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Stuck on Stupid

Residents of Minneapolis are looking at a property tax increase approaching 20% next year.

The proposed tax increase is the city’s response to growing pension obligations, cuts to Local Government Aid (LGA) and recertification of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts that fund neighborhoods and pay Target Center debt. The hike is based on a 7.5-percent, $20 million levy increase, which translates to an actual tax increase of roughly 10 percent to 20 percent for most Minneapolis property owners.

As much a the Mayor and the City Council want to blame the State Legislature for not providing enough aid (LGA), this problem is the product of years of poor fiscal management.

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Funhouse Morality

This Salon.com article accuses the anti-WikiLeakers of hypocrisy and/or double standards. It strikes me as a hall of two-way mirrors. What you see depends on where the light is shining. When we accuse an opponent of using situational ethics, we implicate our own use of “flexible standards”:

If "a single foreign national is rounded up and put in jail" because of the WikiLeaks disclosure -- even a "single one" -- then the entire WikiLeaks enterprise is proven to be a "disaster" and "Assange is a criminal" who "should be in jail."  That's quite a rigorous moral standard.  So let's apply it elsewhere:

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Politics is a Three-Dimensional Space

Andrew Napolitano strikes a chord I am tuned to:

Government cannot be trusted to expose itself.

Since he has a show on Fox News and writes about the importance of following the literal Constitution, he must be a righty, no? But here he is using his show to support Wikileaking.

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Veto Power for the States

I was taught that the U.S. Consitution provides a system of checks and balances for the three branches of government. Congress can have its laws repealed by the Judiciary, and the Executive can be denied funding by the Congress, just for a couple of top-of-my-head examples.

The system may still be in the text, but the branches of government have decided they can interpret the Constitution as they desire. The system depends on a somewhat adversarial relationship between the branches. If all three are in basic agreement, Federal power is not checked and the whole structure goes out of balance.

And it really doesn’t matter that different political parties and factions have more weight in different branches. They’ll surely find things to argue about, but in a broader view all the big factions have a vested interest in bigger government. Constitutional limits are not vigorously enforced.

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More Turbulence for Air Travelers

I could blame bin Laden for this, but really it is the government’s failure to craft a better system:

From the American Airlines Web page:

As a result of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) mandate, beginning November 1, all passengers will be required to have Secure Flight Passenger Data (SFPD) in their reservation at least 72 hours prior to departure. This is the next phase in a program that was initiated by the TSA in 2009. 

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Every Man a King

The enemy of big government is self-government.

Quoted from: Thaddeus McCotter

Via: Maggie’s Farm

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Parks for Pensions

The Federal government is broke. Minnesota government and the City of Minneapolis can’t be broke in the same way because they lack the ability to run perpetual deficits. But I say they’re functionally broke because of their inability to set spending priorities. There’s always enough for fun projects. $30 million here, $7.7 million there, and yet there’s not enough money to keep up the roads or pay firefighters.

Anyone who works to provide a core government service is always first on the budget chopping block.

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Sorry, Gramps, We Owe You Nothing

It seems fair to say that there is a commonly-held belief that the U.S. Government has an obligation to make Social Security payment to those who paid into the program for decades. The benefits are part of contract between workers and the Feds that help ensure nobody has to retire to live on dog food.

Further, there’s a commonly-held idea that there is a Trust Fund, where all those worker payments are being held so there will be money to pay retirees. The promise of a trust fund is probably less trusted by the public, but they still think that they’re owed something from whatever Congress hasn’t already lifted from the trust fund cookie jar.

Well, there is a trust fund, but the cookie jar is full of empty promises instead of genuine savings:

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Above the People

Commenter “The Den Mother” at Neo-neocon pens my next T-shirt idea:

When you lie to Congress, it’s perjury.

When Congress lies to you, it’s campaigning.

Har!

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Hiding Behind the Rules

Craig Newmark has an excellent post about the inherent flaws in government regulation of commerce, and those who put their faith in regulators (re-quoting his quotes…go read the whole thing):

…it’s hard to think of a recent disaster in the business world that wasn’t abetted by inept regulation. Mining regulators allowed operators like Massey Energy to flout safety rules. Financial regulators let A.I.G. write more than half a trillion dollars of credit-default protection without making a noise. The S.E.C. failed to spot the frauds at Enron and WorldCom, gave Bernie Madoff a clean bill of health…

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Uncertainty Begets Uncertainty

Using last week’s weak employment data as a launching point, George Will lays out the case against big government: 

Today investors and employers are certain that uncertainties are multiplying.

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Panopticopolis

The City Assessor is photographing every property in Minneapolis:

The purpose of this project is to help improve the overall quality and accuracy of property appraisals in Minneapolis and to allow the Assessor’s Office to fine tune its property data, by confirming property addresses and other information about the structure/s on a given property.

