Thursday, July 27, 2006

Spring Football

Great news in today's newspaper -- more American football to be created in Spring 2007 with the creation of the All American Football League (AAFL) !!!

I love all forms of football -- Canadian, Australian, college, NFL, NFL Europe, Arena, and even some elements of the now defunct XFL -- so I welcome the AAFL and wish them luck. The AAFL could use a name change -- perhaps Campus Football League -- since AAFL is a bit wordy plus such a name change would reflect the AAFL's business model. The AAFL plans to field :) eight teams for their 2007 season which would play their games in university football stadiums.

The AAFL is being created by former NCAA President, Cedric Dempsey and 12 other founders from the "worlds of sports, education, and business..........". Investors can secure team franchise rights for $2 million to $3 million and team players must be college graduates with expected salaries of $100,000 per season.

From what I have read so far about the AAFL I like the model for these reasons --
  • The $100,000 per player salary goes against my free market principles BUT it gives the league a known budget for franchise owners as the league launches its initial season.
  • The AAFL's focus on using university football stadiums makes better use of such facilities since the AAFL's season will be in the Spring with the college football games beginning in late August/early September. This should help improve university revenues plus it would help create career opportunities for current and former university team members.
  • This league creates a US-based development league for the NFL or even the CFL for second tier talent at the university football level -- players that need to develop their skills more to compete at the highest levels.
  • Baseball -- I love our national past time but after Spring Training in Arizona and Florida I have to admit the season is a little boring until the World Series hits so having some football to watch would be a nice distraction.

Granted we have already seen the US Football League and the World Football League come and go so perhaps the AAFL will simply produce more collectibles for consumers to trade on eBay but regardless of their future I am excited to see this league play within the university environment.

See you on the gridiron,


Bug Hunting

After my run this morning I was reading today's newspaper when I noticed a photo of 10 year old Tayler Russell showing off one of the lobsters he caught in the Florida Keys. Yesterday was the first day of the mini-season for "bug hunting" in Florida. Lobstering in Florida is known as "bug hunting" apparently because their lobsters are much smaller than Maine-style lobsters.

This photo caught my attention because I used to go bug hunting in the Florida Keys with my very dear friend from racquetball/handball events - Jim Murphy - who lived in both Minnesota and Florida running his insurance business. Sadly Jim crashed his airplane in the Florida Everglades several years ago thus ending the life of a great friend, businessman, father, and adventurer.

Life goes on with my racquetball and scuba diving but Jim's presence will always be missed.

Enjoy your friends,


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

San Francisco

Last week was dominated by my attendance at the American Legislative Exchange Council's annual conference ( which was held in San Francisco. Following the end of the conference I spent part of Saturday touring the city a bit since the last time I was in San Francisco was in 1988. Here are some highlights of my touring:

  • Bomb Threat -- As I tried to leave my hotel room one night in search of great Thai food in China Town I was detained in the lobby due to a bomb threat at the "Metreon" building which was about one block away. The following day I read a very short newspaper article about this incident that stated -- "The bomb squad found the package contained shoes and clothing, possibly belonging to a homeless person............" so no one was harmed. Perhaps we need the TSA (Transportation Security mis-Administration) to branch out from the nation's airports to include homeless shelters under their jurisdiction?? :-)
  • California Historical Society -- has a small museum/photo gallery at 678 Mission Street,, which is dominated by photographs of the great earthquake and firestorms of 1906 complete with several items from author, Jack London. My chance visit to this museum was rather fateful since I grabbed my copy of "The Seawolf" by Jack London to read on my flight to San Francisco last week not even giving a thought to the fact that London spent his career in San Francisco -- rather a fateful event!!
  • City tour -- I always enjoy the city bus tours for their efficiency but especially liked the one I did with the Great Pacific Tour Company ( since they use large capacity mini vans and the tour guide - Jim - grew up in the Minnesota/Nebraska area so he was fun to talk with during the tour. The highlight of the tour for me was the view of the city and bay from the top of "Twin Peaks".
  • Giants -- I was able to attend the San Francisco Giants vs. San Diego Padres baseball game at AT&T Park which was my first visit. What a fabulous stadium that really puts our own "Metrodome(morgue)" to shame. The gelato stand was a nice departure from peanuts and popcorn!!!

