Wednesday, December 31, 2008

This is wrong on so many levels

Connecticut is seriously considering bailing out newspapers. (Ha! Just like Kentucky.)

What a nightmare. Like we really need another one...

Simplest blog post of 2008

The proposed cigarette tax increase isn't supposed to "work." It will change some buying habits, resulting in lower revenues. That won't become apparent until after the anticipated revenue increase has already been spent. Then other taxes will have to be increased to make up the difference.

That's why nonsmokers should oppose the cigarette tax increase.

Turning Kentucky into New Jersey

We already know Gov. Steve Beshear covets New Jersey's casinos, but did you know he is following Gov. Jon Corzine in providing bogus pension relief to municipalities?
"Cash-strapped mayors give the plan mixed reviews. Some, such as Woodcliff Lake's Joseph LaPaglia, are ready to take the deal, confident the state will be flexible in a repayment schedule if things don't improve by 2012. But Wayne's Chistropher Vergano, a Republican, is wary. He dubbed it an "election year gimmick.""

""It's not making the payment go away,'' Vergano said. "It's like a 30-year mortgage and turning it into a 35-year mortgage. … The debt is not going away.""

Beshear's scheme is not any more complicated than that.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

MSM got scoop, but missed the story

The Louisville Courier Journal and the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer both knew what Gov. Steve Beshear was going to talk about at his press conference today, but neither seemed to grasp the meaning of his latest move.

Is Don Leach job hunting?

I keep getting "Google" hits on this site from Texas; someone checking on "Donald Leach Fayette" and spending quality time reading up on the former Fayette County Detention Center administrator.

Try it yourself.

Seems to mirror the activity on the site that happened back when the jail's Director Ron Bishop was looking -- unsuccessfully -- for a job in Florida.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Zero-sum gaming ourselves to prosperity

With nearly every state in the Union facing fiscal troubles, wouldn't it be great if all the states called a cease fire on the "economic development" front? We'll never know how many billions of dollars are wasted by companies pitting one state's taxpayers against another in the name of recruiting jobs away from each other.

While states and the feds are talking about weathering the current storm, this should be something that can be worked out fairly easily.

Sen. McConnell?

With accomplishments like these...

Gov. Steve Beshear made a season's greeting youtube video for state employees, taking credit for expanding KCHIP spending with money we don't have and "a successful pension reform special session" that didn't do anything to move us farther away from bankruptcy.

Heckuva job, indeed.

Thanks to the Courier Journal political blog for pointing out the video.

Is that a promise or a threat, Governor?

Gov. Steve Beshear's latest prognostication is on stateline.org this morning:

All the more reason, Governor, to cut government spending now to a realistic level within our means. Too many of our scarce resources are going to protect the politically-connected. Kentucky needs more political leaders who don't cower behind their fancy desks waiting for a tidal wave of tax increases to sweep them to higher ground. Now we have no feasible alternative to putting the interests of the majority of Kentucky taxpayers over those who populate the tight inner circles of political power. Prevailing wage has to go now. Corporate welfare has to go now. And every dime of education spending must be made transparent to the public so we can spend our money more efficiently there.

As Beshear fails to take these positive actions, it becomes clearer and clearer that he is merely positioning for the tax increases he promised to avoid when he was campaigning for office.

And we are still waiting for our $180 million efficiency study.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Like bailouts? You'll love Bailout 2.0

Investor's Business Daily reports General Motors is already trying to build support for its next round of bailout money.
"It is our anticipation that working with the new Congress and administration, we'll be able to further shore up our liquidity needs through 2009," (GM spokesman Greg) Martin said. He described the current loans as "an interim measure."

With Barack Obama working up a trillion dollar bailout for cities and states, it will be interesting to see when mayors and governors decide to label their money "interim" as well. Before long, the only people who will have learned anything from the bailouts will be the taxpayers who fund them.

They aren't the ones who need the lesson, of course. Gov. Steve Beshear is one who hopes you are too busy planning your New Year's Eve designated driver to consider where all this is headed.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Another ghost of Christmas yet to come

Anyone following the meltdown of public employee benefits plans in the states has heard a lot about New York, New Jersey, and California. And I have been trying to blow the whistle on Kentucky's growing crisis for a while now.

As Kentucky gets closer to making really tough decisions to cope with our now $35.7 billion and growing problem, a glimpse at North Carolina may be instructive:
"The health plan that covers teachers and state employees across North Carolina has been bleeding so much money that it is set to run out early next year, and officials say it needs an immediate $300 million cash infusion."

No tax increase will pull Kentucky out of its hole when -- not if -- this happens to us.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The bad-policy multiplier

Kentuckians are sure to hear much more in 2009 about how everything will work better in the state if only taxes and spending go up. Following the path of most of these schemes is far more likely to result instead in more of the same decline in our common fortunes.

Take, for example, Gov. Steve Beshear's plan to hit up charitable organizations for donations to the state's General Fund. Before we know what hit us, we will be spending projected future donations only to need more revenue enhancement when that house of cards comes crashing down.

Same goes for President-elect Barack Obama's "stimulus" plan, which will have to "work" to avoid creating yet another house of cards.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
"President-elect Obama's economic recovery package will create jobs. But until those jobs exist, welfare reform as we know it must be changed."

Given the well-established pattern of failure for this kind of two-step policy sales pitch, one might think more of us would respond skeptically to such a game.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Another thing the cigarette tax won't do

Seemingly forgotten in the discussion of Kentucky's fiscal woes is the state employee public pension disaster, whose price tag is now $33.4 billion.

Maybe we should all start smoking now.

It should be increasingly clear that there are not enough tax revenues to grab in Kentucky to make up for decades of overspending, especially if we are going to keep overspending.

Gov. Beshear doesn't have the support in Frankfort to keep denying the reality that tax hikes aren't going to right-size bloated government in Kentucky.

A Kentucky educrat strikes back

A big reason nothing changes in Kentucky is that too many of the people who get theirs based on the status quo work very hard to cook up rationale for them keeping it and for you to keep your mouth shut.

Take, for example, The Gatton Academy of Math and Science on the campus of Western Kentucky University. Kentucky taxpayers have spent several million dollars -- we don't know how many because of the way the money is tucked into the state budget -- to send sixty boys and sixty girls from across Kentucky each year to gain a superior learning experience not available at their home schools. The students can gain up to sixty hours of college credit by the time they graduate from high school. Taxpayers pick up the cost of tuition, room, and board.

This is a fantastic opportunity for these young people. The program functions as a charter school, publicly funded but able to operate outside the control of the education bureaucracy.

The only problem is that the opportunity is not more widely available. Kentucky law prohibits charter schools. In fact, The Gatton Academy operated for a full year without legislative approval, but with the support of House Speaker Jody Richards. That's something else the rest of us couldn't do.

An upcoming legislative effort to make similar educational opportunities more widely available will earn the wrath of the education bureaucracy. In fact, just pointing out this discrepancy on The Bluegrass Policy Blog caused an anonymous commenter to come unglued:

This is pretty good example of the noise you get from the status quo crowd trying to protect their turf. It would be nice if we could have a spin-free conversation about improving education opportunities for more than just a handful of people.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

As America moves to the left

Interesting post from native Canadian think tanker home for the holidays reading about healthcare reform north of the border:
"Here's a question to mull over the holiday season: By giving a tax-break to families instead of employers, could the Canadian government be en route (very tentatively) to more patient-friendly health care than the American government, which appears wedded to the goverment-corporate status quo?"
Read the whole thing here. Canada has done a fair bit of socialism the last few decades. Might be worth considering why they are looking in the opposite direction.

Keeping it simple would help Kentucky

An essay out today could almost have been written for Kentucky (the numbers are different and we don't have ports, but the rest fits well). It has great advice we can apply in Kentucky:
"It might well have been better to implement these budget savings several years ago, when the economy was stronger and policymakers had the luxury of taking their time. But such foresight appears to be contrary to human nature, or at least to the nature of those who wield political power in our state (and beyond)."

