Obama’s best chance to enact good policy quickly

I’ve been talking about this for quite some time now, and it appears that more an more people are jumping on the band-wagon. This should be a no-brainer for Obama. He will have a honeymoon, and there will never be a better opportunity to enact this important piece of good public policy. If he (Obama) continues down the path of “Cap and Trade” idiocy, he exposes himself as a tool of the corrupt interests who will benefit off of such nonsense.

The Net-Zero Gas Tax

Americans have a deep and understandable aversion to gasoline taxes. In a culture more single-mindedly devoted to individual freedom than any other, tampering with access to the open road is met with visceral opposition. That’s why earnest efforts to alter American driving habits take the form of regulation of the auto companies–the better to hide the hand of government and protect politicians from the inevitable popular backlash.

So why even think about it? Because the virtues of a gas tax remain what they have always been. A tax that suppresses U.S. gas consumption can have a major effect on reducing world oil prices. And the benefits of low world oil prices are obvious: They put tremendous pressure on OPEC, as evidenced by its disarray during the current collapse; they deal serious economic damage to energy-exporting geopolitical adversaries such as Russia, Venezuela, and Iran; and they reduce the enormous U.S. imbalance of oil trade which last year alone diverted a quarter of $1 trillion abroad. Furthermore, a reduction in U.S. demand alters the balance of power between producer and consumer, making us less dependent on oil exporters. It begins weaning us off foreign oil, and, if combined with nuclear power and renewed U.S. oil and gas drilling, puts us on the road to energy independence.

High gas prices, whether achieved by market forces or by government imposition, encourage fuel economy. In the short term, they simply reduce the amount of driving. In the longer term, they lead to the increased (voluntary) shift to more fuel-efficient cars. They render redundant and unnecessary the absurd CAFE standards–the ever-changing Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations that mandate the fuel efficiency of various car and truck fleets–which introduce terrible distortions into the market. As the consumer market adjusts itself to more fuel-efficient autos, the green car culture of the future that environmentalists are attempting to impose by decree begins to shape itself unmandated. This shift has the collateral environmental effect of reducing pollution and CO2 emissions, an important benefit for those who believe in man-made global warming and a painless bonus for agnostics (like me) who nonetheless believe that the endless pumping of CO2 into the atmosphere cannot be a good thing.

Today we are experiencing a unique moment. Oil prices are in a historic free fall from a peak of $147 a barrel to $39 today. In July, U.S. gasoline was selling for $4.11 a gallon. It now sells for $1.65. With $4 gas still fresh in our memories, the psychological impact of a tax that boosts the pump price to near $3 would be far less than at any point in decades. Indeed, an immediate $1 tax would still leave the price more than one-third below its July peak.

What to do? Something radically new. A net-zero gas tax. Not a freestanding gas tax but a swap that couples the tax with an equal payroll tax reduction. A two-part solution that yields the government no net increase in revenue and, more importantly–that is why this proposal is different from others–immediately renders the average gasoline consumer financially whole.

Here is how it works. The simultaneous enactment of two measures: A $1 increase in the federal gasoline tax–together with an immediate $14 a week reduction of the FICA tax. Indeed, that reduction in payroll tax should go into effect the preceding week, so that the upside of the swap (the cash from the payroll tax rebate) is in hand even before the downside (the tax) kicks in.

The math is simple. The average American buys roughly 14 gallons of gasoline a week. The $1 gas tax takes $14 out of his pocket. The reduction in payroll tax puts it right back. The average driver comes out even, and the government makes nothing on the transaction. (There are, of course, more drivers than workers–203 million vs. 163 million. The 10 million unemployed would receive the extra $14 in their unemployment insurance checks. And the elderly who drive–there are 30 million licensed drivers over 65–would receive it with their Social Security payments.)

Revenue neutrality is essential. No money is taken out of the economy. Washington doesn’t get fatter. Nor does it get leaner. It is simply a transfer agent moving money from one activity (gasoline purchasing) to another (employment) with zero net revenue for the government.

The myth of Union “benevolence”

Whenever I hear the arguments in favor of Unionization of ANY industry, I’m reminded of Squealer, of Animal Farm fame. The ability to persuade workers to yolk themselves to these lying union bosses never ceases to amaze me.

Autoworkers Union Keeps $6 Million Golf Course for Members at $33 Million Lakeside Retreat

But the Black Lake club and retreat, which are among the union’s biggest fixed assets, have lost $23 million in the past five years alone, a heavy albatross around the union’s neck as it tries to manage a multibillion-dollar pension plan crisis.