Enjoy your travels,


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Left To Tell

Several months ago I posted a commentary here regarding the film "Hotel Rwanda" which I happened to see while working in Brussels, Belgium. Since Rwanda was formerly the "Belgian Congo" it was very interesting to watch a film that opens with a scene blaming the former colonial masters for the Hutu vs. Tutsi tribal conflicts that led to the genocide there in 1994.

I was reminded of this experience last week while I attend the American Legislative Exchange Council's, annual conference in San Francisco. One of the conference's sessions featured a speaker who survived the Rwandan genocide named -- Immaculee Ilibagiza -- who spent 91 days hiding in a bathroom with six other Tutsi women. Ms. Iligazia's speech was very compelling and sobering since I complain if I have to sit in traffic -- this woman sat on a bathroom floor for 3 months while nearly starving as she hid from machete-toting rape gangs in Rwanda. Time for me to quit my bitching!!!

During Ms. Ilibagiza's speech the audience also learned that she taught herself to speak English using a French-English dictionary while she was hiding in the bathroom from the Hutu death squads. This is especially amazing since the US public school system is spending millions and millions of dollars to instruct non-English speaking students and to teach English as a foreign language. Perhaps these students and their parents should get motivated by reading Ms. Ilibagiza's inspiring book - "Left To Tell" - which I read before the conference was completed.

Beyond her book and her work at the United Nations Ms. Ilibagiza is the founder of the "Left To Tell Charitable Fund" based in Carlsbad, California:

The fund is focused on helping the orphaned children of Africa build new lives.

The Rwandan genocide is a tragedy of course but another tragedy is that an estimated 800,000 people were killed in about 3 months while the world sat by and watched. This happened in a world of 24 news channels and news alerts being sent to mobile devices yet somehow this genocide did not justify a world response.

Hopefully this book will encourage an end to tribalism so people can live their lives to their full potential.


Monday, July 17, 2006

I need government help!!

Last week the State of Minnesota's Department of Finance reported that our state government now has a $447 million budget SURPLUS for the fiscal year ended June 30th. Now I was traveling in Europe last week so perhaps I missed it but I did not hear of one of our 201 state legislators or Governor Pawlenty call for a special session to "return this surplus to the people that produced it............." If any one of these 202 people called for tax refunds PLEASE let me know so I can congratulate them and help them for the November elections.

Without hesitation I am a big fan of Governor Pawlenty (Republican) since he is an ideal leader for Minnesota and a true gentleman on a personal level. I know the governor is limited in what he can do here -- sure he can force the legislature into a special session BUT he can't dictate what they debate or what to do of course. Governor Pawlenty's other two challenges are -- 1.) Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson (Democrat) would never agree to a special session designed to actual give us our money back, and 2.) A high percentage of state government spending is on "auto-pilot" due to spending formulas so even if we had a special session to create tax refunds the state budget deficit would go up because of this auto-pilot spending (initially at least) although tax revenues would increase later since taxpayers with more money in their pockets generate economic growth, government programs do not generate such growth -- only press releases or new forms of welfare.

Let me encourage readers to create our own "crisis" (remember Hillary Clinton's "health care crisis" or today's "homeland security crisis") by calling for budget surpluses to be returned to taxpayers -- whether we choose to spend, save, or invest these dollars should be our choice not under the authority of government authorities.

I finally admit it -- I want the government to help me get MY money back :)


Saturday, July 15, 2006

20 years later

Having worked in Brussels, Belgium this past week I decided to take a day tour of Ghent and Bruges on Saturday after being encouraged by my fiancee to get out and see the area more -- clear evidence of why men need women in their lives to help create a healthy balance :) This was my first visit to Ghent but it was a return visit to Bruges having traveled there as a university student in 1986. From my perspective the tour company should simply drop the Ghent visit from this day tour since it wasn't really worth the time. The "highlight" I remember from the tour guide's comments in Ghent was something to the effect -- ".........this used to be a royal prison but today is the city archives building.........." Well, damn. Now I can die peacefully having seen this landmark!!

