Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Rash of Wal-Mart Bomb Threats

I have not heard any coverage of this from the national news, but if you put together all the local stories a disturbing pattern emerges.   Some person or group of persons is dialing in bomb threats to Wal-Marts in at least five states.   Here is a partial list of the stories, which do get local coverage.   So far as I know Arkansas, the location of Wal-Mart world headquarters, is not among the states where this is happening, but a lot of the incidents have been in Missouri, which is just across the line from Benton County Arkansas.   Wal-Mart also has a highly secure command center in southern Missouri.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Scalia and FOX get Scary on Gun Control

WALLACE: What about… a weapon that can fire a hundred shots in a minute?
SCALIA: We’ll see. Obviously the Amendment does not apply to arms that cannot be hand-carried — it’s to keep and “bear,” so it doesn’t apply to cannons — but I suppose here are hand-held rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes, that will have to be decided.
WALLACE: How do you decide that if you’re a textualist?
SCALIA: Very carefully.
Justice Scalia is scary wrong to me in this interview- but not for the reason some might think. It does not scare me that he speaks as if he is willing to consider making it legal for citizens to keep and bear rocket launchers.   What scares me is that he believes that the federal courts of the United States have any authority at all to determine the extent of our gun rights.  
If he was really a textualist based on original intent, he wouldn't.   He would instead say "the Federal Government is constitutionally prohibited from performing any act which might infringe on the pre-existing right of the people to keep and bear arms.   Since this is so, neither I nor any other federal employee have any authority whatsoever to determine how or if arms are to be regulated amongst the several states."
Let this sink into your head, the amendments in the Bill of Rights were never meant to be applied to the states.   They were restrictions on the federal government only.   The first amendment, which sets the tone, specifically says that “Congress” shall make no law.   States had restrictions on speech, laws against blasphemy, and even state sponsored churches long after the ratification of the bill of rights.  Clearly, the founders did not consider these state interventions, which were clearly prohibited to the federal government under the first amendment, to be any restriction whatsoever upon the states. 
This is not to say these are sound polices, and most states eventually adopted state constitutions which impacted these interventions, but my point is that the original intent of the Bill of Rights was to bind the federal government exclusively, not the governments of the states.
How does the third amendment, about the quartering of troops in homes, apply to states which were not allowed under the constitution to even keep troops?  Even where it does not specify which body is restricted, the intent was that the federal government be restricted, not the states.  The whole purpose of the Bill of Rights was to bind up the central government, not those of the states. 
Consider that almost all states, even those brought into the union after the Constitution and Bill of Rights were ratified, had provisions similar to the first, second, and forth amendments in their state constitutions.   If the amendments of the Bill of Rights were meant to bind the states, why would states need such provisions in their own constitutions?   Clearly, they would not.   The original ten amendments to the Constitution were meant to bind the federal government only, not the states.
If the possession or bearing of arms is to be regulated, it should be the states which regulate them, and in accordance with the restrictions present in their own constitutions.

I am going to be crystal clear on this: Yes RPGs and guns that can shoot 100 rounds a minute are scary, but that is exactly the kind the people need to be able to possess, because that's what our government has to arm their foot soldiers with.   

The whole point of the 2nd amendment is that, as a last resort, the people would be able to rise up and resist a tyrannical central government.  You can't do that if you only have muskets and they have machine guns.  If the ultimate purpose of the citizens keeping arms is to place a check on government tyranny, then as the firepower of the government soldier goes up, that available to the citizen must also increase.

We'd better start figuring out how to exercise our right to keep and bear such arms in a way that we don't turn them on one another, but still insure they are available to fulfill their intended purpose under the 2nd amendment. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

When Will QE Come?

"Quantitative Easing" was when the fed created a  bunch of money from thin air and used it to buy either its own longer term debt, or bought toxic assets from the banks.  The practice is effectively transferring wealth from the taxpayers to the big banks.      It gave the economy a very temporary and weak shot in the arm, the effects of which have now faded, leaving only the debt used to fund the money creation and a pile of toxic "assets".

