Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Cheese Steaks

This week I am traveling for meetings in Philadelphia and Washington DC so while waiting for my Amtrak train in Philadelphia I stopped at the Bridgewater Pub on Market Street for lunch. After my initial disappointment from the lack of cheese steaks on the menu wore off I chose the Clam Chili for an appetizer and then the Yak Burger (yes, yak!) for my main course.

The waiter described the yak as "similar to veal" but it really was more like a greasy hamburger from a great Washington DC "dive" called the "Tune Inn" where the music of Patsy Cline reigns. Now don't get me wrong -- both the chili and yak were very tasty and the waiter was high quality. One interesting note is that it appears the pub's (or the city council's ?) policy is "No Smoking until after 3 pm" which is posted on signs throughout the building. Coincidentally I walked out of the pub about 3:05 pm at which time the place was filled with several cigarette smokers. Based on the pub's exotic menu (wild boar was also included!!) and the great customer service I am going to award them with a "3.5".

Following my Amtrak train ride to Washington DC I met my friend, Tim, for dinner at Mr. K's, a very high-end Chinese restaurant near George Washington University. We had a set menu of lobster/spring rolls/lettuce wraps for an appetizer followed by Peking duck pancakes then a light sorbet to cleanse our palates' followed by a main course of lobster with mushrooms and rice. The customer service was top notch with warm towels and lemon water between courses so my overall rating will have to be a "4" -- a great restaurant but not quite up to the level of "Elements" in Phoenix.

Check please,


Monday, March 27, 2006

Get Your Rear in Gear

I don't often watch Katie Couric's TV broadcasts but I was reminded of her this weekend when my girlfriend and I ran our first 5K (3.1 miles for those victims of the education monopoly) charity run together. Several years ago Ms. Couric lost her husband to colon cancer so she went on TV to promote the need for colonoscopy exams to help prevent this disease.

Our 5K run, which was part of the Colon Cancer Coalition, http://www.getyourrearingear.com, was held at beautiful Lake Harriet in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Minneapolis race was started in 2005 via the work of two sisters -- Susan and Kristin Lindquist Mjelde -- and had 1,400 runners while raising over $50,000 their first year. I am certain that 2006 was even more successful since we heard that over 2,000 people registered for this event.

I ran this event for numerous reasons including the fact that I lost my paternal grandmother to this disease several years ago so whatever your motivation I hope you consider completing a few 5k runs this year for at least your own good health.

Hit the road,


More Freedom = More Jobs

In most cases I take a very basic approach to public policy decisions which I like to call -- "allowing freedom is the best economic tool" -- thus I can't see a need for the numerous study committees, task forces, commissions, etc. that public officials like to create. It is a pretty simple world that government tends to complicate by declaring everything a "crisis" then rushes to offer a "solution" which typically requires more tax revenue.

For this posting I want to integrate three distinct newspaper stories from last week via a theme of "More Freedom = More Jobs" so here we go:

1.) "GM Offers Buyout Deals" -- General Motors recently announced buyout deals to nearly 1/3 of its workers with some buyout amounts totaling $140,000 per worker. Since many of these workers probably have years of experience they could take such a payout to start their own business or perhaps complete a college degree that could lead to a career change - perhaps into engineering given all the concern I read about that the USA is not producing enough engineers to compete with China and India. Now I have never worked at GM but I want to request my own buyout from the Social Security Administration (SSA) -- just send me a lump sum buyout check (amount to be determined) that would exempt me from all future FICA payments and would negate all future claims I have on the system so that I can invest the buyout amount via my personal financial planner versus having the money with some faceless bureaucrat hidden within the SSA monster.

2.) "FCC 'hands off' on Politics Online" -- the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued rules on March 24th to "leave almost all Internet political activity unregulated except for the purchase of campaign ads on web sites." As a blogger I applaud this decision but beyond that this is a great decision for the development of jobs in the online community since new innovations developed by political campaigns tend to create new business applications and jobs. One example is "online fundraising" which undoubtedly has benefited charities.