Bruges was a much better visit although the nostalgia of my 1986 visit biased my view of Bruges today, 20 years later. Overall the city was still clean, picturesque, and vibrant but it seemed to have seen substantial tourism growth as evidenced by the multitude of shops selling post cards and lace goods. I did have a very nice lunch -- which I would rate with a standard "3" out of 5 having simply met my basic expectations -- at "Restaurant Charles Quint" ( ) of a regional chicken, potato, and carrot dish served by a waitress from the UK. For a minute I had to stop and think if I was still living in London when I first heard her accent having utilized my poor French when I entered the restaurant. Speaking of French I spoke "un peu" at a chocolate shop which surprised the woman at the counter who said that the vast majority of people don't even try French or Dutch/Flemish opting for English immediately. Our tour group made a short visit to the Church of our Lady-Bruges (built in the 14th Century) which is the standard stop in nearly every European city I have toured. The primary feature of this church building is the "Madonna of Michelangelo" statue located in a separate altar area. Sadly, European churches are essentially museums given the decline of religion for most people. I would argue that official, government-sanctioned churches (such as Danes being required to belong to the Lutheran Church until a certain age when they can opt to quit I am told) have resulted in driving people away from church life into the modern "church" known as the welfare state where government "solutions" are worshiped.

The highlight of my entire day was the canal boat tour in Bruges (4.80 euros per person with the group discount) which routed us through 5 or 6 sections of the canal system which is primarily dominated by private homes -- similar to Amsterdam but less colorful. Given the heat of summer in Bruges I would highly recommend this boat tour as the best way to see the city which helps you avoid the multitude of bicycles and horse drawn carriages which constantly force the tourists to move. I have noticed that the new distraction for tourists is holding their digital cameras aloft to take photos of nearly everything around them thus ignoring oncoming traffic including the electric tram which nearly hit one such shutter bug today.

Since tour buses are not allowed in the central city of Bruges our tour group had to take a city bus (for 1 euro per person) back to our tour bus parking area. A bit of advice for the city planners -- the next time you need to purchase new buses for your fleet please consider buying buses that have windows that open so passengers/tourists don't risk passing out from the heat of summer.

Time to shower,


Friday, July 14, 2006

Tigers in the Holy Land

PHOTO - courtesy of the BBC

After seeing today's newspaper headlines such as --

"Israeli offensive into Lebanon sparks oil (price) surge"

my first thought was how can the residents of the Middle East hate each this much after thousands of years? At what point do you simply grow weary of hate and revenge? Granted these are rather philosophical questions so I pose another more substantive question -- "How many Nobel Peace Prizes have been awarded for Middle East peace negotiation efforts?

Thanks to this helpful website I have the answer --

1901 -- the first Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the International Red Cross and a French peace society. This does not have anything to do with the Middle East, I am just noting "1901" as the start date for historical context.

1950 -- awarded to Ralph Bunche who was the "UN Mediator in Palestine"

1978 -- awarded to Sadat of Egypt and Begin of Israel

1994 -- awarded to Arafat of Palestine, Perez of Israel, and Rabin of Israel

2002 -- award to former US President Jimmy Carter for his "international efforts reducing violence, etc..........." so I note him here given his role in the Egypt and Israel peace treaty which led to the 1978 Nobel Prize

It appears we can safely say that for the last 56 years the Nobel Peace Prize has had some level of focus on the Middle East conflict yet the violence continues. The Nobel Prize is a "noble" endeavor but I would encourage them to consider non-public officials should they plan to award a future award focused on the Middle East since the seven (7) people awarded for their roles in peace efforts for the region were public officials when they were involved.

Perhaps the world's religious leaders, corporate CEOs, and sports celebrities should step forward to exert their leadership in the region. Why not have the Dalai Lama spend some time touring the region especially since the Chinese have made it clear he is not welcome in Tibet (yet another issue for the Nobel committee!!) or perhaps Tiger Woods could use his fame to have a major golf tournament organized for the Gaza Strip to drive economic interest in the region since jobs generate peace!! Now that is creative thinking that I would like to see leaders like the Nobel committee promote and seek out when they make their next selections.

Fix it since it is clearly broken,


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Prayer is a Taxable Transaction

Dear Flock:

Some comedic relief provided by my fiancee is copied below for your enjoyment.

This makes me wonder if the Internal Revenue Service will exist in the afterlife?

Pastor Todd


A little boy wanted $100.00 very badly and prayed for weeks, but nothing happened. Then he decided to write God a letter requesting the $100.00. When the postal authorities received the letter to "God, USA" , they decided to send it to the President. The president was so amused that he instructed his secretary to send the little boy a $5.00 bill. The president thought this would appear to be a lot of money to a little boy.