QE failed to bring us out of the Great Recession.    Paul Krugman and others have argued that we just have to do it bigger, but that risks disastrous inflation.   What the Fed has tried to do is keep the stock market up with hints of a coming QE but then never actually pulling the trigger.   Stocks rally at the idea of future money being created, and in anticipation of that money flowing to stocks, some people buy stocks.   So far they have tried to boost the market by talking about unleashing a pile of borrowed money, without having to actually release the money.    Each time this trick is tried, it has less effect.

The big banks have rigged the game so that they win either way.  They win in inflationary times by getting early use of the money and by creating an environment where it is safer to highly leverage, since all asset values will tend to rise in those circumstances.    They win in deflationary times too though.   They win because in those conditions each dollar can buy more.   They loan dollars when each dollar is worth less and are repaid in dollars whose value is higher because dollars are harder to come by and prices of many assets are lower.     If they have enough capital, they will  be able to acquire assets on the cheap as some people crack under deflationary pressures and have to sell out for pennies on the dollar.

So they win under mild to moderate inflation, and they win under mild to moderate deflation.  Where they lose is if things swing too far either way.  If inflation gets so bad that people can't afford to borrow and the dollars they get back are worth significantly less than the original dollars loaned then the banks can lose.   If deflation gets so bad that defaults escalate and instead of getting back stronger, rarer dollars in loan payments they get no dollars back at all.

So what the global banks want- and increasingly it appears that "our" government is run by them, is alternate periods of mild to moderate inflation, followed by periods of mild to moderate deflation.   During inflationary periods, everyone is tempted to borrow to the hilt and rush out and buy, buy, buy.   You lose if you don't.  But during deflationary periods those people who borrowed all that money get strapped for cash.   Some of them don't make it and have to sell their assets for whatever they can get for them to try and pay off their debt.

Of course the heartland is suffering right now.   Lots of people are hoping for another QE in a hurry.   There are two problems with this.   One is that QE's do no lasting good, but they can do lasting harm.   There is lots of money sitting on the sidelines right now.   Average Americans don't have it, but the big boys do.   But they are not going to try to fight the government and the bankers.   If that side of this system hits "Ctrl +P" and prints, then they know that there will be a flurry of commercial activity, and they will jump in and increase the momentum.

That makes QE an even more dangerous game.    It's like the FED is walking a tightrope.   Go too far one way and you fall off on the deflationary depression side.  Go too far the other way and you fall off unto the hyperinflation side.   The U.S. economy is about to fall off unto the deflationary depression side, but if Bernake on that tightrope shifts to the inflation side, about 100 monkeys are gonna jump on the rope with him - and that could knock them all off into hyperinflation.

But it looks like the big banks have found a way to keep the deflationary screws on the rest of us without great risk to themselves.    Say they have 10 financial instruments on their books, say loans or a bundle of loans turned into "securities".    The economy is cracking up.   The heartland is hurting.  One of those loans goes bad.   The "security" has lost 80% of its book value.   So while the loans that are paying give the bank dollars whose buying power is increased due to asset deflation, this gain from deflation would be more than offset by the loss of dollars from the one that quit paying due to the deflationary collapse.  Except that the big banks own the government, and they take these non-paying loans to the FED's "discount window" and get a "loan" from it with the toxic asset as the "collateral" for the "loan."    The Fed won't even tell Congress what they gave for the collateral, but you can bet its a sweetheart deal far above the true market value of that instrument.

So with the current set-up the big banks have, they really don't have a great incentive for another "QE."   "QE" is just an a version of what they can do now on steroids.   As long as the defaults don't come at a bigger pace than they can stuff onto the taxpayer's books in the current system, they have incentive to keep us in a deflationary environment.    They can buy us out for bargain prices, and if any of us crack and quit paying on their loans, they can pawn those bad loans off on the taxpayer.   The big banks who control the government have no incentive to QE until it gets so bad that the standard channels by which they hand their bad bets off to the taxpayers becomes over-stuffed.

