Saturday, March 31, 2007

8 out of 50 states aren't enough

Overall I love the public affairs/government consulting work that I do for a career but today was a dark day indeed -- not just for me professionally but for the future of my adopted/beloved State of Minnesota.

This morning I watched our state senators debate and ultimately approve a bill to create a new 4th state income tax bracket of 9.7% of personal income. Such a rate would set Minnesota above and beyond the other 49 states with the highest income tax rate in the USA. The state senate Leadership stressed that they needed these new revenues so they could make "investments" in programs such as education.

Now I want everyone to receive a good education in Minnesota but since our K-12 system already consumes nearly 60% of our state budget we simply have to tell our legislators and education establishment that -- "you receive enough money already so quit asking for more!!!" We need school choice, tuition tax credits, performance pay for teachers, charter schools, private school scholarships, vouchers, and any other free market reforms my friends at -- and advocate NOT legislation that simply hands more money over to our schools.

As I noted earlier our state Senate approved a bill to create a 9.7% personal income tax rate and our House is considering a 9% rate so it is likely there will be a conference committee that will agree to create a new, higher income tax rate at some level near 9%. The only good thing we can count on is that Governor Tim Pawlenty has consistently said he will veto such legislation. He is the only hope we have for preventing this legal form of theft known as personal income taxes.

Let me ask the big government advocates and the entrepreneurs out there in the blogosphere -- if Minnesota does create this new, higher, number one personal income tax in the USA will it inspire you to move to Minnesota to create jobs and raise a family OR would you rather move to one of the following eights (8) states since they do not have personal incomes ?? --

New Hampshire
South Dakota

If the Minnesota housing market wasn't as flat/declining as it is today (will a new, higher income tax rate improve the housing market by the way you big government advocates???) I would beg my wife to agree to sell our home so we can leave the state in search of greater control of our personal incomes.

Remember -- if you steal a purse you go to jail but if you raise income taxes you host a press conference to say you are "doing it for the kids............" We parents should raise our children not the state.


Friday, March 30, 2007


Oh, the little things that get buried in the sports page of the newspaper! The National Football League's (NFL, "American football") team owners approved two items this week which are effective with this year's season:

1.) Video Replay -- the owners approved by a vote of 30 to 2 (Cincinnati and Arizona voted "no" so my congratulations to them for trying to preserve the heritage of the game!!) to make the video replay system a permanent addition to the on-field officiating to rule on any disputed calls and penalties. So now each team must spend $300,000 to install all the required video equipment instead of using cash like this to sponsor local sports programs that would not only be a good public relations move but would also help combat childhood obesity.

2.) Coach-to-Player Communications -- the owners voted "no" on a proposal that would have allowed defensive players to utilize wireless communications with their coaches in the same way that quarterbacks interact with their coach/offensive coordinator today. Since I am "old school" when it comes to sports (and most everything really), especially football, I would rather not see any wireless devices used but if the offense is going to have this tool then the defense should be given the same tools. If the NFL simply wants to enable teams to score more points each game to generate more excitement -- phasing out the Video Replay system to speed up the game's pace would be a great start -- by giving an advantage to the offense that is crazy because any defensive unit can score via fumbles and interceptions of course.

My advice to the NFL is that the "throw back jerseys" you have added to some games to tap into our weakness for nostalgia do not go far enough -- scrap the electronics and let your teams play some ball.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Majority Wants Reform

US Presidential candidate, John Edwards's central theme is that we live in a world of "two Americas" -- classic class warfare that paints the rich as evil and the poor as helpless -- thus requiring the government to "help" all of us.
Translation -- the government will "help" themselves to your wallet so they can "help" keep poor people dependent on government programs.
Since the primary tool that people like former US Senator Edwards lust after to achieve their agenda is the power to tax us into submission the need for tax reform is constant. However, there is clear evidence that the glass is half full in America!! I am highly encouraged by the results which follow below. The latest evidence comes from today's USA Today newspaper which featured one of their "Snapshots" entitled, "How should the US taxation system be changed?" The results of this reader polling were as follows --
(create a) Flat Tax -- 35%
Significant Reform -- 28%
National Retail Sales Tax -- 12%
Stay the same -- 12%
So if we add the percentages of people calling for reform of some kind (flat, reform, sales) it totals -- a full SEVENTY FIVE PERCENT (75%) -- who wants our current progressive ("fair") income tax system overhauled.
Are people like John Edwards listening or just pandering to voters by pitting "us vs. them" ? When 35% of readers respond (the highest percentage is this poll remember) that they prefer a simple, flat income tax versus what we have today that suggest that the "two Americas" theme died in the 1960's with President Johnson's "Great Society" social spending programs.
Flatten class warfare,


Since today's media coverage seems dominated by stories focused on --

crude oil prices
climate change/global warming
ethanol production
Al Gore's weight gain (just checking to see if you are reading closely)
automobile gas mileage

-- this article in yesterday's Financial Times newspaper caught my eye:

"Lutz tries to put a charge into the Volt"

The focus of the article was on General Motors' Bob Lutz who serves as their "vehicle development officer" so he is promoting a website to gain consumer feedback on GM's new electrically-powered Chevy Volt.

This is GM's second attempt at developing an electric car with the first one being the "EV-1" which was produced in the 1990's. Once GM decided to phase out the EV-1 due to lack of sales they ".........ended up crushing several hundred EV-1s........." (according to the Financial Times)

What??? GM simply crushed these cars which could have been utilized to save Mother Earth? Al Gore was Vice President of the USA at the time so why did he let this environmental disaster happen during his watch?

