Friday, April 29, 2016

PostGOP: There are no rights.

When everything is a right then nothing is.

The Face of the ACA. Houston Chronicle. ($$$)

While we believe providing adequate health care is an ethical obligation, the financial argument is also a powerful one. All of us pay for the uninsured through higher hospital costs, higher insurance premiums and higher property taxes. The Legislature's hyperpartisan stonewalling on the ACA and Medicaid expansion isn't saving any money for Texas taxpayers, and it certainly isn't saving lives. Mark worked hard. He raised his family. He paid his taxes. He should not have died from a disease that could be treated. He deserved better. We all deserve better.

Adequate health care is now a right.  Safe spaces and never, ever being offended (ever) is a right. A living wage is a right.  We're rapidly reaching the point where anything we want is cast as a right.

High-speed internet?  You have a right to it.

Fair-Trade, Organic fruit? Right.

A Cellphone? Right.

Guns and Free speech?  Get the hell out of here with your rights.

Property? Other people might have a right to it (i.e. the State) but not you.

The problem with all of this thinking is that we have substituted the concept of actual "rights" (Think, Life, Liberty, the pursuit (but not attainment) of Happiness) with the mistaken belief that having "stuff" is a right. We've done that because our political system is designed not to govern, but to dole out patronage and buy votes in the greatest incumbent protection scam of all time.

We've even gone so far as to grant the State "rights" which is ridiculous on its face because States don't have "rights" they have "powers".  The United State's Government does not have a right to exist, it's been empowered to exist by force of arms and the consent of its citizenry. Ideally, a government exists to provide for the security of its citizens, not to try and provide, or grant them, rights.

But we now have this backwards in America, instead of being empowered the government is a de-facto deity that grants rights. It is because of this, mistaken, belief that we have the ACA, #FightFor15, a welfare system that does not require attempts at self-betterment to receive benefits. Because we have decided that anything we want, anything we aspire to or hope to become, is our right and should be given to us absent the pain of failure and strife.

There are many reasons for this, too numerous to mention here, but part of it is because of our worship of celebrity and our belief that the people we elect are seriously concerned about our well-being.

Celebrity is a sham. A group of pre-packaged, polished empty vessels that say and do whatever the cultural zeitgeist tells them. Politicians are, in almost every case, concerned with obtaining, consolidating and keeping power. One of the best ways to do this is to convince people that they have rights.

Juvenal called it "bread and circuses", and I (less talented of a thinker obviously) have called it trinket governance. It could also be called the right of privilege because that is what we're doing.

You don't have a right to drive a car. You have the privilege of driving because you follow the agreed upon rules of polite society and pay a fee to do so on the nation's roads. You don't have an absolute right to vote. You are given the privilege of voting provided (except in Virginia, where power grabs are afoot) you meet the criteria. You don't have a right to "quality healthcare" but you do live in a society where you still, just, have the ability to work hard and obtain healthcare for your and yours.

I say just because there's little doubt, or argument, among thinking people that the legacy of corruption, patronage and heavy-handed regulation has stifled mobility in the system which kept people content since it's founding.  The government, and the corporations who plea for patronage, have stifled this mobility to the point that Mssrs. Trump and Sanders are gaining a large share of the vote.


Through anger, and the realization that the residents of Sealy Texas don't want to be forced to leave their hometown, relocate their families and put in the work to learn a new skill and get a new job. They want to have their 1950's era, low-skill manufacturing jobs back and they want the government to give it to them.  Kevin D. Williamson has written brilliantly on this in his articles that deal with Garbutt, NY.  Instead of taking a listen to Mr. Williamson the rights class threw a fit, suggesting, wrongly, that he wanted to kill the blue-collar working class when instead he wanted them to get off their increasingly drug and alcohol addled asses and get on with the business of self-improvement. If Garbutt has to die in this process?

Remember, Garbutt NY, Sealy, TX, the States of Texas, New York, California and even the United States of America don't have a right to exist. They are empowered to exist. Only when people truly understand what that means will change come.  Of course, by then it will probably be too late and we'll all be bitter people living in Garbutt and Sealy wondering when the next shipment of bread will be delivered.

Of course, you won't be able to wonder that out loud because free speech isn't a right to the privileged class, it's an annoyance.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

TXLV: "There ought to be a law" (Bathroom Edition)

As is typical, another controversial social issue has supposed "conservative" politicians running toward the light of a big, sweeping, government solution....

Patrick says he would support a statewide bathroom bill. Mike Ward, HoustonChronicle (not behind the paywall [for now])

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, weighing into a national controversy over transgender restrooms, said Tuesday he supports keeping men out of women's restrooms, even if it takes legislation to do so.
Since the issue erupted into controversy nationally, some Texas lawmakers have said they will support a state law for single-sex restrooms, and the endorsement of that position by Senate-leader Patrick is likely to give that movement momentum.

No, No, No, No, No.

One more time: No.

It's a far different thing to allow for sincerely held Religious objections (which, incidentally, are why I think so-called "equal rights ordinances" are silly) and another thing altogether to try and dictate to everyone the rights that YOU feel are important.

I was opposed to Parker's Folly because it was a diktat, backed by the power of the State, that everyone, everywhere act and believe in a manner that was currently backed by the prevailing minority. I am opposed to Patrick's Folly for the same reason but substitute "prevailing minority" with "current majority".

And let's be very clear. Neither of the proposed bills protect rights. What they both do (or did, or attempt to do) are apply a special accommodation to groups favored by the bill's authors. Parker's folly attempted to grant upon the Transgender population a right not afforded to any other group, the right to pick and choose, in a fluid manner, how they wished to be identified. Patrick's bill offers to Christians the special accommodation of having to never be offended, or threatened, by the sexual identity of others.

A statewide "ban" on transgender restroom choice is a horrible idea, as is a requirement that all bathrooms be gender neutral.

While there has to be reasonable accommodation in public places (and yes, if you serve the public your private business is a public place) for all groups there also has to be a respect for the beliefs of others. Bills REQUIRING restroom usage (one way or the other) ignore the fact that there are a wide range of beliefs on this, not all of them transphobic.

It is not transphobic to believe that there are material differences between the genders, and that segregation of the two when nature calls is something to be desired. Neither, for that matter, is such an idea inherently sexist.  It should also be noted that many of the reservations people have regarding the expansion of gender neutral restrooms don't really center around fears regarding the transgendered, but fears surrounding bad-actors (pedophiles) who would potentially take advantage of the law.

In other words, while the one side is screaming and crying about how the other "lied" in their arguments against, they would need to admit that they, themselves are arguing from a point of dishonesty.

Unfortunately, this will never really happen because there is currently no debate being conducted. All we have right now are two sides, led by demagogues, screaming over each other. In the matter of Parker vs. Patrick, we're all of us losers.

