Thursday, August 23, 2007


Dear Readers:

Once again it is time for the annual canoe trip to the north woods of Minnesota ( thus I will be on sabbatical until August 31. I hope you return to this blog at that time.

Introduce your children to the great outdoors -- before your local government places them in an obesity program where they can study global climate change (news flash -- the climate changes everyday Al Gore whether or not humans live here!!) :-)

Best wishes,


Monday, August 20, 2007

The Beaches of South Dakota

Well the Milken Institute (based in California) is out with its annual 50 state "Cost of Doing Business Index." This index seeks to rank all 50 US states using - labor wage costs, taxes, electricity costs and real estate costs for industrial and office space - to determine the overall cost of doing business in a given state.

The full report can be found at --

So if you entrepreneurs out there want to open your business in the three most expensive states for doing business in the USA so you can guarantee you will earn the least amount of profit possible which states should you consider moving to?

  1. Hawaii
  2. New York
  3. Alaska

On the other hand if you want the best chance of making a profit than consider relocating to the home of Mount Rushmore -- South Dakota which was ranked again at number 50. Given the fact that South Dakota borders my State of Minnesota I would hope our legislative leaders note this report although this cost of doing business differential between our two states have existed for several years already.

If any readers are doing business in Hawaii, New York, or Alaska today I would love to hear from you in terms of the Milken Institute's rankings - are they accurate and if so what are your political leaders doing to reduce the cost (costs that simply are paid by consumers at the end of the day) of doing business?

Surf's up in Sioux Falls!!


Sunday, August 19, 2007


Due to a gift from friends of ours my wife and I attended the stage production -- "1776" -- last night at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Wow!!! Not only is this great theatre (based on a concept developed by Sherman Edwards) but this production is also a great way for non-historians to learn about the USA's Founding Fathers. 1776 is a comedy/musical based in Philadelphia during the debate that created the USA's Declaration of Independence from the British Empire.

The show itself was very entertaining in terms of the acting, the singing, and the history lessons (assuming Mr. Edwards maintained accuracy in his character portrayals) were highly educational. This would be an ideal production for high school students to attend to supplement the very watered-down history instruction they get in today's "social studies" courses.

I could not tell on the Guthrie's website if this show will be touring in other cities but if it does I would encourage you to take your children.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Summer Kills

While listening to my favorite talk radio show -- "Garage Logic" -- today I heard them discuss the recent media coverage of elderly people dying of exposure to this summer's hot temperatures -- blamed of course on global warming.

Then we come to find out that the summer weather in the 1930's (the pre-central air era) was even hotter than it is in 2007 so was man made global warming to blame for the heat-related deaths during that decade or perhaps the earth's climate simply changes REGARDLESS of humans being here since the earth is not some static laboratory -- climate change IS a natural event!!

However, the most interesting comment made on the talk radio show was by the show's producer when he was talking to today's guest host. The producer posed the question that if global warming is the cause of these heat-related deaths this summer then will global warming be "thanked" for saving lives during the winter months? Will the media produce any stories this winter about how elderly people are avoiding freezing in their homes?

Now this got me thinking -- will today's government programs that provide heating assistance to low income households in the winter be converted (keep those bureaucrats employed!!!!) into "air conditioning assistance" programs as our planet's climate warms up? Coupled with that I was wondering if Venezuela's President/Dictator/Megalomaniac Huge Chavez's program of selling heating oil at discounted prices to the New England region of the USA be discontinued due to global warming?

So many questions come to mind as we explore the political agendas found within the "global warming is going to kill us........." community but the universal agenda item these climate alarmists all share is that they simply want to control how the rest of us live (or die for that matter).

Thanks for the oil Comrade Chavez,


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Inspirational Worker

The business section of today's local newspaper here in Minnesota had a feature article on older Americans (age 90 and up) who choose to continue working or must work due to their financial situations.

