TRUTH: D. C. is about empire building.
Andrew’s Note: If you still have any doubt that influence peddling is alive and well in D.C. then look at which programs are being ‘sequestered’ and which aren’t. It’s almost as if the cuts (really decreases in the proposed spending increase) are meant to be as disruptive as possible without actually cutting any ‘fluff.’ Having read Stossel for many years I can tell you he’s not saying that everyone in the D.C. power elite is empire building but he is pointing out that empire building frequently overwhelms the work of the people.
I attended a Papal Audience once…it didn’t cost anything…I’m certainly glad I didn’t have to pay as much as I would if I wanted an audience with the leader of the free world… Pay to play is alive and well in our Nation’s capital.
Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that donating $500,000 to the group Organizing for Action will get one quarterly meetings with President Barack Obama. “Giving or raising $500,000 or more puts donors on a national advisory board for Mr. Obama’s group and the privilege of attending quarterly meetings with the president, along with other meetings at the White House,” reported the Times.
Today, Jay Carney was unable to defend this arrangement at the White House press briefing, implausibly stating that the Obama group is somehow not related to Obama:
Pay to play is a Chicago tradition…I guess nothing changes when the Second City is in running the First World.
John Stossel is one of my favorite writers. He’s a journalist, commentator and author who looks beyond the surface of a story to uncover the entire story. His in depth reporting on the unintended consequences of well meaning legislation can be particularly eye opening. I caught this piece recently on how government bans decrease freedom and create shortages which create big profits when handed back to the politically connected. Here’s a taste and a link to the rest of what Stossel has to say about how Government Bans Hurt Most:
I like to bet on sports. Having a stake in the game, even if it’s just five bucks, makes it more exciting. I also like playing poker. “Unacceptable!” say politicians in much of America. “Gambling sometimes leads to ‘addiction,’ destitute families!”
…So politicians ban it. It’s why we no longer see a poker game in the back of bars. Half the states even ban poker between friends — though they rarely enforce that.
After banning things, politicians’ second favorite activity is granting special privileges to a few people who do those same things — so big casinos flourish, and most states run their own lotteries. Running lotteries is one of the more horrible things our governments do. The poor buy the most tickets, and states offer them terrible odds. The government entered the lottery business promising to end the “criminal numbers racket.” Now states do what the “criminals” did but offer much worse odds. Adding insult to their scam, politicians also spend our tax money promoting lotteries with disgusting commercials that trash hard work, implying that happiness comes from hedonism.
We cannot keep postponing structural changes to our largest entitlement programs,” Cornyn added. “And unless we are happy with a tax code that wastes economic resources, stifles job creation and promotes crony capitalism, we cannot keep delaying genuine tax reform.
Senator John Cornyn via Republicans to Democrats: ‘We’ve done our part’ in fiscal crisis negotiations | Fox News.
A group of West coast financiers have proposed helping several California Cities (legally) steal debt instruments from their owners. Through a novel and dubious use of eminent domain these cities intend to force mortgage companies to sell performing loans at discounted ‘market value’ rates.
Eminent domain is a governmental power that allows the government to seize private property for public purposes. Although eminent domain has traditionally been used to clear land for major infrastructure projects like highways or reservoirs it has been abused in recent years to seize private land for transfer to developers who built shopping centers, subdivisions or amusement parks.
In this case, they would condemn troubled mortgages so they could seize them. Then the borrowers would be helped into mortgages with significantly lower monthly payments.
…The plan targets homeowners who are current on their mortgage payments but “under water,” meaning they owe more on the mortgage than the home is worth. Here’s how it would work for a hypothetical city:— The city goes to court and argues that the public purpose is served by having the county own, and ultimately refinance, the mortgage.
— The city pays fair market value to the owner of the mortgage…
— The city, the new owner of the mortgage, encourages and helps the homeowner to find refinancing. Now the principal is lower, and interest rates are at historic lows, so the homeowner winds up with easier monthly payments.
No matter how you feel about banks and mortgage companies this is a bad idea on multiple levels.
