California needs leadership, not evasions

Typically in the wake of disasters there is a mess to clean up. California’s interminable budget crisis qualifies as an ongoing disaster. On the maxim that those who make messes should clean them up, the politicians in Sacramento have no business following up their failure to exercise budgetary discipline by throwing the alleged solution into the laps of voters in the May 19 special election. The package of propositions 1A through 1F imposes budgetary gimmicks, raises taxes, puts more money into education, borrows money from the lottery, transfers funds from some programs to fund others, and delays officials’ pay increases in order somehow to end the annual gap between expenditures and revenues. But it suffers from two major defects: it derives from the same politicians who largely got the State into its current fiscal mess and it attempts to make up for their lack of prudence with constitutional and statutory tinkering.

When public policy is bad, surely it should change. But the best way to ensure change is to change those who made the bad policy. What the Democrat-dominated State Legislature needs is tough love, not enabling. Therefore, voters should turn down all six propositions, whatever the specific merits of any of them.

The strongest proof of the questionable paternity of these "save the day" measures is the deception in the first and most critical of them: Proposition 1A. Its aims, as summarized by the Legislative analyst in the Voter Guide (pp. 10-15) are to

* increase the State’s "rainy day" fund from five to 12.5 percent of the General Fund;

* dedicate some annual deposits into that fund for future economic downturns and the rest to fund education, infrastructure and debt repayment, or for use in emergencies; and

* require additional revenues above historic trends to be deposited in the "rainy day" fund.

A careful reader might wonder just where the "additional revenues" will come from. No answer to this question can be found in the summary (or in that provided on the sample ballot, either), but near the bottom of page 10 we read: "If this measure is approved, several tax increases passed as part of the February 2009 budget package would be extended by one to two years. State revenues would increase by about $16 billion from 2010-11 to 2012-13."

At the bottom of the next page and following, voters are reminded that the sales tax was increased from eight to nine percent, the vehicle tax rate was raised from .65 percent to 1.15 percent of a vehicle’s value, and the personal income tax rate was raised by .25, ranging from increases of one to 10.3 percent, depending on income.

The political advertisements I have seen on television stations mention nothing whatever about this "additional revenue," speaking only in glittering generalities about how great it is that finally something is going to be done to restrain the politicians in Sacramento who got us into this mess.

Propositions 1A through 1C and IF are constitutional amendments and 1D and 1E are revised statutes. Once again, California’s already incredibly long Constitution is being burdened with still more specific provisions which are designed to particularize the judgments our elected officials make rather than holding them accountable to the voters for their decisions.

The massive defect of such a constitution is that it defies the efforts of all but the most sagacious and interested parties from understanding it and blurs the distinction between the supreme law, which establishes the government, and the statutes which are intended to be consistent with its limitations.

Thus, constitutionally, as well as fiscally, California's political leaders are attempting to fix bad or inadequate decisions of the past with decisions cut from the same cloth. Rather than exercising fiscal and budgetary prudence as a constitutional duty, they are lurching from one crisis to the next without owning up to the primary cause of the problem, which is themselves.

Denying the Legislature and the Governor the power once again to cobble together a Rube Goldberg contraption designed to put a brake on their own insatiable desires to tax, spend and elect will do far more to promote fiscal discipline than this clever package, which conceals the source of the problem.

Instead, we should look forward to the implementation of the redistricting plan Californians passed last November that will, for the first time in years, permit the design of state legislative districts with greater attention to geographic and demographic realities and less to assuring safe seats that keep incumbents in office. The real need is for open and competitive elections, not more evasions.

Meteorologist debunks climate hysteria

Editor: Rob "Sunny" Roseman, trained in meteorology and long familiar in Denver as a TV weatherman, was my radio guest on April 26. Here are his talking points as used in our discussion, designed to cool off the overheated emotion surrounding alleged global warming and the rush toward an economically harmful carbon tax. CLIMATE HYSTERIA & MEDIA BIAS... OR CLIMATE BIAS & MEDIA HYSTERIA (WHATEVER)

Gore, McCain, and other alarmists use scare language such as... "Inaction Poses a Threat.” “Action is a Moral Imperative.” "Situation is unprecedented.” Rational discussion has given way to the Politics of Global Warming, and ultimately to the Church of Global Warming.



They define a virtual world. Use parameters.

Difficulty dealing with oceans & clouds.

Deal with only limited amount of variables.

Some are faulty and downright wrong.

We are supposed to “take them on faith.”

Current models go haywire after 1 week.

We are supposed to believe in 100 years?

Last 10 years are cooling. Not predicted.

None of models predicted….so they are wrong.


We are in an Interglacial period now. Between glacials.

Has always varied. Warmer and Colder.

Medieval warming period 1100 to 1500 (1.13C) warmer.

CO2 levels -100ppm less than today.

1910-1940 and 1970-1998 same amount of warming.

Last 10 years actually have been cooling.

120k, 220k and 320k warmer than today. (.75C)

Today not even close to anything the warmest in

Last 2 million years. Had higher levels of CO2.


Drought, Severe, etc. always been there, will be.

Even 50% less C02 will still be there.