3.) "Pawlenty: JOBZ brings in 3,100 jobs" -- Our own Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota announced that the state's business tax incentive program known as "JOBZ" has generated 3,100 jobs and $276 million in capital investments since its launch 2 years ago. Shouldn't we all ask how many jobs would have been created in Minnesota had all corporate taxes (which are merely taxes on consumers so don't kid yourself if you think these taxes are "fair") been eliminated? For more on tax reform in the Land of 10,000 Taxes please visit -- http://www.taxpayersleague.org

Government ALLOWS jobs to be created it does NOT create jobs,


Let's have a meeting

Unfortunately it has been a few days since my last post primarily due to a busy week of meetings then a 5k run (more later on this event) for charity this weekend so I want to begin with some notes from two events I attended:

1.) "CONtacts Meeting" -- a monthly gathering of Minnesota conservatives and libertarians (yes, we do exist in the Land of 10,000 Taxes!!) to build the informal/ad hoc coalition necessary for fighting the Big Government advocates in our beautiful state. This coalition model is based on the "Wednesday Meeting" chaired by Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, http://www.atr.org. One key observation I would make is that it is rather difficult to have freedom loving conservatives/libertarians gather in such a "collective" fashion to share information and to develop some "strategery" ;) If you share the objectives of such a gathering please let me know so I can help get you connected to similar gathering in your state or help you start your own meeting.

2.) "Minnesota China Partnership" -- as an active member of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce I attended this gathering in St. Paul, Minnesota this past week to hear about this project, http://www.minnesota-china.com, regarding trade opportunities with China. From all the speakers I heard the one fact that really stood out for me is that "China's economy is the size of California's economy OR the size of Illinois/New York economies combined." Now with a 1.3 billion population and a nearly 10% annual GDP growth rate I more than realize that China represents huge market potential but all those Americans with fears about the USA's trade deficit with China and Chinese militarism need to pause to consider this economic fact -- California's (China's) economic size is indeed an impressive market but the other 49 states in the USA represent a very impressive collection of economic interests.

It truly is an exciting world out there filled with economic opportunities however I do fear that American schools' curriculum is too America-centric with little regard to international tools such as foreign language training and geography. This observation reminds me of a stand up comedian I saw while I was living in London (during the US-led invasion of Iraq) who stated, "you know why Americans go to war? So they can figure out where countries are located!!!" For information on education reform please visit - http://www.mackinac.org/

Renew your passport,


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Nina E. Olson

Historically when my friends would ask me if I would ever want to serve in public office my response was usually -- "yes, I want to be appointed by the Governor/President as the head of an agency with my job focus to be the closing of my agency" -- now that is my kind of government reform :)

I could always visualize my first day in office when I announced to the staff at 8 am (assuming they were all working by then) that all of them should take the day to prepare/update their resumes because in 3 months the agency would be a footnote in the history books. I would arrange for career counseling and would network with my contacts to find all of these displaced workers jobs in the private or non-profit sectors -- anything but government.

But after seeing CNN interview Ms. Nina Olson this morning perhaps one or two government jobs (for now anyway) are actually necessary. Ms. Olson is the "National Taxpayer Advocate" at the Internal Revenue Service, http://www.irs.gov/advocate/, charged with forcing the IRS to treat taxpayers more like customers versus as tax slaves delivering tribute to the IRS Overlords.

Based on the CNN interview I saw I have to applaud Ms. Olson's work and would hope that all 50 state governments have similar positions within their respective Departments of Revenue.

Customers not slaves,


Sunday, March 19, 2006

Job Growth

For nearly 20 years I have worked in some form of politics/public policy and one thing that troubles me probably more than anything else is when some public official comments on "...the jobs we have created.........." as if governments actually create jobs. Yes, my statist friends government can "create" jobs simply by taking more of our personal wealth and/or via borrowing money but these are essentially "make work" jobs - not jobs created by entrepreneurs and dynamic economic changes driven by market decisions. Question -- did any government jobs program create the job of "Webmaster" ? Of course not, the privatization of the Internet and entrepreneurs created this new job category not Al Gore's centralized planning model.

