Blake Snow

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Tagged government

When “economic development” goes wrong

seinfeld umbrella salesman

Seinfeld

In a market economy, I believe state run economic development can sometimes be a good thing. But I suspect it’s usually a bad thing. Here’s why, in which a Rhode Island state treasurer cautioned against backing a celebrity owned company that would ultimately become a $75 million bath for taxpayers:

“In general, I would proceed very carefully on this.  [The company] is in the Boston area where there are 200 venture capital firms, and it is in a very hot area of gaming so if it were in fact a compelling investment I would have to think it would be well funded already by venture capitalist; the fact that many have looked at it and passed is a red flag.”  Continue reading…

This video makes me want to high five the universe (and hug a rock)

YouTube Preview Image

Not only that, but it makes me want to roast marshmellows around a fire and sing Cumbauya with believers and non-believers alike. Either way, I like watching Neil Tyson on PBS Nova. But I really like him after hearing this wonderful answer put to music and film.

That said, I still think modern NASA is a dinosaur. It’s the equivalent of thinking the Internet still needs a government agency like ARPANET to perpetuate great things.

It doesn’t, although I believe in NASA, ARPANET and similar “start up” public technologies to get the ball rolling, since the private sector would likely never incur the initial hard costs to get these kinds of things going.

So thanks government. But please step aside once you’ve paved the way — we’ll take it from here. (That last line basically sums up most of my political thinking).

My reaction to yesterday’s defeating news on U.S. military

My heart sank when I read the print edition of this story yesterday. In short, $360 million of U.S. taxpayer money, intended to fund the military, was outsourced to Middle East criminals, terrorists, and even the Taliban, the very organization that money aimed to disrupt.

Here’s how I processed the news.

  1. I’m thankful to live in a country with a free press and democratic government willing to share such corrupt news. Neither are perfect, but reports like this are proof that there is still good in the world; good enough to let this kind of stuff come to light.
  2. $360 million is a fraction of total defense spending, and thankfully, as far as we know, much of it still falls in the right hands. Unfortunately, 1/3 of a billion is an incredible amount of money for criminals and mountain-dwelling terrorists intent on building bombs and blowing things up. It’s inexcusable.
  3. Why can’t the U.S. military enlist cooks, truck drivers, security convoys— virtual everything— from within? You know, like the good ole days, when soldiers worked in mess halls etc. Stop outsourcing our military, and we’ll minimize said corruption.
  4. Stop awarding closed defense contracts or open contracts to non-U.S. suppliers. What advantage does this bring? I understand President Obama awards contracts to Afghan companies in an effort to stabilize their economy. But is that the purpose of defense spending? Shouldn’t it be defense, not economic development? It’s counterproductive.
  5. Can we pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq already, Vietnam style? Just do it. I know there are cronies in those countries who don’t want the sugar daddy to leave, but it is high time. Then reinvest half of the savings into intelligence operations to thwart and outsmart terrorism as best we can, as opposed to occupying nations.

Did I miss anything?

What the federal budget would look like if it were a typical American household

Via The Atlantic:

If The Federal Government’s household income was $55,000 per year, they’d actually be spending $96,500–$41,500 more than they made! That means they’re spending 175% of their annual income! So, in 2011 they’d add $41,500 of debt to their current credit card debt of $366,000!

Yup, it’s as bad as you thought.

Would be interesting to see what Rome’s debt-to-income ratio looked like before they fell.

Note to self: Never launch a website while out of the office

utahlake.gov

Among other things, I’ve been working as a media consultant for the state of Utah this year — specifically related to Utah Lake. To help promote the lake as a tax-funded and public resource, I helped officials launch and now maintain a new editorialized website at utahlake.gov (pictured).

Local media, however, isn’t a fan — at least not yet — and rightfully criticized the site’s birth warts. “Government officials have launched a website aimed at helping locals stay home to vacation on Utah Lake, but the launch hit rough waters,” wrote Caleb Warnock, reporting for the Daily Herald. “On Wednesday, repeated attempts to find recreation information were greeted with this message: ‘The page you were looking for could not be found.'”