1955-2000 increase in C02 no decrease in Soil Moisture.

Can’t make any warmer with same moisture.

Hurricanes….no increase in Frequency/Intensity since 1700s.


Been happening over past 10-15K years.

Antarctica…no change last 40 years.

Greenland warmer past 10K years.

Melting occurs 3.5CM per 100 years anyway.

Bottom Line: Good headlines/Good movies.


Been rising for last 15,000 years anyway since last

Major ice age.

Usual rate is 2mm per year.

Rate of rise has slowed last 100 years.


They all say this is really bad….sounds bad.

Increase over past 150 years has actually stabilized.




To support something unusual current warm period.

To support droughts, floods & storms more severe.

To support Ice Sheets disintegrating any faster.

To support sea levels rise any faster than before.


Do we believe the skeptics or the alarmists?

Do we adapt to our climate (like all species that survived) or do we try to change the climate?

France in 1990s 35,000 dead heat wave.

(Air Conditioners)

Do we adopt Cap & Trade?


We need to adapt to our climate. Get smart.

Need Al Gore to shut his mouth. Earth will cool 5 deg.

No cap & trade. Nothing other than a massive tax incr.

No more stupid studies from Britian …..obese people

add to global warming.

Have moonshot to create a hydrogen economy.

Manhattan project.

Have to use oil and gas in the meantime.

O/G used for most anything and everything.

Drill, Drill, Drill.

Explain Hydrogen, how it can be used.

New Industries. New Technologies.

Re-Tool America. We own it.

We can sell to rest of world.

We don’t have to buy from rest of world.

Clean technology.

Can actually shut up Enviros finally.

It’s not too soon to judge Obama

It’s been just over two months since Barack Obama became President, and his popularity is beginning to slip. Those who so strongly backed the Illinois senator say it’s too soon to be critical while those who did not, believe that enough evidence is in to vindicate their negative appraisal. Above everything else, Obama wanted to be regarded as a "transformative" leader, symbolically and substantively. He spoke often last year of the need to rise above petty politics, the old conflicts, stale arguments, etc., beyond cynicism even, in the direction of a bipartisan and perhaps post-partisan politics that solves problems and makes sound investments in our nation’s future.

It is a mistake to credit the supposedly new attitude when the fact is that there are serious differences of opinion about how to deal with our domestic and international problems. The fact that Obama and other Democrats now control the executive and legislative branches may give them the votes to pass any bills and institute any policies they like, but does not prove that they should prevail. After all, Obama led many to believe that congressional Republicans would be consulted as changes were made.

Obama’s claim that he was rising above partisanship was merely a ploy to deflect attention from the seriousness of the partisan differences and to neutralize opposition, if not stigmatize it. Sure, "politics ain’t beanbag," but that bit of political wisdom is as much an indictment of Obama and his pretentious claims of nonpartisanship as it is of those who are surprised that Obama is a partisan after all.

As to the substance of Obama’s policies, there is no doubt that he is as opposed to constitutionalism, free markets and American exceptionalism as his election-year commitment to "transforming" America implied that he was. Naive people who either dismissed or fell for political rhetoric did not think about what transformation was really about. But the clues to that ambitious objective were in plain sight for those who paid attention.

Seeking to outdo even Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Obama means to replace the markets that have been the source of our nation’s prosperity with government controls in every area in which he can make some sort of plausible case. Yet the credit crisis was brought on not by markets out of control but by the biggest lenders of them all, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, indulging into an orgy of bad loans and underwriting the efforts of private lenders in the process.

Yet Obama insists that our problems are due to corporate greed while facilitating continued borrowing by millions of unqualified home buyers, thereby ensuring more greed. That bogus claim underlay the audacious "stimulus package" of $780 billion that is way out of proportion to the problem and irrelevant to its solution. As White House aide Rahm Emmanuel said, a crisis is a terrible thing to waste, so this administration has taken full advantage of the opportunity to waste money on a multiple trillion dollar scale for years.

And because both the price of oil and our dependence on foreign sources have risen so much in recent years, Obama proposes that we shift to subsidized alternatives such as solar, wind and geothermal that have yet to prove themselves as efficient and cheap as oil and natural gas, while ignoring nuclear power and preventing off-shore and continental drilling that would have supplied our needs long ago.

Similarly, Obama’s otherwise well-founded concern about the declining state of public education unfortunately leads him to call for vast expenditures of money and bigger salaries without regard to results. Education is too bureaucratic and union-dominated to deliver the goods, particularly when Obama proposes that everyone be educated until the first year of college.

And the biggest jewel in the Obama crown is government health care which, like energy and education, has already been made too expensive by government funding. When consumers are not responsible for the costs of the services sought, they have no incentive to control costs. Medicare and other government health programs have driven up costs because consumers have delegated their expenses to a third party.

We don’t have to wait for the full implementation of costly "reforms" to know that we made a mistake in electing Barack Obama. Like our founding fathers, we don’t have to wait until we are taxed of all our earnings or deprived of all our liberties to revolt. Like them, we can see this coming and take the necessary steps to avoid or reverse it. Fortunately, we still have free elections in which to make that choice.

