I’d do her job for $75,000…

…and I’d probably do it better.

I get a kick out of all these people whining about money that isn’t there. Shut up and take the cut!

Chris Christie got religion half way through his campaign. That’s why he’s doing so well, and that’s why he’s the most exciting politician in America right now. No. He shouldn’t run for President. He should fix New Jersey, and Bill Brady – if he wants to be successful – should follow in his footsteps.

Heartland’s ICCC-4 a smash hit

James Delingpole reviews The Heartland’s Climate Conference.

My moment of rock-star glory at a climate change sceptics’ conference in America

It’s time for conservatives and libertarians to end their love affair with Property Taxes

I’ve spent a good chunk of the last few years arguing that property taxes need to be cut. Some of the reasoning is political, but there are also strong policy reasons to cap, and then cut property taxes.

Let’s talk politics first. Property taxes are one of the most hated taxes, allowing for a potent political issue at the state and local level. This gives newcomers to the political process a powerful issue with which to club tax and spend political machines that have bankrupted entire cities. Furthermore, the conservative success in cutting and/or capping income taxes at the national level has left whole swaths of the populace immune the “tax cut” siren song of conservatives fighting the last war.

Aside from these political calculations, cutting property taxes is good policy as well. While many of us might be familiar with the libertarian arguments favoring property taxation (see Henry George), the fact is that there are two powerful arguments for capping and cutting them across America.

First, the majority of property taxes are collected through mortgage payments. This means that your payment is “hidden,” similar to the withholding of your income taxes on your paycheck. Now combine that attribute with the extreme increases we have seen over the years, as the real estate bubble developed. The result is a tax that is both steeply regressive (hitting the middle class property owners as their taxes spiked, and fairly progressive at the same time. (as the wealthy saw their property values rise the fastest.)

Most of us are aware of the argument that a high marginal rate is one of the most economically damaging tax policies. Yet many seem oblivious to the fact that property taxes have virtually the same effect as they have climbed dramatically over the last few decades.

To reiterate, property taxes are not benign. They are hurting the economy.

Next up, ask yourself where most of the property taxes go.

Let me take a brief detour here to discuss two books that I (or someone, anyway) should write.

First, someone needs to explode the conservative/libertarian myth that “local government is better.” Again, it sounds theoretically true, but in practice, local government is probably more “corrupt” than either state or federal.

Why? Because local government is elected in off-year and Spring elections, where the process is controlled by those who have the most to gain from controlling the local budget. Local elections also garner far less attention with the broader electorate, leaving the powerful interests to control outcomes and trade off the government jobs they control.

The next book that needs to be written should attack the policy of funding education with 3 (theoretical) sources of income. With education being funded by federal, state, and “local” dollars, the “Government Education Complex” has built a perfectly complex machine that can never be held accountable and never be “reformed.”

All the complexity of school districts, state boards, funding formulas, and the “local property tax,” have made education reform nearly impossible. This is by design, BTW. You will have to destroy this system, as it can’t be “reformed” in its present context.

It is also important to point out that the Federal Government, the NEA/AFT, and the combined clout they exercise over every state board and school district, have created a situation where your local school is more and more like a foreign institution than an American school.

Now let’s go back to property taxation.

As an education reformer who has been trying to find a workable reform mechanism that transitions us to 100% fully-funded choice, it became obvious to me that the “property tax” for education has to go.

Gone. Abolished. Ended. Killed. Disemboweled and left twitching on the pavement.

[This is as good a time as any to step back, think about what fully-funded school choice really means, and shed some of your dogma. "Local control of education" is a myth. Property taxation being easier to control because it is "local" is a myth (it's easier to stop a state tax increase than it is to stop a referendum "for the children unions.]

Now that you’ve reflected a bit, you will realize that a) fully funded school choice is the only avenue to “local control, and b) that you will never attain that goal if you have un-screw the “federal/state/local” Gordian knot. You have to cut that knot, and you cut it by getting rid of the local property tax for education.

Now that I’ve gone on that long rant, here is where to start. Stop fighting tax increases and start capping taxes. Even better, start capping spending. Once we’ve capped spending the tax issue solves itself.

The Tax Caps Cometh

How you think of property caps depends largely on how you think of government. If you see shortfalls in town and state budgets as a revenue problem, you probably think property tax caps are a very bad idea. The best examples here are all those California pols who blame all their state’s budget woes on the father of all tax caps, Proposition 13—instead of on their spending like there’s no tomorrow.
If, by contrast, you think of budget shortfalls as primarily a spending problem, you see a property-tax cap as a tool to control that spending.

Into this debate now comes a timely study that asks a simple question: “Do Property-Tax Caps Work?” Released jointly by the Manhattan Institute and the Common Sense Institute of New Jersey, the study takes for its model Proposition 2.5. This was the measure Massachusetts voters approved in 1980, limiting annual property tax increases to just 2.5% of a home’s assessed value.

This study pays particular attention to the effect of the Massachusetts cap on public education. As it turns out, Massachusetts does not bear out the scare stories. Despite spending far less per pupil than New Jersey ($12,857 versus $16,163 in 2007), Massachusetts students in almost all demographics achieved better results than their Jersey counterparts. Indeed, on the most common measure of achievement, the National Assessment for Educational Progress, Massachusetts remains the clear leader, and the achievement gap has grown over time.

The education comparison is important because so many public schools depend on property taxes for funding. In many New Jersey towns, for example, school spending consumes more than two-thirds of the town’s budget. That makes the public school budget the de facto municipal budget. Mr. Barro argues that here the Massachusetts cap offers an advantage over Proposition 13 in California, giving Massachusetts citizens the right to override it and spend what they want if they vote to do so.