Not only did the site launch with broken links, there were a few proofreading errors too, not to mention editing notes that were never meant to be made public.

Kind of embarrassing. Continue reading…

Conservatives vs. liberals: Before you indoctrinate your kids, read this

This is a great essay by Michael Laser on the importance of opposing political viewpoints:

To my amazement, I’ve found that some of my political opposites’ ideas make sense. This doesn’t mean I’ve reversed my thinking, but it’s eye- ­opening. If you shut out the noise of talk radio and your own unshakable faith, you can find persuasive arguments on both sides of the divide. Here are a few that I came up with:

He then goes on to objectively list seven opposing viewpoints, before concluding with, “Contempt for the opposition may be profitable on talk radio, but it doesn’t help the rest of us. All it accomplishes is to drive people further into their angry, fanatical corners.”

Long live political checks and balances!

Modern villains ain’t got nothing on O’Brien

dr-evil

I read Nineteen Eighty-Four this month for the first time. What struck me most about the book was not George Orwell’s impracticable vision of totalitarianism. (On the contrary, there are “less arduous and wasteful ways” of satisfying a government’s lust for power.) Rather, it’s how overwhelming the antagonist is. For example, consider this “you can’t stop us” speech given by Comrade O’brien, as he tortures our anti-hero Winston into submission: Continue reading…

Q&A: History, big government, and democracy

Barack-Obama-and-George-BushI often use vark.com to impatiently satisfy the many questions in my head. At least the ones I’m too lazy to Google myself. Yesterday’s question was as follows:

Are there historical examples of modern democracies successfully reducing the size of their governments, either on a federal, state, or local level?

One guy named New Zealand and “a few Scandinavian countries” without further explanation. Brendan from New York replied:

There are examples of US states that have done it (I think Connecticut trimmed down successfully during the 90s). Also, and this is crucial, there are examples of countries that successfully ensured that the size of government did not grow once all necessary services were in order. Canada is a prime example. It has a sizable government, but it has been excellent at maintaining its size while the Canada population has grown. Its government isn’t bleeding like a lot of European countries are. The key for any government’s solvency is to maintain high revenues. Consider Greece, where $18 Billion in tax revenue went uncollected due to tax evasion. That means that Greece spent $145 Billion, collected $108, and could have collected a crucial $18 B more. If a country can’t effectively collect taxes owed, it’s finished.

So you’re telling me there’s a chance?

An open letter to Coca Cola

Dear Coke,

I would pay a premium for your drink, if you reinstated sugar instead of using that artificial sludge and government subsidized sweetener you call corn syrup. In fact, I do. Paying almost twice as much for imported Coke from Mexico at nearby convenience stores, because it contains delicious sugar. Mmmm, real sugar.

You see, as a result of your chemical sweetener ways, your domestic concoction burns the throat. It’s like mild acid, in fact. And it has a pronounced after taste. Mexican Coke, on the other hand, goes down smooth. It tastes better. It has no after taste. Not to mention the glass bottle looks cooler.

Continue reading…

Starting today, I’m an American optimist

Glass is half full

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been pretty cynical about the great economic apocalypse of 2009 and our federal government’s questionable ways of dealing with it. Armed with a degree in business, I like to think I have all the economic answers, but I don’t.

Though I strongly disagree with frivolous spending, especially the kind that doesn’t create actual jobs, I’m not blind to the fact that it’s been going on for centuries. Hopefully good legislation will prevail again, and the people in power will make smart decisions and adjustments to support entrepreneurs.

So rather than complain and point fingers, I hope to contribute, starting with a sensible and positive outlook. Viva, la revolución!

See what happens when you yell “Bomb!” in an airport…

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Associated Press

… The world financial markets fall more than they would have, because financial markets are based entirely on confidence. And when you have intimidating officials like President Bush and McBama spreading FUD like, “the worst economic crisis since the great depression,” fickle investors will believe them, and global bank markets struggle.

