Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Those Worthy, Dark Thoughts, and Those Worthy of Nothing

Being in a far away time zone can be odd at times. This past Memorial Day I remembered that, in a round about way. When I was overseas, I’d be on night maneuvers lying in mud, wondering what my family was doing at that moment.

Being on this side of the world this time, I was sitting on my back deck thinking about what the service members were doing at that very moment. Most everyone in this area was more then likely asleep already. I was wondering if at that very second as I took another chug of Yuengling, if a service member was breathing their last breath. Granted that’s a pretty dark thought, but isn’t that partly what Memorial Day is for? As I’m sitting here typing is a young servicemen’s life ending. Could one be questioning the loyalty of his country to him? Wondering if he makes a mistake will he be used by a politician as a tool to further his career and power? It’s sad that the people that didn’t have the courage to uphold the Constitution in declaring war or not, will decide the fate of those with the courage to willingly sacrifice their lives for it.

I wonder if Congressmen’s William Jefferson, Ney, Tom DeLay, or any other member of congress had thoughts like that Monday.

Vouchers Bad, Public Preschool Good and Damn the Facts, Part II

In a prior rant about public preschool I pointed to a Reason Study stating that there is no "LASTING" benefit.

Now to add some icing to that lovely cake, we have a Rand Study that has been exposed by two San Jose State University economics professors
who show the Rand preschool study "cherry-picked" data, based its claims on "unbelievable assumptions that bias the results," and omitted numerous costs and other factors that significantly lower the alleged benefits of universal preschool.

The rest of what they found out is in a News Release at the Reason Foundation.

The above mention study by the Rand foundation was paid for by The David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Who it seems has had their hands in trying to implement government sponsored preschool for some time. In an article in the Mercury News it says they've spent about 9 million a year to cram it down the average citizens throat.

Now, foundations are perfectly within their right to try and help those they feel need it. But, when they direct their efforts at getting the government to enforce what "they think is best" for the masses, they've stopped being a charitable organization and are well on their way in becoming a totalitarian overlord.

I wonder if the Rand Foundation got a nice bonus for such "good" results. The best results money can buy.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Vouchers a Real Urban Renewal Tool

My family and I moved up here from Pottsville, PA almost 7 years ago. We decided on the city of Niagara Falls partly because of the price of housing, along with while stationed at the Marine Corps Recruiting Station in Buffalo from February, 1986 till November, 1991 we became fond of the area (Where else can you get great pizza and wings?).

The house we bought is slowly looking better then it was when we bought it. Lately we've been thinking of an addition. The big question was, "Are we going to stay in this house long enough to make it worth it?" There are a lot of pro's to staying here, cheap mortgage, taxes aren't bad in comparison to suburbs, close to everything, and the biggies, nice neighborhood and we like our neighbors. But when we got to the cons guess which one stuck out. Sure there's the crime, roads, noise and poorly run government, but isn't all government? A rottwieller and cleaning several guns on the front porch keeps the crime away (it's good to be a redneck), the roads and noise you get use too. But school quality is the deal breaker.

Most of our friends have children and live in the suburbs or country. They all say the city is nice for the reasons I've mentioned, and compared to where they live the property taxes are low (but still to high). When the subject of living in the city comes up most of them would like to. The very next sentence though is, "But the schools are bad." It's not only our friends either, most of the people at work say the same thing. When parents look for a place to raise their children what's at the top of the list? This is why it's so hard for me to understand how those who represent the poor and others that live in cities continually vote no for vouchers or even tax credits.

This last attempt really gave us some hope, alas to no avail, again the politicians were bought off. I know someone that deals with a lot of teachers and officials within the public school system were she works. Most of them, she says hated the idea of a tax credit. With a smirk, she said they send their kids to private schools though.

