Saturday, April 30, 2011

THE LIBERTY BULLHORN: THE CASE AGAINST INCOME AND PROPERTY TAXES

Enjoy this week's Liberty Bullhorn (apologies for a misprint in this issue when first published on Friday). It discusses the equally redistributive nature of income and property taxes. Another article asks whether the budget crisis in Illinois is a revenue or spending crisis.

Friday, April 29, 2011

AUTHORITARIANISM: CAL DEM BUDGET TACTICS PROVE AYN RAND RIGHT

Politics, like martial arts, is a contact sport. And just as in free-style kenpo sparring, political combatants try to use dirty tricks to win. But the tricks used by Democrat legislators in California go beyond even the dirty playbook of politics. In a desperate effort to protect their welfare state at all cost they are threatening to use discrimination and political profiling of their citizens. The Sacramento Bee reports:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

GOOD NEWS, DARK SHADOWS: ILLINOIS RECOVERY THREATENED BY BIG TAX HIKE, INFLATION

The Illinois Policy Institute, one of America's most innovative think tanks, has published my analysis of the slow economic recovery in Illinois.

BLACK HOLE: WHAT DID UTAH DO WITH 26-PCT TRANSPORTATION SPENDING HIKE?

If your income went up 26 percent in one year, would you be panicking over being cash strapped? That is what state lawmakers in Utah are doing. Despite massive increases in transportation funding over the past two years they are desperately trying to get their hands on even more money. After a sharp rise in federal funding as well as borrowing they now want to earmark up to one fourth of the state's sales tax revenues for transportation projects. Governor Herbert opposes this earmarking, and a controversy has emerged that with comical clarity shows what happens when government tries to take care of every aspect of our lives. From the Salt Lake Tribune:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

CORPORATE WELFARE: TAX-PAID $20m GRANT FOR $15m INVESTMENT

Corporate welfare is technically not a part of the welfare state, but it has strong resemblances to welfare directed at individuals. The political purpose is to exercise central economic planning and thereby achieve certain ideologically charged political goals. Corporate welfare does not benefit the recipient per se, but intentionally distorts the corporation's decisions and makes it act in a way favored by the government. In a story from Wisconsin, blogger Tom Daykin in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel provides a good illustration of these problems with corporate welfare:

GOVERNMENT FOOD: OHIO TAXPAYERS FORCED TO FUND CUCUMBER GROWING

In tough times we review our spending priorities and sort essential expenses from things we can live without. It is not more than fair that government does the same. In addition to general belt-tightening, this is also a good time for politicians to re-think the entire structure of government spending. Should, e.g., government spend taxpayers' money on producing food in community gardens? According to the Columbus Dispatch-based City Blog, sixty so called...

Monday, April 25, 2011

GETTING IT RIGHT: RALEIGH CITY GOV SETS EXAMPLE FOR TIGHT BUDGET MANAGEMENT

Politicians offer numerous opportunities for criticism of their daily deeds. But just as they deserve to be held accountable for reckless, stupid and wasteful policies, they also deserve recognition when, on rare occasions, they do something right. The leadership of the city of Raleigh, NC deserves that kind of credit. The Raleigh-based News Observer reports that the city has taken a prudent approach to cutting its budget:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

SOVIETIZATION: OBAMA POLITBUREAU WANTS TO DICTATE LOCATION OF BOEING FACTORIES

The Obama politbureau bureaucracy are launching another attack on state sovereignty and American economic freedom. The Washington Examiner reports:

Friday, April 22, 2011

THE LIBERTY BULLHORN: THE ETHICS OF ADDICTION TAXES

This week's issue of America's most educational economic newsletter examines the ethical principles behind taxes on addictive products, such as tobacco and marijuana. Another piece analyzes the economic success of South Dakota. There is also an overview of how many states now rely on the federal government as their largest source of income.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

YOU SMOKE, WE SPEND: THE ETHICAL AND ECONOMIC CYNICISM OF TOBACCO TAXES

One of the most absurd twists on the welfare state is that government tries to fund it with so called vice taxes. One example is the tobacco tax: the official do-good story is that tobacco taxes were introduced to discourage tobacco consumption and improve people's health. In reality, tobacco taxes have become an addictive revenue source for spendoholic legislators. In fact, vice taxes in general have become so important to government that some politicians virtually encourage more vice activities - like drinking - to fund spending. Taking it up a notch on the scale of political absurdity, in 2007 the American Academy of Family Physicians urged Congress to raise the tobacco tax to pay for SCHIP, or "Medicaid for Kids":

Monday, April 18, 2011

CALIFORNIA CRUNCH: ENTITLEMENT STATE RESIDENTS FEEL PAIN OF BROKEN GOVT PROMISES

This blog has repeatedly pointed to the destructive effects of making a state dependent on the federal government. This dependency has grown to a point where more and more states are mere executioners of federal spending. The Sacramento Bee - which has never before made a problem out of California's dependency on the federal government - has a sob story on this issue:

Sunday, April 17, 2011

TRUST THY GOVERNMENT: EMPTY FED PRISON IN N.H. A HOLLOW MONUMENT TO THE WELFARE STATE

This blog has reported many absurd stories of government behavior in our economy, some of them downright comical. But the story about the federal prison in Berlin, NH beats most of them. The city has lost many private-sector jobs over the past decade. When private sector jobs are lost local politicians feel an itching need to "do something". When politicians feel that itching need, it does not mean cutting taxes and deregulating to help the private sector grow. Nor does it mean cutting spending and allowing people to re-take control over their own lives. Instead, it almost always means "take my constituents' money and waste-and-spend it for them". Or, more recently, "borrow money from the Chinese and waste-and-spend it for my constituents". This almost pathological deficit-spending behavior has, as we all know, put the federal government in some dire fiscal straits. So dire, in fact, that the Democrats did not dare to pass a budget for this current fiscal year. Which brings us full circle back to Berlin, NH:

Friday, April 15, 2011

MORE OVER-PROMISING: OREGON SCHOOL DISTRICT CUTS STAFF TO BALANCE BUDGET

More and more corners of Main Street, America are falling victim to over-promising government. The latest example of a promise default is the Salem-Keizer school district in Oregon. From the Statesman Journal:

THE LIBERTY BULLHORN - DID GEORGE BUSH PRESIDE OVER AMERICA'S DECLINE?

