Congress Passes Law of Unintended Consequences

Actually, everything coming out of this Congress could be summarized as Title+Concept+Unintended Consequences.

  • Some insurers stop writing new coverage for kids

    Some major health insurance companies have stopped issuing certain types of policies for children, an unintended consequence of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law, state officials said Friday.

  • The Young and Jobless: New evidence that the minimum wage has hurt teenage workers.

    The wage hikes were implemented in three stages between 2007 and 2009, and not all states were affected because some already mandated a minimum wage above the federal requirement. But for the 19 states affected by all three stages of the federal wage increase, “there was a 6.9% decline in employment for teens aged 16 to 19,” write the authors. And for those who had not completed high school, “we estimated that the hikes reduced employment by 12.4%,” which translates to about 98,000 fewer teens in the work force.

You know, one would start to think the government doesn’t know what it is doing. But those who have religious faith in its benevolence and efficacy won’t be swayed from their fervor by mere evidence.

Obama Administration Finds Its Record Growth

Just like jamming on the brakes is technically accelerating, the record negative numbers here technically represent growth:

The Obama administration expects a record budget deficit this year of more than $1.5 trillion, or 10.6 percent of GDP, according to projections the White House released in February. The U.S. deficit is a greater percentage of GDP than any other major industrialized nation except the U.K., where it is estimated to reach 11.4 percent, and Ireland, where it will be 12.2 percent, according to International Monetary Fund projections released in April.

We’re number -1!

(Link seen on Gateway Pundit.)

When The Only Solution You Have Is Government, Everything You Have Is A Problem

The headline tells enough of the story: EPA classifies milk as oil, forcing costly rules on farmers

Okay, we have the government putting its boot on the neck of an oil company for an accident, and now we have the government redefining “oil” because its hydra-heels need more necks to put all those boots on. Somewhere, Eric Blair is nodding his head and marking off steps he could have forewarned us about if he hadn’t caught that damn cough.

Clearly, someone at the EPA is busy trying to make it like he or she is doing something in the eyes of the boss, which sadly less and less looks to be the citizens of the nation.

(Link seen on Troglopundit.)

A Pleasant Side Effect of the Tea Party Movement

The Springfield News-Leader notices that the tax initiatives on the ballot are now getting organized opposition:

A quarter-cent Capital Improvement Program sales tax that has been renewed six times in the past is up for renewal again on June 8.

But for the first time that anyone can remember, there is organized opposition to the tax that resurfaces streets, builds sidewalks and improves intersections.

“People need a break right now,” said Steven Reed, a sales tax opponent who acknowledged recycling “Vote No” yard signs from the recent pension sales tax vote for the upcoming CIP sales tax election.

I’ve always seen organized support for pretty much every tax increase I’ve seen on a ballot, often because tax dollars or existing union or other existing organization money is behind it along with the actual organizations themselves. The side of increasing taxes has always had targeted true believers for each cause (people who like libraries acting to support those initiatives, teachers and school boosters acting to support property tax increases, and so on).

I attribute the new rise of anti-tax supporters directly to the Tea Party movement because I know that the people who opposed, unsuccessfully, the St. Louis County Metro sales tax on a recent ballot were Tea Partiers. Now we will see some real effort and opposition to tax increases that will stun people who’ve supported the tax increases on autopilot for the last several decades.

However, yard signs won’t be enough. To succeed, the opposition needs to master Get Out The Vote efforts. A lot of these taxes are stuck on off ballots in the spring or the summer when turnout is low and favors the true believers out to get the thing passed. I recall voting against a property tax increase for the library in Webster Groves (where I was and still am a dues paying Friend of the Library) on a ten degree February day. The tax increase was the only thing on the ballot, but I carved thirty minutes out of my day to go to the polling place and cast my vote. I didn’t have to wait in line, as only a couple hundred voters out of a population of 23,000 showed up. Mostly to support the proposition.

I think the new organization and connections that the Tea Party Movement has made will provide some good energy to drive people to the polls to counteract the continual ratcheting up of tax rates, a half percent here and fifty dollars annually on your assessed value there. I welcome it. Maybe it will compel the government and our elected and unelected municipal leaders to make priorities to spend existing tax revenue accordingly instead of continually going to the bottomless well of citizen pockets.