I'm no rocket scientist, but it seems to me if parents had a choice on where they could send their kids to school, they'd be more willing to move into the city. All the bells and whistles will not entice parents to put their kids in bad schools. So they stay in the suburbs. You say they're not that bad, then why do the teachers that work in them send theirs elsewhere?

The most shocking is that the so-called leaders and speakers for the "poor" continue to force the poor into substandard schools. It would make a suspicious person ask what or who do they really work for? They continue to demand more money for a system that continually shows its inability to improve. Only in government is failure rewarded with more money.

City officials, who are serious about improving the quality of life within it, need to realign their priorities. All the government housing and programs for the poor will not help, only by attracting the middleclass will you see any REAL economic improvement. The number one concern of middleclass families is education for their children. You want to fix the city, give the middleclass a reason to come here. You get the middleclass to live here and they will bring a "market" with them. The bells and whistles you've been using for several decades aren't working. Try what Cleveland did or maybe one of the ideas mentioned at The Friedman Foundation . But then whom do you work for, the majority of residents or the School System and it's members? Let the parents weigh the pros and cons and decide about school chioce, but give "them" the choice.

My wife and I have a little more then two years to decide, give us a choice.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

1984 and A Brave New World, Together at Last

It is amazing how some authors from the early 20th century captured the essence of authoritarian rule with fictitious novels. The one used most in comparing today's society is 1984 by George Orwell. Another less know and so, less referenced is A Brave new World by Aldous Huxley.

With all the government easdroping, arrests (detainmnets) with no charges, "enemy combatants" and the list goes on, there is a good argument for 1984. Its blunt, in your face totalitarian rule was easy to see. It was forceful, and those who opposed where "shown the errors of their ways". However, in Brave New World it was not the axe but the carrot that kept everyone in line.

No matter what you did for a living you were taken care of. From housing, food, and even drugs, you had no real worries, almost like today's safety net, section 8, Welfare and Medicaid. Relationships were noncommittal, no kids to worry about, the State raised them. Not like real life, well, except for public day care, schools, and after school programs.

Even in the utopia of A Brave New World there were "classes". You had the administrators "Alphas", just like politicians, your Betas they where like the Bureaucrats, you had C, D, Union workers, Unskilled Labor. However, the most striking was those that refused to simulate, who did not allow the State to care for them were outcasts, barbarians, and even savages of a has been, "Pre-enlightened time". Much like the individualists of today, unless they work with the "State" and toot the progressive thinking". Anyone who even questions the "safety net" is labeled a heartless individual. Go with the flow and take your soma, man....

One ironic aspect is that by socialist standards, this world would get high marks. Yet, one of the issues you always hear is the "social classes" or unfairness of it all. In A Brave New World instead of your heritage, parents or even your own hard work setting your status, it is the random acts and functions of the State that set it.

It could be said to a certain point Republicans use 1984 as their "How to Book", but the same goes for Democrats with A Brave New World. You take aspects of these two books and you can pretty much see the mix we have.

What we need is a "How to Book" with a Laissez Faire theme. Unless someone knows of one?

F. A. Hayek Said this Would Happen

I read a comment that turned my 40 watt bulb on at Free New York
Contrary to the concept of three independent and co-equal branches of government, government is now dominated by the executive branch at all levels simply because the executive controls the most jobs.

The first book I read after seeing that temptress Libertarianism, was "Road to Serfdom" by F.A. Hayek. After I read it I asked my father several questions about Germany during Hitler's rise to power and what he thought of the book. Not that I didn't believe the book but just to get an opinion from someone that was "there". He confirmed what Hayek had said about why/how Hitler came to power and the mindset of the general population.

The one point that sticks out is Germany's council was trying to control the economy. Hayek pointed out that to do so you needed to react quickly and that large groups of people with equal votes (democracy) couldn't, due to debate and compromise. In a business it is usually one powerful man (leader) who makes quick decisive decision (Along comes Hitler).

Is there a pattern that once the people look to government to solve their problems it seems a dictator or authoritarian government soon follows? During the 20s and 30s it would seem so, Germany, Italy, Russia, and later China. In each case it was the cry of "The Oppressed People" or "well intentioned intervention" of their governments that caused these men to gain power. We could add Cuba, and several African countries to the lot also.

History seems to show Hayek knew what he was talking about. Lets hope "Road to Serfdom" isn't a prophetic book about the Republic we live in. But with the "executive branch at all levels" becoming stronger by the year it's not looking good.

Some food for thought, the US Constitution says,
Section 7. All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.

Every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a law. But in all such cases the votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the names of the persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered on the journal of each House respectively. If any bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law, in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their adjournment prevent its return, in which case it shall not be a law.

Every order, resolution, or vote to which the concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the same shall take effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the rules and limitations prescribed in the case of a bill.

Section 8. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

So if the budget and laws are Congress' responsibility, why is it called the "President's Budget", and he gives Congress Bills?
The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they outht to employ their capitals, would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted to no council and senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.

Adam Smith

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Dear Senator McCain

Recently I read a George Wills editorial, which quoted you as saying:

``I work in Washington and I know that money corrupts. And I and a lot of other people were trying to stop that corruption. Obviously, from what we've been seeing lately, we didn't complete the job. But I would rather have a clean government than one where quote First Amendment rights are being respected that has become corrupt. If I had my choice, I'd rather have the clean government.''

Just about everyone I know agrees with you in that money and lobbyist are the major problem. What bothers me is what seems to be the sacrificing of the First Amendment to try and curb corruption in DC.

Granted I am an outsider who is ignorant of the “ins and outs” of DC. But has anyone asked, what is the root cause? Is it money and or the special interests? I believe that even with an infinite number of laws, no one but God himself will put a dent in the corruption. Both money and special interests are here to stay. Every group and individual has their own interests and each feels theirs special. And here lies the real problem. It is human nature to want the most for the least and Congress by passing laws facilitates it. No one has pointed out the combination of the ability of you and your colleagues to pass whatever laws are politically expedient and the exuberant amount of taxpayer’s money at Congress’ disposal.

Rather then encroaching on the First Amendment, why not limit the power to make laws and reduce the amount of the taxpayer’s money? Why do businesses spend millions and other special interest groups lobby? Could it be the return for their money is greater, weather in funds, grants, tax breaks, favorable regulations, or even enforcement of ideology in the form of laws?

It is alarming to hear you would dismiss the Constitution to acquire a political goal. This same type dismissal is what I feel, has caused the rampant corruption. The Tenth Amendment says;

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

I know that over the past century this has been watered down to the point that it is meaningless. Yet, James Madison stated;

“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”

With such strong evidence of what the Tenth Amendment is supposed to mean, is it any wonder some fear the First Amendment will be next victim of a “just cause”?

I agree that corruption is a problem in government, but the cause is the unbridled power of the government.

Thomas Jefferson once said,

"In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief with the chains of the Constitution”

If the Constitution can be so easily set aside what then, guarantees our “Unalienable Rights” and protects the individuals? Some say the three branches of government. But the Bill of Right in the Constitution was meant to protect us from those. As Justice William O. Douglas stated,

"Our Bill of Rights curbs all three branches of government. It subjects all departments of government to a rule of law and sets boundaries beyond which no official may go. It emphasizes that in this country man walks with dignity and without fear, that he need not grovel before an all powerful government.”

Sir, you stated “ If I had my choice, I'd rather have the clean government.'' How long would it be clean without the “Chains of the Constitution”? Rather then dismissing what little remains of the Bill of Rights to try and fix a problem, enforce the Bill of Rights as intended, to limit the corruption.

Thank You
George D

Frédéric Bastiat on Socialism

Socialism Is Legal Plunder

Mr. de Montalembert has been accused of desiring to fight socialism by the use of brute force. He ought to be exonerated from this accusation, for he has plainly said: "The war that we must fight against socialism must be in harmony with law, honor, and justice."

