Jun 242011

Let Tim Geithner talk long enough, and eventually he tells you the truth.   The reason the Obama administration wants more taxes is so it can keep government large.

“If you don’t touch revenues and you leave in place the tax cuts for the top 2 percent that were put in place by President Bush, if you leave those in place and you’re trying to bring our deficits down over time, then you have to do exceptionally deep cuts in benefits for middle-class Americans and you have to shrink the overall size of government programs, things like education, to levels that we could not accept as a country,” said Geithner.

That’s the government-centric view.   The people-centric view was expressed by his questioner, Rep. Renee Elmers of North Carolina.   URL.  H/T Drudge.

[Late edit to put in the full quote instead of the partial, elided one I had posted earlier.]


Jun 222011

A Leviathan-Anklebiter award is hereby awarded to Monique Lawless for her attempt to stop lawlessness.  (H/T James Taranto.)   As usual, the authorities prefer that people not take such dangerous actions, but we should at least give the police chief credit for admiring her courage.   Sometimes Leviathan is a lot surlier than that when people perform courageous acts on their own initiative.  The full story is here.

I hope this action doesn’t put her job as a “safety” specialist in danger.

Monique Lawless had nothing personal at stake when she saw three men leaving a Walmart store in Alvin with three cases of beer they didn’t pay for. She was a customer, not an employee, of the store.

Yet Lawless, who stands just under 5 feet tall and weighs 125 pounds, took off in pursuit of the three much larger men.

“I’m just sick of the lawlessness,” the 42-year-old Alvin woman said. “They knew their chances of getting caught were slim to none. Those kids would have gotten away with it, celebrated their theft and probably continue to do it.”

The three alleged thieves were arrested — at another Walmart store in Pearland near Texas 288 — after an hourlong chase. But Lawless’ efforts to stop them came at a price: a scratched face, broken lip and scrapes and bruises to her legs.

Lawless, an engineering safety specialist at Boeing…

Q.  And what does the photo of the Alabama State Capitol have to do with this?   A.  1) It was handy.  2)  The State of Alabama didn’t like it when Nate Shaw took the protection of his own property into his own hands, and locked him up for over a decade.

Q.  Or the two cases really analogous?   A.  Yes, they are, but how good an analogy we have here, I don’t really know.  Doesn’t matter all that much.  Ms. Lawless gets a Leviathan Anklebiter award.

Late edit:  More photos here at the UK Daily Mail Online, including some taken by CCTV security cameras.

Jun 172011

Some of my fellow conservatives at the  Conservative LiveJournal community like Chris Christie’s reply to a question about where he sends his kids to school.

Hey, Gail, you know what? First off, it’s none of your business. I don’t ask you where you send your kids to school, don’t bother me about where I send mine. Secondly, I pay $38,000 a year in property taxes for a public school system, predominantly in Mendham, that my wife and I don’t choose to utilize because we believe – we’ve decided as parents – that we believe a religious education should be part of our children’s everyday education so we send our children to parochial school. Third, I as Governor, am responsible for every child in this state, not just my own, and the decisions I make are to try to improve educational opportunities of every child in this state. So, with all due respect, it’s none of your business.

I think Christie could have done better.   And by that I mean Christie is just the person who could have done better.     My response:

I dunno.   I wish he’d save the “none of your business” reply for a question he’s not going to answer.

Is it the business of citizens to ask politicians why they are comfortable with high taxes to support public schools that they themselves choose not to inflict on their own children, when those taxes deprive thousands of other families of the ability to make that same choice? Yes, it is our business to know that. So I don’t think “none of your business” is a good reply for a turnabout-is-fair-play question.

But the part about improving the educational opportunities of every child in the state is excellent. He could also point out that by giving people economic choices, he will do more than most other politicians to help public schools become better, and to become places where teachers will be prouder than ever to work, and where parents will be glad to send their children instead of being compelled to send them. It will result in increased public support for education, and restore public school teachers to a place of honor in our society.