The little boy was delighted with the $5.00 bill and sat down to write a thank-you note to God, which read:

"Dear God: Thank you very much for sending the money. However, I noticed that for some reason you sent it through Washington, DC., and those assholes deducted $95.00 in taxes."

Author -- Unknown, unless you can tell me :)

Regulate Everything!!

Yet another strong argument for school choice in the US public school system!!

The July 12, 2006 USA Today newspaper featured one of their classic bar chart graphics, USA Today Snapshots, entitled, "Which industries should be more government regulated?". The results of this survey of 1,833 respondents age 18 and older by Harris Interactive were:

Oil -- 55%
Pharmaceutical and Drug - 51%
Health Insurance - 46%
Electric and Gas Utilities - 43%
Managed care such as HMOs - 43%
Tobacco - 36%
Hospitals - 28%

Really?? The follow up question to these 1,833 people should have been, "okay, how much MORE can we regulate these industries, should we just have them nationalized by the government so we can live in a regulated paradise like Cuba?"

I could offer several examples of how these seven (7) industries are highly regulated today so let me pick just 2 of them since I have ZERO financial interest in their well-being:

Electric and Gas Utilities -- granted state and federal laws have been amended in the last decade or so to inject some market competition/reduced regulation in this industry BUT the state public utilities commission (PUCs) are still operating at full staffing levels. The PUCs still have a lot of oversight power especially since such regulated utilities must file "rate cases" compiled by teams of lawyers and accountants to see changes in the rates they charge to customers.

Hospitals -- in an effort to use our limited resources "efficiently" most state governments require hospitals wanting to expand their operations to get approval via a "certificate of need" or "certificate of public convenience and necessity" which seeks to prevent competing hospitals from wasting money by building competing facilities.

So you think this is wide open, no regulation capitalism at work?? These 1,833 respondents need to read more books and less USA Today starting with any book they find at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute --

Educate don't regulate,


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Caveman Lawyer

Whether government regulators/lawmakers are fascist in nature or truly well-intentioned it really doesn't matter to me since I assume they are fascist until they prove themselves to be otherwise. However, I really have to sit back and laugh at them on days like today!! As I sat in a Brussels cafe enjoying lunch I was looking out the front window where I noticed a guy about 30 years old reading a newspaper while smoking a cigarette at a sidewalk table. Then a group of four teen-age boys walked by with the last one -- probably 15 years old -- stopping to ask the guy at the table if he could "bum" ("have a cigarette as a gift" in proper English) a cigarette. Despite the high cost of cigarettes I did not see this guy hesitate to pull a single cigarette from his carton to give to the boy AND then the guy even offered to light it for the boy!!

So regardless of increased taxes on tobacco, public smoking bans, the raising of the legal age to buy tobacco products, and multiple millions of tax dollars/euros/pounds spent to educate people not to smoke informal market exchanges such as this bumming episode happen. So what should be done to stop such human interactions? Increased foot patrols by police officers to prevent such voluntary, non-monetary transactions by checking the IDs of all people seen smoking on the street?

My "Caveman Lawyer" brain says "no" opting for a world of less laws and greater personal freedom but try to explain that to your local bureaucrat who is obligated to justify their role in this world where the bright lights and tall buildings scare me. (FOOTNOTE - all credit for the Caveman Lawyer reference go to my comedic hero Phil Hartman of Saturday Night Live fame, may he rest in peace -

Hey, can I bum a slice of pizza? :)


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Cheese and Browsers

Today the phrase "surfing the web" is understood by most people to simply mean "reviewing the range of content that is available on the Internet via the use of a web browser" such as Internet Explorer or Firefox. However, since language evolves quickly especially as a result of someone's geographic location/isolation there are no doubt other ways to say "surfing the web" which I was reminded of on my flight to Brussels this weekend.

While enjoying some downtime at the airport sky lounge I read this phrase on the packet of cheese I was having:

"SKI us on the web:"

"Ski" don't "surf" this Vermont cheese company's website -- a great example of "place theory" in practice since "ski the web" is a product of Vermont's ski slope culture and the lack of opportunities to "surf" the ocean such as California offers :)

A personal reminder to myself to not assume we speak the same "language" known as English in all settings.