I, for one, would like to see some flexibility, in the same manner as we have it in the matter of open carry. You may scoff at this comparison but I don't think it's all that far out of line.  Both issues invoke strong feelings on either side, and both issues produce a not insignificant amount of fear in everyone at some level.

In the debate over open carry a private business has the right to ban weapons from their property, they also have the right to allow them.  Some businesses have made the decision to ban while some have openly encouraged guns to be worn.

It should be the same in regards to restrooms. Some businesses might feel that it is in their best interest to allow unfettered access to all restrooms based on gender identification while others may not. Private citizens, not being ruled but governed, will then have the right to choose to frequent said establishments or not, with no undue accommodation being given by the government to any one group.

A Statewide law confirming a men's restroom as being for people born as biological males ONLY and the female bathroom being for people born as biological females ONLY makes as little sense as does requiring everyone open up their potties to all comers. It's a broadsword of a fix to a problem that requires some room for nuance and personal belief.

Put another way, it's just as morally wrong to require a Christian-based business to accommodate the transgendered in a manner contrary to their religious beliefs as it is to require a GLBTQ nightclub to police their bathroom usage under the norms of Judeo-Christian beliefs. The Government, whose only God is increased power and control, need not apply.

I realize, of course, that such a solution will never work because the goal of both sides is to always be right, all of the time and that the only feasible solution is to have the other side ground into the dirt with their belief system in tatters. We tried to cover up racism in the past in the same manner. All we accomplished is to drive racism underground which has led us to the increasingly ugly spot in which we find ourselves today.  I worry that we're heading down the same road in our attitudes toward the GLBTQ community and we're doing it at the pleasure of politicians who are looking not to ensure equality, but a future constituency.

Most importantly, we need to remember that it's OK if everyone doesn't agree with you or accept you. As a matter of fact, if I ever get to the point on an issue where everyone does that's when I start to really worry that I'm missing something. That being said, I have no plans to boycott Target for their pro-GLBTQ stance than I do to boycott Chick-Fil-A for their pro-Judeo Christian stance.

Neither should you.

Presumptuous Blogging: Things you should read. (04/26/2016)

Yet another slate of primaries that are bringing us closer to the nadir of American politics: Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump.

The Empty Pantsuit. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review Online - There's been a lot of good stuff from Mr. Williamson lately, whose rapidly becoming one of the better writers on politics.

Just Imagine. The Houston Chronicle's Bag of Idiots, ($$$) - Imagine that Texas became California?  Where people are fleeing by the buckets?  Editorials of this type only make sense when viewed through the lens of hating the poors.  THEN you start to see where this group of relatively well-off, primarily Caucasian, progressive writers is coming from.

Why I fight for the $15 Minimum Wage. Tanzine Dorough. ($$$) - Because you want to lose your job?

A Victory for Free Speech - And Democracy. National Review Online. - I disagree. I think this is just a pause. A much needed pause for sure but one that will only result in the anti-free speech forces on the left doubling down on their oppressive techniques.

Mayor wants to cut trash subsidy for Houston HOAs. Mike Morris,$$$) - Under the "Turner Way" it appears that most Houstonians are going to have to pay (a lot) more in taxes and fees while receiving (a lot) less so that Turner's patronage system can flourish. In other words, despite supposedly having a Mayor that has not been given the imprimatur of Pope Lanier, we're still dealing with the Houston Way.

No Apparent Downside for Miller, Hagar, over allegations. Mike Ward, ($$$) - The Lock Step continues their sad that the rest of Texas is not as angry about all of this as they are.  You stupid rubes.

Obama joins Merkel in pushing trade deal to wary Germany. New York Times hidden behind the paywall at ($$$) - Remember when Obama went to Germany and was greeted with adulation and rapturous applause?

Black Lives Matter Gave Him Fame, but Baltimore isn't Biting. AP hidden behind the paywall at ($$$). - If you want to know why America's cities are failing Baltimore is a good case study. Going broke, full of crime, and about to re-elect a politician who was previously ran out of office due to ethics violations.

Minimum Wage and the Dangers of Government by Decree. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review Online. - There is some conservative pundit on Twitter, whose name currently escapes me, who says (rightly) that the true minimum wage will always be zero. If the Fight for 15 is successful more people than ever are going to come to this harsh realization unfortunately.

Bernie Sanders doesn't seem to understand what poverty really is. Tim Worstall, Forbes. - To be fair, Bernie Sanders doesn't seem to understand much of anything other than shouting and dodgy logic.

The Green Unreality Show. Holman Jenkins, WSJ ($$$) - Because, Gaia. (or some such)

Our Beleaguered Planet. Marcia Angell, The Prospect.  - When you cut through all of the pseudo-scientific rhetoric the only workable solution to the problem green progressives are trumpeting is to kill off the world's poors.  ALL of the world's poors. The other option, far less workable, is to imprison and enslave them into a subsistence life where they are allowed no choices for themselves. Since mass murder is, for now, politically unworkable on the left the solutions tend to trend toward the latter option.

$40 Oil and the twilight of "scarcity ideology". Robert Bryce, National Review Online. - A much more positive, and realistic option is to understand that humanity has a great ability to use technology to get ourselves out of jams. The climate on Earth is changing, becoming more inhospitable and less inhabitable all of the time. This, contrary to what you are used to hearing, has been occurring for Millions of years. Instead of working to enslave the population and worthlessly attempt to stop the rising of the sea, sane fiscal policy should be focused on freeing technology to help us deal with a situation that is, for the most part, 100% out of our control.

None of this should be mistaken as giving humans, or corporations, Carte Blanche to pollute. To the contrary, since we're going to be on this planet for a while we should want to keep it as clean as possible.

What passes for deep thought in Matthew Yglesias' world. - Only a dipshit to the level of Yglesias would think that being sexually assaulted by ones partner somehow equates to one's "greatest achievement".  He is a horse's ass who should be laughed out of the public square.

The Criminal Constituency. Kevin D. Williamson. - Repeating: Whatever follows the GOP must focus on the restoration of the rule of law.

The Working Class Meltdown, Rich Lowry, National Review Online - This new GOP should also focus on re-equipping the working class to compete in the modern marketplace. Of course, this would mean abandoning progressive plans to have the government act as nanny.

What will Republicans learn from 2016? Jim Gerghaty, National Review Online. - If history is a good indicator, almost all of the wrong lessons.

Obama's Brexit Overreach is typical of his arrogance. Tim Montgomerie, The Spectator - Initially heralded as a hero it's been amazing to watch the world cop to the truth behind President Zero.

And finally.....

Lena Dunham: Why I chose Hillary Clinton. - Years from now, when future historians do a postmortem on the US of A I truly believe that they will view our reliance on celebrity to determine our political views to be one of the leading factors in our decay. Allowing the likes of Dunham, Beyonce, Clooney and Damon to have a say on political discourse has proven to be a grave error. To the same extent, allowing Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter and Ingraham to drive thought on the Right has been just as bad if not worse.

