Friday, May 30, 2008

Election News

Kalamazoo Chamber of Commerce ends quest to eliminate term limits for state lawmakers
Note: This is the version of the part-time legislature proposal that tried to sneak through a repeal of term limits. There is another part-time legislature petition that is still ongoing.

Skubick: High court race waits

Foe promises Upton ‘all the debates he can handle’

Comstock to vote on trustee recall

Gravel mine issue prompts challenge to Alamo Township supervisor

K-Township leader to step down after long career

New Provost

Western has a new Provost.

Timothy Greene named WMU provost

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University President John M. Dunn announced today he will appoint Dr. Timothy J. Greene as WMU's new provost and vice president for academic affairs, effective Aug. 1.

Greene, dean of WMU's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, was one of four finalists named in April in the national search to fill the position that is second in command to WMU's president. His appointment is subject to approval by the WMU Board of Trustees.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Partial Birth Battle

The Michigan House of Representatives finally held a vote on the partial birth abortion ban, after months of delay. Supposedly pro-life house speaker Andy Dillon had been holding the bill up.

The bill passed 74-32, and a series of pro-abortion amendments were easily rejected. However, the democrats tried to avoid voting on an essential companion bill that establishes penalties for violating the ban on partial birth abortion. Democrats have threatened to shut the house down over this.

Governor Granholm plans to veto the ban. She claims this is because it doesn't have a health exception, which would make it totally unenforceable. The bill passed by a veto-proof majority in the house, but was one vote short of a veto-proof majority in the Senate. Senate democrat leader Mark Schauer, who is running for Congress against Republican Tim Walberg, voted against the bill.

The ban is the same as the federal ban, which was previously held to be constitutional by the Supreme Court. A state-level ban is also necessary because there is no chance that the federal ban will be enforced if democrats control the executive branch.

See RightMichigan's summary of the issue and Jack Hoogendyk's live-blogging of the debate.
House Dem obstruction on partial birth abortion ban threatens to shut down chamber!
Jack Hoogendyk's Live-blog (scroll down)

Bob Barr Wins Libertarian Nomination

The Libertarian Party held its national convention over the weekend. Former Republican Congressman Bob Barr won the nomination after six ballots. He defeated left-libertarian Mary Ruwart after third-place finisher Wayne Allyn Root endorsed Barr. Root won the vice-presidential nomination.

Barr served in Congress 1994-2002. He is best-known for being a leader in the fight to impeach President Clinton. He is pro-life and pro-gun, supports border security and civil liberties, and opposes the war in Iraq. He is on the boards of the National Rifle Association and American Conservative Union.

His campaign site is here:

Monday, May 26, 2008

Blacklisted by History

Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America's Enemies. By M. Stanton Evans.

M. Stanton Evans has written an impressive and compelling book. Blacklisted by History tells the real story of the much-maligned Senator Joe McCarthy and sets the historical record straight.


The book is a masterpiece of scholarship. At over 600 pages, it isn't for the easily distracted, but it is well worth the effort. Evans has poured a significant chunk of his life into this book. He spent six years writing it, and spent decades before that researching McCarthy.

The extent of his research shows. The book is bursting with facts, some long-forgotten, others newly discovered. Evans' research makes use of recently declassified transcripts and reports, documents that became available after the collapse of the Soviet Union, papers stored in out-of the way places overlooked by others, and materials that were readily available but ignored by liberal journalists and academics. Some documents had mysteriously disappeared, only to turn up elsewhere.


Evans uses the original sources to tell the real story of McCarthy and the McCarthy era. Here is a summary of the real story.

Before and during World War II, the United States government developed a very serious problem of communist infiltration. Back then, communism was seen by many on the left as the wave of the future, and many on both the left and right failed to understand the nature and severity of the threat.

Consequently, communists were readily hired into the newly-created New Deal agencies. The problem accelerated during the war, when the Soviet Union was America's "ally". They were hired into the temporary wartime agencies, and after the war they moved on to more established agencies. The State Department was a particular target, with communists also becoming staffers in many other cabinet agencies, the White House, some scientific labs, and some Army institutions. Literally hundreds of people who had sworn their allegiance to Moscow ended up on the government payroll.


All of this subversion had disastrous effects for America and the world. During the war, communists engaged in espionage of sensitive military plans. The worst of the many incidents of espionage was the theft of the plans for the nuclear bomb, achieved by the Rosenbergs and others. This dramatically strengthened the position of the communists in Russia, facilitating the slaughter and tyranny they committed. It also lead to the threat of nuclear war that continues to this day.

Communists also used political subversion to shape the course of World War II. They manipulated intelligence and State Department analysis to push America toward war with Japan, relieving the threat that Japan might go to war with Moscow. They fought against a plan to invade Europe through Italy, rather than France, as this would have imperiled the eventual Soviet control of Eastern Europe. Soviet agent Alger Hiss was a top advisor to Roosevelt at the Yalta conference that confirmed Soviet control of Eastern Europe, leading to forty years of tyranny and millions murdered in those countries.

Communists were also key in founding the post-war international agencies. Secret agent of Stalin Alger Hiss co-wrote the United Nations charter with a (known) Russian agent of Stalin. Hiss was the secretary general of the conference that founded the United Nations. Not surprisingly, the UN soon had American communists on its payroll, too.

Meanwhile, Soviet agent and deputy Treasury Secretary Harry Dexter White participated in the Bretton Woods conference that founded the International Monetary Fund, and was then appointed by President Truman to head that agency.

Soviet influence of the intelligence received by the President and other key officials had significant effects on American actions that would decide control of nations. One example is Yugoslavia, where America was convinced to support communist Tito rather than anti-communist General Draja Mihailovich to fight Nazi control. With this aid, Tito seized control of the country after the war, and the usual slaughter of millions and decades of tyranny ensued.

A much larger example of the same phenomenon is China. Before the war, nationalist Chaing was fighting the Japanese forces occupying China, while communist Mao Tse-Tung maneuvered to take control of China himself. American officials, who were secretly Soviet agents, relentlessly attacked Chaing and praised Mao in their reports. Communists used front groups, including the Institute for Pacific Relations to crank out an endless stream of propaganda aiding the communist cause.

When the Japanese left Manchuria, the weapons and ammunition they left behind were turned over to Mao, not Chaing. Aid to Chaing was reduced, delayed, and eventually cut off. The State Department even hatched a plan (never implemented) to assassinate Chaing. Mao was victorious, and went on to slaughter seventy million Chinese. The threat from communist China continues to this day.


We know of the communist infiltration for certain due the Venona transcripts, decoded Soviet communications naming many of their agents. But significant evidence of this communist infiltration came to light at the time.

Communist handlers Whittaker Chambers and Elizabeth Bentley defected and told their stories to the government, each naming scores of communist agents. The FBI was busy for many years investigating communist subversion, identifying many communists and security risks. Various internal security divisions in the State Department and other agencies compiled documentation on communists and other security risks. And congressional committees like the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HCUA) also investigated subversion.

These efforts did succeed in getting some communists out of the government. But these efforts were often either ignored or resisted. The FBI sent a steady stream of reports exposing communists in the government to the White House, only to have them ignored by Presidents Roosevelt and Truman. The efforts of internal security divisions often met with the same fate, particularly in the State Department and the Army. Bentley and Chambers were ruthlessly attacked when they testified publicly before the HCUA. Communists not surprisingly participated in these attacks, but many non-communist liberals were just as vitriolic. The Truman administration actually planned to indict Chambers rather than his nemesis Alger Hiss before public opinion and the weight of evidence forced them to reverse course.

One less-known but particularly egregious case is the Amerasia spy scandal. The FBI caught State Department official John Stewart Service handing reams of classified data to the communist-run magazine Amerasia. Service and the others involved were charged. But officials high in the Truman administration conspired to fix the case so that Service was found not guilty. The FBI caught them on tape.

Security practice at the State Department was particularly bad. The Department refused to act on many serious security risks, setting an almost impossible standard of proof for removal. When the evidence or political pressure became overwhelming, the suspect would be allowed to quietly resign rather than be fired, and so could get a job elsewhere in the government or at agencies like the UN.

