The Paradox and Absurdities of Carbon-Fretting and Rewilding

Herschel Smith · 28 Jan 2024 · 4 Comments

The Bureau of Land Management is planning a truly boneheaded move, angering some conservationists over the affects to herd populations and migration routes.  From Field & Stream. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently released a draft plan outlining potential solar energy development in the West. The proposal is an update of the BLM’s 2012 Western Solar Plan. It adds five new states—Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming—to a list of 11 western states already earmarked…… [read more]

When Getting to the Super Bowl is Not Enough: Republicans, Grow Up

BY Glen Tschirgi
11 years, 11 months ago

Hat tip Hot Air.

In an interview with The Daily Caller, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) expressed profound regrets about the four years during the George W. Bush presidency when Republicans had control of Congress:

“During the Bush administration, they had four years where the Republicans controlled the House, the Senate and the executive branch. We had a great opportunity to do great reform to fix what was wrong with this country. We didn’t do it — that’s where careerism comes in,” Coburn told TheDC.

“Careerism isn’t just a problem for Democrats. It’s a problem for Republicans too. When the number one goal is to make yourself look good at home, rather than fulfill your oath and fix what the country needs to have fixed, you’re actually adding to our downward spiral, and so I think it was a missed opportunity of tremendous proportions that the Republicans didn’t embrace what they said they believed in during those times.”


In his new book, “The Debt Bomb: A Bold Plan to Stop Washington from Bankrupting America,” Coburn writes about a phone conservation he had with President Bush.

“The night of my victory in 2004, I received a call from President Bush. After he congratulated me, I said, ‘Mr. President, I’m looking forward to helping you cut spending.’ There was nothing but silence on the other end,” Coburn writes.

“By the end of 2004, Republicans were becoming increasingly agitated about President Bush’s excessive spending. I was determined to follow through on my campaign promise to go after earmarks and wasteful spending even if it meant clashing with my own party.”

Good of Senator Coburn to express these sentiments some eight years later.  Better late than never, I suppose.  But Coburn does not quite capture the essence of those times.   The problem then (as now) is not politicians trying to “look good” to the voters back home.  The problem is much deeper and more parasitic.

The problem, first and foremost, is the overwhelming power that has been invested, over the last 100 years, in the central government in D.C.  Our Founding Fathers could never have imagined the sheer size and scope of the Federal Leviathan today.   If so, it is doubtful that they would have proceeded with the Constitution as written.  This enormous power hopelessly corrupts all but the most invulnerable persons who spend any length of time in the Capitol.   It is not about looking good, Senator Coburn, it is about wielding power and influence that garners great wealth, special treatment, exemption from the laws that apply to the rest of us citizens, incessant flattery from hordes of sycophants and an almost irresistible temptation to hang onto to this power at all costs.

If there is anything like a glimmer of light at the end of this long, dark Debt Tunnel, it may be the election of principled conservatives to Congress who will not cave in to the “careerists” in Congress already infected with the power disease.

The danger is that new Congress Critters may fall into the same psychological trap that many an NFL team has fallen into when they make it to the Super Bowl: Just Happy To Be Here.

It is fine to talk about changing Washington and restoring the Constitution while on the campaign trail and let’s grant that all the talk is sincere and deeply authentic.   Nonetheless, like those hapless NFL teams that struggle against all odds to appear in the championship game only to be trounced by a veteran opponent, it is an open question whether freshmen in 2013 will be awed just to walk the halls of Congress and forget all about playing for keeps.

The Vote Pump: The Sound of the Republic Being Flushed

BY Glen Tschirgi
12 years, 2 months ago

Do yourself and the Republic a favor: find the time to watch the whole thing.

The Vote Pump

Beyond the overall point that Bill Whittle makes about the power of deficit spending to buy votes and ensure reelection of spendthrift politicians, this video by Whittle has a other worthwhile attributes:

1.  The video is an instant source of expertise on exactly what the numbers are in the Federal Budget, how much is being spent both in real dollars and as a percentage of the overall Budget.   We need this information as citizens and need to spread this information far and wide so the politicians have nowhere to hide.   These numbers are easily understood and give one of the best visualizations of the enormity of the debt problem we are facing.   The politicians in both parties are perversely determined to avoid making the spending cuts necessary because this video makes it abundantly clear that the size of the necessary cuts will be painful to many, many people.

