Archive for the Government Folly Category

Latest global warming scare: internet & power disruptions

Posted in BIG Government, Climategate, Economy, FAIL, Goin' Green, Government Folly on May 10, 2011 by DaMook

Not satisfied with scaring you about oceans rising, glaciers melting, more powerful hurricanes, droughts, floods, famine, cats & dogs living together, the global warming cultists have more doom & gloom in store because of “climate change” – internet and power disruptions. Oh, the humanity! With all of the above soundly debunked (well, maybe not the dogs & cats living together thing), they needed something, anything, to really invoke fear. And what could be more fearsome than disruption of your internet connection? Crap – there goes my Facebook and Netflix! (story here from The Telegraph)

Already the transport sector is preparing for temperatures above 104F (40C) this summer, which could lead to breakdowns on the railways.

Speaking at Blackfriars Station in London, which Network Rail is currently fitting with solar panels and rainwater harvesting systems in order to be more resilient against power cuts, Ms Spelman said the UK is already investing £200 billion (US$287B) over the next five years.

But that will not be enough to stop economic impacts of climate change if it is invested in the wrong areas.

She warned of intense rainfall, droughts and heatwaves in the next 50 to 100 years because of man-made global warming. The signal from wi-fi cannot travel as far when temperatures increase. Heavy downfalls of rain also affect the ability of the device to capture a signal.

For a country like Britain, with a GDP of roughly $2T (compared to the US GDP of $14T), $287B is a big chunk of change to waste on global warming scares. In other words, we need to savage the economy so you don’t lose your WiFi connection. Algore approves, of course.

How long before this idiocy becomes the subject of a congressional investigation…

New passport application – Kafka’s Catch-22

Posted in BIG Government, Government Folly, Huh? WTF?, UGH! on May 4, 2011 by DaMook

If you don’t have a US passport you might want to get one now before a proposed new application form is adopted. This is particularly true if you don’t have a copy of your long form Birth Certificate. According to this story, many of the questions are almost impossible to answer.

The U.S. Department of State is proposing a new Biographical Questionnaire for some passport applicants: The proposed new  Form DS-5513 asks for all addresses since birth; lifetime employment history including employers’ and supervisors names, addresses, and telephone numbers; personal details of all siblings; mother’s address one year prior to your birth; any “religious ceremony” around the time of birth; and a variety of other information.  According to the proposed form, “failure to provide the information requested may result in … the denial of your U.S. passport application.”

The State Department estimated that the average respondent would be able to compile all this information in just 45 minutes, which is obviously absurd given the amount of research that is likely to be required to even attempt to complete the form.

It seems likely that only some, not all, applicants will be required to fill out the new questionnaire, but no criteria have been made public for determining who will be subjected to these additional new written interrogatories.  So if the passport examiner wants to deny your application, all they will have to do is give you the impossible new form to complete.

This form is a bureaucrat’s dream come true – Kafka’s Catch-22. With the stroke of a pen some government drone who may be having a bad day has the power to deny your passport.

You’re probably thinking, “How could they possibly know any of this – I’ll just make up a bunch of stuff.” That’s true, but that’s also the beauty of it. They don’t have to know any of it. If they deny your application, the onus is on you to prove it.

Please make it stop…

Lemonade Day – a lesson in government regulation

Posted in Culture, Government Folly, Heros, Nanny State, Take back America, UGH! on May 2, 2011 by DaMook

lemonade standOnce upon a time a kid could set up a lemonade stand virtually anywhere and make a few bucks. Sadly those days are over as you are now subject to government harassment and even prosecution should you try it now. In many areas you need a business license and Health Department inspection to set up a simple lemonade stand. But wait, there’s hope. You can do this one day a year on Lemonade Day. That’s right, one day a year many cities will allow this so that kids can “learn and appreciate” entrepreneurship. Actually, it’s a lesson in government regulation (story here from the LA Times).

My 8-year-old recently got the lemonade stand itch. So we started laying plans to enrich her college fund by enticing passers-by with white chocolate-pistachio cookies and juice from organic lemons. Fortunately, our property backs onto one of the busiest paved urban trails in America, bustling on weekends with cyclists, rollerbladers and pedestrians. Visions of dollars danced in our heads.