Not only has idiocy of this sort brought us to this position, but it's dulled our ability to think and reason as well.  While bemoaning the shallowness of sound-byte politics we fail to realize that we lionize celebrities whose sole contribution to society is a romantic comedy, some nudity or just a penchant to say controversial things.  In short. There's no "there" there and we should return entertainers to their rightful position in our intellectual pecking order.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Cities are crumbling: Let's do the same things we've done and hope this changes.

I give you two examples of political insanity.....

Then Ralph Moore, himself an activist and a lifelong resident, rushes up to Mckesson to shake his hand — and to break the bad news: Moore is voting for Sheila Dixon, the former mayor who resigned amid ethics charges and is running again. She's one of the front-runners in polls ahead of Tuesday's Democratic primary — the de facto election in this majority African-American city.

Second: Mayor wants to cut trash subsidy to Houston HOA's. Mike Morris, ($$$)

The idea when the program started in the 1970s was that residents should not have to pay property taxes for city trash services they were not receiving - particularly because they were already paying for waste pickup in their homeowner association dues. The city also came out ahead because the $6 monthly per-house subsidy was cheaper than the cost of the city serving each home itself, now estimated at $18 per home per month.

In the case of Baltimore, the city has already pursued, for decades now, policies that punished the citizenry with ruinous taxes and little to no core services in pursuit of a patronage system that rewarded the courtesan class at the expense of the taxpayer.  Their fix for all of this?

Re-elect Sheila Dixon, who was so bad at playing this game she got caught red-handed.

In the case of Houston you have a city, within a State, that has been fairly prosperous due, in most part, to relatively high oil prices which buttressed it's number one industry.  During those fat years Houston moved further and further down the patronage hole where now, when prices are not as strong, you have what Progressives like to call a "structural deficit" meaning that there is more money going out then current taxation levels let you bring in.  The solution to this, of course, is to increase taxes greatly without appreciably increasing services. This ensures that the TIRZ carve-outs and the pet-policy concerns of the courtesan class continue unabated, although funded to an even greater extent on the backs of the city's rapidly diminishing work force.

This is a progressive model of urban governance that we are witnessing with more and more frequency and the result is always the same. Financial disaster and a desperate attempt to find some blame by the people who caused the issue in the first place.

Most often this "blame" is cast toward some politician(s) further up the food chain, preferably with an (R) behind their name and who does not support the current patronage system.  In Flint Michigan, the mark was Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) who had the misfortune of appointing the emergency administrator (D) who basically poured gasoline on a grass fire in the municipal water situation. What progressives conveniently forget to mention is that the fire was already burning out of control, and had been, for many years. The root cause of the tragedy in Flint was not the unfortunate decision to take water from the local lake, and process it in a plant and system that couldn't handle it, but the ridiculous spending levels which placed Flint in financial straits that had been going on for years.

Where it is appropriate to cast blame at the GOP is in their absolute refusal to attempt to seriously address urban issues. The Tea Party, with their misspelled signs and righteous indignation, spoke of financial bailouts and "unsustainable debt" at the federal level but all but ignored the even more potentially ruinous debt mushrooming locally. In Texas, it took failed GOP Comptroller Susan Combs (enabler of one of the biggest tax increases in recent Texas history as well as the overseer of one of the biggest data breaches in State history) to point out that municipal debt is spiraling out of control as well.

Sadly, it could be that the cities are lost. Machine politics are too ingrained, the damage is too severe and the electorate is clearly showing signs of insanity by turning back to the people who got them in this mess hoping they'll fix it by doing the same things that created the mess in the first place.

Whatever follows the GOP is going to have to have issues for these urban problems beyond "cut government" or "cut taxes for the wealthy". They're going to have to develop conservative solutions to progressive-made problems and present them in a way that urban voters understand and will adopt.

The problem is, how do you negotiate with a large group of people who are clearly happy to vote in an insane manner?  If Republicans in Baltimore cannot beat someone like Sheila Dixon (Or, even worse, DeRay McKesson) then what the hell good are they to the residents of Baltimore at all?

In Houston, they couldn't beat a politician who is so reflective of the system of political patronage he's better known for who supports him (Texas State Senator Whitmire) than for anything he's accomplished himself.

Even more disconcerting is the fact that conservative choice Bill King had what was a good message and ran, by all accounts, a pretty good campaign. And it still wasn't enough.

Given that, what in the hell will ever be "enough"?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Help us, help you. #HALV

Sorry for the slow blogging of late but I live in Houston and well.....

We've been a little preoccupied of late due to some issues with moisture.

As is expected, what passes for leadership in Houston is plowing ahead with promises of action while the unproductive class is authoring think piece after think piece about how things would be better if only the poors would listen up and live in high-rise filled ghettos in a segregated part of the inner-city as they do in those more enlightened areas of the country. How dare you want a single-family home and 2.4 children and 1.2 family dogs.

So while I'm taking some time off I offer this:

Houston can spend all of it's time and budget erecting fancy barriers and flashing lights and offering subsidies to developers to levels undreamed of by the hip (primarily well-to-do Caucasian) unproductive class.

And people in Houston will still drive into high-water and drown, apartments will flood and people will still be seen carrying armadillos and dogs and floating babies out on mattresses.

They will do this because Human beings sometimes (oft-times?) don't act rationally. In Houston, especially, they don't think the rules of the road apply to them and they drive aggressively and cut-people off, and try to skip past the right lane to make a right-hand-turn (cutting off traffic at the very end, which exacerbates the problem), and some Houstonians will continue to ignore the new barricades just like they ignored the old ones, they will drive past the fancy new gates just as the one person ignored the live toll attendant that was flagging them to stop.

And there will still be times where areas get 15+ inches of rain and you think you see the animals lining up in twos trying to get on an F450 that they've mistaken for an ark.  These types of things are always going to happen and the response will always be the same until people in Houston remember that they share this city with others who, despite possibly looking, acting and believing differently than they, still have loved ones to whom they want to provide for, and get home to.

Until then all of this media and political shit that's being tossed around is just an attempt to shame the poor and gormless. It's Monday morning quarterbacking by a media who was asleep at the switch now trying desperately to position itself as some kind of thought "leader" after the fact.

Which, when you think about it, is pretty common for Houston, a city whose industry is cutting edge, but whose politics and institutions are decidedly small-town, behind the times and very, very authoritarian in their political leanings.

If you're currently out there with your belongings flooded my thoughts are with you. You deserve better than to shamed by the so-called "smart-set" because you chose to live in a place that afforded you yard and trees and maybe a tire-swing for the kids. I wish you well digging out and drying out.

