Monday, April 02, 2018

Corporate Governance- How you almost got tricked out of a right to trial by Jury

Friday, March 02, 2018

The Problem With Primaries Will Presently Be Seen

Some of you that read this space know that I think political parties should nominate by caucus rather than primaries. There is no just reason I as an independent should pay for an election for private political clubs to select their nominees- especially since the parties get the filing fees!  It is in effect a taxpayer subsidy for the Republicans and Democrats, presumably in appreciation for the wonderful way they have mismanaged the country into colossal debt while those close to them get richer and the rest of us get poorer.

The population has the idea that this is the way the system is "supposed to work". But primary elections are not in the constitution. The parties have managed to arrange the election process to their own benefit, giving the public the impression that this is "our" process. But as the DNC argued in court last week, the people who run the club have no public legal obligation to conduct their primaries fairly- they only want to give people that impression so they will continue to buy in.

I have previously noted to activists who get incensed at all these special elections to sneak in bad things that "primaries are special elections" where the insider class who directly benefit from bigger government show up in greater proportions than regular taxpayers. I think we are about to see an example of that in the GOP Primary Governor's race where Jan Morgan is challenging the establishment incumbent Governor Asa Hutchinson.

Though Morgan could be said to face long odds, I want you to notice the special election for state senate district 16 (Russellville area). No matter how it ends up in the run-off, the first go-round was extremely close between the candidate Morgan supports, Bob Bailey, and the candidate Hutchinson supports, Breanne Davis. It was something like 41-43 with the balance of the vote going to the third candidate whose supporters might be expected to stay home or split between the other two candidates.

So if that race is a proxy for the GOP Governor's primary then its very close. And absent some bombshells between now and May I think it will be- in areas similar in profile to district 16. Is that most of the state? Geographically yes. But two places with lots of votes are not like the rest of the state- Pulaski County and Benton and Washington Counties. What's more all three of those contain large numbers of insider-thinking Democrat-leaning voters with a history of crossing over into Republican primaries when the need arises. Also consider that the Democrats have gone to great lengths to avoid any meaningful state-wide primaries. Dr. Bland was induced into getting out of the Secretary of State's race and switching to Lt. Governor for example. This leaves their insiders free to cross over and vote in the GOP primary. Don't think they won't. Its been happening in Benton County for years.

So what I expect to see is crony-capitalists and lefty-university types in northwest Arkansas swing those two counties over to the Governor. I expect those voters in Pulaski County whose livelihood is connected to expanding government to come to the Governor's rescue as well. He will be rescued by voters which are usually Democrat or simply mercenary. Most if not all of his margin could come from those three (out of 75!) counties. In order to overcome that Morgan will need not just a majority, but a large majority of the stalwart conservative grassroots types that you think of as "normal" Republican primary voters. Actual Republican primary voters are not who you may think they are, just as the party itself is not what you may think it is.

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Libertarian Line up

  • Governor- Mark West
  • Lt. Governor- Frank Gilbert
  • Secretary of State- Christopher Olson
  • Attorney General- Kerry Hicks
  • Auditor of State- David Dinwiddie
  • Commissioner of State Lands- TJ Campbell
  • U.S. House 1- Elvis Presley
  • U.S. House 2- Joe Swafford
  • U.S House 3- Michael Kalagias
  • U.S. House 4- Tom Canada
  • AR State Senate 5- Lee Evans
  • AR State Senate 8- William Hyman
  • AR State Senate 10- Bobbi Hicks
  • AR State Senate 17- Kevin Vornheder
  • AR State Representative 15- Wayne Willems
  • AR State Representative 17- Greg Maxwell
  • AR State Representative 30- Mitchell Fenton
  • AR State Representative 35- Bill Barger
  • AR State Representative 46- Drew Tanner
  • AR State Representative 67- Sandra Richter
  • AR State Representative 77- Stephen Edwards
  • AR State Representative 80- Casey Copeland
  • AR State Representative 87- Justin Jones
  • Benton County Judge- Ronnie Smith
  • Benton County Justice of the Peace 3- Trina Wilson
  • Benton County Justice of the Peace 7- Joseph Bollinger
  • Benton County Justice of the Peace 8- Jeff Wadlin
  • Benton County Justice of the Peace 9- Cody Martin
  • Benton County Justice of the Peace 12- Jacob Faught
  • Jefferson County Justice of the Peace 1- James Hood
  • Pulaski County Justice of the Peace 12- Jacob Deaver
  • Craighead County Constable- Chris Lutterloh
  • Pulaski County Constable- Mark Phillips
The Libertarian party would also like to welcome all who have questions to visit with their candidates at the Capitol.