Critics call it a resort for union leaders that wastes money from union dues.

“It’s their members’ money that they’re spending on this thing,” said Justin Wilson, managing director of the Center for Union Facts, a union watchdog group. “The union has bigger issues at hand than managing a golf course.”

Managing the course may become a burden for the union. The UAW covers costs for the Reuther Center from the interest it earns on its strike fund, according to tax documents, but massive losses in the past five years have forced the union to make heavy loans to keep the center afloat. Critics call it a poor investment for a group with over $1.25 billion in assets.

It isn’t as if businesses don’t have a history of treating workers poorly. Frankly, they still treat workers poorly in some cases. That said, I’ve never understood the sheep like notion that the “Union” will protect you. They don’t.

For those UAW drones who are lauding Bush’s $17 billion bailout, I have only one thing to say to you.

You’re now welfare queens. You are living off of my tax dollars and George W. Bush’s “benevolence.” Are you proud of yourselves?

Featured blog – Peoria Pundit

Bill Dennis is writing some pretty good stuff over at Peoria Pundit.

I don’t necessarily agree with him on this post, but finding an answer to the fracturing “Republican Coalition” is important.

Can Palin come back from the Assassination attempts?

Conservative Snobs Are Wrong About Palin

Being listed in fourth place for Time magazine’s “Person of the Year,” as Sarah Palin was for 2008, sounds a little like being awarded the Order of Purity (Fourth Class). But it testifies to something important.

Though regularly pronounced sick, dying, dead, cremated and scattered at sea, Mrs. Palin is still amazingly around. She has survived more media assassination attempts than Fidel Castro has survived real ones (Cuban official figure: 638). In her case, one particular method of assassination is especially popular — namely, the desperate assertion that, in addition to her other handicaps, she is “no Margaret Thatcher.”

The article goes on to compare Thatcher and Palin…

Mrs. Palin has a long way to go to match this. Circumstances may never give her the chance to do so. Even if she gets that chance, she may lack Mrs. Thatcher’s depths of courage, firmness and stamina — we only ever know such things in retrospect.

But she has plenty of time, probably eight years, to analyze America’s problems, recruit her own expert advice, and develop conservative solutions to them. She has obvious intelligence, drive, serious moral character, and a Reaganesque likability. Her likely Republican rivals such as Bobby Jindal and Mitt Romney, not to mention Barack Obama, have most of these same qualities too. But she shares with Mrs. Thatcher a very rare charisma. As Ronnie Millar, the latter’s speechwriter and a successful playwright, used to say in theatrical tones: She may be depressed, ill-dressed and having a bad hair day, but when the curtain rises, out onto the stage she steps looking like a billion dollars. That’s the mark of a star, dear boy. They rise to the big occasions.

Mrs. Palin had four big occasions in the late, doomed Republican campaign: her introduction by John McCain in Ohio, her speech at the GOP convention, her vice-presidential debate with Sen. Joe Biden, and her appearance on Saturday Night Live. With minimal preparation, she rose to all four of them. That’s the mark of a star.

I have no idea whether Sarah Palin can overcome the “PDS” (Palin Derangement Syndrome) that has infected the minds of fevered left and some “Romney Conservatives. I hope she does, though. Nothing would be more sweet than to watch veins popping out of foreheads and heads exploding.

You can start laughing at Anthropic Global Warmists now

2008 was the year man-made global warming was disproved

Looking back over my columns of the past 12 months, one of their major themes was neatly encapsulated by two recent items from The Daily Telegraph.

The first, on May 21, headed “Climate change threat to Alpine ski resorts” , reported that the entire Alpine “winter sports industry” could soon “grind to a halt for lack of snow”. The second, on December 19, headed “The Alps have best snow conditions in a generation” , reported that this winter’s Alpine snowfalls “look set to beat all records by New Year’s Day”.

Easily one of the most important stories of 2008 has been all the evidence suggesting that this may be looked back on as the year when there was a turning point in the great worldwide panic over man-made global warming. …

First, all over the world, temperatures have been dropping in a way wholly unpredicted by all those computer models which have been used as the main drivers of the scare. Last winter, as temperatures plummeted, many parts of the world had snowfalls on a scale not seen for decades. This winter, with the whole of Canada and half the US under snow, looks likely to be even worse. After several years flatlining, global temperatures have dropped sharply enough to cancel out much of their net rise in the 20th century.

