Saturday, September 26, 2009

Glenn Beck is the new Oprah

I have been a Glenn Beck fan for a while, mostly because I tended to listen to anyone from the right willing to criticize Bush, but recently, his show is getting wierder, and I like it less. I still enjoy his radio show, and I loved his CNN show when he still had it. Beck's Fox News TV show is becoming more popular, and I couldn't put my finger on what I liked less about it. Then yesterday, he had his patriot moms show, where he had a bunch of conservative moms, most of whom homeschooled their children, on for a conversation with them. They complained about issues that they faced with society and government, and he listened to them. You could feel his empathy, and the moms were obviously glad to have a voice and feel a part of something. Several of them had very real problems of harassment by bureaucrats at various levels of government. Then it hit me. Glenn Beck is using the Oprah Winfrey model to go after Oprah's viewers. He gives a voice to the voiceless, talks about problems that average, everyday women face, and gets viewers that care about those problems. Just like Oprah, he gets viewers that are involved in the show beyond just viewing. When he recommends a book, it flies to the top of best-seller lists. He challenges viewers to do something to make a difference in their world. And hundreds of thousands of them show up to Washington at his suggestion. Beck's new job as housewife hero is powerful one for entertainer/newsman, but that with that power comes great responsibility. I pray that Beck will keep his legions of followers pointed in the right direction.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Department of Energy Subsidizes Sports Cars for Millionaires

A few months after the Department of Energy gave a $465 million sweetheart subsidized loan to Tesla Motors, to build two $100,000+ all-electric sports cars in the UK, now they've given a $529 million sweetheart subsidized loan to Fisker Automotive, an Al Gore-backed company that will build an $89,000 hybrid sports car. It is stupid that the Federal Government is taking money from Americans and subsidizing Finnish and British jobs when there is increasing unemployment in the United States (or anytime for that matter). It is criminal that the Federal Government is taking money from poor and middle-class taxpayers and subsidizing toys that only the very wealthy can afford. It goes to prove that big Government programs serve the most wealthy on the backs of workers and entrepreneurs.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Vote Yes on Prop 11 This November

The Texas Constitutional Amendment election is Tuesday, November 3. In the upcoming weeks, I'll examine all of the proposed Texas Constitutional Amendments, but I want to give special attention to Prop 11, because it is worth campaigning for. Here's the text:

“The constitutional amendment to prohibit the taking, damaging, or destroying of private property for public use unless the action is for the ownership, use, and enjoyment of the property by the State, a political subdivision of the State, the public at large, or entities granted the power of eminent domain under law or for the elimination of urban blight on a particular parcel of property, but not for certain economic development or enhancement of tax revenue purposes, and to limit the legislature’s authority to grant the power of eminent domain to an entity.”

This is a rather narrowly-written amendment, but it represents a significant increase in property rights protection. The amendment was written in direct response to the Kelo v. New London Supreme Court case. This case ruled that an increased property value, and subsequent increased property tax take, was a public use, and therefore private property could be transferred from one owner to another if the new owner would pay more property taxes than the current owner. In the Kelo case, the City of New London, Connecticut, took Suzette Kelo's (and many of her neighbor's) home and gave it to Pfizer because the complex that Pfizer would build would be be valued higher and worth more in property taxes than the homeowners in the neighborhood. Proposition 11 would effectively prohibit governments in Texas from using eminent domain to take land for anything other than explicit public purpose. Eminent domain is one of the most anti-liberty powers that governments have, so it should be strictly limited. Prop 11 would apply some necessary common sense restrictions to that power.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Global Warming Hysteria Distracting From Real Environmental Problems

I have a confession to make: I'm an environmentalist. I'm not the kind of environmentalist that pushes for international bans on DDT production based on weak science, allowing millions of African people to die of malaria, but I am an environmentalist. I think governments have a fundamental responsibility to promote responsible use resources and protect habitat and shared resources from contamination. I'm glad that I live in the most environmentally responsible major industrial power in the world. Now I haven't bought into the global warming hysteria, so I've been accused of being anti-environmentalist. But now, more and more environmentalists are realizing that the Global Warming religion has distracted environmentalists from major environmental problems in our world. From the BBC (Read the whole article, it's interesting):

As the UN climate summit in Copenhagen approaches, exhortations that "we must get a deal" and warnings that climate change is "the greatest challenge we face as a species" are to be heard in virtually every political forum.

But if you look back to the latest definitive check on the planet's environmental health - the Global Environment Outlook (Geo-4), published by the UN two years ago - what emerges is a picture of decline that goes way, way beyond climate change.

Species are going extinct at perhaps 1,000 times the normal rate, as key habitats such as forests, wetlands and coral reefs are plundered for human infrastructure.

Aquifers are being drained and fisheries exploited at unsustainable speed. Soils are becoming saline, air quality is a huge cause of illness and premature death; the human population is bigger than our one Earth can currently sustain.

