Monday, July 18, 2016

Womack as Chair Dashes Hopes of Anti-Trump Movement at Convention

Arkansas Congressman Steve Womack was the Chairman of the Rules Committee today. As Chairman, he acted to end the hopes of those Republicans seeking an alternative to Donald Trump as their party's nominee. He did so by blocking a motion for a vote to have a roll-call vote on another motion to "un-bind" delegates. That is, many delegates are bound by party rules to vote for Trump on the first ballot even if they personally would prefer someone else.

UPDATE: New story with more details here.

Womack as Chairman declared that the voice vote was for keeping the delegates bound. A state delegation from the floor challenged that determination and asked for a roll-call vote. A majority of delegates from seven states are required to force a roll-call vote. Womack told the Colorado delegation that only six states supported it. The Colorado Chair said that ten state delegations had agreed to support it, and wanted to know who the states were so he could tell who did not keep their word. Womack refused to tell him and tried to go on with business. The state delegation for Colorado walked off in protest.

Arkansas Republicans seem to be the staunchest supporters of Donald Trump in the Union. The Governor is speaking at the convention, as is the Attorney General and Senator Tom Cotton. Ex-Governor Mike Huckabee will also be speaking. And now Congressman Womack uses his Chairmanship to deny a roll-call vote on what would have been the most controversial issue of the night. I am amazed how fast the top of the Arkansas Republican party went from cool towards Trump to carrying more water for him than anybody.

Libertarians to Field Candidate in Special Election for State House

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Max Brantley Has His Own Facts on Gas Bust

I was amused to see this today on Arktimes:

Fact: A higher severance tax wouldn't have discouraged exploration in the boom years and it didn't prevent the exodus of the exploration companies when market forces dictated it was time to go. The tax was always a marginal issue, except in what it could have produced for lasting benefit in the state.

Well, no. Those are not facts at all. They are opinions. Ill-informed opinions at that, and placing the word "fact" in front of ill-informed opinions does not make them any more factual.

The facts on Arkansas' severance tax for natural gas are outlined here. We had a very low tax rate for natural gas extraction when the boom started. Once the companies came here Gov. Beebe and his cohorts in crime increased the tax rate 10,000%. How do you think any business considering expanding to our state would think about that? If you saw the state of Arkansas increase tax rates on a specific business 10,000% in one year as soon as that business had sunk a lot of capital expenditures into the state would you be in a hurry to come here?

The massive increase in tax rates combined with a fall in gas prices and the profile of most of our gas wells all contributed to a 10% decline in revenues the following year. Can you imagine how much economic activity had to drop in order for revenues to go down from a tax whose rate had increased 10,000%? Brantley asserts as "fact" that the tax rate was "always a marginal issue" but even if it was, a lot of business deals are decided on the margin. If you are going to make ten cents on the dollar spent, but Arkansas wants five cents of that dollar in new taxes, then you just lost half you profit. Why not go next door and use your capital to dig wells over there?

I will say I agree that more attention needs to be paid to the environmental protection part of the equation, and also that Right of Way laws in Arkansas can be embarrassingly favorable to the corporate entity which wants to come through and very lax in upholding the rights and interests of property owners- unless you are one of the good ole' boys I am sure. Then allowances will be made. In short, my opinion, which I do not confuse here with fact, is that there may need to be some law and policy changes regarding energy distribution in Arkansas, but raising the gas severance tax is not one of them,

Thursday, July 14, 2016

GOP Convention Speaker's List Heavy on Arkansas Ties

Now I see an even longer list of speakers has appeared, with Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton on it as well. It looks like the Arkansas Republican Establishment has bought into "Making America Great Again"

The Republican Party has released a list of speakers for their convention in Cleveland. While many prominent Republicans have refused to attend the convention, three of the 67 speakers have Arkansas ties. Former Governor (and current Florida resident) Mike Huckabee, current Governor Asa Hutchinson, and current Attorney General Leslie Rutledge are on the speaker's list. Hutchinson has been quoted as saying he will be given a "prime time" spot. That despite is strong endorsement of Marco Rubio during the campaign.

Here is the whole list.....