As for all of the think-pieces and political promises? (Don't fear, Mayor Turner has appointed a democratic political activist Flood Czar who is one the CASE!) Let them write and meet and give speeches.  To be honest, it keeps them from trying to get involved and make things even worse.

Regular blogging on stuff not-related to Houston will commence once I figure out a way to start a mobile kayak concession.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Presumptuous Blogging: Things you should read. (04/13/2016)

It's highly probable the light at the end of the tunnel is a train.  On a related note, Christmas has been cancelled.

An Intriguing Script. Houston Chronicle Council of Dimwits. ($$$) - "Intriguing" is not the word I would use to describe the potential collapse and ruin (for a time) of one of the two major political parties in America. You only need to look at Texas to see the dangers of one-party rule. However, if you're editorial board is made up primarily of relatively well-off, Caucasian Democrats then you might find this "intriguing".

HUD Secretary Castro's Progressive Credentials Questioned. Bill Lambrecht, ($$$) - While it's true that the Castro's non-political resumes are thinner than watered-down gruel this line of criticism only illustrates just how far off the boil Sanders supporters really are. Mortgages are financial instruments primarily of banks and credit unions. If you don't understand that there's no reason to really continue speaking to you.

Houston likely to chip in $5MM to repair dilapidated apartment complex. Rebecca Elliott, ($$$) - Remember expenditures such as these (and they are legion) that are basically corporate welfare for developers the next time what passes for leadership in Houston (Or the Council of Dimwits at the Houston Chronicle) cry crocodile tears that the "only way" to close Houston's fiscal gap is to bust the pillow soft revenue cap and raise your property taxes.

Puerto Rico's prosperous D.C. power couple. Erik Lipton & Michael Corkery. New York Times ($$$) - In other countries, when this happens, America likes to deride it as "corruption". In America, it's called capitalism. (We're wrong when we are speaking about ourselves FWIW) And lest you think you can point a partisan finger because the subjects are Democrats I can assure you that both parties are equally guilty of this. The only way to get rich in America today is by gaming the political system it seems.  Which is a large reason why so many are angry.

A Clear Trend. Houston Chronicle Council of Dimwits. ($$$) - File this one under "even a stopped clock".  I've long been pro-death penalty, but have freely admitted that, were I on a jury, I'd be the one guy in "12 Angry Men" that did everything I could to not apply it. That said, with all of the concerns surrounding the criminal justice system these days (from evidence gathering issues, to crime labs to prosecutorial misconduct, and more) I don't see any way that Texas can say, hand on heart, that there's no chance they are always going to get it 100% right. Yes, this is a "waffling" from me. Now ask me if I give a shit.  It's time to end the death penalty once and for all.

Nothing about the 1994 Crime Bill was unintentional. Bruce Shapiro, - It's fun to watch progressive Democrats live out the Groundhog Day where they remember all over again why they don't like Hillary Clinton. That the GOP appears to be on the brink of losing an election to this woman shows just how bad they need to be dismantled and rebuilt.

The GOP vs. The Pursuit of Knowledge: Inside the Republican Crusade Against Science. - It's amazing to me how unthinking the so-called "party of science" has become, and how ineffective the GOP is in differentiating between true "science" and "NewScience" which is what the progressive left has adopted.  I like actual science very much. I'm not a fan of computer models programmed to reveal a desired result and other nonsense that falls under the guise of "NewScience" for the means of forwarding a political goal.

Driving and Thriving. Kevin D. Williamson. National Review Online. - While I'm a fan of Elon Musk (and Tesla) I pick nits with this article in that the Tesla is certainly the most technologically advanced car in the world, but it is not the best, not by a long shot.  Mercedes is still making better overall cars, BMW's are better to drive and Ferrari are what God would drive.  All that said if you gave me my choice I'd have the Lamborghini. For no other reason than there's a certain appeal about a car that can do 200 MPH and is likely to try and murder you for no reason on random turns.

Donald Trump and the Return of Right-Wing Statism. Jonah Goldberg, National Review Online. - A large part of the problem is that many who call themselves "conservative" aren't really, they are Statists who think that the world would be a better place if only they, or people like them, were in charge. In this sense they are not all that different from Progressive Democrats.  In Texas, especially, most State-wide Republican office holders suffer from this. (I'm looking at you Dan Patrick)

UnitedHealth makes good on threat to pull out of ObamaCare. Eric Pianin, Yahoo! finance - While Republicans will crow that this somehow proves the Affordable Care Act was an unmitigated disaster their doing so only proves that they never have understood the primary reason the bill came into being.  The object is not to "provide health care for all" but to make the private system seem so unworkable that single-payor (i.e. Medicare for all, i.e. socialized medicine) is the only answer. In this the bill has been very successful.  So far.

A drought of ideas. Walter Russell Mead, The American Interest. - Here is the most notable quote from a very good article that is a must read.

"To understand both the voter frustration and the political polarization of the country, it’s necessary to see how neither party is offering real solutions for these problems. The Democrats just keep looking for new funds to pour into the sinkhole; Republicans hope to starve the beast to force a crisis."

The Max Tax. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review Online - He's more libertarian than Republican, but Mr. Williamson is writing some of the best stuff right now from a conservative perspective.  This is the best argument against a progressive taxation system that you're likely to find anywhere.

Prosecuting Climate Change. David A. French. National Review Online. - The climate change fiasco is why whatever follows the GOP needs to focus on a return to the rule of law. Politically motivated prosecutions, designed for draining money, not saving Gaia, are going to run the country into ruin if not opposed vigorously. Not that it's an easy argument, most people don't understand why lawsuits of this type are even wrong much less damaging, but it's an argument that has to be made. Loudly, and quite often.

And finally.

The Death Star is a Stupid Idea, Please Stop Making Movies About it. David Harsanyi, The Federalist. - If you want to know why a lot of people don't like Republicans I offer up this as exhibit A. There are a ton more like them: "Why the Empire were the good guys" and other nonsense that doesn't do anything to forward the public discourse, but only confirms in your mind that you wouldn't want to share a beer with the author.

It's a movie.  A fiction. Science Fiction at that.  The normal laws of physics and economies need not apply.

Quit being such a damn grouch.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

BadPolitics: The Justice Department is making an argument against its own Administration. #TXLV

Today the Justice Department filed an anti-trust lawsuit against the merger of Halliburton and Baker-Hughes, two large oil field services companies.  In a twist of irony, their reasons for filing the suit are to prevent the exact stated goals of Obama's clean energy scheme.

Justice Department files antitrust suit to block Halliburton/Baker Hughes Merger. Collin Eaton,

“The proposed deal between Halliburton and Baker Hughes would eliminate vital competition, skew energy markets and harm American consumers,” U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a written statement.
Given that Obama's plan for so-called "green" energy would cause energy prices to necessarily skyrocket and, by extension, skew energy markets and harm American consumers, (A claim that caused so-called 'fact check' media organizations to ramp up the spin machine in order to make it seem less damaging) this is laughable. In fact, even IN full context Obama's intent is clear. Cheap, plentiful energy is not now, nor has it ever been, a goal of the ecomental movement. If it were then they would embrace relatively cheap, safe, nuclear power as the nation's primary energy source.

