Thursday, August 30, 2007

Peters versus Knollenberg

One of the congressional districts that democrats are targeting in 2008 is Michigan's 9th district. The 9th district, located in eastern Oakland County, is currently held by Republican Joe Knollenberg. Knollenberg, who is 73, has served in Congress since 1992. He represented a somewhat different district in the 1990s. Knollenberg won a fairly close reelection in 2006. He has an 88% rating from the American Conservative Union.

The democrats appear to have settled on former State Senator Gary Peters to challenge Knollenberg. Peters held office from 1994 to 2002. In 2002, he narrowly lost a race for Michigan Attorney General to Republican Mike Cox. After that, Governor Granholm appointed him lottery commissioner.

Peters has been the focus of controversy due to his appointment as a political science professor at Central Michigan University earlier this year. Peters will be paid $65,000 to teach one class per semester.

This is very suspicious. While it is not unusual for a college professor to earn $65,000, it is very unusual to earn that much as a new hire with no tenure and no PhD. While CMU considers the job 'full time', it is hard to see it as more than a ten-hour-a-week job.

The committee that hired Peters knew that Peters was considering running for Congress. That committee is composed exclusively of democrats. Peters was hired over moderate Republican former State Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, even though Sikkema has served in government longer, had a higher position in the state senate, and has a similar education.

Another question is whether Peters will be able to adequately perform his job while he is running for Congress 122 miles away.

This looks like a political payoff for Peters from the liberals at CMU.

Voters ought to consider this before hiring Gary Peters.

Campaign News

These sites have news about political campaigns and elections.

Neutral (in theory):
CQ Politics
The Politico
The Hill
Roll Call
Political Wire
Rothenberg Political Report

John Gizzi articles
Robert Novak
The Campaign Spot
Red Racing Horses

Tax Increases On the Ballot

Yes means yes. No means try again.

That seems to be the message that local governments take from the voters with respect to tax increase proposals. When one fails, you can almost guarantee that something similar will be on the ballot in the future. With the deadline for the November 2007 ballot approaching, two tax hikes previously rejected by the voters will return to the ballot in November.

One is the KRESA tax for the Croyden school, which was rejected in May. It has been slightly reduced since the previous proposal.

(This is not to be confused with the other KRESA tax, which was approved in 2005. It was funneled to local school districts whether they needed it or not. School officials want to renew it, even though it was promoted as a one-time fix.)

The other is the Portage Public Schools tax hike. It also has been reduced since last time. It has also been broken into two proposals. The board voted 5-2 to put the proposals on the ballot. Conservatives Wendy Mazer and Melanie Kurdys voted against raising taxes.

The timing of the KRESA proposal appears to be strategic. The only other things on the ballot will be city commission elections in Kalamazoo and Portage. Kalamazoo, and to a much lesser extent Portage are more likely to support tax hikes than the surrounding townships. Higher turnout in those jurisdictions could put the KRESA proposal over the top.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee

Governor of Arkansas (1996-2006)
Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas (1993-1996)


Huckabee supports banning abortion and opposes Roe v. Wade. He opposes the destruction of human embryos.

Foreign Policy
Huckabee is a hawkish realist who supports war with Iraq. He has criticized the neoconservative goal of spreading democracy. He has called for some foreign policy restraint.

Gun Rights
Huckabee opposes gun control and has signed bills advancing gun rights. He is rated highly by Gun Owners of America.

Huckabee has compared deporting illegal aliens to the treatment of blacks in the segregated south. He criticized a raid on illegal aliens in 2005. He opposed the 2007 Senate immigration bill, but continues to support in-state tuition for illegal aliens.

Huckabee supports Federal Marriage Amendment and opposes "gay marriage" and "civil unions".

Huckabee has criticized the McCain-Feingold "campaign finance reform" restrictions on free speech. He supports drilling for oil in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Huckabee supported NAFTA.

The Club for Growth reports that under Huckabee, "state spending increased a whopping 65.3% from 1996 to 2004", "The number of state government workers rose 20% during his tenure", and "the state's general obligation debt shot up by almost $1 billion".

The Club for Growth reports that Huckabee cut some taxes as Governor while increasing others. Overall, "Governor Huckabee was responsible for a 37% higher sales tax in Arkansas, 16% higher motor fuel taxes, and 103% higher cigarette taxes". He was rated D by the Cato Institute. He advocates the Fair Tax, a national sales tax, to replace current federal taxes.

