Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Problem with Kentucky

I am a long-time infiltrator of Kentucky who grew up in Indiana.  As much as we like to tease our neighbors about this, there is not really enough difference culturally to make a difference.  In Kentucky, you have hillbillies.  In Indiana, we had hicks.  At least that is how I think of it.

But I have lived for so many decades in Kentucky that I now think of it as my place.  It is a pleasant place, geographically, for me – mostly because it is not very different from Indiana.  There are many nice people here.  But Kentucky has its problems when it comes to the area of fiscal responsibility.

Kentucky does poorly economically because Kentucky continues to be a “tax and spend” state, or ‘commonwealth’ to be more precise.  That last term, in a certain invented sense, should be true in Kentucky.  More people should have more wealth than they do.  The fact that they do not is due to the fact that the policies of Kentucky, ever since I have lived here, have tended toward the “tax everything possible” approach.  When that does not work out well, the usual remedy is “tax everything some more and hope that solves the problem.”  It is as though Kentuckians are just stupid enough to hit themselves in the head, and then, feeling pain, hit themselves in the head again supposing it will alleviate the pain.

One of an unending stream of examples of this came up recently in some interesting information about the announced closing of the Toyota headquarters in Erlanger, Kentucky – very near where live.  As Eric Hermes put it – rather amusingly, I thought:

Why are they leaving?

Because they wanted employees to pay Brent Spence Bridge Tolls?  NO
Because there is no local option sales tax?  DOUBTFUL
Because they wanted to pay higher library and real estate taxes?  WRONG AGAIN
Because the city of Erlanger hasn't raised payroll taxes enough (50% under current administration)   Don't make me laugh

It seems that TRI-ED http://www.northernkentuckyusa.com/ and the NKY Chamber have lost their focus.  Maybe they have been too busy promoting bridge tolls.

This is what Plano is offering them:

Occupation tax = 0
Local wage tax = 0
Corporate Income tax = 0
Personal Income tax = 0

Plano TX understands REAL business incentives.

See for yourself at the following link http://www.planotexas.org/Expand-and-Relocate.aspx

Northern Kentucky will continue to lose jobs with the current tax rates.  It isn't due to bridge traffic, or that we need more bike paths, boat ramps, and parks. Businesses need real incentive to locate or stay in Northern Kentucky.  We need less wasteful government spending and lower taxes.

Being a hillbilly is fine.  But it is pathetic to watch hillbillies tax themselves into poverty, as is the pattern in Kentucky.  Even the hicks over in Indiana have wised up about this to some extent recently.  Whatever we should call Texans, perhaps the hillbillies of Kentucky need to pay some positive attention to their superior fiscal policies.  Otherwise, there might end up being many more Texans, and many fewer Kentuckians.  And most of those Kentuckians who remain will remain dirt poor.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Correct Temperature

There is an interesting recent article in The Freeman arguing that it makes sense, from an economic standpoint, to stop worrying about “climate change” and simply create more wealth.  It is worth reading.

But as I listen to certain elements in our culture engage in hand-wringing, preaching, exhorting, and condemning people, especially people in the U.S., on the urgent need to do something about “climate change” I have a nagging question that no one seems to bother answering.  I’ll come to that question in a moment.

In an article previously online (2009) at NOVA online, Kirk A. Maasch writes:

During the past billion years, the Earth's climate has fluctuated between warm periods - sometimes even completely ice-free - and cold periods, when glaciers scoured the continents. The cold periods - or ice ages - are times when the entire Earth experiences notably colder climatic conditions. During an ice age, the polar regions are cold, there are large differences in temperature from the equator to the pole, and large, continental-size glaciers can cover enormous regions of the earth.

In a related article, this same author says:

During the present ice age, glaciers have advanced and retreated over 20 times, often blanketing North America with ice. Our climate today is actually a warm interval between these many periods of glaciation. The most recent period of glaciation, which many people think of as the "Ice Age," was at its height approximately 20,000 years ago.