Instead, they focus on unreliable green sources such as wind, solar and geothermal, in other words, industries that have made both large financial donations to Democratic candidates/groups and who Al Gore and his green investors have large stakes in. If you think the green movement is about saving Gaia or "weening America off it's addiction to oil" you are mistaken. It's about power, control and financial gain for the "correct" group of people. Period.

In fact, probably the surest wager in the world would be betting that all of the scare over anthropogenic climate change would cease immediately if the domestic oil and gas companies were nationalized.

Unfortunately, the current GOP has lost its credibility on this issue under a flood of corporate welfare to oil and gas producers in the form of tax subsidies for production. Texas is the worst, with both the biggest tax incentives and the most unwieldy to implement, but other States are guilty as well. Not only do these provide incentives for companies to over-produce into a saturated market (Most tax incentives go into effect when the price falls lower) they skew good market judgement by bad management within corporate structures who step over dollars to pick up dimes in the form of tax incentives that sometimes only equal 1-3%.

That said, companies are stupid to not take advantage of these savings if they are offered, and they have a vested interest in trying to obtain legal interpretations that are as broad as possible to allow for the biggest tax break.  The recent case surrounding application of the high-cost gas tax illustrates both this, and the law of unintended consequences that typically stem from these matters.

All these tax incentives do is open the door for crazy to come in in the form of so-called "pollution taxes" against targeted (read: politically unpopular) corporations who will not pay them anyway. If you understand the concept of corporate taxes (and few do) then you understand that the costs of these taxes are always, without exception, passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices. There is no market mechanism to prevent this and, if there were, then you can bet that the resulting wave of lawsuits would swamp the court system and threaten to irreparably damage the American economy altogether.

When writing about taxes before, I mentioned that the solution I would like to see is a fairer, flatter, lower and broader tax code with very few incentives or loopholes included. And while I consider sales taxes to be a much fairer means of taxing oil and gas production than I do severance taxes (and, less intrusive, requiring less data management and, ultimately, less reporting) I also understand that it would be hard to totally overhaul the system away from the current oil and gas severance system. Still, the overall rates should be lower and the incentives few and far between.

Not only would this ensure that the State's tax takings from oil and gas were consistent (and easier to forecast, based solely on commodity price) it would also allow companies to make wiser investment decisions, based on incremental volumes rather than some minute amount of tax decision. This would also reduce costs for both the State and the corporation by alleviating the need for constant audits, and the costly legal battles that are inevitably the result of them. It would also make payment, calculation and revenue processing much more simple, which increases accuracy and the potential for incorrect royalty payments to private royalty owners.

In Texas, where I live, tax and energy policy are a mess, and desperately in need of a total overhaul. At the Federal level things are even worse, and most other States are staring at glaring budget holes as well.  At some point there will have to be discussions about fixing these messes that evolve beyond "raise taxes!" or "cut and watch the economy grow!" because neither plan will work.

Unfortunately, it's becoming very clear that the leadership at the Federal level, and (most importantly) at the State level is nowhere near competent enough to be up to the task.  President Obama is currently more interested in legacy hunting than putting the Country's needs first, and Governor's such as Greg Abbott are pandering to the alt-right base by saying his top issue (the MOST important issue facing Texas mind you) is passing a ban on sanctuary cities.

Whatever follows the GOP should be paying attention to this. The alternative is a Democratic Party that's going to increase tax takings to unsustainable levels in the name of sustainability. (Of the ruling class)

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

PostGOP: Reclaiming the conservative narrative on taxation and spending.

You know the GOP has lost the plot on the tax debate, when a (formerly) serious middling regional daily can lead a supposed hard news story in this manner and not get laughed out of the room.

Louisiana (spending) crisis shows risks of Republican tax plans. Darrell Preston & James Nash, ($$$)

To get an idea of what might happen to the U.S. economy if a Republican president were to impose deep tax cuts, consider a humble string of multicolored plastic beads, the cheap-but-coveted souvenir of Mardi Gras.

It has been clear, for a long time now, that in the media, on campus, and in any other forum (outiside of the Conservatainment Syndicate and certain free-market think-tanks) where open discussion is being held that the GOP has 100% lost the narrative surrounding the conservative position on taxes.

If you look at the Jr. reporters writing for the Houston Chronicle only two viewpoints emerge. The first is that what's needed to "fix" all of the problems is more funding, higher taxes and "more".  Just more.  The 2nd point of view is that all tax cuts are inherently bad, as viewed exclusively from the perspective of the government "losing revenue" as a result of them.

There are several places where whatever follows the GOP could do better both explaining and implementing a sane tax policy.

First - Let's call them what they are.  The Federal Government, and the State Government, Municipal, County whatever, don't have "revenues" they have "takings". Usually these takings are confiscated under the threat of imprisonment. By using the word "takings" I don't mean that all of this is wrong. Only that it's not what is (or should be) defined as "revenue". Until we allowed the definition to be changed, there was an expectation that merchandise or a service be returned for revenue. Since the government does not produce, it utilizes resources, often at great opportunity cost, they do not sell any merchandise or perform any direct service that would make the revenue earned.

The problem was the government didn't want to keep referring to it's money received as "taxes" because that reminded the serfs that the ruling class was living entirely off their largesse.  Because of this the seemingly benign concept of revenues was given a government-specific definition which made it seem more benign and also led to the fallacy, bought into by many conservatives, that the "government should run like a business."  This was, of course, false because the primary goal of a business is to increase profits and maximize shareholder value, you do not want a government that operates in this manner. But the GOP was in the process of trying to actively recruit business people to run for office so they agreed to allow the definition to change in order to make it appear that said business people were qualified.

Of course, what the message should have been is that the GOP was the party of efficiency. That they understood that the government had functions to perform and their goal was to see that it performed them in the manner that received the most utility for the taxpayer's dollar. By focusing on business-like behavior the GOP, in part, led to an environment where economically illiterate progressive politicians referred to a refusal to raise taxes as "tax cuts" since, when viewed from the government's perspective, they didn't raise tax takings.

Second: It's the nature of a business that wishes to remain a going concern to grow. The GOP, by acquiescing to refer to the government in business terms also allowed for even more economically illiterate progressives to portray government growth as economic growth. This ignores the fact that every dollar spent by the government is a dollar not spent by the market as a whole. Since there has been no focus on running the government efficiently, the expenditure of these dollars are pretty much done in just about the least ideal manner possible.