Since job growth is typically a key indicator of good public policy here are the "2005 Job Growth" rates around the USA with select states noted below (Source: Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, February 26, 2006):


1. Nevada 5.79 %
2. Idaho 4.67
3. Arizona 4.51% -- likely to gain 2 more US House seats in 2010
4. Utah 4.44% -- please see my posting here, "Geography of Death"
5. Oregon 3.49%

12. Iowa 1.98% -- improving but likely to lose a US House seat in 2010

US Average 1.5 %

30. Minnesota 1.24%

50. Louisiana -10.19%

Of course Louisiana's job growth in 2005 is an anomaly due to the negative impact of hurricane damage but Minnesota is ranked #30 and has not suffered any natural disasters of any significant scale for decades other than a state legislature dominated by "tax and spend our way to Utopia" members such as Senator Larry Pogemiller who in 2005 proposed a new 11% state income tax bracket to lock in Minnesota as the highest taxed state in the USA. News flash to Senator Pogemiller -- such as tax is not an incentive to the entrepreneurs willing to create new jobs, no this is a punishment.

Instead let me call on Senator Pogemiller and his like-minded colleagues to retire from the state legislature to start their own small businesses so they can have an opportunity to "exploit the working class" -- I am confident that as entrepreneurs the Senator Pogemillers of the world will discover that they are the people beyond exploited by the government.

For more information on which Minnesota legislators help or hurt your economic well being please visit -- http://www.minnesotavotes.org/

Update your resume,


Thursday, March 16, 2006

family business

Yesterday I had breakfast with a friend at Bakers' Square (yes, I try to avoid the chain restaurants but easy logistics ruled the day) in Eagan, Minnesota which apparently was a corporate case study on poor customer service. My friend and I agreed that both the host and waitress apparently did not seem to care if we were in the restaurant or not. I much prefer restaurants that treat you as though you were a guest in their own home so they serve as your "host".

By contrast let me share with readers my VERY positive customer service experience the night (evening of March 14) before my Bakers' Square breakfast at Kowalski's Market in Lakeville, Minnesota -- http://www.kowalskis.com

Essentially I was the only customer at this higher-quality supermarket since I completed shopping at 10 pm and they were closing at 12 midnight. The great customer service was not dependent on me being the only customer in the store at the time I am certain because the person that bagged my groceries AND carried them to my SUV (during a very cold and snowy night in Minnesota) was -- Justin Kowalski -- a nephew of the store's founder. When I asked Justin how long he has been involved in the family business he said, "it was essentially a day care center for me, I have been around the business most of my life................" Now my big government/statist friends will cry for regulations to end some "child labor" injustice but let me assure them there is no evil capitalist to punish here with new labor laws. Justin is a very professional, personable, well-adjusted gentleman in his 20's without any missing limbs :-) who clearly loves the family business (he name is on the door!!) and taking care of customers.

My grocery shopping dollars have been won by Kowalski's Market.

Shop 'til you drop,


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Tax Riddles

I finally completed my 2005 income tax paperwork yesterday so that my tax accountant can process it for the Internal Revenue Service but while doing this I could not help but notice the following "Miscellaneous Notes of Tax Interest" in the guidelines that my tax accountant gave me:

"The business rate for automobile mileage between January 1 and August 31, 2005 is 40.5 cents per mile, and between September 1 and December 31, 2005, the rate is 48.5 cents per mile. The rate will change to 44.5 cents in 2006."

Surely I can't be the only person that finds this federal tax code riddle completely insane, can I?

Such an evolving tax policy is merely a burden - not a benefit - to taxpayers. Given the personal time involved in keeping track of mileage such a "benefit" does not even seem worth it but more importantly readers should be most concerned about the complete arbitrary nature of these tax rates;

40.5 cents
48.5 cents
44.5 cents

Why not simply eliminate personal and business income taxes or adopt a very simple, transparent FLAT TAX with no such deductions so we tax slaves can easily see EXACTLY how much government is taking from us. For instance if we had a 19% flat tax starting at $100,000 annual income this would create a very simply tax system that would also exempt millions of Americans from income tax.

The next step of course is the further reduction of the 19% to 17% to 12% to 8% etc. thus forcing the US Congress to justify the "need" to increase our income tax burden.

For more on tax reform please visit:



Monday, March 13, 2006

No (Sky)Team Work with the Star(less) Alliance

After living without electricity for a week in Brussels due to a "change of account" problem with the Electrabel utility (please see my "Bedlam in Belgium" blog posting for details) I thought I had experienced truly poor customer service but then it was topped by my return flight from Vienna this past weekend.