Pastor Mark Burns                                                     
Phil Ruffin                                                               
Congressman Ryan Zinke                                        
Pat Smith                                                                  
Mark Geist                                                                
John Tiegen                                                             
Congressman Michael McCaul                                 
Sheriff David Clarke                                                 
Congressman Sean Duffy                                        
Darryl Glenn                                                            
Senator Tom Cotton                                                   
Karen Vaughn                         
Governor Mike Huckabee                                       
Mayor Rudy Giuliani                                              
Melania Trump                                                         
Senator Joni Ernst                                               
Kathryn Gates-Skipper                            
Marcus Luttrell                                         
Dana White             
Governor Asa Hutchinson   
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge    
Michael Mukasey 
Andy Wist          
Senator Jeff Sessions        
Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn   
Alex Smith         
Speaker Paul Ryan    
Congressman Kevin McCarthy 
Kerry Woolard .
Senator Shelley Moore Capito 
Dr. Ben Carson
Co-Chair Sharon Day

Natalie Gulbis
Kimberlin Brown
Antonio Sabato, Jr.
Peter Thiel
Eileen Collins
Senator Ted Cruz
Newt Gingrich
Michelle Van Etten
Lynne Patton
Eric Trump
Harold Hamm
Congressman Chris Collins
Brock Mealer
Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn
Governor Mary Fallin
Darrell Scott
Lisa Shin
Governor Rick Scott
Chairman Reince Priebus
Tom Barrack
Ivanka Trump
Attorney General Pam Bondi
Jerry Falwell Jr.
Rabbi Haskel Lookstein
Chris Cox
Senator Mitch McConnell
Tiffany Trump
Governor Chris Christie
Donald J. Trump Jr.
Governor Scott Walker

Sunday, July 03, 2016

The Price of Deception in Arkansas is Now $150 Million per Month on Arkansas Works

Obamacare in Arkansas has been sold with one lie after another for the last three years. I started to go back and add links to all the deceptions, distortions, bribes and falsehoods which have been used to keep Arkansas in this program, but my life is too full for that. Most people who want to know it already know it anyway. Those who don't want to know it cannot be convinced with more facts. Their hearts are hardened to the truth and the heart problem must first be addressed before they become willing to admit truth. For those few who truly have not heard, here is one article demonstrating that our ruling class had to engage in massive welfare fraud in order to make the scam that we call the "Private" Option or "Arkansas Works" look somewhat reasonable for a while.
Most of the deception has come from Republicans, since Democrats don't normally need any lies to sell this program. They are up for using the state to loot their wealthier neighbors and impose generational slavery through debt anytime. It is the Republican voters that needed to be lied to, and the Republican Party of Arkansas through its elected officials has dedicated a tremendous amount of effort to that task. There are a few exceptions, like State Senator Bryan King with the rest of The Magnificent Seven in the Senate. For most of them though, its been shuck-and-jive to their constituents for the last three years.
In this case though, they were given mis-information. How can they vote correctly if the information on which they based those votes was incorrect? I am accustomed to the legislature, the supposed "People's Branch" being treated like mushrooms. They would vote based on one set of numbers, and then as soon as the vote was over we would learn that another set of numbers was closer to the truth. In April they voted to fund this program. Then numbers came out in May which when investigated closely reveal just what a farce the "savings" from this program were. Now we learn that even the numbers which came out in May underestimate the true costs of this program by $300 million over five years. 
This is false advertising. The legislature votes in April based on one set of numbers, then another set of numbers immediately comes out which shows that they voted on bad information, but two months later more numbers come out which shows that even those numbers were too generous. 
Would it have changed the votes of any legislator? Not if they wanted to be lied to, and I think that is where a lot of them are. A lot of them want the Governor's office and the Stephen's group to provide them bad information if that is what it takes to support this program. They want to be lied to because it helps them lie to you. 
But before you get indignant toward them because they want a comforting lie instead of the painful truth, ask yourself a hard question: are we doing the same when we expect the Republican Party to say "no" to this sort of wasteful government spending? Do we just play a game with ourselves when we say "we voted for them and they fooled us again?" How many times must we be fooled until it is our fault for continuing to vote for their candidates instead of facing the truth about what they are, even if its hard? 
I have long supported the idea of candidates for the state legislature running as independents, and local groups banding together to get our own access to the ballot under our own label. Republican legislators will normally feel some pressure to cooperate with a Republican Governor rather than the folks back home. Your legislator should work for you, not the Governor. Self-government is work. That is the truth. But it is a truth that we need to face