Jun 162011

Reason #1 to vote against Mitt Romney:

  • Bush-1 gave us Bill Clinton
  • Bush-2 gave us Barak Obama
  • We don’t want to find out how this pattern plays out

And on a related topic, it’s bad enough that libertarians are socialists’ best friends.   But why do TownHall conservatives have to be 2nd best?   I wish they’d be satisfied with 3rd or 4th.   In the past few days there has been a lot of blather among them about Congressman Tim Whatever and this-or-that presidential candidate.   But there has been not a word  about Tom Coburn’s efforts to eliminate the ethanol tax credit.    An important key to bringing down Leviathan is in the fight between Coburn and Norquist.  But they are letting it go unremarked.    (Coburn gets a Leviathan Ankle-Biter award.  Norquist does not.)

Jun 132011

If you take a building with a lot of windows, and you cover up half of them, does that make it more transparent?   The vice president of the United States might be somebody who will tell you that it does.  From an article in the Washington Times:

As part of the Obama administration’s campaign to promote transparency, the White House announced today it intends to eliminate the public’s access to half of the federal government’s websites within the next year.

The White House said there are nearly 2,000 websites operated by the federal government, which it said confuses people.

“With so many separate sites, Americans often do not know where to turn for information,” the office of Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. said in a statement. “The administration will immediately put a halt to the creation of new websites. The administration will also shut down or consolidate 25% of the 2,000 sites over the next few months and set a goal of cutting the number of separate, standalone sites in half over the next year.”

It called the campaign of winnowing access to government web sites part of the president’s campaign “targeting duplication and waste.” The administration did not give an estimate of how much money it believes could be saved by halving the government’s Internet sites.

A White House official defended the move, saying it will actually improve access.

I suspect the Obama administration is just making up that stuff about Americans being confused by too many web sites.  We may find it hard to find information about which capitalist cronies are getting the latest favors from the administration, but my guess is that there is no foundation to the claim that our difficulty in finding information is due to too many web sites.    I further suspect that no before-and-after research is being planned to determine whether Americans will actually find it easier to get information after half the web sites are shut down.    I would even go so far as to surmise that Joe Biden deserves a Leviathan Toolkit award for his role in this plan.

Jun 102011

So how is this supposed to work with the legislation that was sponsored by Tennessee state representative Charles Curtiss and signed into law by the Governor?   (H/T Drudge.)   It’s now a crime to  “transmit or display an image” online that is likely to “frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress” to someone who sees it.  So supposed I lived in Tennessee and posted the following photo which I also posted over at The Spokesrider:

It causes me emotional distress to see this, because it makes me wonder why we are allowing some of the worst practices of the old Soviet Union to be followed in our own country.    It’s frightening, too.   Not only do we incarcerate our citizens on a large scale, as did the SU, and not only are our prisons abusive places, but cameras are not allowed around them, either.

So am I obligated to turn myself in for posting a photo that causes me such distress?    And what if I am arrested?   Prosecutors like to get their perp walks into the news.    But what if I saw a photo of my own perp walk for taking photos of our government in action?   That would cause me considerable emotional distress.  Do I get a double-sentence, then?  And do we then get to lock up the prosecutors for a year?    But what if they saw the photos of themselves being perp-walked to the courthouse?

I think this legislation needs work.


Jun 092011

Here’s what I wrote as a comment at Front Porch Republic about the case of Nick’s Organic Farm.   Well, it’s what I would have written if I had gone back and edited my comments one more time:

Huge believer in private property rights here.  I would not support any intervention to interfere with that. I also question the question the wisdom of establishing an organic farm on leased land.

However, it was done. And what you have here is a quasi-governmental entity selling to a governmental entity. Putting public pressure on corporations like that is entirely appropriate. Local community pressure is even better. Just because it’s legal for this transaction to take place doesn’t mean people have to approve of it or accept it.