What is so hilarious about the drop in temperatures is that they coincide perfectly with the shutting down of the cycle of solar activity. This is what intelligent people have been saying all along. The idea that carbon dioxide going from 288/1,000,000 to 380/1,000,000 was causing “global warming” has always been ludicrous to anyone with a decent understanding of earth science.

The fact that the entire scientific community openly took part in the campaign of lies is an indicator of just how corrupt America’s institutions have become.

How Unions destroy education

I think it’s high time we banned the teacher strike. I think anyone who disagrees with me hates children. There is another slogan for you throw in the face of the greedy education bureaucracy. If you oppose a strike ban, you hate children. That’s the kind of crap the teachers’ unions have been using for years, and it’s time we rubbed their noses in their crap.

Striking Against Students

Pennsylvania taxpayers aren’t pleased. Last year, a bill to prohibit teacher strikes was introduced in the state legislature by Todd Rock and 28 co-sponsors, only to be sidelined thanks to union opposition. According to a group called Stop Teacher Strikes, 75% of state legislators between 2004 and 2006 received teacher union money. The office of Governor Ed Rendell, who received more than $500,000 in teachers union political action committee cash for his 2006 re-election bid, called the strike ban a “radical response” to the problem.

That “radical” revision is actually similar to the rule in 37 states that have passed laws banning teacher strikes. Under the text of the strike bill, due to be reintroduced in January, teachers would have to give up two days of pay for each day they are out on strike. Under current law, Pennsylvania teachers see no adverse consequences from a walkout. In New York by contrast, the Taylor law punishes unions that walk off the job with fines and other penalties. According to the Allegheny Institute, similar strike laws have been upheld in the courts and have eliminated walkouts in states like Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee.

The time is coming when it will be politically unpopular to have taken cash from greedy Teachers’ Unions. This site takes a backseat to no one in the drive to make that day come sooner.

Congressional Motors – UPDATED

I’ve noticed that plenty of people on the web, as well as radio hosts, find a lot of funny stuff, use it, and don’t attribute it to the originator. That’s skanky. Here at Extreme Wisdom, I try to “hat tip” every post that I find on the web, especially when the blogger is provides much of the commentary.

That said, I use links that I find on “Brothers Judd” so often, (but provide my own commentary) that I usually just tell my readers that they are the best blog on the web (they are).

Regardless, I finally did find the originator of the “Congressional Motors” post. It is Chicago and Illinois own IowaHawk, and the post is here. I’m adding Iowahawk to my blog roll, and I hope you go there often.

Click the picture to go to the original post.

Pelosi Motors

Bruce Dumont’s show, Corruption, and Stevia…

I was just on the air this evening as a guest on Bruce Dumont’s excellent ‘Beyond the Beltway‘ show. The topic was mostly about Illinois and Blagojevich, and the guest representing the Democrat’s point of view was Tim Wright, who I would describe as an insider’s insider (see for yourself)

Tim is an engaging conversationalist, and quite on top of things. I found doing the show with him (and Illinois’ own) Jack Franks quite enjoyable.

Being an outsider’s outsider, you can probably guess that we (Tim Wright and I) see things a little differently. During the breaks we were discussing government and elected officials in general, and I took the point of view that, to the extent America is suffering from something, it isn’t liberalism or conservativism that is the problem. America is suffering from corruption, and Illinois is the canary in the coal mine.

Tim’s position is that things are just fine, and that all convictions for public corruption are proof that the system is working. (a gross oversimplification a longer conversation). Regardless, I came home to look into a little on-line shopping, and decided I wanted to look for something called “Stevia.” It’s an organic sweetener that is supposedly safer and better than both sugar (lots of calories and negative side effects like diabetes), and artificial sweeteners that still remain under various clouds.

So what does Stevia have to do with corruption. Google “stevia controversy” to find out. Here is a taste.

Stevia’s potential as a major commercial sweetening agent has long been recognized. It has been widely consumed in Brazil and Japan for decades. The Japanese use stevia primarily in sodas, candy, and pickled vegetables. The plant was all set to break into the American market in the mid-1980s, when tea companies like Lipton and Celestial Seasonings developed stevia-flavored products and many small companies began to market and sell stevia as a calorie-free sugar substitute.

But then the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) intervened. It began seizing shipments of the plant. In 1991, it declared stevia an “unsafe food additive” and sent out an “import alert” to inspectors in the field.

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The more you read, the more obvious it becomes. Rich Corporations go to powerful government, and buy protection from competition, hurting everyone (and increasing every American’s health care bill) in the process.