On March 10th I checked on flight options to catch an earlier flight from Vienna (via Amsterdam) to Minneapolis on March 11th by stopping by the KLM/Air France office across from the Hotel Sacher (lunch in their "Blaue Bar" is worth a visit) in Vienna. I was informed that "your 11 am flight has been cancelled so you are re-routed through Paris and New York City (one extra stop but no refund on the ticket price)............" and I would have gotten to arrive nearly 4 hours later in Minneapolis (again, no refund on original ticket price) so I replied, "ah, your change will not work for me so what else can you offer?"

So my return flight evolve into a 7:20 am flight from Vienna to Amsterdam via Austrian Airlines and then on to Minneapolis via KLM (Dutch airlines which recently merged with Air France) in partnership with Northwest Airlines (which by the way still owes the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) of Minnesota a $239 million "loan" from 1992!!!!) via the "SkyTeam" alliance but Austrian Airlines is a member of the "Star Alliance".

Now these airline alliances/code sharing agreements should be an ideally seamless experience for the customer but it is still very messy from my experience. After I received my new ticket in the "KLM" ticket jacket cover I actually thought I was supposed to go to the KLM check in lane at the Vienna airport not Austrian Airlines so that was not discussed at the office so after standing in line for 20 minutes the KLM (SkyTeam) person directed me across Terminal 1 to the Austrian Airlines desk (Star Alliance). When the Austrian Airlines ticket agent asked if I had luggage I said "yes" and placed it on the conveyor belt then the agent advanced the belt immediately WITHOUT adding my checked luggage routing tag!!!! She assured me she would leave her desk and tag my luggage before the flight for pick up in Minneapolis.

Ultimately I arrived in Minneapolis on time but -- SURPRISE SURPRISE -- my luggage decided to take a later flight perhaps opting to enjoy the night life in Amsterdam. Upon arrival in Minneapolis Northwest Airlines (at 1 pm) had an immediate answer for me when I went to lost luggage telling me my bag would arrive on the next flight and that I should get my bag around 7:30 pm.

Since I never heard from anyone I called the luggage status toll free line which stated my luggage had arrived and that I would be contacted by the delivery service soon. After waiting I called again then called the "for a live person" toll free line to find out that this line is only manned from 8 am until 4 pm from Monday through Friday which clearly did not help an idiot customer like me who decided to fly on a Saturday!!! How could I plan such a trip that did not conform to these office hours??!!

Finally at 11 pm on Saturday night the delivery service called me (woke me up actually since it was 6 am European time due to my jet lag) to inform me that Northwest Airlines got my bag to them 10 minutes too late so I would receive the bag sometime on Sunday morning.

On Sunday no one called regarding my bag but I found it sitting on my porch so I declared victory!!

These various airline alliances -- Sky Team and Star Alliance -- are probably good ideas on paper but are not perfected in operational terms. Perhaps this is completely naive but I would propose governments do to things to improve the airline industry:

1.) Get out of the way and let airlines merge however they want to streamline travel, save on fuel costs, etc. Getting out of the way includes the sale of airline stock and the stopping of subsidies by governments such as the Italian governments bailing out of Alitalia. Perhaps Alitalia should have put up for sale, closed, etc. versus keeping a dead horse alive.

2.) Break up the monopoly positions incumbent airlines have via the airport slots they have in their possession. If Northwest Airlines owes the MAC $239 million then lets strip them of some airport slots to provide more slots (perhaps even free for a set time) to would-be competitors such as Southwest Airlines.

The air industry feels broken so let's give free market solutions a try to improve customer service.