Thank you for skiing Space Beagle,


Monday, July 10, 2006

One more nutty bar please!!

As if we don't travel enough in our professional lives my fiancee and I traveled to the "Iowa Great Lakes" area known as "Boji" by the natives,, this past weekend for a mini-vacation with my brother's family. We stayed at Arrowwood (formerly Village East) which has historically been a lovely resort but I fear that "something is broken" since I left with the impression that guests are not getting value for money (or the owners are draining out as much cash as they can) as noted in these observations:

  • The resort's on-site restaurant, Minerva's, was a bad experience for breakfast with slow service, cold food, and an unresponsive staff when I lodged my complaint thus they receive my first ever "0" rating out of 5.
  • The lifeguard at the indoor pool was either sleeping or listening to music so from a liability and cost standpoint the resort would have been better off simply posting a "Swim at Your Own Risk" sign
  • The on-site health club is nice but seems to be fading due to lack of new equipment and the need for some modernizing decor.
  • Upon check out I complained about the restaurant quality again to which the desk staff simply smiled and said "ok" which was sad since I am a native Iowan and expect better.
Beyond Arrowwood though the Boji trip was a joy as noted by these trip highlights:

  • Arnold's Perk -- a local coffeeshop complete with mis-matched furniture and all things organic. The staff here clearly loved their work and the patrons all acted like one friendly family with other patrons including the two grandmothers who shared a couch with us and provided an overview of Boji for my fiancee. I got a chuckle out of this coffee shop's sign in the front door which said, "Friends don't let friends drink Starbucks" :)
  • Nutty Bars -- a simple recipe of vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate then rolled in crushed nuts but really damn tasty!! There are few things much better during the heat of July.
  • Arnold's Park -- the local amusement park on West Lake Okoboji complete with rides for "kids" of all ages. My victory in the go-kart race against my brother will be cherished as my own version of NASCAR :)
  • Gepetto's -- a fine dining restaurant that replaced Maxwell's in the Central Emporium. We had an excellent meal here of -- halibut, crab cake, filet mignon, and mushroom demi-glace chicken. The service, ambiance, and overall location were excellent. I rate them with a "4" on my 5 point scale.
  • Taco House -- not the same without my buddy Kent dining with me at our old stomping ground but we our families had a great meal of soft shell tacos plus their famous "brown sauce". I am completely biased so will reward them with a "4" rating since it is an institution that I always have loved about Boji plus they have the largest collection of low cost Mexican art in the State of Iowa I believe :) Again, great staff here who enjoy their jobs -- amazing that this restaurant was not created by a government jobs program isn't it??

Enjoy your vacations,


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Give Me Ice Cream or Give Me Death

The Declaration of Independence....gave liberty not alone to the people of this country, but hope to all the world, for all future time.

Abraham Lincoln

Personally I don't celebrate the 4th of July I opting to celebrate "Independence Day" which happens to fall on the 4th of July every year. This is an important distinction I believe since we celebrate Christmas Day not the "25th of December" -- Christmas has meaning of course as the birth of Jesus Christ which brought hope to the world while Independence Day served as the birthday of a new nation which was vastly different from any governments existing in 1776.

Independence Day this year was spent running a 5 mile race with my fiancee which was organized by Apple Valley Freedom Days,, followed by walking in our local parade with the owners of Kalli's Popcorn Shop who happen to be our neighbors. Kalli's not only sells popcorn but they also offer hard and soft ice cream including the "Flavor Burst" soft serve ice cream. I am a huge fan of the butter pecan but after trying the "blue goo" this week (which tastes like wedding cake frosting) I now have split loyalties :) Kalli's is a great small business story which I hope expands to other cities given their quality customer service and great products. I would rate them with a "4" (out of 5).

Speaking of ice cream here is some trivia I read in Life Magazine this week:

  • In the summer of 1790 George Washington spent $200 on ice cream which is equal to $4,100 in today's dollars.
  • The Italians created ice cream in the 17th Century -- question; but did Marco Polo steal this idea from the Chinese as he apparently did with other inventions such as noodles???
  • The ice cream cone first appeared in 1904 at the St. Louis World's Fair
  • Vanilla is still the nation's favorite flavor since it accounts for 26% of sales with chocolate at 12.9%. No statistics were available for "blue goo" but I am searching :)

Whether you say 4th of July or Independence Day please take a moment to reflect on what the Founding Fathers and Continental Army accomplished in the 1776 to 1789 time period to give us the freedoms we take for granted today such as the freedom to eat ice cream, own a firearm, the right to public assembly, shop at a book store, or blog about any subject imaginable.