The government on the other hand, is a borrower.   They will continue to issue debt to pay for spending, so I expect to see continued inflation in everything the government sends money to, even while the private sector not connected to the government continues to deflate.    Medical care and higher education are two of the biggest recipients of government money.   These payments will not stimulate the economy so much as prop it up - until it snaps because the number of bean redistributors keeps growing while the amount of beans made by the bean producers is stagnant or even deflating.

So when will QE come?     Only when (and if) the Big Banks think they need it, not when the Heartland of America thinks so.    That would require a Black Swan event.   What we see now is biflation.  A collapse in price of things we need to borrow money for- such as homes and autos, and an increase in price in anything connected to the government or necessary for day to day living.     

The dollar is still in trouble long term, but it will not be solely due to overprinting, but rather a combination of overprinting combined with keeping the screws down tight on credit so that the underlying economy stagnates.   More dollars without more economic growth = each dollar worth less.   It won't be all from more printing so much as there is less economy underneath it to support whatever printing the government does, combined with a central bank balance sheet stuffed full of trash.     What wealth there is will be more and more concentrated in those close to the government and those close to the big banks.

As long as real interest rates are negative, and they are, I would still advise putting some money in silver or in gold.  But that is with what you can afford to hold.  Staying liquid is the priority right now.  You don't want to be among those forced to liquidate at a loss as the banksters attempt to squeeze every last drop they can out of this deflationary phase.    Without QE, metal holders may not see an overnight massive gain in value, but they will over time continue to see appreciation in a period when nominal interest is at essentially zero. 


Friday, July 27, 2012

Who Made that Happen?

God Creating the Universe to Operate By Laws in a 16th Century Work

 The dust has mostly settled from the "You didn't build that" brouhaha, but I haven't found anyone on either official side who has got this story right.    When the major media and official leaders from left to right fail to mention the cardinal truth of an issue, that's when I get motivated enough to make time and write. 

By now we all know the Obama quote “If you got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen,” Obama said. "If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive."  He also said that if you were successful it did not mean that you were smarter or harder working than anyone else, because a lot of people are smart and work hard.  

His viewpoint is not an isolated one.  Famed economist Elizabeth Warren has expressed much the same thought.   The gist of it is since government provided infrastructure such as roads, bridges, education etc.. they have a claim on any wealth created by people who use that infrastructure.    Government deserves the credit.   The other side of the issue has shown America one small businessman after another who has put in long, hard hours.  They are understandably insulted at government's efforts to take credit for their personal success as part of a crude effort to strong-arm them out of even more of their earnings.  The individual should get the credit.

What America has experienced here is a clash of two world views, one is radical collectivism, and the other is radical individualism.    But there is a third viewpoint that was once more widely held than either of those perspectives.   Sadly, the world view that was dominant in Western Civilization for centuries languished without an advocate in the strife and controversy over this issue.    I 'd like to speak up for it here.

Before I do, let's address why the two other views represent extreme positions that don't reflect reality.   The collective argument is easy to dispense with.   Not only did government infrastructure come as a result of taxpayer wealth, but every citizen had access to that infrastructure.   Some made much of that opportunity, others did little or nothing with that opportunity.    The difference was not the infrastructure, but what the individual choose to do with that opportunity.   If some other infrastructure was in place, they could well have succeeded in that environment. 

And of course, those individuals who succeed have contributed the previously agreed amount of their earnings to support that infrastructure.   They use the roads, but they also pay gasoline and vehicle taxes, as do the customers they attract.   It is more certain that government infrastructure owes its existence to the taxpayers, while the claim that taxpayers owe their wealth to government infrastructure is more dubious.  The whole argument of the collectivists cannot withstand the slightest intellectual scrutiny, but then again its not meant to- it's only meant to sound enough like reason to give the moral coward an excuse to participate in the government money-grab.