Clearly I am greener than Al Gore since I would have offered GM (okay, I would have wanted to be a consultant to them so I could send them an invoice for my advice!!) the following ideas --

  • Instead of crushing these EV-1s GM should have donated them to industrial arts/shop classes in a series of high schools across the USA to give students hands on experience with alternative fuel options -- "do it for the kids........" :-)
  • Sell the entire fleet of EV-1s to some green entrepreneur such as Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. ( to become a replacement fleet for some taxicab company. Oh wait, governments grant taxi cab monopolies so Mr. Kennedy wouldn't be allowed to compete with his eco-friendly cabbies!!
  • Donate the entire EV-1 fleet as replacements for the cars used to transport Members of Congress around Washington DC versus the chauffeur-drive, gas guzzling Chevy Tahoe SUV recently used to transport Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as noted by this blogger --

Come on Mr. Gore -- how did you miss these great opportunities to use GM's products to save Mother Earth? You can surely do better since you created the Internet for us to utilize for blogging about you. :-)

Plug in, Todd

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Time to Sell

USA Today reported that the Houston-based school, "financially strapped Texas Southern University ( needs a revamped board of regents, a new mission, and strict oversight by the state auditor, a governor-appointed advisory panel said."

This panel was created by Governor Rick Perry because TSU President Priscilla Slade spent over $260,000 allegedly to redecorate her home. TSU describes itself as --

"TSU is one of two comprehensive Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in the world and one of only two, four-year colleges in Texas with an open enrollment policy, accepting all eligible students with a high school diploma or GED equivalent."

While I am certain this advisory panel reviewed a lot of data regarding the financial situation at TSU I doubt they considered perhaps the best option -- the State of Texas should divest TSU completely by offering it for sale to the private sector. One potential bidder I believe would be the private/for profit, University of Phoenix which already has four campus location in the Houston area --

This would save Texas taxpayers more while also creating a wonderful business integration/cost savings opportunity and real estate development potential for the University of Phoenix to combine its four area locations with TSU's 45 building, 150 acre campus thus providing greater curriculum choices and alumni resources for current TSU students.

Texas should think big by divesting TSU.


Monday, March 26, 2007

Turn the Other Cheek

When I went to church yesterday I brought a large box of food and personal toiletries to donate for our Food Shelf program. The month of March serves as the campaign focus for the Minnesota FoodShare program which acquires food to donate to the state's 265 food shelves (

I had been planning to make this donation for the last few weeks so it was on my mind when I read Sunday's newspaper column by Doug Grow ( entitled, "Enriching the city by feeding needy folks for 40 years." This article was a profile on Hy Rosen, age 82, of Minneapolis who has run a food shelf for the last 40 years.

The most inspiring aspect of this article was the fact that Mr. Rosen's grocery store on Plymouth Avenue in Minneapolis was destroyed by the race riots that swept across the USA in the 1960's. Instead of being angry at the looters who destroyed his store Mr. Rosen clearly showed more Christian love than I fear I don't have by "turning the other cheek" by going to work running a food bank in Pilot City.

Turning to the business side of Grow's column I would note Mr. Rosen's current project to bring overstocks of produce which regularly end up in Arizona landfills to Minnesota for use in our food banks. All Mr. Rosen needs is a transportation system to get the food to him. The cheap German farmer heritage in my DNA loves this plan!!!

Thank you for your good deeds Mr. Rosen.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

No Good Deed Shall Go Unpunished

"I couldn't pay people to work this hard"
Denise Cramsey, Executive Producer of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"
I found this quote -- Ms. Cramsey is talking about the volunteers who help build the homes for the families on this reality TV program -- in my local newspaper this weekend. I hate this "dark side" of my personality but my instant question when I read the short article about this TV program - hosted by Ty Pennington which simply transforms peoples' lives by building them a nice home - was, "this is a great charity event but how do these financially challenged families afford the inevitable increase in property taxes?"
So I did a quick search on Brian Wofford who was featured in Season 2 of this program. The weblink below is for a 2004 San Diego newspaper article which notes that Mr. Wofford's local property taxes were most likely going to double --
"A spokesman for the IRS said no ruling has been issued on tax implications facing "Extreme Makeover" households and advised participants to seek advice from tax attorneys and CPAs."
The bottom line -- even if you freely donate your time and materials as an act of charity to help another human being achieve the American Dream you have caused a "taxable event" which the tax collectors will chase for the pound of flesh they demand.
So much for the "land of the free" when even good deeds are punished by the revenuers.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Hermit Kingdom


At the height of the anti-apartheid movement that pushed for divestment of business interests in South Africa I was a university student just getting my start in campus politics. I wasn't an activist in the anti-apartheid movement but if I had a blog going in the 1980's I know I would be posting regularly to point out how wrong those bastards were who controlled the South African government. Now that we all live in the blogosphere our modern day "South Africa" in terms of oppressing basic human freedoms is North Korea thus I have posted on the subject of its "Dear Leader", Kim Jong-il, numerous times.

Today's rant against the sushi-loving, jump suit-wearing Dear Lear was inspired by a very TINY article in the Financial Times this week -- I note that it was "tiny" because during the anti-apartheid movement the articles were BIG and front page news not buried like this one was regarding recently announced European Union sanctions against North Korea ("EU Ban on Luxuries for Kim Jong-il").

The European Union exhibited "bold" (is there an emoticon for sarcasm??!!) leadership by declaring that the following goods can not be exported to North Korea as a protest against their nuclear power ambitions --

-luxury watches

Wow, thanks European Union, you will surely bring Kim Jong-il to his knees!! If you don't know already check out for the news stories regarding how most of the North Korean population survives by eating tree bark as a staple in their diets. South Africa is a free society today ( granted they still have a lot of challenges but yet much freer than during apartheid) but what of North Korea? It is not a nation, it is a prison camp run by a corrupt megalomaniac and as such North Korea should not be allowed to be a member of the United NATIONS since this entity is a club for nation-states not prison camps.

