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Archive for February, 2010

Deficit Buying More than Buzz Words?

Maybe I was wrong about porkulus being non-news. After all, newspapers keep printing it. Help me find out. Please take the following Porkulus Quiz to see if you understand why the federal government is giving away money it doesn’t have.

Multiple choice. Read the following paragraphs carefully. Search for content. Then, circle the correct word(s). Check your answers here.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that Land of Sky Region Council in Asheville, North Carolina is among 20 U.S. communities, including two Indian Tribes, to receive $7.8 million in grants for projects that will reduce greenhouse gases (GHG). The funds will help Climate Showcase Communities increase energy efficiency, saving consumers money and reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is a great (opportunity, partnership, synergy) for Land of Sky Regional Council to work with [the] EPA to develop (symbiotic partnerships, community awareness, innovative strategies) to (reduce Greenhouse Gases, decrease our Carbon Footprint, raise awareness about Climate Change) in Asheville and Buncombe County,” said Russell Wright, EPA (Deputy Coordinator, Assistant Regional Administrator, Education and Outreach Specialist). “Our (increased awareness , combined efforts, commitment to change) will help to cut energy bills for schools and businesses in the (Kituwah bioregion, local community, global economy).”

[The] Land-of-Sky Regional Council Climate Showcase Grant will fund the Reading, Riding and Retrofit project that will support (green collar jobs, alternative energy programs, environmental sustainability) in public schools throughout Buncombe County, North Carolina. The project will create (energy efficient school building retrofits, transportation system enhancements, recycling improvements) and (solar-wind turbines, 32 part-time administrative positions, volunteer “Green Teams”) to (support, communicate with, enhance) the schools.

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Sacred Geometry or Arbitrary Regulation?

Government regulation has been pushing US industries overseas or simply inducing failure for years. Disdain for capitalism among policymakers is increasing. The president reportedly told the graduating class of Arizona State University to pursue careers in the nonprofit sector. North Carolina recently decided it had to raise taxes on everything except lawyers and accountants. Free marketeers are wondering what kind of economy policymakers intend to sustain with only vapours.

One might be inclined to conclude government would support gambling, since it provides opportunities for people to spend their money on nothing. This is not so because government, for the most part, only favors activities that generate money for government. Therefore, Maggie Valley has to regulate gaming machines.

The city fathers are concerned the machines would come to dominate the local economy if unchecked. Therefore, the town will impose an annual $2500 fee for the first four machines a business operates and $750 for each additional machine. However, to assure the public the government really cares and wants people to gamble responsibly:

Under the new rule, such businesses must be a minimum of 1,000 feet from any other business that allows the same machines, as well as 1,000 feet from any established religious institution, daycare center, library or public park. Furthermore, those businesses must allow 1,000 square-feet of indoor retail floor space per machine.

The identification of 1000 feet as the tipping point between good and evil is no doubt “highly technical” and “too difficult to explain.” Should Maggie Valley max out its gambling potential before the ordinance is altered, future archaeologists would have a hay-day speculating about the sacred significance of 1000 feet in their culture.

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Same Routine, Different Victims

Paper prices are going up. Vendors of cardboard boxes recently implemented a 10-12% rate hike, and there is talk about another hike in April. Smurfit-Stone, the largest producer of cardboard packaging materials in North America, filed for bankruptcy last year.

Now, Evergreen Packaging, in Canton, cannot afford a permit to continue operating. The problem is, the EPA does not approve of the water color of the Pigeon River near the plant. It’s the old, “We don’t know what the thresholds are, but whatever they are, you’re out of compliance,” routine. It is argued the tea-colored water is not conducive to aquatic biodiversity and rafting.

The agency doesn’t believe the color limits in the draft permit capture the mill’s current performance or give the company an incentive to improve its color output, said Davina Marraccini, a spokeswoman for EPA’s Region 4.

Plant officials argue maximum teainess is neither specified nor scientifically-derived. At stake are 1000 jobs.