Off to the train station,


Friday, March 10, 2006

Just Move the Goal Posts

While reading today's The Independent (British) newspaper during a wonderful dinner at the Shambala restaurant (review/rating to follow shortly) at the Le Meridien Hotel in Vienna, Austria I noticed the following headline -- "Poverty Targets Not Met" -- but now for something completely different :)

My personal policy for dining is avoiding hotel restaurants so I get out to experience the local culture but I just wanted a quick dinner so I could get some things done before my early morning flight tomorrow so I gave Shambala a go. Now the Le Meridien hotel in Vienna, http://vienna.lemeridien.com, is a wonderful property with a very contemporary look, a very respectable fitness center (by European standards), and a very personable and professional staff. I am staying here at my travel agent's (ask for "Ann" at Travel Pro Network) recommendation so I am happy to promote their services -- http://www.travelpro.net/index.php -- if you want quality service for your travel needs. Now for my meal my starter was an extremely tasty beef carpaccio followed by a main course of shrimp risotto which was a bit too salty which is the only minor negative I can identify. The wait staff excelled and the decor was ideal for a contemporary restaurant so I award them a "3.5" Space Beagle rating. Enjoy!

Now back to the "Poverty Targets" -- what was most interesting in this short article by Andrew Grice, Political Editor, was that since the UK Government failed to meet the "reductions in numbers of children living in poverty" set by Prime Minister Blair in 1999 the Government will simply change how it measures poverty rates in the future.

The Government's plan is to "exclude housing costs" from future poverty calculations. So why not exclude food and clothing costs too thus helping the Government achieve its poverty reduction targets even faster??!! This is the problem -- big government types like Prime Minister Blair set these arbitrary targets then simply revise the criteria so they can give the taxpayers some sense of "progress". This is insane because "progress" should be measured by tax cuts which allow people to decide for themselves where money should go such as personal checks to private charities focused on helping the poor move up the economic ladder.

The biggest failure here is not that the UK Government missed its 1999 poverty reduction goals but it is the fact that for most of these last seven (7) years the UK Government has raised taxes and fees so that even MORE resources could be sent to the black holes known as government bureaucracies. If you are a UK taxpayer or are living in poverty in the UK take a moment to educate yourself via the work of the Tax Payers' Alliance -- http://www.taxpayersalliance.com/

I am off to bed praying no government taxes my dreams,


Carnivore Empire

Hello from the former capital of the Hapsburg Empire -- Vienna, Austria - where I am attending a conference focused on health care reform/tobacco use. By far, the most interesting speaker was Dr. Brad Rodu from the University of Louisville -- http://www.smokersonly.org/

Since I am spending three nights in Vienna this posting is devoted to restaurant reviews using the Space Beagle "5 point scale" so let's get started:

Zum Weissen Rauchfangkehrer -- http://www.weisser-rauchfangkehrer.at, this restaurant is a short walk from the famous Hotel Sacher which is appropriate since it turns out this was the first restaurant owned by Franz Sacher, the creator of the "Sacher Torte" dessert. The restaurant's name translates to "Chimney Sweeper" and serves traditional Austrian cuisine. The wait staff was very attentive and professional and served pumpkin seeds between each course as a treat. Perhaps a boring choice but I had their wiener schnitzel which as very good especially with the cranberry sauce added. Overall the meal was good but from a value for money standpoint I would have to rate them with only a "3". The worst part of the evening was when we read on the menu that there was a "2 euro (about $2.40) tax on the music" because the restaurant had a live piano player!!! Due to this I left the restaurant with indigestion and an interest in serving in the Austrian Parliament to right this wrong.

Salm Brau -- this combination beer hall/restaurant is located on Taglich 11 - 24 Uhr Street and features an onsite brewing operation. Now this is a carnivore's dream venue especially the "Farmer's Banquet" meal which several of my colleagues ordered which included four kinds of meat!! I opted for a starter of venison ham served with rye garlic bread which was extremely excellent!!! For my main course I had a very respectable Austrian goulash (no noodles involved like my mom's goulash) which is very similar to American beef stew but with far fewer vegetables. I do which I would have started with a salad and had the venison ham for my main course -- really a very good dish. Due to ambiance and the venison ham/garlic bread I will rate them with a "3.5" . Definitely a nice venue for a large group looking for beers and a wide variety of menu items which included guacamole dip in the "International Cuisine" section of the menu.