Truman simply refused to do anything about the communists in the government.


Senator Joe McCarthy entered the public eye in 1950 with his famous speech in Wheeling, West Virginia. The Senate quickly established a committee to examine the cases that McCarthy brought forward. But under the leadership of Senator Millard Tydings, the hearings quickly turned into an attack on McCarthy. Denials from the communist agents were accepted at face value, and the committee refused to examine the State Department security files. Tydings, the White House, and the State Department coordinated behind the scenes to attack McCarthy. The committee eventually issued a fraudulent report clearing everyone and attacking McCarthy.

McCarthy continued to hammer these issues in speeched before the Senate and elsewhere. During the 1951-1952 session, there were two more committees convened to attack McCarthy. The Truman administration still refused to remove communist agents from the government except when public pressure became overwhelming, but they showed no such reluctance in their pursuit of McCarthy's sources of information, whom they intended to fire posthaste.

These battles were largely won by McCarthy. Truman left office one of the most unpopular Presidents in American history, due to the security battles, the loss of China, and the bloody no-win war in Korea. A number of McCarthy's Senate foes were defeated for reelection. In 1952, General Dwight Eisenhower was elected President. Eisenhower ran as a Republican, though he had no history as a Republican and was very much a product of the Roosevelt/Truman administrations.

When Republicans won control of the Senate in 1952, McCarthy became chairman of the Senate Investigations Subcommittee. For a little over a year, McCarthy rooted out subversion and security problems in the State Department, Voice of America, and elsewhere. Many of these problems were corrected by the new administration.

One of his most famous cases, and the one that led to his downfall, was his investigation of the Army Signal Corps. The pattern here was very similar to what had happened in the State Department. Clearly identified communists were committing espionage, and would have been eliminated by internal security forces, but were saved by higher officials in the Pentagon.

Meanwhile, the Eisenhower administration became increasingly hostile to McCarthy. It invented the doctrine of "executive privilege" to refuse to allow McCarthy's committee to call the official on the Pentagon board responsible for clearing the communists. The Army filed spurious charges against McCarthy, leading to another committee to investigate McCarthy, followed by a committee investigating censure of McCarthy. McCarthy was finally censured for supposedly being insufficiently cooperative with the committees that attacked him. He died three years later, in 1957.


Evans covers these issues in detail. The first section of the book contains introductory material on researching McCarthy, the standard historical treatment of McCarthy, McCarthy's biography, communists uncovered by McCarthy, the HCUA led by Rep. Martin Dies, and communist subversion in Britain and elsewhere.

The second section contains background information on communist subversion and tactics, subversion at the OWI and OSS leading to the loss of Yugoslavia, the disinformation in reports from China of American Soviet agents John Stewart Service and others, the Amerasia spy scandal and coverup, the revelations of Elizabeth Bentley, the reports from the FBI to President Truman, the security battles in the State Department, and congressional efforts to investigate security problems.

The third section covers the year 1950 and the Tyding Committee, specifically McCarthy's Wheeling speech, the subsequent speech before the Senate, the Tydings hearings, backstage efforts to attack McCarthy, the Tydings Committee report, the Lee list and McCarthy's sources, the "four committees" that previously investigated subversion, the State Department security files, State Department security standards, and McCarthy's sources of information.

The fourth section covers the specifics of many McCarthy cases and others, including the cases of Robert Oppenheimer, Harry Dexter White, Alger Hiss, and others, anonymous McCarthy cases, public cases, the Amerasia spy case, the Institute of Pacific Relations, Professor Owen Lattimore, Phillip Jessup and Frederick Field, McCarthy's speech about General George Marshall, and McCarthy's battle with Senator William Benton.

The fifth section covers the years 1953-1954, including the political landscape in 1953, the Voice of America investigation, books in US information centers, the nomination of Charles Bohlen as ambassador to Moscow, the smearing of J. B. Matthews as anti-protestant, security problems in the Army Signal Corps, the testimony of Generals Kirke Lawton and Ralph Zwicker, the case of Annie Lee Moss, the Army-McCarthy hearings, and side issues in those hearings.

The sixth section concludes with the Eisenhower "executive privilege" order, the censure hearings, and McCarthy's legacy.


From beginning to end, McCarthy was relentlessly attacked. Five different Senate committees investigated him. The White House, State Department, Senate liberals, liberal interest groups, and much of the news media attacked him relentlessly.

The real issue in the McCarthy era was that the President and his top officials refused to remove known communists from key positions in the government. McCarthy worked relentlessly to expose this. The facts here were so explosive that they threatened to destroy the entire political establishment. That is why they worked to hard to destroy McCarthy. Why the establishment was so unwilling to remove communists from the government is a question that has never been adequately answered.

Evans uses original documents to show that McCarthy was right about his major charges and that his opponents lied shamelessly and repeatedly about the issues and McCarthy. He also shows how liberal historians have misstated and distorted the record. He deals with tangential charges from the Wheeling numbers to the "three Annie Lee Mosses". He reproduces many of the most significant original documents in making his case.

While McCarthy was ultimately politically defeated, he had significant successes. He drove many communists out of the government. He succeeded in getting various agencies to improve security standards. He defeated and discredited the Truman administration, at least at the time. He exposed the subversion of China policy and prevented similar betrayals from happening elsewhere. And he made anti-communism a major political issue for the rest of the cold war.

For this, he deserves to be remembered, and thanked.

McCarthysim: The Rosetta Stone of Liberal Lies
Setting the McCarthy Record Straight
A Reputation Rescued

Saturday, May 24, 2008


This update focuses on civil liberties. Authorities in Texas recently seized over 400 children from a religious sect in Texas without evidence. An appeals court ruled that the seizure was illegal. The anniversary of the Waco massacre recently passed. Government threatens civil liberties in many ways.

Joseph Farah: Abuse of Power in Texas
Lew Rockwell: But What About the Children?
JH Huebert: Beware the Amtrak Security Scam
Ericka Anderson: States Bi-partisanly Oppose Real ID -- Still
Anthony Gregory: Why Waco Still Matters
Chuck Baldwin: There Must Never Be Another Waco!
James Bovard: The Martial Law Act of 2006
William Anderson: Obey Your Masters in All Things
Wilton Alston: Who’s Listening In on You?
Joseph D'Agostino: Children of the State

POLITICAL UPDATES are archived here.

Trouble in Texas

A state appeals court in Texas has ruled that the seizure of hundreds of children from a religious sect was illegal. This is a victory for liberty.

Texas seizure of polygamist-sect kids thrown out

The ranch of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints was raided about a month ago by Texas authorities. The FLDS is a splinter Mormon group. It has some odd religious beliefs. But that hardly justifies what happened to them.

An anonymous tip, which has been shown to be fraudulent, led authorities to raid the ranch and take all of the hundreds of children away from their parents. The authorities made wild allegations of child abuse. But no one has been charged with a crime, nor has any evidence been brought forth to substantiate these allegations.

The FLDS is known to promote polygamy. Granted, this is not an ideal lifestyle. But taking children away from the only parents that they have ever known is hardly an improvement.

The foster care system is deeply flawed. Abuse occurs there too, sometimes children even die. It should be the absolute last resort. Taking children away from parents who love them, even flawed parents, might even be considered abuse.

The children taken away weren't just the teenage girls allegedly at risk of abuse. They were boys, babies, children of monogamous couples. All of them. Imagine if your neighbor hurt a child, so the authorities arrested everyone in the neighborhood and took their children away.

If there was any actual abuse, it should be prosecuted. As of now, there is no evidence that there was. Unfortunately, child "protective" agencies have broad powers to take away children whenever liberal social workers disapprove of the actions of parents.

The FLDS is an unpleasant group in many ways. But it isn't hard to imagine that the same thing that happened to them could happen to others of whom the government disapproves: fundamentalist Christians, homeschoolers, gun owners, etc. The principles of liberty must be defended even in the hard cases. That's why the judges' decision is commendable.

See this blog for more detail on the story.

Immigration Ups and Downs

Here are a few immigration-related items.