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Columnist Attacks the Character of Gun Rights Advocates

This morning Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Columnist Philip Martin attacked the character of Arkansans who support the Constitutional (from both state and federal constitutions) right to keep and bear arms without further violations. He did this in a column entitled "Where are the Good Guys?" He suggests that if you don't support more restrictions on gun ownership then you are not one of "The good guys". "Good guys" in his view are those who want us to enact more restrictions on gun ownership and in so doing move us closer to a government monopoly on firepower. And the Democrat-Gazette gives platform and place to his views in preference to the views of someone such as you or I.

His column represents an attempt to drive a wedge between gun owners who are insistent that the government respect the Rule of Law concerning our gun rights and those who are open to some "minor" infringement on those rights so that they won't be called out as a bad person by establishment media hacks like Phillip Martin. His column dismissed out of hand the idea that the gun owners who want no further restrictions on firearms could be "good guys." He writes, though I added bold font to some of the quote:

I don't care how many times you saved the lives of others and yourself because you had steely courage and a fast draw. I don't find you credible. Maybe if one of you had told me a story about how once having access to a gun came in handy, I might think, "OK, these things happen. There's that side of it." But all of you guys are superheroes? All of you are so calm and collected (and yet so intemperate in your response to what are, after all, only words)? All of you are so brave (and humble)?
All you sheepdogs, with nothing but scorn for us sheep.

You see, not only are you not one of the "good guys" who will consent to further restrictions on the right you inherited from your forefathers, you have no "credibility". He rejects your credibility, and apparently so do his Patrons at this state's flagship establishment newspaper since they provide him the platform to disseminate his contempt for you.. If you have personal information contrary to what Phillip Martin chooses to believe then he just waives his hand and decides you are all lying and that is that.

To be sure he spends plenty of print beating around the bush, and making carefully measured statements before his invective leaks out, but he can't hide what he is trying to do. He admits we have the right to bear arms, but wants to divide us into those who will volunteer to give some of those up (the good guys) to the government and those who insist that the government infringe no further than they have already (who are not the good guys). Divide and conquer.

I see it very differently than Mr. Martin because I am not just looking at last week's headlines. I am looking at the last one hundred years of history. When I do I see very clearly that those in power use that power to kill the citizens they govern in order to keep power. Places where the citizens are well-armed are exceptions to this bloody pattern. In the 20th century over 262 million persons were killed by their own government. That is equal to fifteen Orlando massacres each and every day for one hundred years! I see most of the Bill of Rights have been greatly whittled away and I am convinced that were it not for the second amendment that process would be much further along. Gun owners, in particular those who own military-style guns, serve us all as a insurance policy to keep Americans off the list of the 262 million people murdered by their own government. They are heroes whether they stop a rapist or not, because they deter tyranny.

Rocker Frank Zappa once said “The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.

I would only add to his words that the ruling class would strongly prefer that the rest of us be separated from our guns before this happens. No wonder the lesson they want us to get from a situation where they let in a million Muslims of violent disposition from around the world, and when the son of one of them goes insane and kills 50 people; after the FBI interviews him twice and clears him; after he works for a Federal contractor providing "security"; after his ex-wife says he is violent and beat her; after one gun store refused to sell him stuff and another immediately called the local police after they sold him stuff to warn them; after all that I say- the ruling class and the media has determined that the problem is that We the People have too much access to guns. The system failed at every level yet their diagnosis is not that they are incompetent and should be replaced or change their policies. They think the problem is that we have too much freedom. We have too much access to the guns necessary to protect our loved ones from both ordinary criminals and those who come in the name of the state.

If Phillip Martin wants to know where the "good guys" are he should look at the patriots that he is trying to browbeat into surrendering their birthright to an increasingly morally and fiscally bankrupt Total-State. The ones resisting him and his employers are the ones doing the most to restrain the evil of government run amuck, as well as lessor criminals from time to time. The ones resisting the pressure to cave are the good guys, the brave ones, the ones who will keep us freer from oppression than we would be if we listened to the pleas of guys like Phillip Martin. His blandishments are for the weak, the cowardly, the easily cowed and intimidated, those who move in herds rather than think for themselves. In short, for those who do not deserve to be free and who will not be free unless they are made so by the sacrifices of men and women who resist ignorant verbal abuse such as Martin's column and hang onto their arms.