Confiseria beim Ronacher (CBR)-- a very friendly cafe located at Seilerstatte 16 Street across from the "British Book Shop" which has a wide variety of books especially in their Current Affairs section. CBR had the most wonderful hostess I have met for years. She is a woman in her 60's who is very pro-American, very anti-European Union/EU, speaks 5 languages (I witnessed fluent English, German, and Italian plus she said she knew French and Spanish), and is a great cook. Indeed, she is a good woman, way too old for me, but I am already taken :) For my starter I had the chicken soup (excellent) followed by a small salad with beef/pork-filled pancakes which is tasty but a bit bland perhaps because I opted not to have the regular cheese included but overall I liked them. However, the highlight of this lunch (beyond the friendly conversation regarding the hostess's travels in the USA and why she hates the EU) was my dessert. I should have avoided it since I have an important 5k run fast approaching so I am in training but for dessert I had a small slice of "esterhazy" which is easily the best dessert I have had in my adult memory OTHER THAN my mother's "bing cherry bars" which I hope to bring to the consumer market someday if Mom is willing. Esterhazy is actually a Hungarian dish which became Viennese due to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This is difficult since "Elements" in Phoenix set the criteria for receiving the "5" rating for Space Beagle restaurant reviews so I can only offer CBR a "4" with a suggestion to restauranters to focus on "matching your music with your cuisine" since I am very certain that Barry White is not Austrian.

Time to visit my hotel gym,


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Will Dance for Food

Unfortunately I have delayed posting on the 2006 "Capitalist Ball" held on 24 February which was another successful social event for the free market movement in Europe. This is an annual event in Brussels, Belgium hosted by the think tank, Centre for the New Europe - http://www.cne.org/index.htm - for nearly 300 of their friends and allies.

The keynote speaker was Jonah Norberg, a Swedish intellectual and author, http://www.johannorberg.net/, who delivered a very upbeat, optimistic assessement regarding the virtues of low taxation, free trade, and globalization. This speech was in stark contrast to the big government/central planner types who view all aspects of "dynamic capitalism" as a "race to the bottom" that creates more poverty. If Space Beagle readers still need to be convinced that trade barriers actually CAUSE poverty then please consider Mr. Norberg's work.

Another feature of this annual event is the presentation of the "Adam Smith Award" to an individual who is the best promoter/advocate of the principles of freedome and liberty (my wording). The 2006 award went to Dr. Chris Tame of the United Kingdom who is a leader of the Libertarian Alliance. Sadly Dr. Tame is nearing the end of his life due to an extremely rare form of cancer. When I lived in London years ago I had the pleasure of getting to know Chris who is probably the best-read person I have met to date and a true gentleman. He will be missed when his final day arrives but his work lives on.

As for the ball itself it was a great night of networking between colleagues in the limited government, free market community which included several guests (such as myself) from the USA. The quality of the meal itself was quite impressive given the "large crowd" setting. Our menu included:

Smoked trout, salmon, and scampi with julienne of vegetables pesto and parsley coulis
Exotic fruit sherbet
Sweet-sour duck's breast from Challans with salardaise potatoes, carrots "glaces"
Gourmand selection of various chocolate treats
Coffee and biscuits

I enjoyed the entire meal especially the smoked salmon so will rate the venue (Concert Noble) with a "4" which is generous but for serving nearly 300 guests it was impressive.

My hope is that for the 2007 Capitalist Ball we will have some major tax reform to celebrate which includes greater free trade since tariffs on goods are simply another form of taxation on consumers.

Enjoy life, reduce government,


Monday, March 06, 2006

Kim Chee and Sweet Tea

It seems that my fellow Americans have become consumed with the dual fears of 1.) outsourcing jobs and 2.) illegal immigration which combined will drive the USA into another Great Depression apparently. My first thought is -- "if all American jobs are outsourced wouldn't that be a great way to stop illegal immigration?" -- of course not. These two issues are only related due to the concept of "creative destruction" which keeps the American economy vibrant so while we might lose some jobs due to outsourcing our historic engine for growth has been enterprising immigrants seeking their own American dream. Two powerful forces that improve our quality of life.

Well along comes another "outsourcing" story in today's (March 6, 2006) Financial Times but this time the outsourcing is FROM South Korea TO the USA. Kia Motors is very close to choosing an assembly plant site from a list of Southern States in the USA including -- Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia -- which is expected to be a US$1 billion investment that would generate 2,500 jobs.