The result of all of this is government at all levels that is bloated, inefficient, duplicitous in effort, and constantly looking for new ways to increase takings even, at times, to the point of becoming confiscatory.  The Democratic party (wrongly) views all monies as property of the government, only out on loan to the citizens at the ruling class' discretion. When you take this view, and do not view money and wealth as the property of the citizenry, then you get serious arguments from the most economically illiterate that wealth in private hands would be better served in the government coffers. The ruling class idea that most, if not all, of the citizenry not in the ruling class, would be better off letting government make its purchasing decisions is the most wrong-headed idea of all. Unfortunately it is one that the GOP has not of late been able to counter effectively.

Third: The GOP has wasted a lot of their talking points chasing down the twin follies of tax cuts for the wealthy and eliminating the safety net. While I'm not suggesting that the economically dense 'soak the wealthy' policies of Sanders and (to a lesser degree) Clinton should be explored, the idea that trickle-down economics works in an over-burdensome regulatory environment is dense as well.

What the GOP has done, of late, is posit the theory that business is going to want to expand and grow under a regulatory framework that punishes them for doing so. They have continued to provide tax carve-outs and other incentives to the courtesan (donor) class, while refusing to free up the regulatory framework that is stifling the poor- and middle-class' ability to elevate their position in the economic strata.

Finally: The GOP seemingly has little idea what to do about  the entitlement state, or be willing to discuss options that make it work.  The fact is, people LIKE Social Security, they LIKE Medicaid and Medicare, and vast, vast majorities don't want to see them go away. It was both sad and funny to see those "Keep your damn government hands off of my Medicaid" signs at Tea Party rallies against the Affordable Car Act (Obamacare). That there are growing majorities who want to see them greatly expanded (at zero direct cost of course, just another result of economic illiteracy) shows just how failing the GOP has been of late explaining why profitable work and investment is profoundly superior to receiving a subsistence-level hand out.

It is much better to invest in your own residence than it is to continually make subsidized payments into government housing. But that doesn't mean that government housing is, or ever will become, no longer needed. In fact, the "safety net" that many dim Democrats love to refer to has morphed more into a lifetime assistance plan, and has little to do with providing a safe landing when one's personal finances go pear-shaped.

Instead of working to promote aid as a means of personal rebirth (which people like in concept) versus as an end, many GOP voters have taken to shaming the poor. "Why should I pay for them when I pay my bills?" is one refrain that you hear. What most don't realize is that often, not all of the time certainly, people that are poor and in need of the safety net get there because of circumstances outside of their control. The GOP has done a horrible job empathizing with these people. And they've all but ceded the argument to dim Democrats, who think it wise to provide tax credits to people who pay no tax, and are already, in most cases, taking from the government more than they are putting in.

What the GOP should focus on is the system that placed these people in dependency on it, not the people themselves. Almost no one starts out on welfare thinking they are going to stay on welfare for the rest of their lives. When they get to the point that they realize just how damaging to their well-being productivity is however (the phase outs on the program often happen faster than income comes in, putting them in the false choice of either quitting, or falling behind) most of these people begin to feel trapped and just accept the hand-out. That this often has deleterious consequences (cyclical poverty, drug use, crime, etc.) is not evidence that the people were flawed, but the design of the economically illiterate system they were placed in is horribly flawed.

In part, the wave of support that the Bronzed Ego is currently enjoying (around 35-40% of Republicans nationally) are those angry people who look at the welfare system and see a group of layabouts who are profiting from their hard-won monies. In many cases, these are angry Caucasians who look at welfare and see a host of people who look different, talk different and have different cultural norms than they profiting from doing nothing. In other cases these are out-of-work, blue-collar citizens who lack the training to get another job. They feel that they are not afforded the same benefits because of a variety of reasons.

You will never put an end to all of this, but the GOP could have blunted the anger by acknowledging that the long-term fix is going to take more than simply lowering the top tax rate, or cutting the capital gains rate, it needs to involve a long, hard look at the system itself and a return to Contract with America principles (which have been all but rolled back, or ignored) that returned the 'safety' aspect back to the net. You may hear it called "entitlement reform" but it's really an admission that entitlements are here to say, and probably need to be in some form or the other.

The first thing whatever follows the GOP needs to do is reclaim the conservative narrative on taxes. What they are, what they do and why people need to be paying them.  After that, you can begin the conversation about ripping up the existing tax code and starting fresh.  I would suggest something much more equitable, flat, and with way fewer exemptions and loopholes. That this needs to happen at all levels of government should be understood. It should also be understood that, unless this is accompanied by a drastic reform in the regulatory framework, we're going to find ourselves right back in this position, or worse, within 20 years.

PostGOP: Foxes, Hen-houses and why the media cannot be trusted to report on either.

There's a lot of self-congratulatory back-patting going on with the media right now thanks to the Best Picture Oscar win by Spotlight and the newly released Panama Papers which is uncovering a world of malfeasance in organized religion, business and among the wealthy.

This, of course, has many in the industry giddy that all of their favorite targets are getting skewered.  The reactions?  Fairly predictable.

Business will always need watchdogging. Chris Tomlinson,$$$)

The Chron's Austin-based "regulatory columnist" (hint: he doesn't write about business but, incessantly, about how much more regulation it needs) is fixated on the Panama Papers as a reason why more regulation of American business is needed.

In Tomlinson's world events like those (fictionally) depicted in Spotlight and what we're reading in the Panama Papers is proof-positive that only an all-powerful, all-seeing government can protect us from the corrupting power of capitalism and people actually gaining wealth and attempting to use it.

Tomlinson doesn't view the world in terms of haves and have nots, he sees our planet as those who can cheat, and those who cannot. He sees the government as being incapable of cheating, or (even worse) acting from political motivations, and calls for "watchdog" groups like the IRS and SEC to provide more oversight and enact tighter rules to prevent cheating.

What Mr. Tomlinson refuses to acknowledge is that many of the bad actors, especially in the Panama issue, are the very same protectors of the people that he is asking be given more power. In short, Mr. Tomlinson, and (to be fair) many others in the media, want to let the political foxes guard the chickens in the economy with little to no oversight.

This is because media members of the same stripe as Mr. Tomlinson see the media and governments as playing for the same team. They honestly believe that their supposed mission to "conflict the powerful" doesn't include government, only private citizens who are successful. It's the epitome of those who say "those who can't, criticize."  Any accumulation of wealth is viewed, in the eyes of some media and members of the bureaucracy as proof of malfeasance absent any other evidence.

You make money, and you are cheating. Period. If you're not the government, you're trying to cheat the government and should be punished. (Cheating the government being viewed as the worst crime in the world.) There is no admission that the IRS, and other government groups also engage in nefarious tactics as well in order to squeeze money out of individuals, that the regulatory state operates with virtual impunity in the current environment, often requiring deep pockets and years in court for the accused to right wrongs.