Judges Should be Elected Not Selected

After a long and happy abstinence I had occasion this morning to read a John Brummett column advocating that our State Supreme Court Justices be selected, not elected. This is an absolutely terrible idea, as are so many of those which emanate from the mind and keyboard of Mr. Brummett. But unfortunately, the idea is not his alone. He raised the subject because the state bar association is about to suggest that our legislature refer an amendment to the voters to end elections for our State Supreme Court Justices. Instead, the Governor would "choose" between one of three candidates offered up by a panel of lawyers. Unfortunately the same legislature that gave us last cycle's phony "ethics reform" bill might send this one up too.

Do we have problems with our judiciary in this state? Yes. Special interests with money have disproportionate influence with the Judicial branch, just as they do with the other two branches. But this "cure" will be worse than the disease. We the People would have less responsibility for our own government as this would be passed off to a small group of unaccountable experts. It is a solution for slaves, and an "answer" only for the slothful who groan at the burden of living as a free person responsible for their own governance.

He writes that they should ask people to "be smart enough to accept the premise that they aren't informed enough to vote for state Supreme Court justices." I do accept that premise. What I don't accept is that this idiotic proposal is the cure to that problem. The replacement process suggested by Brummett and these lawyers is very similar to, but even less accountable to the people than, that process which has given us our present federal Supreme Court. That is, the same court which does not even understand what marriage is, but is so confident enough in their ignorance that they impose their trendy prejudices on the rest of us at the point of a federal bayonet. If you want judges to be more arrogant and over-reaching than they presently are, then support the plan which Brummett suggests.

As I said at the first, I agree with his premise. We don't have the information necessary to make good choices about our state supreme court justice candidates. But the solution to this problem is not to take the decision out of the hands of those of us who must live under their rulings. The solution is to remove the very deliberate obstacles which have been erected to prevent us from obtaining this necessary information. When the government calls something "ethics" in Arkansas, you better look out. In this case the "Arkansas Code for Judicial Ethics" does not allow a candidate for the state supreme court to talk about anything related to how they might have ruled on any case, past, present, or future. About all they can do is give you their credentials and say they will try to be fair. Anything else is a violation of the "Code of Ethics" which can get them fined and disbarred.

It's no wonder we "aren't informed enough to vote for state Supreme Court justices". The candidates are banned by law from informing us! That is what needs to change, not the method by which they are put in office. Brummett himself endorsed Courtney Henry based on who her family was- which family she divorced out of the moment she was elected, because under our system we have nothing else to go on. I actually agree with Brummett on the root problem. Regarding solutions, we are utterly opposed.

I understand why a judge cannot talk about how they might rule on a future case, but there is no reason why they can't write an opinion on the legal reasoning from a ruling from the past. I have one savvy friend who asks candidates about their "world view" as a substitute for asking their opinions on past cases, but we should know what they thought of the legal reasoning in past cases. Someone might argue that this would prejudice them in future cases if the same case from the past was a part of the proceedings. I find such arguments disingenuous. These people have viewpoints whether they tell us in advance or not. As the people who will have to live under their rulings, I demand to know what those viewpoints are before we elevate them to high office. My solution is to repeal the section in the constitution on "Judicial Ethics" so that candidates for Judge can talk about their view of the legal reasoning in past cases.

The other thing which must be done is to get an honest and thoughtful media in the state of Arkansas. We are mis-informed about judges just as we are mis-informed about all candidates for all offices in this state by an establishment media which insists on giving us voices like John Brummett instead of letting us hear from people who actually understand things. Fortunately, bloggers are becoming the real media in this state and the old media is starting to fade. That process must continue or we will never have good government in this state. We can't improve things by listening to the same media which has kept us backwards for so long- and in parts of the state which are doing well, we mostly don't!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Medicaid Expansion: When Numbers Collide with Narrative

Please click on pic to get a larger view

State Senator Bryan King is passing around an interesting chart which he asked the Arkansas Bureau of Legislative Research to prepare. Please click on the image to get a larger view. Proponents of the state's Medicaid Expansion under Obamacare, whatever they are calling it these days, keep directing our attention to the spending line items that have been lowered by the program.  They then demand that the critics of the program tell them where they would get the money to replace these "missing" savings from the state budget if we end it. This chart shows that there would be no missing savings from the state budget. Line items that have been reduced are off-set by line items that have been increased in order to implement and administer the program.