But it will take effort every time. Don’t just remember November. Remember February, April, June, and whenever they sneak the initiatives in.

New York Legislator Introduces “Drown The Bad Guys” Law

Tam points out this story about a New York legislator who wants police to aim for off-center mass:

City cops are livid over a legislative proposal that could handcuff the brave officers involved in life-and-death confrontations every day — requiring them to shoot gun-wielding suspects in the arm or leg rather than shoot to kill, The Post has learned.

The “minimum force” bill, which surfaced in the Assembly last week, seeks to amend the state penal codes’ “justification” clause that allows an officer the right to kill a thug if he feels his life or someone else’s is in imminent danger.

The bill — drafted in the wake of Sean Bell’s controversial police shooting death — would force officers to use their weapons “with the intent to stop, rather than kill” a suspect. They would be mandated to “shoot a suspect in the arm or the leg.”

The legislators apparently favor bad guys drowning in their own pools.

Because That Money Was Just Lying Around

City looks at lobbyist to grease wheels for streetcars:

Milwaukee aldermen could vote Tuesday on a no-bid $24,000 contract for a lobbyist to help speed action on a modern streetcar line downtown.

Just so we’re clear: $24,000 is an annual salary for a low-level full time staffer downtown answering citizen calls. Or an annual salary’s worth of tax money stripped from businesses and citizens in Milwaukee. The municipal government is spending this money in an attempt to get Federal money for its next money sinkhole–a streetcar line in Milwaukee will undoubtedly require annual subsidies to run.

I read in an editorial that the Christian County library spent $50,000 on its recent ballot initiative for a tax increase. That’s a couple librarians or a couple dozen computers it threw away.

I don’t think governments should spend money on the following, ever:

  • Advertising for tax increases. I mean, they’re showing profligacy and poor money management with the existing tax revenue they have if they throw it into four color mailers and neat signage. I notice that Greene County has started putting up signs along roads it would improve if the quarter cent sales tax wasn’t sunsetting. Please. Spend the existing money better.
  • Lobbying for more share of revenue from higher governments. The whole game of getting “free” money from the state or Federal government is unseemly as it is. Spending money to get that money is a bit like gambling.
  • Suing other governments or taxing districts for a bigger share of money. I hate it when the taxpayer is on the hook for all three sides of this story (two sets of attorneys plus the actual judiciary). Win or lose, taxpayers lose.
  • Advertising their services. I listen to radio on the Internet, so I get a steady diet of PSAs advertising the services of various agencies, but I also hear them on the regular radio, too. If you have to advertise for your service, it’s probably superfluous. And the regional drinking-and-driving ads drive me crazy. The state gets money from the Federal government to spend on the ads, so instead of a single PSA, you get your state highway patrol cutting its own ads. Which takes a cop out of a car or from behind a desk for a day in addition to inefficiently spending money to let citizens know that the government will enforce a law.

The fact that the impoverished (ask them about how they don’t have enough money to do what Must Be Done) governments can spend money on these things proves that there’s too much tax money slush sloshing around in their buckets as it is.

It’s Not Double Jeopardy, It’s Final Jeopardy

A cop demands a hummer from an underage girl and gets probation. Fortunately for the delicate sensitivities of your Federal government, there’s an alternate charge available.

On Friday, Steven Burgess was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison without parole for violating the girl’s civil rights. His attorney, John O’Connor, said Burgess agreed to the plea bargain because it was better than the life sentence federal prosecutors were prepared to recommend.

So how do you feel knowing that you can be put in an FCI for life for violating someone’s civil rights? Don’t you get the sense that that particular charge is rather elastic?

An Unfortunate Turn To Boilerplate Health Care Sob Story

Another entry in a thought-provoking series designed to provoke support for government health care:

For nearly a decade, Paula O—-‘s brain tumor was kept at bay by a drug that was not approved to treat her condition.

Then Oertel did something she never imagined would jeopardize her good health. She moved. Less than 30 miles – from one county in Wisconsin to another.

