Recently (as in last week), I moved back from the Bay Area of California to my hometown in Metro Detroit.  I spent about 4-1/2 years in CA, mainly around SF, and I’ve seen enough to recognize that the two states are running on parallel paths with respect to fiscal discipline.

The difference is that the demise of the Big Three hastened the general fiscal crisis/one-state depression that is Michigan.  Subsequently, housing prices dropped as foreclosures hit the market–much earlier than CA and many other states.  For example, I’m looking at houses right now, most of them ready-to-move-in and in good neighborhoods, with prices right around $30k, give or take a couple thousand.  Monthly payments would be around $180, and that’s on a 15-year mortgage!  The point is, the same thing is happening now to CA.  But they’re about 3 years behind where Michigan is at, in my estimation.

I believe MI could really experience a renaissance, an rapid influx of people and new businesses (and therefore, tax revenue), by doing a few simple things.  The number one factor already in place is what I already mentioned above: Cheap housing.  Houses are sitting empty, ready for people to move in, often with minimal fix-up work.

Second, make it easier for businesses to stay in Michigan.  Many manufacturing jobs have fled the state to the South (of the US) and also out of the US because of high costs of production in MI due to increasing regulations and influence of unions to increase pay.  Professional jobs run along the same lines, minus the union issue.  White collar jobs often follow the manufacturing base, or move because of the next reason, which is…

…hostile tax and regulatory policies at a state and local level.  Make it easier for companies to stay/enter the Michigan business landscape.  The feedback loop of increased costs from tax and regulation, businesses leaving the state for greener pastures, state/local gov’t raising taxes and fees to cover losses due to dwindling tax base, repeat, repeat, repeat–you get the picture.  Businesses, like just about everything else in life, take the path of least resistance.  You drop a basketball on the top of a hill, it will go downhill, not up.  Water looks for the cracks in a container and leaks out.  Not in.  Michigan–and California and a host of other more progressive states–are leaking vessels.

These states aren’t all bad.  Michigan has a booming west side in the Grand Rapids area.  Silicon Valley is still alive and kicking (although some of those tech jobs have moved to places like Salt Lake City).  But municipalities that are doing it the right way are increasingly at the mercy of poor fiscal discipline at the state level.

So why did I jump from the frying pan of CA into the fire of MI?  Family, the ties that bind.  That, and I can buy a house for $30, 000.  Just as long as I can find a job.

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Free museum admission at any Smithsonian museum or affiliated museums on Saturday, September 26.  I think I’m going to the Exploratorium in SF and save $15 on the admission.

As if we couldn’t see this coming:

“It’s almost Armageddon if the Japanese and Chinese don’t buy our debt,” Robertson said in an interview. “I don’t know where we could get the money. I think we’ve let ourselves get in a terrible situation and I think we ought to try and get out of it.”

The only way to avoid the problem, he said, is to “grow and save our way out of it.”

“The U.S. has to quit spending, cut back, start saving, and scale backward,” Robertson said. “Until that happens, I don’t think we’re anywhere near out of the woods.”

Thankfully, the American people are also starting to realize that the worst time to increase spending via massive new gov’t programs is when you don’t have the money to do so.

In that respect, having the Dems in controlling Congress and the WH at this time of economic uncertainty may be perfect timing for the country.  This is probably the absolute hardest time for them to actually pass legislation of the type they’ve been proposing (cap & trade, health care, higher taxes on rich, etc.).  Imagine what they would be able to do if this had happened during a strong economy.  It probably still would have been tough, but the opposition would have been a lot less vocal and numerous, in my opinion.

Concerning Trolls

September 14, 2009

Trolls are an interesting phenomena in the commenting community.  The equivalent of the kid who like to sneak up behind you in 5th grade and flick your ear, just to see what kind of reaction he would get.  The “wet willy” was also a common method in his toolbox of instigation.  Those boys (and girls) have grown up to become the trolls of the internet that provide us with online entertainment today.  But only if they are not flicking our ears.

Case in point, here is a quote from Afrolib, a known troll at hotair.com, concerning Kanye storming the stage at the VMA show:

Cons need to go buy a sense of humor from somewhere. Kanye was only kidding around with that Taylor chick. It was all an act. Jeez

Afrolib on September 13, 2009 at 11:42 PM

This evoked a response from someone who sees this particular troll as a horsefly instead of the gnat that he really is:

Get lost.

***********peace on September 13, 2009 at 11:44 PM

Of course, bothered by a gnat long enough, you will eventually tell it to “get lost.”  This really isn’t so bad an example of what to do with a troll, except for the fact that the troll gets his jollies from responses just like this.  But small jollies.  (I know, that doesn’t sound quite right.)

This is where the troll really succeeds, though.  Read this response to the same comment Afrolib made:

…I’m assuming you belong to the school of thought that only whites can be racist.

D*********r on September 13, 2009 at 11:52 PM

DING DING DING!!!  Afrolib is probably ROTFLOLWWU (rolling on the floor laughing out loud wee weed up) about now.  He got the exact response he was looking for:  Someone that is willing to take him seriously and is now arguing with him on semi-intellectual grounds now.  Hook, line, sinker.  It will eventually devolve into a “I know you are, but what am I” argument at this point, where one party (the serious responder to the troll, usually new to the blog, btw) offers up real arguments, while the troll, regardless of his political affiliation (if he has any at all) plays Devil’s advocate to string the other commenter along.  Everyone else just stands by to watch the slowest trainwreck in the world.