Huckabee has been married since 1974. He supported the release of a prisoner who later raped and murdered a woman.

Relevant Articles
Christians Need To Beware Of Mike Huckabee
More Reasons To Beware Of Mike Huckabee
There’s a Huckabee Born Every Minute
The Unfair Rap Against Mike Huckabee
Huckabee's Baptists
Huckabee: Holy Man and Heretic
Club for Growth Releases Updated Huckabee White Paper
Liberals Sing ‘Huckelujah’
Huckabee: Too Soft-on-Illegals

Sam Brownback

Sam Brownback

US Senator (1996-present)
US Congressman (1994-1996)
Kansas Secretary of Agriculture (1986-1990, 1991-1993)


Rated 100% pro-life by Right to Life
Opposes Roe v. Wade
Opposes the destruction of human embryos

Foreign Policy
Voted to authorize war with Iraq

Gun Rights
Opposes most gun control
Rated B by Gun Owners of America

Brownback cosponsored the 2006 McCain-Kennedy immigration bill that would allow in more than 100 million immigrants in the next 20 years and cost $500 billion in welfare payments within 20 years. Brownback consistently voted for the 2007 Senate immigration bill before switching on the final vote after it was clear that the bill would fail. Americans for Better Immigration has given him a grade of D. He supports more immigration, amnesty for illegal aliens, and guest worker programs.

Supports Federal Marriage Amendment

Voted against McCain-Feingold "campaign finance reform" restrictions on free speech
Supports drilling for oil in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Supports the existence of the United Nations but believes it should be smaller
Voted for CAFTA
Supported Senate immigration bill containing support for Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP)

Club for Growth reports that he voted for many spending bills while opposing some others
Voted for creation of Medicare prescription drug program
Voted for No Child Left Behind education spending

Voted for Bush tax cuts and opposes tax increases
Pledged not to raise taxes
Supports flat tax
Rated highly by Club for Growth

Married since 1982.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Understanding Government: Responsibility

Many different goals can potentially be achieved by different means. Specifically, they can either be accomplished through government programs and regulations, or through the free market.

In the free market, human interaction is voluntary. People freely choose to trade when they believe it to be in their interests. Violence is forbidden, and may be resisted if attempted.

Government programs are necessarily based on coercion. They require the threat of violence to force people to comply with them.

This would seem to be a strong moral argument in favor of the free market. This essay will bypass the question of morality, however, and instead economically analyze the question of which type of solution is more effective.

The key difference between government and the free market is responsibility. That is, who bears the consequences of government or private actions?

In the free market, the consequences of actions are borne primarily by the actor himself. This is true of both positive and negative consequences. If a private interest uses its resources effectively, offering some product or service that benefits humanity, it can profit from its action. However, if it squanders its resources, it will experience losses.

Government programs are different. Because they are funded by taxes and based on force, they will exist whether or not people want them to exist. Those who create and staff them will not experience the consequences of their actions. This does not mean that the consequences will disappear. Instead, they will be borne by others who are not responsible for the creation of the program. Taxpayers will be forced to fund the program, and the program may create incentives that will have unexpected consequences for others.

In the free market, private interests must serve the customer to stay in business. The profit and loss system provides information to tell them how they are doing. The free market rewards success and discourages failure. In contrast, government programs can continue taking taxpayer money regardless of whether they succeed or fail. Without a profit and loss system, it may not be easy to tell whether a program is succeeding or not.

When a government program fails, it could have its budget cut, but actual experience shows that this is unlikely. More likely, it will be continued by politicians who refuse to admit failure, or for the benefit of its own employees, or because people see only some results of the program and not others. In the unlikely event that a government program succeeds, it risks having its budget cut as unnecessary. In any case, those responsible for the success are not rewarded as they would be in the free market.

Different incentives face people in the free market and government. In the free market, those who wish to succeed must please the customer. Government employees will continue to be paid regardless whether they are helpful or harmful. Thus government programs promote bad service and harmful results.

Different types of people are attracted to different types of jobs. Private entrepreneurs may be self-interested, but they must be willing to serve the customer to succeed. They must also be willing to take risks and possibly lose their jobs if they do not succeed. Government employees can count on being funded by the taxpayers regardless how well they do. Thus people who are less willing to work hard and effectively are attracted to such jobs.