2.  This video demonstrates the enormity of the Entitlement State. Notice that the actual dollars being spent on the so-called “discretionary” items in the Budget are relatively small compared to the enormous amounts needed to keep the Entitlement State (the so-called “mandatory spending”) afloat.    This is the A-1, Certified, Gargantuan, 16 trillion pound Gorilla in the room.   Democrats and Republicans can talk all they like about eliminating the Department of Education or cite the dollars spent on the Defense Department and foreign wars, but it is immediately obvious from this video that the real culprit in our insane Deficit spending is Entitlements.   The U.S. is borrowing over 40 cents of every dollar it spends and over 70% of that spending is going to Entitlements.

Yes, Federal agencies and departments need to be eliminated or severely cut back but those cuts will never be enough to take care of the Deficit problem.  Entitlements must be cut.

Note, too, that the cuts will have to occur now.   As much as I dislike Ron Paul’s rambling wreck of a foreign policy and his crazy, blame-America rants, he is one of the only politicians that is openly talking about reducing spending immediately in large amounts.   (Ron Paul falls off the rails, however, because he primarily talks as if cutting Defense spending will solve the problem whereas the video makes it clear that such spending is less than 20% of the total Budget).

If you listen carefully to every, other politician (including some of my favorites such as Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin), they are all talking about cuts of $1 Trillion over ten years or more. That is only $100 billion each year.   Check the video and you will see that $100 billion is relative chicken feed against the enormity of the spending.  The U.S. literally cannot afford to take ten years to reduce this deficit.

This will require a fundamental change in the way Americans view the Federal government.   The vision of Franklin Roosevelt and JFK and Lyndon Johnson and, yes, George W. “Compassionate Conservatism” Bush has to be chucked in favor of States taking the primary responsibility for the welfare of their own citizens.   Such a change will require leaders who can give the public the truth about the nightmare we are facing.

3. This video shows how little it takes to actually run the Federal government. Take a look at the actual numbers cited by Whittle in the pie charts for Federal revenues.   He cites the total amount spent in Fiscal Year 2011 for the General Services Administration which is responsible for the assets and logistics of the Federal government.   That number is $700 million or 1/10th of 1% of the total Budget.   Until the last 100 years, the Federal government was able to function quite well without any personal income tax because the scope of the Federal government was something like 1/10th of 1% of what it is today.

The growth and increase in Federal programs, agencies, departments, jurisdiction and oversight in just 100 years is almost unimaginable.  Americans have been sold a bill of goods promising a utopian society where a big, central government could makes everyone happy, healthy, wealthy and wise.   It has taken 100 years to come to the realization that those promises were, however well intentioned, dangerous lies.

Enabling Catastrophe: the NYT Serves Up Denial

BY Glen Tschirgi
12 years, 7 months ago

At first glance, this article in The New York Times about the financial cliff facing the U.S. Postal Service seems to be just a sample of the news that has become all too familiar in 21st Century America:  another government institution struggling with huge budget deficits.

But if we step back just a bit, there are a few features of this story that help clarify the outlines of the larger crisis facing the U.S. now.

The general theme of the article is that the U.S. Postal Service (again, like so many other problems portrayed in the State Run media) faces intractable, no, insurmountable problems: in a world of internet communications and direct purchasing and exchange, the USPS has seen a rapid decline in mail volume while it has been tied in to rising costs due, mainly, to hefty union contracts that cannot be modified.

The United States Postal Service has long lived on the financial edge, but it has never been as close to the precipice as it is today: the agency is so low on cash that it will not be able to make a $5.5 billion payment due this month and may have to shut down entirely this winter unless Congress takes emergency action to stabilize its finances.


The post office’s problems stem from one hard reality: it is being squeezed on both revenue and costs.

As any computer user knows, the Internet revolution has led to people and businesses sending far less conventional mail.

At the same time, decades of contractual promises made to unionized workers, including no-layoff clauses, are increasing the post office’s costs. Labor represents 80 percent of the agency’s expenses, compared with 53 percent at United Parcel Service and 32 percent at FedEx, its two biggest private competitors. Postal workers also receive more generous health benefits than most other federal employees.