The Hermit Kingdom needs reunification,


Friday, March 23, 2007


While not a national holiday in the USA (yet?) today (22 March) is "World Water Day" which is promoted annually by the United Nations to highlight the reality that many of the world's citizens lack easy/reliable access to potable water.

Since food and water are essential for all humans to live perhaps it is time for all the international government entities (IGEs) to phase out all of their current programming to focus on one global goal until it is achieved -- develop the physical infrastructure and educational programming needed to provide the world's population with safe, clean, reliable WATER.

Here is an initial list of IGEs which should adopt this WATER focus:

United Nations
World Health Organization
World Bank
United Nations Development Bank
Inter-American Development Bank

So that is the idea -- devote all of these international resources to one and only one fundamental goal that is essential to human survival -- in this case the consumption of clean/safe water.

Once this goal is met we can expect a full range of positive impacts including:

1.) More women studying in schools since they won't be carrying water to their family's home
2.) Less disease/death
3.) Increased potential for crop irrigation thus improving food supplies
4.) Economic growth generated by the new job skills developed via building and maintaining the physical infrastructure needed to supply water.

I can't point to many successes the IGEs listed above have achieved -- can you? Given this fact/perception why don't we call on the world's leaders of this alphabet soup of bureaucracies to focus on this one goal -- WATER ?

Bottoms up,


Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Tonight I had the pleasure of attending the "2007 Oklahoma Citizenship Award Dinner" which was hosted by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs ( This annual event showcases the concept of "citizenship" via an essay contest for students with $12,000 in prize money awarded for winning essays and the "Will Rogers Award" given to the citizenship award winner.

This year's winner was former astronaut/entrepreneur/former military advisor General Thomas Stafford - a native of Oklahoma. Following his acceptance speech the keynote address was given by Dr. Larry Arnn, President of Hillsdale College ( who delivered an excellent speech regarding the the importance of Americans understanding the US Constitution. I share Dr. Arnn's reflections on the heroic leadership qualities of President George Washington but do not share his admiration for Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom since Churchill was a die hard imperialist -- no champion of the kind of freedom I want to enjoy.

Tonight's speech on leadership qualities and heroic qualities reminded me of the USA Today story I read yesterday -- "An amazing story of giving that could change our world" -- by DeWayne Wickham. Wickham's article was focused on multi-millionaire/philanthropist/social entrepreneur (my description) -- Harris Rosen of Orlando, Florida.

Mr. Rosen has invested his personal wealth into a very poor and dangerous unincorporated community near Orlando called "Tangelo Park" which includes free pre-school education for 2, 3, and 4 year old children and a free college education for all high school graduates of Tangelo Park.

Since Mr. Rosen's program for Tangelo Park started crime has "dropped 67% and the area's high school dropout rate fell from 25% to 6%." Overall Mr. Rosen has spent $7 million working to improve Tangelo Park so he has called on his fellow wealthy Americans to spend their own funds in their own communities just like he has done. The motivation for cleaning up his own "back yard" is driven by his world view -- ONE THAT I SHARE TOTALLY -- which is noted in this quote from Mr. Rosen:

"Government is just too dense, too stupid, too inept to do this (project). If Oprah came down here and saw what we're doing, she would do it somewhere. If I could get NBA Commissioner David Stern to come here, I think he would get every NBA team involved in a project like ours in their cities."

Now that makes a lot of sense - especially for the NBA, not only for public relations purposes but to improve the neighborhoods and build the fan base around their downtown stadiums.

The world needs heroes,


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Chinese Cooperation

Today's Financial Times newspaper contained a very short article entitled, "Taiwan Eyes Rich Migrants", which focused on the fact that Taiwan has one of the lowest birth rates in the world. Population forecasters predict that Taiwan's population of 23 million is likely to shrink overall despite a rise in immigration.

Personally I can't see a group of "rich migrants" that Taiwan recruits providing enough population to stop the overall population decline that is predicted for Taiwan. Given these population trends, Taiwan's population goals, and the assumption (mine) that rich migrants probably don't want to raise several children since they are likely focused on their careers (which made them rich) or they are simply older than child bearing years perhaps Taiwan should consider another option?

Chinese adoptions!

Since thousands of Americans are seeking to adopt Chinese children perhaps China and Taiwan could work together -- a better option than Red China bombing Taiwan which they view as a break away province of Mainland China -- to have Mainland China's children adopted by Taiwanese couples. Yet another option is for American couples and/or the Taiwanese to adopt the unwanted daughters of India which I wrote about in the posting, "Value of Life", on this blog.

Given children a chance,


95 years of waiting

Today's announcement by the College of St. Scholastica ("CSS" - that they have hired Greg Carlson as their first football coach in the school's 95 year history is simply exciting!!

Coach Carlson comes to CSS from the Los Angeles Avengers of the Arena Football League but he has also coached at -- Wabash College, Ball State, Illinois, and Evansville -- so he has worked in a range of football cultures. I want to wish Coach Carlson and CSS well as they make plans to field their first football team for the 2008 season not only because I love football but because it will add an important dimension to student life on the CSS campus. CSS will become a member of the NCAA's Division III and the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference.

