Category Archives: Government Spending

The one industry in California that is thriving…

There has been no shortage of articles bemoaning the burden of regulations on business.  Over-regulation hurts competiveness, discourages hiring, and it a bottom line cost to businesses, not to mention just being an intrusive quagmire of red tape that can baffle the most determined entrepreneur.  The problem is so evident that even the White House is determined to address the issue (yeah, we’ll see).

Nowhere is this more aptly demonstrated than in California.  The quintessential nanny state has so poisoned the business environment that business are literally leaving in droves:

Companies are “disinvesting” in California at a rate five times greater than just two years ago, said Joseph Vranich, a business relocation expert based in Irvine. This includes leaving altogether, establishing divisions elsewhere or opting not to set up shop in California.

This is obviously not good for The Golden State, which in July was second only to Nevada in unemployment:  a whopping 12 percent.

There is one industry in California that is thriving.  With budget cuts affected the San Jose Police Department, the prostitution industry has in effect become totally deregulated.  Business for the street-walking entrepreneur has never been better:

Two police sources told NBC Bay Area that prostitutes have even been traveling from as far as Oakland and Fresno to take advantage of San Jose’s less scrutinized street corners.

So California, through its own mismanagement has unwittingly unfettered the happy hookers, who are now freer to ply their trade without the interference of the local gestapo, who may have more important things on their mind.

Hayek would be proud.

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Filed under Culture, Government Spending, Human Sexuality, Survival

The economic principle that government does not seem to understand

It is Wednesday, and you have $20 to last you until your Friday payday.  You can buy three gallons of gas and maybe have enough left over for a couple of coffees at WaWa.  Or, you can by two gallons of gas and treat yourself to some Starbucks each morning.  Or, you can buy four gallons of gas and skip the morning coffee.  You could call out sick from work so that you don’t need gas, but then you are using a day that you might need for your summer vacation.

You have choices to make.  You have limited resources and a multitude of needs.

Even those who may seem to live in the lap of luxury have choices to make.  Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt may want a chateau in France, a castle in Greece, a mansion in Florida, a hunting lodge in Wyoming, and a hideaway in Maine.  Even Angelina and Brad have to make a choice as to which ones they can actually realistically afford, given the vagaries of the movie industry and their ever-increasing brood of children.

Yes, even Brad and Angelina have limited resources.

Economics, as Thomas Sowell tells us, is the study of the use of scarce resources which have alternative uses.

You learn this as a child:  a young boy with two lollipops can choose to keep both of them, trade one for an object of more value to him, or give one to his sister in hopes of some reciprocal good will on her part.  There are costs and there are benefits.  It is the boy’s task to decide which is the best use of his limited supply of lollipops.

As young adults we also learn to make choices.  We may opt to keep an old care for a few more years in order to save for a down payment on a house.  Alternatively, we may get the car of our dreams and forego the house, or we may choose to invest in an annuity.  Limited resource….alternative uses.  There is not a “best” way to use these limited resources, there is only the way the makes sense to the individual (or corporation, or small business, or civic organization) at the time.

The fact that resources are limited and one must make decisions on how to use these limited resources seems to be a concept that is obvious to all but is somehow incomprehensible to governments and government-funded programs.  They act in such a way that the resources appear to be limitless, even though they are not.  They seem to not “get it”, but you can’t really blame them.  They don’t have to “get it”.

Let’s say you are head of the Department of Recreation in some small city.  The city budget allocates $200,000 a year to you for city pools.   The first year, you spend money on hiring, fixing up facilities, establishing procedures, etc.  The pools are open and ready for business.

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Remember this when they tell you it’s “For the Children”

Flush with Race to the Top funds, the Delaware Department of Education has announced its “data coaching initiative”.  The cost ?  $8.2 million.

 The 29 data coaches will increase data-driven instruction by facilitating collaborative instructional planning time and providing feedback to individual instructors.  

So basically, the program is to help teachers to understand test scores.  Apparently then they will know how to adjust their teaching methods (or perhaps “teach to the test”) in order to improve test scores.

I don’t know about you, but the teachers I know are pretty smart people. They know their material, they know their students, and most of all they know how to adapt to individual student needs. The last thing they need in their already over-burdened-with-paperwork workday is more time away from instruction and preparation in order for some high-fallutin’ consulting firm to tell them how to teach.

This isn’t going towards education.  This is going to a bunch of glossy consultants and mid-level administrators in order to make a teacher’s job more of a living hell than it already is.

So a year from now, when the State of Delaware brags about how much money they are spending on education, remember this $8.2 million dollars.  This isn’t “for the children”.  It is for another level of insidious bureaucracy.  It has nothing to do with education.

Nothing at all.

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Filed under Education, Government Spending

Cowboy poetry isn’t the problem … NEH is the problem

The conservative blogosphere has been all giggly over Senator Harry Reid’s hand-wringing over the funding cuts proposed by the Republicans in H.R. 1.  He specifically noted the pillaging of the National Endowment of the Humanties’ government largesse.  The Senator’s problem ?

“The National Endowment of the Humanities is the reason we have in northern Nevada every January a cowboy poetry festival. Had that program not been around, the tens of thousands of people who come there every year would not exist.” 

Now, I see nothing wrong with a National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.  In fact, it looks like a right fun event.  But one can’t help but snicker a little.  Even the normally-staid Townhall has as its alternate title to the story:

Reid to Cowboy Poets: “I Wish I Knew How To Quit You”.

Heh.

Reid’s pistol-whipping of the dastardly Republicans may have been a bit histrionic (which is not unusual for the Senator).  The Executive Director of the organization that puts on the cowboy poetry event every years notes that federal grants account for only 7% of their funding, the rest coming from ticket sales (43%), local businesses (23%), private foundations (16%), and state and local governments (9%).  He states that the event would “certainly continue” without the NEH funding.

Whether or not government should actually be in this racket is a whole ‘nuther discussion.  The event seems like it would do right well with or without taxpayer sheckles.  There are enough right-minded and interested people who would gather themselves up by their spurs and if the interest was there could pretty much put on any old kind of hootenany they wanted to.

Cowboy poetry isn’t the problem.  It will go on.  The problem is the NEH.

Let’s take a gander at the NEH Appropriations Request for Fiscal Year 2012 (PDF).

NEH maintains that it will take $146,255,000 to run their operations for a year.  That’s quite alot of scratch, wouldn’t you say?  But what caught my eye was this:

“$28,055,000 for salaries and expenses needed to operate the agency”

In the world of government agencies, that is call “admin” or “Administrative” money. It means that for all the money you dole out to the causes that you deem to be worthy, this is what it takes to to it. If I’m doing my math right, the NEH’s administrative costs run about 19% of their total budget. That’s awful dang high.

The appropriations request further states that 72% of their admin money, about $20 million, goes solely for “personnel compensation and benefits”.

It seems to me that some people might be having some right fancy offices.  And they aren’t having beans and rice for dinner, either.

So you can make fun of cowboy poetry gatherings all you want.  The real issue is the NEH.  How the hell does an agency that does what it does grow to be so huge ?  It is feeding off of itself and its own perpetual funding.  It creates itself and its layers of management as it goes along in order to justify its existence.  It cries over the demise of “culture” when in fact the culture is the people themselves and what the people hold near and dear to their hearts and what they will pay for and fight for, not what some gooberment bureaucrat deems to be “worthy”.

I’m telling you, it just sticks in my craw a bit.

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Filed under Government Spending