Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Taxpayers’ K-12 Money Diverted to Union Business

Taxpayers’ K-12 Money Diverted to Union Business: "[...] More: Taxpayers’ K-12 Money Diverted to Union Business"

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Conversation With Himself

Watching President Obama's address to the nation tonite, explaining our presence and actions taken in Libya, I get the distinct impression that the single most important audience he needs to convince is himself. Bet it's something to watch "Vascillating Barry" brain rassle with "Indecisive Barack."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Everything New is Old Again

As a county commissioner, I have some powerful new friends behind me.  These people go to bat for me and my fellow county employees in Lansing and in Washington DC.  They are the Michigan Association of Counties and the National Association of Counties respectively.  Big MAC and NACo, or as they like to call themselves "The Voice of America's Counties", represents the elected officials and employees of the 83 counties in Michigan and the 3,143 counties in the U. S.  They supposedly have my best interest in mind, as well as, I'm sure, the millions of taxpayers who support us all.  After reading about their positions on a number of national issues, which were recently adopted at their last convention, I'm not so sure they do have our best interests in mind.  I know they don't share mine.

Under the heading "Board adopts new policy positions at conference", NACo reports the following:

  • Oppose cuts to USDA Rural Development 
  • Oppose cuts to Community Development Block Grants 
  • Oppose cuts to Department of Housing and Urban Development 
  • Oppose cuts to the Administration's Foreclosure and Neighborhood Stabilization Programs
  • Supports federal funding for continued education and scientific study of ocean acidification
  • Supports the Healthy Food Financing Initiative
  • Supports the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)
  • Oppose cuts to Community Services Block Grants
What's new about these policies?  Had they opposed them in the past?  I don't think so.  They further urge Congress to "control the rising budget deficit" by these statements:
  1. Congress cannot solve the budget deficit by only cutting domestic, non-military discretionary programs.
  2. Federal assistance to state and local governments will help mitigate further layoffs.
  3. Federal investment in state and local infrastructure produces private sector jobs. (Editor's Note: And with the help of prevailing wage laws, those funds could purchase half of what we could otherwise pay for without them.)  
  4. Deficit reduction should not be accomplished by shifting costs to counties, imposing unfunded mandates, or pre-empting county programs or taxing authority.
They leave us with this out-of-the-box pearl.  "The National Association of Counties supports maintaining federal financial assistance for county programs at the 2010 fiscal year levels."  The only thing missing from this report is the White House logo.  

I will give NACo credit for opposing the EPA's Boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology, new rules which would effectively adopt Obama's failed cap and trade plan.  All but Al Gore do.  They also urge Congress to repeal expanded 1099 reporting requirement as part of Obamacare.  Even the President agrees with this.  And, they are pretty clear about opposing expanded federal authority regarding local land, water, and energy usage.  Bravo for their protection of these and other property rights.  But after the 2010 elections, where Republican victories were responsible for taking back the House in Congress, winning twenty-nine governorships, and gaining a majority of state legislatures across this country, county government, on the other hand, still seems to be dominated by liberal politics.  That is certainly the case here in Saginaw County where the Democrats enjoy a 9 to 6 majority.  As Tip O'Neill used to say, "all politics is local."  If indeed this be true, then let's do what we can to turn county government around by electing more conservatives to local offices.  It's imperative if we ever hope to get control of spending. 


Friday, March 18, 2011

Still Fiddling

I read where another congressional study, and there have been several over the past 45 years, that once again cast a critical pall over the performance of the federal Head Start program.  Since 1965, as part of President Johnson's "War on Poverty", Washington has spent $167 billion on trying to ready, mostly low income, three and four year olds for kindergarten by providing taxpayer funds which have attempted to "enhance the social and cognitive development of children through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social and other services to enrolled children and families." The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families' Office of Head Start website further states that the program "engage parents in their children's learning and help them in making progress toward their educational, literacy and employment goals. Significant emphasis is placed on the involvement of parents in the administration of local Head Start programs."  Sounds wonderful.  Too bad it doesn't work.

As I said, there have been a number of independent studies over the years that have concluded that these program children come to school with no more social or cognitive abilities than their non-program counterparts.  So why then do we continue to pay for this failure?  Let me repeat.  "Significant emphasis is placed on the involvement of parents in the administration of local Head Start programs."  In other words, we pay the very same people, the parents of these children, who are often themselves academically and socially needy, to teach their own not to emulate the destructive and debilitating behavior and practices they witness everyday in their own homes and neighborhoods.  Yeah, that's gonna work. 

Yesterday morning I watched Sen. Tom Coburn defend the Republican opposition to our president's healthcare plan by siting a new government study, this one by the Institute of Medicine, which has concluded that our healthcare system wastes $800 billion by not controlling costs.  This is $800 billion that Sen. Coburn rightly pointed out, "that doesn't cure anyone or prevent anyone from even getting sick."  The scarier fact, and I think we all know this, is that Obamacare will do nothing to prevent this from continuing.  Sen. Coburn was also struck by the fact that despite an overwhelming preponderance of Americans who want government spending brought under control, and even the president's own bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform recommends some impressive cuts, most Democrats (and even some Republicans), including President Obama, can't seem to cut much of anything.  What's the point then, I have to ask, of paying for studies or commissioning deliberative bodies for expert advice if the default position is going to be to ignore their input?  Enough already.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

President Hamlet

Excellent article and critique of President Obama's performance, or lack thereof, on a number of critical issues.  Happy St. Patrick's Day!

President Hamlet - Victor Davis Hanson - National Review Online