In the free market, people can forcibly resist those who seek to use force to harm them. Government's near monopoly on force prevents people from resisting harm by government this way.

Democracy attempts to impose some consequences for government programs, but they are woefully inadequate. Politicians can lose their jobs, but this can occur regardless whether it is deserved. Politicians can enact policies that kill thousands of people and waste billions of dollars, but job loss is the worst consequence they are likely to face.

Again and again, the free market out-performs the government. There may be some functions that only the government can perform, but when there is a choice between a government and free market solution, the free market consistently works better.

College Conservative Organizations

Several organizations give assistance to conservatives in college.

Accuracy in Academia
American Council of Trustees and Alumni
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education
Intercollegiate Studies Institute
Leadership Institute
National Association of Scholars
Students for Academic Freedom
Young America's Foundation

State and Local Media

Detroit News
Detroit Free Press
Gongwer News Service

Western Herald
WMU News
Kalamazoo Gazette
Battle Creek Enquirer
WWMT Channel 3

Saturday, August 25, 2007

POLITICAL UPDATE--North American Union

This update focuses on North American Union. The third Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) summit was held in Canada recently. The House of Representatives passed an amendment sponsored by Duncan Hunter to prohibit funding for the SPP by 362 to 63. Congress is discussing changing America's patent system.

Jerome Corsi: Bush doesn't deny plans for N. American Union
Phyllis Schlafly: Economic Integration on the March
Allan Wall: Yes, Virginia (Dare), There Is An SPP. And It Means (Big) Business
Robert Dacy: Highway Robbery: Online Exclusive
Phyllis Schlafly: Americans Need China-Free Food
Steve Sailer: The New York Times, The NAU, And The Burden Of Empire
Jerome Corsi: OKC mayor washes hands of North American Union
Jerome Corsi: Secret memo: One-world agenda dominates SPP summit
Jerome Corsi: Now Cheney chimes in: Ain't no superhighways
Phyllis Schlafly: Time To Stand Up for America
Phyllis Schlafly: Foreign Trade Demands A Level Playing Field
Phyllis Schlafly: So-Called Patent Reform Cheats U.S. Inventors

Now that the game plan is laid out, we can connect the dots that promote economic integration of North America:
* the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, its Working Groups in the Commerce Department, and its summits in Waco, Cancun and Quebec
* NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)
* CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement)
* the admission of Mexican trucks onto our highways
* the "harmonization" of our unique and successful American patent system with inferior foreign systems
* the contract to build the TransTexas Corridor
* the plans to extend it into a NAFTA Super Highway
* making Kansas City an international "port"
* the "totalization" of illegal aliens into our Social Security system
* the WTO rules that allow foreign countries to subsidize exports and penalize imports by tariffs disguised as the VAT (Value Added Tax)
* the sale of our infrastructure such as tollroads and ports to foreign companies
* the recently defeated Senate amnesty bill. That bill would have integrated 20 million illegal aliens into our labor force, locked us (by Section 413) into the SPP, and spent massive foreign aid to "improve the standard of living in Mexico."
--Phyllis Schlafly

Politics in brief

Find the latest on Michigan's budget mess from Jack Hoogendyk's blog.

It didn't take Michigan democrats long to back away from their supposed opposition to illegal immigration. Saul recounts their efforts to provide in-state tuition for illegal aliens.

Congressman Peter Hoekstra rejects neoconservatism. He says that promoting democracy isn't a realistic foreign policy goal, and that stability should come first.

The Club for Growth released a report on Mitt Romney's fiscal record. Interested readers can see profiles of Romney and the other Republican presidential candidates.

Michigan Conservative Blogs

Michigan Conservative Blogs:

Kalamazoo Area Blogs:
The Western Right
Core Principles (Jack Hoogendyk)
Kalamazoo County Taxpayers Association
Kalamazoo Objectivist