One challenge CSS must overcome yet is their need to secure a football stadium to play on. The two sports page articles I read today did not mention what options they were considering but I hope that CSS and the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) can reach an agreement --

Not only would this get CSS's football program up and running quickly but it has the potential of driving some revenue to UMD assuming they lease their field to CSS. This leased time might be best for Sundays (or Saturday evenings) since UMD would want the field to be in top condition for the Saturday games. Since both of these schools are based in Duluth, Minnesota and because each school needs to watch their respective balance sheets this could be an ideal partnership -- between a Catholic Benedictine school and a state university - to expand the sport of football.



Front Pages

For an avid reader like myself flights and airport sky lounges provide the opportunity to read several newspapers. So while traveling today I read the following six newspapers:

Pioneer Press
Star Tribune
Wall Street Journal
USA Today
Financial Times
The Oklahoman

An interesting exercise I would encourage my readers to consider is a quick review of what types of stories newspapers choose to focus on compared to their competitors. So of these six newspapers I read today here are the most prominent headlines/themes listed in the same order as the newspaper list above –

“Rough Roads Ahead” -- fixing potholes in St. Paul, Minnesota
“Seven Glorious Days in March” – boys’ state basketball tournament in Minnesota
“New Detroit Woe: Makers of Parts Won’t Cut Prices” – automobile parts suppliers
“Democracy’s Support Sinks” - 43% of Iraqis want a democratic government
“Business Lobbies for Emissions Restrictions” – mandatory targets to cut carbon emissions
“Former Legislator was Stipe Debtor” – home mortgage loan from a former Oklahoma state senator to a former state representative

Overall this list represents a very wide range of editorial decisions regarding what each newspaper should focus on. Granted this is a small sampling of newspapers but it does show the concern expressed over “media ownership concentration” (and the resulting lack of diversity in news coverage) is perhaps a bit overblown if readers actively seek out a range of publications.

Support your local paper,


Monday, March 19, 2007

Value of Life

In February this year a mass grave was discovered near Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh in India containing hundreds of corpses of female newborns. This mass grave was located in the backyard of a Christian missionary hospital. (SOURCE: "The Week" magazine, 24 February 2007).
Apparently Indian cultural pressures cause the abortion of unborn girls since they represent a financial drain on their parents. Yet this same culture (Hindu religious teachings) considers cows to be sacred animals --
This website provides four reasons why cows are considered sacred by Hindus but this specific reason caught my attention --
"Reincarnation - belief in reincarnation implies that souls are reborn as other beings. Most commonly, humans are considered the highest level of incarnation. But gods have been known to incarnate as animals (the Buddha is said to have taken the form of a rabbit, cat, etc., and many Hindu gods and goddesses have taken cow forms), and that tradition of considering every being as infused with a soul and possible godly incarnation continues."
Imagine if you will that if this Hindu principle is correct then the people responsible for this genocide/mass grave of baby girls stand a very good chance of being reincarnated as baby girls in their next life. Such a possibility might make them think twice before they create their next mass grave. While I try to be consistent with my libertarian views when it comes to the world's cultures in terms of being open-minded I simply can not accept a belief system that places a higher value of life on cows versus for unborn children.
Perhaps the next Indian century will see the world differently.

20 to 30 - Part II

In my earlier posting “20 to 30” regarding a shooting murder in the Uptown area of Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2006 I posed the question -- how were prison sentencing guidelines for presiding judges determined? After researching a bit the National Constitution Center ( ) in Philadelphia tells me that federal sentencing guidelines were created by the US Congress in the 1980’s in an effort to crack down on crime.

I have no idea what changes have happened to the sentencing laws in the last quarter of a century but a prison sentence of 20 to 30 years for murdering someone seems to be a light one but trust my readers (yes, both of you!) will educate me if I am wrong. Personally, I just want someone to “do something productive” to compensate for their crime beyond just serving time watching cable TV and lifting weights via some creative sentencing such as the scholarship fund that I suggested in the “20 to 30” posting.

The whole thought of sentencing guidelines reminded me of a news clip I made for a potential blog posting from the Little Rock Free Press newspaper while on a recent trip to Arkansas. This article published a graph produced by the International Centre for Prison Studies ( showing the incarceration rates – number of people per 100,000 population – for 2006 in the following countries:

USA - 737
Russia – 611
South Africa – 335
Israel – 209
Mexico – 196
England and Wales – 148
Australia – 126
China – 118
Canada – 107
Germany – 95
France – 85
Sweden – 82
Japan – 62
India – 30

Upon seeing this list my first thought was -- so why the huge differential between the USA and India at 737 versus 30? Now this could be a great topic for a graduate student to explore since these two countries share many characteristics including:

-large population base
-diverse population/ethnic groups
-history of English common law
-a representative democratic government tradition

So the USA locks up a hell of a lot of people but yet we only give a 20 to 30 year prison term to a cold-blooded murderer. This makes me think we need to explore some major prison reforms perhaps starting with our failed “war on drugs”.


Friday, March 16, 2007

20 to 30

Today's local Minnesota news included a story about the shooting death of Michael Zebuhr (age 25), a PhD student in bioengineering at Clemson University who was visiting his sister at the University of Minnesota while on Spring Break in 2006.

Mr. Zebuhr was killed in the "Uptown" area of Minneapolis, Minnesota by Billy Ray Deshawn Johnson (age 18) who pleaded guilty to the crime. Yesterday Mr. Johnson was sentenced to 30 years in prison but could be released after only 20 years for this heinous crime. The presiding judge in this case noted that Johnson's prison sentence was, "........near the very top of the sentencing guidelines..........." Note for a future posting -- how our "sentencing guidelines" determined and who the hell is doing it???!!

Wow, only 20 years for killing a man?!!? So with "good behaviour" Johnson could end up leaving prison at the ripe old age of 38 years old thus giving him probably 50 more years of living to do assuming he isn't killed in a prison fight.