Then there's the problem that it's not the media who were the heroes in the Panama Papers case to begin with.  It was hackers. People who (illegally mind you) thwarted the fire-wall of the Panamanian lawfirm and absconded with Millions of documents which they then turned over to the media, who pretty much performed a secretarial function at that point creating a neat, Power-Point slide show to illustrate how much wrong was going on.

Again, in many cases (most?) what was going on were government officials, those in charge of the regulatory states in their respective countries in many cases, who were subverting the very laws they swore to uphold. THEY were stealing from the government but will not be charged with crimes as would a non-ruling class member. THEY are not being ran through the mud by Tomlinson in the same manner that he's disparaging American business.

American Business, it should be noted, that is not really implicated in this mess.

Pro-big government activists like Tomlinson, who have been given a bullhorn with which to promote the regulatory state, don't let things like facts get in the way. He sees that Panama is, in his view, "lightly regulated" and uses that to justify his call for ever-tighter, burdensome regulation that has, in part, led us to the mess we're in today.

When you hear politicians speak about the "non-level" playing field what they're really referring to is a regulatory structure that's been designed by wealthy donors to their benefit, and to the detriment of everyone else. This, not a low minimum wage, has aided and abetted income inequality and it's frozen social-economic mobility in a country that used to pride itself on being the best in the world.

If you think that's bunk, look at the correlation between America's diminished social mobility, the income inequality gap and our continued sinking rankings in the economic freedom index. Journalistic bad actors such as Tomlinson are either ignorant of this, or choosing to ignore it to forward their political Statism.

Currently there are thousands of regulatory agencies in all branches of government whose primary mission it to increase dollars coming into the government coffers.  You read that right, in most cases their income is a budget item, and shortfalls have to be made up through increased collections.  Since the regulated companies don't have revenues then the avenue is, too often, enforcement and compliance. A government clerk, often not a degreed accountant, makes a decision that a company is acting with malfeasance and has the authority, with only cursory supervisory review, to levy Millions of dollars in assessments. If the company does not comply, or has the temerity to appeal, then the matter is remanded to an enforcement division, which immediately levies penalties and interest, much of which may STILL BE DUE should the company prevail. More often than not, prevailing means winning in court, a process which is both timely and expensive and which many companies hope to avoid.

All of what I wrote above ignores the fact that the marching orders provided to the agencies are given by political appointees to management positions who force these so-called "benign" regulators to target unpopular industries more than others. This is not watchdogging as Tomlinson laughably describes it, but confiscating.  For the children, of course, so all is (presumably) OK.

Throughout the years the Republican Party has done little to reign in this apparatus. Instead they've fallen victim to rhetoric coming from sycophants such as Tomlinson and pronouncements by demagogues (both within and without) that "Something! Must be done...." every time a bad actor is found.  This has led to poor regulation that punishes the honest brokers with increased regulatory compliance costs to prove they are innocent, while the guilty typically continue on without the burden of the regulatory state, who are too busy trying to squeeze blood out of the turnips who are honest (stupid?) enough to try and comply.

Regulation of this type also hurts small businesses, who often lack the manpower and resources needed to successfully defend themselves against charges of malfeasance levied against them by know-nothing, lower-level government employees on a constant basis, often without proof. I was once told by a government clerk "I don't know what it is, but you owe it." after it became clear they had an incorrect number in their financial model which was creating a variance, something her management had told me 'would only take a phone call to fix'. The resulting bill that the government was claiming to be due took three years to fully resolve. It was finally determined that we didn't owe additional royalty, but there was penalty and interest due b/c of "bad reporting with no financial impact." Which we paid because going through the appeals process would cost us way more than just paying up.

I work for a medium-large company, with resources and a dedicated team to represent our interests. How can a small company with only one or two staff handle these types of charges and do their jobs? More importantly, how are they going to operate if the newest civil penalty regulations pass which could make them criminally liable on a personal level for simple accounting errors?

In short, they can't.  But the government, and regulatory state supporters like Mr. Tomlinson don't care. All they care about is that the revenue targets are hit, the government works get their bonuses and annualized pay raises, and money continues to flow into the treasury allowing them to wash their hands and have some good feelz that the big, mean corporations aren't getting one over on MY government.

That the poor and middle class suffer because of this, and that the politicians overseeing the system are profiting hand over fist using insider trading and other methods that would put normal citizens in jail, is viewed as just another sacrifice that must be made in order to ensure that Statists like Mr. Tomlinson can sleep well at night knowing that there are not smarter people out there than him making a buck without the government doing all they can to redistribute it to others.

It's a false sense of security, but hey. Mr. Tomlinson's entire column was built on the false argument that malfeasance in other countries builds his case for increased regulation in ours.

I call it a wash.

Monday, April 04, 2016

TLSPM: Happy fictions from a "certain type" of Texas Loyalist.

It's tough when the rest of your home state isn't as enlightened as you.....

Why Texas is Deep In My Heart. Mimi Swartz, New York Times.

Still, these are the kinds of events that cause people from places like Massachusetts, Manhattan and California, not to mention England, France and Sweden, to ask us: "How can you stand to live in Texas?" Their tone usually suggests that any explanation that doesn't involve our incarceration here is indefensible.

I call bullshit.

Because over the past several years I've traveled all over this pebble, have met many people of all political stripes, have shared beers with them, dined with them had laughs and some fairly decent rows over Arsenal and which fooball league is better.

Not once have had EVER had anyone ask me "How can you stand to live in Texas?"  In fact, this is pretty much how the conversation goes....

Not-From-Texas Person: "So, where are you from?"
Me: "Houston, Texas"
Not-From-Texas Person: "Oh, OK, so how's the weather there now? Hot?"
Me: "Oh yeah, and humid." 
(Back to discussing whatever we were discussing)

And that's it.

My argument would be that if you're hanging out with the type of people who would ask "How can you stand to live in Texas?" then the problem is that you're choosing to hang out with some pretty pathetic people.

It's not Texas, it's you. (and your choice of dinner companions.)  Or, viewed from another angle, why do you let this get under your skin in such a manner anyway?

Yes, it's true, Texas has had some colorful, potentially lawbreaking, elected officials come down the pipe lately. Some have been bat-shit crazy, some incompetent and some, as in the case of Miller, more of a clown show than anything else. But, are the actions of any of them worse than those of Rahm Emanuel?  Are the actions of  Paxton worse than those of Anthony Weiner?  Did the Beacon Hill scandals cause people to ask "How can you stand to live in Massachusetts?" (Want to go International? Look up the history of political scandals in the United Kingdom France and Sweden. Or, better yet, how about the Panama Papers for some additional light reading?  The fact is political scandal is not held by Texas as a monopoly. Neither are mass runs to the fainting couches by left-wing elites, but Texas seems to be a leader when it comes to that.

But why?