I am thankful for these freedoms,


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Bombing North Korea

Admittedly I am still a Cold War Warrior having done my small part to help destroy the Evil Empire, formerly known as the Soviet Union. While touring there in 1986 I distributed contraband materials I carried in my luggage -- magazines, newspapers, paperback books, audiotapes, etc. -- to help generate a "war of ideas" via the Soviet dissidents and black market traders (they wanted to trade for boxer shorts which inspired me to predict that their economy would collapse when I returned to Iowa State University and it did in 1991!!!) I met during my travels.

Today I had a rude reminder that communist dictators are alive and un-well given today's newspaper headline --- "North Korea Missile Launch Defies U.S." -- which highlighted North Korea's failed launch of a missile that fell into the Sea of Japan. Apparently President Kim Jong Il is upset with the quality of the sushi he imports from Japan while he lets his people starve by eating tree bark!! :-)

One quote I did not see reported is former US Vice President Walter Mondale's comments about two weeks ago calling for a pre-emptive US attack of North Korea. Interesting at the time since I don't remember Ambassador Mondale calling for similar action on Iraq:

Given my growing dis-trust of most governments I have evolved into what I call an "armed dove" -- meaning I prefer peace but will hit hard as a hawk when needed whether defending my home and family or acting as Commander-in-Chief should Americans draft me in 2008 since I am over 35 years old :-) Today, I do not see any need for a US-backed coalition to invade North Korea or even a massive bombing campaign but I do want to advocate the following solution.

Let's bomb North Korea with items from the free world like I did the Soviet Union in 1986 but on a massive scale via air force deliveries and on the ground covert operations by bringing humanitarian relief and cultural tools from the free world to the people of North Korea to enable them to stage a "coup de masses" against that jump suit wearing, sushi eating, bad hair day, mad man known as President Kim Jong (very) Ill using the following tools:

Step #1 -- BODIES: Use the US Air Force and allies to drop food supplies in rural villages. I am not talking bags of rice in UN-labeled bags -- I am talking; trail mix/gorp, jerky, hot dogs, lunch meat, bread, cookies, potato chips, bottled water, etc. Get these people fed and healthy for the revolution to come.

Step #2 -- MINDS: The next airlift by the air force planes would include examples of Western/free world culture including; the Victoria's Secret catalog, People magazine, mail order catalogs, USA Today, Asian language books and magazines, Men's Health (my favorite), and translated reports (in Korean of course) explaining President Kim's lavish lifestyle. The airlift would be coupled with supplying local insurgents with hand crank-powered radios and portable DVD players with extra batteries - since electricity is not a local resource - and a collection of DVDs such as "CNN Presents - North Korea" to show the North Korean slaves what the outside world is like so they are inspired to publicly oppose President Kim's regime.

Step #3 -- ARMS: I don't know of any successful revolution that did not include the use of firearms. In this step we would use the entire US and allies' intelligence entities to distribute weapons to villagers not to select individuals who could simply resale the weapons on the black market or in a neighboring country. Empower the people to lead their own revolution -- I trust factions of the army will join their fellow countrymen to oppose President Kim.

Step #4 -- DEADLINE: Give President Kim a firm deadline to dismantle his missile program then if he does not comply simply destroy all key infrastructure via a massive air strike coupled with a one week long propaganda campaign prior to the air strike consisting of dropping leaflets to citizens across the country and beaming radio and TV signals from Voice of America to all markets.

With all of these factors working in concert a grassroots uprising OR even better an exodus by President Kim to a country granting him asylum should he opt not to commit suicide (keep hope alive!!) should be the end result followed by a Transition Council (South Korea, China, Japan, US, Russia, and Australia given their growing role as regional policeman such as in East Timor) to manage a post-Kim North Korea leading to a national referendum regarding the unification of North and South Korea.

Nuclear war avoided, the minimum loss of human life, and the removal of President Kim -- not a bad outcome for the world.