A Conservative Teacher
AFP Michigan
Akindele Unleashed
The American Princess
Apologies Demanded
Beer and Firkins
Blog of Bodnar
The Blog Prof
Bloggin On Down the Rogue
Bottom Up Politics
Capitol Confidential
Carpe Diem
Congressman Thad McCotter
Congressman Tim Walberg
Conservative Digest Weekly (Political Updates)
Conservative Perspective
The Classic Liberal
Classical Values
Core Principles (Jack Hoogendyk)
Crippy's World
Daddy Blogger
Daily Grit
Danian Michael
Dave Lambert
Debbie Schlussel
Designated Conservative
Dr. Sanity
Duke over America
Enjoying Home Schooling
Everyone Takes Their Turn
Five Ws
Fool Me Not
For a Better Day (Wendy Day)
For the Good of the State
The Grand Rapids Pundit
The GRCC Conservative
Grammy Cracker's Crumbs
Hall of Record
Hello Michigan
Hey Bear!
Hinzsight Report
Jack McHugh's Blog
jenneration X
The K12 Reformer
Keepin the Faith
Kalamazoo Objectivist
Kalamazoo Taxpayers Blog
Keith Almli
Kevin Elsenheimer
Koss Country
Liberal Nutcase News
Life Beat
Life with Mr. O
Live Dangerously
Local Area Watch
Lola Sez
Mad Puppy
Michigan Conservative Dossier
The Michigan Partisan
Michigan Redneck II
The Michigan Review Blog
Michigan Taxes Too Much
Michigan Watchdog
Motor City Times
MTA Blog
Muskegon Pundit
The Other Club
Plain Truth
The Provocateur
Reform Watch
Republican Michigander
Republican Ranting
Right Cuz
Right Michigan
Right Wing Reform
The Roebuck Report
The Rougblog
Russ Gibb at Random
SFE Blog
The Shekel
The Stoecker Factor
Students for Life Blog
The Suburban Voice
That’s Saul, folks!
Toxic Taxation
Trying Liberty
Vets 2 Vets
The Voice of One Crying Out in Suburbia
Wade’s Conservative World
The Wandering Wolverine
Wayne County Taxpayers Blog
The Western Right
Who Knew?
Wizard of Laws
The World According to Me
Worthless Crap

Blog Graveyard:
Michigan Conservative Dossier
Spartan Spectator
Carrying On, Unabashedly
Chetly Zarko Research (Power, Politics, and Money)
Smash Left Wing Scum
Lunchbucket Conservative
Oakland Politics
Outside Lansing

If there are any more that deserve to be added, post them in the comments.

Democrats versus Walberg

Michigan's seventh congressional district looks certain to see a tough race in 2008.

Tim Walberg, a staunch conservative Republican, is seeking reelection in 2008. Walberg was first elected to Congress last year after defeating one-term liberal Republican Congressman Joe Schwarz in a bitter primary election. He defeated democrat Sharon Renier, a weak candidate, in the general election.

But in a bad year for Republicans, his margin of victory was underwhelming. Democrats have promised to target the seventh district in 2008. Why they didn't in 2006 remains a mystery.

Democrats want to nominate a strong candidate this time around. But their eventual nominee will have to survive a tough primary before making it to the general election.

State Senate minority leader Mark Schauer has just announced his candidacy. Schauer represents Calhoun and most of Jackson county. When seeking the position of senate democratic leader, he promised to serve his entire term. Now it appears that he intends to break that promise.

There are several other democrat candidates for the seat. Jim Berryman is a former state senator who represented Lenawee County. David Nacht is an attorney who has raised a significant amount of money. Sharon Renier is also running.

Schauer would appear to be a narrow favorite for the nomination at this point. Berryman and Nacht are also contenders. Renier has some name recognition from being the nominee before, but she is a weak candidate unlikely to be nominated again.

There is another potential candidate would could affect the race: Joe Schwarz. The Detroit News reports:

Schwarz said Thursday he had not made a decision on whether he would re-seek his old congressional seat. If he does run, it would likely be as an independent or Democrat, he said.
The general election campaign will be tough. Still, Tim Walberg is in good shape to win reelection. This time, he is an incumbent, with two years serving the district and getting media coverage. Last time, he was a former state representative who had represented one seventh of the district eight years previous and who had just survived a bitter primary. Walberg held a swing district in the State House for many years. In 2006, he won an open seat in a terrible year for Republicans.

Republicans should work to make sure that Tim Walberg is returned to Congress.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Primary Obsession

Aside from the perpetual budget trainwreck, the major political news in Michigan recently has been the effort to move Michigan's 2008 presidential primary.

Explaining the present situation requires some background information. Michigan has state-run Republican and Democratic primaries. However, Democratic Party rules nullify the primary, instead making a party caucus the means of allocating delegates. The Democrats have used caucuses since 1972, when George Wallace won the state democratic primary.