Fifty years of living? Sad isn't it that Zebuhr, a promising bioengineer -- a profession that has the potential to improve our quality of life is struck down at the tender age of 25 while someone like Johnson - a tumor on our society - will probably live to the age of 38 at the expense of taxpayers? No, I am not advocating the death penalty here since I oppose it because government simply makes too many mistakes that affect our lives so I don't want to give them the ultimate power over life or death.

I will never understand a murder like this one but one central question I am left with is -- hey Mr. Johnson what do you plan to do with your potential 50 years of freedom once you leave prison? How about creating a scholarship fund that you pay the majority of whatever salary you make when you leave prison to honor the memory of Michael Zebuhr?

It is the least you can do to compensate for the hurt you caused his family and the burden you placed on taxpayers.

Think it over for the next 20 to 30 years,


Thursday, March 15, 2007

40 Percent

A recent issue of the Twin Cities Business Journal (Minnesota) included a two page chart depicting Minnesota's "50 Largest Employers" (ranked by in-state employees - March 2, 2007). A quick tally count reveals that 9 of these 50 employers are governments/government entities/Indian tribal governments (which are ultimately controlled by the federal government) which sounds pretty good right -- it is ONLY 9 of the 50 so government isn't too big ?

However by analyzing the "Top Ten" entities in this list of employers we find (and should be very concerned) that --

  • 3 of these 10 entities are government entities -- State of Minnesota, US Federal Government, and University of Minnesota
  • Minnesota's LARGEST employer is the "State of Minnesota" itself -- not famous Minnesota entities like 3M or Target Corporation but our own state government
  • A full 40% of the employees in this Top Ten list (107, 945 of 266,790 employees who work for the ten largest employers) work for the 3 government entities

Personally I would rather see 3M produce another great product like Post-It Notes versus seeing another research report created by Minnesota's state government.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Bus Marshals

Rarely do I agree with Star Tribune ( columnist, Nick Coleman's world view so today's column was no exception. Mr. Coleman's column was entitled, "These towns need a new marshal, one who rides the bus", where he argues that due to the recent crime wave - including murders - aboard the Metro Transit buses in the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota metro area we need to add "air marshals" like the airlines have, to our bus system.

Coleman poses the question -- "why don't buses have marshals?" -- to which he supplies his own answer -- "Is it because bus passengers on city routes where the chance of getting kicked, punched, or shot is highest tend to be poorer than airline passengers?" Well, Mr. Coleman why stop at adding "marshals" to our buses? Why don't we also pursue the following options?:
  • Have the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) assume jurisdiction for ensuring security on the nation's buses. TSA has done wonders for our airports so why not take on the bus system? :-)
  • Add magnetometers to the doors of all public buses AND have all passengers remove their shoes for inspection by the bus driver and/or "bus marshal"

Now of course this is NOT a world that I want to see created. Instead of adding yet another level of "security" to our lives why don't we decentralize our transportation infrastructure even more by providing wealth creation tools for these "poorer passengers" Coleman is so concerned about via free market solutions such as this one advocated by my friends at the Cascade Policy Institute?

Wheels to Wealth Project
A journey toward self-reliance
The goal of the multi-year Wheels to Wealth project is to disseminate information to policy makers and the public regarding the positive role private automobile ownership plays in creating and strengthening economic opportunity for the low-income and welfare dependent population.

Let's get more of these people off of the public buses and into personal automobiles so they can be empowered via the freedom that personal mobility provides. Now before my Big Government friends who read this blog say it let me steal your thunder --- yes more automobiles on the road might add to traffic congestion but there are solutions offered by my friends at -- -- personally I LOVE toll roads since I can see a tangible product for the "tax" that I pay via toll charges.

If "personal empowerment" scares my Big Government friends too much then let us address the metro bus crime wave by selling all of the automobiles driven by the city employees/council members/mayors in Minneapolis and St. Paul then have these public servants use the bus system for all of their travel -- such a move would not only save taxpayers money and get the public servants in direct contact with constituents but it would also provide an army of "de facto marshals" who are already on government salaries to achieve Mr. Coleman's bus marshal plan. The Minneapolis City Council alone -- you can add the governments of Hennepin County, Ramsey County, and City of St. Paul to the mix -- allocates $400 per month per council member for their automobile expense allowance as noted in this blog posting:

"On February 10th the Minneapolis City Council, on a vote of eight to five,gave themselves a whopping $400 a month each for 'car expenses.' That's $64,000 a year. Meanwhile, our libraries have cut back on staff and hours, the numbers of city police and firefighters have been cut and our property taxes continue to rise like hot air balloons. So why did the council approve this self-serving increase that comes right out of taxpayers' pockets?"

So personal automobiles are good for public officials but are bad for the poor people who ride the buses? No, Mr. Coleman, there are better options for Metro Transit to pursue without adding another layer of "security" that requires taxpayers to "invest" even more money.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Hate Ignorance Not People

Hopefully readers out there (yes both of you!) saw this story more than I did but while watching CNN today regarding this potential "hate crime" in Seattle -- - Steven Saleh , deli owner

I swear -- but would appreciate being corrected if I mis-heard it -- the transcript that CNN showed on the TV screen of the drunk woman and man yelling at Mr. Saleh said something along the lines of -- "......go back to your f***ing country, you Arab, hey Gandhi, you mother f*** are un-American................."

Well not only is this a very rude way to purchase cigarettes and beer :0) it is also being treated as a hate crime since Saleh is originally from Yemen but is a naturalized citizen who has lived in the USA for 21 years. If found guilty this man and woman could serve up to 9 months in prison.