Additionally, these photographs will have a number of public safety purposes including:

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No Ticket, No Laundry

A census worker knocking doors in NRR’s territory offered an insight into the minds of the people who are counting the people.

The doorknockers set their own schedules. Every day they work, they are expected to turn in a time sheet. Due to scheduling difficulties—for many, census work is a second job—some time sheets don’t get in every day.

If a time sheet is not in by the end of a pay period, pay for that day of work will be delayed until the next pay period. There’s no question that the pay is due, it’s just a timing issue. That’s standard practice in the non-government world.

Some census workers who can’t get their time sheets turned in when due have been upset when their paychecks are less than expected. But, instead of trying to get their sheets in on time, what are they doing? Calling their Congressperson about delayed pay.

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Welcome to the Fatherland

Back in late 2008, when Congress passed the TARP bank bailout, I posted about the proper term to describe the developing relationship between government and industry:

Pundits speaking for the huge popular majority opposed to the plan seem to have decided to call it socialism, or a nationalization of banking and real estate. There is a political philosophy which combines those terms. National Socialism. Or, in a word, fascism.

Now that Barry has been elected and enjoyed a kindred Congress, I am more convinced that his vision for society is not properly called socialism. An article at The Freeman takes up the question, “Is Obama a socialist?

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Your Government Gassed Babies

We heard a lot about evil Republicans and their willingness to use torture to protect Americans against terrorism. It seems many have forgotten that the same government, under Democrat leadership, used terrorism and tortured American children near Waco in 1993:

CS gas was used at the compound, in order, as senior White House adviser George Stephanopoulos said, echoing senior Justice Department statements, to “try and pressure” those in the compound. It was hoped, he said, that as this “pressure was increased, the maternal instincts of the mothers might take over and they might try to leave with their kids” (Washington Times, April 23, 1995).

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Pharaoh -> Caesar -> Obama -> Pawlenty -> Rybak

Arnold Kling goes Old Testament:

Pharoah created jobs for us. Moses led us away from those jobs. Even though those jobs helped to complete public infrastructure. Even though they were green jobs, where we used our muscles and our backs instead of fossil fuels.

Moses could have been part of the ruling class in Egypt. He chose freedom instead. Those of us who followed Moses also chose freedom. Freedom brings risks. But we preferred the risks of freedom to the security of bondage.

Do not confuse government with G-d. Government cannot miraculously provide us with manna--or health care. When we look at government, we should not see G-d. We should see Pharoah. Government-worship is Pharoah-worship.

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Dogs Returning to Their Own Vomit

The Senate has taken up debate of changes to Unicorn Care. The righties may have an ability to stop some of it through the filibuster. But, since the bill law is so defective, they’re in a tough spot. Nearly any change is a genuine improvement for the people.

If, for example, the Republicans block actually including full coverage for sick kids—lefties forgot to put it in the bill—the righties look real bad in the minds of the non-critical-thinking majority of voters. People are mad now, but in November, the vast middle will have accepted this puke sandwich as the new normal. And they’ll want their slice.

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Empty Promises

I don’t think I am psychic, but sometimes I wonder. Last night, in thinking over the implications of Unicorn Care, the problem of Federal Debt arose. Despite the wailings of the leftoids and their rigged CBO scores, economics cannot be fooled.

The U.S. economy probably cannot support another massive program of waste. We ar still in the early stages of a depression, somewhat masked by financial shenanigans between Washington and Wall Street. Not only the costs of TARP and Spendulus; we suffer from the uncertainty as all the rules of business are in flux. There simply will not be enough production to keep up our lifestyles and make payments on the Federal debt. Even if lifestyles are made to suffer, Congress can’t tax what is not produced.

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The Eve of Civil War?

Tomorrow Congress is expected to use its own rules to pass a health care bill that has not yet been written. If this happens, we are no longer a nation of laws.

A nation where law is subordinate to government is tyranny. And windows will be broken:

When the Sons of Liberty wanted to express their opposition to the actions of the King's ministers, they would gather in front of the homes and offices of his tax-collectors and government officials in Boston or New York and break their windows.

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Park Expansion Higher Priority than Basic Services

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has authorized $400,000 in earnest money toward the purchase of a swath of Mississippi riverfront just north of downtown. A sale price will be negotiated in secret:

Peter Scherer [the seller] would not discuss specifics of the proposed sale price, but noted that the Minneapolis property has been appraised at more than $8 million.

Judd Rietkerk, park board planning director, said the purchase price will be made public once a purchase agreement has been signed, which could happen as soon as the end of this week. Until then, Rietkerk said he is keeping the figure confidential to avoid the prospect of another potential buyer swooping in with a higher bid.

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