I’m not saying there wasn’t a partial bomb to begin with — there was thanks to a greedy and irresponsible Wall Street — but that still doesn’t mean top officials can frighten the public with said statements just to bail out their Wall Street buddies who donated lots of money for special interest (which they succeeded in getting this time). Just like yelling “Bomb!” in an airport is illegal, so should it be for individuals in power crying “depression” just to get their way.

Continue reading…

Contact your elected official(s) today and tell them to vote against the revised $700B bailout

Che Guevara is against $700 billion Wall Street bailoutsHere’s how, in three painless steps:

  1. Search your elected officials here using your zip code
  2. Select “president and congress officials.” For today, click on all representatives and email them under the contact tab (Utah residents should email Rep. Cannon at cannon.ut03@mail.house.gov)
  3. Paste the following email using “Vote ‘against’ the revised $700 billion Wall Street bailout” as the subject.
    Rep. [last name]

    On behalf of friends, family, and my influence as a local blogger, please vote against the revised $700 Wall Street bailout this Friday (Oct 3).

    Thank you,[You name]
    [city, state]

The whole process from start to finish will only require a minute of your time, but you must act today! Isn’t saving the dollar easy?

Regarding the U.S. financial crisis

I fear for the future value of my hard-earned dollar. I no longer trust the federal government with spending, nor do countries abroad. When that happens en masse, the dollar will crash.

Sadly, that’s the price we pay for electing big-government knuckleheads into office, and for letting the Federal Reserve buy 80 percent of AIG for $95 billion without a vote, even though U.S. taxpayers will have to pick up the tab.

Man, is our federal government broken (I trust state government so much more right now). When will they understand that “this insanity and the problems we face economically will only occur when we allow the economy to find its own equilibrium. We have to allow the market to endure a recession, we have to allow failure.” — Joe M.

For the sake of our country, at the least to make a statement, write in Ron Paul for president this November. It appears McBama will only continue the trend of frivolous spending and federal intervention.

See also:

It’s embarrassing to read about the “U.S. Invasion of Iraq”

AUTHOR’S NOTE: If you don’t want to challenge your optimistic beliefs on the U.S. War in Iraq, or are offended by patriotic criticism, please skip this post.

AP Photo File

Upon researching the ancient, now-ruined city of Babylon, I discovered that its remains lie 55 miles south of Baghdad. The nearest modern-day city is named Al Hillah and “was the scene of relatively heavy fighting in the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq,” according to Wikipedia.

Given what we’ve known since 2005, I was embarrassed to read that last line, “in the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.” It’s still difficult for me to consider that the United States invaded anyone, much less Iraq on false, reportedly fabricated premises.

Continue reading…

Note to the Federal Government: Borrowing more money doesn’t make you less broke

The United States is nearing bankruptcy, and yet officials want to borrow more money (!) to curb economic woes, according to today’s headlines. It’s amazing how fiscally incompetent these knuckleheads have become — they’ve all but defecated on our once precious dollar.

As harsh as it sounds, natural consequences (i.e. bankruptcy, foreclosures, loss of jobs) is the only way to atone for our country’s overly optimistic and unchecked enthusiasm of recent years. This includes irresponsible land developers, loan officers, politicians, investment bankers, and home owners who bit off more than they could chew — all of whom ignored the basic principles of supply and demand.

Dude, where’s my country? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

See also:

A moral wrong doesn’t mean illegal

According to the Associated Press, “The French state and Internet service providers have struck a deal to block sites carrying child pornography or content linked to terrorism or racial hatred, Interior Minister Michel Alliot-Marie announced Tuesday.”

I’m all for outlawing illegal communications like child pornography and terrorism, but hate speech isn’t illegal. Wrong, yes, but not illegal. Unless I’m missing something, it looks like France may have infringed on free speech, though I have no idea if they have an equivalent first amendment.