The State of Georgia is the leading candidate to secure this new assembly plant which would help replace some of the 5,000 jobs recently lost due to cuts at Ford and General Motors in the area. This is very encouraging news which shows two things -- despite all the "sky is falling" rhetoric about outsourcing all American jobs to places like India the USA is still a great place for manufacturing if for not other reason than the USA is a great CONSUMER MARKETPLACE due to NAFTA opportunities allowing Kia to export their cars to Canada and Mexico from the USA and due to Americans' buying power.

So you want some sweet teaaaaaaaaa with your kim chee?


Sunday, March 05, 2006

Pillow Talk

As I flew to Brussels, Belgium this weekend I read a Financial Times (March 4th) article with the headline -- "Bill Clinton's ties with Dubai make life harder for Hillary" -- which focused on US Senator Hillary Clinton's apparent ignorance of her husband's, former US President Bill Clinton, consulting work for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) including US$450,000 in speaking fees in 2002, in addition to nearly $1million in donations to the Clinton Presidential Library, which were disclosed on Senator Clinton's senatorial financial disclosure forms.

It is now 2006 and the UAE company, "DP World", is trying to gain approval to manage several ports in the USA which Senator Clinton is a vocal opponent of due to national security concerns. But apparently her husband's eight (8) years of foreign policy experience as our president leads him to believe that the deal should be approved since he is advising the UAE on the best way to get the deal approved. Now assuming the Clintons find themselves sleeping in the same bed this would make for some very interesting pillow talk.

I have no reason to believe that they are doing what a corrupt lobbyist and corrupt state legislator (Delegate) did in the State of Maryland -- which I immediately thought of when I read this Financial Times article -- when I was living there several years ago. Essentially it was a scam whereby bogus legislation was introduced by the legislator/delegate as a way for the lobbyist to shake down current clients which is detailed below:

Delegate Tony E. Fulton and statehouse lobbyist Gerard Evans were ordered to stand trial on 11 counts of mail and wire fraud in connection with an alleged scheme to defraud Evans' chemical industry clients out of lobbying fees. The high-profile Young and Fulton cases paint harmful images of Maryland lawmakers who have used relationships with lobbyists and other special interests for personal financial gain. The indictment alleges that Fulton helped Evans collect $400,000 in lobbying fees over three years by proposing legislation that would make it easier to file lawsuits against paint companies and asbestos manufacturers, The Baltimore Sun reported. Prosecutors contend that Evans steered a $10,125 real estate commission to payoff Fulton for helping with the plan, according to the Sun.

Now I am not saying that Senator Hillary Clinton is Delegate Tony Fulton and President Bill Clinton is lobbyist Gerard Evans in this case but the the same political/financial opportunity exists for the Clintons via some simple pillow talk between the two of them so if Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton plans to run for president in 2008 both her and Bill need to be extra transparent regarding their financial dealings since USA port security tends to be a much higher profile issue versus the trading of cattle futures.

Run Hillary Run,


World Book Day

Hello book worms,

For readers that reviewed my "Books in 2005" and "Tinder for Fascists" postings you know that I love to read a wide variety of books. While I am no fan of the work of the United Nations I will set aside my bias against the UN's efforts due to my love of books to promote the work of their UNESCO division which is hosting "World Book and Copyright Day" on 23 April, 2006:


23 April: a symbolic date for world literature for on this date and in the same year of 1616, Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died. It is also the date of birth or death of other prominent authors such as Maurice Druon, K.Laxness, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla and Manuel Mejía Vallejo. It was a natural choice for UNESCO's General Conference to pay a world-wide tribute to books and authors on this date, encouraging everyone, and in particular young people, to discover the pleasure of reading and gain a renewed respect for the irreplaceable contributions of those who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity. The idea for this celebration originated in Catalonia where on 23 April, Saint George's Day, a rose is traditionally given as a gift for each book sold.

Based on the UNESCO website I did not see any planned celebration of this date in the USA but given our love of "freedom of speech and press and our strong protection of intellectual property" , the World Book Day, looks like an ideal concept for my country to promote. The UK and Ireland already celebrated their own World Book Day on 2 March, 2006 so for more information you can review their excellent website at -- http://www.worldbookday.com/

So whether World Book Day will inspire you to curl up on your couch with a book, join a local book club, or donate some books to worthwhile projects such as my friends at -- http://www.booksforafrica.org , I hope you appreciate the joy of reading.