The move triggered a review of her health insurance from Medicare, which eventually led to a loss of coverage, including the drug. And the tumor returned within four months.

A tragic story, but, um, that’s already government health care denying the coverage. Is this story supposed to be promoting health control reform or arguing against it?

Luckovich Nails The Healthcare Crisis

Mike Luckovich’s cartoon from March 10 nails the health care crisis in Congress:


Luckovich nails it
Click for full size

Given that this cartoon was reprinted this morning in the Springfield News-Leader only two pages before the story entitled Runaway Prius tale in doubt:

Investigators with Toyota Motor Corp. and the federal government could not replicate the runaway speeding reported by a Prius owner who said his car’s accelerator stuck as he drove on a California freeway, according to a memo for a congressional panel.

The memo, obtained Saturday by The Associated Press, said the experts who examined and test drove the car could not replicate the sudden, unintended acceleration James Sikes said he encountered. A backup mechanism that shuts off the engine when the brake and gas pedals are floored also worked properly during tests.

Sikes, 61, called 911 on March 8 to report losing control of his 2008 Prius as the hybrid reached speeds of 94 mph. A California Highway Patrol officer helped Sikes bring the vehicle to a safe stop on Interstate 8 near San Diego.

One would have to assume, then, that Luckovich’s metaphor is that Congress has made a stunt of a crisis for its own gain, would one not? Because that’s spot on.

All Hope Is Not Lost

Even though Marquette University “technically” lost its game in the NCAA tournament, I still have hope they will take the title.

How? A controversial, infrequently used procedure called “Deem and Win.”

If you want your upsetted team to continue playing, call House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and tell her to make it so. After all, Congress already sees college athletics and broadcasting of professional sports as its balliwick. Why doesn’t it just get onto picking sports’ winners and losers like it does for big business’?

That’s Not Funny

A congressman and his constituent were walking in the woods when they came upon a metaphorical bear representing the insatiable appetite of an unsustainable set out outlays and deficit spending extending decades into the future. The congressman sits down and starts putting on tennis shoes. “Hey, you cannot outrun a metaphorical bear,” the constituent says. The congressman replies, “I don’t have to outrun the metaphorical bear; I just have to outrun you.”

Update: Thanks to Tam for the link.

The Citizen or Consumer Always Pays

The Springfield-News Leader discovers that a recent government lawsuit against a private company will cost the consumers:

AT&T is charging Springfield landline customers a roughly $2-a-month fee in order to recoup a $7.45 million settlement with Springfield’s city government.

And Springfield is not alone. Customers from 270 other Missouri communities will also pay the fee for five years.

Surprised?

AT&T says city officials were aware the company would use a state law that allows the company to recoup the money and that officials or the public should not be surprised.

Who is surprised by this? A few guesses:

  • Journalists unfamiliar with the economics of doing business, where you raise prices–or in this case, use lawful line items on bills–to recoup additional costs.
  • People who don’t know any better and learn these things from journalists.
  • Skittish kittens who are taken aback by anything loud.

Keep that in mind whenever The Good Guys In The Government stick it to the robber barons who have to work for a living: the citizen or the consumer always pays, sometimes twice (once for the sticking it to, and once for being stuck it to).

Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others

The Canadian premier flies to Miami for a heart procedure and is unapologetic:

An unapologetic Danny Williams says he was aware his trip to the United States for heart surgery earlier this month would spark outcry, but he concluded his personal health trumped any public fallout over the controversial decision.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Williams said he went to Miami to have a “minimally invasive” surgery for an ailment first detected nearly a year ago, based on the advice of his doctors.

“This was my heart, my choice and my health,” Williams said late Monday from his condominium in Sarasota, Fla.

“I did not sign away my right to get the best possible health care for myself when I entered politics.”

Unfortunately, the rest of the Canadian public did sign that away when they exited Canadian birth canals.

Sadly, check this out:

“I would’ve been criticized if I had stayed in Canada and had been perceived as jumping a line or a wait list. … I accept that. That’s public life,” he said.

He acknowledges there are waiting lists in Canada for the lesser procedure, and he also acknowledges he would have gone to the front of the line had he remained in Canada for it.