This is true for “cap and trade,” which is nothing but the creation of a money-laundering scheme using the creation of impossible to value “carbon credits.” It is true for the explosion in patronage, and true for all three of the large collectives (Big Gov. Big Union, Big Corporation) bankrupting the nation.

I realize that I’ve become a bit of a puritan on the corruption issue, but the fact is that we are all losing our freedom, our wealth, and our republic because we are too busy watching the fake “Democrat v. Republican” sideshow to see what is being done right under our noses.

Given that Blagojevich was the major topic of conversation on the show, let me offer one small defense of the embattled Governor. His rapaciousness has at least cast a necessary light on Illinois and on Obama, simply by dint of party, timing and subject matter.

I personally don’t think Obama is a friend of Blagojevich, nor that he is personally corrupt. I’d rather see Obama taken to task for his policies (assuming they are bad when promoted). But Obama swam in the morally toxic soup of Illinois politics long enough to be tainted by the stink emanating from this state. Maybe the spotlight on this state will help to clean it up.

Interestingly, one of the callers (from Texas) opined that most politicians in Illinois are “decent, hardworking people.” I don’t know if I’m as optimistic, but let’s say l concede the point to some degree.

Even if so, I still argue that the system these people work in is corrupt, and it taints all of them and all of us. It’s like an aquarium that hasn’t been cleaned and whose filtration system has broken down. The fish may be OK (up to a point), but if you are swimming around in your own crap all day, you are bound to lose your good health.

The power and opacity conferred upon the governing class by Illinois patently awful Constitution is an invitation to corruption, and the results are plain to see in every headline. Extending the aquarium metaphor, we need to drain the tank, determine which fish are healthy and which are dead, and put in place a robust filtration system and some clean water.

The message that needs to be understood by the electorate is that the people in power will not do this themselves. We have to do it. If we don’t, it will only get worse.

Guns and Doctors – a comparison

I don’t know if you’ve seen this “Guns v. Doctors” tidbit make the rounds on the internet…
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Number of physicians in the US: 700,000.

Accidental deaths caused by physicians per year: 120,000.

Accidental deaths per physician: 0.171 (U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services)

Number of gun owners in the US: 80,000,000.

Number of accidental gun deaths per year (all age groups): 1,500.

Accidental deaths per gun owner: 0.0000188

Statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times
more dangerous than gun owners.

“FACT: Not everyone has a gun, but everyone has at least one Doctor.”

Please alert your friends to this alarming threat. We must ban doctors before this gets out of hand. As a Public Health Measure, I have withheld the statistics on Lawyers for fear that the shock could cause people to seek medical aid.
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OK, you have to admit it’s pretty funny. It also points out the complete lack of “common sense” on the part of the “ban everything” idiots who we elect (and why do we keep electing them…?) On a more serious note, the detractors and debunkers who address these issues bring usually do so with statistical analysis of their own.

Here is one site that addresses the statistics.

Doctors kill more people than guns: urban legend or fact? (update 1)

– Most people see doctors when their health is already poor, so that has to be considered a factor in any doctor-related deaths, accidental or otherwise.
– Some people will never interact with a gun in their lifetime, but very few people will never see a doctor. This means that doctors could be more lethal simply due to a greater chance of public exposure to them.

Note that while true, none of the items address the lack of common sense on the part of the “ban guns” crowd.

Excellent News for Freedom Lovers

Appeals court upholds First Amendment protection for petition freedom

“The federal appeals court’s Thursday ruling upholds an important free speech principle and joins other federal courts in upholding citizens’ First Amendment right to petition their government without threat of political prosecution,” Graves said.

The appellate court ruled that the state’s ban on nonresident circulators violated the First Amendment’s free speech protections as well as the Fourteenth Amendment. The court wrote that circulation petitions is “core political speech” and deserves the highest level of First Amendment protection. The appellate court also found that the record did not support the state’s contention that nonresident circulators engage in fraud.

“Oklahoma has failed to prove that banning all nonresident circulators is a narrowly tailored means of meeting its compelling interest,” the ruling states. “Oklahoma has also failed to prove the ineffectiveness of plausible alternatives to the blanket ban on nonresidents.”

Oklahoma has one of the most restrictive ballot initiative laws in the country, barring activists not planning permanent residency from exercising their political speech rights by circulating petitions. In Oct. 2007 Virginia activist Paul Jacob and two others were indicted for conspiracy to defraud the state for hiring out-of-state petitioners to collect signatures to put a taxpayers’ bill of rights proposal on the ballot. The maximum penalty for their alleged crime of exercising their political speech rights is a fine up to $25,000 and ten years in prison.