Friday, February 16, 2018

Gov. Has Difficulty Getting Needed Votes Once Criminals Removed From Senate

I was amused to read this article from Arktimes talking about the need for a targeted special session to address specific issues, including possibly the re-authorization of funding for Medicaid expansion. The latter takes a 3/4ths majority, and at times over the past six years the margin has been close in the senate. This may be in part because Arkansas' version of Medicaid expansion has operated very much like a giant welfare scam.

There are three empty seats in the senate this special session. At least part of the reason is scandal. You might not be surprised to learn that the missing votes- including those driven from office because they got caught committing crimes, are people who would have voted for the scam program. Those missing voters from criminals who have been caught will hurt the Governor's chances. For some reason, the criminal vote supported his program! He may have to put the vote off until after special elections fill those seats with votes for his program- if it goes down that way.

The federal courts? The legislature continues to blow them off whenever they want. Judge Moody declared Arkansas' ballot access laws requiring independents to file their petition signatures unreasonably early to be unconstitutional. So filing period is about to start and our laws as they stand are unconstitutional. Yet there has been zero talk of adding bills for ballot access laws to the proposed special session. The courts are trying to defer to the legislature and give them every chance to do the right thing, but they don't seem interested.

Is Big River Steel Losing Money?

As some of you may remember, a few years back Governor Mike Beebe, with overwhelming support from our "pro-free market" Republican legislators, voted to shovel an incredible amount of money to a private business for them to start a steel mill in Northeast Arkansas. They even risked the teacher's pension fund by directing it to buy $50 million dollars worth of stock in this start-up. In 2013 I described that deal in an article entitled "Beebe Overbids the Most."

Obviously, I was against the anti-free market, crony-capitalist proposal but I don't count because I am just a regular person like you. The only difference is you complain about these things on Facebook and I write them down in a blog before I complain about them on Facebook.  The people who matter right now are officials of the Republican and Democratic parties.  This is because people like you keep voting for them, and participating in their primaries. Please stop doing that. They are destroying our state by your permission. But I digress.

The leadership of both political parties, in their superior wisdom, were united in deciding to blow us peasants off and do it anyway. Well, by the time the plant got operational in 2015 steel prices had collapsed due to massive oversupply as I documented here. This was perfectly predictable because taxpayers consistently get ripped off in these "pubic-private partnerships".

Now its 2018 and there is still a massive oversupply of steel globally. The U.S. is considering draconian steel tariffs that experts assure us will initiate a costly global trade-war. It is a risky and desperate move but it may be necessary to save what is left of our steel industry.

So does anyone know if "Big River Steel" is making a profit? A real profit, not a number pumped up by all those wheel-barrows of your tax dollars that they dumped into it? If they are not making a profit what is the value of the $50 million dollars in stock now? Bear in mind that last August they borrowed $1.255 Billion which was secured by their assets. At least some of that was for "working capital." If you are not expanding, and they are not, then why do you need to borrow money for "working capital" if you are making a profit? The answers may be hard to find because the mill seems to be owned by a private LLC that Bloomberg financial can't even find an address or phone number for.

This has all the classic signs of the instances where the insiders get a huge amount of capital raise, use it to buy stuff and then borrow against that stuff, and then give themselves large salaries and bonuses until it becomes clear that the operation was never really making a profit and was operating on borrowed money, a significant portion of which was skimmed by those operating it before it collapsed and left shareholders with nothing. Not say that is what is happening here, but if it was, this is what it would look like at this point.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

A Welcome Change in Tone After Lawsuit

As some of you know, I recently won a long and arduous law suit with the state over a ballot access law which unfairly discriminated against independents by moving the date they were required to submit ballot access petitions up to an unnecessarily early date. This date had been ruled unconstitutional several times before yet it still took four years of battling to get it thrown out.