Essentially, to be a troll you do not need any sort of political/moral/whatever-the-blog-deals-with conviction.  You just have to know the issues and know how to push people’s buttons.  It doesn’t take much.  And all it takes is one or two mice to be caught so the cat (in this case a troll–hmm… a troll-cat) can play with them a while before he leaves them at the bloggers feet as a little present:  “Ban that troll!” they yell.

Yeah, right.  Trolls are too much fun if you know how to deal with them.  Just sit back with the are folks who are in on the joke and laugh at the kids getting their ears flicked.  Just as long as it isn’t you.

  • Stop the stimulus by putting a freeze on spending towards any projects that have not yet begun
  • Halt the Cash-for-Clunkers program
  • Cancel the vote on the Health Care bill (probably going to happen)
  • Cancel the vote on Cap-and-Trade (hopefully going to happen)
  • Loosen manufacturing, energy, and environmental regulations (even just a little bit)
  • Lower the corporate tax rate (even just a little bit)
  • Introduce tort reform (loser pays+damages cap) as a first step in health care reform
  • All this to Freeze the Deficit, Save the Country, and watch an Explosion of Growth

Yes, it’s a dream. But the opposite would be/is a recipe for disaster. Priority One is getting out of debt. We thought dependence on foreign oil was bad, but dependence on foreign funding is much more sinister in a drug-addicted junkie sort of way–sheepishly asking our friends around the world for just a little more money, if only to make it through the next couple of months. How many times can we keep going to that well?  China has won the first battle between the 21st century superpowers without firing a weapon, but by merely lending us money.  Is it merely chance that our post-WWII economic growth coincided with our rise to superpower status?  Or, is it merely chance that the USSR’s fall coincided with their economic downfall?  No, economic prowess and world standing go hand-in-hand.

Are we so blind as to not see the economic wasteland that is much of Europe? Can we not trace the roots to their socialist and quasi-socialist government programs that have disincentivized whole working populations and spurned inventive business practice? How can anyone can believe that a government program can “pay for itself,” as Obama has said about gov’t-controlled health care? You are adding new spending–the money has to come from somewhere. There is only one solution: Tax Everyone.  Yes, even the poor and destitute are taxed now and will have their taxes increased even more through a VAT (currently being surreptitiously floated by the administration) or hidden consumption taxes (many already in place on things like alcohol, cigs, gasoline, etc.)

My solution–and I would like to hear it echoed all over the blogosphere, talk shows, town halls, and Congress’s voicemail–calls for a simple first step:

STOP THE STIMULUS!

STOP THE STIMULUS!

STOP THE STIMULUS!

It’s an excellent place to start.  Let’s make the US look attractive to investors once more.

Of course, I may just have absolutely no idea of what I’m talking about.

update: When I wrote this last night, I was a little worked up over the inanity and waste of the Cash-for-Clunkers program which is being viewed as this great success.  In my rush, I definitely left out a few things that also need to be changed in order to halt the deficit for years to come.  Number one on the list is Social Security.  If anything would affect our yearly deficits and overall national debt more than SS, I don’t know what it is.  It is the proverbial frog being boiled to death in a pot of water that slowly heats up from a refreshingly cool temperature, much as SS was a relief to those in and coming out of the great depression.  Thankfully, Americans seem to be a little better informed about health care and other recent proposals (with hindsight as a weapon), and the immediacy of the programs calls for immediate action and opposition.  The water in the pot is already uncomfortably warm.

Other things obviously include our current gov’t run health programs in Medicaid/Medicare.  And the tax code could use a massive overhaul.  The list could go on and on, but sometimes you have to stop the car (in this case by stopping some of the current proposals in spending) before you can turn it around.  Actually, unless my logic fails me, you always have to stop the car before you can turn it around!

You might be wondering what this blog is all about.  By the name, you might think I’m some Democratic Party shill, doling out the latest talking points.  In actuality, it is the opposite.   From the How This Site Started link above:

I wrote to the DNC about Rush Limbaugh a while back after they went on the attack against him.  Subsequently, I went on their mailing list and began receiving emails from them a couple times a week.  The letters are usually attributed to (though, probably not written by) various names in the Democrat party–Pelosi, Carville, Albright, Vogel, etc.  This blog puts those emails out there for all to see, and I’ll comment on the many fallacious arguments they make regarding conservatives and the Republican party.  I’ll tell you right now, half of the arguments they make are straw man and ad hominem.

Virtually all the emails I have received thus far devolve into begging for funds after attacking their opposition in a way that is thin on facts and heavy on playing to fears and stereotypes.  Where are those funds going?  Fancy names like Emergency Health Care Rapid Response Fund are used to mask how the money will be used.  Anyone with half a brain can figure out that the “Response” fund is all about advertising and marketing whatever legislation they are too afraid to give the American people the whole truth about.

That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. No special comments in this blog besides what is directly (or sometimes indirectly) mentioned in the “dispatches” I receive from various mechanisms of the Democratic Party.  If you know of any more sources, I’d be glad to hear about them.  And skewer where appropriate.  And (I know this is a longshot) applaud where appropriate.