Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bridges and budget constraints

I was at a public presentation made by some Republican legislators last week -- I have some notes but don't think I'll post them -- the discussion was about veterans and our support for the Iraq War. Some chirpy woman, who had made several critical comments already that evening, declared that we had made no payment on the Iraq War, which only could make sense to me by her claiming that every dollar taxed by our Federal government has to be spent on all the other things in the budget. That is, her implicit assumption is that we can only spend a dollar on Iraq after all those farm subsidies, health care cost reimbursements and post offices named after everyone and his mother-in-law.

I find this logic either amusing or irritating, depending on my mood. At the time I was irritated, but after visiting with friends I let it go.

Irritation returned this morning as I read the second in the StarTribune's full frontal assault on your wallet in the name of safety.

For MnDOT to keep pace with all statewide transportation needs from 2008 to 2030 -- including construction, safety projects, maintenance, and upgrades -- it would cost taxpayers $38.1 billion, according to MnDOT's most recent estimates.

But over that same time period, with current funding policy, MnDOT estimates that it will only have $14.5 billion.

McFarlin said MnDOT's fiscal 2008 budget is short at least $85 million for scheduled construction projects.

At what point did anyone discuss redistributing money to transportation from other parts of the budget? "Which ones?" you ask. Well, Phil Krinkie has an idea: Maybe we don't need to spend money on transit, particularly when you buy an 80 mile project but get a 40 mile project instead. Nicole Russell wonders about $50 million to provide security at the GOP Convention. Nice that Bemidji State gets some sugar for engineer and nurse training but could that money be better spent?

Every additional dollar spent on bridge repair, construction, or inspection has three sources: You can tax more; you can borrow more; or you can spend less somewhere else. Dropping any of those three from the equation means you are optimizing subject to NO budget constraint. This is the height of folly; you cannot run your own home buying more of X, Y and Z without at least considering if you could do without so much of A, B, or C. Neither can you run a government.

(Crossposted from SCSU Scholars.)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Freedom Minutes

Jason Lewis and Minnesota Majority have a new ad out that is a killer!

This is a video version of the state wide radio campaign that Minnesota Majority launched today! MM also has an online petition that you can sign if you are interested.

If you want to know more about some of the pitfalls of Universal health care, you can read my posts here, here, here, here, here and here. The bottom line is that while health care reform is needed, universal health care is not the answer. The market can and will work, if we the people allow it to happen and do the work necessary to allow it to happen.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Who Said This?

Who said this?

"We weren't designed in Article I of the Constitution to be the ATM machine...."

Rep. Walz - the taxpayers of America are not the ATM machine for the Federal or State government either. If you don't like being the President's ATM, imagine how the taxpayers feel...

Saturday, December 1, 2007

For the Common Good

My friend John has an article in the American Thinker that explains why history is so important for us to remember and learn from.

The past week saw the anniversary of one of the great tragedies of history overlooked by most of the US mainstream media. On November 24th 75 years ago, Stalin announced plans to collectivize all grain from his people, in an attempt to enforce "true socialism" on the people for their own good. This Holodomor (forced famine) sentenced millions of Ukrainians to their deaths.

The lesson was given to John by a family member who lived through those days.

Last month I was in the Ukraine visiting my family, and got to meet my babushka (Russian word for grandmother), Darina. Darina is in her 80's and has lived in her little house for her entire life. She was a little girl when Stalin forced the food production quotas on the Ukraine people.

What John's babushka lived through was the starvation of 3.5 million Ukranian people for the "common good". It was a phrase that was used by the Stalinists to justify the gradual enslaving of the Russian people. So the next time that a politician proposes taking from one group to give to another, think about babushka Darina and the starvation of the Ukranian people. Stop and reflect on what the people suffered at the hands of an all powerful "benevolent" government that said that they were operating "for the common good".

Cross-posted at Ladies Logic

Minnesota Republican Response to Budget Deficit Situation

Rep. Seifert held a brief media response to the budget forecast. His comments include:

We do not need tax increases.

Sacrifices need to take place. The question being asked is who is doing the sacrificing? Republicans believe sacrifices need to take place within government. Democrats believe sacrifice happens with businesses and families.

Republicans and Governor Tim Pawlenty brought fiscal discipline to the legislative process last session. Without the Governor's line item vetoes, bonding bill vetoes the budget deficit could have been more than $500 million. We need fiscal accountability. The Democrats should stay within the debt limit of $965 million for the bonding bill. The bonding bill should be focused on infrastructure like roads and bridge. It would be irresponsible to blow that limit and put that much more on the state credit card.

All levels of government must live within their means - state, county and local.

The House GOP will look toward cuts in government spending to resolve this budget deficit. We talk about fiscal restraint but we need cuts in wasteful spending. FY2010-2011 has a projected major deficit. We need to prepare and get spending under control.

We will again bring fiscal discipline to session. There should be no permanent spending with one-term money, the bonding bill should stay within the debt limit and we don't need to raise taxes.

Sen. Dave Senjem also responded:

This is a wake up call.

We live in a highly taxed state. Our business climate is suffering. We rank 42 in the nation for business climate. We need to create investments in our business climate. We should be in the top 10. Business expansion is not happening in Minnesota because there are no incentives to grow business.

Hang on to your wallets...

I just received word from Ian Marsh that, due to a slower-than expected economy the upcoming forecast calls for a 373 million dollar budget deficit in FY 2008. Though a drop in the bucket compared to the 4 billion dollar deficit inherited by Governor Pawlenty when he took office, look for the caterwalling and gnashing of teeth, along with a death scream by the DFL delegation of the Minnesota House and Senate to raise taxes.

Word to Pawlenty, the DFL and the MN GOP:

You want more revenue? Here's a novel idea.