The AgJobs amnesty has been stopped, at least for now. It was stripped out of the Iraq War funding bill.
Total Victory in the Senate...But Don't Get Too Comfortable

John McCain is back to promising amnesty.
McCain Talking Up "Immigration Reform"
Shamnesty John McCain is back in full force: No, he never “got the message”

Kalamazoo Public Schools are planning to create a bilingual school. Aren't you glad they got all those tax increases?
Magnet proposal draws crowd

Friday, May 23, 2008

Carl Levin's Plan to Ban Guns

Michigan has long been a pro-gun state. The last half-dozen or so pro-gun measures voted on in the state legislature have passed overwhelmingly.

But Michigan has a Senator who doesn't vote for gun rights: Carl Levin.

Levin has a long anti-gun voting record. He voted against protecting gun manufacturers against lawsuits designed to bankrupt them. He voted to impose more regulations on guns shows. He opposed prohibiting government from confiscating guns. Levin offered an amendment to make it impossible for gun manufacturers to file for bankruptcy. Levin supported the ban on so-called "assault weapons". He has F ratings for both the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America.

But perhaps Levin's most outrageous attack on gun rights is not widely known.

The issue was a provision of the 2001 defense authorization bill passed shortly after 9/11. This provision involved the "demilitarization" of former military weapons. An NRA alert explains the issue.

This week, the U.S. Senate passed S. 1438, the Department of Defense (DoD) annual authorization bill, which contains a provision that is of grave concern to hunters and sport shooters. Section 1062 of this bill provides the Secretary of Defense with the authority to require "demilitarization" of any "significant military equipment" that has ever been owned by the DoD. This would include all firearms (such as the venerable M1, M1 Carbine, and Model 1911, as well as all Civilian Marksmanship Program rifles, even "sporterized" surplus bolt-action Springfields!), firearm barrels, ammunition, and gun powder. "Demilitarization" is the term for rendering such items permanently inoperable, and Sec. 1062 allows for this action to be carried out either by the owner or a third party, with the owner paying the cost, or by the DoD. However, if the DoD determines it should perform the demilitarization, it can also determine that the cost of returning the demilled item is prohibitive, then simply keep the item, and reimburse the owner only for the fair market scrap value of the item.

Furthermore, this new authority would require private citizens to determine for themselves if an item they own is subject to demilitarization, and face criminal penalties for non-compliance. The DoD would be under no obligation to notify law-abiding citizens that items they have lawfully owned for years, and perhaps that their families have owned for generations, are suddenly subject to forced demilitarization. This becomes extremely significant when one considers that U.S. military surplus has been regularly—and legally—bought, sold, and traded for centuries. Countless Americans own items that could be subject to Sec. 1062. It is likely millions of law-abiding Americans would be affected, and could unknowingly become criminals overnight without having done anything or having ever been informed.
The provision was passed by the Senate, then under democrat control, but was stripped out of the corresponding bill in the House, which was under Republican control. Then, as now, Michigan Senator Carl Levin was Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He was one of the negotiators in the conference committee to iron out the differences between the two bills.

Levin fought to protect the provision and offered several "compromises" attempting to preserve it. A GOA alert relates that

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, wants this confiscation provision in the bill. Because of gun owners like you have raised a fuss about this provision, Levin has been forced to offer compromise language.


Thus, it is imperative that you contact Sen. Warner again and let him know that the anti-gun Levin compromise is just that -- it is anti-gun!

Sen. Levin has inserted some "exceptions" into his language in order to assuage conservatives and make them think that private gun owners will be protected. But the exceptions are VERY limited and will not cover all the different ways that individuals have acquired surplus firearms and militaria.
The provision was eventually stripped out of the bill. A later GOA alert concludes

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) made several attempts to keep the provision by offering compromise after compromise, but the loud outcry from grassroots activists strengthened the bargaining position of pro-gun legislators.
Make no mistake. Carl Levin fought hard to give government the authority the confiscate and destroy millions of privately owned firearms. These firearms were based on military designs, but are no more dangerous than any other civilian firearms. They include some of the hunting rifles that democrats claim to like so much. Adding insult to injury, this provision, which Carl Levin fought so hard to protect, was almost smuggled through shortly after the attacks of 9/11.

It is clear from his actions that Carl Levin is no friend of gun owners. Gun owners shouldn't reward Carl Levin with another term in office.

On the Issues: Carl Levin on Gun Control
Jim Zumbo: Jim Zumbo Letter to the U.S. Senate Opposing a Ban on "Assault Weapons"
National Rifle Association: Congress Considers "Demilitarization" Requirement
The Washington Times: Bill provision has military collectors up in arms
Gun Owners of America: Sen. Warner Still Holds the Key to Stopping Confiscation of Firearms
Gun Owners of America: Sen. Smith Announces Victory on Gun "Demil" Provision
Gun Owners of America: Backdoor Gun Control To Be Voted On In The Senate

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Jase Bolger for State Representative

Calhoun County Commissioner Jase Bolger is a candidate for State Representative in the 63rd district. The 63rd district covers the eastern half of Kalamazoo County and part of Calhoun County north and east of Battle Creek, including Marshall.

Bolger is unopposed in the Republican primary. Former State Rep. Jerry VanderRoest had filed for election but he dropped out of the race. At least two other candidates who considered running for this seat decided not to. This will be a change from the previous two cycles, when the district saw bitter primaries between VanderRoest and Representative Lorence Wenke, who is term-limited.

Bolger is a graduate of Western Michigan University. He is a resident of Marshall in Calhoun County who works in Kalamazoo County. He founded and owns a small business. He was elected to the Calhoun County commission in 2004 and reelected in 2006.

Bolger appears reasonably conservative. His website says the right things about taxes and spending, life and guns. Not all of his views are known.

Bolger has enjoyed strong fundraising. He raised about $41,000, including a $24,000 loan from himself. As of the end of 2007, he had about $40,000 in the bank.

Bolger's general election opponent will be democrat Phyllis Smith. She also ran in 2006 and lost to Rep. Wenke. She has not reported any fundraising yet and does not appear to have a website.

See Jase Bolger's website:

62nd District Preview

The 62nd district in the Michigan House of Representatives covers the majority of Calhoun County, including Battle Creek and Albion. It is currently represented by Republican Mike Nofs, who is term-limited. It is a politically competitive district that could be won by either party.

There are two candidates for the Republican nomination, Susan Baldwin and Gregory Moore.

Susan Baldwin is a Battle Creek city commissioner. She is serving her third term. She has a website. Her lists lists generalities on economics and education, and does not mention social issues. She has raised about $33,000, including a $30,000 loan from herself.

Gregory Moore is a Calhoun County Commissioner. Less than half of his district overlaps the 62nd house district. He does not appear to have a website yet. He has not reported any fundraising yet.

There are two candidates for the democrat nomination, Kate Segal and Tim Nendorf.

Kate Segal is a Calhoun County Commissioner. She has a website. She has raised about $25,000. Examining her list of contributors makes it clear that she is the candidate of the democrat party establishment. Her website has generalities about economics and education. She has received $5000 from MI LIST, the state affiliate of Emily's List, a radical pro-abortion organization.

Tim Nendorf is a former intern for State Senator Mark Schauer. He was involved in the Western Michigan University student government, where he supported a scholarship for illegal aliens. He has a website. He is not very specific, but he appears to promise more government spending. He has raised about $6000, including a $1700 loan from himself.

Walberg News

Here's a couple interesting columns on the race between Tim Walberg and Mark Schauer.

MI-7: A Joe Schwarz run is a nightmare for Mark Schauer

MI-7: Tim Walberg has advantage over Mark Schauer

Walberg most Fiscally Conservative
The Phony Walberg/Schauer Poll

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Understanding Government: Bureaucracy

Implementing any government program requires government employees. Analyzing the incentives facing bureaucrats is essential to understanding government.


The critical distinction between government and private organizations is that government can use force to fund itself, while private organizations cannot. Thus private organizations must be funded through contributions or mutually beneficial trade, while government funds itself through involuntary taxation.

Thus private organizations must be responsible for their finances in a way that government need not. Private organizations can waste money, but only to the extent that they have it. If they waste too much, they will go bankrupt. In contrast, the government can continue to waste money as long it can continue to extract money from taxpayers, which is pretty much forever. Thus the consequences for government misexpenditures of money are less certain or severe for those spending the money. The consequences are primarily felt by the taxpayers.