Be sure to "book mark" Space Beagle Notes :)


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Hutterites, Hogs, and Monkeys

Tonight my girlfriend (yea, I know how to spoil a woman!!) and I attended the annual "Legislative Priorities" dinner at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce which coincides with the opening of the state legislature's session. After hearing the primary legislative leaders speak at the dinner about the need for -- health care reform, education reform, and bonding for construction projects in addition to Minnesota's Governor Pawlenty stating obesity is a "national epidemic you need to pay attention to if you aren't already........" I knew exactly what today's posting would focus on since I read a newspaper article at the gym this afternoon which profiled a Minnesota businessman who is leading his own health care revolution.

Far too often the end result of the legislative process is the creation of another new building or other structure with some politician's name on it to "honor" them for successfully taking enough money from us via taxes and/or deficit spending to pay for such monuments which clearly do not benefit society such as this one:


In general society is much better off when government simply allows people to retain a greater portion of the wealth they generate so that private sector initiatives have the necessary resources.

A prime example of private sector efforts that truly benefit society versus yet another "Senator John Doe Office Building" is the work of businessman, Tom Cartier of Duluth, Minnesota who is the founder/benefactor of the Spring Point Project, http://www.springpointproject.org/index.php, which is focused on developing solutions for combating diabetes. So far this non-profit has raised $4 million primarily being used to support researchers at the University of Minnesota who have transplanted "insulin-producing cells from hogs into monkeys to reverse diabetes....." (Source: Pioneer Press newspaper). An interesting note on the hogs involved is that they are raised in a bio-secure facility by a religious community known as the Hutterites with a presence in Minnesota, the Dakotas, and elsewhere.

Now Mr. Cartier is not a politician using our tax dollars to create the "Cartier Diabetes Center". No, he is a successful insurance professional who has used his wealth and business skills to drive this scientific research which he views to be a similar battle to the one we won against polio. The estimated 21 million diabetics in the USA (Source: Pioneer Press newspaper) will hopefully see the fruits of Mr. Cartier's leadership very soon.

Activists such as Mr. Cartier are the State of Minnesota's (with national implications) true leaders.

To your health,


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Man of Steel

Unfortunately I am not talking about Clark Kent's Superman activities today but another "Man of Steel" who caused the death of nearly (estimated) 20 million people in the former Soviet Union -- Joseph Stalin - who changed his original family name from "Jughashvili" to "Stalin" which means "steel" as a way to promote an image as a man of steel.

This past week marked the 50th anniversary of the "Secret Speech" given by Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, in February 1956 to denounce the cult of personality surrounding the mass murderer known as Stalin which our history courses/professors tend to overlook given their focus on the equally evil Adolf Hitler of Germany. Now I have not "quantified" this oversight via a scientific survey of history departments in American universities but the old joke regarding the nickname of the "History Channel" -- "The HITLER Channel" -- is reflective of the historical focus on Hitler at the expense of reminding the world how completely evil, inhuman Joseph Stalin was as he dragged the former Soviet Union from being a feudal economy into a nuclear superpower (which was fortunately a house of straw destroyed by a foreign policy led by President Ronald Reagan that sought to end this "Evil Empire" -- for more on this subject please check my posting here, "Peaches").

I raise this concern since modern day Russia -- the successor to the former Soviet Union for anyone that has been living in a cave for the last two decades ;) -- has current history students such as Andrei Ivanov who is quoted praising Stalin's leadership by saying, "To change a weak country into the world's greatest power, we had to collectivize. We were able to produce tractor factories and to win the war."

Let me offer a few suggestions to Comrade Ivanov, educators, and the media:

1.) Ivanov should travel to more countries and spend his extra money on books and DVDs about the former Soviet Union but published in the "free world" so he gets a better idea of Stalin's history.

2.) One of the numerous free market think tanks/pressure groups such as http://www.heritage.org, should publish the "Secret Speech" as a book for distribution to history departments and media outlets.

3.) A university should create a course solely focused on Joseph Stalin -- that is 3 academic credits that would surely help make the world more free.

May Stalin's victims rest in peace,