Total Medicaid related spending, using both federal and state money, shows explosive growth. In 2013 this spending was about $4.6 billion dollars. This year, three years later, around $7.2 billion dollars of taxpayer money will be spent in this category. That is an increase in excess of 50%! They disguised this growth by taking spending that was in one program and divided it between the old and the new program. Yes it looks like spending on the old program went down, because a lot of that spending has moved over to the new one. Total spending is way up.

Once you zoom out past the shell games and sleight of hand, all of this program does on net is pass out a whole lot of federal money, much of it borrowed, to a sliver of our own population. That is a good deal for them but a bad deal for everyone else- especially the next generation who are also expected to pay for this.

Notice on the top half of the chart that total state funds spent (for Medicaid related spending) does not go down from 2012, when we had not expanded Medicaid, to the present year. Instead, total spending trends up. We are not spending less state money because we expanded Medicaid. We are spending more. Spending for "Traditional Medicaid" went down but total state spending for Medicaid related stuff went up. The drop in traditional Medicaid came from starting a second Medicaid program called "the Private Option" or "Arkansas Works" and shunting a lot of people from the old to the new program. The feds were paying for 100% of the premium costs for the second program during the first three years.  In theory that was supposed to save state government money, at the expense of the federal budget.

The theory did not work out in practice as you can see from the chart. Sure state dollars spent on one line item went down, and a new federal budget line showed up with many more dollars being spent. But other state budget lines increased even while the "traditional Medicaid" number went down. The reason is simple. Even if the feds were paying 100% of the cost of benefits for the first three years of the new program, there are a lot of other expenses involved with administering a new program. Adding 250,000 people to the government rolls costs serious money beyond the cost of benefits paid. Administering the program is costly, even if FEDGOV is paying the non-administrative costs.

This year is the "high-water mark" for the program in terms of benefits to the state budget. Starting next year, Arkansas is going to have to shoulder 5% of the cost of paying benefits while retaining the burden of administering the program. That is why the chart shows the total state spending for Medicaid related stuff will be $120,000,000 higher in 2017 than it is this year. And its only going to get worse through 2021 because our share increases each year.

The bottom line is, not only did the state's ruling class have to commit welfare fraud on a massive scale in order to make the numbers look as good as they did, the fact is that the total numbers don't look good. Proponents have to play a shell game with the accounting in order to make it seem like the program is saving the state money. When you factor in all costs, it is a bad deal for the state as a whole and it is getting worse. 

Thursday, June 02, 2016

The Universe is Expanding Faster than Expected.

According to this study. I found it interesting because it fits into some ideas I have about a Unified Field Theory. If you are a physicist who can do the math, contact me and let's split the Noble Prize!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"Arkansas Works" Has Only Been Sustained By Welfare Fraud

Last year I asked the question "Is Arkansas' Ruling Class Committing Welfare Fraud on a Massive Scale?" The subject was the way the Beebe administration, and the Hutchinson Administration for that matter, was operating Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. While I may have asked questions, there was no doubt in the mind of State Senator Bryan King. "It's a scam." King said flatly.