This is specifically true with respect to bureaucracy. Practically any government program requires hiring employees, spending money, and establishing rules. But employees can be unnecessary or incompetent, money can be wasted, and rules can be unnecessary or counterproductive. For a program to be effective, there must be some means of making these things work properly.

In the free market, this mechanism is the profit and loss system. Businesses are rewarded for succeeding, and punished for failing. No similar mechanism exists for government. Politics is at best only intermittently effective at producing good results, and is often counterproductive. This explains why government programs so rarely succeed at their stated goals.


Consider the different incentives facing government and private organizations regarding problem solving. A private organization must solve a problem to be rewarded. If it does not, it will not be patronized again.

In contrast, if the government solves a problem, it will not receive any more funding for that problem. But it if fails to solve a problem, it will most likely continue to be funded to "keep trying" to solve it. It may even receive more funding the worse the problem gets, providing a perverse incentive to exacerbate the problem. Government can thus prosper through failure. The best sort of problems for government are those that can never be solved, but must be fought forever.

Employees within a bureaucracy face their own perverse incentives. In the free market, money and prestige comes from a person's value at a solving problems. But in government, there is no way to determine how valuable someone's labor actually is. Instead, what usually happens is that a manager's compensation and status is primarily determined by how many people he has working for him, as it would seem untoward to have an employee making more than his boss. Thus managers have an incentive to increase the number of employees working for them as much as possible. This instinct exists in the private sector as well, but it is tempered by the need to make a profit. Of course, no such need exists in government.

Conversely, bureaucrats fight efforts to cut their funding. One common stratagem when cuts are proposed is the "Washington Monument strategy". That is, rather than cut waste, unnecessary spending, or employee salaries, threaten to cut valuable or popular services. This often succeeds in deterring any cuts.

Another common feature of bureaucracies is that they usually do not cooperate well with each other and often fight each other for jurisdiction. This too can be explained in terms of incentives. Bureaucracies have little incentive to assist other bureaucracies, since they are all competing for funding. Being helpful and cooperative would aid another agency at your own expense, while hoarding information and being unhelpful makes it more likely that only you are capable of addressing a problem, and hence that you will get more funding. The larger jurisdiction an agency has, the more problems it is tasked to solve, the more funding it is likely to receive. In contrast, private organizations compete, but they also cooperate when it is mutually beneficial.


Because government does not face the same constraints as a private organization, its employees are likely to be less capable than those in the private sector. This is because government does not need to make a profit and does not benefit from solving problems. More capable, enterprising people are more likely to seek private sector employment and be rewarded for their efforts. In contrast, less capable, less enterprising employees are more likely to seek government employment, as this work is likely to be more secure and less demanding.

This is not only another reason why government is likely to be less effective than the private sector. It is also a reason for government employees to be particularly tied to their jobs, since they are unlikely to find jobs that are as well-paying elsewhere.

Thus government employees have a strong incentive to organize a union. If this is not allowed, they have a strong incentive to lobby so that it is allowed. It is all but certain that they will lobby for "civil service rules" that make it difficult, if not impossible, to fire an employee. Politicians and government managers have much weaker incentives to resist such demands, since they are not spending their own money. Thus such rules will tend to be approved, and government will become even less effective at solving problems.

The government employees union will also certainly lobby for higher pay and benefits for government employees. It will tend to succeed, since as before politicians are not spending their own money. Of course, private sector unions also lobby for higher wages and benefits. But private businesses are constrained by the need to make a profit. Also, there is competition is the private sector to weed out any companies made too inefficient by unions. But this does not occur in government. Thus government employees will tend to make more than they could in the private sector, with their pay coming from taxpayers.

Government employee unions will also fight tooth and nail against any attempt to cut government spending, no matter how modest or reasonable. Those attempting to cut government spending, whether principled or pragmatic, do not have the same incentive. Thus government programs are rarely ever cut, and many programs that are clearly outdated or anachronistic continue by inertia.

Further, when bureaucracy gets large, in a democracy, government employees can form a significant voting block. They will almost certainly be better organized than taxpayers. Thus any politician who attempts to cut government spending or amend civil service rules risks losing office in the next election.


Another common characteristic of bureaucracy is the proliferation of rules and regulations, commonly known as red tape. Any significant organization will have rules and procedures, but government has no profit motive to keep them in check.

Further, government employees have to do something with their time to maintain the impression of value. One of the safest things to do is to develop more rules and regulations. These can always be excused as necessary to preserve safety, document spending, etc., whether or not they do any such thing. These rules are all too likely to be counterproductive, since government employees have little incentive to make them work well. Thus more bureaucracy tends to make problems worse. Thus spending more money on a problem will often make it worse, not better.

Bureaucracy is practically synonymous with being unhelpful. Once again, incentives explain the situation, though the reason for this may not be obvious initially. In this article by Gary North, a bureaucrat explains how this works.

A woman who was reputed to be the longest-serving bureaucrat in Washington was about to retire. This appeared to be an ideal human interest story, so a reporter from the "Washington Star" – R.I.P. – was sent to interview her.

Inevitably, the reporter got to the standard question asked of any long-term survivor of anything. "How did you last so long in this department?" Because she was about to retire, she decided to reveal the fundamental secret of survival that has governed every bureaucracy since the era of the Middle Kingdom Pharaohs.

"No matter what anyone from outside the department asked me if he was allowed to do, my answer was always 'no.' "

The reporter, not realizing that he was close to the philosopher's stone of bureaucratic management, asked why. Her answer will ring true down through the ages. It will still be recognized as the central operational principle of all government bureaucracies on the day that the four horsemen of the apocalypse mount their stallions and ride. She said:

"I said 'no' initially because, if I was later forced by the rules retreat to 'yes,' I made a friend. But if I was forced to retreat to 'no' after having said 'yes,' I made an enemy. Around here, you don't want to make needless enemies."

Politicians perennially talk of reforming government, making government work, streamlining bureaucracy, cutting waste, etc. However, this is unlikely. To be sure, it is possible for a particularly forceful and effective administrator to cut through bureaucracy and make government more effective. There are some rare examples of this occurring.

But the relevant question is not whether this is possible but whether it is likely. For all the reasons listed above, including the difference between government and the free market, perverse incentives, and government employee unions, it is unlikely that such people will be in charge of government agencies most of the time.

For these reasons, bureaucracy is pretty much unreformable. Individual cases of waste can be exposed, and government agencies can sometimes be pressured into making some reforms, but these victories are always temporary. This does not make exposing bureaucracy a pointless cause, but it means that the effect of such efforts is limited.

The only real options are either to accept bureaucracy or to abolish it. Any proposal to use government to address a problem should consider the cost of bureaucracy and the problems associated with it. Bureaucracy is one of several significant reasons why the free market is likely to be more effective in solving problems. Anyone who wishes to solve problems should work to minimize government power as much as possible.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Stop the AgJobs Amnesty

Congress is once again scheming to pass amnesty. While debating the war supplemental bill, the Senate appropriations committee inserted the AgJobs amnesty as an amendment. (What, don't you see the connection?)

Amnesty alert: Tracking the Feinstein/Craig illegal alien farmworker amendment

This provision was not debated in committee, and the public was not aware that there would be a vote ahead of time. Liberals in Congress are trying to sneak this through, just like they tried to sneak through the amnesty bill last year with no committee hearings. The amendment is sponsored by liberal democrat Diane Feinstien and disgraced Republican Larry Craig.

The AgJobs bill would allow millions of foreigners to take jobs from Americans and lower wages. It would give legal status to millions of illegals.

Isn't unemployment high enough in Michigan? Do we really need more foreigners to take our jobs and lower wages?

Will Michigan senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow vote with Michigan workers or illegal aliens?

Upton Votes for "Patriot Tax"

The House of Representatives recently voted on a bill to raise taxes on the rich, dubbed the "Patriot Tax" by democrats. Here is the Club for Growth's description.