All that applies moreso before our failing post-modern economy came along.  Now global corporations increasingly do owe their profits to government intervention on their behalf.    I don't dwell on this model here because it represents a parasitical consequence of collectivism rather than an example of individual achievement.   In other words, the only places Obama's arguments have merit is amongst the Solyndra's and J.P. Morgan's of this world.   These entities do owe the wealth they have to their connections to the political system.  It's true that government "made that happen" for them- at the expense of the rest of us.   But those aren't the ones the Resident is looking to loot.   These types rather will be among the intended beneficiaries of his proposed future looting.

But Resident Obama does make one point that rings very true.   None of us are completely responsible for our own success.    For every person who worked hard and succeeded, there are many who worked just as hard and failed.  Sometimes that's the same person at various stages of life, for example Hershey's founder Milton Hershey who went bust in the candy business five or six times before he hit it big.   Nor are those who are successful any smarter than a lot of other people out there.      His claim is true, but it only supports his collectivist position if one believes that the only alternative to his radical collectivism is the radical individualism posited by the other side.  

The classical western position was based on scripture.   It held that our choices mattered, but so did God's favor.    The rich and the powerful did not attain their lofty status solely by their inherent superiority, or by their own efforts.   Nor did they attain this status through the government's imposed collectivist benefits.   Ultimately it was not the state which provided the infrastructure, the environment, and yes even the lucky breaks, that were essential to their success.   Rather, it was a blessing of God.   It did not necessarily mean they were better than anyone else, just more blessed in respect to the success of their business ventures.  

In fact, the scriptures taught that material wealth and power were not always a blessing.   For some, it was a test of character which they failed, a means by which the corruption they desired might be completed in them.   For every just government which came to power to protect people's rights their came over the unjust a tyranny necessary to keep a lawless population from doing one another even greater harm.   

Consider please the superiority of this balanced view of credit for human achievement over either the radical collectivist or radical individualist view.    With the collectivist view, they can say "1,000 smart people worked hard, 100 made it big, and 900 did not.  Since you all got there through our infrastructure, we are going to take wealth from those who made it big and spread it out among you all.  We would have done the same if a different 100 had made it, so really this is just social insurance.  And remember, you could not have done it without us anyway."   

On the other hand, the individualist view leads quite naturally to the conclusion, "I did this on my own, validating my superiority and greater work ethic.  Why should I give, even voluntarily, to those in need?  Let them earn it like I did.   And since I have demonstrated my superiority over the ignorant masses, I and my peers, the ones who matter, should be calling the shots.  Why the commoners would be better off if we were in charge.."   Such arrogance leads to a fall, but unless the weakness in the philosophy is addressed a new batch of would be god-men will spring up in their place to work new elitist mischief.    Even legitimate private charity will suffer under such a doctrine, to be replaced by a pitiless social Darwinism which creates its own blowback.

On the other hand, the balanced position that everything an individual has is ultimately the result of God's blessing their efforts leads to an attitude of humility and charity on the part of the successful.   This mind-set will lead to increasingly better relations and respect among the classes rather than the escalating enmity which we now see.    It will also protect the individual successful person from government looting on behalf of collectivist goals, for it turns their use of force to achieve equality of outcome into a battle against the order established by God himself.     The traditional western view of achievement and wealth is the only one which can protect us from both tyrannies- the tyranny of the collective and the tyranny of the oligarchs.  

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Connection Between Love and the Law

"Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold."
"Because disobedience will expand, the love of many will grow cold."
"and many people’s love will grow cold because of increased distance from Torah. "
Various translations of the words of Jesus concerning the last days in Matthew 24:12.   
While in most cases I don't want the government mandating moral behavior, I am a big proponent of moral behavior.   As such, I have been subjected to the usual abuses which go along with taking moral stands.   Many of them take some form of accusing me of not being as "loving" as those who are willing to accept, or even celebrate, behavior which scripture describes as sinful.   But of course, this is not the case at all.  Rather, it's an artifact of being able to see farther and therefore care more about the long term consequences of lawlessness of all types.  