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Casting Call: Actors Needed on All the World’s Stage

It’s been disheartening reading the news looking for things to post on this blog. Topics should be newsworthy, but there’s nothing newsworthy about the same old thing. For example, the UNCA Blue Banner reports Congressman Heath Shuler and others are trying to allocate $75 million from the federal deficit to purchase 50,000 more acres for the Blue Ridge Parkway. In a failing economy, it is a bad idea to take land out of production. Government shouldn’t be spending money it doesn’t have to take land off the tax rolls so it can spend more money it doesn’t have subsidizing local governments. As you might suspect, the rationale is “to allow continuous economic flow to the state”

Such actions are often referred to these days as “sustainable” and “fiscally responsible.” Now, if Cousin Jeff has a spending problem and he keeps coming to you asking for cash, do you call that a sustainable activity?

The bottom line is, if you want this blog to be interesting, people need to start stemming the tide. This isn’t a call to plant trees to stop the climate-change tidal wave that will engulf the Smoky Mountains; nor is it a call for kamikazes. The president, undaunted by the last incident, continued to maneuver for a greater share of the automobile industry and reopened the debate on socializing healthcare. It shouldn’t be hard for one of you geniuses reading this to find a way to convince at least one politician that what is happening in Greece is not good.

Pontification: The government is like Wiley Coyote. It ran off the foundation that supported it a long time ago, and it is now propped up only by its delusions of grandeur. When it looks down to see the absence of money, production, etc. in this country, it faw down go boom. Unfortunately, it will take a whole nation with it.

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Something – Anything

Americans for Prosperity needs help convincing Congress that regulation is in large part the cause of, and not the solution for, out-of-control healthcare costs. Maybe you are the genius with the Rosetta Stone that will translate what free-market economists have been saying for legislators. Please visit the Patients First site for a shortcut to your Congresspeople.

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Acorns & Dead Indians Make Life Tough

Biltmore Lake lost the latest round in court as it attempts to avoid being annexed by the City of Asheville. City council voted to annex the territory in 2007, at which point several people in red shirts left the council chambers mumbling, “See you in court.”

If legislation presented by Bruce Goforth (H524) is successful, persons not wanting to be annexed by Asheville could, instead of paying lawyers, spend days upon days collecting 13,000* signatures in order to put a proposed annexation to a vote of the people. Going door-to-door for a politicized hot topic, I only collected signatures at the rate of six per hour.

*The law would require the collection of valid signatures from 15% of the voting population in the annexing municipality combined with the territory to be annexed. According to the Board of Elections, Asheville currently has 64,235 registered voters. (The city’s population in 2008 was 78,543. If the stats be true, that represents an astounding number of registered voters and a very little population of persons under 18.) Allowing for population increases and the population of the territory to be annexed, 15% would be around 10,000. Unfortunately, a rule of thumb for initiative petitions is that about 30% of signatures will be thrown out. Some claim only 5% are typically invalid, but I think that is psy-op propaganda from people wanting initiatives to fail.

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Financial Aid Twice Removed

Folks up in Watauga County are supposed to get excited about acquiring as much as possible of $22 million from the federal deficit going to North Carolina for rental assistance. (Not to give anybody any ideas, but the Supreme Court would probably rule that Congress is justified because evicted people may move to other states, influencing interstate commerce.)

Down here in Region B, which corresponds somewhat with the Asheville Metropolitan Statistical Area, the federal government is availing something even more twenty-first-century. In what appears to be a fabulous display of government blowing smoke and money out its ears, the USDA gave the Asheville Land of Sky Regional Council $50,700:

to provide resources to help train and bolster the work of local organizations that offer housing support to those in need. The grant will allow Land-of-Sky to provide training and technical aid such as financial planning, strategic planning, and sustainability.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said:

These funds . . . will serve as investments that will help organizations build the capacity [read “grow government”] and expertise of local nonprofit groups.