The rest of the essay is here. Zero-based budgeting would require the state to justify everything it spends. (Imagine that!)

And if we got the government to focus on a few things, there would be fewer painful and expensive mistakes from which to recover.

Perspective on Toyota's "operating" loss

The sky isn't falling on Toyota and the difference is as simple as operating versus actual losses.

Toyota yesterday predicted its first annual operating loss since 1938. That means the company's primary business operation -- making and selling cars -- cost more than the revenues gained from the same. For one year. In a down economy.

Some are comparing this to the Big Three as a way to take heat off the United Auto Workers union. Bluegrass Roots exults:
"Yes, today Toyota with no union workers and what so many try to say is such a superior product is posting a loss for the first time in 70 years themselves."

This is inaccurate. Toyota didn't post a loss and they are not likely to any time soon. When you combine Toyota's operating loss with the surplus from their investments, fringe benefits, and all the other financial activity outside of their core business, Toyota is still profitable.

Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors can't say the same thing and the main difference is labor costs. That is why no one at Toyota is talking about needing a bailout from anyone and GM and Chrysler are now being bailed out by Canada.

By the way, The Lexington Herald Leader's coverage of this operating loss is only slightly better than the left-wing blogs. And that is only because the Herald Leader left the word "operating" in their story. They still could have easily given the rest of the story, though that may have conflicted with an agenda.

Monday, December 22, 2008

What's going on at The Bluegrass Institute

The Bluegrass Policy Blog will stay active all through the holiday season. Please check it out. Kentucky Votes is temporarily a mess. Stuck in the middle of a major upgrade. I believe it will be a super great site sometime before the General Assembly goes into session. Could be any day now. I'll keep you posted.

Pushing all levels of government in Kentucky to open up and show taxpayers what's going on will be our main theme in 2009.

Stay tuned...

Bad news inside the bad news

Kentucky's state government announced November's unemployment estimate reached 7%. The worst part of the news release was not about where jobs are being lost, however. It's about where jobs are being gained.

You have three guesses and the first two don't count:
"The government sector, which includes public education, public administration agencies and state-owned hospitals, gained 500 positions in November 2008. The sector has added 10,000 jobs since November 2007."

This is why Frankfort politicians get so mealy-mouthed when you ask them why they don't just cut government spending.

The time to shrink the government sector is now.

Why transparency is needed in Kentucky schools

Kentucky Education Commissioner Jon Draud has been a disaster.

His taxpayer-provided luxury car is still in his driveway. His sneaky sick day grab was caught and returned to the taxpayers only to be given back to him by the General Assembly.

And now we find out he is being given a glowing review based on two do-nothing task forces he set up. From the Courier Journal:
"The state board evaluated Draud in August and was supposed to present him with the findings at its October meeting, which was postponed because of his stroke."

"In his evaluation, board members applauded Draud's effort in starting two major task forces: one on improving low-performing schools and another looking at the state's assessment and accountability system."

If Kentucky school systems and the Kentucky Department of Education were required to post every single expenditure of taxpayer money within a week of contracting to spend it or, in the absence of a contract, writing the check, it would be much easier for taxpayers to keep track of what is being done to them.

We can talk about good government all we want to. But until the blinders are taken off, nothing will stop this kind of thing from happening over and over.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ripped from The Lane Report

Kathy Gornik, president of THIEL Audio in Lexingon, sets the record straight on the silly idea that bureaucrats should be picking winners and losers in our economy and how market incentives, rather than government favors, would increase prosperity:

Read the whole article here.

Worse than the obesity epidemic

Projections

I was reading about President-elect Barack Obama's healthcare reform proposal tonight in a book called "Obamanomics." Found a very interesting passage about his plans to pay for universal coverage that sheds light on the idea of predicting the fiscal impact of most policy changes. I've marked portions of the paragraph and provided my thoughts below. All the numbers in parentheses and the italics were added by me:
"Obama expects that the (1)premiums paid by most Americans will decline and subsidies will be offered to more moderate-income people to allow them to buy into the plan. Of course, this is not all free. Obama's team estimates it should cost approximately (2)$100 billion a year. Obama does not intend to raise average Americans' taxes to pay for the plan, but rather intends to fund the plan from the government savings he expects we will get by pulling our troops out of Iraq and (3)ending the war, from the tax increase he proposes for (4)Americans earning over $250,000 per year, and from the money he raises by instituting a (5)carbon tax on carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, Obama will mandate that employers who are not currently paying for quality healthcare coverage for their employees will (6)have to contribute a percentage of their payroll costs to the plan."


(1) Really? With his plan to mandate no exclusions for pre-existing conditions, this claim is false by definition.

(2) Totally made up number. Like every other new government program, this probably understates the true cost dramatically.

(3) Ending which war? When? How? Might be interesting to see what the terrorists say about this one.

(4) This one already bit the dust.

(5) Significantly dumber and larger than Kentucky's cigarette tax increase but analogous in the sense that the stated purpose of the tax is for it to go to zero, but the dependence on the revenue will only grow.

(6) Swing-district Democrats probably will have to oppose this as it will be clearly seen as a heavy, new, widespread tax increase.

Making precise projections for the cost of starting a new program is a sure way to be proven wildly inaccurate by things that can't be predicted. Same goes for cutting programs. Might make for interesting conversation at cocktail parties, but the best you can really hope to do is get the direction of revenues and expenditures right.

And the bottom line is that the federal government and our state government are buying more government than they can afford. The only answer is to start deciding which programs we can live without and make plans to eliminate -- or at least shrink -- them.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

China's thugs make a Kentucky move

The Wall Street Journal reports China is blocking the New York Times web site.

That's almost as bad as Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear's move to take down web sites because he doesn't like their content.

Beshear's internet censorship case remains mired in a court battle. A Court of Appeals ruling may come in January.

The ACLU has joined the fight against Beshear because his actions violate the First Amendment. I'm not very comfortable being on the same side of an issue with the ACLU, but when they're right, they're right.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sales of garlic skyrocket in Kentucky


Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear wants to raise your taxes so badly, he can taste it.

Giving in to all his seductive cigarette tax increase nonsense is just like inviting Count Beshear into your house.

Where are my shoes?


President Bush is giving $17.4 billion to General Motors and Chrysler. That should get them through till spring. Then they'll be back for more and Ford will want their's, too.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Where we are headed

New York Gov. David Paterson has a plan to save the world one 65% fruit juice at a time. He wrote:
"Nearly one out of every four New Yorkers under the age of 18 is obese. In many high-poverty areas, the rate is closer to one out of three."

"That is why, in the state budget I presented last Tuesday, I proposed a tax on sugared beverages like soda. Research has demonstrated that soft-drink consumption is one of the main drivers of childhood obesity."

"For example, a study by Harvard researchers found that each additional 12-ounce soft drink consumed per day increases the risk of a child becoming obese by 60 percent. For adults, the association is similar."

"If we are to succeed in reducing childhood obesity, we must reduce consumption of sugared beverages. That is the purpose of our proposed tax. We estimate that an 18 percent tax will reduce consumption by five percent."

"Our tax would apply only to sugared drinks -- including fruit drinks that are less than 70 percent juice -- that are nondiet. The $404 million this tax would raise next year will go toward funding public health programs, including obesity prevention programs, across New York state."

Something tells me the only thing Gov. Beshear saw in that passage was the $404 million.

Biggest issue in Kentucky right now

Kentucky's two biggest newspapers have been relentless in their pursuit of a seventy cent per pack cigarette tax increase. There is no bigger issue in the state and it has nothing to do with whether you smoke or not.

It's all about making government bigger.

