Tuesday, August 31, 2010

License to Discriminate

I walked by Gingers (local bar in trouble with the city) today and noticed a sign that went pretty much like this:

Must be 25 or older to enter. 21 to 24 must be members.

Pretty straightforward example of age discrimination it seems to me. Now lest there be any misunderstanding, I think Gingers ought to be able do business with whomever they please. But I am not so sure the law is quite so accommodating.

Now I don't think for one second that Gingers wants to discriminate against young people. Rather, this is a preemptive move to please the city council that is threatening to take away their liquor license.

Just another example of the city forcing or at least nudging businesses to discriminate.

Maybe its time to revoke the city's discrimination license.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Plan B

Mayor John Dickert has released his ten year plan for the city of Racine. You can read it here. Clearly Mayor Dickert has confidence that he and our local government can dramatically transform Racine for the better. I don't share his confidence that government will lead Racine's transformation.

So I got to thinking what my plan for Racine would be. It would not be anything like Mayor Dickerts.

For starters, my plan would reflect my pessimism about centralized planning by elites and my optimism in free people acting in accordance with their own interests. In other words, Racine government should do the basics, namely police, fire, courts and little else. The role of government is not to create a wonderful city but rather to ensure the conditions that make the spontaneous creation of a wonderful city possible.

So the city government must be small and focussed. Canceling whole departments like the development department, UNIT, and the Fair Housing Department would be a good place to start. Put all non-essential city owned properties for sale and vow to get out and stay out of the housing/real estate business. Use the money to lower property taxes.

Don't pay too much for labor. Privatize trash, snow plowing, parks and as many other operations as possible. This will result in private sector jobs and will decrease the looming and crippling health care and retirement obligations. Yes, the unions will fight this with everything they have. Explain to voters that ensuring lifetime labor for union members is not part of the city's mission.

To spur investment, place a tax increase moratorium on investment in Racine. Presently, there is almost zero investment in Racine because investors know they will get slammed with tax increases. If the city would wait 5 or 10 years before they cash in on someone else's efforts, we will get more entrepreneurialism and hence more jobs. This might require law changes at the state level, so lobby the state loudly and often.

These are just a few examples of what needs to be done in Racine. It will never happen if we keep electing people with an unshakeable faith in government. Feel free to offer your own ideas and or your reaction to mine.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Buffaloing Readers on Stimulus Impact

When I see a letter written by a union representative, I expect muddled thinking on economic issues. Steven Buffalo of Operating Engineers Local 139 does not disappoint. Read it here.

To paraphrase his point of view, hundreds of members of his union are working this summer on road projects, thanks to the stimulus. These jobs are proof that the stimulus has created jobs and those who suggest otherwise are lying or believing a lie. In his industry they "measure how much work is getting done by counting hours worked" (a rather disturbing means of measuring work IMHO) and his members hours have been in decline in recent years. According to Buffalo, building construction and underground utility work is down 64 and 26% respectively, but road building has increased by 4%. He thanks Reps Cory Mason and Bob Turner and Senator John Lehman for the road work.

I won't quibble with Buffalo's stats. For the sake of this discussion, let us assume they are correct. What Buffalo misses of course is that the money for road projects comes from taxing current or future profitable activities. Do a bit too much of that and you get less entrepreneurial activity. This might help explain the 64% decrease in building construction. And it might help explain the high and getting higher unemployment numbers conveniently overlooked by Buffalo. But his members have jobs and perhaps that is the extent of his concerns. For those of us concerned about the general welfare, we need to judge the stimulus by a different measure, namely, the employment numbers. And by that measure, the stimulus is a failure. And that is no lie Mr. Buffalo.

On Feingold's Snub

The Racine Post has a story, read it here, about Senator Feingold's visits to some of Racine's downtown businesses.

From the article: Feingold's staff had been well-briefed: Although he walked Main Street from 3rd Street to 5th, and back, he skipped past Eye-OpenerZ, whose owner, Ken Brown is a TEA Party organizer, and Dimples, whose co-owner, Denis Navratil has a blog that frequently criticises Democrats. (Navratil was on vacation anyway.)

I am not sure how to interpret Feingold's decision not to visit my store. Was he really "well-briefed" by his staff? If he was accurately briefed, he would know that I am a politically active with a principled conservative/libertarian bent. As such, it is true that I frequently criticize Democrats. But I also criticize Republicans. In short, I am critical of bad ideas no matter from whom or what political party they emanate. You could say that this makes me something of a maverick. Hey, isn't that what they call Senator Feingold?

Anyway, it is true I wasn't at my store and it is unlikely he would earn my vote. I vote according to the actions of politicians, not their words or promises. Though I have at times had a grudging respect for Feingold, his vote for Obamacare was something I can't overlook, insofar as it is blatantly unconstitutional and passed only with the help of a corrupt process. It is time for a new senator.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Trash for Sale

Owe the city of Racine money? Have some garbage? If you answered yes to both questions, the city of Racine might just take both off your hands.

According to this Journal Times article, the city is accepting four houses, two of which need to be destroyed, to "clear up the debt" owed by the Racine Mutual Housing Association. RMHA had borrowed $380,000 to rehab 19 properties but they can't make ends meet, so the city is accepting the homes in lieu of the remaining debt of $194,000.

Now it would be one thing for the city to suggest that these losses are a necessary consequence of their efforts to help the less fortunate. But keep in mind the city in general, Mayor John Dickert in particular, are touting their real estate forays - buying houses, fixing them, selling them - as a major economic development initiative.

Last time I checked, buying liabilities is not a sure fire path to profits. But what do I know? Next Monday, I will be leaving some trash in the alley behind my building. I will give it to the city in exchange for my property tax obligations.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Smearing 101

I was reading a lefty newspaper the other day because I didn't have anything better to do. I can't remember many of the particulars, but the article was a hatchet job on a conservative running for some office or the other. I was struck by one sentence that went something like: Bill Jones is linked to Joe Blow who reportedly advocates violence against women. Missing was the nature of the link and any details of the report or the reporter.

Is there a person in the world without "links" to someone who "reportedly" is this or that? Democrats in Racine for example are linked to Gary Becker who advocates having sex with children. I have spoken with Gary Becker numerous times and, before my political awakening, I even helped him pass out campaign literature. So I too am linked to a known pedophile. I am linked to a man who bilked Chicago's CTA pension fund out of millions of dollars. There is no doubt that in some way I am linked to drug dealers, drug users, wife beaters, international terrorists, rapists, racists, murderers, even climate change deniers. And so are you.

Without any discussion on the nature of the link, the link argument is just another technique used to unfairly smear a person with whom you disagree.

Now I can't take the high road here. I am linked to someone who does this kind of thing quite often. His name is Sean Cranley.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Calling Nemo and Sean Cranley

Normally I prefer evenly matched contests, but today I invite Sean to an intellectual beating at the hands of Nemo. Have at it boys!