Technically, the ruling just applied to me. I am permitted to file my petitions after the legal deadline and the law is declared unconstitutional- meaning the legislature should change it. Of course if it is wrong to hold me to that early date, it should be wrong to hold anyone else to it also. Initially the Secretary of State's office was a bit cagey, and frankly snarky, about the issue of how they would handle it if anyone else wanted to file petition signatures on the later, and constitutional, deadline.

It is my thinking that the Secretary has had a talk with the more partisan members of his staff because a follow-up article by Steve Brawner quoted them as saying "the new deadline is May 1st" for everyone. The difference in tone is pronounced. I invite you to read their original response in this link and compare it to the one in the Brawner article linked to above.

Taxing Americans to Pay Chinese Communists to Hire Some of Us

Government cannot, on the net, "create jobs". At its best it can only provide optimal conditions for those in the private sector to create jobs secure in the knowledge that no one, including the state itself, will loot the wealth that they generate by doing so. The other thing government can do is take capital from a large area and dump it in a small one, then loudly point to the jobs created where the capital was dumped while ignoring the job loss and economic drag produced in the larger area which was robbed of the capital. This happens a lot. The politicians who go around talking about what they will do to "create jobs" are either ignorant of basic economics or disingenuous. Many are both.

I was against corporate welfare when Mike Beebe did it with Big River "Steal" and the Windstream Fiasco. I was against it when Barack Obama did it with the Solyndra Scam, and I am also against it when Governor Asa Hutchinson does it on behalf of Chinese Communists/Cronies. If these projects were compelling ideas, someone in the private sector would do them with private capital and without looting the taxpayers. The taxpayer costs of the Shandong Sun paper mill proposed in Clark County are outrageous. These global companies get states to bid against each other and the politician who gets the project is the one who overbid the most. And believe me there is a lot of over-bidding going on because they are not using their own money, they are using taxpayer money to buy themselves publicity for "creating jobs".

There is no net economic sense, and less justice, in taxing the owner of your local hardware store so that the state can spend millions to lure Lowe's in to open a store that puts him out of business. Our economy is being grossly distorted towards giant corporations and away from small business by these practices. All the existing small businesses are taxed so that a few high-profile giants can get subsidized. If you were thinking of starting a small business, would you choose Arkansas? With these misguided policies businesses will not want to come here unless they are among the privileged few with taxpayer subsidies. Everyone else pays the subsidies. You are either feasting at the table or you are on the menu. It is sick, it is immoral, and it is destructive.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Early Deadline for Independents Ruled Unconstitutional

I was the plaintiff in this case. I imagine I will have a lot more to say about it, but this article in the Demo-zette was fair so I will let them tell it for now....

Sunday, January 21, 2018

NSA "Regrets" Deleting More Documents

If the IRS ever audits you and demands past documentation, just tell them what the NSA and FBI tell Congress. That ought to work.....

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Pet Peeve - Evading Dialogue through Appeal to Authority

"By any chance, does your claim appear in the scholarly literature?" - this is the trendy way that people who cannot address your arguments evade having to do so. It is really just the other side of the fallacy of "appeal to authority" formed as a question. Instead of using an appeal to authority to make a point, they use it to avoid having to consider one. 

They can insulate themselves from any claims that are outside their preferred academic circles. If you do happen to have some applicable scholarly literature they will invariably start looking for some reason why your chosen scholar doesn't qualify to rate being considered. Indeed it is probable that no scholar whose research contradicted their previously held opinions would be "qualified", because the primary motive for the charade is to insulate themselves from have to address the evidence for ideas which conflict with their own.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

More UAMS Lay Offs?

Looks like UAMS wants to cut the lean at the bottom to keep the fat at the top. It is really a shame the system has the spending priorities that it has because when I say that higher-ed is over-funded in this state I don't mean higher-ed for medical training. Indeed, as Obamacare continues its slow painful collapse I think we are going to have a bigger need than ever for student-staffed, doctor and nurse run clinics in various parts of the state as a big part of the way to fill the gap. At least we could have if we would prepare that way. Sadly, the vision isn't there because hospitals and insurance companies like the current set-up just fine- even if its unsustainable.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Independent Ballot Access Battle Update