It’s not about bashing Teachers. It’s the system that has to go!

FOX Chicago Sunday: Karen Lewis & Bruno Behrend: MyFoxCHICAGO.com

Michael Bloomberg is probably running for President

I haven’t blogged on this here, (I haven’t blogged here much at all, sadly) but I’ve made a few comments at other blogs.

With Obama floundering between triangulation and his deep “big government” roots, and Republicans frozen between their Palin-esque roots and an electable candidate, billionaire NY mayor sees a shot at the title. While any independent candidate is a long shot, Bloomberg is not insane. First off, he has a shot, and secondly, even a quixotic campaign can yield benefits for America. The fact that he has cash doesn’t hurt, either.

Bloomberg, in major speech, offers ‘a middle way’

The economic policies that we have pursued to drive this growth have been neither left nor right, liberal nor conservative. Despite what ideologues on the left believe, government cannot tax and spend its way back to prosperity, especially when that spending is driven by pork barrel politics. Federal spending to stimulate the economy had a temporary, positive impact – but we are two years past the economic meltdown of 2008, and unemployment is still too high, the underlying economy is still too weak and the federal deficit is still rising too fast.

At the same time, despite what ideologues on the right believe, government should not stand aside and wait for the business cycle to run its natural course. That would be intolerable, given the enormous unemployment we face, and the worsening job prospects for the 15 million people who are trying to find work.

There you have it. The independent Mayor of New York is starting his play at and independent run for President. Good for him. Here is how I handicap his chances.

Scenario 1 – Obama extremely unpopular in late 2011.

Bloomberg hopes that the Rove/Palin cage match continues to split the right. A Palin nomination means he has shot. A Pawlenty or Daniels nomination means the left splits and the right romps.

Scneario 2 – Obama regains his footing and triangulates back to 50-55 approval by late 2011

Bloomberg’s only chance is that Palin or Romney is the nominee, and he presents a rational middle course.

___

Funny huh? Bloomberg’s candidacy depends on Sarah Palin or Romney winning the nomination. Palin because she is perceived as unelectable and Romney because he actually is unelectable.

Time to lock and load on the best Governor in America, Mitch Daniels, or the close second choice, Tim Pawlenty. My bet is that Bloomberg is serious in any event.

Technology – the Creative Destroyer

George Will has a hugely important article in Newsweek. It lays out the raw numbers on the impact of technology in the recent years.

Robert Weissenstein’s Exhilaration
George Will – Newsweek

Long ago, in 2008, Americans bought 1.4 billion books made of paper and 200 million e-books. By 2014—perhaps sooner—sales of e-books will equal those of the paper kind. This could save 1.5 million tons of paper made from, possibly, 25 million trees, affecting the price of timber. But the books (and other stuff) bought in e-commerce come in cardboard boxes. So some of those trees will not be spared after all. Furthermore, because of e-commerce and e-books, perhaps half the nation’s bookstores will be gone in four years, vacating at least 50 million square feet of commercial real estate.

Connecting such disparate dots is how Robert Weissenstein’s interesting mind finds fascination in the quotidian. We are, he thinks, in an accelerating process of pervasive global restructuring—regional, industrial, and behavioral. Today, as chief investment officer in Credit Suisse Private Banking, Weissenstein’s theme is “the enormous iterative impact of everything we hold and do.”

..

Weissenstein thinks we focus on the first, disruptive half of social change without noticing the second, creative half. Fixated on job losses in the Great Recession (from December 2007 to June 2009), we miss germane events that began earlier and continue. New “growth drivers” include “teenage tech companies.” Yahoo, Amazon, eBay, and Google, founded in 1994, 1994, 1995, and 1998, respectively, perform functions that did not exist 25 years ago, and employ, cumulatively, 75,000 people. Their existence enables new growth drivers. An entrepreneur with a few thousand dollars can use the Internet to publicize a new product to a target market.

Today, three years is an eternity. In October 2007, 81 percent of Facebook’s 50 million users were younger than 24. Today, 45 percent of its more than 500 million users are 35 or older. What starts in a Harvard dorm room can quickly conquer the world.

Nothing would be more creative for America than to have our public education system go the way of the horse and buggy industry. The sum of human knowledge can be delivered to our childrens’ eyes and ears via internet/networks. Textbooks, desks, and chalkboards are nearly an anachronism, to be replaced by Ipad, Kindles and Smartphones. Our large, expensive, unionized and protected bureaucracy can be replaced by 1000s of on-line content developers like The Khan Academy. Testing can be replaced by on-line measurement, which can test for subject mastery while simultaneously measuring the best content providers and standards.

There will always be a place for learning, as there will be for talented conveyors of content. We just don’t need the system we have now. Frankly, we can’t afford that system – financially or culturally. Let the creative destroyer run free through our education system.