One gentleman noted in the article was Waldo McBurney who is a beekeeper in Quinter, Kansas. Mr. McBurney was recently declared the "oldest working American........" at the respectable age of 104 years. Now I probably should also post a comment about Mr. McBurney on my blog dedicated to books ( since he is the author of the book, "My First 100 Years -- A look back from the Finish Line", which he wrote at age 101. No doubt the book royalties were an incentive to keep living for at least another three years!! Congratulations on all of these accomplishments Mr. McBurney.

People like Mr. McBurney are clearly redefining our notion of what "retirement" should be in our current world as life expectancies (see my posting on "Life Expectancy" on this blog) continue to increase. The other lesson we can draw here is we need to have our political leaders re-consider what "liberty" means. For instance why should we bow to the federal government by allowing them to establish retirement ages for Social Security benefits? The time has come to phase out Social Security by allowing taxpayers to keep this money in their pockets for investing in whatever financial instruments they choose -- even government bonds would pay better than the "potential return" we might get from Social Security.

Taxpayers just need to ask themselves -- which do I trust more: that Social Security checks will keep showing up when I retire OR having my money invested in a number of certificates of deposit (CDs) maturing at different times at my local bank?

Give me the CDs baby and you can live off Social Security benefits with people like Democratic candidate for President - John Edwards -- but wait, he is a multi-millionaire trial lawyer/former US Senator so he won't even need Social Security benefits to survive given his congressional pension and his ambulance-chasing legal fees.

From what I read people like Mr. McBurney simply love their work and their work keeps them healthy. For me that is clear inspiration that we need to continue fighting for less government and more personal ownership of our futures.

See you at the office,


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Graduate School

While touring the information booths in the exhibit hall of the National Conference of State Legislatures annual meeting in Boston last week I stopped by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Graduate School booth. The Graduate School describes itself as follows:
Welcome to the Graduate School, USDA! We are a non-appropriated fund instrumentality (NAFI) government entity created 85 years ago by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide adult continuing education. Our mission is to develop people and to make government more efficient and effective.

Now first of all -- what the hell is an NAFI and more importantly how many of these "government entities" have been created? Beyond that though let me tell you about my conversation at the Graduate School's information booth. I specifically asked them if they teach any rural studies/agriculture courses since of course the Graduate School is a function of the U.S. Department of AGRICULTURE (USDA) !!! As it turns out the Graduate School teaches ZERO agriculture courses.

If the USDA truly wanted to "make government more efficient and effective" then they would start with their own department by first dissolving the Graduate School for numerous reasons including:

  • They don't teach agriculture courses.
  • Since we also have a US Department of EDUCATION (USDE) perhaps the USDE should provide this "educational function" known as the Graduate School although I want the USDE dissolved with its operating budget divided among the fifty state governments in a clear victory for states' rights.
  • If any government entity wants people to learn how to "make government more efficient and effective" than they should simply meet with my friends at Citizens Against Government Waste ( and Reason Foundation (

But enough of the heavy stuff in terms of promoting the need for smaller government -- let me end this posting with a joke:

JOKE: "Two USDA bureaucrats are having lunch and one of the bureaucrats starts weeping. His colleague then leans over to ask, 'what is bothering you today............?' to which the first bureaucrat replied, 'My farmer died today..........."

The government tree needs some pruning.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Life Expectancy Rates

Our Sunday newspaper included and Associated Press (AP) article entitled, "U.S. slips to 42nd in Life Expectancy".

I have to admit one of my first thoughts when I saw this headline was -- " doubt the folks who run the U.S. Social Security Administration are smiling today............" -- since a decrease in life expectancy (now protected to be 77.9 years for babies born in 2004) will help balance the "trust" fund if we all die sooner. That said, let's explore some good news noted in this AP article.

First, here are the top five countries in terms of life expectancy rates around the world:

  1. Andorra -- at 83.5 years
  2. Japan
  3. Macau
  4. San Marino
  5. Singapore

A few observations regarding this list include -- a.) 3 of these top 5 are located in the Asia-Pacific region. So perhaps their seafood-dominated diets providing some benefits? and b.) 4 out of these 5 are "micro-states/city-states" assuming we can still count Macau as a separate state now that Portugal has returned it to the People's Republic of China.