Now whether this is a hate crime or not is up to the Washington State court system -- personally I view all crimes against my person or property the same -- as a CRIME -- that should be punished regardless of a person's motivation or in this case, intellectual ignorance.

Mahatma Gandhi was a Hindu (who loved the Christian Bible's New Testament by the way, please noted my earlier blog posting regarding Gandhi in more depth here entitled, "Anniversary") from India which is NOT an Arab nation. Perhaps these drunken idiots (or CNN printed the transcript incorrectly) were referring to the President/dictator of Libya -- Mohmmar Qaddafi, -- since Libya is an Arab country.

You say "Gandhi ", I say "Qaddafi", let's call the whole thing off....................

Should this drunken couple have to serve nine months in prison for this crime let us hope the judge/jury have the freedom to do some creative sentencing -- how about having them read books about -- the Arab world, Gandhi, Libya, non-violence, India, alcoholism/addiction, British colonialism, history of US immigration, world religions, Arabic, geography, and related topics for the first eight months of their sentence then have them travel for two weeks in the Middle East followed by a written report produced over the final two weeks of their prison sentence writing a report for the presiding judge to review thus completing their nine month sentence.

Now that is creative jail time which has a higher probability of benefiting society versus having these two people watch cable TV, lift weights, and trade cigarettes on the prison black market for nine months don't you agree?

I hate hate crimes :)


Monday, March 12, 2007


Given our health-conscious society today most people view salt as an ingredient to avoid in our diets but on March 12, 1930 the question of who could produce salt in India led to what India is today --- the world's most populous democracy.

Today is the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's "salt march" when he gathered a group of supporters who marched to the sea to produce salt in direct violation of British law which had created a government monopoly over salt production. At the time this simple act by Gandhi was dismissed as unimportant by local authorities since no one was even arrested but this protest was the spark that ignited the flames of revolution in India. Ultimately millions of Indians were inspired by Gandhi's challenge to British authority.

I learned of this milestone anniversary earlier this year when I read the book, "Gandhi - A Memoir" by William L. Shirer who had interviewed Gandhi during most of his revolutionary career. What I found most interesting is Gandhi's rather socialist economic views which were in stark contrast to his challenge of the "government monopoly" in the salt industry.

Modern India's leaders should continue de-nationalizing their government-owned monopolies by reminding themselves of Gandhi's salt march.

NaCl ,


Sunday, March 11, 2007

48,000 slaves

While reading an old copy of The Week magazine from 2006 (United Kingdom) at home this weekend I noticed a small article regarding the "Bevin Boys" of World War II.

The Bevin Boys were 48,000 military conscripts (draftees) chosen by the UK's Minister of Labor, Ernest Bevin, to work in the coal mines to supply the raw materials needed to fight World War II ( These young men were forced to work in British coal mines instead of serving in the regular armed forces thus there were not only subject to the dangerous work inherent in coal mines they were also ridiculed by local communities are cowards who were trying to avoid military service.

Perhaps even worse than this involuntary servitude is the fact that many of these young men were kept working in the coal mines (from 1943 to 1948) even AFTER World War II had ended. Shouldn't we all pause to reflect on the fact that people like Mr. Bevins robbed his fellow citizens of their freedom in an effort to defend democracy from the spread of Hitler's Nazis?

Finally after nearly 60 years the U.K. has decided to recognize these 48,000 slaves by issuing them a "commemorative badge" after a campaign led by Gordon Banks, Member of Parliament.

A "badge" for 5 years of forced labor? I can't speak for the Bevin Boys but a "badge" sounds like a slap in the face to me. I would prefer that the British Parliament (yes a private foundation funding this effort would be a better option but sometimes tax money can be spent for good projects) commission a book (or perhaps a DVD) to be published and distributed to libraries and primary schools across the country which details the story of the Bevin Boys so that future generations have a better understanding of how heavy the hand of government can be -- even when those in power feel their actions are justified for the "public good".

Slavery takes many forms,


Friday, March 09, 2007


Today's news coverage -- US and Minnesota -- included stories about house fires in the Bronx/New York City and Landfall, Minnesota. In the Bronx 8 out 9 children involved in a fire died and in Landfall a father saved one child but ultimately died in the fire with his wife and son. Both tragic stories especially given our modern housing codes which have reduced the volume of fires in American society to historic low levels -- so low in fact that I have seen fire departments (labor unions) fight for control over the provision of paramedic services to keep employees on the payroll (and paying union dues of course!).

Our local newspaper included a table of statistics entitled, "Most Common Causes of Home Fires", for 2006 which included the following results:


Cooking 26.4%
Heating 11.4
Incendiary/Suspicious 5.7
Open flame 5.4
Other heat 4.1
Exposure 2.6
Smoking 2.1
Appliance/AC 1.9
Natural 1.9
Electrical 1.0
Other equipment 0.6
Children playing 0.4

SOURCE: US Fire Administration - US Department of Homeland Security

Silly me, I thought Homeland Security was focused on fighting terrorism but hey, anything to keep us safe right? :-)

When I saw this list of Causes of Fire the "Smoking - 2.1%" line item coming in at #7 overall caught my attention given the ever increasing amount of public smoking bans in the USA and Europe. Now I don't use tobacco products at all but I love freedom for everyone as long as they don't affect my life and family but I have to wonder if government bans on public smoking will increase smoking at home as noted in this study --

which might then lead to an increase in home fires caused by smoking. So if that is the case are the societal objectives of reducing smoking/reducing home fires enough justification for the government to insert itself into our homes to regulate smoking to "protect the children" ?