That NOVA is certainly not in the camp of those some would call climate “deniers” should be conceded by all.  But even this bit of information from outside the debate about “climate change” leads to the unavoidable conclusion that the earth’s thermostat is always changing.

This is not difficult information to discover.  So why is our societal din about climate change continuing?  Why have so many ordinary people been convinced to feel guilty about turning on a light for fear of creating some carbon dioxide?  Why does everyone keep harping about “carbon footprints”?  I have my suspicions about this, but that is not the point here.

The point is to finally ask my question, the one no seems to ask, let alone answer, in all this hubbub.  Here it is:  What is the “correct” temperature for planet earth?  And if you think you know what that is, tell us how you know this.

Earth cannot be too warm or too cool unless we know what the correct temperature is.  When politicians yap on and on about the need to do something about “climate change” because the earth is getting warmer, they owe us an explanation as to how they know what temperature the earth ought to be.  As Maasch points out, earth’s temperature has varied greatly in the past, both far above and far below what it is now.  Which of these many temperatures was “correct”?

And if you don’t know an answer to that question, an answer for which you can offer substantial proof, why are you still flapping your lips about the dangers of global warming?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Lawless ‘Law’

"It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?" --James Madison, Federalist No. 62, 1788

Kent comments:

This has been the case for a long time, and it presents a problem for those who are of the “law and order” mindset, which includes many Christians.  It seems to me that at the level of the recent book titled, “Don’t hurt people and don’t take their stuff” we hardly need laws, except in the sense of making clear what will happen to those who do such things.

But now we live in a time and place where law is generally unknowable due to its complexity and sheer volume.  Almost unending amounts of regulation are declared to be law also, which only makes the problem worse and helps prove the point here.  It is simply impossible to know what the “law” says on most topics, so it is impossible even to attempt to comply with it.

But the problem is much worse than that.  The producers of never-ending and thus unknowable law are in fact themselves lawless.  Not in the official sense, of course.  But practically speaking, they have destroyed the very concept of law.

It is very clear that the modern incarnation of “law” is simply a somewhat inefficient attempt to control everything.  It hints at (at the very least) an attempt to paralyze and diminish the role of individuals to make ever more room for the power of the modern, and actually lawless, state.

In this situation it is inappropriate, it seems to me, to talk about “obeying the law.”  We should instead urge people not to hurt other people or take their stuff.  But hurting people and taking their stuff is exactly what the modern state and its pseudo-law is doing.  This makes avoiding the state, circumventing it, generally “laying low”, and trying to avoid hurting people and taking their stuff an appropriate attitude for the Christian toward the modern state and its “laws of lawlessness.”

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Time to Face the Constitutional Reality of the Matter

"On every question of construction carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, 1823

Kent comments:

Jefferson’s implied point, and a good one I think, is that those who attempt to “squeeze” something out of a text of the Constitution, or “invent” something against it, are doing so in order to evade the meaning of the text.  The most likely reason for doing that is to evade the restraints imposed by the text of the Constitution.  But the only thing much restrained (or at least attempted) by our Constitution is the power of the state, especially the central state.

I think it is time to admit that our Constitution was a valiant effort at creating a limited central government.  The opponents of limited central government, in other words, the advocates of unlimited central government have won.  They have won, and continue to win, by those squeezings and inventions mentioned by Mr. Jefferson so long ago.

So I think it is time to stop pretending that the Constitution in any way controls the central government.  The officials of central government now either squeezes the Constitution into the shape they desire, invent justifications for their assumed powers that cannot be found in the text, or – and this is now very popular – they simply ignore the Constitution as irrelevant to their power.  That is, they do whatever they wish, and implicitly dare anyone to try to stop them.

Thus it is pointless, almost idiotic, to keep talking about the Constitution when complaining about the vast powers now assumed by the central government.  While I don’t have an “answer” here about this matter, I do now realize that appeals to the Constitution do not and cannot matter for those to whom the Constitution simply does not matter.