The amendment has several provisions that are anti-growth. It extends unemployment benefits and prevents cost-cutting Medicare rules from being implemented. However, the most troublesome provision is the absurdly named "Patriot Tax", which is a 0.5% surcharge on gross income on earnings over $500,000 a year or $1 million for a couple. The rate increase is higher than it appears, as deductions are taxed too.

This tax is anti-growth and will destroy jobs, pure and simple. It will lead to higher and higher income tax rates as Congress would likely keep adding such increases for other new spending. The tax will be especially harmful on small businesses whose owners sometimes file their business income on their individual tax return. In fact, the Tax Foundation reports (PDF) that almost 83% of all income tax returns with over $1 million in income are business owners. This tax will stifle innovation and job growth and should be vigorously opposed.
Here is the vote. One of those voting in favor was Congressman Fred Upton (R-Michigan).

The Larry DeShazor Record

Portage Councilman Larry DeShazor is running for State Representative in the 61st district.

The 61st district includes the cities of Portage and Parchment, and Oshtemo, Texas, Alamo, and Praire Ronde, and western Kalamazoo Townships. Portage Councilwoman Margaret O'Brien is also running as a Republican and Julie Rogers is running as a democrat.

DeShazor is an insurance agent who was elected to the Portage city council in 2003 and 2007. In 2006, he challenged incumbent Republican Jack Hoogendyk for renomination and lost.


Where does DeShazor stand on the issues? It isn't easy to tell.

He seems to have two websites, one for his 2008 campaign and one left over from his 2006 campaign. His announcement video contains only generalities. He says that he wants to cut waste and streamline regulations. But he doesn't say what spending constitutes waste or what specific regulations should be eliminated. Of course, no one runs for office promising to expand waste or complicate regulations.

His issues page has surveys left over from his 2007 city council campaign. They mostly deal with city issues not applicable to state government. We do learn that he thinks that global warming is a threat that requires government spending to encourage inefficient alternative energy. He also supports spending on "rapid transit; parks; and a developmental housing plan that highlights environmental conservation, farmland preservation and energy efficiency".

His previous issues page has generalities about the economy and education. He also has has a Q and A page with audio files that appear to no longer exist.

What would Larry DeShazor do in Lansing? His promises to lobby on behalf of the State Farm Insurance company.

Mr. DeShazor is a team manager at State Farm Insurance and a member of the State Farm Insurance Michigan Legislative Council. As a member, he is charged with positively influencing the legislative process on behalf of State Farm and the insurance industry. Mr. DeShazor believes the key is building positive relationships with all Michigan legislators so all legislator's [sic] understand the complicated issues surrounding insurance.
DeShazor's 2006 campaign was similarly vague. He promised to 'focus on the economy and education' without saying specifically what he wanted to do about them. He ran a positive campaign, with the exception of one ugly incident when he accused his opponent of breaking into his house. (The police investigated and found the charges to be baseless.)

DeShazor refused to sign the Americans for Tax Reform pledge not to raise taxes.

He also opposed making English the official language of Michigan, despite the fact that 82% of Michigan citizens support this measure. He claimed that it "sends an unwelcoming message to foreign business".


You can determine something about DeShazor by examining who contributed money to his campaign. His 2006 statement filed after the election reveals a five thousand dollar contribution from the MEA PAC. The teachers' union contributes overwhelmingly to democrats and liberal Republicans. It supports ever higher spending for its members' salaries, and opposes any efforts to increase accountability or reduce regulations. This may be a clue what DeShazor means when he says he wants to focus on education.

He received significant contributions from the Stryker family, including billionaire Ronda Stryker and her husband William Johnston. Stryker has given thousands of dollars to democrats.

Specific Political Issues

A number of posts on this blog have explained specific political issues.

Gas prices: Gouging by Government

College costs: Why Does College Cost So Much?

The draft: A New Birth of Slavery

The minimum wage: The Case Against the Minimum Wage

Campus gun ban: End the Campus Gun Ban

Amnesty: Against Amnesty

Alternative energy: Alternative Energy Inanity

Labor unions: The Economics of Labor Unions

Law of the Sea Treaty: Stop LOST

Global Warming: The Truth About Global Warming

Saturday, May 17, 2008


This update focuses on the culture war. The California Supreme Court overruled the state's definition of marriage. Liberals continue to attack traditional American culture. Western Civilization faces demographic decline.

Ernest Istook: The Danger in Appeasing Gay Rights Activists
Phyllis Schlafly: Kansas Plans to Shake Up State Court Judges
Benjamin Wiker: Darwin, Nietzsche, and Hitler: Evolution of the Ubermensch
Pat Buchanan: Whites Down To 10% Of World Population By 2060— Does It Matter?
Gary Bauer: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender--Whatever
Phyllis Schlafly: Violent Video Games Held to be Free Speech
Don Feder: 'Demographic Winter' Exposes the Century's Overlooked Crisis
Gary Bauer: The Plague of Planned Parenthood

Jack Wheeler: Why Liberals Cannot Defend America
Jospeh Farah: What Are Red Letter Christians?
Thomas Sowell: Who Is "Fascist"?
Michelle Malkin: Quo Vadis, Conservatives?

POLITICAL UPDATES are archived here.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Republicans in Trouble

With the loss of three consecutive special elections for house seats, most Republicans now realize that the party is in trouble.

There are lots of excuses, like bad candidates, bitter primaries, weak local parties, and lying democrats. But when you keep losing 'safe' districts, there's something else going on.

2006 wasn't just an aberration.

Why? The reasons in the post Why Republicans Lost are still valid. The Iraq War is still the biggest reason. The economy has taken a turn for the worse, which also isn't helping. Republicans have done better at getting rid of scandal-tainted incumbents, but there's more to be done.

The Republican party needs to fix its image by being conservative again.

But not to worry, John McCain will speak to The Race (La Raza)!

Movie Disaster

The state legislature's plan to give away our money to movie studios is already a disaster.

Michigan movie credit has huge opening

Movies go over budget all the time. So too, apparently, do movie incentive programs.

Lawmakers on Wednesday seemed somewhat stunned by the estimated $110 million net price tag of Michigan's new film promotion program. The unexpected cost of luring movie makers here could mean less money for local school districts and municipalities.
Who knew so many people would want free money? And no, this plan will not increase tax revenue.

In a briefing to the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senate Fiscal Agency Director Gary Olson pegged the cost of new film production credits at more than $127 million, a figure offset by $10 million in income and sales tax receipts gained from those productions.
It gets better.

The cost of the film credits to a fiscal 2009 state budget already stressed by economic downturn could mean less of an increase for K-12 schools and no increase in state aid payments to municipalities.
Well, at least the news isn't all bad.

Then there's this admission.

"We were very clear, in our opinion, that (tax) revenue generated from this activity would not come close to offsetting the cost of the credits," Olson said.
One could again remind the legislature that government can't pick winners and losers. But they don't need that reminder. The real reason for this program is to generate lots of "politician creates jobs" headlines while the economy continues to tank.

By that measure, the movie giveaway is a big success.

After the Deadline: Updates

Michigan allows candidates up to three days to withdraw after the election, and several have, necessitating a few changes to the previous after the deadline posts. As always, the 2008 Election Preview has been updated.

Republicans managed to file a few last minute candidates, reducing to nine the number of house seats that they are not contesting, all but one in Detroit.

Former State Rep. Jerry VanderRoest has withdrawn from the 63rd district race, giving Jase Bolger the nomination, and almost certainly the election.

Democrat Alan Brown has withdrawn from challenging Julie Rogers in the 61st district. The democrats must have gotten to him. (Also, he did live in Portage, not Pontiac.)

The guy who was challenging John Conyers in the 14th Congressional district has withdrawn.

The 105th district has nine withdrawals. Is this a record?

Jack Downey has been planning to run for office for a long time. The SOS website shows that he filed for the 24th district in 1946. Clearly an error, but still amusing.

College student Jake Smith has withdrawn from challenging county commissioner Brian Johnson. This is too bad, since this race promised to offer lots of amusement.

The challenger to Treasurer Mary Balkema is a democrat, after all.