I could see myself joining in the campaign to save the farm. It reminds me that all too often, new rural schools are built not in town, not as part of the community, but out in the country on prime farm land, where the students are separated from the life of the community. Much of the reason for despoiling these vast portions of the landscape is to provide parking for buses, teachers, and students. Especially for students. We consolidate local schools into huge units, destroying family and community in the process, then take over vast expanses of countryside to build schools with huge asphalt parking lots where students can travel great distances to learn how to be critical of their parents for being poor stewards of the environment and for not supporting cap ‘n trade.

I would be glad to join in bringing public pressure to bear against those practices, too, though local pressure is better than outsider pressure.

Here’s a photo from 7 August 2005, at a place where this process was taking place.   Gull Creek used to form a pretty little valley.   I had always liked the way the valley opened up into an alluvial floodplain, good for cropland, just as it reached the Kalamazoo River valley.    But now it has been taken over by a school and parking lots.  The old school was in town; this one is out in the country.


Jun 092011

I am reminded today of why a free-market conservative like myself does not vote for successful businessmen on election day, especially those businessmen like Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan.      According to Wednesday’s WSJ, Snyder is in favor of consolidating local units of government.   He’s no better than his predecessor, Jennifer Granholm, who wanted to take over township governments.

His budget director is quoted as saying, “”You do have to ask: ‘Boy, do we really need 1,800 units of government?’  Everybody likes their independence, and that’s nice to have. But if you’re not careful, it can cost you a lot more money.”

  1. No, that’s not a question he needs to ask.   That’s a question that citizens of those units of government may need ask, but that’s not a question that has to be asked centrally.
  2. Anything can cost you a lot of money if you’re not careful.   One thing that can cost big time is consolidation of local governments to save money.    If you consolidate local taxing authorities into one big tax authority, that just creates a bigger bully to bludgeon money out of unwilling taxpayers.    It’s better to have a bunch of smaller bullies who are jealous of their prerogatives, and who therefore serve a watchdog function on each other.   Taking all the watchdogs in the neighborhood and having them run together as a pack is not the way to secure our lives, liberty, and property.

No Leviathan Ankle-Biter award for Governor Snyder.  Instead he gets the first-ever Leviathan Toolkit award.

Jun 032011

I’ve long respected Dorothy Rabinowitz, especially after her diligence and persistence in the case of the Amiraults in Massachusetts.    I still respect her opinion, but I posted the following response to her statement that, “most Americans aren’t sitting around worried to death about big government—they’re worried about jobs and what they have in savings”:

I worry very much about what big government is doing to our savings and our jobs. It’s short-sighted and pointless to worry about jobs and savings without doing something about big government.

URL for the article.


Jun 032011

Today’s Leviathan Ankle-Biter award goes to the Whole Life Buying Club of Louisville, Kentucky.   Forty members defied a cease-and-desist order from the Food Security Nazis.    They put the following note on their milk cooler and took their quarantined milk home anyway:

I, the undersigned, hereby declare that I have taken my milk that comes from cows I own via private contract under the protection of the KY constitution (articles 1,2,4,6,10,16,26), and if the county health department would like to speak with me about this matter, I can be reached at the number given below.

I learned about this from Jerry Salyer at Front Porch Republic, in an article titled, “The War on Raw Milk.”  It’s good reading.   My own comment in response:

Statism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may make a consequential personal choice.

A corollary definition: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may trust his neighbor more than the state.

When I was growing up we often bought unpasteurized milk from local farmers precisely because it was unpasteurized. This became more difficult already in the 1960s, with the widespread use of bulk tanks and tighter inspections for Grade A milk, but we did it anyway. I’d sometimes be the one to walk over to a nearby dairy farmer’s milk room and dip some out of the bulk tank into a pail I had brought along. This was not exactly legal, but we had instructions on how to do it without risking any problems with the milk inspections. Such problems could incur considerable cost for the farmer.

Laws against the sale or purchase of unpasteurized milk do have one positive effect, though. They teach impressionable young minds that the regulatory state is more often stupid than not. They act as a preventative against unwarranted respect for government.