This opened the Republican primary to meddling by non-Republicans. This came to fruition in 2000. Teacher unions and some democrat politicians led an effort to get democrats to vote for John McCain over George Bush to embarrass John Engler, who was backing Bush, along with most of the state Republican establishment. McCain won the primary, even though Bush won a majority of self-identified Republicans in exit polls.

Many Republicans would like a more restricted delegate selection process this time. More moderate Republicans typically prefer a more open process so that independents and democrats can vote for them. More conservative Republicans typically prefer a more closed process, which benefits them.

The bigger motivation in the primary issue is the desire to move up Michigan's primary. Due to the fact that "momentum", real or perceived, plays a huge role in media coverage and ultimately voting results of a primary campaign, early states have a hugely disproportionate influence on the selection of a presidential nominee. The nomination is usually decided by the first ten or fifteen states.

Numerous Republicans have expressed the desire to move up the state's primary. On the democratic side, Senator Carl Levin has the state democrats' so far unsuccessful efforts to challenge the dominance of Iowa and New Hampshire.

However, any changes to the primary requires the approval of the state legislature, which requires the consent of the Democrats. This has allowed the democrats to drag things out, since they already have a caucus system in place. The Republicans needed a backup system in case things didn't work out in the legislature.

A party run primary was a possibility. But with no experience running one, and with various campaigns jockeying for advantage, this looked like a disaster in the making. A state convention appears to be a more realistic possibility.

A state convention would benefit candidates with strong support in the state party establishment (Romney and McCain) and candidates with strong grass roots support (Ron Paul, and possibly others). It would hurt candidates whose support is based more on name recognition (Giuliani, possibly Thompson).

The rules for such a convention would be critical, as they could determine which candidate is victorious. One controversy revolved around whether there would be a secret ballot. Not having a secret ballot would allow for vote buying and arm twisting, which would benefit establishment candidates.

It may be a moot point, as a primary bill appears to be moving through the legislature.

Michigan is not the only state to consider moving its primary. Numerous states have moved their primaries to February 5, which is becoming known as "super-duper Tuesday". This continues the trend toward ever earlier primaries seen in previous election cycles. They have largely cancelled each other out in their bids for more influence. A system that would make more sense is the proposal for four or five mass primaries, starting with the least populous states, and proceeding to the most populous.

Why are states so interested in moving their primaries? The usual rationale is that having more influence in the selection process will benefit the state. But how? There are few real "state issues"; voters mostly vote on national issues. Candidates may promise more federal spending, but such promises are likely to be forgotten by election day.

But don't forget that the decision to move a primary is made by politicians. Politicians benefit from moving up a primary because presidential candidates looking for endorsements shower them with contributions. Members of the party establishment can get jobs working for candidates. So while moving the primary may not benefit the state much, it benefits the political class a lot.

So the primary fight may not matter much, but it's interesting for political junkies to watch.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Wrath of KHAN, Again

The issue of homelessness has again come to the forefront in Kalamazoo thanks to the antics of the Kalamazoo Homeless Action Network (KHAN). This time, the issue is an ordinance that bans sleeping overnight in Bronson Park. KHAN is demanding that the ordinance be repealed.

The ordinance is perfectly reasonable. There are no bathrooms in Bronson Park, so it's not hard to see what will happen when people live there overnight. It is quite right that taxpayers don't want people littering and defecating in the park.

KHAN is one of the radical leftist groups that keep Kalamazoo politics interesting. They claim to speak for the homeless in Kalamazoo, though how much support they really have is unclear. KHAN is one of those groups that gets lots of media attention, but doesn't accomplish anything of substance.

It has been a modest and pleasant surprise that Kalamazoo's liberal commissioners have refused to give in to KHAN's demands. They probably alienated any potential sympathizers last year when they threatened to camp out in front of commissioners' homes. Back then, they were advocating a "human rights ordinance" that would allow them to occupy private businesses even when the business owners didn't want them there.

KHAN seems to see homelessness as some sort of "alternative lifestyle" deserving government subsidies. Liberals in many big cities, eager to be seen as compassionate, have showered aid on the homeless. However, this is effectively a subsidy for homelessness, which only causes more of it.

Homelessness is a real problem that needs to be addressed. But it is a behavior that needs to be changed, not subsidized. Organizations like the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission help to do this. But homelessness can only be changed when the homeless want to change. This is more likely to happen when the government sends the message that the homeless "lifestyle" is unacceptable.

