Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Friends of mine are often surprised when I attack former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill -- yes he did save the U.K. from the Nazis but Mr. Churchill was an ardent imperialist which is a political/economic system I completely reject. However -- I will concede that the lands under the British Empire fared much better than the French colonies. The clearest example of this differential is represented in today's Associated Press article by Jonathan Katz entitled, "Eating Dirt in Haiti."Given the lack of school choice in the USA let me note for readers that the former French colony -- Haiti -- is nearly the poorest country in the world in located off the coast of the USA in the Caribbean Sea. Unfortunately their number one import in the last few years have been foreign military troops sent to "stabilize" the country.

But let's focus on Mr. Katz's article which simply explained that due to rising fuel prices and the demand for bio-fuels the cost of basic foodstuffs has increased dramatically -- nearly a 40% increase in some parts of the Caribbean.So Haitians are resorting to buying clay (dirt) in the local marketplaces to combine with salt and vegetable shortening to produce biscuit-like food. Apparently this clay is a good source of calcium although it is also a potential source of parasites. Wow, what a trade off caused by the failure of Haiti to recover from French imperialism.

Yes Haiti can be reformed -- election reform, expansion of foreign exchange student programs, the ending of US agriculture subsidies that essentially put Haitian farmers out of business, and the ending of foreign aid to be replaced by micro-finance solutions via groups that use private sector equity from people like me such as Kiva ( .Sadly the current leaders in the Caribbean have failed their region. Mr. Katz's article notes that these leaders --"held an emergency summit in December to discuss cutting food taxes and creating large regional farms to reduce dependence on imports."

Now let's break this statement down a bit:1) Why do nations tax food products? Food, clothing, and shelter are the most basic of human needs yet governments tax these items thus keeping citizens in poverty and dependent on government programs.2.) Why creation "large regional farms"? Stalin tried this in the Soviet Union by forcing peasant farmers off their property to work on large, collective farms -- oh yea, millions of people starved to death.

Lastly, I did a quick search on to find a business to loan to so I could do my small part to help them but sadly no entrepreneurs are on the Kiva system today.

Freedom not empire,Todd

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


When you hear the word "dynasty" you might think of the Ming Dynasty or if you are like me -- Krystal Carrington of "Dynasty" television show fame. (PHOTO - Source:
However today I want to focus on political dynasties in the USA namely the Bush, Clinton, and Kennedy dynasties since today is the hugely important - for Mayor Rudy Giuliani especially - Florida primary election. The huge political news this week is that current godfather of the Kennedy clan -- US Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts has endorsed his Senate colleague -- Barack Obama of Illinois for President of the USA instead of Kennedy's other Senate colleague from New York - Hillary (Billary) Clinton.
Yes this is huge news as one political dynasty - Kennedy - uses its star power to stop another dynasty from beginning -- the Clinton family.
No I am not an Obama supporter (though I have great respect for his big name supporter - Oprah Winfrey - to the point that instead of endorsing Obama for President I think she should run for the office herself) but I am very glad that Senator Kennedy simply endorsed Obama and did not offer to give him a ride home after the election night celebration party :-)
Don't drink and drive,

Saturday, January 26, 2008

City Council

It has been a couple months since I could last attend my local city council meeting but this past Thursday night I finally attended. The major agenda item was a council vote on whether or not to allow a home builder to change the master plan of our housing development in order to build apartments for senior citizens and some "workforce housing" (aka "affordable" housing) units. Workforce housing? I could not help but have a mental picture of a southern plantation house surrounded by several cabins for the slaves.

Ultimately the city council voted down this proposed revision of the master development plan by a vote of 4 to 0 with 1 absent vote but the most interesting testimony I heard that evening was from the Community Development Agency (CDA) of our county government which was going to supply funding and staffing for these projects. The CDA representative testified that the "workforce housing is designed for employees at places like Target, local banks......where people are typically paid $10 to $12 per hour"

Yes I have a quirky sense of humor but I had to chuckle at this testimony because when I left the council chambers I glanced at the job postings in the doorway. One of the jobs posted was for the city owned liquor stores (we have two today and they are building yet another one -- this is not a necessary function of government!!!!!!!) with a hourly wage of $10.75.

So essentially one government entity -- the CDA -- is taking our tax dollars to build housing for the workers of the plantation (liquor stores) owned by yet another government entity -- our city council.

Call me crazy but why not just reduce government overall which will bring down the cost of housing for all of us?

I need a cabin,


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Yet Another "Crisis"

During my Dakota County Leadership Academy (Minnesota) class this morning one of our guest speakers -- a City Manager of a city in the county -- mentioned that one of the key issues they are focused on is the "crisis" that the county does not have "fiber to the home..........high speed Internet..........." Now a true "crisis" is something like the genocide going on in Darfur or the government-forced abortions in China NOT whether or not a higher capacity telecom infrastructure needs to be mandated by the Minnesota legislature. The primary problem here is that government needs a "crisis" to justify some goal it wants to accomplish - just think about the "obesity crisis" and the calls for universal health care and early childhood education. Essentially a statement by government officials that we peasants are too stupid to manage our lives.