However, based on the chart noted above "cooking" is the true villain when it comes to home fires so perhaps we should ban home cooking thus forcing everyone to eat in restaurants every day?

Crazy indeed but there is always a slippery slope when it comes to government regulation thus we never know where the government's reach will end. Public education is a great example since the government takes our children for Kindergarten (K) then gives them back to us after they graduate from high school but now the push is for creating all day "pre-K" programs -- so why don't we just have public school teachers show up in the delivery room when our children are born? Yea, that would improve the world for everyone (heavy sarcasm inserted here).

Eat sandwiches,


PS - -- in case you were wondering ;-)

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Earlier this week the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ( lost another president -- their second in about 3 years. The NAACP was founded in 1909 to fight the USA's racist infrastructure but today they are clearly handicapped by their own infrastructure since the organization is governed by a sixty four (64) member board of directors. Ask yourself if you would want 64 bosses like the NAACP president has - that is crazy corporate governance!!

Beyond this basic management challenge I want to offer the NAACP some advice as they conduct a search for a new president --

1.) Keep in mind that the world has changed dramatically since 1909 -- the Negro Baseball League does not exist anymore having been replaced by an "enlightened" Major League Baseball which is dominated by highly paid black/African- Americans.

2.) The word "colored" includes brown, red, and yellow skin so given the huge demographic changes in the USA's population perhaps it is time for the NAACP to hire a well known Hispanic/Latino personality.

New world - new thinking,


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Options for Al Gore

My congratulations to Drew Johnson and his gang at the Tennessee Center for Policy Research for their research exposing Al Gore's HUGE carbon foot print caused by the fact that he lives in a mansion that consumes nearly 20 times more energy than the average American home --

If Al Gore wasn't such a hypocrite about the environment he would abandon his mansion to live in what is known as a "small house" which can be found at --

"The Small House Society is a voice for the Small House Movement. That movement includes movie stars who have proudly downsized into 3000 square feet, families of five happy in an arts and crafts bungalow, multifamily housing in a variety of forms, and more extreme examples, such as people on houseboats and in trailers with just a few hundred square feet around them. Size is relative, and mainly we promote discussion about the ecological, economic and psychological toll that excessive housing takes on our lives, and what some of us are doing to live better. It's not a movement about people claiming to be "tinier than thou" but rather people making their own choices toward simpler and smaller living however they feel best fits their life."

Indeed I would love to see Al Gore down size his life (and carbon foot print) by "walking his talk" by selling all of his homes (three of them based on an article I read earlier this year) to live in a small house thus doing his part to save Mother Earth.

However, the small house movement could have a far greater impact beyond cleansing Gore of his hypocrisy which includes:

1.) Housing and Urban Development (HUD) -- time for Congress to close this federal department and use the money saved from its $31 billion budget ( to build small houses for the 744,000 homeless people I recently read that HUD had counted. The remaining money (over $30 billion at least since small houses cost about $50,000 each) would be sent as tax refunds.


2.) Habitat for Humanity ( -- I have always enjoyed working on Habitat projects to build homes for the needy so when I read about the small house movement I thought this could be an ideal tool for Habitat to use to build even more homes on a faster schedule.

Innovation helps people not government programs,


Boomers and Sooners

While working in Oklahoma City this week I toured both the state capitol and the Oklahoma History Center ( which are located near each other. Unfortunately the history center and the capitol are not as integrated as they really should be to ease pedestrian travel between the two buildings. It is a short walk between the two entities but it requires you to play a game of "Frogger" to get from building to building as you dodge traffic. I really enjoyed both buildings but spending some money (private donations of course!!) on enhancing the landscaping and perhaps adding some pedestrian-only walk ways/bridges would REALLY enhance the tourist experience.

My tour of the history center was too brief but the display of the World War II prison camps that were located in Oklahoma was very interesting. As for the capitol let me say that Mr. Banks at the Information/Tours Desk is one of the nicest gentlemen out there today. He provided me with a personal tour of the capitol to accommodate my schedule which was much appreciated and of course was very informative. The artwork (portraits and murals) that fills the capitol is well worth your time should you get a chance to visit. I was most struck to learn that a major portion of the Oklahoma capitol was constructed via private sector donations with the corporate/family names of donors incorporated into the interior capitol dome's architecture -- thus providing these entities with near-permanent recognition of their support.

Oklahoma City is a city blessed with quality customer service which I have experienced everywhere I have gone this week. I have found this very encouraging since poor customer service is one of my biggest pet peeves.

I look forward to my future trip to Oklahoma City later this month.



The March 6th newspapers noted that USA President Bush will soon leave for a week long trip to Latin America which includes stops in - Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala, and Mexico. One chart I reviewed noted the country presidents that President Bush will meet and the "key issues" they planned to discuss.

Of these five nations "Uruguay" caught my attention since the lone "key issue" for discussion was noted as "Uruguay's desire to expand trade with the USA". For an overview of Uruguay please visit --

Were I advising President Bush (we can only hope that happens one day!!) I would tell him to make the Uruguay meeting a 5 minute conversation at the most by simply telling President Tabare Vazquez, "our markets are wide open to you and all tariff and non-tariff barriers are eliminated so let's get some trading going today..................." -- quite some diplomatic language huh?

Now that is efficient but why such open/free trade with Uruguay?

  • Free trade benefits all consumers and only hurts government regulators
  • Uruguay's Gross Domestic Produce (GDP) is only $37 billion versus the USA's GDP of $13 TRILLION, yes that is "TRILLION" not "billion" so our economy completely overshadows Uruguay's so Ross Perot and Lou Dobbs can just relax for once!!
  • Having a full-blown, wide open trading partner in Latin America like Uruguay would help us establish a "beach head" to improve economic relationships across the continent to counter devout socialists like President/Dictator Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.