I put this together while I played with my son on my lap.  It struck me that we have more unwanted children in America now than ever before. The very idea of an "unwanted child" seemed wholly alien to me.  "How can children be unwanted?" I thought to myself.   It was difficult for me to conceive that even this most natural of human affection could be made to grow cold. 

But of course, I am in a good marriage.  What if lawlessness reigned instead of virtue?  What if my partner was, instead of someone who took responsibility to help me raise these children, a lout who had abandoned them and me?   What if they had never been committed to me in the first place, but each of us were just looking for someone to use for a while?  What if I had the whole load and every thing about them that reminded me of the other parent was a cause for pain and not joy?     These are the circumstances that many young parents are in.    Because of the lawlessness they participated in, and the stress they encounter as a result, their love can grow cold.

Would I be a virtuous enough person to keep the love for my children from going cold in such an environment?    I can't say that I would be.   I don't consider myself better or stronger than such persons, but by the grace of God I made better choices.   Respect for the law, of God and Man, protected me from finding myself in a place where my love might grow cold.   

The same thing occurs in many ways.   Every kind of increase in lawlessness has the effect of making people's love grow cold.  Government welfare programs replace private charity, become abused, and those paying for them grow cold toward recipients while those receiving benefits lose their natural gratitude and affection for their benefactors.

I love the Law because I find it to be a trustworthy guidebook for people, and I love people.   Respect for and walking according to the law (so much as we can) provides a good life for most who do so, except when some outrageous misfortune occurs.    

And finally, this works out on the macro scale as well.   The very best defense against big government is a virtuous population.    1st Samuel Chapter 8 reveals, and other places in scripture confirm the lesson, that big government is a judgement of God.  When the Kingdom of God comes in its fullness, the only government will be self-government.    Virtuous people have no need of masters, government or otherwise.  It is the venal and corrupt who get themselves in trouble, and cry out for a political savior to deliver them.

There is a connection between love and the law.    We ignore this at our peril.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Did I Mention I was Running to Serve in Public Office?

Did I mention that I was on the ballot to serve in the office of State Representative?  No.  Well, it's true.   Those of you who have enjoyed reading me complaining about it for years can now help me do something about it.   I am running as an Independent.  I'll answer only to the people who elect me, not party bosses.  Here is the link to my campaign website.    The district is small enough that I don't think a party label is necessary anyway.  Political parties are necessary for people who have aspirations for big offices, not citizens content to serve in the state legislature.

The website establishes a more complete 'feeling tone' about who I am than even years of reading Arkansas Watch might do.   And the donate button works well too, hint hint.  If you are an Arkansas resident, the first $50 of donations is free to you because of the Arkansas Political Contributions Tax Credit.   So if its a choice between giving it to the state government or giving it to the candidate of your choice, why not send it to the candidate?     If you have enjoyed this online space I set up, I invite you to help me win this race, which I should think would only make things even more interesting around here.

Plan Accordingly

Rahm Emanuel is the one local leader who should know the most about Washington D.C.   He served as a Congressman, then as Chief of Staff for Resident Obama before resigning to run for and win, the office of Mayor of Chicago.   He says that Washington is dysfunctional.  To be specific on CBS this Morning he said "I'm gonna try to come up with different strategies to do a breakout because I'm not gonna get stuck in their dysfunctionality..."

You may not agree with Emanuel's politics, but I don't know anybody who doubts his intelligence or the quality of his data on this subject.   When he says that he is going to come up with different strategies to avoid being stuck in their dysfunctionality, then state and local leaders in this nation better pay attention- and plan accordingly.   Washington is dysfunctional, and the most heavily indebted entity in the history of humanity.   What Emanuel is saying here is that state and local leaders like himself better find new ways to solve problems that don't depend on Washington.

