October 2008 Archives

At the last presidential debate, Barack Obama said a few things that made my skin crawl. First, he proposed forcing oil companies to either drill on their U.S. reserves, or he would nationalize those oil reserves. The phrase he used was 'Use it or lose it.' I'm astounded that this hasn't gotten more press play as it shows a clear disregard for property rights in an economy based on the inviolate provision of private ownership.

Dictating the usage of oil assets to an oil company is akin to Obama telling a family with two cars that if they don't use their second one more often, he's going to confiscate the second car... even if (to extend the analogy) the second car is an S.U.V. and gas is $4/gallon.

Similarly, if it costs $100/barrel to extract oil from the ground and it would take a certain number of dollars and years to develop that oil field, the oil company is going to look at their other opportunities to decide if they should develop the oil patch. They'll make an economic decision (just like the family garaging the S.U.V.) whether to employ that asset.

Back to the debate, Obama claims that if he or congress does not like that decision, they're going to simply repossess the oil fields. Now that is socialism!

Yes, I'm aware that Oil companies are the current 'Big Bad,' but if he doesn't understand the principal of property rights for oil companies, what's to stop him from dictating crop decisions to farmers, programming decisions to media companies, or employment decisions to citizens?

Danny K. Davis - My Congressman

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I'm beginning to research my down ballot options as election day approaches. I found this page on the local PBS website with videos from both of the major party candidates for the Illinois 7th Congressional district.

WTTW Candidate Free Time - Danny K. Davis vs. Steve Miller - Illinois 7th Congressional District

Next, I turned to Congressman Davis' Wikipedia page and thought I smelled a rat. I mean, come on! Surely my congressman didn't place a crown on Sun Myung Moon immediately following Moon's declaration of himself as "humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent."

Hail to the Moon King - Salon.com

Wait... not that I'm a big reader of Salon, but I trust them enough to be stupefied.

The Subprime primer

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Confused about the financial crisis... this cartoon explains it for you. Beware, these cartoon figures have potty mouths.

Linky, linky.

Government by the corrupt

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It's bad enough that things got so bad we needed a $700 Billion government intervention in the markets... but the House's failure to approve the Rescue measure on Monday, instead delaying until Friday ended up costing $110 billion ($27.5 billion/day).

That's Not Change You Can Believe In
I spent some time this morning with the Joint Committee on Taxation score of the "tax extenders" portion of the bailout bill. The rough cost of the additions, which your children and grandchildren will pay, is $110 billion through 2018. This includes an Alternative Minimum Tax patch, and lots of tax subsidies for renewable energy. Some other highlights:

• $2 million excise tax exemption on "certain wooden arrows designed for use by children."
• $49 million in tax breaks for people (in Alaska, mostly) receiving compensation from the litigation over the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
• $100 million in tax breaks for "certain motorsports racing track facilities."
• $179 million in tax incentives for "investment in the District of Columbia."
• $49 million for a charitable deduction for corporations who donate books to libraries.
• $33 million for an economic development credit in American Samoa.
• $61 million in added credits for "steel industry fuel" also known as liquefied coal waste sludge.
• $397 million for the "domestic production activities deduction" for film production
• $81 million to extend and modify treatment of "certain film and television productions."

So let's see. We were 12 votes shy on Monday, so that's approximately $9.16 Billion of "Sweeteners" per necessary vote, or if you consider that today's vote passed with an extra 58 votes (263-171 Friday compared to 205-229 on Monday), that comes to $1.9 Billion/vote.

Our government is broken.

Dear Senator McCain (and staff),

I am an independent voter who leans Republican most of the time. I was initially a strong supporter of Senator McCain and have become significantly less excited about the campaign beginning in early August - to the point that I now call myself undecided. I am placing the burden on Senator McCain to prove to me that his rhetoric is heartfelt and not empty. (You may count me as one voter who believes the Sarah Palin choice was a poor one.)

Yesterday, I learned that the Senate will take up the rescue bill this evening and I assumed that the only changes were the FDIC provisions being discussed in the media. However, I saw the following blog post this afternoon and feel that if there are indeed special interest earmarks (as described below) in this bill that it is not a good government solution to the problem.

As I stated above, it is up to Senator McCain to earn my vote now (as logical or illogical as that may be - it's how I feel). He can take a long step in that direction by filibustering any attempt to pollute the rescue bill with non essential wasteful spending.

I want to see a true commitment to pragmatic fiscal conservatism. Even though the very nature of the Secretary's plan is abhorrent to me, I agree that it is necessary. However, tack-on provisions that are business as usual are wrong and have no place in a bill such as this.

Furthermore, I would like to see the campaign placing a much higher priority on a balanced budget. Debt is the root cause of our current economic woes. All solutions to these problems are only temporary until the government's leverage ratio is decreased.

Please feel free to read this letter on the Senate floor during the course of your filibuster if you need some material to fill the time. This bill is odious to the concept of good government. Please don't let the urgent nature of the bill force you into voting for a bill laden with bad government.

Byron Clarke
Chicago, IL

A few examples of those earmarks:

New tax earmarks in Bailout bill

* Film and Television Productions (Up to $15,000,000.00; Sec. 502)
* Wooden Arrows designed for use by children (Sec. 503)
* 6 page package of earmarks for litigants in the 1989 Exxon Valdez incident, Alaska (Sec. 504)

Tax earmark "extenders" in the bailout bill

* Virgin Island and Puerto Rican Rum (Section 308)
* American Samoa (Sec. 309)
* Mine Rescue Teams (Sec. 310)
* Mine Safety Equipment (Sec. 311)
* Domestic Production Activities in Puerto Rico (Sec. 312)
* Indian Tribes (Sec. 314, 315)
* Railroads (Sec. 316)
* Auto Racing Tracks (317)
* District of Columbia (Sec. 322)
* Wool Research (Sec. 325)