KHAN has called the Gospel Mission a "prison"; in reality it is the way to freedom.

The Forgotten Man

At the heart of the socialist policies is "The Forgotten Man:"

The "forgotten man" was a term coined by a great conservative pro-market, pro-growth professor named William Graham Sumner. In an 1883 essay, he asserted: "As soon as A observes something which seems to him to be wrong, from which X is suffering, A talks it over with B, and A and B then propose to get a law passed to remedy the evil and help X. Their law always proposes to determine . . . what A, B, and C shall do for X."

Sumner wanted to know about C, the one he called "the forgotten man." As Shlaes explains, "[t]here was nothing wrong with A and B helping X. What was wrong was the law, and the indenturing of C, his forgotten man, to the cause." Sumner wrote of the forgotten man: "He works, he votes, generally he prays -- but he always pays -- yes, above all, he pays."

People see injustice: there are those out there who cannot afford one thing or another. So people come up with some grand idea of how you can get everyone paid for. All the As and Bs out there think that those who can afford things should give up some of their money to pay for those who cannot.

That's all well and fine with me.

The problem arises when one suggests that we use government to force one person's compassion onto others.

If it is the generally accepted moral thing to help others out, then why is it necessary to force others to do this; would they not give of their money freely?

Compassion isn't manufactured by government force. And looking out for person X by exploiting person C, the forgotten man, via government into serving A or B's moral ideals isn't compassion either: its coercion.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Still More Tax Increases

Voters in Kalamazoo County have been repeatedly hit by demands for tax increases over the last few years. Hikes for a juvenile home, bus system, KRESA, and KPS were approved, while hikes for a jail, Croyden school, and Portage schools were rejected.

Still more tax increases are in the pipeline.

The Portage School Board wants a huge tax increase. For the board, it seems the only question is whether the increase should be for $110 million or $125 million. Voters shot down a $145 million tax hike in February.

Voters aren't nearly as thrilled. A survey conducted by the board shows a plurality of voters opposed to either proposal.

Meanwhile, the school officials want to renew the "temporary" KRESA tax increase passed in 2005. The Kalamazoo County Taxpayers Association has the story.


KRESA tax: they lied

In 2005, public school officials in Kalamazoo County placed a 1.5-mill “enhancement” millage on the ballot, which covered the entire KRESA taxing district. At the time, those officials promised that the tax was only “temporary,” and would last only three years.

It now is clear that those officials lied to the voters. School officials are planning to ask for a renewal of the KRESA “enhancement” millage next year, despite their promise that the tax would expire.

If the KRESA “enhancement” millage is placed on the ballot next year, it would be a profound betrayal of trust. Does the word of public officials in Kalamazoo County mean anything? Can they blatantly lie to the voters, and then turn around and ask them for even more money?

School officials are crying poverty, claiming their budget are squeezed and they need the money from the “enhancement” millage. Tough luck. Welcome to the club. The budgets of working families and businesses in Kalamazoo County have been squeezed and cut for several years now due to Michigan’s poor economy.

In fact, school spending habits prove that they have plenty of money in their budgets. A recent Kalamazoo Gazette article (June 3, 2007) shows that public schools in our region are overpaying health care benefits by thousands of dollars per employee, because school districts have a sweetheart contracting deal with MESSA, the teachers’ union insurance provider. By competitively bidding out health insurance, schools could save hundreds of thousands of dollars in their annual budgets.

The Taxpayers Association has one simple message for school officials thinking about renewing the KRESA “enhancement” millage—just say “NO.”

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Understanding Government: Force

The institution central to politics is government. Understanding the nature, actions, and limitations of this institution is essential to understanding our world.

The first question to consider is exactly what is government? Having a sound definition is essential to any further analysis.

A government is an organization that has a near monopoly on the use of force in a given geographical region.

It need not have a complete monopoly, since most government recognize a right to self-defence against private criminals. However, it must be able to effectively resist any potential challengers.

To do this, a government must have some sort of armed body, whether it be police or military. This body will need to be funded. Thus there must be taxes, which are money taken from the people of the geographical region by force to fund the government.

Most governments also spend money on programs and enact various laws and regulations. These are all based on the threat of the use of force. Anyone who does not participate in or abide by these programs or regulations is threatened with a fine or jail time. This can only be enforced by the use of violence. The same is true of taxes. Anyone who attempts to resist this violence, as they would a private criminal, risks being killed by the government.