Personally I have always been a fan of the city-state form of government since de-centralized, local governments that are close to the governed are best. Coupled with free trade agreements with neighboring countries which respect their sovereignty the residents of city-states -- such as Andorra which sits between France and Spain -- benefit from not only quality goods and services at low costs but also via a reduced defense budget cost.

Does anyone out there fear the San Marino armed forces invading your village? No, and with good reason.

Live long and prosper :-)


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Blogging News

A couple bits of blogosphere news caught my attention this week which included --

  • "Bloggiest Cities"
  • Labor Unions

Now this was the first time I have ever seen the word "bloggiest" ever used especially as an adjective. Today's USA Today newspaper contained one of their "Snapshots" graphs which depicted the "Bloggiest Cities" in the USA in terms of "Posts (on blogs) per 100,000 Residents." The top five cities deemed "bloggiest" included:

  • Boston with 89 postings
  • Philadelphia with 88
  • Pittsburgh with 53
  • Washington DC with 51
  • Portland, Oregion with 49

Interesting results here since the top 4 out of these 5 cities are located in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic region of the USA while the fifth city is in the Pacific Northwest. What I found most surprising was that the high tech communities in California were not represented on this list. This list inspired me to call an "all staff" meeting at SpaceBeagle to explore ways we can get the Minneapolis/St. Paul region on this list next year so please keep reading and we will keep posting :-)

The second story comes from the left wing ("progressive") of the blogosphere as reported by the Associated Press (AP). According to the AP a "loosely formed coalition of left leaning bloggers are trying to band together to form a labor union...... to help them secure health insurance, conduct collective bargaining, or even set professional standards."

Yes the US Constitution protects every citizen's "right of assembly" and I do support workers who choose to form labor unions but a labor union for bloggers is not a good development. Why? Because from my perspective the Internet and the advent of blogging is the second phase of the decentralization in journalism first caused by the invention of the Gutenberg Press. The sad reality is that labor unions -- while they have improved working conditions over time -- especially in the blogosphere run the risk of causing group think as its members pressure their peers to buy into the collective's perspective on issues.

News reporting and personal opinion -- like my blogs -- should continue to be decentralized not subject to control by union bosses.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Haircuts and Cleft Palates

It would have been nice to just relax tonight by watching an episode of Frasier but I chose to watch the "AFL-CIO (big labor unions in the USA - for my European friends) Democratic Presidential Candidate Forum" so I can continue my work educating my blog readers - yes both of you!!!!!!

So "Big Labor" sponsored tonight's debate so when will "Big Business" sponsor a similar forum for both Republicans and Democrats ? Will the AFL-CIO host the Republican candidates? If not why don't they just make it official by merging the AFL-CIO with the Democratic Party to drive some transparency and efficiency to their political machine!!!??

Okay, enough of my speechifying here is a very substantive observation I made during the debate tonight when YET AGAIN former US Senator/trial lawyer/ambulance chaser John Edwards gave his example of why we need to "fix" the USA's health care system. Senator Edwards mentioned a 51 year old man that he met while campaigning who "could not afford the surgery costs for his cleft he could not even speak for 50 can this happen in America?....................." Another blogger commented on this Edwards "poverty tour" example on July 31st which is noted at this link --

Now I am not heartless just rational so let me ask a few questions regarding Edwards' example -

  • Was it impossible for this guy to save any money for this surgery? Assuming he started a full time job at age 18 and if he save $500 per year ($42 per month) he could have amassed $9,000 by age 28 which should have been plenty of money for this basic operation.
  • What exactly was wrong with this guy? If it was a standard cleft palate why wasn't the Smile Train ( -- which has been working since 2000) or a similar operation an option for him?

Quoting now from the Smile Train website the specifics of such a surgical procedure include:

"The free cleft surgery your donation will help provide, is a true, modern-day medical miracle: it costs as little as $250 and takes as little as 45 minutes."

What?????????? Only $250 and 45 minutes to fix a cleft palate? So why didn't this guy get the procedure done years ago? Since it is public knowledge that John Edwards spent $400 for a hair cut let me suggest that instead of taxing us more to pay for this 51 year old gentleman's cleft palate operation via universal health care let's have Edwards get an $18.00 haircut at my hair salon thus allowing him to give the $382.00 in savings to the 51 year old to pay Smile Train to have the operation completed.