New information strongly suggests that he was correct. We don't think of elected officials who we may know socially, or business leaders operating some of the most trusted brands in our state, of being scam artists. Yet the evidence suggests something like that has been going on here for years. The main difference is that instead of just a single operator committing welfare fraud, this was a large number of people who all acted together to do so. Its harder to pin the blame on any one person this way. Attempts to hold people responsible can be met with an endless circle of pointed fingers.
We have contempt on the person who scams the system to collect a welfare check when they have a job on the side. They are welfare cheats. But it turns out that some of the most admired and respected people in our state are also welfare cheats, doing things that in principle normal people would and do go to prison for.
Arkansas' program, call it the "Private" Option or "Arkansas Works",  handles the money differently than most state's Medicaid Expansions. Instead of paying medial providers directly when they render services, this plan pays premiums to a private insurer whether there is any service provided or not. The insurer then uses most but not all of those premium dollars to pay medical service providers. 
A recent Andy Davis article from the Demo-Zette, if you read between the lines, shows how fraud is essential to maintaining this program. The subject was the proposed 14.7% premium increase the providers were asking for. And that was just the average. QualChoice had more "Private" Option enrollees by percent and so they were asking for a bigger increase in premiums by percent. United Healthcare, one of the largest providers in the nation, recently announced that they were leaving the state and would no longer offer an Arkansas Works insurance plan.
I have to admit that I did not put the scam together until King recently pointed me in the right direction. The large premium increases should have tipped me off, but I was misled by the fact that ten other states are seeing even larger premium increases as Obamacare continues to do what central planning always does, every time, without exception- fail. It fails because people find ways to game the system, and are more nimble than the system. They can exploit new rules faster than the system can enforce them.
In this case, the political establishment in this state, Republican and Democrat, broke the law to game the system. This was not some high-school dropout in Forrest City doing it, this was the upper crust doing it. They also violated federal law in the process because they failed to vet the eligibility of people in the program. They auto-enrolled everyone they could, accepted the rest, and basically never checked anything. Then they bragged about how many people were in the program. And the Federal Government was paying premiums to Arkansas insurers for each and every one of them. If someone was dead, they were still paying. If they were in prison, they were still paying. If they were an illegal alien who moved back to Mexico, they were still paying. If they won the lottery or got a job with health insurance, they were still paying. If someone was ineligible for the program, they did not want to know because they got "free" money from Washington for every enrollee.
Arkansas insurers were getting premium payments from Washington (actually from the next generation because this thing is largely funded by generational looting). The state was getting a share of it because the premium dollars were taxed as income. This was, and is, welfare fraud on a massive scale.
Once they were finally forced to look, the state discovered that 25,000 enrollees in the Arkansas Blue Cross Plan were not eligible. That was ten percent of the total number in the "Private" Option and it does not even count the ineligible ones in the United Health Care and QualChoice plans! Further, they have not even looked at the eligibility of all of the enrollees, only those who have been in the program for more than a year. The odds are very strong that they will find thousands, or even tens of thousands, more who are ineligible once they bother to look at the eligibility of those who have enrolled in the past year.
Arkansas Works cannot work without defrauding the Federal Government. It needs the premium dollars from all those ineligible people who are enrolled in the program but not making any claims because they are dead, moved out of the country, found a job with health care etc.... That must have been what United Health Care realized. They are a national outfit, so they had the option of fleeing the state. Arkansas Blue Cross and QualChoice are neck deep in revenues obtained by fraud, but they are Arkansas companies who have no place else to go. 
The reason these companies need a 14.7%, or 23% in the case of QualChoice, increase in their premiums is because they are no longer getting premium payments for dead people, prisoners, those who have left the state, and those who have obtained health coverage from their job. These insurance companies were getting money for this huge pool of people who never used their services and who in fact were not eligible for them.. It was pure profit- albeit profit obtained by illicit means. Now that many of those people have been taken off the roles the insurance companies find they can't cover the persons who are actually using the program with the premium dollars allotted. Combine this with the underlying inflation in health care costs, and the numbers don't add up.
The article said that the average monthly cost of a person on the "Private" Option/ Arkansas Works was $528.97 vs. $548.19 for those on traditional medicaid. This statistic, like almost everything else about this program, is deceptive. For one thing, when someone applied for the "Private" Option that was really sick, we sent them to traditional Medicaid instead. So for the past four years traditional Medicaid has been getting the high cost people that they did not want on the Scam Program. In addition, the traditional Medicaid rolls still have some fraud in them, but the state actually cared about rooting it out of that program, so the level of fraud is far from the massive levels present in the scam program. 
That fraud held the overall cost per person down because it included premiums from dead people who never filed a claim, prisoners who never filed a claim, and the like. If the numbers corrected for those two factors, the "Private" Option / Arkansas Works would be much more expensive per person. It just stands to reason that you can't build a new Medicaid Program with a private facade in front of it as inexpensively as you can just build  the program without the facade.
Look, I am a Localist. I am not a fan of an intrusive federal government at all. But what has been done here, by some very prominent people in this state, is defrauding a federal program. People go to prison for that sort of thing, and they should go to prison. I don't want the FBI to come to Arkansas and start cuffing people. I don't want that. But I accept that it will be a necessary consequence of our political class committing massive fraud. They should end the fraud. Immediately. And since Arkansas Works won't work without the dollars from the fraud to prop it up, they should end that too.