This man is a super-well connected hard-eyed realist.   He is not one to be alarmist.   If he says its this bad on national TV, you might do well to assume the reality is worse.    If he is not counting on Washington to help his city, the long-time home of his former boss and one of the crown jewels of the nation, then you can discount to nothing all the empty promises of what D.C. might do for the Heartland.

I write this because so many of our state legislators and city councils are locked into a business model that relies on continued funding and support from Washington.  Hear what Emanuel is saying folks.  We need to get away from that approach.   We need to do what he is suggesting and look at strategies to avoid getting stuck in Washington's dysfunctionality.   We don't want to be dependent on a corrupt system that is teetering on the brink.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Beebe & Democrats Using Propaganda - AR Is Not 5th in Education

Below is a letter published in the Jonesboro Sun July 6, 2012  explaining this deception by the Democrats -
Democrats, including Governor Beebe, Senator Thompson, Representative Homer Lenderman and others are touting a ranking by Education Week placing Arkansas fifth in the country in education policy and performance. Putting that study in perspective reveals how out of touch Democrats are with reality and/or how deceptive they are in trying to snooker the people.

The very Arkansas News Bureau article touting this Arkansas's 5th place in the nation, noted that Arkansas did receive a "D in K-12 student ACHIEVEMENT, ranking 34th, and a C- minus in chance for success, ranking 44th."

The media biased headline for the story, "Magazine ranks Arkansas 5th in educational policies, performance" was completely misleading. The article continued, "Broken down by category, Arkansas’ best score was in transitions and alignment … where the state received an A and was ranked first in the nation." This means that Arkansas is first in the nation in forcing teachers to follow "experts’" decisions on what and how to teach their students and aligning their curriculum with government standards.

Teachers are not to blame for the D in Achievement; they had no voice in the matter. The government bureaucrats made all the decisions and forced the teachers into compliance.

Another important study by the National Education Policy Center ranked the 50 states in four areas in 2010. Arkansas received an F in Learning Achievement, ranking 49th in that study.

In 2011, based on the ACT scores, only 17 % (compared to 25% nationally) were prepared for college success in all four ACT tested subjects – English, reading, math, and science.

Arkansas is one of only 10 states seeing declines in their graduation rates between 2001 and 2009.

On the national NAEP tests in 2011 (often called the Nation’s Report Card) Arkansas’ scores in 4th and 8th grade were still flat and below the national average, while students in other states made headway in most areas - even though according to Arkansas’ “homegrown” benchmark tests, scores have increased, sometimes exponentially, every year.

The Jonesboro District has much to worry about because their scores, even on these AR benchmark tests, were the lowest in the county in almost every grade level and below state average in several areas – 21 points below state average in 7th grade science. Oh yes, those magnet schools are doing great if you just believe outward appearances – just as our state is 5th in the nation in education!

Debbie Pelley
Jonesboro, Arkansas

Sunday, July 08, 2012

AR Governor Beebe Appoints Gay Activist to State School Bd.

      Arkansas Democrats keep telling us that Arkansas Democrats are different from Washington Democrats! Arkansas voted 75% to 25% against allowing gay marriage, and gay marriage has lost in every single state --31 in all-- in which it has been put to a popular vote.  Even California voted it down with close to a 2/3 majority. Our media in Arkansas won't even publish gay marriage announcements.  Yet Beebe appoints Jay Barth, a married homosexual who had to go to New York to marry, to the State Board of Education that oversees the education for every public school student in AR.  I wonder what curriculum changes Beebe and Barth are planning to implement.
(See excerpts from two articles from AR Times blog below and one from ARRA News Bureau documenting this. Links to entire stories included - Be sure to note Jay Barth's own words in red font below)
Beebe appoints Jay Barth to state Board of Education (emphasis added) 
"Beebe has appointed Dr. Jay Barth of Little Rock to succeed Mays. Barth, author and commentator on Arkansas politics, is distinguished professor of politics and chair of the politics and international relations department at Hendrix College. He also writes for the Arkansas Times. He is to serve through 2019."
Arkansas Times Blog (emphasis added)
      " WED: Jay Barth (left) and Chuck Cliett were married in New York March 14."
Posted by Max Brantley on Wed, Apr 4, 2012 at 12:43 PM http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2012/04/04/vows-jay-barth-and-chuck-cliett