Enough of the meetings and press conferences -- let's sign a deal with Uruguay this week.

Trade not press releases,


Tuesday, March 06, 2007


This quote highlights what is probably the first time that Senator Schumer and I have agreed on an issue but I fear our solutions to the problem will not be the same. As I have written before -- we need to phase out the US Veterans Administration medical system (see February 15th posting here, "Health Care Apartheid" - based on the bureaucratic troubles that I saw my grandfather experience over multiple years. His service in World War II in Europe seemed easier than completing the necessary V.A. paperwork for treatment!!
Sadly the poor quality of medical care for our veterans doesn't just exist at the federal level since in my State of Minnesota our governor made headlines last week, "Pawlenty shakes up state veterans home", due to three deaths that occurred in January.
Given the mis-management of these medial facilities which is a complete insult to our military veterans I want to offer this multi-step plan to improve the situation:
  • Eliminate the Veterans Administration medical system and sell all of their buildings especially Walter Reed in Washington DC which could help provide a much-needed fresh supply of housing given the high cost of real estate today.
  • Distribute the revenue/tax savings from the closing/divestiture of V.A. assets to all veterans via Health Savings Accounts ( so our veterans can select what health care providers they want.
  • Sell all the veterans' homes in the State of Minnesota -- Minneapolis, Luverne, Silver Bay, Hastings, and Fergus Falls -- to the private sector since a five location system like this should be attractive to a current nursing home corporation.
  • Once the V.A. facilities and the Minnesota veterans' homes are closed provide as much care as logistics allow for veterans by having them become patients of the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, which has locations in Minnesota, Florida, and Arizona.

The squalid conditions at Walter Reed Medical Center are a slap in the face to our military veterans. We need to completely rethink how we care for our veterans -- such as the idea to give each of them a Health Savings Account -- versus "federalizing" the system even more like we saw done with airport security via the conversion of private security workers into federal government employees called the Transportation Security Administration.

Choice not paperwork,


Friday, March 02, 2007

Government Knows Best

Well the march to the land of bigger (and badder) government continues this week as noted in two stories in these newspapers -- Washington Times and USA Today (USAT):

  • "Nations Weigh Financial Incentives to Fight Drop in Birthrates"
  • "The City of Elkhorn is No More"

While Red China has its "one child" mandate to manage population growth in that country the island nation of Cyprus has the lowest birthrate in the European Union. So the Cypriot government wants to offer bonuses of US$45,000 for a third child in a family and the same amount for subsequent children. The Times goes on to say that similar programs have been used in Australia, Canada, and Poland just to name a few. If the Cypriots simply wanted more people living on their island perhaps they should spend the $45,000 on airfare to bring Mexican immigrants who want to migrate to the USA to Cyprus instead -- assuming they are willing -- thus saving USA taxpayers some of our hard-earned money while achieving population growth goals in Cyprus. A win-win-win for everyone!!!

At the risk of being attacked by the nearly 1 million Cypriots let me say -- "Don't do it" -- do not offer these cash incentives. If your island's population decreases let it happen. Isn't this the same European Union who has tried to black mail/guilt trip the USA into signing the Kyoto Protocol to fight global warming? So why not create more "open space/green scapes" by simply leaving nature/humans alone? If Cypriots don't want to have children thus driving an overall decline in their population perhaps that is a positive for the environment?

Let it be said that a freedom lover like myself is more GREEN than the central planners in European governments. Now this makes me wonder -- how many children does Al Gore have and are they included in his carbon foot print? :-)

The second news items from USAT comes from the State of Nebraska, USA where the City of Omaha has annexed the City of Elkhorn ( against the citizens wishes. Elkhorn had appealed to the US Supreme Court to stop this annexation but the Supremes declined to take action. While this is a victory for federalism/government at the local level it really looks like another abuse of individual property rights. How many residents of Elkhorn moved there to "escape" the big city/big government atmosphere of the much larger City of Omaha?

Clearly one way of stopping urban sprawl is to simply annex all those pretty, low crime suburbs but doesn't that stomp on our most basic freedoms?

No indeed, government does NOT know best.

Live free or die, Todd

Thursday, March 01, 2007


While attending the Conservative Political Action Conference ("CPAC" - in Washington DC this week I met with a former colleague, Dr. Anthony Moscati, who is truly doing God's work since he is the Executive Director of -- Anglican Orphans of Kenya:

"The school's purpose is to provide education to AIDS orphans and other disadvantaged youth in Nairobi. Violence, famine and illness in the surrounding countries of Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda and the Sudan have driven many refugees into Kenya where they populate the slums. In addition to providing Christian-based education, the outreach will also afford the student one good meal a day."

Tony's description of his work was not only inspiring it also encouraged me to offer a prayer of thanks for my mother and father -- I am truly blessed to have them in my life. So, if any of my readers (yes, both of you!!!) want to support or promote this program to help orphaned children please consider contacting Tony at --

Granted I am not a theologian but I know the Bible well enough to know that God only expects us to give 10% (a "tithe") of our wealth to support the church/charity/religious organizations but government on the other hand expects us to surrender nearly 50% of our wealth when you aggregate our numerous taxes -- federal income, Social Security, state income, sales, property, excise, luxury, gasoline....................

For those of you out there whose "golden calf" is Big Government let me encourage you to convert because you giving your money to charities like Tony's (or any cause you support) is a hell of a lot better than letting government bureaucrats decide where your money should go :0)

Peace, Todd