Equality of outcomes means equally bad outcomes for all. People who are so hungry for health care control have their hearts in the right places sometimes, but frankly, have no sense to speak of.

(Link seen on Troglopundit.)

The Biggest Travesty of the Census Ad

You know the United States Government spent something like $2,500,000 to air an ad in the Superbowl, right? This ad:


The official version is on YouTube here complete with the “Visionary and Director, in that order” self-loving profile.

You know, it’s not bad enough that the Department of Treasury spent that much money buying space for an ad in the Superbowl. They had to make it worse by just giving a blank check to an ad company that proceeded to make an ad company ad for it.

I’ve done some work in the field, and you can tell an ad company’s ad (or an interactive agency’s Web site) because they’re not targeted to consumers. They’re targeted to other ad companies to show how cool the producing ad company is. The ad company can break all the rules of comprehensibility and including a call to action since the ad is not designed to convince you of anything, but merely to exist in its coolness.

This ad shares some of the core features of a hip ad-man’s dream ad:

  • Incomprehensibility. They’re having a meeting. The title tells us that. What is the point of the meeting? In most commercials, it’s to get to the punchline. This ad doesn’t really have a punchine, nor a core call to action. What is the viewer supposed to do? Embrace the existence of hip use of tax money budget.
  • Self-reference. It’s an ad company having a meeting to talk with a client. A stupid client! Haw! There’s your punchline. Also, it’s epic, because the lives and livelihoods of those who work at ad agencies are dramatic, glamorous, and exciting (see Mad Men or just interact with ad agency people. They’re thespians without any acting skill, so they live the melodramas in their own lives. And if you let them, they make advertisements about them.)
  • Expensivity. When money is no object, it will be spent. On an ad buy. On expensive sets and catering. Money is no object!

As a conservative, I feel outraged enough that the government profligately wasted Chinese bondholder money on an ad in the Superbowl. As a viewer, I felt worse that the ad sucked that badly.

I also feel a little bad for the “client,” whatever government functionary signed off on this. Didn’t he or she realize that the ad company was mocking him or her? Or was he so hip as to accept its mockery, feeling that he was in on it even though the ad agency didn’t think so?

Every Election Is A New Day

The city of Branson, Missouri, has a novel idea: its new elected officials don’t like a contract signed by the previous elected officials, so they’ll just say that contract is unconstitutional:

Nearly four years after the city of Branson agreed to pay a privately-operated airport $8.24 for every out-of-town passenger it brings in, new municipal officials are questioning if such a contract is constitutional.

“The bottom line is our concern that it can be construed as a taxpayers’ subsidy of a private business,” said Branson City Administrator Dean Kruithof.

Get your banana republic on! Let’s tear up all agreements every two to four years. Because we’re a nation of men, not laws, now.

Better Than Privatizing Social Security

It’s publicizing your existing retirement accounts!

In a short conversation this noontime that CNBC apparently has omitted from their archives (Why’s that folks?) Rick Santelli was talking about a potential to effectively force money into the Treasury market.

Where would they get this?

From your 401k and IRA accounts!

From Businessweek:

The U.S. Treasury and Labor Departments will ask for public comment as soon as next week on ways to promote the conversion of 401(k) savings and Individual Retirement Accounts into annuities or other steady payment streams, according to Assistant Labor Secretary Phyllis C. Borzi and Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary Mark Iwry, who are spearheading the effort.

Let me tell you what this is – it is an attempt to prevent the collapse of the Treasury market!

Forcing people into Treasuries as an “annuity” is exactly what Social Security allegedly is. Except that Treasury stole the money that was collected in FICA taxes and spent it!

Guess what? They’ll do that here too – you’re going to “invest” in Treasuries which of course are effectively a CALL option on the future taxing ability of the government.

Sort of like Argentina did:

Here is a warning to us all. The Argentine state is taking control of the country’s privately-managed pension funds in a drastic move to raise cash.

It is a foretaste of what may happen across the world as governments discover that tax revenue, and discover that the bond markets are unwilling to plug the gap. The G7 states are already acquiring an unhealthy taste for the arbitrary seizure of private property, I notice.

Some people in the country live in a fairyland of It can’t happen here. They think that because it has not happened yet.