Compliance with government decisions is not based on force if it is voluntary. This happens when it is seen as having authority. Authority is the belief that a given decision-maker is legitimate. However, no government is based entirely on consent, because otherwise there would be no need for legal penalties. Indeed, it is likely that if government did not punish those who did not abide by its decisions, it would lose its authority in the eyes of many people. Governments usually depend on widespread popular support for their existence.

What lesson can be taken from this? The fact that all government programs and regulations are ultimately based on the threat of violence does not imply that no government actions are ever legitimate. What it does mean is that when considering a proposed government action, it is not enough to determine that the goal of the program is desirable. In addition, it must be determined that the use or threat of force is justified to achieve that goal.

Having a more realistic view of the nature of government is essential to determining the morality of government policies.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


This update focuses on the family. The family is the bedrock of society, but cultural liberalism and government policies threaten it.

Gregory Hession: This is Child Protection?
Gregory Hession: Families Separated by the State
Phyllis Schlafly: A Child's Right To A Father And Mother
Linda Chavez: Quit Complaining
Thomas Sowell: Cultural Heritages
Ericka Andersen: If Abortion Were Illegal
John Lott: Abortion Brings on Illegitimacy Too
Allan Carlson: The World Congress of Families
Pat Buchanan: Gen. Pace vs. Parson Warner

For more on the family, see Focus on the Family.

French in a Coma

From the Gazette:

Kalamazoo County Drain Commissioner William French has suffered a stroke and is hospitalized in Miami in a coma, said a local attorney who has represented French.

Attorney Jim Boerigter said French suffered the stroke last Friday. It apparently occurred when he was scuba diving.

"He's been hospitalized for a few days,'' Boerigter said. ``He was in a coma, and the last we know, he was still in a coma.''

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Inner Ring

That Hideous Strength is a novel by CS Lewis. It is the third and final novel in his space trilogy. The novels are fantasies with science fiction themes. They can be read independently. That Hideous Strength is the longest and best of the three.

While the novel is fantastic, it deals with a serious subject. Lewis calls it "the inner ring". Organizations typically have groups of people who are more powerful or influential than others. These rings admit some people and exclude others. There may be rings inside rings.

The desire to be inside, to gain acceptance and approval, can be a powerful motivation for some people. This desire can be used by those on the inside to manipulate those seeking admission. This is a major theme of the novel, as a main character struggles between his desire to be inside and his qualms about the nature of the conspiracy in which he has become enmeshed.

Lewis elaborated on these themes in a classic essay entitled The Inner Ring. The best line in the essay is the following:

Of all the passions, the passion for the Inner Ring is most skillful in making a man who is not yet a very bad man do very bad things.
While the danger of the inner ring may occur in many settings, it is particularly relevant in politics. Most people get involved in politics because they want to do good. But once there, some fall to the allure of power. They seek power first and abandon principle. Most of them, though, are simply being manipulated by those higher up.

Those starting out in politics would do well to take Lewis' advice. Abandon the desire to be inside. Then you will no longer be a slave to the desires of others, but can do good with a clear conscience.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Democrats versus illegals?

From Mlive:

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — State House Democrats on Monday said they want to crack down on companies that hire illegal immigrants and give tax incentive preferences to businesses that hire only Michigan workers.

Companies that hire illegal immigrants could get their state contracts canceled and be barred from getting future state work. Companies that hire illegal immigrants also could lose the tax incentives they've been awarded for creating jobs.

"Michigan tax dollars should not fund grants or tax incentives for businesses that hire people from other states and countries when Michigan residents have the training and expertise and need those jobs," Rep. Fred Miller, D-Mount Clemens, said in a statement.

The Democratic proposal would require businesses with contracts for construction of state buildings to hire 100 percent of their workers from Michigan. The current requirement is 50 percent, House Democrats said.
This effort to restrict the hiring of illegal aliens, if true, is very good news. Have the Democrats finally gotten the message on illegal immigration?

Restricting contracts to only Michigan employers seems like a bad idea. In doing so, the state may reject lower bids that will save taxpayers money. The difference between hiring out-of-state Americans and illegals is that illegals impose costs on society through crime and government spending that out-of-staters don't.

Perhaps next the Democrats can pass Jack Hoogendyk's bill to make English the official language of Michigan.