The huge revenue projections for the tax increase ignore the entrepreneurs who currently pick up low-tax cigarettes in Kentucky and deliver them to other, higher-tax states. When the cigarette tax goes up in Kentucky, that inflow of cash will reverse course.

So the spending projections related to passage of the cigarette tax are bogus. But that isn't the point.

The point of this exercise is getting state legislators on the record voting for a tax increase to "solve" a fiscal problem. Tax increases don't solve fiscal problems.

Prove me wrong.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

As if...

Yahoo News has been talking all day about Barack Obama wanting to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to "save" the economy.

The silliness cuts both ways because, tonight, George Bush had this one:
"I'm not going to let this economy crater in order to preserve the free market system."

Sure would be nice to get a president with a realistic view of his office's powers and abilities.

And how the free market works.

Buying the cow when the milk could be free

Kentucky taxpayers are still paying lots of money for local governments to buy newspaper advertising space to display public notices. Sounds pretty 20th century to me.

And at first blush it seems the Kentucky Press Association, the state's newspaper trade association agrees. They are working to put all the state's public notices online and available to the public for free (click to expand):

But when anyone starts talking about repealing the law that requires local governments to purchase newspaper advertising, the newspaper folks go ballistic. David Thompson, executive director of the Kentucky Press Association said:
"A part of the public notice law allows smaller cities to mail their notices by first class mail, if the city can show it’s cheaper than publishing in the local newspaper. In the 22 years that’s been part of the law, not one single agency has found it cheaper to mail a notice by first class than by newspaper publication."

Well no kidding! Fortunately, there's this little thing called the internet that has come along in the last few years. It's much cheaper than sending out individual letters or buying expensive newspaper advertising.

The public notices law should be changed to stop requiring governments to buy advertising and instead require them to post public notices and all budget and spending data online.

"Time to lean"

Anyone who ever worked at McDonald's has been told many times "If you have time to lean, you have time to clean."

I'm guessing if President Barack Obama ushers the Service Employee International Union in behind the counter at the home of the Golden Arches, such an admonition will be deemed an abusive management tactic.

And Happy Meals will cost $12. And you will get yours when they are good and ready to give it to you.

The Obama/Pelosi/Reid effort to expand unions with the card check bill will whack our economy like a union thug whacks a scab.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Why Republicans have lost Bailout Jam 2008


You may not have seen this ad on Kentucky blogs, but it's clear that this is why Republicans in Congress have already lost any political ground they might have gained by stopping the bailout train.

As each week brings another story of bailed out financial firms behaving badly, Democrats can complain for each constituency they want to throw money at by ripping Republicans for larding up the money guys.

No, no, no, no, no, no, NO!

Rep. Darryl Owens is pre-filing a bill to pour an extra $2 million into the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

No one in Kentucky is going to freeze to death living indoors this winter. We are going to have to get past the point of these feel-good appropriations should times really get hard in America.

Will someone please call Rep. Owens and tell him to quit sending this garbage up and instead look for spending to cut?

Who needs the lesson here?

Looks like Rep. Jim Glenn (D-Owensboro) wants to try again in the 2009 session with his 2008 bill that would require colleges to hand out personal finance materials to students.

Seems like a better idea to require legislators and Gov. Steve Beshear to get a clue about spending taxpayer dollars more wisely before they try to tell our students anything about managing their finances.

Since young people learn much more from behaviors they observe than from words they hear, I'm guessing what's being picked up on campus now by those who pay attention to Frankfort is to spend all you have as soon as you can and start immediately whining for more.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Who they are protecting now

Lexington police complaints to the Fayette County Detention Center administration about an ex-convict working in pre-trial services at the facility continue to be vigorously -- and inexplicably -- ignored.

Francis Lee Baker (D.O.B 7/27/1962) appears to be a small-time criminal with a few return trips to the gray bar motel. With as many honest people out of work as there are right now, it is certainly a mystery why the city of Lexington needs him making decisions inside the jail.

This came to my attention today because an officer in the jail who complained about Mr. Baker was not only repeatedly ignored, but wound up being punished herself as a result of making the complaints.

Looks like another lawsuit for FCDC Director Ron Bishop and friends.

Has anyone seen our education spending?

The Bluegrass Institute has just released Part 1 of a two-part study on education spending in Kentucky.

The first part lays out how funding has increased since KERA but hasn't quite made it into the classroom very well. The worst part is that we don't know for sure because the Kentucky Department of Education is so secretive about what it does with our money.

Part 2 of the report will focus on how much education our money is actually buying.

WWBJD?

Read an interesting article this morning about the likelihood of a General Motors bankruptcy even with an auto bailout and it occurred to me that I'd like to see what a bankruptcy judge would do to Kentucky if the state had to seek protection from its creditors.

Would a bankruptcy judge allow Kentucky to pay employees more than taxpayers get paid in the private sector? Would a bankruptcy judge throw out the whole merit system? Would a bankruptcy judge allow the school systems to continue spending money without being accountable for every dime? Would a bankruptcy judge allow public projects to be built under current prevailing wage laws? Would a bankruptcy judge allow the state to limit healthcare services under the current Certificate of Need laws? Would a bankruptcy judge allow the court system to build oversized temples for itself on borrowed money? Would a bankruptcy judge allow state government to pay off local newspapers by mandating local governments to buy ad space for public notices? Would a bankruptcy judge allow any government entity in the state to go another month without posting all of its expenditures on the internet?

Food for thought...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Is Beshear triangulating himself again?

Casino interests crashed and burned in Kentucky earlier this year to the delight of those who don't support making government bigger on a fool's gold promise.

Beshear got stuck between competing interests who both want casinos: interest groups who want more revenue to spend and horse industry people who want them to save their business.

Call it triangulation in reverse.

Beshear appears to be putting himself in the same spot between those who want to spend a cigarette tax increase and those who want to price Kentuckians out of smoking's bad health effects.

The easy way out for Senate opponents to the tax hike is to show evidence of the negative revenue impact of raising the tax higher than five of our neighboring states. Further opportunity could be realized by cutting Medicaid benefits for smokers.

Will you support bailout of Frankfort politicians?

Make no mistake, Gov. Steve Beshear's proposed cigarette tax increase affects everyone in Kentucky.

Here's the deal: the cigarette tax increase won't "work" for normal Kentuckians, but it will be very effective in forcing us to bail out politicians.

The tax hike is very unlikely to bring in $81 million between now and June 30, as Beshear says it will. Cigarette taxes are notorious for failing to produce hoped-for revenues in other states. And it is probably worse in Kentucky, where a seventy cent increase would stop residents of five surrounding states from crossing state lines to buy cigarettes and other things here. It's pretty likely we would lose at least that much revenue from that lost business.

And if they were really worried about health of smokers, they would be using the "extra revenue" to help people quit smoking, wouldn't they?

What the cigarette tax would accomplish, if it were to pass the legislature, is to open up the door for more tax increases. It's a test case, that's all.

Even if you don't smoke, you probably understand that raising taxes on Kentuckians right now is a terrible idea. If we miss this opportunity to force government to wring out some of its wasteful spending, we will have only ourselves to blame.

You've seen the signs at campgrounds: Don't Feed the Bears. Same goes for the big spenders in Frankfort. If we don't stand up to them on this, they will only come back for more.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Just say no to Gov. Steve Beshear

If we are going to set anything right in Kentucky state government, we must get this one right. Gov. Steve Beshear wants to make government bigger by raising taxes and he has to be stopped.

From the Lexington Herald Leader:
"Cutting alone, though, only gets the state about a third of the way to the nearly half-billion mark."
"To make even this slim budget work, there's got to be more revenue, and Beshear is looking to a 70 cent a pack increase in the tax on cigarettes to make up about half the shortfall."
"We have long supported increasing this tax, to improve both revenue and public health. When the price increases, some people quit smoking and a lot — especially young people — don't start."