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Just When You Feel Like . . .

I enjoyed this missive from former presidential candidate Bob Barr. Since he didn’t capitalize the L-word, I am assuming it is sufficiently nonpartisan for posting.

Over this past weekend, the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was held in Washington, D.C. The event is a gathering of 10,000 activists, organizers and leaders from around the nation.

Since 2004, I’ve witnessed CPAC attendees go from a neo-conservative, pro-interventionist, mindset that was closely aligned to the Republican Party, to a gathering of folks who are waking up to liberty and increasingly finding themselves politically homeless.

This year, that shift was obvious to just about everyone.

As an example, Mike Huckabee, had this to say, “CPAC has become increasingly more libertarian and less Republican over the last years, one of the reasons I didn’t go this year.”

Huckabee’s statement is not only representative of the rise of our shared values; it’s also a telling example of how Republicans work.

For many years, I have chosen to attend and speak at CPAC and many other events – “conservative” and “liberal” – knowing good and well that I may very well be booed for delivering a pro-liberty message. I also know countless others who do the same. Does the fear of facing an opposing argument keep us out of attendance?

Heck no!

Unlike Huckabee and his colleagues who feel entitled to respect and a cheering crowd, we embrace the opportunity to deliver a pro-liberty message to those who may not want to hear it.

That’s one clear difference between them and us. We’re willing to fight to get our nation onto a path of liberty, while they walk off of the field when times get tough.

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Streets Paved with Tarnished and Mostly Fragmented Gold

Prevalent today is the notion that the federal government is supposed to print money or do whatever it takes to lavish funds on local governments so they can build fancy buildings, signature monuments, and parks and greenways. This, in turn, is supposed to create prosperity. There is an unpopular viewpoint out here that says wealth bestowed has a low probability of sticking, but wealth earned is cherished, cultivated, maintained, and expanded. Please, please, pretty please, see, for example, this web site.

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Tyranny of Majority Alive & Well in Asheville

I read a pro-liberty letter to the editor in a 1995 issue of Hot Rod magazine today. I also saw a book in Barnes & Noble claiming to prove mathematically that liberty is the best economic policy. Not so here in Asheville. In this town, the progressives are in the majority, so the progressives get to pass their agendas in the name of human rights, regardless of others’ freedom of speech and religion. Those with opposing viewpoints can stuff their opinions and opposing viewpoints and pay to support whatever beliefs council wants.

I am not alone in my opinions that there is no human right to reach into another’s pocket to grab a handful of change, no matter how worthy the cause. Consider the words of that old misogynist racist (at least that’s what the revisionists say) Thomas Jeferson:

. . . that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction . . . that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

That should sound pretty good to even the most progressive people reading this post. Where we’re disagreeing is that many believe the absence of religion, or atheism, is supreme over respect for a diversity of religions. If we were following the Constitution, Reverend Keith Ogden, who vocally opposes domestic partner benefits for city employees, would have as much of a right to freely exercise religion and speech as City Councilman Gordon Smith and his supporters. To claim, as I do, that it is as much a religion to say something is not a sin as to say it is, would, according to Jefferson’s logic, justify Ogden’s plea that he not be “burdened in his body or goods” through taxation to support a belief system contrary to his.

Again, Jefferson wrote:

Our rulers can have authority over such natural rights only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could never submit. We are answerable for them to our God.

The problem is, progressives educated in public schools learn that liberty and mutual respect for diverse viewpoints applies only when they are in the minority. Now that they have a majority on city council, they may exercise tyranny of the majority to, among other things, make freedom of conscience subordinate to recruiting LGBT business. The documents appended to Smith’s presentation on domestic partner benefits clearly indicated provision thereof would endorse the LGBT community and serve as a magnet for their economic activity. I don’t see a proposal banning domestic partner benefits to explicitly recruit Christian business as gaining any traction, and it shouldn’t.

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