Archive for the ‘Waste’ Category

California is collapsing.  The Guardian has an outsider’s perspective on the downfall of the world’s eighth largest economy.  The Golden State is fading.

California has a special place in the American psyche. It is the Golden State: a playground of the rich and famous with perfect weather. It symbolises a lifestyle of sunshine, swimming pools and the Hollywood dream factory.

But the state that was once held up as the epitome of the boundless opportunities of America has collapsed. From its politics to its economy to its environment and way of life, California is like a patient on life support. At the start of summer the state government was so deeply in debt that it began to issue IOUs instead of wages. Its unemployment rate has soared to more than 12%, the highest figure in 70 years. Desperate to pay off a crippling budget deficit, California is slashing spending in education and healthcare, laying off vast numbers of workers and forcing others to take unpaid leave. In a state made up of sprawling suburbs the collapse of the housing bubble has impoverished millions and kicked tens of thousands of families out of their homes. Its political system is locked in paralysis and the two-term rule of former movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger is seen as a disaster – his approval ratings having sunk to levels that would make George W Bush blush. The crisis is so deep that Professor Kevin Starr, who has written an acclaimed history of the state, recently declared: “California is on the verge of becoming the first failed state in America.”

California is screwed.  It’s a disaster, and it’s easy to point to a few reasons why.  The legislature has been staunchly Democratic since 1970, with one brief interlude of Republican control.  The state is the absolute paragon of liberalism, the fullest flower of the public-service/welfare state apparatus.  Republicans are a minority in every single voting district in the entire state, at all levels of government.

But you wouldn’t know that if you read some of the left’s critical analysis of California’s plight.


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I Almost Want to Read This


So Ralph Nader wrote a book.  A book about Warren Buffett and Yoko Ono and Phil Donahue and George Soros and a Parrot.  And it’s a novel.  Color me fascinated.

From the Journal’s review of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us:

In Mr. Nader’s tale, billionaire investor Warren Buffett is so dismayed by the ineffectual and chaotic government reaction to Hurricane Katrina that he hatches a plan to “redirect” American society. He summons a brace of moguls—Ted Turner, Barry Diller, Ross Perot and George Soros, among others—to a secret Maui location, along with such celebrities as Bill Cosby, Yoko Ono and Warren Beatty. As they confer together, they find that they all—surprise! —agree that Something Must Be Done.

The news media soon dub this cabal, in one of Mr. Nader’s typically tin-eared phrases, “the Meliorists.” The “something” that they all agree must be done involves, naturally, increasing regulation, raising taxes and punishing heartless multinational corporations. It’s easy, apparently, once you’ve made a billion dollars in international business and finance, to denounce international business and finance.

But the Meliorists realize that before any real reform can take place they must first win over America. They have to wake up the country. And that process fills the first 200 pages—out of a total of 700 (I mentioned that, right?)—of this very long, very odd, very Nader book.

Here, for instance, is an actual passage from “Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!”: “As promised, Ted Turner and Phil Donahue had put their heads together to brainstorm about a mascot for the group’s efforts. Ted’s thoughts naturally ran along avian lines, and it wasn’t long before they hit on the idea of a parrot. . . . Patriotic Polly hit the airwaves in fifteen-second spots shown on thousands of stations, and it was an immediate smash.”

Remember the plot device in movies where someone proposes a hare-brained scheme and someone else says “that’s just crazy enough to work”?  Well this is like that… except crazier, and not workable.

My main issue is with the idea that American society can be “directed”. Recently, a Venezuelan government official argued that America was morally bankrupt because Family Guy aired an episode about Brian and Stewie smoking pot.

“We can observe how [the U.S. government] promotes and incites the population to consume that drug there,” said Tarek El Aissaimi, Venezuela’s Interior Minister. “There’s no subliminal message. It’s an animated cartoon where you can observe perfectly how they promote consumption and moreover they foster the legalization of marijuana.”

We all know that’s ridiculous.  “Directing” America is almost impossible.  You couldn’t even argue that Seth MacFarlane and the rest of the Family Guy staff are leaders on pot reform; they’re responding to a vigorous social movement to legalize the drug that is bigger than one person, or one tv show.

Our society, such as it is, is an incredibly diverse mixture of aims and ambitions, and its wonderful complexity and innovative nature is due to the fact that we don’t have ‘directors’ like Nader wants, and certainly wants to be.

So in summary, if I were on a desert island, I might have the time to plow through this screed, but in this life I won’t read it.  I have too much on my plate, directing my own life down another path.

(Side note: GIS for “scary clown” is pretty redundant.)

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The Public Servant Myth

Excellent article from Tyler Grimm in the Journal on how our congressmen are interested only in making wise spending decisions, for the good of the general public.


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