Evidence Macro Evolution is Wrong Post #1842

OK, so I made up the number of posts, but scientists are making up stories about what the evidence suggests regarding macro evolution. The latest example involves the shockingly fast diversification of animal life in the seas after the great extinction at the Cambrian-Triassic boundary.

What happened was they found a fossil of an early Triassic creature called an Ichthyosaur. It had extremely derived features. What that means, in evolution-speak, is that a new sort of generalized type of creature comes along, and as it fills into niches it develops features more suited for that niche. Those are "derived" features. This one had such features, but it showed up too early in the fossil record. Within a million years of the explosion of the type. There is just no way such large complex animals are supposed to come on the scene and diversify that fast. OR as they put it..

Its discovery suggests that early ichthyosaurs evolved rapidly within the first million years of their evolution, during the early Triassic, the researchers wrote in the study. This is in contrast to the millions of years that researchers originally thought it took for these sea creatures to evolve

I think its another case of their finding the fingerprints of the Creator in action, but their naturalistic world view won't let them do science- they won't follow the evidence wherever it leads. They can only consider naturalistic evolution as an explanation no matter how poorly it fits the facts.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Hole in the Budget Apparently Meant the Budget for New Highway Spending

A few months back Governor Asa Hutchinson said that if the state did not keep taking Obamacare money that it would "blow a $200 million dollar hole in the budget." The legislature voted to stay in Obamacare so as to continue taking money from the deeply troubled program.

That was a few months ago. We now learn from a Demo-Zette article that the Governor plans to budget 25% of the state's budget "surplus" into aggressive new spending on highways. He estimates that amount to be $48 million dollars annually.  So we go from panicked cries of a $200 million dollar hole in the budget if we don't agree to stay on Obamacare, to a few months later the Governor talking about a "surplus" of such a magnitude that 25% of it equals $48 million. That means it would be about $192 million per year.

So while he was complaining about dire fiscal shortcomings if Arkansas did not continue the generational looting that is Obamacare, the truth of the matter was that Arkansas was collecting far more taxes than it needed to fund current operations. The Governor just wanted extra money, general revenue money, for his highway plan. Traditionally, highways have been financed by economic activity related to highways, such as fuel taxes and licence fees.

I used to complain when Governor Mike Beebe did things like this. He would claim there was a lack of money when he wanted to raise taxes, or claim there was plenty of money when he wanted to spend some. Then months or even weeks later legislators would discover the opposite was true. They had based their votes on information from the Governor's office- and that information was deceptive. Now it appears that the legislators cannot trust the budget information which comes from Governor Hutchinson's office. Neither can we. It is a shame, but it would be a bigger shame if I complained when Beebe acted in an under-handed manner but then said nothing when Hutchinson did the same thing. I should point out that many of these legislators wanted to be lied to and repeated the party line with gusto.

Look, the Highway Commission in this state is a deeply flawed way to allocate highway dollars. We should not put any additional money into this system until it undergoes fundamental reform. Remember we just (2012) gave them an additional half cent sales tax on top of their other funds, and now they want much more. Read this article from 2012 over that issue and to describe in more detail why our Highway Commission should be scrapped.

The bottom line is that if building more highways was the path to prosperity, we should already be prosperous because we over-spend on highways relative to our size and GDP. Instead we are struggling. Our growth engines are government (Little Rock) and Northwest Arkansas. Northwest Arkansas did not become a growth engine due to highways. Quite the opposite. First private business generated destinations worth going to, and eventually some highways followed.

So I do have some complaints about the system that the Governor is suggesting we pour this surplus into- its a wasteful system. But my biggest complaint is that he mislead the people and the legislature of this state by implying that we could not afford to leave Obamacare.  Now it turns out we have a huge surplus. He wants to spend it on highways. The legislators may have wanted him to lie to them, but I didn't. A lot of us didn't. My complaint is that we can no longer trust what he says about the budget.