"I've mentioned before that because the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and its affiliated newspapers in Northwest Arkansas won't publish marriage announcements by same-sex couples, the Arkansas Times is happy to provide that service.
"I am particularly happy to do so today because the announcement is that of friends — Jay Barth, the Hendrix professor and Arkansas Times contributor, and Chuck Cliett, a lawyer and colleague of mine on the board of the Fred Darragh Foundation. Their announcement, in the fashion given similarly high profile unions in the New York Times:"

ARRA News Service:  
Jay Barth's Objectives are Clear -- Are Yours?          Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Be sure to note Jay Barth's own words below in red font.
In February, the American Family Coalition blog asked what is "Jay Barth's Objective." Previously, a blog and the Arkansas News identified Barth as "one of the most liberal" in Arkansas politics and "openly gay." Dr. Jay Barth is a professor at Hendrix College in both the Politics and Gender Studies departments and a faculty member of the Clinton School of Public Service. He is the faculty advisor for the Unity/LGBSA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Straight Alliance), Young Democrats, and Pre-Law Society and has been noted by the Committee on Lesbian & Gay History
At the 2006 Arkansas Democrat State Convention, Barth chaired the platform committee that led in facilitating the removing of the "marriage plank" from the Arkansas Democrat Platform. The affirmative statement that "marriage is between a man and a woman" has been deleted! Barth's objectives are not unknown. He takes political and community actions that move Arkansas more to the "liberal" left. The days of the Arkansas conservative democrat may be are numbered.
To Barth's credit, his viewpoint and agenda are not hidden. He is totally "out" in both his lifestyle and beliefs. Read his publications and review his courses. He and others at Hendrix College have shifted their academic community closer to their worldview. To help understand Barth's vision for Arkansas' future, read what he wrote about Hendrix College on PlanetOut.com:
"I'm writing to nominate the place where I have taught for the last seven years. Hendrix may really be the most friendly and affirming school for GLBT students in the South. It truly is an island. There is a GLBT student group at Hendrix that is quite active, .... The GLB students at Hendrix tend to be incredibly well-integrated into the larger student body.... In recent years, the majority of student body presidents have been openly gay or lesbian and sexual orientation simply isn't an issue in most aspects of life at Hendrix where a large percentage of the student body is out. A few social events on campus are heterosexist, but that is really the exception. GLBT studies is part of a larger Gender Studies program. While the established course offerings on GLBT issues are not large (though I do teach a very popular Gender, Sexuality, and American Politics course), students do often set up independent studies related to GL issues. -- Dr. Jay Barth, Associate Professor, Department of Politics"   http://arkansasgopwing.blogspot.com/2006/08/jay-barths-objectives-are-clear-are.html

Friday, July 06, 2012

Conventional Wisdom Backwards on Wet-Dry Issue

 The conventional wisdom on allowing liquor sales may be all wet.

Arkansas has about 40 counties that are "dry" counties.   That is, they do not sell alcohol except by the drink at private clubs.   Benton County, world headquarters of Wal-Mart, is one of the "dry" counties.     This November residents are going to vote on whether to keep or overturn the ban on selling bottled alcohol in that county.  

Since the possession and consumption of bottled liquor brought in from adjoining counties is perfectly legal, there is no serious liberty issue on this question.    The financial issue is dominating whatever discussion is occurring, but I have been shocked at how simplistic and one-sided such discussion has been, even among sophisticated residents of the county. 