Googling for the perfect lemonade recipe, we soon found a site promoting a May 1 “national” event called Lemonade Day. This event, organizers say, is an “initiative designed to teach kids how to start, own and operate their own business — a lemonade stand.” What better day to begin building our lemonade empire?

After shopping for her raw materials, I gave my kid a bedtime primer about starting a business. How much profit do you make after expenses? How should you promote your business? Give the customer a great product. She soaked it up and went to sleep all inspiration and smiles. Then I got to thinking about something I hadn’t discussed with her: government regulations.

The author relates a three day odyssey of contacting various government agencies about setting up a simple lemonade stand. The bottom line was that under normal circumstances, a simple child’s lemonade stand was out of the question. They would allow it, however, for Lemonade Day.

What the Lemonade Day organizers should teach the children, said the health official, is about the importance of learning and obeying the government regulations that prohibit lemonade stands.

If we had made it past the health and parks departments, my kid would have been stymied by zoning laws that prohibit lemonade stands in residential neighborhoods. Overcoming that barrier, we would have hung our heads at the daunting costs of business and vending licenses, not to mention taxes.

Lemonade Day is promoted as a way to “inspire a budding entrepreneur!” But it is actually a dispiriting lesson about how hard it now is to become an entrepreneur, whether you’re an adult or a child. It is about how even the most harmless enterprise, the humble lemonade stand, has been sacrificed on the altar of government regulation.

“Obeying the government” – that’s the real lesson here. The author handles it well.

Learning to be an entrepreneur “starts with a lemonade stand,” say the organizers of Lemonade Day. But they don’t want to talk about the regulations that make it impossible for my kid to become a lemonade stand entrepreneur. They tell me it is “silly” and “beside the point” to focus on the regulations. I am told that Lemonade Day is about kids learning to “give back to their communities,” “do better in school” and “open bank accounts.” It is not about something so self-serving as making a profit by selling a good product. That is the old American way, but the new way is living with rules that banish the lemonade stand to one government-approved day a year.

What are my kid and I going to do on Lemonade Day? We are going to set up a stand in one of the permitted locations — in a park or at one of the approved sponsors — with hundreds of other kids doing the same thing. But our “secret ingredient” is that we will hand out leaflets explaining why operating a lemonade stand makes my kid and yours not just a hopeful entrepreneur, but an actual lawbreaker.

Next year they should rename it Regulation Day.

It makes you wonder if America can survive this assholery…

After SC Tax vote, Amazon says UP YOURS!

Posted in Economy, FAIL, Government Folly, UGH! on April 29, 2011 by DaMook

Amazon logoAmazon.com is the largest and most successful on line marketplace with 33,700 employees and over $34B in revenue. One of the biggest reasons most people shop on the internet is the lack of sales tax on purchases – in most instances. Of course, state governments lament this “loss of revenue” and they have been looking hard at legislating this advantage away from internet merchants (more here). Amazon has been the obvious #1 target of the taxers and they have vowed to fight efforts to tax on-line purchases (more here).

One of the ways states can currently collect sales taxes from internet purchases is if the seller has a presence in the buyer’s state. For example, if you purchase an item from Amazon that comes from one of their affiliates and that affiliate has an outlet in your state, you pay the sales tax. One of the ways Amazon has fought this is to simply close their affiliate program in the states that enact on-line taxing legislation. According to this story Amazon has upped the ante with the state of South Carolina. After the legislature approved an internet tax, Amazon cancelled a project for a distribution center in Midlands. The plant is under construction and was anticipated to provide over 1200 jobs.

South Carolina lawmakers’ decision to deny a sales tax break for online retailer Amazon.com will cost Lexington County more than 1,200 jobs, but the effects could ripple across the state.

Some say the incentives were unfair to established brick-and-mortar retailers while others maintain the reneged deal will cause other industries to pause before bringing their business to South Carolina.

Amazon.com decided after the vote to cancel $52 million in procurement contracts and remove all job postings from its website for the Midlands plant, effectively saying goodbye to South Carolina.