After the Deadline: Kalamazoo Townships

The county clerk's office has a list of all the candidates running in Kalamazoo County, including for township office. [See the County Clerk's list here.]

There are plenty of contested races. A few are noteworthy.

Comstock Township: The controversy over Trustee Bill Shields spurred a bumper crop of filings. Fifteen candidates are running for trustee, including Shields. Four candidates are running for Supervisor. Incumbent democrat Tim Hudson will be challenged by democrats Gary Gillette and Roger Poe. The Republican nominee will be Sue Fritz.

Kalamazoo Township: There are five candidates for Supervisor. Justin VanderArk, Patrick Butler, Kathleen Doornbos, and Jospeh Thomas will compete for the Republican nomination. VanderArk is a conservative who works for the area homebuilders association. The democrat nominee will be Terri Mellinger. Six democrats and three Republicans are seeking four trustee positions.

Oshtemo Township: Incumbent Republican Supervisor John VanDyke is not running for reelection. Former County Commissioner Bob Brink, who lost his seat in 2006, will compete with Charles Hill for the Republican nomination. The democrat nominee will be Elizabeth Heiny-Cogswell. Six Republicans and two democrats are seeking four trustee positions.

Texas Township: Conservative Republican Dave Healy will challenge incumbent supervisor Ron Commissaris. Erin Hoogendyk is among the five candidates for four trustee positions.

The Barack Obama Record

The Barack Obama Record

US Senator (2004-present)
Illinois State Senator (1996-2004)

US Senate:

Notable Quotes
"You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and ... the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them.
"And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."


Obama favors abortion on demand. He defends partial birth abortion. As an Illinois state senator, he voted several times against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, which would prevent born babies from being killed outside the womb.
Terry Jeffrey: Obama is the Most Pro-Abortion Candidate Ever
Terry Jeffrey: More on Obama and Babies Born Alive

Civil Rights
Obama supports racial preferences, and he opposed the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative. He supports "hate crimes" laws that punish people for their thoughts. He supports "comparable worth" legislation that would allow government to regulate people's salaries. He opposes racial preferences. He opposes laws to prevent voter fraud that require showing identification to vote.
Steve Sailer: Obama's "Civil Rights" Vision: Quotas, Increased Crime, More Socialism
Marcus Epstein: Obama Oppose Quotas? Fat Chance!

Foreign Policy
Obama has criticized the war in Iraq, but has been vague about how many troops he would withdraw, and when. He has threatened to invade Pakistan. He opposes spending for defense against nuclear ballistic misslies. He opposes spending for new weapons systems.
Robert Maginnis: Obama Promises to Dismantle Our Armed Forces

Gun Rights
Obama filled out a survey in 1996 saying that he supported banning all handguns. Obama has refused to oppose the Washington DC gun ban. He wants to ban all concealed carry. In the Illinois legislature, he voted against protecting the right to self-defense with a handgun. He supports banning semi-automatic 'assault weapons'. He was on the board of the Joyce Foundation, which financially sponsored many gun control efforts. He is rated F by the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America.
Erich Pratt: Obama to Get the Dems 'Barack' into the Business of Gun Control
Robert Novak: Obama's Gun Dance
John Lott: Obama and Guns: Two Different Views
Amanda Carpenter: Obama Comes Out Against Concealed Carry
Kenneth Vogel: Obama linked to gun control efforts

Obama supports amnesty for illegal aliens. He voted in favor of the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill. He voted for the DREAM Act, which would give amnesty to several million illegal aliens. He supports giving in-state tuition to illegal aliens. He has voted against border security and interior enforcement. He supports giving drivers licences to illegal aliens.
Obama supports larger numbers of legal immigration. He supports chain migration. He supports importing more foreign workers through H1B visas.
Americans for Better Immigration: Barack Obama's Immigration Grade
Americans for Better Immigration: Barack Obama's Immigration Record
Terry Jeffrey: When Obama, Clinton and McCain Decisively Agreed

Obama supports "civil unions", which are the same as "gay marriage" in all but name. He also supports homosexual adoption. He advocates repealing the Defence of Marriage Act. He supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would force religious organizations to hire homosexuals. He supports homosexuals in the military. He supports "hate crimes" laws that would punish certain thoughts and speech.
Terry Jeffrey: The Problem With Obama's -- Not Wright's -- Vision
WorldNetDaily: Obama promises 'gays' 'strongest possible bill'

Obama voted against confirming both John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. He advocates that judges should favor some parties over others rather than apply the law when deciding cases.
Terry Jeffrey: Obama's Class-War Court

Obama "voted for price controls on prescription drugs,[79] to prohibit oil drilling in ANWR,[80] and for minimum wage increases.[81]". He has also supported major regulation of the economy in the name of civil rights, including racial preferrences, "hate crime" laws, and "camparable worth" legislation.
Club for Growth: Barack Obama's Economic Record
Steve Sailer: Obama's "Civil Rights" Vision: Quotas, Increased Crime, More Socialism

Obama supports the United Nations. He is sponsoring the "Global poverty Act", which would cost taxpayers 845 billion dollars. This would be part of the UN's Millennium Development Goal. Obama has sent mixed signals on NAFTA, criticizing it often while also criticizing Pennsylvanians for "anti-trade sentiment". Obama supported the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill, which contained an endorsement of the Security and Prosperity Partnership.
Phyllis Schlafly: Congress Contemplates Giving Cash to Foreigners
Cliff Kincaid: Will McCain Oppose $845 Billion Earmark?

Obama has proposed major increases in government spending. The Club for Growth notes that Obama supported a "$50 billion "clean technology" venture capital fund" and a 1.5 billion dollar expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act. He has sponsored a bill to spend 845 billion dollars on foreign aid through the United Nations. Obama has also proposed "(1) his 10-year, $150 billion program to "establish a green energy sector," (2) his 10-year, $60 billion "National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank," (3) his nearly universal health care plan (whose annual price tag he low-balls at $50 to $65 billion) and (4) a host of refundable tax credits ranging from $4,000 per year for college students to a tripling of the Earned Income Tax Credit for minimum-wage workers".
Club for Growth: Barack Obama's Economic Record
Washington Times: Obama's spending plan
Phyllis Schlafly: Congress Contemplates Giving Cash to Foreigners

Obama has take positions opposing "the extension of the Bush tax cuts;[5] in opposing the extension of decreased tax rates for capital gains and dividends;[6] and in support of the cigarette tax hike contained in the SCHIP bill.[7]". Obama supports letting the Bush tax cuts expire, supports "raising taxes on private equity firms and hedge funds.[10]", and supports "raising the amount of income subject to Social Security taxes,[11]".
Club for Growth: Barack Obama's Economic Record


Obama has had a number of troubling influences and disreputable contacts. His mother was a radical leftist, and his father was a Marxist. Obama's pastor of twenty years, Jeremiah Wright, is a believer in Marxist black liberation theology, which is a perversion of Christianity that is anti-white and anti-America. Obama wrote an autobiography, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, that is obsessed with race and perceived racial slights. He is married to Michelle Obama, who wrote a thesis about her racial resentment and said that the 2008 campaign was the first time she felt proud of America. Obama is connected to Tony Rezko, a disreputable developer who is under indictment. Obama was friends with Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, who are unrepentant former terrorists with the Marxist Weathermen group.

Pat Buchanan: Obama In Darkest Pennsylvania
Andy McCarthy: The Company He Keeps
Steve Sailer: Barack Obama Sr.’s Mugabeist plan for Kenya
Steve Sailer: Will President Obama Wreck America? Not If Confronted By An Informed Citizenry
Steve Sailer: Obama’s Radical Background: More Questions Only VDARE.COM Will Ask
Steve Sailer: Michelle Obama And The Rage Of A Privileged Class
Steve Sailer: MainStream Media Won’t Ask Obama Those Nasty Paul-Type Questions. But Shelby Steele Could!
Ann Coulter: Obama's Dimestore 'Mein Kampf'
Allan Ryskind: Obama and His Weatherman Friends
Steve Sailer: Rezko and Wright: The Two Sides of Obama's Chicago
John Batchelor: The Obama Files
John Batchelor: Rezko Connections: More Questions for Obama
John Batchelor: Rezko Connections: More Reasons Obama Should Worry
Erick Erickson: Obama and the New Party
Jerome Corsi: Report: Obama mentored by Communist Party figure

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Charles Ybema for State Representative

Charles Ybema is a candidate for state representative in the 60th district, which covers Kalamazoo, eastern Kalamazoo Township, and Cooper Township. He is a Republican who is challenging incumbent Democrat Robert Jones.