All anyone is talking about is how much money the dry county is losing to the wet counties.   They are focused on the lost tax revenue from alcohol sales.    This is bogus accounting because they are looking at the costs of staying dry, but making no attempt whatsoever to consider the economic benefits of staying dry.   If you look only at the times you win, and ignore the times you lose, even a trip to the casino seems like a good deal.

While you miss out on the taxes from the sale of alcohol in a dry county, many theorize that crime and accident rates are higher in wet counties, and that more law enforcement is needed when in a county where inhibition-reducing liquor is sold.   Add to it that a certain slice of the population, those whose lives are dominated by alcohol, will preferentially stay out of your county.  Such people usually bring a whole load of other costs.   How much tax revenue is worth it if it means in the average year three more school children in your county are killed by drunk drivers?

But all that is theoretical right?  Well, it was, until a very dedicated fellow named Bob Hester of Jonesboro actually went to the trouble to compile the statistics.    He actually measured the differences in several areas between wet and dry counties in the state between the years 1998 and 2010.   In some cases, on the crime statistics, his figures are from 2008.   Here are ten surprising facts about wet vs. dry counties in this state-

1) Wet counties in Arkansas have 60% more law enforcement personnel per capita than dry counties.
2) Dry counties had a 245% higher rate of population growth than wet counties.
3) DUI's were 35% higher per capita in wet counties.
4) Aggravated assaults were a whopping 180% higher per capita in wet counties
5) Prostitution was a whopping-er 263% higher per capita in wet counties
6) Robberies were an astounding 299% higher per capita in wet counties
7) Rape was 59% higher per capita in wet counties
8) Murder was 107% higher per capita in wet counties
9) Life expectancy was 18 months greater in dry counties
10) 65% more drug/narcotics use in wet counties

Predicting NCLB Failure was Child's Play

I notice that Arkansas has joined the list of 24 states that have been granted "waivers" from meeting the impossible-to-meet provisions of the "No Child Left Behind Act".    More to follow.   The article notes that " It's a reaction to realization that the original NCLB goals couldn't be met."  Duh.

When it comes to predicting the failure of central planning, I find that being right is ridiculously easy.  What is hard is getting anyone to believe me.   Just now, in 2014, our "leaders" have a dawning awareness that the original NCLB goals could not be met.   In 2006, this is what I wrote about those goals.....
The second problem with NCLB is that the provisions of the act cannot be met. Do you understand me? They can't do it, even if they turned the entire nation into an absolute dictatorship police-state whose sole purpose was meeting the provisions of the "No Child Left Behind" act. Even if they did that, they could not fulfill the goals of the act. What they are asking for is not attainable by government means.
The feds offered the states money if they would agree to do something that is impossible by 2014. Since it seemed so far away, they took the cash. Now the time is drawing near, and it is obvious that they are not getting it done. Nor can they. The goal is impossible.
It takes a vast view of government power, almost a communist idea that man can be shaped by his environment, to believe that anything Washington can do will ensure that each and every child will be proficient in reading and math by 2014 regardless of the home life, inate skills, or even level of desire to learn, of that child. A certain percentage of any group will be unable to meet the stated standards. A larger percentage of children will simply not be willing to put forth the effort required for them to do so, and any efforts to bring "pressure" on them and their family is a lot more likely to backfire, bringing ill-will and intransigence to the educational process.
 So how is it that the "experts" in the educational establishment failed to see what was so obvious to me seven years ago?   Well, we could hypothesize that they are disconnected idiots.  Alternatively, we could theorize they they knew the stated goals of the program were baloney, and the real objective of the program was for the central government to gain control of public education, which was formerly the domain of each state.   They meant to leverage the money into control, and to a large extent they have succeeded in their real goal.   In other words, the alternative hypothesis to their being idiots is that they are dishonest and crave power under false pretenses.   Obviously the latter hypothesis does not completely rule out the former.

Whether they are fools or knaves, the takeaway is that we ought to reverse the bi-partisan federal takeover of education, not authorized by the Constitution, and return control of public schools to the public again, preferably closer to the communities than even the state house.