Newly-elected republican governor Nikki Haley applauded the decision, saying that South Carolina wants to “level the playing field” for business. Ugh!

That did little to change Gov. Nikki Haley’s stance, and she applauded the House’s 71-47 decision in a visit to Charleston on Thursday.

‘When you come to South Carolina, we’re going to give you a fair competitive marketplace to do business, and we’re always going to take care of businesses that are in town,’ she said. ‘By allowing Amazon to get a tax break that we’re not giving to any other business in our state destroys what I am saying.’

Haley said retail is different from manufacturing because its jobs are subject to higher turnover and lower pay. ‘It is not a Boeing. It is not a BMW,’ she said during the Free Enterprise Foundation’s awards luncheon at The Citadel.

Amazon is not a Boeing or BMW so we don’t need their business? Those 1200 jobs are low-paying with high turnover – you know, the kind that Americans won’t do but Mexicans will. Great job, governor!

Government wants to regulate icemakers (sigh)

Posted in BIG Government, Climategate, FAIL, Goin' Green, Government Folly, UGH! on April 25, 2011 by DaMook

Remember the “old” refrigerators before ice makers? You had those 2 ice trays that you had to keep refilling and you never had enough ice if you had more than 3 people at a party. As someone who loves a glass full of ice with my drink, I appreciate the convenience of the ice maker. Most of us don’t even think about it any more – we just put the glass under the ice dispenser and enjoy a cold drink. Well, in an effort to save you from “climate change,” your government is about to do something about that horrible, wasteful ice maker (story here).

In its latest effort to save the planet from global warming, the U.S. government is on the verge of regulating ice makers commonly found in many refrigerators because they increase energy consumption by a good 12 to 20%.

This could be detrimental to the environment since there are more than 100 million refrigerators across the nation and they devour a substantial chunk of the electricity used by all households. Energy consumed by refrigerators as a whole has long been documented but not what the ice makers inside their freezers use individually.

Americans can finally sleep soundly through the night because government scientists have completed the ice maker study and the findings have been beautifully laid out in a 79-page report titled Energy Consumption of Automatic Ice Makers Installed in Domestic Refrigerators. The information is being used to make a case for regulating the popular little machines that are contributing to the planet’s destruction.

In a nutshell, the culprit is the tiny motor inside the freezing system that’s used to release ice from the mold and into a tray. Because the motor is specially built to function in a cold setting, it requires an internal heater to keep it from freezing up. Here’s where it gets serious; heating elements require a lot of power and that’s where the extra energy consumption kicks in.

OK, I get it – refrigerators consume a lot of power (we have 3 of them). But what if I’m OK with that and am willing to pay for it? What if I don’t mind paying a little extra for the convenience of having as much ice as I want, whenever I want it? It’s a simple matter to disconnect the ice maker if you don’t want to use it. The salient question is this: Do we really need some government apparatchik controlling the use of our refrigerator?

The Obama Administration has been quite active in its campaign to enlighten Americans about the ills of global warming. A few months ago a group of esteemed scientists from several public universities warned that climate change will make food “dangerous” and add to the malnourishment of millions worldwide.

Before that separate government evaluations revealed that global warming causes mental illness and cancer and that it creates national security threats by spreading disease among people and animals. Authored by government scientists from various agencies, the mental illness/cancer report claims global warming is one of the “most visible environmental concerns of the 21st century” The separate national security assessment, made by intelligence and health officials, says climate change will destabilize developing nations as well as the U.S. economy and military.

Mental illness? I guess that explains this nonsense. SHEEESH!

Politician: Detroit “deserves” bailout or something

Posted in BIG Government, Culture, Economy, FAIL, Government Folly, Government Waste/Fraud/Abuse, Huh? WTF?, UGH! on April 13, 2011 by DaMook

Detroit Packard PlantDetroit, home of the “Big 3” US auto manufacturers (2 of which are on government life support), is the epitome of failed government social policies. Mired in political corruption (more here and here), with an abysmal school system (more here) and fleeing population, the city has become an economic and industrial wasteland (more here and here). While mayor Dave Bing deserves some credit for at least trying to turn things around, others in the city government believe that Detroit deserves a taxpayer bailout (story here from the Detroit News). Huh? WTF?