Because there's very little effect that any of this is going to have on the day to day life of the Caucasian Statist/Progressive. Sid Miller providing "amnesty" to cupcakes isn't going to cause much of a stir in River Oaks, because the gourmet cupcake industry was over (in the rest of the country) about two to three years ago. There's a show on Food Network for Chrissakes so you know that it's done and dusted as a culinary movement. So what if a GOP candidate thinks that Obama was a gay prostitute when he was younger? Most progressives think that Dick Cheney eats little children. Again, does it personally impact your life?

As a matter of fact, given the anger and generally unpleasant disposition of Caucasian progressives of a certain age I think you'd be happy that there are Republicans here doing things of which you can disapprove vocally. Makes it all the easier to partake in that most progressive tradition of cognitive dissonance.

In fact, as with most of the "real life" experiences that come from the Texas Lock-Step Political Media these days I'd be surprised if anyone were actually asking the questions the author is attempting (poorly) to answer here. This is shame-porn for those whose ideas aren't winning over a healthy slice of the electorate in a state that's doing pretty well financially. A fairly weak attempt to explain why you have lost to a group of people who have effectively insulated themselves from the deleterious effects of their policy on those less-fortunate than them.

None of this is to suggest that the actions by Sid Miller, Ken Paxton or Mary Lou Bruner (of Mineola) deserve to be defended, nor should the inability of the State GOP to stop any of them from winning the nomination and, at least in two cases, being elected to the offices themselves be downplayed. If the parties have a primary job, it's recruiting and advancing qualified candidates to the ballot for voters to then make an informed choice. Ideally speaking that is. The rest is just logistics and glad-handing.

The Texas GOP is just as, if not more, delinquent in its duties than is the National GOP. It's just another example of a party that is no longer serving much purpose other than to prop up party loyalists and the lampreys that are surviving off of the carcass. Something that should provide hope to Texas Democrats, were that their party was functional at all.

The mistake being made by the TLSPM is assuming that people in Texas, overall, want change. And that by attempting to shame them into it they can help craft a better State for which they can then sit on the veranda (Patio is soooo 90's) and sip bottomless mimosas while the poor and destitute line up (out of eyesight of course) to receive a seemingly never-ending supply of taxpayer largesse, paid for by those one-step higher on the income ladder.

"How can you stand to live in Texas?"

One way is by not making up shit answers to problems that don't have much bearing on our day-to-day lives.  The other is by choosing not to give a damn where people who live in states where the economy is suffering, the cities are crumbling and the politicians seem hell-bent on making it worse, think.


Friday, April 01, 2016

PostGOP: The danger of the regulatory state.

Since the inception of PostGOP I've stated that whatever follows the current election for the conservative movement has to focus on three items:

1. Restoration of the rule of law
2. A strengthening of the Bill of Rights
3. A massive reduction of the regulatory state at all levels of government.

In a piece today, writing in National Review Online, Jonah Goldberg (who has been hitting it out of the park of late) provides a good example as to why #3 is so important.

Hillary Clinton is no populist. Jonah Goldberg, National Review Online.

In a society so polarized along ideological lines, it’s no surprise that partisans will have partisan explanations for why this is so. But the underlying conditions driving the discontent are in fact bipartisan. Anyone who listened closely to both the tea parties and the Occupy Wall Street crowd could hear the echoes of similar complaints. 
The incestuous relationship between big business and big government drives both the Left and the Right crazy. As a conservative, I think the right-wingers have better remedies for the problem. In a nutshell, big corporations will always have the resources — financial, political, legal, etc. — to manipulate and navigate around regulations.
Smaller firms simply can’t handle the compliance costs of draconian regulations. The result: Only the really big companies can survive and thrive, which in turn makes them “too big to fail.” That’s why community banks are being destroyed by Obama’s policies: They can’t carry the costs the way the big banks can, and, lacking connections and influence, they’re small enough to fail.
The problem is that, for the last 20 years or so, both the GOP and the Democratic party have operated with the thought that things would be better if only they were in charge and crafting the solution. The thinking that surrounds this is what I call "There ought to be a law" solutions to every problem, real or perceived.

The problem with thinking of this type is that there is always going to be something out there that demagogues can use to try and expand the regulatory state. There's always a crisis in today's fast-paced news cycle and our elected officials and hyper-reactionary media are always ready to make it into something that can be 'fixed' if only we pour more government resources or people into fixing it.

Then you have the advocacy groups, who are always ready to head to the fainting couch whenever anyone, anywhere, suffers even the smallest injury at work, or due to something just going wrong. We've forgotten in America that accidents, sometimes even tragic ones, happen and not always due to some level of malfeasance or negligence on the part of those responsible.

Not every bad financial decision is caused by greed. Sometimes, most times, they are the result of management incompetence, not some nefarious attempt to defraud "Americans". Are their cases of greed in the business world? Criminal greed?  Of course. But by prosecuting every bad bet as a criminal act we lose our sense of outrage when the real bad players come along.

And this all ignores that many of the worst actors are on the government payroll. The Federal employees busted for watching 2-6 hours of porn per day for example, are in many cases still at their jobs and their is currently no mechanism which allows them to be fired. Contrast this with the Office of Natural Resources Revenue who is currently working to currently writing final rules that would punish companies with punitive fines in the Millions for "knowing and willful" errors as small as one dollar. (In fact, the ONRR is proposing they untie penalties from the amount allegedly owed, suggesting that even inadvertent volumetric errors (with no financial consequence) result in the same penalties as those with financial impact).

Who this is going to hurt the most are not so-called "big-oil" (of whom, full disclosure, I am an employee) but the small, independent oil and gas producers who will not be able to compete for leases on federal lands. Amazingly, what the Texas GLO is proposing is even more punitive than the federal government (and this is in ostensibly "business friendly" Texas). All of this is in an effort to "secure every dollar" for the taxpayer. It's "for the children" of course.

How these agencies justify it being "for the children" when their policies make it less likely that businesses will grow, hire more, and lift more families out of poverty is a question, but in most cases they just don't care.

Sadly, there are a significant amount of their constituency who don't care either. (the first comment from Niko Bellic on a story about his fellow citizens losing their jobs)

Looks like O&G yuppies are going to have to cut back on $500 bottle service at the club every weekend and maybe do it once a month. Some might even have to really cut back and not call themselves "foodies" which sadly means no more $50 lunches. Poor babies.

Granted, Houston is a stupid, ugly selfish city increasingly full of the same type of people, but there's nothing you can do to counter that attitude and it's an attitude that's spreading among progressives. And that's why whatever follows the GOP doesn't need to try. You can't win over progressives, but you can remind people who have found harbor with the Democrats traditionally what progressives really think about them and how their policies are designed not to help, but to keep them on the hook.

It's either that or get hooked yourself.  There really is no middle ground.