Cap property taxes, and you have capped teachers unions. One of the best ways to kill a tumor is to cut off its blood supply.

An idea to import from Britain

Like that old lawyer joke says…

It’s a good start.

300,000 jobs in public sector face the axe

AT least 300,000 Whitehall and other public sector workers may lose their jobs as the coalition government sets to work cutting the £156 billion budget deficit.

As George Osborne, the chancellor, prepares to unveil the first £6 billion of cuts tomorrow, the full scale of the job losses that will follow has begun to emerge.

The initial savings to be announced will target such items as civil servants’ perks, which include taxis, flights and hotel accommodation.

The package will also include a £513m cut in the budgets for quangos, with some being abolished altogether.

While the first wave of cuts will mainly target Whitehall waste, more severe reductions of up to 25% in some departmental budgets will follow in a comprehensive spending review in the autumn.

Detailed research by The Sunday Times shows that at least 300,000 workers, including civil servants and frontline staff, will lose their jobs over the next few years.

Some estimates suggest that the number of job losses could reach 700,000. These will include tens of thousands of health service managers as well as many thousands of doctors and nurses, according to internal documents from the National Health Service.

There appears to be a constituency for spending cuts.

From Ronald Reagan’s farewell address

“I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it and see it still.”

Don’t fall for Talk Radio’s Gold-bug Blather

I’ve always wanted to do an expose of talkshow hosts’ penchant for hawking overpriced gold. When I had a radio show, I warned listeners off of buying too much of the stuff, as well as buying it from host’s favorite advertiser. Too bad their gullible audiences have made hosts rich at their expense.

Who do you think pays for all those repetitive and misleading ads? As you read the story below, you, like me, will see this as a leftist attack on a right wing icon. So what?! I pasted the only part of the story that will stick.

Glenn Beck’s Golden Fleece

One Beck fan told the FTC that Goldline had charged $369 for coins that could be bought elsewhere for 40 percent less.


Dear Conservative/Tea Party Activist,

Stop placing your faith in Beck, Rush, and Rupert!!!! Place your faith in your principles, and learn how to effectively promote them!!!

The irony of Arlen Specter’s loss…

…Is that he left the Republican Party because it was supposedly “too conservative” for a moderate, when, in fact, he lost because the Democratic Party is far too liberal for a “moderate.”

If the last few months have taught Americans anything, it is that there is no such thing as a “conservative Democrat.”

Texas joins the states properly attacking Union Thuggery

(hat tip Warner Todd Huston)

Every teacher should know that they can exercise their Beck Decision rights to have their greedy unions return the portion of their dues that goes toward lobbying.

Now Texas joins Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Ohio, Michigan and Washington in promulgating “paycheck protection” their workers. If you go to this link, you’ll find out how the Texas Attorney General arrived at this important decision

With Christie, Pawlenty and Daniels, GOP points way to future

One of my favorite stories from my travels in Illinois Politics is when one of the “Fab Five” told me, “Bruno, there’s no constituency for spending cuts.”

This senator apparently never thought to create such a constituency, or perhaps thought that it was impossible to do so. He may have been right, but the fact is that there is a large constituency for spending cuts right now.

Of course, the constituency for spending increases will always be with us, but the current climate supports cutting and freezing spending, and we should do all we can to build that support. Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels, and now Tim Pawlenty, have shown that you can cut and freeze state spending.

It’s time to start talking about permanent and hard caps on spending at the state and municipal level. Once you cap spending, you cap taxes. If you vote for spending increases, you are voting for tax increases.

Tim Pawlenty budgets with an eye on 2012

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s final budget, completed early Monday morning over the protests of angry Democrats and passed in a special session of the state legislature later in the day, positions the 2012 Republican presidential hopeful as the embodiment of conservative governance in hard economic times.

Pawlenty appears to have run the table on the Democratic majorities in both of the houses of the legislature, forcing them to drop plans for new surcharges and scrap their top priority, an expansion of federal and state-funded health care for some of the state’s poor. They also enacted spending cuts that a court recently ruled Pawlenty could not make himself.

He will complete his two-term tenure at the end of this year having fulfilled his pledge not to raise taxes, with his approval ratings in positive territory, and having largely avoided the pragmatic compromises that often bedevil governors in polarized party primaries. His success gives him the accomplishments to match his conservative rhetoric, and set a high bar for other ambitious governors facing budget crises of their own in this lean year.

If Mitch Daniels decides not to run for President, Tim Pawlenty is the next best thing.

Face it folks, he just plain lied

Misplaced words, my a–!!

Can’t someone in politics just admit to lying when caught blatantly lying? The quality of politicians drops by the day.

Blumenthal Calls War Claim ‘Misplaced Words’

HARTFORD — Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, a Democrat running for the United States Senate, said on Tuesday that he took “full responsibility” for saying he had served in Vietnam when he actually had received five military deferments before enlisting in the Marine Reserve, enabling him to avoid combat overseas.

His mea culpa, broadcast live on national television, was hastily arranged by Mr. Blumenthal’s campaign and national Democratic aides in an effort to put out a political fire that some party officials had worried could imperil his candidacy.

“On a few occasions I have misspoken about my service, and I regret that and I take full responsibility,” Mr. Blumenthal said at a packed news conference at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in West Hartford. “But I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country.”

Mr. Blumenthal, 64, said he had been unaware of what he called “those misplaced words” when he delivered them. He said that the errors were “totally unintentional” and that he had made them only a few times in hundreds of public appearances.

The cover up is usually worse than the crime, and this is not one of the exceptions. This man is a liar. Why can’t he just admit it?