Thursday, April 15, 2010

Extremists Or Citizens?

There will be a lot of Tea Party protests across the country today. It used to be that the Libertarian Party was out there at Post Offices every April 15, in groups of 15 or 20 protesters, to make their message heard and seen by those dropping off tax returns at the deadline. No more. It's going to be big stuff today across the country.

I'll be interested to see the narrative on the news, and the pictures that are shown. To hear it told, the Tea Partiers are at least in part, of entirely: racist, violent, incapable of correct spelling or grammar, mean-spirited.

I found an incredible post today, that compiles a litany of violent threats against the President. They are images from anti-war rallies, and threats against President Bush.

I haven't seen a single placard in a Tea Party directly calling for the murder of the President, but you could see plenty in the anti-war rallies. I guess that was ok. The media was fine with burying these images, but can't wait to paint tax protesters as all the things it could have, and should have, painted the anti-war protesters. Want to know why people complain about liberal media bias? Feast your eyes.

In a tangential thought, where are the anti-war rallies now? Is it that Obama is extending the Bush wars in Iraq & Afghanistan that makes them ok? My team, right or wrong?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Interesting Immigration Letter

I was advised recently by Brad Klopfenstein that he was taking a letter to US Senator Dick Lugar, regarding immigration reform. Here's the text:
Small Business Petition to Congress for Real Immigration Reform

Dear Senator Lugar:

We need immigration reform that will protect American jobs; will require all immigrants who are in the country illegally to register with the government, undergo background checks, study English, and pay taxes; enforce our laws and protect our borders; protect employers; and provide local governments with the funding and tools they need to implement comprehensive reform. Small businesses need immigration reform to do our part for economic recovery and to ensure a stable workforce for Indiana. We, the undersigned small businesses of Indiana, urge you to pass just and comprehensive immigration reform this year. We must prevent unscrupulous employers from exploiting undocumented workers and undercutting honest competition. We need you to move forward with a common sense solution that upholds our values of fairness and justice while securing the border, offering a
pathway to citizenship, and modernizing our immigration system.

The time for action is now.

I've long been of a mixed mind on this issue. At the core, I really want to see open borders. That's the idealist in me. But the realist keeps intervening.

It bothers me that non-citizens come into the country to frequently take jobs under the table, so they aren't paying taxes. Then, they often take advantage of services collectively provided for, such as schools or emergency rooms. I don't believe it just to provide services to non-citizens.

Could local employers not give jobs to illegal immigrants? Sure, but I understand why they do. The tax burden on employers is so high that they can pay someone off the books far more than they can someone on, and be money ahead. So, if they can pay an illegal way less than someone on the books, they get way ahead. There's the incentive for employers willing to take a risk. Those competitors not willing to risk running afoul of the law are at a comparative disadvantage.

So, the issue needs to be addressed. I'd like to see us get to where my own ideal can prevail, but we're giving away the store at a time when there's very little in the till anyhow.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Utilities, Cities, Stupid

Some basic economics lessons for civic leaders ought to be a prerequisite for office. The stupidity is astonishing in light of the inability to grasp something so simple. Check this out, regarding water rates, from ABC News:
The grim economy is hitting some consumers in the wallet in yet another way: their water bills.

Many water utilities are raising rates because water use is down, in part because manufacturers have closed or are cutting back, tourism has fallen and the real estate market is in the doldrums.

Water companies for the most part get their money from customers. When water consumption goes up, revenues go up — but when consumption falls, so do revenues.

Water companies often raise rates to pay for high-priced capital expenditures, such as new water lines or treatment plant expansions. But they also have to hike rates when water use goes down to bring in enough money to pay their basic operating costs.

They have it exactly backward, in the same way as cities screw up on tax policy. If demand is low, you're going to jack up the rates? But that will just further drive down usage!

Cleveland didn't (doesn't) get this. Population starts to leave, so in an attempt to keep the tax revenues from falling, they jack up the rates... which makes more people leave, so they jack up the rates... Duh!

If you want to attract people top cities, or encourage water usage, LOWER the rates. People will have more incentive to come to the city, or to use the water. If you want to cut costs (the other, more greatly neglected way to strike a balance), lose some employees. After all- usage is down! Less for them to maintain.

As for me, I'm not entirely unhappy that water usage is down. Water resources are scarce, and lower usage natioally might allow some aquefers to recharge. Many desperately need to be. Raising rates is an excellent conservation tool. Idiot utility managers are accidental environmentalists.