But why does not Mr. de Montalembert see that he has placed himself in a vicious circle? You would use the law to oppose socialism? But it is upon the law that socialism itself relies. Socialists desire to practice legal plunder, not illegal plunder. Socialists, like all other monopolists, desire to make the law their own weapon. And when once the law is on the side of socialism, how can it be used against socialism? For when plunder is abetted by the law, it does not fear your courts, your gendarmes, and your prisons. Rather, it may call upon them for help.

To prevent this, you would exclude socialism from entering into the making of laws? You would prevent socialists from entering the Legislative Palace? You shall not succeed, I predict, so long as legal plunder continues to be the main business of the legislature. It is illogical — in fact, absurd — to assume otherwise.


Thursday, May 11, 2006


The State announced that an Ethanol Plant will be built in Orleans County. The press release from New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research (NYSTAR) has a lot to say in it.
Governor George E. Pataki today announced nearly $6 million in State funding to assist Western New York Energy (WNYE) in the development of the first state-of-the-art dry mill ethanol plant in New York State.

I wanted to know where the other 81.7 Million Dollars was coming from so I looked up WNYE. I might be wrong but it seems that "WNYE" is another quasi government agency, at least that's what I gather here. So the rest of the money is taxpayer money in some shape or form right? It's kind of hard figuring out who's who and what's what. Layers upon layers of government, kind of like an onion, except it makes you cry even more.
The new facility is expected to produce 50 million gallons of ethanol a year and create 58 new jobs and represents another significant step in our goal of developing a strong biofuel industry in the State which will not only provide an economic boost to our farming community, but keep our energy dollars here in New York.

87.4 million divided by 58 is 1.51 million, don't use job creation as a plus with those numbers, ok? The States track record isn't that great when it comes to going into business. So what makes them think they'll do any better this time? "A economic boost to our farming community you mean the big corporate farms that can afford to do business with the State? Get your corn on the cob now because once this plant starts up.....
There are more than 180,000 flexible-fuel vehicles registered in New York State that can run on gasoline or ethanol. The New York State Thruway Authority will install or convert at least one pump at each of its 27 travel plazas to dispense renewable fuel.

There are more then 11,000,000 registered vehicles in the State, flex-fuel vehicles make up less then 2%. The numbers don't seem to warrant the money spent. How much will this fuel cost per gallon? At least the 2% will have an "express lane" at the plazas.

I wonder how far the 87.4 million dollars would have gone in our pockets rather then another quasi-government organization, which will charge us for something we paid to make. This is one of the problems when the government is turned to to solve a problem rather then the market. It's not the best technology or efficiency that wins, but what creates the best press.

According to an New York Time Article Brazil expects to be energy self-sufficient this year. But it took over 30 years.
Ethanol can be made through the fermentation of many natural substances, but sugar cane offers advantages over others, like corn. For each unit of energy expended to turn cane into ethanol, 8.3 times as much energy is created, compared with a maximum of 1.3 times for corn, according to scientists at the Center for Sugarcane Technology here and other Brazilian research institutes.

What sticks out here is the 1.3 and 8.3 pay back ratios. Seems sugar cane beats corn hands down granted we don't have many sugar cane fields in this area. But a big problem lies in our Federal governments "energy policy"
But Brazilian officials and business executives say the ethanol industry would develop even faster if the United States did not levy a tax of 54 cents a gallon on all imports of Brazilian cane-based ethanol.

The tariff isn't the only extra charge tacked on to the consumer's price. A Reuters Article stated.
The United States collects a 2.5 percent ad valorem tariff on imports of ethanol and an additional duty of 54 cents a gallon.

In other words we're going to spend 87 million on a plant to make ethanol, because the tariffs and other taxes we impose on imports makes it to expensive.