Why bail out DNC & RNC donors?

Some of the biggest donors to both the Democratic and Republican national conventions are now among the companies getting or asking for federal bailouts, according to a report last week from the Campaign Finance Institute. The only thing that shocked me about the story was that there has been no outrage at all, from anyone. If this happened on a local level here in Colorado, someone would write an amendment to stop it from happening in the future. If this happened at your city’s level of government, someone would be speaking out at city council meetings and getting recall efforts started.

But on the national level, if people even saw the story, they rolled their eyes and just moved on. Why? Why aren’t we more outraged?

The fact that companies that are so perilously close to bankruptcy that they must ask the federal government for a loan, gave thousands of dollars to both political parties only four months ago, is an abomination. But the fact that we have collectively had little to no reaction is the bigger problem.

After a long campaign that was marked by hope, change and mavericks, you’d think that we’d be more upset. Is it that we think that it’s okay? Or is it that we think we can’t do anything about it?

I’m honestly wondering what is behind our collective non-reaction.

I don’t blame a conspiracy by the government, or the media or big corporations. Why would anyone bother to invent a conspiracy when the plain truth doesn’t seem to bother anyone?

Seriously, more Americans have an opinion about what kind of dog the Obama’s should get, or on college football adopting a playoff system than they do about where billions of bailout dollars are going. Do we care that companies who are asking for billions of our tax dollars had enough money to contribute to both national conventions four months ago?

I’m not trying to go out on a wacky limb here. I’m not about to leave the comfort of my laptop and start raving against the government on some street corner. I just honestly want to know if somebody out there thinks that this blatant abuse of influence is wrong.

So let me ask you, blogger to reader, are you angry about this? Are you looking for your torch and pitchfork and getting ready to riot, or do you think the Obamas should go ahead and adopt a Labradoodle?

Whatever happened to political economy?

In a previous column I questioned the idea that there is something called "the economy" and suggested instead that we refer to our multiple transactions in the global marketplace with the term of the United States Constitution, viz., commerce. This is not just a matter of semantics. For if we choose our words with care, we accurately name the things to which the words refer. Before the term "economy" was applied to our domestic and foreign commerce, it referred to a virtue–of individuals, businesses and nations. The first dictionary definition of economy, after all, is "Careful, thrifty management of resources, such as money, materials, or labor."

Just as households and businesses must practice economy in order to make the most prudent use of their resources, so must governments. But with its powers of taxing, spending and borrowing, government has access to considerably more resources than any household or business. That means the temptations and opportunities for abuse are much greater.

As the purpose of our national government is to make laws for the common defense and general welfare, it is not, by definition, designed, like the household, to meet the daily recurrent needs of anyone; or, like a business, to make a profit. It exists to make households and businesses safe and secure.

For most of our history, American government has practiced political economy, out of conviction and necessity. That is, it is limited in its scope and its powers and not entitled to huge sums to conduct its functions, however greater those were than anyone else’s. And as long as the federal government in particular performed its constitutional functions, heavy taxation was both difficult to justify and hard to obtain against jealous state governments.

To appreciate the soundness of this limited view of economy, it is helpful also to be mindful of what commerce is and why it is so indispensable to modern republics. In ancient times, commerce referred to sea going trade, as commerce includes the root "mer," meaning sea. Hence, Athens, a naval power, supported commerce that its rival, Sparta, a land-based power, took little interest in.

Commerce contributed greatly to the decline of medieval feudalism, a system that combined perpetual armaments and subjugation by the lords of the peasants. Those aristocrats who aspired to national crowns found the nascent commercial classes a vital alternative to depending upon their rivals for financing their kingdoms, especially their wars.

The middle class, so called because its members were neither aristocrats nor peasants, made money in trade with cities and states other than their own. In return for protection or favored treatment, they would lend money to kings.

There were essentially two approaches that kings of the early modern nation states took toward the generation of national wealth. One supported acquisition of precious metals and hoarding them for national purposes. Spain, the first great nation at this time, was an exponent of that view. Another view, favored in Britain, was that it was better to encourage merchants to build their fortunes with limited regulation, as a growing commerce funded government with minimal taxation.

Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations provided the most powerful argument for the second view of national wealth. The British government was no less tempted to commandeer the resources of the country than the Spanish, but Smith made a compelling case for laissez-faire (let them do as they please) as far more productive than national missions to exploit natural resources the world over to enrich the government’s coffers. Smith’s famous "invisible hand" was not blind to the avarice of businessmen (quite the contrary) but rather saw them as more efficient producers than any government could ever be.

As we stand on the brink of massive efforts to "rescue our economy" from its current credit crisis, it is helpful to remember these historical lessons on how to build up national wealth and, by implication, what diminishes it. The federal government tried to spend its way of the Great Depression and failed, just as its massive programs 30 years later failed to end poverty. Only individuals and businesses practicing economy, supported by a government practicing the same virtue, can accomplish that.

To the extent that our government embarks on a massive program of public works, business bailouts, unemployment compensation, forced unionism and uneconomical energy schemes, our current crisis will become much worse and we will imagine only that we didn’t do enough rather than far too much to "save" our commerce.