decisions for themselves or for the nation. Progressivism’s key attribute is its insistence that the “smart people", the technocrats, the people who really “care", should be handling the levers of power over every important aspect of our lives, from education to resource allocation.

It is of no matter to a Progressive that every such political construct has failed in the past, with the size of the failure proportionate to the size of the implementation of Progressive (i.e. socialist) ideas. For a Progressive, past failures only mean that not-quite-smart-enough people were put in charge, or that the government domination of the private sector wasn’t complete enough for their plans to work.

The other is by our old friend Harrison Price at Just Politics:

Liberals across the country are on the ropes so it’s time to pull out the slander and lies and they are already trying to sell the story that Tea Party protesters (whom Obama said he was “amused by”) are violent and will cause violence.

During the presidency of George W. Bush “protest is patriotic” however during the time of Obama it is… seditious?

Uncle Milton on wealth transfer

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Is the minimum wage racist?

Walter Williams thinks that it is:

One of the more insidious effects of minimum wages is that it lowers the cost of racial discrimination; in fact, minimum wage laws are one of the most effective tools in the arsenals of racists everywhere, as demonstrated by just a couple of examples. During South Africa's apartheid era, its racist unions were the major supporters of minimum wages for blacks. South Africa's Wage Board said, "The method would be to fix a minimum rate for an occupation or craft so high that no Native would likely be employed."

Monday, April 19, 2010

What's a demagogue to do?

How does a country that relies so much on energy exports suffer rolling blackouts due to an energy shortage? This paradox is playing right now in Venezuela where socialist big mouth, Hugo Chavez, has gone a long way to crush the private economy for the sake of a larger role for his left leaning regime. Now Mr. Chavez, whose popularity has hit new lows because his many promises have failed to materialize, has new friends in China who will throw $20 billion into the sparse Venezuelan coffers, so that Chavez can go on a public relations spree fixing up highways and various other languishing public works projects. Hmmm...this whole thing sounds kinda familiar.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Links for today

1) My weekly guest post over at The Bobo Files is now posted. Subject: Obama and his Big Labor friends are getting snuggly by the day.

2) The Independent Bloghorn has excellent economic analysis from STRATFOR, an international affairs organization, on China that is worth your time.

3) Just Politics has very interesting comments on unemployment benefits.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Unicorns and Rainbows ride the rails

The California high-speed rail project is a perfect example of how citizens in California have slowly committed economic suicide by believing in unicorns and rainbows:

Is it a high-speed rail ride to the future or a Bay Bridge boondoggle times 10? That's what lawmakers are wondering as more and more questions arise about the plan to build a multibillion-dollar bullet train between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

"I'm all for high-speed rail, but I want it to be high-speed rail done right," says state Sen. Joe Simitian.

Simitian has plenty of reasons to be concerned. Not only will the rail line go right through his Peninsula district, but also he chairs the Senate budget subcommittee that oversees the $9 billion in voter-approved bonds for the project.

In addition to worries about how many backyards will be torn up for the line, he and other key legislators are asking question's about the High Speed Rail Authority's business plan - which remains murky at best.

For example, no sooner had voters approved the bond package than the initial $33.6 billion price estimate jumped to $42.6 billion because the authority had failed to account for inflation. And that cost could climb even higher if the rail goes underground through the Peninsula, as many communities are now requesting.

Then there is the estimated ticket price for a trip from L.A. to San Francisco, which has jumped to $105 one way - making the line much less competitive with the price of an airline ticket...

One of the biggest fears, however, is that the state will not be able to keep the explicit promise made to voters that they would not be on the hook if the finances fall short.

This is becoming a common scenario in California; in this case, gullible voters approve billions for high-speed rail bonds without really knowing the total cost. The whole project was sold as a solution to a host of issues like pollution reduction, congestion reduction, and besides, Europe has high speed rail and we should be just like them. All good reasons, I guess, to blow through billions of state funds on a project that smells like a boondoggle.

The cost of complying with the IRS

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Public Pension Crisis

Why the heck did I go to college? I could have joined a public union early on as a roadside sign inspector or something and been better paid than most people in the private sector. Additionally, the pension benefits are SWEEEET!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lemon capitalism

GM loses billions in the fourth quarter of 2009. Didn't the federal government "lend" GM billions of tax payer funds?

Our health care future

If you want to see what the likely future of national health care will be like in the future, look to what is happening in the state of Massachusetts:

The standoff between Massachusetts regulators and health insurance companies intensified yesterday, as most insurers stopped offering new coverage to small businesses and individuals, and state officials demanded that the insurers post updated rates online and resume offering policies by Friday.

People seeking to buy health insurance for the first time, or customers looking to change policies, found they could not do so, at least temporarily.

The confusion — or market chaos, as one insurance industry official called it — followed the state Division of Insurance’s rejection last week of 235 of 274 premium increases proposed by insurers. The increases were for policies covering what is known as the small group market, which includes more than 800,000 people across Massachusetts.

Insurance Commissioner Joseph G. Murphy said he has asked insurers to quote rates for new coverage through the state’s Health Connector website by week’s end, and reminded them that they are required by law to do so. The new quotes would use base rates set last year, plus additional factors such as the age and size of a company’s workforce, Murphy said.

“If we don’t see the rates posted by the end of the week, we have a variety of enforcement tools at our disposal, including the ability to fine carriers,’’ warned Murphy. “It’s imperative that consumers have information available to them as they consider their purchasing options,’’ he said.

Health insurers, however, said they could not calculate new rates until a judge rules on their request for an injunction to prevent the state from continuing to block increases for the coverage period that started April 1. Insurance carriers had proposed premium rate increases averaging 8 to 32 percent, which the state found excessive. The case is expected to go before a Superior Court judge in Boston as early as tomorrow.

What a mess, but it's really not a surprise. Hang on tight because this is coming to a theater near you.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Creating more problems...

Ever wonder why that McDonald's salad costs more than the Big Mac? Well, it's no surprise that our government has something to do with it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Too little, too late

I'm getting a real kick out of finding articles in liberal newspapers about the ravages that ObamaCare will inflict on states and small towns. It's too bad that they didn't do this kind of reporting BEFORE the bill was passed.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Free Lunch Myth

"Government is that fiction whereby everybody believes that he can live at the expense of everybody else."---Frederic Bastiat

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture

Civil forfeiture is absolutely unconstitutional, but so is most of what the federal government does every day as far as I'm concerned.