Now some of that is overstated hysteria, especially the last clause, but a lot of that is true. Deforestation and habitat loss, especially in Central America, is causing more environmental damage right now than all the carbon dioxide that humans have ever produced. Fresh water is becoming an increasingly scarce resource, and the air quality in China and India (among others) is becoming dangerously bad.

With all of these very real problems, why do environmentalists, especially government environmental regulators, seem so focused on whether the world is 1 degree warmer or 0.8 degrees warmer in 100 years? None of the real issues offer them governments the kind of opportunities for control that Carbon Dioxide emissions control does. Free enterprise, with developments in desalination technologies, can make a major dent in the fresh water shortage. Governments can preserve habitats, but landowners often do a better job, and land preservation doesn't offer government much behavior control. Western governments can't do much about China's and India's air quality. But humans emit carbon dioxide everywhere they go and with every thing they do, so carbon dioxide regulations offers governments control over everything in everyone's life.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Obama's Speech to Student's Leaked

This is a Pitchfork and Musket Junta exclusive. Since the Junta have such a good relationship with President Obama's teleprompter, we occasionally get scoops. Here is the full text:
Good, um, afternoon, children of America. Thank you for, uh, letting me speak to you today. I'm going to talk to you about how you can be as successful as me, if you just work hard, have the right connections, and worm your way into the right, uh, elite circles. First things first: to all of you in public schools (which I would suppose would be all of you, since I can't imagine to many homeschoolers or private school kids wasting their time on this), get out now. Just like I had to do. Indonesian public school wasn't going to allow me to get where I wanted to be, so I moved back to Hawaii and enrolled in the best private school in the state. In the United States, with the politicized Department of Education that we have, you're at an even bigger disadvantage in public schools. Now, some of your parents don't have the money and are wondering how to pay for private school. Well, just get your, um, millionaire banker grandmother to twist some arms and get you a scholarship. It worked for me.

Some of you won't to listen to me, and will stay in those horrible public schools, but that's okay. Not everyone is cut out to be President or even a University of Chicago Law Professor or Community Organizer. We'll need you on welfare or in low-paying service jobs to help bully, I mean, influence voters.

While you are at your elite private school, make sure that you make all of the connections that you can. They will help you get into an elite liberal arts university, maybe even in the Ivy League. This is important, because to fully understand the direction of the country, you need to understand the evils of capitalism, and the best way to learn that is from the wealthiest communists in the world. Columbia and Harvard, and other important universities attract many great professors whose families have made so much money that they really understand the inequality that capitalism brings about, and who really want to tear down the opportunities for other people to have to suffer from having so much. Understanding the evils of capitalism will help you be a leader in this new America that we are trying to create. Make sure that you develop strong relationships with your most, um, radical professors, as these will help you succeed in Party politics in the future.

Now some of you are worrying how to pay for this elite education. Don't worry about that now. Just borrow the money from the Government, who will have the Fed print it out for you. If you learn well enough, you can move to Chicago, become a community organizer, do great work for the Party, and have someone else pay your student loans for you.

I thank you for your time, and, um, tell your parents that you need the healthcare bill to pass.

Minimum Wage Hike: Record Teenage Unemployment

From the NY Times:
This August, the teenage unemployment rate — that is, the percentage of teenagers who wanted a job who could not find one — was 25.5 percent, its highest level since the government began keeping track of such statistics in 1948. Likewise, the percentage of teenagers over all who were working was at its lowest level in recorded history.... Increases in the minimum wage may have made employers reluctant to hire teenagers, said Marvin H. Kosters, a resident scholar emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute.
Now, I'm pretty sure that the car wash where I got a job at 15 would still hire some of these teenagers part-time (I did survive a minimum wage hike while I was there - $4.25 to $5.15), but it has been shown over and over again that the effect of a minimum wage hike is to disallow the lowest quality, poorest, entry-level workers a job. I'm glad that the New York Times is at least reporting well-supported economic theory.

Real Live Homegrown Terrorism

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has been extremely concerned about homegrown terrorism - putting pro-life activists, anti-government/anti-Federal Reserve activists, and returning veterans on terrorist watch lists. There have been a couple of criminal activities that have been painted as terrorism to ensure that these lists are taken more seriously. Meanwhile, in Washington, a real-live homegrown terrorist organization is active and committing acts of terrorism. The Environmental Liberation Front tore down a radio tower in Everett Washington, because they thought it might mess with trumpeter swan habitat. The ELF was once the #1 homegrown terrorist organization in the country. Now, as terrorism goes, this was relatively minor, and some of the individual criminal acts by "right-wing" extremists has been worse. But there has been no organized right-wing terrorist plot to justify the villainization of legitimate protesters. No matter how politicized and anti-citizen the Department of Homeland Security becomes, I hope local law enforcement pays attention to the real terrorists, and lets those who have legitimate complaints about government protest without harassment by law enforcement.