Friday, September 30, 2011

Obama's Successes

Ages ago, after enduring endless rants about President Bush, I would ask, "Has he done anything right?" It was about the only legal technique to silence a liberal at the time.

With the tables turned and with an unpopular Democratic president, I will ask the same question. Has President Obama done anything right?

My own answer is yes, I love that he has whacked Osama, and today the Yemenese/American Al somethingorother and remember the Seals taking out the pirates? Not nearly enough to garner a vote from me, but its something.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

On Saving Jobs

Perhaps you have heard that Democrat Governor Bev Perdue has suggested canceling the 2012 elections. Some partisans are seeking to make this a big issue of course. As for me, I think she is merely trying to help beef up Obama's "jobs saved" numbers.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

First Friday Follies

First Fridays has been a success beyond, I am sure, even the most optimistic prognosticators. So let us destroy it.

A little background. To the best of my recollection, the idea of First Fridays was introduced by former mayor Jim Smith's wife Joyce, who had witnessed such an event in Michigan. I for one thought it a bit silly to have on a Friday as I thought a full fledged street festival or two would have been a better idea. Anyway, First Friday's began several years ago as an effort to get folks downtown to beef up exposure and sales at downtown businesses. Fastforward to today and we routinely have thousands of people flocking to downtown for First Fridays. For the most part the crowd is pretty upscale and largely devoid of troublemakers. And the crowds have increased in part because the city, wisely in my view, has opted to look the other way with respect to open intoxicants on the sidewalks. People just like to walk around with a beer now and again. Regarding sales, as a downtown retailer, I can attest to the fact that First Fridays is not just a drinking event. People buy stuff and that was the whole idea.

But leave it to a handful of the perpetually disgruntled to have an axe to grind. The crowds are too big! Someone has been sneaking in alcohol in a cooler! Someone might get drunk and cause trouble! We might get sued!

The solution to these minor or hypothetical problems is of course to crack down on the open intoxicants on the street according to the pd's - the perpetually disgruntled's. The pd's are seeking meetings with the mayor, the chief of police or whomever else might work to undermine the event. If they are loud and determined enough, they might just force the hand of law enforcement, who may then crack down on the open intoxicants. Before long the crowds will dwindle, the enthusiasm will be gone, the event will wither away along with the customers and the sales. But hey, at least we won't get sued!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Who is Zea?

I encountered a woman the other day wearing a "who is Zea?" T-shirt. So I asked. She turned around, showing the rest of the shirt. Zea is the Zion (Illinois) Education Association. The lady then volunteered that they wear the T-shirt every Friday at school and that it helps not having to think about what to wear that day.

Perhaps it is time for the Zion school district to consider a dress code for teachers. A teachers union is not an innocuous organization. Right or wrong, teachers unions engage in negotiations that, by definition, have two (or more) sides. As such, they can and do lead to contentious exchanges in a given locality.

Why should such an organization be allowed to not-so-subtly propagandize to a captive audience of school children?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Why Not Vigilance?

I am glad its 9/12. I can't stand looking at pictures of the burning World Trade Center, people jumping to their deaths etc... still too raw and probably always will be.

Why 9/11 inspires some Americans to lecture us about religious tolerance is a mystery to me. There is only one religion that should use the occasion to lecture its members about religious tolerance and that religion is Islam. It was people inspired by their Islamic faith - correctly interpreted or not - who hijacked airplanes and used them to kill innocents. The battle for tolerance must be fought within the Islamic religion and I stand with all Muslims who condemn the evil perpetrated on 9/11. And I will be damned if I will have tolerance for those who thank Allah for 9/11.

I propose we stop talking incessantly about tolerance on 9/11. It would be far more appropriate to talk about vigilance. We need to physically stop anyone or any group that would perpetrate 9/11 style evil against us. We must also be vigilant in confronting the philosophical underpinnings or justifications for such evil. And those justifications and religious rationalizations are found to varying degrees among far too many Muslims in this world. Vigilance rather than tolerance is the proper response to such a threat.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Economic Development 101

I have to give Racine mayor John Dickert credit for scrapping the money hemorrhaging artist relocation program. Read all about it here.

That said, I think he should also scrap the equally doomed NSP, aka the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Instead, the mayor is doubling down. According to the JT article: "The next step, the mayor said, will be to move Neighborhood Stabilization Program efforts into the Uptown area next year. Those federal funds may be used to buy foreclosed homes and either rehabilitate them or raze them and rebuild."

The artist relocation program and the NSP house flipping program are virtually identical schemes. They use federal money to buy up distressed properties. They pour lots of money and time into them and then sell them at a huge loss.

There is simply no way that this will work. The city must comply with all sorts of regulations that mom and pop house flippers can avoid, thus driving up the costs well beyond the properties potential selling price. The city further ensures losses by insisting on home ownership, thus reducing the potential number of buyers which in turn puts downward pressure on the sale price.

Top down, government directed economic development just doesn't work, locally or nationally - consider stimulus packages 1 - ? If we must spend our federal money on local redevelopment efforts, it would make far more sense to keep the government out of it as much as possible.

Here is a suggestion. Don't interfere with development efforts. Recognize that developments of all kinds will result in investment, therefor jobs and ultimately higher property values that you can tax. Recognize also that developers aren't developing in large part because they know full well that you will tax the hell out of them. Alleviate this reality based fear with a check, courtesy of unwitting taxpayers from everywhere. Put simply, reduce the cost of investing, those costs that you have driven through the roof with high taxes and a hypermeddling - yah I made that word up - economic development team. Do this and we might get some actual development in this town.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Cognitive Indifference

The Obama administration, via the Eric Holder Justice Department, sued to block an AT&T and T-Mobile merger. In so doing, they offered a great rationale in favor of breaking up the government monopoly on education by saying the merger "would result in tens of millions of consumers all across the country facing higher prices, fewer choices and lower quality products for mobile wireless services." So there is the proof that they know the damage caused by monopolies, but Obama and the left nonetheless is intent on keeping the government education monopoly rolling. This might cause some on the left to experience cognitive dissonance, but then again, that condition presupposes cognition.

Actually, in this regard, I don't really think the left is being stupid. Rather, I think they know full well that the government education monopoly results in "higher prices, fewer choices and lower quality." This is not "for the children." It is for the left to keep as much power as possible. I would have more respect for the left if they were merely stupid, but consigning children to education wastelands while using them to maintain political power is unconscionable.