Enjoy the latest issue of The Liberty Bullhorn - America's most educational economic newsletter!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

RECORD SPENDING: ALASKA CAPITAL BUDGET UP 34 PERCENT OVER 2010

(Thanks for reader news tip)

The Anchorage Daily News reports that Alaska is setting a new spending record. In their capital spending budget for the coming year, Last Frontier legislators are pushing the envelope with frivolous construction projects across almost every area of government spending:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

PRIORITY PANIC: FLORIDA LAWMAKERS SLASH BUDGET WITHOUT LONG-TERM FOCUS

States struggling to close budget gaps often take to defensive measures, such as across-the-board cuts in all kinds of government services. One reason why legislators do this is that they are not used to making budget cuts: the normal state of affairs in government is to grow spending, preferably faster than the rest of the economy. Another reason is that legislators believe that everything government does is equally important. This is why we see lawmakers fumble and stumble as they try to get a grip on their deficits. The Orlando Sentinel reports on yet another example:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

GOOD CAUSE, BAD REFORM: CHANGING MEDICAL LICENSING IN OHIO

Enjoy my blog post on The Liberty Wall at the Buckeye Institute!

MONKEY MONEY: BUDGET CUTS FOR MINNESOTA ZOO A LESSON ON ESSENTIAL GOVERNMENT

A zoological sob story from the Star Tribune in Minneapolis provides a perfect opportunity for a lecture on Essential Government 101. State politicians around the country are notoriously bad at prioritizing when making budget cuts. North Star State legislators are no exception, but the upside of this is that they do in fact cut funds for the Minnesota Zoo as part of their budget balancing efforts. While this is good, there is also a lesson to be learned here:

Monday, April 11, 2011

CENTENNIAL HYPE: COLORADO LEGISLATOR LAMENTS BUDGET CUTS DESPITE MORE SPENDING

The Colorado legislature has passed a budget focused on spending cuts. According to the Denver Post there was a big battle over education spending, which resulted in lamenting statements from at least one Democrat legislator:

THE LIBERTY BULLHORN: STATE EMPLOYMENT AND THE RECOVERY

The April 8 issue of The Liberty Bullhorn reveals some very interesting data on employment in the light of our slow economic recovery. Click here to read America's Most Educational Economic Newsletter.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

THE OSTRICH PARTY: TEXAS DEM'S STICK HEAD IN SAND, HOPE BUDGET FIXES ITSELF

The Politex blog at the Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that the Democrat Party in Tarrant County, which includes the Fort Worth area, is re-energizing itself after two years of a downward political spiral. Generally it is a good thing when people get politically active. However, this protest brings nothing new and constructive to the state's policy table. All the protesters want to do is say no to Governor Perry's plan for fixing the state's deep budget hole:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

GOVERNMENT CRUELTY: PATIENTS TORMENTED BY ENGLAND'S TAX-PAID HEALTH CARE

There is overwhelming evidence that tax-funded, government-run health care is a disaster. But if the widespread cuts in Medicaid here in the United States are not enough to convince health care socialists, the BBC provides yet more evidence of the inevitable cruelty of socialized medicine:

ARIZONA TAX CREDITS: SUPREME COURT RULING GOOD FOR WELFARE, HEALTH REFORM

The Supreme Court ruling on the Arizona model for school-choice supporting tax credits opens a new door for legislators who wish to reduce government involvement in education. But the ruling may also have implications for the use of tax breaks in other areas of entitlements, such as welfare and health care:

Monday, April 4, 2011

NO CARE 4 U: SOUTH CAROLINA DEFAULTS ON HEALTH PROMISES TO MEDICAID PATIENTS

The State, South Carolina's most influential daily newspaper, reports that The Palmetto State is slashing Medicaid reimbursement rates for health care providers. The immediate consequence of this is, of course, that hospitals are cutting services and making health care less accessible:

Saturday, April 2, 2011

FISCAL HEADACHE: R.I. POL'S STRUGGLE WITH BENEFITS-BLOWN BUDGET IN STATE-RUN CITY

Like the Devil, Socialism is in the details. Some of the most pathetic examples of government budgetary mismanagement is found in counties, cities and townships across America. In the dishonorable top tier among bad examples is Central Falls, RI. The Providence Journal explains that the city, which this blog has reported on before, is under state receivership and causing state legislators quite a bit of fiscal headache. Following the conventional-thinking route, the proposals for solving the problems in Central Falls are concentrated to confiscating more money from the private sector:

Friday, April 1, 2011

THE LIBERTY BULLHORN: SPENDING CAPS ON FEDERAL GOVERNMENT; SLOWDOWN IN PERSONAL INCOME GROWTH

The latest issue of The Liberty Bullhorn has an article about spending caps on the federal budget: