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Archive for January, 2010

Accelerated Unemployment Represents Uptick in Job Creation – If Mixing Qualudes & Shrooms, Maybe

The Watauga Democrat reports unemployment was up in 86 out of 100 NC counties during December, a month typically associated with seasonal hiring. 73 counties had double-digit employment rates. Graham County fared the worst with 17.6% unemployment.

Thinking how bad things would be if government weren’t creating and saving jobs, I wondered if government was practicing some form of Keynesian “high-unemployment layoffs” analogous to “deficit spending.” Deficit spending was supposed to create prosperity, but the national debt has increased monotonically since about 1940. Common sense says digging deeper puts you deeper. Politicians, however, say ignore the evidence that our philosophy isn’t working. And so, it is my place to shut up and celebrate double-digit unemployment as an achievement in jobs creation.

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This Could Be the Start of Something Big

China suspended military exchanges with the United States and threatened sanctions against American defense companies Saturday, just hours after Washington announced $6.4 billion in planned arms sales to Taiwan.

He who holds the purse strings makes the rules. In November, China held $789.6 billion worth of US Treasury securities. All the while, leftists tell rightists they need to erect windmills to lessen dependence on foreign oil. Oil-exporting nations only hold $187.7 billion. China’s contempt for our government’s reckless spending is explained nicely in this highly-recommended, dated, but still valid commentary. No reasonable person would predict China will continue to support our debt at the expense of its own economy, nor should they be expected to sit by quietly as the US defaults on its loans.

With respect to the current threat, just imagine what suspension of military purchases will do for contractor jobs in the US. I must confess, this perspective escaped me when I chided the stimulus czars for repeating, “This is exciting!”

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$3 for Haiti or Unspecified Politics?

I prepared my taxes today and noticed North Carolinians were given the option of contributing to the Democrat Party, the Republican Party, or, if we had a gambling problem, the “Unspecified” party. I got to wondering what hoops the supposedly certified Libertarian Party would have to jump to get funding through this mechanism. Then, maybe the Libertarians chose to abstain from all appearance of consorting with legalized plunder.

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Comments on Science by Majority Party

While we’re practicing bad science, I would refer you to a letter by Howard Hayden. I don’t refer you to his piece because I have replicated his claims. Instead, I refer you because I think rather highly of Dr. Hayden. (For those who do not understand my sense of humor, this is actually more a tribute to his cleverness than an application of the fallacy of relying on authority.) I was very impressed with his work with Galilean Electrodynamics, and believed his mind to be among the best when I was working among physicists that challenged existing paradigms. Well, I was very disappointed to find out Dr. Hayden left our ranks to write about politics. A few years later, I found myself feeling guilty for chasing molecules around and writing theories only 200 people might take the time to notice; 100, the time to read; 10, the time to try to understand, etc. – when all around, people continued to hurt each other. The second law of thermodynamics continues to hold.

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Commissioners Settle Unhappily

The Jackson County Commissioners finally agreed to stop fighting Duke Energy over the fate of the Dillsboro Dam. The decision followed a loss in a seven-year court case. The county launched a lawsuit against the power company because it felt unjustly compensated for Duke’s use of the Tuckasegee River. Duke had said it would take the dam, which is just one of many, down to green up the river for outdoors enthusiasts. Commissioner Joe Cowan argued it was a bum deal because the commissioners wanted to keep the dam, which was a sentimental landmark for many.

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Like Marshmallows in Chocolate Ice Cream

These days, in the Smoky Mountains, rocks and highways are partnering, forming synergistic relationships that create jobs, as well as opportunities for virtual tourism. A form of traffic calming, they support Smart Growth policies by discouraging the use of motor vehicles. They also encourage rethinking of streetscapes along gateway corridors. While each synergy is unique, they are all exciting. The cost of restoring habitat is likely to justify unprecedented healthy revenue streaming for local government. If the partnerships turn out to in any way be profitable, you can thank the economic development arm of local government.

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Fool Me Twice

About fifteen years ago, I received a license plate in the mail for a car I had totaled some time back. I called the DMV, and they said I had to turn the plate in personally. I took about an hour and a half of drive time off work to comply. The lady at the tag agency took the plate off my hands, but said I had to pay for it, anyway. I complied, and she said my refund would be sent in the mail. It never came.

And so, here I sit staring at a renewal notice for the tag I turned in, which belonged to another car I totaled. . . .

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Government Turned Down a Spending Opportunity

Local celebrity Paul Van Heden addressed Asheville City Council about an item on the consent agenda tonight. Council was asked to approve a supplication to the federal government for $1,868,000 toward the purchase of five new buses. The city’s Transit Capital Reserve Fund had sufficient for the match. Van Heden asked the city to add funding for another bus to the request. That way, the city would have no old buses in its fleet, and it could loosen up the funds allocated for replacing that bus in next year’s budget for other capital projects.

As his peers entertained Van Heden’s proposal, Councilman Jan Davis said he was concerned that council hears of great opportunities with small matches every day. The $40,000 council would have to cough out of its fund balance didn’t seem like a lot, but it would if an emergency cropped up and the city really needed its fund balance. Furthermore, Davis’ line of questioning showed that the city’s Transportation Department had planned on scheduling several opportunities with city matches on council agendas in FY 2010-2011. Council agreed not to add the sixth bus to the order.

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What the World Needs Now Is Not Another Meadow

Next year, the United States is expected to increase the federal deficit by about $1.5 trillion. That is according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, which in recent history have severely underestimated disastrous outcomes. Furthermore, the federal deficit seems to have increased by twice that much in the last few months. One way to make America solvent would be to charge every citizen his fair share of the debt. Those who couldn’t pay could be sold into slavery to the federal government’s creditors.

Fortunately, our wise elected representatives have a better idea. They propose spending $75 million from the federal deficit to take 50,000 acres off the tax rolls. The measure would also help curb spending on national parks. Don’t ask me how. I just live here.

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When Transparency Becomes Obfuscation

The City of Asheville used to excel in transparency. Around 3:00pm on the Friday before each formal meeting of city council, about 200 pages of staff reports would be posted online. Since the new council has been inaugurated, the staff reports have totaled well over 400 pages. This week, there are almost 600 pages to read.

I therefore ask, can members of council, with their fulltime demanding jobs, quality family time, membership on boards and commissions, community involvement and voluntarism, etc. do due diligence on that much material over the weekend? If so, how many nights can they go without sleep, and how many i-pods can they operate while riding their bicycles between appointments? Lastly, is it safe to assume if I don’t get around to reading the material and elected officials don’t, either, council should approve any oversights and typoes to show how well they get along?

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January 2010
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