So, at its most basic level, this story is reporting about yet another government agency that cannot live within its means and the unlikely prospect that the two parties in Congress can find any agreement to solve the problems.   But the more troubling aspects of this story are not necessarily as evident.

First, consider the reporting of the story itself.  For many Americans, The New York Times is still considered one of the premier news outlets in the country.  Personally, considering the repeated and politically motivated inaccuracies often found there, I cannot understand why anyone gives the NYT any credence, but many still do, unfortunately.  Yet this article– which is being put forward as a news report rather than opinion piece– fails to even note the most obvious and often-mentioned solution to the perpetual problems of the USPS:  privatization and the break up its remaining monopoly on so-called “letter mail” delivery to receptacles marked, “U.S. Mail.”

In fact, there are many, astounding facts and figures omitted from the article and possible solutions.  See the Cato Institutes site that fully discusses the problems and solutions of the USPS for comparison.  For a major piece in a supposedly leading, American newspaper, it is woefully deficient in its scope and facts.  Is the Times’ reporter simply ignorant of the wealth of information available on the subject or is he intentionally depriving readers in order to enhance the theme of hopelessness that pervades the piece?  In either case, this incomplete reporting inevitably leads to last-minute, panicked decision making by political leaders, without adequate, public debate.  And this myopic reporting happens all the time.

Second, this article points to a larger problem without really getting to the heart of it:  the role of public employee unions.  Whatever one may think of unions in private enterprise, the presence of unions in government agencies and other, publicly-funded work is always pernicious.  In the private sector, a company is relatively free to reach an agreement with the union that can be sustained by the profits actually earned by the business.  If labor costs reach an unsustainable level, the company can always resort to Chapter 11 to re-work labor agreements or, failing that, liquidate.  Such is the price of unwise management.

For public entities, however, the unions are in the unique position of mobilizing their organizational power to elect politicians who will favor the union with ever-higher wages and benefits, regardless of the sustainability.  In essence, public employee unions can install the “managers” who will decide compensation while passing along the burden of those decisions to taxpayers.  Even the NYT article cannot hide the fact that the USPS’ financial problems are overwhelmingly caused by public employee unions that have extracted far higher costs for labor than those paid by competitors FedEx and U.P.S.   Yet the article makes it clear that no politician, so far, is willing to take on the unions in order to get labor costs in line with the shrinking revenues.

Finally, the drift of the article is that the U.S. Government will be forced to bail out the USPS with emergency funding without finding any, effective solution to the underlying problems.   This is the sort of thing that is simply killing this country.  Everyone knows beyond a doubt that there is simply no money to bail out the Postal Service.   The federal deficit for 2011 is veering toward $1.3 trillion, the third largest deficit in U.S. history according to the Congressional Budget Office.  Nonetheless the NYT paints a picture of dire consequences if Congress does not bail out the USPS.   What is the justification?  Here is the perspective of one of the USPS labor union leaders:

Fredric V. Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, warned of disaster if partisanship keeps Congress from acting.

“This is about one of America’s oldest institutions,” he said. “It survived the telegraph, it survived the telephone, and we have to do everything we can to preserve it and adapt.”

In the face of national bankruptcy, the U.S. Postal Service simply must be preserved.   This attitude cannot continue.  Everything must be preserved.  Every program, every agency, every facility, every perk and benefit is sacred.   Nothing can be cut or eliminated.  The reality is simply not sinking in yet.  Everyone wants to pretend that the fiscal problems can be solved by cutting someone else’s agency or program.

The prospects are frightening.  If the 2012 elections do not produce a clear mandate for fundamental change in the nature and structure of the federal government– if the American electorate, in other words, opts for the status quo– then it is only a matter of time until a solution will be imposed.   Perhaps that is economic collapse, worse than the Great Depression.   Perhaps it is the rise of a Dictator who will use “emergency powers” to impose a decision.  Perhaps it is secession.  Perhaps it is a combination of them all.   But it is clear that the so-called American Elite– the opinion leaders in the media and politics– are in denial and we have foolishly entrusted our Republic to them.

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