Let’s keep the baby, and toss the bathwater. The baby – our children, good teachers, and good content, will survive. The bathwater – districts, buildings, bond dealers, bureaucrats, administrators, unions – won’t survive. That’s the way it should be.

This is the FRAME that wins 2012

“Can you govern yourself, or do you need a Federal Czar to govern your life for you?”

That question should be asked of every interested person who might vote in the next few elections. Everyone.

“Can you find a doctor, a light-bulb, or control the flow of your toilet, or should one of our Federal Czars take that decision out of your hands?”

When framed in this fashion, the answers to these questions probably have a 75-25 pro-freedom response rate, even in today’s electorate.

This “frame” (see Lakoff and Overton Window)  articulates the central message that all Republicans, conservative Democrats, the Tea Parties/Patriots, as well as the think tank types should be shouting from the hilltops.

Once brought to consciousness in this philosophical context, virtually every “self-government” policy initiative can be promoted on the foundation of “self-government”. Most Americans are hard-wired to agree with the conservative view on this. [Read more...]

Defending Mitch Daniels, Heartland’s new blog, Criticizing Tea Party Mistakes

The Heartland Institute has just started their new blog, called Somewhat Reasonable. I’m posting there regularly now, and I’ll be cross posting here, there, and over at ChicagoBoyz as well.

I don’t agree with Mitch Daniels trial balloon VAT proposal. I support a complete transition away from all income taxes, and toward consumption taxes. That said, the knee-jerk reaction to his attempt to discuss solutions to our national financial problems is wrong. This is the best Governor in the country. Having him as President would be a blessing.

For more debate, go here.

For a better proposal on swapping ALL income taxes, go here.

For a critique of Tea Party Candidate errors, go here.
[Read more...]

Scooping the National Review by 2.5 years

This Extreme Wisdom Search gets you several articles on the “False Prophet” meme.

This one promotes a short message that might have worked had McCain used it.

So does this one.

All of this was based upon my reading a book and seeing a presentation by Clotaire Rappaille, who argued that the one word “code” for political leader in America is “Moses.” McCain actually mocked Obama in an ad, using footage from DeMille’s Ten Commandments. He failed, however to close the deal, and prove to us that Obama was a false prophet.

Why do I bring this up. I just love scooping the Nat’l Review by 2.5 years, that’s all.

3 Cheers for Mitch Daniels, Leader

Let’s start with this. If Mitch Daniels is running for President, he’s made the strategic decision to run on bold policy, regardless of the risk. If he is not running for president, he has at least decided that he wants to have a positive impact on the policy debate, something the current GOP sorely needs.

If you haven’t heard, Mitch Daniels has once again voiced opinions that depart from the received canon of the GOP punditocracy and policy shops. He floated the trial balloon of using a VAT to offset other taxes and move the nation away from the financial conflagration brought on by our failed tax code. This is a good thing. Here is what we read in Politico and Newsweek.

Mitch Daniels open to VAT, oil tax hike

Daniels recited from Kahn’s book: “It would be most useful to redesign the tax system to discourage consumption and encourage savings and investment. One obvious possibility is a value added tax and flat income tax, with the only exception being a lower standard deduction.”

“That might suit our current situation pretty well,” said Daniels, who served as George W. Bush’s Office of Management and Budget director and was a senior adviser in Ronald Reagan’s White House. “It also might fit Bill Simon’s line in the late ‘70s that the nation should have a tax system that looks like someone designed it on purpose.”

The so-called VAT, common in European economies which have stagnated, is a toxic acronym to fiscally conservative activists like Grover Norquist and Dick Armey. It slaps a tax on the estimated market value for products at every stage of production. Progressives, meanwhile, loathe flat income taxes because they’re regressive and punish the poor. But some on the right have found the VAT attractive as an alternative to progressive income taxes and levies on capital gains.

The Horror!! He said the “T” word!!! Run awwwaaaaaayy! But wait, there’s more!

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels Earns Conservative Ire for Tax Remarks

Mitch Daniels has been much talked-about in the media, and for good reason: he’s one of the more interesting Republican contenders for 2012. But the normally mild-mannered Indiana governor has occasionally made headlines for his controversial statements, and he’s back at it.

The reaction from some quarters was fierce. In what almost (but not quite) seems like a validation of Godwin’s law, Grover Norquist, the noted antitax activist who leads Americans for Tax Reform, compared Daniels to Rich Iott, the Ohio congressional candidate who wore a Nazi uniform as part of World War II reenactments.

Stay classy, Grover.

Let me say that I’m not particularly enamored of the form of this trial balloon, either as a matter of policy or the way it was floated. I’m on record for supporting a complete phase out of all forms of income taxation, both individual, payroll, corporate, and capital gain.