New York law also stand in the way, for example, I can't buy a diesel car, I could run it using vegetableble oil or even Hung Nahg Chinesee restaurant's used grease. After that deep fried turkey on Thanksgiving, empty the pot into the "Rabbit".

With so many other options out there it is pretty easy to question the wisdom in vesting so much money. Especially since the money being invested (gambled) isn't from those making the decisions.

Canola and soya to the rescue

Biodiesel and
Vegetable Oil Fuel

Tiny Reactor Boosts Biodiesel Production

Vouchers Bad, Public Preschool Good and Damn the Facts

At the Reason Foundation a study seems to show that Preschool Programs do not show a lasting benefit.
The Reason study says one factor behind preschools' failure to boost educational outcomes is "fade out." A 2006 UC Santa Barbara study found preschoolers were more prepared for kindergarten than non-preschoolers, but that those advantages faded away by the third grade and thus preschool had "limited use as a long-term strategy for improving the achievement gap."

"Our education system is failing on so many levels that people have started to grasp for magic bullets," said Darcy Olsen, co-author of the Reason study and president of the Goldwater Institute. "Whether it's Oklahoma, Georgia, or Quebec, universal preschool has proven time and time again that it's no magic bullet. Instead of pouring billions of dollars into preschool, we should focus on fixing our K-12 system."

But several ways to help fix the education system are continually shot down. One of which are vouchers. Just recently the Unions and Public School Administrators successfully strong-armed the State to drop the $500 tax credit from the budget. Their reasoning, "it would cost to much". Yet they're all for what seems to be a bad idea "public preschool". Is it about the kids or about power?

The School Administrators and the Leadership of Teachers Unions will never allow the education system to slip through their fingers. Once it does they loss their power and guaranteed job security. Unfortunately it is the children of New York that will pay the price. The $500 tax credit would not pay for all of private schools tuition but it would be enough to make it attainable for the working poor.

Reason Foundation is a nonprofit think tank dedicated to advancing free minds and free markets. Please visit

Friday, May 05, 2006

9th District Court Draws a Line in the Sand

It seems we're getting bombarded on all sides by the government encroachment into personal lives. What makes it worse is with each encroachment the once concrete line that we could define as off limits becomes hazy and easier to encroach on. It becomes commonplace and "acceptable" to most. Like the smoking bans, in and of themselves, most wouldn't have supported it, but once the "state" became responsible for paying health costs, it became a necessity, to keep down health cost. So rather then looking at the real problem (government involvement in health) we attacked a side effect of the disease.

Would anyone several years ago thought that a school would discipline a student for something done while NOT in school? But now it's common practice. Seems the nanny state has taken a giant leap forward, to the point that in now feels it has the authority and responsibility rather then the parent. Drug testing would be one, that they said would only be for athletes, and isn't really mandatory, because sports isn't mandatory. "Once they get their foot in the door"

The incident involved the First Admendment Rights of a student and the High School Principle. To no real suprise the Juneau School Board is appealing the 9th District Court's decision which basically said the school had no authority to suspend a student for actions off school grounds, The student Joseph Frederick, was observed off school grounds with a sign "Bong hits 4 Jesus" during the visit of the 2002 Winter Olympic Torch to Juneau.

It's telling by the comments by school officials what their mentality is:
"The 9th Circuit's decision has left the Board and school administrators with no guidance as to where and when we can enforce our policy against messages promoting illegal drug use," said Phyllis Carlson, president of the School Board.

How about on school grounds or school sponsored events? That would be where you and the school have authority?
"Federal law requires us to maintain a consistent message that use of drugs like marijuana is harmful and illegal."

This seems to cause all kinds of confusion in the craniums of government officials and those who worship them. The Federal law requires YOU to have a consistent message. NOT the students, their parents, or anyone else outside school. The federal law doesn't require ME to agree with or even to remain silent, nor our children.
"Yet, when we try to enforce our policies, our administrators are sued and exposed to damage awards."