Logic and charity should rule in the USA -- not John Edwards-style class warfare designed to keep the welfare state alive and well.


Bean Town

This week finds me in Boston, Massachusetts attending the annual meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures ( NCSL is the largest trade association for state legislators in the USA -- primarily because it receives government funding directly from the various state governments. I encourage any readers interested in cutting the size of government to explore how much your state spends to support NCSL activities.

By far the most interesting session I attended today was the one focused on "new ways to communicate with constituents." The primary focus of this session was on the use of blogs thus I had a personal interest as a blogger myself but the website review delivered by state Representative Steve Urhquart of Utah was the most insightful portion. Rep. Urhquart highlighted the HUGE differences between the "Obama for President" (OFP) and "US Senator Obama" (USSO) websites. The OFP website was very innovate and provided a full range of interactive options for voters while the USSO website was VERY static, boring, and not at all interactive thus suggesting -- "once we get elected we no longer need your (voters/constituents) input................"

Having learned enough for the day I headed for dinner near my hotel. The front desk staff gave me a choice of restaurants - Olive Garden (an Italian chain restaurant) or "224" a local Italian restaurant -- so of course I opted for 224. My starter was an excellent mixed greens salad with strawberries, oranges, and goat cheese followed by a pepper, mushroom, and smoked bacon (bacon lovers should visit my friend's blog at -- Overall it was an excellent meal with a very personable staff so I will rank them with a 3.5 on my 5 point scale.

The only downside - no spumoni on the menu for dessert!! :-( Now off to the hotel gym to work off some of this pizza.


Friday, August 03, 2007

Minneapolis River Bridge

The world we live in today has truly revolutionized the way we communicate as evidenced by the news this week that the Interstate 35 bridge through Minneapolis collapsed killing at least four people. We live about a 20 minute drive from this bridge in a suburb of St. Paul (the other city in the Twin Cities of Minnesota) but I was reading books with our daughter in her room with no TV or radio on so we had no idea what had happened. Word of this disaster came via a telephone call from my brother who lives nearly 5 hours away from us in Iowa.

Since this tragedy two days ago we have been saturated with 24 hour media coverage and numerous press conferences focused on providing status reports and to explain the planned review process being used to determine what caused this disaster.

The libertarian in me comes out when these things happen. Aside from the empathy I feel for the families involved my next thought is -- "why isn't government focused on doing just a FEW things VERY WELL instead of doing many things VERY POORLY?" For example -- instead of building the light rail train system (the "Hiawatha Line") which cuts through Minneapolis and runs to our airport why wasn't the money spent for this mass transit train ( -- reportedly $715 million in total costs) spent fixing/replacing the Interstate 35 bridge instead?

Apparently Congress has already allocated $250 million to Minnesota for replacing the bridge -- money that should have been spent years ago instead of being spent to create the Hiawatha Line.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Big Milk

My local newspaper recently published an article entitled, "Rising Dairy Prices Begin to Hit Home," which focused on the fact that the price of a gallon of milk nearly reached $4.00 in July 2007. The article went on to note that dairy prices were up for the following reasons:

  • overseas demand for whey and other components of milk
  • feed costs because of ethanol (driving the price of corn up)
  • laws of supply and demand

While a gallon of milk is nearly $4.00 the price of a gallon of gasoline hovers around $3.00 so I have to pose the following questions --

  1. When will the government investigate, 'Big Milk', in the same way they have attacked 'Big Oil' ?
  2. Perhaps the CEOs of the big milk producers need to testify before Congress?
  3. Will Congress call for a windfall profits tax on milk producers?
  4. Will Al Gore lead us to the Promised Land by exploring "alternative milk" options?
  5. Does the Head Start program need even more funding due to rising milk prices?
  6. Should there be a special tax levied on milk guzzling families?
  7. Will the US military invade India or Russia to ensure the free flow of cow milk for our economy? :-) (Top cow milk producing country rankings noted here --

Bottoms up,