I floated my trial balloon here. I’ve backed off the gas taxes since then, but the rest is utterly reasonable and defensible, particularly in comparison with our failed tax code. Daniels was simply wrong to float the flat tax (or any income tax) along with the VAT. Get rid of all income taxes, period.

I’m guessing there is a reason that politicians, even those as successful as Daniels, are afraid of calling for an end to all income taxation. That reason has to do with the politics of taxing the lower income citizen at a very high rate, while the rich get the proverbial “free ride.”

BTW, The political solution to that problem is to phase in giving every American over 21 a stipend that covers health care, retirement, and HSAs. This is a feature to the flawed “Fair Tax” plan, and should be a part of any tax swap plan. Stop arguing about the welfare state, and simply individualize it. But I digress…

If I’m so critical of Daniel’s poor plan, why am I so happy he floated the idea? Because it shows leadership. Because it shows an understanding of the size of the problem and the political maneuvering necessary to gain bipartisan support.

It’s time to move America in a better fiscal and cultural direction, and the nattering nabobs of negative attacks (Norquist, Carville, Begala, and Rove) aren’t cutting it anymore.

We have had 3 decades of one ideology staying in power just long enough to enact the worst policies, while the next ideology encrusts that bad policy with layers of even worse policy. Break the stalemate, risk running on robust policy, and do the hard work of bargaining for a better deal. If you agree that the time is ripe for such a strategy, you couldn’t pick a better person than Daniels to be in your corner.

He is criticized for raising some taxes early in his administration, but his critics probably don’t want you to know that this came with;

  • Dramatic spending cuts
  • An Executive Order repealing collective bargaining rights for public employees
  • More spending cuts
  • HSAs and consumer driven plans for public employees
  • Substantial property tax relief.
  • Grover Norquist’s administration started with….

    Oh wait! Grover’s never been elected to anything. He’s never put his name on the line or submitted himself to a vote (or an important policy decision). Instead, he’s given us a generation of Republicans who have signed “No Tax Pledges,” many of whom spent (and thus taxed) us into oblivion.

    The current tax system is beyond reform and/or repair. Too few pay into it to flatten it out, an broadening means tax increases on the middle class. It is incapable of raising the money needed for the promises that have been made, even after the coming big haircut. Attempting to re-run the 80s, 1994, or the weaker 2000s is a fool’s errand. We can’t get there from here under any realistic growth scenario.

    The danger we face in following the “nattering nabobs” is the near certainty that we get both VAT taxes AND the income tax regime in any event.

    We are approaching a rare moment in time where Americans are interested in policy ideas, the Constitution, and a return to self governance. We should use that opportunity to reset the nation’s course, not to score talking points until the next wave of anger topples the next majority.

    Is all this an endorsement for Daniels for President? Probably. I admire him for leading. We could use more of that in the next few years.

    This graph shows utter waste and greed in education

    No Excuses - Just admit it's a waste of money

    No Excuses - Just admit it's a waste of money

    Carry this in your wallet or purse. When someone says we need to “spend more on education,” just take it out and beat them about the head and neck with it.

    They’ve turned it into a patronage job program. Fixing education, therefore, will require mass layoffs and totally transforming education from a “bureaucracy-based system to a child-based market.” Say it just that way, and stop trying to sugar coat the message.

    If you aren’t hacking entitlements, you aren’t serious about the deficit

    The video below will tell you just how much we are going to have to slash ALL entitlements if we are to survive into the future.

    Earmarks should be cut, to be sure, but if you aren’t talking about Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid cuts, then you aren’t serious about the debt and the deficit.

    As for taxes, yes, there is some wiggle room, but if you chase capital off shore, you can never catch up with the downward spiral.

    The rank stupidity of the NRA

    It’s time for supporters of gun rights to dump the “incumbent” NRA, and start joining more dynamic and intelligent gun organizations. It isn’t about being mainstream or balanced, it’s about the inability to understand when the ground has shifted.

    NRA backs Democrats in key races, frustrating GOP

    So far this year, the NRA has endorsed 58 incumbent House Democrats, including more than a dozen in seats that both parties view as critical to winning a majority.

    The endorsements aren’t the result of a sudden love for a party with which the NRA is often at odds. Rather, the powerful group adheres to what it calls “an incumbent-friendly” policy, which holds that if two candidates are equally supportive of gun rights, the incumbent gets the nod.

    One doesn’t know where to start when discussing such a stupid policy. It suffices to say that this kind of attitude is insane because it allows the incumbent to pander for the short term while offering the opportunity to stab you in the back for the long term.

    It also empowers the party whose leadership is always going to be hostile to gun rights, which is the essence of counter-productivity. The NRA has become yet another organization the deserves to end up on the ash heap of history, as should anything that has a “pro-incumbency” slant.