Ybema is a staunch conservative Republican. He firmly supports limited government, lower taxes, and lower spending. He supports the right to life and gun rights. He has a solid understanding of economics.

The 60th district is a tough district for Republicans. Robert Jones won 70% of the vote in 2006. So why should Republicans support Charles Ybema?

For one thing, you don't win if you don't show up. Sometimes elections have unexpected results, but you don't win if you don't try.

Further, supporting a strong advocate of liberty can help to change people's minds and help to win other elections in the future. Also, supporting conservative candidates helps them to get experience to win other races.

Charles Ybema is worthy of the support of conservatives.

See Charles Ybema's website here:

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

After the Deadline: Kalamazoo

The Gazette has a list of candidates who filed for office in the Kalamazoo area. It comes in 66 parts. Some thoughts on selected races are below.

Candidates file for the Aug. 5 primary
(Kalamazoo starts on 8, Allegan starts on 23, Barry starts on 34, Cass starts on 42, St. Jospeh starts on 48, and Van Buren starts on 58.)

UPDATE: Here's a one-page candidate list.

Term limits spur flood of filings: Many pursuing seats in local, state, federal races
Two targeting longtime incumbents: Local politicians file to run against Upton, Levin
Rep. Shaffer files for St. Joe County board
5 attorneys seek district court seat

Countywide Offices:
Democrats filed to run against incumbent Republicans for Sheriff, Prosecutor, Clerk, and Drain Commissioner. Someone filed to run against Treasurer Mary Balkema, but she did not specify her party. None of the challengers are well-known political names. Nobody filed to run against non-incumbent Republican Bill Hahn for Surveyor.

District 5: College Student Jake Smith is challenging commissioner Brian Johnson in the Democrat primary.

District 6: Larry Stieglitz will again challenge commissioner Franklin Thompson.

District 10: Thomas Drabik is retiring. Former Portage Mayor James Graham is unopposed for the Republican nomination.

District 12: Democrat John Nieuwenhuis won this seat from Republican Bob Brink in 2006. Republicans Chris Haenicke and Scott Zondervan are seeking the Republican nomination. Haenicke is the son-in-law of former WMU President Diether Haenicke. Zondervan is a conservative who challenged Jack Hoogendyk for renomination in 2006 before dropping out and endorsing him.

District 15: Democrat Leroy Crabtree won this seat from Republicans in 2006. Republicans Ann Nieuwenhius and Derek Robinson are seeking the Republican nomination.

Republicans did not file candidates for four county commission seats, and democrats did not file for one seat.

After the Deadline: Michigan

The deadline to run for office in Michigan has passed. The unofficial list of candidates is on the Secretary of State website. Candidates can withdraw up to three days after the deadline. Some thoughts on selected races are below. The 2008 Election Preview has been updated.

2008 Unofficial Michigan Primary Candidate Listing

Senate: Jack filed 30,000 signatures, which is a strong show of support.

US House 6: Don Cooney filed 2000 signatures against Rep. Fred Upton.

US House 7: Mark Schauer has a primary opponent in Sharon Renier, who was the democrat nominee in 2004 and 2006.

US House 13: Two Democrats have filed to challenge Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, the mother of embattled Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Republicans usually file token challengers in unwinnable state house districts, but this year they didn't bother, and 14 districts have no Republicans running. They are in Detroit, Westland, Flint, Muskegon, and Washtenaw County.

Michigan House 7: Seventeen democrats filed for this district.

Michigan House 17: Three democrats filed to challenge Speaker Andy Dillon, who is facing a recall election in August.

Michigan House 45: Tom McMillin is running for state house in Rochester.

Michigan House 58: Former Rep. Steve Vear is running for another term in the state house. As the only Republican from Hillsdale County, he is in a good position to win.

Michigan House 61: Two last-minute candidates complicated the race. David Yardley filed as a Republican. He is the ex-husband of Melissa Yardley, who ran in 2002 and lost to Jack Hoogendyk. Alan Brown is running as a Democrat. It isn't immediately clear who he is. His address is listed in Pontiac, but his zip code is in Portage. [UPDATE: His address has been corrected to Portage on the SOS website.]

Michigan House 62: House staffer Gregory Moore and Battle Creek City Commissioner Susan Baldwin are seeking the Republican nomination. County Commissioner Kate Segal and college graduate Tim Nendorf are seeking the democrat nomination.

Michigan House 63: Calhoun County Commissioner Jase Bolger and former Rep. Jerry VanderRoest will seek the Republican nomination.

Michigan House 88: Eight Republicans will the nomination for this safe Allegan County seat.

Michigan House 105: Eight Republicans withdrew from the race after Rep. Kevin Elsenheimer decided to seek reelection instead of a judgeship.

8th District Judge: Four candidates are seeking this judgeship for Kalamazoo County.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

How to Lower Gas Prices

With gas prices nearly four dollars a gallon, people need relief. But only the right proposals will ease the "pain at the pump".

A variety of ideas have been bandied about. Some would be ineffective, others would be counterproductive. One idea, a gas tax holiday, would have only a small benefit.

Here are some measures that the government can take to cut the price of gas.

State Level:

Eliminate sales taxes on gas. Offset this with spending cuts.

Repeal the law that prohibits setting gas prices too low. This law is supposed to combat the supposed threat of gas stations underselling their competition, driving them out of business, and then raising prices. Anyone who thinks this is a problem should read the section on this issue in Freedomnomics by John Lott.

Allow slant drilling under the Great Lakes. This would be drilling through rock, would not involve and oil rigs, and would not involve any danger of spills. A proposal to do this at the beginning of the decade was shot down due to irrational NIMBY fears.

Federal Level:

Repeal the tax on gas. Cut spending to offset this.

Eliminate the EPA mandate of "boutique blends", that is, special types of additives to gasoline in different regions of the country and different seasons. This increases prices, particularly in the summer.

Produce more energy. In particular,

Drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Drill for oil offshore, and in the gulf of Mexico.

Drill for oil wherever it is profitable to do so. Repeal regulations and the threat of lawsuits that prevent this from happening. Note that while developing new sources of oil would take some time, it would help to lower prices immediately, since current prices are based in part on perceptions of future supplies.

Build more oil refineries. Repeal regulations and the threat of lawsuits that prevent this from happening.

Produce more nuclear energy. Repeal regulations and the threat of lawsuits that prevent this from happening.

Repeal ethanol mandates that waste gasoline on ethanol production.

High gas prices are not inevitable. They are the result of destructive government policies. Repealing those policies will bring prices down. But this will take public pressure. Are people willing to do what it takes to lower gas prices?

Gouging by Government
Alternative Energy Inanity

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Walberg most Fiscally Conservative

Congressman Tim Walberg is the most fiscally conservative congressman in Michigan, according to the Club for Growth.

Tim Walberg most fiscally conservative Congressman in Michigan

Club for Growth Scorecard 2008

Tim Walberg 92%
Dave Camp 84%
Mike Rogers 83%
Pete Hoekstra 80%
Joe Knollenberg 67%
Thaddeus McCotter 65%
Vern Ehlers 45%
Candice Miller 43%
Fred Upton 41%

All Michigan Democrats scored 12% or below


This update focuses on money. The Federal Reserve recently bailed out an investment firm. Printing more money is inflation, and leads to rising prices.

Ron Paul: Bailing Out Banks
Lew Rockwell: The Inflation Monster and Its Owner
John McManus: Sound Money: Key to Prosperity
Thomas Sowell: Irony in Wall Street
Ron Paul: On Money, Inflation and Government
Don Devine: All New Dealers Now?

POLITICAL UPDATES are archived here.