The budget hasn't gotten "slim," yet. Keeping bureaucrats fat and happy is not the taxpayers' responsibility. Until we force them to cut back on their government lifestyles, nothing will change in Kentucky.

The cigarette tax is merely a gateway drug for Gov. Beshear and the Frankfort big-spenders. Stopping that and then cutting off the excessive borrowing will get us on the road to smaller, less intrusive government and a freer Kentucky.

Friday, December 12, 2008

You'd better not cry, I'm tellin' you why...

All the big-spending babies in Frankfort may be headed for the naughty list if they don't get serious about showing Kentucky taxpayers what is really going on with their money.

The Kentucky spending transparency group on Facebook appears to have picked up at least one very powerful member:

Destroying the Bush legacy completely

If George Bush uses TARP money to bail out General Motors and Chrysler, I hope they put his Presidential library in a FEMA trailer.

A better plan

The Louisville Courier Journal quoted Sen. Tom Buford issuing a challenge to Gov. Steve Beshear's critics. The challenge should be taken seriously:
""It's is extremely difficult to criticize the governor on what he wants to do," said Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville. "And anyone who would want to criticize the governor, I would ask them to lay out a better plan.""

Okay, let's do it.

Lowering healthcare costs by repealing Kentucky's certificate of need laws would help with the Medicaid deficit. If we really want to lower smoking rates in the state, let's take welfare benefits away from people who abuse drugs or smoke cigarettes. Repeal prevailing wage laws that artificially inflate the costs of public building projects. Allow charter schools to be established, force school districts to post all spending to the internet, and consider closing the Kentucky Department of Education. Close the Economic Development Cabinet and lower business taxes.

Any other ideas?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Barney Frank's "right to be overpaid"

Rep. Barney Frank is just about out of spin on the car bailout if this is the best he can do:
"No. We’re not propping up companies. That’s your mistake," he tells Stahl, who had asked him about taxpayer money going to prop up companies that had made bad decisions. "We’re propping up individuals. The world doesn't consist of companies. The world is people. The country is people."

When Stahl points out that Frank is then talking about welfare, he responds, "Yeah, I’m for welfare. You’re not? Are you for letting people starve?"

Starving on $73 an hour? Keep talking, Barney.

Responses coming in on Beshear tax hike scheme

Rep. Bill Farmer knows taxes. In addition to his legislative duties, he is a tax accountant in Lexington. Farmer isn't impressed with Gov. Steve Beshear's plan to raise the cigarette tax and empty out the Rainy Day Fund rather than cut spending enough to match projected revenues:
"The Governor's proposal is horrible policy. It fails to address the underlying problem and if things don't get better immediately he will have used all of the tricks in the bag."

Further "tricks" at that point, of course, would be further tax increases.

House Minority Whip Stan Lee says Beshear's plan is "hypocritical."

"They say that it's about getting people to stop smoking, but it's really just about the money. If they wanted people to stop smoking, they would try to make smoking illegal," Lee said.

Speaker Jody Richards said:
"The House has a record of strong leadership in these matters. Last session, we expressed our support for additional revenue by passing a cigarette tax to avoid disastrous cuts in education and human services. We in the House have not shied away from the tough decisions when it means doing what is best for Kentucky."

.

We need a "getting out of the way" Cabinet

Just noticed the blurb at the bottom of yet another Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development press release:

Wonder how many jobs and how much investment government would "create" if, instead of shuffling around tax dollars from people who are already here, they stuck to making Kentucky a right-to-work state, lowered or eliminated taxes on business income, and got really serious about public education?

No relief from welfare for illegals in Kentucky

U.S. District Court Judge Karl Forester has dismissed Dr. David Duncan's lawsuit against LFUCG and the state of Kentucky for illegally providing welfare benefits to illegal aliens.

Dr. Duncan is considering an appeal, but similar efforts elsewhere have gotten stuck in the same bureaucratic web.

Dr. Duncan said:
"The LFUCG and state will not enforce illegal hiring practices. Neither government will enforce federal immigration laws as demonstrated by Beshear's, Newberry's and Conway's stated policies. Now the door has been closed for one citizen's request for relief from the District court to enforce the laws restricting public benefits to ineligible recipients. My interpretation of these collective practices is that Kentucky and Lexington clearly fit the definition of Sanctuary status and are determined to be safe havens for illegal immigration."

"I've taken this to its logical conclusion for being one voice, one citizen."

"On the local, state, and now the federal level there is the not the political will to stop illegal immigration into Kentucky or address the drug cartels, prostitution, human trafficking, or gangs. I've spoken out on all three levels. The point has been made. There are 4,241,000 Kentuckians and 271,000 Lexingtonians who need to address the issues if they see an existing problem. I think I've carried the water about as far as I can. It would seem that there isn't the majority who will stand up on the issues and carry the water any further. Sadly, we will all suffer the long term negative consequences. Our politicians, at all levels, are content to betray their duty to protect the citizens."

"The cowardice of hiding behind the excuse, "its a federal issue," is both unpatriotic and treasonous. They would, of course, need to know the definition of these two concepts to understand them but, after all, those in Kentucky are products of the failed Kentucky education system. What can you expect?"

"I'll need to give careful consideration to my options but for now I plan to enjoy the holidays with my family. Fortunately, I am fluent in Spanish so the transition to our new Hispanic culture won't be too hard."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chandler and Yarmuth screw large KY employers

Hal Rogers, Geoff Davis, and Ed Whitfield voted against the auto bailout bill.

Ben Chandler and John Yarmuth voted for the auto bailout bill.

If you're keeping score at home, this bill stands to hurt Ford (which appears to be uninterested in participating in the bailout) and Toyota.

Nice work, guys.

How much for an Obama Senate seat?

In case you think you might be sick of Barack Obama before his four years are up, he will sell you a four-year calendar to count the days.



I'm holding out for an Obama ice scraper to get all the global warming off my windshield this winter.

Shouldn't they be busy at the Herald Leader doing First Amendment stuff or something?

Clearly, someone at the Lexington Herald Leader has too much time on his hands.

I noticed a little while ago that a news story on their political blog had some incorrect information. As helpfully as I could, I attempted to point out the mistake:

In less than ten minutes, my comment had been erased. The incorrect information is still up. Click here for the facts.

And if you don't believe me, the budget director's office will post the numbers here at some point.

Amen

The Wall Street Journal editorial page says we wouldn't even be talking about a bailout for badly-run car companies if we had a conservative president.

The editorial is "Bush and Detroit."
"It's also becoming increasingly clear that the real goal of Democrats isn't to save jobs per se, but to tell Detroit what cars to make and how to make them. The goal is to turn GM and the rest into Big Green Machines that will stop making SUVs and trucks and start making small cars that run on something other than carbon fuel. If consumers don't want to drive them, well, the next step will be to impose subsidies or penalties and taxes to coerce them to do so. Giving the federal government an equity stake could also lead to protectionism, as the politicians attempt to shield Detroit's mismanaged assets from competition by citing the interests of the UAW, the environment, or some other "social" good that has nothing to do with making cars Americans will want to drive."

"None of these measures will save Detroit in any real commercial sense. For precedents, consult the history of France's Renault, S.A., or perhaps of Jawaharlal Nehru's industrial policies in postwar socialist India. But a bailout will harm consumers, harm the auto industry as a whole, put taxpayers on the hook indefinitely, and bring the U.S. commitment to market principles further into doubt."

"If this is how Barack Obama wants to begin his Presidency, so be it. But Mr. Bush will not enhance his legacy by helping Congress and the Sierra Club nationalize Detroit."

There is absolutely no reason left for Sen. McConnell to stick with Bush regardless of how far off base he is anymore, right?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Evidence that newspaper bailout is next

Lexington Herald Leader columnist Tom Eblen makes the case for bailouts by hitting all the favorite talking points:
"How did we get into this mess? Corporate greed and incompetence, for sure, as well as some irresponsible consumers."

Huh?

Wait, it gets better:
"The Wall Street meltdown can be traced to greed and abuse made possible by deregulation and lack of government oversight. And if government had pushed harder for tough fuel economy standards — or helped fund innovation the way Japan has done with its automakers — the Big Three and the rest of us would be in a lot better shape now."


What, not even one mention of Barney Frank and the unions?

Instead, let's change gears to socialized medicine:
"Why should businesses bear that burden? If government took more responsibility for managing health care with private providers, many people think both quality and coverage could be improved. Freed from those benefits burdens, companies could be more competitive globally. Plus, think of the entrepreneurial potential that could be unleashed if so many workers weren't tied to jobs they hate by fear of losing health care benefits."

After all this, I wasn't convinced that something is driving the Herald Leader to distraction until I read the big finish. I read it ten times and still couldn't pull anything particularly coherent -- or maybe just useful -- out of it. Any help?
"Like many Americans, I'm uncomfortable with government trying to manage big business. But if government would use this opportunity to learn how to do a better job of governing, we might be spared more corporate bailouts in the future."

Daschle: "trust me" on socialized medicine

Incoming Health and Human Services Cabinet Secretary Tom Daschle wants to rush in government-run healthcare without bothering to discuss details with the people who will pay the bills.

Who has this guy been talking to, Henry Paulson?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Defending Paul Krugman; and debunking him

The ever more erratic and undependable Associated Press caught up with Nobel laureate in Stockholm, Sweden and totally screwed up his interview before blasting it all over the world.
"STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) -- Nobel economics prize winner Paul Krugman said Sunday that the beleaguered U.S. auto industry will likely disappear.
""It will do so because of the geographical forces that me and my colleagues have discussed," the Princeton University professor and New York Times columnist told reporters in Stockholm. "It is no longer sustained by the current economy.""

Krugman denies that he said the entire industry "will likely disappear" and I believe him.

From his blog:
"I gather that there’s a report on the wires quoting me as saying that the US auto industry would disappear. What I actually said was that the concentration of the industry around Detroit would disappear."

"And did I really say “me and my colleagues”? I guess it’s possible — but that doesn’t sound like I speaking."

I've seen Dr. Krugman speak at length about the car bailout and I've never heard him say anything like that the U.S. auto industry would disappear.

But saying that the industry is no longer "sustained by the current economy?" That's our Krugman.

And that's ridiculous. What is not sustained by the current economy -- or any economy at any time -- is the mess that the United Auto Workers has created in conjunction with management of the Big Three. Our economy needs lots of well-made cars. But the fact even when they do sell it is usually at a loss is hardly the economy's fault. In fact, the economy is doing exactly what it is supposed to do, which is grind to a halt until prices come down to meet the new equilibrium price.

A bankrupt Big Three can get there. A bailed out Big Three delays the inevitable. Why would a sane people take the more painful option?

"I'm from the government...to sell you a used car"


Does anyone really, honestly believe that putting the government in charge of the auto industry is going to make everything work out better?

The Detroit Free Press reports:
"Congressional officials say the lawyer who oversaw the 9/11 victims’ compensation fund has emerged as a candidate to be the “car czar” in charge of a federal loan package for the Detroit Three automakers."

Yeah, I expect this to work out well...

Herald Leader suffers from R.I.D.S.

Revenue Increase Derangement Syndrome is bad stuff. And the Lexington Herald Leader has a bad case.

Evidence of the malady piled up this weekend with a wild claim that low taxes cause crime and reached Intervention Time with a Larry Dale Keeling column advocating higher taxes and casinos that glosses over two very important points.

First, there's this:
"Over the course of a full year, a 70-cent increase per pack would produce about a third of the revenue needed to offset the current $456.1 million shortfall."

This questionable assertion ignores the loss of economic activity from out-of-state consumers no longer crossing into Kentucky to buy cigarettes. Leap-frogging Tennessee, Indiana, West Virginia, Virginia, and Illinois in the cigarette tax increase race will have an impact we can hardly ignore and spend at the same time.

And then, an old favorite:
"... the two compelling arguments for legalizing casino gambling: to capture for our own treasury the hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue Kentuckians are contributing to bordering states by gambling at their casinos and racinos, and to keep Kentucky's signature racing industry competitive with its counterparts in states where purses and breeders' incentives are supplemented with the profits from expanded gambling."

Here they are ignoring the simple fact that casino revenue will be very hard-pressed to fund state spending and save the horse industry while also covering the increased costs associated with casinos leading to more impoverished families.

Big government has run its course in Kentucky and has failed. The tax increase nattering and revenue increase derangement syndrome will get much louder before it goes away.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Are some anti-tax allies going squishy?

The Kentucky Farm Bureau isn't as opposed to cigarette tax increases as they used to be. The rest of us are going to have to work that much harder to make the case for not bailing Frankfort out from the consequences of their overspending.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Mitch McConnell needs help "deciding"

Sen. Mitch McConnell told the Louisville Courier Journal he is "undecided" about the auto bailout.

Please call him at (202) 224-2541 and help him decide how much of your money to burn.

State says don't kill your kids

From the Department of Institutional Non-essentialness in the Health and Family Services Cabinet, we get the following holiday advice:
Don't let your child choke or suffocate on gift-wrapping materials.

Your child may choke on a golf ball or ping pong ball. Be careful.

String may strangle your baby.

Some people trip over toys.

Wheeled toys can kill you.

Don't trim your tree with items your children may mistake for food.

Don't inhale artificial snow.


Wonder how much it cost us for that great advice. I wish I were kidding about this.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

We should really be able to laugh at this

I wonder how many American women who support putting the government even more in charge of healthcare would change their minds after reading this:
"A Swedish woman injured in a car accident has had her disability benefits withdrawn after the country’s social insurance agency determined her large bust was to blame for the pain."

"The agency’s decision comes following an assessment from a doctor suggesting that Andersson could return to work if she had breast reduction surgery."

""I had understood authorities to be impartial, but I don’t feel that way any longer. I see this as more of a political judgment than a medical one," she said."

We really need to be rolling back government involvement in healthcare before our own bureaucrats grab the power to make more decisions like this. Thanks to InsureBlog for the heads up.

They won -- and they're still working

Blocking Team Obama isn't going to be easy:

People who are against tax increases and bailouts and abusive unions are going to have to start working together despite differences on other issues. And that means the GOP has some work to do reaching out to Ron Paul supporters and others who don't ordinarily fit into "the club."

Magic tax increase proposed

Rep. David Watkins has pre-filed the seventy cent cigarette tax increase that is going to save us all by cutting smoking rates, raising revenue, funding our woefully underfunded public employee benefits plans, put more money in our schools, buy health insurance for all our children, pay off our debt, fill in for current overspending, and make the blue skies bluer.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Why we still miss mark on college affordability

A striking paragraph in the Lexington Herald Leader's college affordability story today deserves clarification:
"The 40 percent of Kentucky families who earn the least must use 39 percent of their income to attend a 4-year college, up from 33 percent in 2004, the report found. And that's after accounting for financial aid, which is increasingly being used to lure high-achieving students who boost a school's reputation, but who don't need help to go to college."

The 39% figure is highly misleading. It includes food and lodging expenses. Those would have to be incurred whether the student chooses to live on campus and overpay for necessities or not. The fact that poor families are choosing to pay luxury prices for necessary services is more indicative of the fact that federally-insured student loans are readily available than the inaccurate picture that poor families face living on 61% of their income in order to send a child to college.

Solutions are readily available. We already incentivize students to attend community colleges by allowing them to continue paying the lower tuition rates at universities when they transfer after earning a two-year degree. This is not well-publicized. It should be.

If more students stayed at home with their parents and took courses online through KYVC.org, they would save substantially as well.

The article's criticism that too much financial aid is being awarded to students "who don't need help to go to college" is off-base also. Raising academic standards in our public colleges is the only way to approach long-term success. Doling out too much financial aid strictly on the basis of financial need and then encouraging overspending for services is at the heart of this problem. Attempting to address college affordability without naming the actual culprits will continue to frustrate our efforts to improve the situation.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Obama pulls his first Beshear

In Georgia.

Checked your gun rights, lately?

Noticed that since the election, former Rep. Kathy Stein's wacky anti-gun bill from the 2008 session is the most-read bill on KentuckyVotes.org.

There are still some major technical problems with KentuckyVotes, but most of the site is functioning normally. Bill searches and voting records, for example, are fine.

Monday, December 01, 2008

That's our Skippy!

Gov. Steve Beshear's endless trail of blue ribbon work groups continues Tuesday with a swipe at college education affordability.

Here's the great part: the meeting features Finance and Administration Cabinet Secretary Jonathan "Skippy" Miller giving introductory remarks, offering a discussion of priorities for a January meeting, and addressing meeting topics and issues for further meeting till next September.

I'm not expecting much more than a rehash of KAPT from Miller, are you?

Recession official; official response horrible

The National Bureau of Economic Research now says the nation has been in a recession since December 2007.

Recorded history is full of business cycles going up and coming down. The lesson too many are missing is that there is nothing any politician is going to do to stop that. In fact, many of them seem determined to make it worse.

From White House spokesman Tony Fratto:
"What's important is what is being done about it," Fratto said. "The most important things we can do for the economy right now are to return the financial and credit markets to normal, and to continue to make progress in housing, and that's where we'll continue to focus."

Yeah, right. Just get the heck out of the way.

Bipartisan attack on government transparency

Please support two Louisville men, Steve Magruder and Brian Tucker, in their efforts to force Mayor Jerry Abramson to show taxpayers how their money is being spent.

Go here and here. And please use the comments section on this site to publicize any other similar efforts in Louisville or elsewhere.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bailout spin to begin, again

The Big Three automakers are going back to Capitol Hill this week to beg for a bailout.

There is nothing they can say that will justify throwing taxpayer money at them. Even if the government could "turn a profit" on the deal by taking an equity stake in one or more of them, there is no way we should allow the government to buy up more companies in the name of stability. Just like when Joseph in the Old Testament taxed the Egyptians twenty percent of their grain and sold it back to them in return for their freedom, we will all be slaves when the government figures it can buy up businesses.

Some of the resources tied up in the car companies are misplaced. Delaying the realization of that fact costs us all money. And it might wind up costing us more than that.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tell Beshear to drop tax increase plan

Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) has a history lesson both President-elect Barack Obama and Gov. Steve Beshear would do very well to pay attention to:
"Important lessons on our current crisis can be drawn from Japan’s “lost decade” in the 1990s, where deeply flawed policy responses lead to a protracted period of stagnation. In the early 1990s, Japan experienced a sharp economic slowdown resulting from the bursting of a real estate and stock market bubble. Sound familiar? In response, Japan’s policy makers pursued an aggressive agenda of fiscal stimulus packages after 1993. Japan’s preference for public spending at the expense of private investment led to record deficits, increasing government debt to 130% of GDP. Following the array of new spending projects, Japan made the critical mistake of raising its consumption tax rate in 1997, proving fatal for Japan’s already stagnant economy. Rather than addressing the significant structural problems in Japan’s financial sector or reducing taxes to spur sustained economic growth, Japan followed a path of increased spending followed by increased taxes. Such a path proved disastrous for Japan, and – should Obama and the Congressional Majority follow a similar path as they’ve promised – it will prove disastrous for America."

Team Obama seems to have gotten the message that tax increases won't do any good for the economy. Maybe they should talk to Gov. Beshear.

Friday, November 28, 2008

While you were hyperventilating...

With all the current problems in Kentucky government to be concerned about, The Lexington Herald Leader is upset about this:


God help us. Oh, sorry guys!

Instead of getting stuck on this stuff, would it be too much to ask the Herald Leader to look into out-of-control public employee compensation, unaccountable school systems, or lying executives?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Special message for Fayette Jail head

Fayette County Detention Center Director Ron Bishop is about to get more of a special greeting from federal investigators than the rest of us. Here's yours:

Bishop may be enjoying the holiday season at his home in Louisville with his Lexington taxpayer-provided luxury car in his garage, but given all the people close to him who are talking to investigators, it's not looking like a Happy New Year.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Numbers suggest Beshear expects GOP to fold

I wish I had thought of this one, but credit goes to Andy Hightower at the Kentucky Club for Growth for adding up the numbers and finding the hole in Gov. Steve Beshear's fiscal plan:
"... he's either expecting to raise taxes, or not expecting the $456 million shortfall to materialize."

Read the rest of Andy's post here.

Just plug in your efficiency study, Governor, and everything will be fine. The Senate Republicans have little reason to cut their own throats just to bail you out. In fact, many of the House Democrats don't either.

Will Obama cause food costs to rise?

Harvard professor Dr. Greg Mankiw notes that President-elect Barack Obama's flip-flop on farm subsidies is the wrong prescription:
"Like President-elect Obama (but unlike candidate Obama), I am all for getting rid of farm subsidies. But why would you want to use taxpayer funds to encourage large, efficient, profitable farms to break up into smaller, less efficient, less profitable farms?"

If we are going to get out of subsidizing farmers, let's do it right by eliminating all subsidies, not just those on the "rich."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Really bad financial news closer to home

Nearly a week after receiving the latest report on the financial mess that is the Kentucky Retirement Systems, the KRS has released their information to the unwashed masses.

The good news is that the unfunded actuarial liability has only increased by $1,684,998,416. The bad news is that even if we had an extra two billion dollars laying around, it would not put a dent in the deficit carried over from last year which was $31,128,411,829. And the really scary news is that the current $32,813,410,245 deficit is based on June 30, 2008 figures when the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 11,350. It is now 25% lower at 8452. The current figures also don't include all the toxic securities our investment gurus were loading up on before they exploded this past fall.

And, of course, you get to make up whatever they can't pay out. Good thing House Speaker Jody Richards fixed all this in June.

Don't hate the brown people

WHAS 11 reported on Mexican gangsters setting up shop in Kentucky which you may have already read about here.
"Sutter said, “Now is the time to get on this. It isn’t something we want to wait for. We need to be very proactive with this.""

"Shelbyville’s quality of life may depend on it."

"The latest report by the National Drug Intelligence Center reports drug cartel activity involving the Federation Cartel in Louisville and the rival Gulf Coast Cartel in Lexington."

"Authorities fear violence in the future as these two groups begin to fight over territory here in Kentucky."

You can watch the rest of the WHAS report here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

State investment experts play hide and seek

The Kentucky Retirement Systems seems to have something to hide.

New, New Deal is no free meal

America would be far better off if some of our elected "leaders" had to go to a car dealership and buy their own ride. Something magical happens when you go in, pick a car, and hear the salesman's first offer.

If you say no, the price goes down.

The same thing happens every place else in the economy. That's why there is no reason to be afraid of the possibility of price deflation. Think of it as a big blue light special. Enterprises needing exorbitant pricing just to stay afloat don't make it in times like this. Denying this fact only makes the reality more painful when it hits. Better to take our medicine and get on with it.

So President-elect Barack Obama's plan to "stimulate" the economy with $700 billion should be viewed as hostile to our interests. Will it allow some people to continue to be overpaid for a while? Yes. But I'd love to have someone explain to me how it benefits our nation as a whole to temporarily prop up the price level of anything when the market is trying to say that the party is over.

Like it or not, the market is going to win this one. Best to hang on to our money. We are going to need it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Beshear misses out on another victim

On a weekend in which a vampire teen chick flick, Twilight, featured a young girl almost getting eaten, University of Louisville freshman Jordan Fulkerson should probably consider himself fortunate to be alive.