In its efforts to protect the local taxi industry from healthy competition… and the people of D.C. from clean, affordable transportation… the D.C. City Council has fully embraced the crap…I mean crapitalistic process of using their elected offices to stack the economic deck in favor of their pet constituency.
On Tuesday… the D.C. city council is planning to meet to make ensure that Uber — an efficient and reliable luxury town-car limo service — does not lower its fares.
“The council’s intention is to prevent Uber from being a viable alternative to taxis by enacting a price floor to set Uber’s minimum fare at today’s rates and no less than 5 times a taxi’s minimum fare,” Uber co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick wrote in a Monday press release.
The move by the council follows an Uber announcement that it was planning to launch UberX — a less expensive version of Uber with less luxurious cars.
Uber’s concept is simple: Sign up and download their mobile phone application, and when you need a car, click a few buttons. Within a few minutes, a luxury sedan will arrive at your door, announce its presence with a text message, drive you to your destination and charge your credit card. It’s more expensive than a cab ride, but there is no waiting on the hold, and the cars and drivers are clean and professional.
…“It was hard for us to believe that an elected body would choose to keep prices of a transportation service artificially high — but the goal is essentially to protect a taxi industry that has significant experience in influencing local politicians,” Kalanick wrote in an email to users. “They want to make sure there is no viable alternative to a taxi in Washington D.C., and so on Tuesday (tomorrow!), the DC City Council is going to formalize that principle into law.”
Thank heavens that the D.C. City Council is protecting D.C.’s residents and visitors from affordable, convenient transportation. It’s a good thing they don’t have any more pressing issues to deal with like…
Look at the School Stats again…85% of 8th graders in the district are failing in English or Math…or both! Now check out that last bullet…the biggest employer in the city…is the city!
… a democratic republic cannot long survive as a special interest state. The destruction of economic value is too complete, as interests channel the money into unproductive uses—housing and education bubbles; alternative energy; battalions of compliance officers; a ruling class that depends on the iron rice bowl of the government giving its members jobs telling the masses what to do.
The destruction of other values is also serious. Respect now goes to the person who can best manipulate the system to extract resources for his clientele, not to the one who creates productive enterprises. The term “doer” becomes a synonym for “sap.” Private institutions respond to Big SIS by becoming Little SISes, choosing their leaders for their ability to schmooze the government rather than for skill or dedication in pursuing the mission of the institution. Log-rolling coalitions require that members of each group within the tent abandon any reservations about the demands of their allies.
Margaret Thatcher said that socialism eventually runs out of other people’s money, but in a socialist world the ruling class is at least trying to promote some vision of the general welfare, however demented. The special interest state is more degraded in that the general welfare is of little concern to the interests’ representatives. Arguments that their positions are destructive have no impact, except perhaps to send them back to their offices to grab more before the game ends.
The special interest state cannot keep growing and has no natural equilibrium point. So the question now is not whether but how it will end, and this is inscrutable. One can envision a period of creative politics and institution building in which an aroused public demands the dismantling of much of the special interest state, a cut-back in government, and the creation of new institutional controls to prevent a recurrence.
I keep reading that last line…
“One can envision a period of creative politics and institution building in which an aroused public demands the dismantling of much of the special interest state, a cut-back in government, and the creation of new institutional controls to prevent a recurrence.”
…and have to say that I’m having a hard time envisioning that period. Given the dramatic spending increases orchestrated by the current and previous administration (even if you don’t count the war spending) I see people fighting for their piece of the pie rather than calling for necessary but painful spending cuts. This culture of dependency and forced redistribution of wealth to special interest groups has the potential to break our great nation…both financially and morally.
If the requirement proves successful in France, some law enforcement officials in the United States said mandatory breathalyzers in cars could be taken for a spin here.
“If they were mandatory in every vehicle, the roads would be safer, there’s no doubt about that,” Capt. Ted Richardson, of the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina
If the goal is to make roads safer why don’t we just make driving on them illegal…that’s the only way to make them truly safe (sarcasm intended). Seriously folks, turns out that there are only two companies in France that make these breathalyzers and they were involved in lobbying for the new law.