Councilwoman JoAnn Watson is reiterating her call for a government bailout of Detroit, saying the city that built the middle class deserves as much help as Wall Street or General Motors.Addressing the City Council today during Mayor Dave Bing’s budget presentation, Watson gave a spirited pitch for federal funds to help the city whose population declined 25 percent since 2000 to 713,777.

“We are worth it. We are worth at least as much as General Motors or Chrysler or the Wall Street bankers,” Watson said. “It was this city that built military vehicles for World War II. It was this city that (invented) the middle class and the five-day work week.

“We should not be in a position to be victims. We are victors. And we should demand respect.”

General Motors received $52 billion in government aid, while Chrysler received $12.5 billion, according to published reports. Mayor Dave Bing has traveled to Washington, D.C., repeatedly seeking more federal funds for Detroit.

Watson has floated the idea for years. The liberal magazine the Nation named Watson one of its 14 MVPs in 2009 for promoting a “multifacted Detroit Marshall Plan to revitalize her economically battered city.”

In the past, Watson has said the city deserves at least $1 billion.

Declared a “Model City” by the LBJ administration in the 1960’s, Detroit has received hundreds of millions in taxpayer funding. And now Detroit demands “respect.” How sad…

For a pictorial view of this disaster see these photo essays:

School bans lunches brought from home

Posted in Culture, Government Folly, Nanny State on April 12, 2011 by DaMook

The Nanny State rolls on as a government school in the Chicago area has banned most lunches brought from home. If you thought that, as a parent, you could could provide a decent and inexpensive lunch for your kid, the nanny principal at this school has two words for you – UP YOURS (story here).

At his public school, Little Village Academy on Chicago’s West Side, students are not allowed to pack lunches from home. Unless they have a medical excuse, they must eat the food served in the cafeteria.

Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.

“Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school,” Carmona said. “It’s about the nutrition and the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It’s milk versus a Coke. But with allergies and any medical issue, of course, we would make an exception.”

Carmona said she created the policy six years ago after watching students bring “bottles of soda and flaming hot chips” on field trips for their lunch. Although she would not name any other schools that employ such practices, she said it was fairly common.

A Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman said she could not say how many schools prohibit packed lunches and that decision is left to the judgment of the principals.

“While there is no formal policy, principals use common sense judgment based on their individual school environments,” Monique Bond wrote in an email. “In this case, this principal is encouraging the healthier choices and attempting to make an impact that extends beyond the classroom.”

Common sense judgement? The problem with this statement is that the words “common” and “sense,” when used together form an oxymoron in the government lexicon. There’s nothing common about common sense in government. Perhaps the next statement more appropriately describes the situation.

Any school that bans homemade lunches also puts more money in the pockets of the district’s food provider, Chartwells-Thompson. The federal government pays the district for each free or reduced-price lunch taken, and the caterer receives a set fee from the district per lunch.

It also means more money for the school but the nanny insists this about “nutrition.” Riiiiiiiight…

And of course, if the government lunch is so good for them, it should, you know, taste good too. Right?

At Little Village, most students must take the meals served in the cafeteria or go hungry or both. During a recent visit to the school, dozens of students took the lunch but threw most of it in the garbage uneaten. Though CPS has improved the nutritional quality of its meals this year, it also has seen a drop-off in meal participation among students, many of whom say the food tastes bad.

“Some of the kids don’t like the food they give at our school for lunch or breakfast,” said Little Village parent Erica Martinez. “So it would be a good idea if they could bring their lunch so they could at least eat something.”

I guess not. Without even a hint of salt or other spices, it probably tastes as good as it looks:

school lunch

What is THAT?

I’m not sure what that is but it kinda looks like dog food. But it’s government-issue so eat it or go hungry you ungrateful brats.

While some parents are upset, the money quote comes from this tool:

But parent Miguel Medina said he thinks the “no home lunch policy” is a good one. “The school food is very healthy,” he said, “and when they bring the food from home, there is no control over the food.”

If your kids attended this school what would you do? This is not about nutrition, it’s about control…