Jordan fell one sporting contest pick short of winning an ESPN online $1 million prize when the Atlanta Falcons beat the Carolina Panthers Sunday. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, who has already leapt fangs-first onto the back of online poker web sites, is on the rampage for tax money from innocent Kentuckians to prop up an unsustainable state government.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A belt for Jim Newberry to tighten

Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry is joining the tax increase chorus we are now hearing at all levels of government.

And yet, Lexington jail administrators are still zipping all over the state in taxpayer-provided cars.

Wonder why?

Rep. Ben Chandler, use your influence

Congressman Ben Chandler deserved some credit for voting against the bank bailout when his vote didn't matter.

Now he needs to step up when he can really make a difference.

North Carolina Congresswoman Virginia Foxx has filed a bill to cut our bailout losses in half.

Her bill needs Democratic co-sponsors, Rep. Chandler. Also don't see Rep. Hal Rogers, Rep. Geoff Davis, Rep. Ed Whitfield, Rep. Ron Lewis on there. Newly-elected Brett Guthrie could weigh in. And Rep. John Yarmuth should have to explain why he still wants to hand more money over to the fat cats.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Labor unions don't deserve more power

Union abuses have destroyed American auto manufacturers and mandated union wages on public construction projects cost Kentucky an extra $130 million a year.

So the last thing we should be doing is changing union elections to make them even more powerful.

But that is exactly what Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi want us to do:

Bipartisanship doesn't mean raising taxes

A press release from Frankfort Friday afternoon proclaims "Gov. Beshear says spending cuts necessary along with bipartisan approach to address state’s looming shortfall" (Emphasis added)

Gov. Steve Beshear was elected after saying that Kentuckians were taxed enough and didn't need higher taxes. He promised $180 million a year in "efficiences" that we still haven't seen.

And now he wants Republicans to buy in to tax increases.

Right. Let's eliminate prevailing wage and make top priority out of replacing the MUNIS system so we can begin to assess our K-12 spending nineteen years after KERA. Then we can get serious about public employee benefits reform and start to run Kentucky more like a legal entity set up to represent honest people rather than a slush fund to coddle cronies.

All the "hard work" and "pain" Beshear is talking about needs to start with a desire to really change the way things have been done way for too long.

Kentucky bureaucrats too big for their britches

Kentuckians should have no tolerance for government employees going around the law-making process to take rights away from citizens. That is what's happening in Hopkins County. When the local elected officials couldn't pass a smoking ban, they let the local health department enact one anyway.
"In a letter to the Hopkins County Health Department, Kentucky Freedom Coalition spokesman Hal Latham promised his group will “vigorously fight any attempt by the Health Board to enact laws concerning this matter . . . We are passionate about freedom and private property rights.""
"Surely, no process that exists is more fundamentally un-American than laws enacted and enforced by non-elected bureaucrats."

This is like feeding the bears. If we let them ravage private business owners who choose to allow smoking, who will speak up when they come for the rest of us?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Throwing good money after bad

Let's kill the whole auto bailout.

The guys in the private jets from Ford, Chrysler, and GM say if we give them "only" $25 billion, they could go out of business. Well, if giving them $50 billion is too much (and it is) and giving them $25 billion is not enough though it is the only viable political option, then it doesn't really matter if we call the $25 billion a loan, does it?

I prefer the term "government waste."

Promising to spend money they didn't have and couldn't earn got them into this mess. Doesn't make much sense to "loan" them anything we can't afford to burn, does it?

Bankruptcy organization looks like their best option.

And as far as "saving the jobs" goes: how long should we prop up jobs that the marketplace says we don't need. Is someone going to do that for you if your job becomes obsolete?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hillary with a hairpiece


Looks like former Senator Tom Daschle is going to be the Health and Human Services Cabinet Secretary in the Obama administration.

Hold on tight to your health insurance card with this one.

Wouldn't it be great if, instead of expanding government's role in healthcare, we could shrink it? Federal and state management of the medical system has done limited damage only in the sense that it's role hasn't been allowed to expand quite as far as in other places. Daschle is coming in to "change" that.

States like Kentucky could actually teach the feds a thing or two about pulling back successfully from the brink of government-run health insurance disaster. But no one in charge is listening to that kind of talk now.

Before we go to a Medicare for All approach, someone might want to point out to the good time gang that Medicare's hospital insurance fund is set to be insolvent by 2019, during President Joe Biden's first term.

Killing the next bailout in its infancy

While everyone else is talking about the proposed auto industry bailout, some are already kicking around a request for a newspaper industry rescue plan.

One former newspaper editor says on his blog that it won't happen:
"Beyond pure economic considerations, of course, there is the emotionally persuasive argument that the press needs to be saved so it can fulfill its unique role as the watchdog for the oldest democracy in the world. The problem is that it is difficult to imagine how the vigor and independence of the press would be maintained if the industry depended on the largesse of the very government officials it is supposed to be watching."

What's funny is that, in Kentucky, many newspapers already are very dependent on that largesse.

We are looking for ways to cut government spending, aren't we? The time has come to declare newspapers a non-essential government expenditure.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hide your arrogance, bloggers are everywhere

From the Hey-are-you-guys-still-in-business? Department:

Louisville Courier Journal Editorial Page Editor Keith Runyon defended the paper for calling rural Kentuckians yokels:
"We never used the term "yokels," but rather "Yokeldom" as a reference to the general population of backward people."

The slur appeared in a November 11 unsigned editorial. I can only assume that Mr. Runyon thinks that if his "apology" isn't good enough for you it is because you are too stupid to understand it.

Jody Richards' disenfranchisement scheme

Clinging bitterly to his job as Speaker of the House, Jody Richards thinks he is going to avoid accountability for his failures in office by silencing the voices of a precinct full of voters in this latest election.

At issue is a vote scanner that failed mid-day on November 4 at the Pine Valley precinct in Elizabethtown. Precinct workers, in order to continue allowing voters to vote, removed the paper ballots from what was a non-functioning machine. A bipartisan team of precinct workers handled the transition to a new machine. The Democratic County Clerk Kenneth L. Tabb said the proper procedure was followed.

The votes in the whole district have been counted twice. Rep. Tim Moore, a Republican, won both times. Former Rep. Mike Weaver, however, could find himself magically back in Frankfort to try to save Jody Richards only if all the votes in that one precinct are thrown out.

So guess what they are trying to do?

The Secretary of State's office will certify the election Friday afternoon and then Speaker Jody Richards is expected to challenge the results.

Guess where House election challenges are heard?

In the House. With Speaker Jody Richards presiding.

Now this would work

Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform suggests the $700 billion federal bailout go like this: $170 billion to cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%, $35 billion to eliminate capital gains and dividend taxes, $235 billion to cut the top individual tax rate to 15%, $24 billion to kill the Death Tax, and $240 billion to allow companies to fully-expense capital assets purchased the first year.

Sounds better than the rat hole approach currently underway.

The auto bailout in one sentence

If we "protected" horse buggy manufacturers when those newfangled cars came along, we would all still have manure on our shoes.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Gov. Mark Sanford, the Anti-Racist

At their Republican Governor's Association meeting, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist was talking about "reaching out" to black and Hispanic voters:
""The most important thing is to make sure that we reach out to Hispanic voters, to African-American voters,” Crist said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt.""

Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina had a much better answer:
""The problem to a degree we’ve had as Republicans has been running on one message of conservatism and then governing a very different way," Sanford said. "I think that the way that you appeal to blacks or Hispanics is to first of all carefully define what you’re about.""

That's exactly right, Gov. Sanford. And some Republicans on Capitol Hill need to start by going back and reading what their own party platform has to say about government bailouts.

Hint: they were against them before they were for them. Time to go back to Plan A.