Government kills

No, I’m not speaking on the 100+ million people that governments have killed outside of wars in about the past century, but rather the hidden deaths that nefariously are often not linked directly to government policy and action.

Recently, the supreme court ruled in favor of denying terminally ill patients who have exhausted all available treatments the right to access experimental treatments not yet approved by the FDA. The drug, Erbitux, that the plaintiff, Abigail Burroughs, was attempting to gain access to was approved by the FDA in 2006. Unfortunately for Abigail, she succumbed to head and neck cancer and passed in 2001.

Indeed, Abigail's story is not unique. Thousands die every year waiting for FDA approvals of drugs that may have saved them.

A popular cry is then, "But if not for the FDA and other agencies, who will protect the consumer?" Milton Friedman correctly explains that the market protects consumers. John Stossel explains how the FDA could play a useful role as a consumer advocate, but that its monopoly status and the ban on non-approved treatments leave consumers far worse off.

There is a new protectionist waive filling media buzz as a result of the recent recalls on Chinese products. Pundits and everyday folks are sounding off on the need for further regulation of foreign products. Edward Snyder explains how the free market is still the best regulator and defender the consumer has.

Government regulation destroys the competitiveness that brings about innovation and progress for the consumer. It also destroys our individual autonomy to do actions that do not negatively affect others, making us less free and worse off. If government action should be designed to make us more free, this would seem irrational. Why shouldn't an individual have the right to take a non-approved drug when all other possibilities are exhausted? The negative consequences of an unapproved drug fall directly upon the user, who, without additional options, is likely doomed regardless. FDA regulation kills many for every few that are saved, made worse by the fact that the FDA need not have monopoly status. Businesses use regulation from consumer protection agencies to stifle competition, doing the consumer more harm than good through regulation.

It’s simply another example of the unintended consequences of government, where agencies devoted to helping consumers end up ultimately hurting.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Saturday, August 11, 2007

POLITICAL UPDATE--News from Abroad

This update focuses on hews from abroad. Russia, China, and Iran continue to cause trouble on the international scene.

Anthony LoBaido: From Rhodesia to Zimbabwe
Michael Telzrow: The New Chinese Take-Out
Ilan Berman: Signs of Iranian Troublemaking are Everywhere
Jed Babbin: Let’s Undo the Concessions to Iran
Monica Crowley: The New/Old Cold War
Susan Easton: Tempest in a Radioactive Teapot
Thomas Sowell: After Iraq: Part II
Terry Jeffrey: A Congress of Fools
Aryeh Spero: Has the Sun Set on the British Isle?

POLITICAL UPDATES are archived here.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Across America

Notes from across the United States:

Southwest Minnesota is covered with windmills. Ten years ago, there weren't any. Several other states have "wind farms" scattered about. It is important to remember that most, if not all, of these windmills would not exist without government subsidies.

Most Western states have a maximum speed of 75 mph on freeways and speeds up to that on rural roads. Republicans in Congress eliminated the 55 mph speed limit in the mid-90's.

Some overhead freeway signs in Los Angeles are surrounded by coils of barbed wire. Is this to fend off graffiti?

Roughly half the television and radio stations in Los Angeles are in foreign languages. Spanish is the most common, but far from the only such language.

Most houses in the Los Angeles area are surrounded by high walls. There are many 'gated communities' complete with walls, gates, and sometimes guards. This is in the suburbs, not the city itself.

Highway exits in Texas for roads that head to Mexican have 'no guns' signs similar to the ones around the entrances to WMU.

The Border Patrol stops cars heading out of El Paso to check for illegal immigrants.

Carlsbad Caverns is pretty awesome.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


This update focuses on health care. Liberals continue to advocate socialist medicine. Michael Moore's new movie promotes socialism and communism. The free market is the solution to America's health care problems.

Walter Williams: Health Care: Government vs. Private
Marsha Blackburn: SCHIPing Away at Seniors' Medicare Benefits
WorldNetDaily: MANIA: The shocking link between psychiatric drugs, suicide, violence and mass murder
Humberto Fontova: Moore’s Pro-Castro Propaganda Hides Cuban Suffering
Deroy Murdock: 'SKiPO': Michael Moore's 'SiCKO' Skips Over Facts on Road to Government Medicine
Ericka Andersen: 'Sicko': A Universal Nightmare
Stuart Browning: Socialized Medicine is Sicko

POLITICAL UPDATES are archived here.