This guy is on the Board? Amazing, how the school even functions, but then maybe that's why it takes over $10,000 per year to "educate" one child. Instead of having courses on how to persuade students to blindly follow "government policies" you have a course on what your authority is and where and what it extends to.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Extreme Measure of Enforcement

What's bad about the Nanny State and it's over regulation? Most of the time, the regulation will be enforced to the extreme. Take flipping a coin. Yes, flipping a coin in school is now a crime you can be arrested for. At least in Greenville Middle Academy. Just what I'd want my daughters school to be known for.

What I'd like to know is how do they decide who receives the kick off at football games? I can see the headlines now, Ms. Wilson's first grade class was arrested today in what authorities say was a sting to crack down on Paper, Rock, and Scissors. Capt Jack Butt, said this would send a signal out that we're serious about children gambling. These games might seem harmless, but it's only a stepping-stone to more potent gambling.

Now granted the students were warned and told to stop before. But to call the police? Is the authority of the school that undermined that detention and suspension are ineffective? If a school can't even control "coin flipping" within house, what value is the school?

I'm not saying it is solely the schools fault/problem. I've know several caring public school teachers, some have quit because parents of several "problem" children refuse to accept that their child could do anything wrong. This gives the child a free pass, undermines the teachers authority, and worse (in my eyes) that parent has just called the teacher a liar.

Maybe these kids have parents like that, I don't know, but it would be the only way to explain such a heavy-handed response.

Thanks to bureaucrash and Libertarian Youth for showing us just another example of the efficacy our tax dollars buy.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Masochism in the voting booth

While jumping around I found a post at "Libertarian Youth".
"I really have no sympathy for you liberals who voted Democrat and then complain about what the Bush Administration does.
You want out of Iraq, and you voted Democrat. Kerry wanted more troops in Iraq. The only party that would have immediately withdrawn was the Libertarian Party.You want the Patriot Act to go away, and you voted Democrat. Almost all Democrats voted for the Patriot Act in both its first and second incarnations. The only party that would have immediately eliminated the Patriot Act is the Libertarian Party."

And for the other side....
"And you conservatives who voted Republican, you're no better.
You want an end to ridiculous gun laws. And you voted Republican. The only party that would let you protect yourself without restrictions (no we don't advocate nukes for us all) is the Libertarian Party. You want to limit the size of government. And you voted Republican. The government has grown 33% under Bush. It grew under Reagan. The only party that has always reduced government when elected is the Libertarian Party."

The last place I worked I'd talk about the Republicans and Democrats (Always with deep respect). The odd thing was most of the time they couldn't stick up for their own party or it's policies, but pointed the finger at the other. The most common phrase was "Hey, we’re not as bad as the ____________". When I'd bring up the Libertarian Party and it's principles, I'd get the "Ya, but I don't want to waste my vote".

Okay, lets run with the logic. Since Kerry lost the election, every vote for him was wasted. In New York Kerry won the elector, so all New York voters that pulled the lever for Bush wasted their vote. So every New Yorker wasted their vote in the presidential election

This "I don't want to waste my vote" logic is one of the reasons we have so many problems at all levels of government. Add to that the people that vote to have the government loot for them or to impose their ideology on others. It's a wonder we're not worse off then we are. Each time one of the two parties gains complete or near to complete control there's scandal. So the "voters speak". But to trade back and forth between the two major parties? It's like having two girlfriends/boyfriends that cheat, so you go back and forth hoping one will be faithful. Not only could you catch something, it's bad for the city, county, state, and country also.

At least now there's serious talk about replacing incumbents from both parties at the same time New York Coalition is carrying that torch. Now if we can only get the public "voting public" to seriously look at third parties. In a nut shell what Libertarian Youth said was, the Libertarian Party seems to have what most Americans are really looking for.

But then maybe voters are just to kinky to kick the habit. Come on baby, make it hurt so good......