Time to talk about "global warming"

Worse than "spread the wealth"

In a sane world, candidate Barack Obama's spread the wealth comment would have sent him to George McGovern and Michael Dukakis land.

Of course, mental health is not currently political America's strong suit.

So the official President-elect of the mainstream media, which, by the way, is next up as the industry too big to fail, can get away with saying this:
"President-elect Barack Obama said the U.S. government will do "whatever it takes" to revive the economy, and that means "we shouldn't worry about the deficit next year or even the year after.""

That's a different tune than he was singing right before the election.

Imagine that -- another politician claiming he is going to fix everything with an efficiency study.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Does Jack Conway respect First Amendment?

Mark Hebert reports Attorney General Jack Conway wants out of Gov. Steve Beshear's questionable foray into internet regulation.

Anyone interested in freedom of expression on the internet should join Conway and shun the whole mess as well.

And anyone who is still unsure might want to consider the angry American Indians.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

"Bail, baby, bail!"

President-elect Barack Obama says you are your brother's keeper, subsidizing "green technology" will save the planet, socialized medicine is good, and "America will rise again." So pay up.


Thanks to PageOne for passing this along.

Can we still ignore Kentucky drug cartels?

Federal authorities have identified competing Mexican drug cartels in Lexington and Louisville. And it may be time to care about it.

The National Drug Intelligence Center, a unit of the U.S. Department of Justice reports "Federation" cartel presence in Lexington and "Gulf Coast" cartel presence in Louisville.

This is a new development, but a recent federal crackdown on illegal immigrant drug cartels combined with lackluster local enforcement in Kentucky could create a combustible situation here soon.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Republicans still haven't gotten the message

President George W. Bush is on his way out of Washington D.C. in two months, but this afternoon he shows clearly that he doesn't grasp the damage he has done to his party and his country. He has urged Congress to bail out the auto industry.

While Bush deserves some credit for refusing to support the Democrats' plan to add bank bailout money to the money pit that domestic automakers have become, he still wants to throw $25 billion:

Giving nearly bankrupt companies with unsustainable business models $25 billion loans for "more urgent purposes" -- can you imagine a private bank in the pre-bailout era doing that? -- is just like throwing the money away. What do we expect the Big 3 to do next year when all that money is gone but their structural problems persist?

How Big Auto is like Big Media

Very interesting blog post here with a comparison between the arrogance that destroyed Detroit and the arrogance that plagues American newspapers:
"For the most part, the auto industry’s woes were self-inflicted by decades of insular and unimaginative senior management. The problems are not the fault of the workers, the customers, the suppliers, OPEC or the competition. They result from management’s lack of vision, objectivity, originality and courage."

Then there is this, from the comments section:
"The news industry didn't help anyone, least of all Detroit, by selling out and becoming shills for the industry. They've done the same thing by selling out and shilling for Obama and the Dimwits in Congress. People don't buy your product because they've found you to be untrustworthy and they do have an alternative. That the anti-newspaper is free to them is icing on the cake. Choice, for free ? From home, dry and warm ? Newspapers can't compete with that. Sell the presses for scrap. It's over. The patient died. He refused to take his medicine when it might have done some good."

Sure, some jobs are going to dry up and blow away as the domestic auto industry right-sizes. Same goes for Big Media. But when government jumps into the mix to take from those who are succeeding in the marketplace to give to those who recklessly squandered their own success and learned humility only when the music stopped, government by definition makes things worse.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Are Fayette jail birds singing?

The Feb 2, 2009 trial of the five former Fayette jail officers charged with beating prisoners and orchestrating a cover-up has been cancelled and moved to June 8.

This could mean that the defendents are talking to investigators about others who have not yet been indicted. The trial was originally scheduled for August 18, 2008.

Also haven't seen any action on the whistleblower lawsuit against the city of Lexington. That case can't lie dormant forever.

Yeah, we know...

President George W. Bush, discussing today his role in the government bailouts:
"I'm a market-oriented guy, but not when I'm faced with the prospect of a global meltdown," Bush said.

Actually, Mr. President, a time of crisis is precisely the time in which we need our market-oriented guys.

Otherwise, we're just giving lip service to capitalism and the free market. And that is precisely why we are in the mess we are in and not likely to get out any time soon.

Obamamessiah to disappoint Ky. House Dems

Regular readers of the Bluegrass Policy Blog learned back in June that Barack Obama had no plans to help Frankfort by nationalizing the massive state employee health insurance liabilities.

"Some Democratic legislators have stated quietly their belief that a federal universal health insurance plan will save them the trouble of catching up with the rising costs of state and local employees' and retirees' healthcare costs. The funny thing is, none of them have bothered to ask Sen. Barack Obama about that."

"What's even funnier is that Sen. (Tom) Buford did ask." (click here for more)


Don't tell any of the Obama fans in the General Assembly about this, though. Let them learn it the hard way.

That's another half-million, Governor

Every day that Gov. Steve Beshear stonewalls on his $180 million efficiency study, Kentucky taxpayers lose another $493,150.69.

Better talk to the people, sir.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Which gang is Mayor Jim Newberry's favorite?

If you go down to Garden Springs Park next to Garden Springs Elementary School in Lexington, you will see evidence that Lexington does indeed have Hispanic gangs. In this case, it's the Latin Kings.

Continuing failure to enforce existing immigration laws in Lexington appears to be emboldening those who would spread gang activity into our neighborhoods.

Don't bail out Big Momma


Kentucky legislators are responding to a March of Dimes study about pregnant women who smoke. Before we start blindly writing more checks, we might want to think about how we hope to alleviate the social costs of bad behavior.

More people are catching on to Beshear

WHAS reporter Mark Hebert is asking Gov. Steve Beshear where our $180 million from the last year went.

This time next year, will we be asking about another $180 million or will we be too busy paying his new taxes and paying off his new debt?

Can't blame Ernie Fletcher for this one, Governor.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Let's be clear: auto bailout is a union bailout

One of the talking points du jour is that gas-guzzling SUVs caused the domestic auto companies' current woes when people stopped buying them.

The truth is just a little bit more complicated than that.

The Big Three automakers struggled to transition out of SUVs when gas prices killed demand for them because union-negotiated retirement benefits had already wiped out any financial flexibility the companies once had. Decades ago.

This latest speed bump wouldn't have wrecked the companies if union contracts hadn't already caused the companies to rust through from the inside out.

People still need cars and they will continue to buy cars from someone. But taxpayers don't need to throw good money after bad to prop up a labor system that went bankrupt a long time ago.

Let the companies re-organize and toss the United Auto Workers overboard.

Make no mistake: if we bail out Detroit's car manufacturers, we are paying for fat lifestyles of union thugs. No thanks.

Think tank tells states to raise taxes

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has built a reputation as a reliable, if not always coherent, provider of talking points for big-government politicians.

Their current advice, in favor of tax hikes rather than spending cuts, fills the bill nicely:
In particular, the government spending that would be reduced if direct spending programs are cut is often concentrated among local businesses…. By contrast, the spending by individuals and businesses that would be affected by tax increases often is less concentrated among local producers — since part of the decline in purchases that would occur if taxes were raised would be a decline in the purchase of goods produced out of state. Thus, more of the reduction in purchases that results from tax increases than from government budget cuts falls on out-of-state goods (relative to in-state goods), lessening the adverse impact of a tax increase on the state economy. Reductions in direct government spending consequently could have a larger adverse impact on a state's economy than tax increases, which have a stronger adverse impact on out-of-state goods and services.

This is complete nonsense, but expect to hear something much like it very soon from the tax-and-spend crowd in Frankfort.

The truth is that taxation can't benefit an economy as much as leaving money in the economy where it was produced because the bureaucracy that has nothing to do with the production of wealth has to take its cut before any of the money gets re-distributed and re-circulated.

Common sense.