Sleep well President Kim,


Saturday, July 01, 2006

Vienna Waltz

Greetings from the former capital of the Austro-Hungarian empire - Vienna. Today everyone lives in harmony under the protective umbrella of the European Union :)

My travels bring me to Vienna for the third annual European Resource Bank (ERB),, which is a gathering of free market think tanks from across Europe including several American guests. This year is a unique gathering since the ERB is being held in conjunction with the World Taxpayer Associations,, annual conference.

Overall the best value of this conference is re-connecting with old friends and develop new contacts to work with on public policy issues across Europe. Due to numerous factors - cultural, historical, tax law among others - the free market movement is not as extensive as in the USA but there is progress and reason to be optimistic. One such example is this think tank based in Sweden -- -- which was founded by a group of true "intellectual entrepreneurs" who can work in at least six languages covering topics such as biotechnology, global warming, and tobacco harm reduction. This is an impressive group of thinkers who clearly did not attend American public schools :)

The conference ends this evening with a black tie Austrian Ball in the Palais Liechtenstein which I am hesitate to attend due to my allergic reaction to all things royal - give me an elected legislative body and executive with all their associated warts and flaws anytime!! Since the conference events have dominated my time here I have not visited many local restaurants but last night a group of us dined at "Sirk" in the Hotel Bristol. Now while the wait staff service was excellent I have to rate them with a "2" (out of 5) since my "roast beef" apparently was a German phrase for "bad steak" although my cucumber and shrimp soup was rather good. The desserts our group shared saved the day though since I really enjoyed my chocolate-banana dish coupled with the selection of chocolates provided compliments of the kitchen so I must revise by bumping Sirk up to a "2.5" rating -- I am a sucker for food bribes I guess.

Always fun to visit Vienna including the gay pride three of us had to walk through today on our return to our hotels.



Welcome to class Earth Muffin

Without hesitation I admit that I love blogging and ranting against the growth of government. So it always encouraging to see Comments posted responding to my bloc thoughts such as this question to me posted by , "Earth Muffin" (EM), regarding my posting on Warren buffet, "Market Decision by the Market Master":

Earth Muffin said...

Dearest Space Beagle:
If you can admit to the need for some gov't, regardless of its size, how, in your tax free world, would this gov't be paid for?
9:11 AM

Since EM's (no doubt an "organic" muffin) question contains three themes let me dissect and respond to them below:

  1. "Some government" -- I have never called for "zero government" like some anarch0-capitalists I know since I am essentially a "law and order libertarian/classical liberal" with one thought driving my world view -- GOVERNMENT SHOULD DO VERY FEW THINGS AND IT SHOULD DO THOSE THINGS VERY WELL SUCH AS NATIONAL DEFENSE
  2. "Tax free world" -- no where on my blog nor in conversations have I called for a tax free world. Hell, I am open minded about rising tax revenue -- why don't we raise taxes on public employees' and Congress' retirement pensions if government "needs" more revenue??? :)
  3. "How to pay for it" -- Please note Item #1 above first because if we can't agree on an initial premise then you will have no understanding of my worldview. In general I am a great believer in user fees such as the creation of toll roads -- if you drive on a highway then buy a token/electronic pass card to pay for the cost to maintain the highway. Sure, you say, "but how can we add user fees to a nuclear missile or a Stealth bomber?" to which I would advocate a "war tax" -- here the US Congress would have to impose a tax to pay for national defense via a broad-based tax such as a national sales tax or an income tax. Why would this be a good idea? Such a "war tax" would completely empower taxpayers because it would be TRANSPARENT since we would know exactly what the tax amount is and what the tax would be used for -- can you say this is true of our current tax code?? NO, you can not. Stating the obvious now -- we might even have less war if we had such taxes assuming taxpayers refuse to support such taxation and/or vote Members of Congress out of office.

So my dear Earth Muffin please give me a world in which -- private property is respected, government does very little and for very little cost, free trade exists for all goods and services, and nearly 50% of our income (includes -- income tax, payroll tax, social security, Medicare, capital gain tax, property tax......................) is NOT subject to the tax slavery we live in today.

Please visit my friends here if you need more education on these issues:


I trust when you run for public office you will use my advice to guide your decisions :)

Class dismissed,