Death by Government

The recent actions of the government of Burma are worth noting. It has delayed or refused aid following a hurricane that killed tens of thousands of its subjects. It puts public relations concerns ahead of the lives of its subjects. It doesn't want its subjects to see aid coming from outsiders.

This is blatant example of death by government, but far from the only one, unfortunately. This is exactly what happens when people have no responsibility for their actions.

See the Understanding Government series for more.

Gun Rights Again

Proposal allowing concealed weapons in national parks raises concerns

Americans are being asked whether concealed weapons should be allowed in national parks and national wildlife refuges.

A new rule updating federal firearm regulations was posted April 30 to the Federal Register. It allows visitors to carry concealed handguns into both as long as the state where the land is located allows the weapons in its own parks or wildlife areas.

In Michigan, where carrying a concealed handgun is allowed in state parks, forests and game areas, the rule would overturn a 25-year-old prohibition at four national parks/lakeshores: Isle Royale, Pictured Rocks, Sleeping Bear Dunes and Keweenaw National Historical Park.

House OKs concealed weapons plan

The state House has passed a plan from Rep. Jeff Mayes, D-Bay City, to change restrictions for obtaining a concealed weapons permit in Michigan.

Currently, an applicant must have been a resident of Michigan for six months, which is troublesome for active-duty military, Mayes said in a news release.

His plan would clarify the definition of a qualified applicant to include military personnel that would not otherwise be prohibited from obtaining a license.

The Michigan State Police, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the National Rifle Association support the legislation, Mayes said.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Understanding Government: Limited Government

Given the many dangers of government power, the best form of government is one in which government power is most restricted.


One might well ask whether, given this danger, it would be best if there were no government at all. There are two problems with this.

First, there appear to be some services that only government can perform. The free market requires an absence of coercion. But some some goods, such as national defense, police protection, and courts, depend on coercion. It isn't clear that the free market can provide these.

These goods appear to be collective goods, that is, goods that people benefit from whether or not they pay for them. There is a free rider problem, where people can benefit from something without paying for it. If the military prevents an invasion of the country, it benefits everyone, not just those who paid taxes. Other goods including roads and clean air appear to fall into this category.

The second problem is that it doesn't seem that having no government is possible. If there were no government, criminals would prey upon good people. Good people could resist, but criminals would organize into gangs that would make individual resistance difficult. To defend against this threat, good people would have to organize for defense, but any organization of significant size would face the free rider problem. Thus it appears all but inevitable that there will be an organization with a near monopoly on force in a given territory, i.e., a government. This is true whether or not the purpose of the government is to protect people or exploit them, or something in between.

This process can be seen in action on those occasions when a weak government collapses. Inevitably, various factions vie for power until one of them defeats the others. A state of anarchy can only persist when there is a very low population density and transportation and communication are relatively time-consuming.


Thus it appears that the existence of government is inevitable. However, this does not change the very real harm that government causes. Thus if one who wishes to minimize the harm the government causes should advocate that the government be just large enough to prevent a worse government from taking over, whether by collapse or invasion, and no larger. This can be called minimal government.

How exactly to achieve and maintain a minimal government is a difficult problem. Government naturally tends to grow in size and power. As Thomas Jefferson put it, "The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." This is because of government's near monopoly on force, and its greater organization.

What is needed is some mechanism to keep government to its proper size and scope. Unfortunately, it appears unlikely that any such foolproof mechanism exists. This is because any such system would ultimately depend upon fallible humans to implement and maintain it.

But while no such system is foolproof, there are a number of procedural mechanisms that can limit government power and make the growth of government less likely.


A government that is structured in such a fashion is a republic. A republic may have democratic elections, but it does not embrace grand theories about democracy. Democratic elections by themselves do not necessarily lead to freedom.

One of the most important mechanisms to limit government power is a constitution. A constitution defines the structure of the government and grants it power to do certain things. But for a constitution to limit government power, it must restrict what government can do. A constitution that limits government power must be written and fixed. If the constitution is nothing more than tradition, or if it is a "living constitution" that can be changed at whim, then it provides little protection. A fixed written constitution provides a reference that can be cited in public debate, so that people are not forced to argue every question from first principles.

Along with a constitution, a bill of rights is an important mechanism to protect liberty. A bill of rights lists explicitly some of the rights of the people and prohibits the government from violating them. It also provides an important reference for public debate.

Another valuable mechanism to limit government power is decentralization. It divides power and reduces the danger that a single faction can seize power. If a faction seizes control in one region, people can leave, and if it seizes control of the central government, the regional governments can resist.

Within a given level of government, a separation of powers can help to protect liberty. Separation of powers means that the executive, legislative, and judicial powers are separated, so that winning one election doesn't give one faction control of the entire government. A single faction must show sustained support over time to win control of all branches of the government.

Checks and balances go along with the separation of powers. Checks and balances are various powers that different branches of government have that affect each other. These can include the power of appointment, the power to spend money, the power to pass legislation, the power to veto it, and the power to investigate other branches.

Another important protection against government power is gun rights. In the extreme, if the government becomes tyrannical, the people can resist it with force. Short of that, they may need to resist individual branches or rouge agents of the government. Beyond that, gun rights send an important message that the government exists to serve the interests of the people, and not the other way around. Gun rights can prevent democide, which killed 262 million people in the twentieth century.

Because the government has the power to arrest and imprison, civil liberties are essential. They help to prevent government from taking away the liberties of people unjustly. To maximize liberty, government must punish criminals while protecting civil liberties.

As the saying goes, the power to tax is the power to destroy. Procedural restrictions on taxation can help to protect liberty. These can include requiring a supermajority in the legislature to raise taxes and requiring a public vote to raise taxes.


In conclusion, since it is virtually impossible to have no government, the best protection of liberty is limited or minimal government. There does not appear to be any foolproof mechanism to protect limited government. However, various procedural mechanisms including a constitution, bill of rights, decentralization, separation of powers, checks and balances, gun rights, civil liberties, and limitations on taxation can help to protect liberty.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Wabbling Back to the Fire

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

--The Gods of the Copybook Headings

The KRESA tax passed with 57% of the vote. Apparently enough voters bought the propaganda about more spending creating good schools and dire cuts if this tax didn't pass.

The measure passed in the Kalamazoo and Portage districts. All districts will have to pay, even though many outlying districts voted against it. And of course, all citizens will have to pay, even though 43% of voters voted against it.

It doesn't take much foresight to see what will happen in the future. Government schools will continue to be mediocre. They will continue to waste money on MESSA insurance and lots of other things. Employee salaries and benefits will continue to increase. And there will be another dire fiscal emergency three years from now demanding renewal of this 'temporary' tax.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Stop the KRESA Tax

The most important issue on the ballot in Tuesday's election is the KRESA tax hike.

Despite the title, KRESA is simply being used as an intermediary to funnel money to local school districts based in Kalamazoo County. Three years ago, this tax was billed as a one-time emergency measure. Now, the schools want to renew it for another three years.

Advocates of the tax argue that quality education is essential to the community. But no one disputes this. The relevant question is whether passing the tax would improve education. This question is never addressed by advocates of the tax. They have not offered any such evidence.

The Gazette reports that advocates of the tax warn that all sorts of wonderful programs will be cut if the tax is not passed. This is an example of the Washington Monument strategy. That is, when there is a threat of cuts, bureaucrats threaten to cut the most popular programs instead of waste or unnecessary spending. (And why aren't there ever any newspaper stories about parents forced to take lollipops from their children because their taxes increased?)

In fact, the main result of increased school taxes are higher salaries and benefits for school employees. Increasing the salaries of the same people who have provided mediorce education won't help anything.

The biggest waste of tax dollars, though far from the only one, is the MESSA health insurance that the school districts purchase from the Michigan Education Association (MEA). Comparable coverage can be obtained for much less, and the difference goes to the MEA. It pressures school districts to use the expensive coverage. All nine Kalamazoo County school districts do so.

A Kalamazoo Gazette editorial admitted this problem and still urged that the tax be approved.

The primary donors to the campaign for the tax are the very people who stand to gain financially from its passage.
Thousands spent on school-tax campaigns

The KRESA tax richly deserves to be rejected.

For much more valuable information, see the Kalamazoo County Taxpayers Association.