The speaker did not offer any details to justify why this is a "crisis" yet none of my class mates challenged him to explain. I opted not to get involved because I am very biased since I was a telecom lobbyist for years so I do NOT agree with this city bureaucrat's assessment. The other reason I did not speak out on this subject was because earlier in the class I challenged one of the speakers -- a County Government Manager -- when he said that my own Congressman John Kline made a mistake when he declared that he would "not seek nor accept legislative earmarks........."

This class session -- entitled "Local Government Day" -- only reinforced the fact for me that governments are simply in the business of growing their "business" at the taxpayers' expense. My current leadership class is my fourth experience with these "leadership development classes" which are sponsored by the chamber of commerce community. Clearly, there is a need for a variety of viewpoints to be supplied by speakers -- a variety of public policy thinking which we did not receive today.

Interested readers who want to explore how we can all work to limit government in our lives should visit these websites:

I have several others to suggest so just let me know if you have questions.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Straight Talk on Economic Stimulus Measures

Well shouldn't we tax slaves be happy -- the US Government is going to send us "economic stimulus" checks for anywhere from $300 to $1800. This is NOT economic stimulus at all -- it is merely an increase of our allowance from our parent with the government treating us like a 15 year old!!

I would much prefer having all personal income taxes eliminated - now that would be an economic stimulus for my family.

I was reminded of this check scheme while watching MSNBC's coverage of the Florida primary election today (the primary is set for January 29th) when US Senator John McCain - in an overture to Florida's Cuban-American community - said that as president he would not send (trade with?) resources to a Cuban government led by Raul Castro assuming Fidel never returns as president. Something along those lines but if I am mistaken I hope readers clarify his statement for me.

Now here is the sad reality - as Senator McCain panders to the Cuban-Americans he misses the huge opportunity for REAL economic stimulus. The USA should drop its trade embargo against Cuba!!! Now that would stimulate economic activity not only in Florida but also in my little (population 2,600) home town of Ida Grove, Iowa which is home to Midwest Industries -- one of the world's leaders in producing boat trailers and docking systems. Just think of all the beaches in Cuba that need marinas :-)

No a $300 check is not going to create one job in the USA but a free trade agreement with Cuba would create thousands of jobs (aka "new taxpayers" to politicians).

Senator McCain prides himself on "straight talk" with voters but on the merits of US trade with Cuba he chose to be influenced by the ballot box not the long term economic benefit to American workers.


Monday, January 21, 2008


This past weekend I attended the annual "Pheasant Fest" ( with my brother and sister-in-law. This event is hosted by Pheasants Forever, Inc. (PF) and was held in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Now I know the "Earth is our Mother" environmental crowd will probably attack my decision to attend this event but let me shed some light on what exactly PF is focused on in terms of the environment. Essentially PF raises money nationally and via its local chapter network for the creation of "habitat" where pheasants can live and breed so that the population increases. Yes indeed the selfish motivation here is to increase pheasant populations to benefit the hunters who pursue this birds. Finally if you were wondering -- yes -- pheasant does taste like chicken!!

From the look of the auditorium was this event was held it was clear this event was well-attended. Additionally, the exhibitor space was filled with vendors including -- automobiles, dog training gear, clothing, hunting lodges, and jerky!!! I even spent some time talking with US Congressman John Kline - a taxpayer hero given his recent pledge to reject the practice of "earmarks" who was making the rounds.

Bottom line - the conservation work that PF accomplishes via its members' dues and fundraising does more good for the environment that a whole host of groups like Friends of the Earth.

Hunt on,


Friday, January 18, 2008

Don't Shoot the Messenger

The Ron Paul Message in three points. First - "I don't want to run your life." Second - "I don't want to run the economy. People run the economy in a free society." And third - "I don't want to run the world."
Brian Doherty, Reason Magazine ( , February 2008
Just in case readers don't know who he is "Ron Paul" is a US Congressman from Texas who is running for the Republican Party nomination for President of the USA in this year's election. However at one time Dr. Paul (he is an medical doctor) was the Libertarian Party's presidential candidate.
At this point in the election I do not officially support any of the presidential candidates but after reviewing policy statements on campaign websites I must say I most closely identify with Dr. Paul's agenda to expand freedom by reducing government in the USA. Today he is my best option philosophically especially since my beloved "Free Soil Party" (check your history books!!) is not fielding a candidate this year :-)
Unfortunately as was evident in the Republican Party candidate debate in South Carolina this week Dr. Paul is perhaps not the best messenger for the libertarian/"leave us alone" coalition views that I personally hold. Regardless of public perception, media coverage, etc. Dr. Paul needs to keep running for president to serve as the necessary pressure to force the leading Republican candidates to address the issues he raises in the campaign which have as a common denominator -- GOVERNMENT TAKES TOO MUCH OF OUR MONEY!
A simple message with a simple messenger who was not shaped by focus groups and polling results.
Run Ron Run,

Monday, January 14, 2008

Bankrupt Airlines

"If a private enterprise is a failure, it closes down - unless it can get a government subsidy to keep it going; if a government enterprise fails, it is expanded. I challenge you to find exceptions."
Dr. Milton Friedman
Let me encourage all my readers to complete this online political quiz -- -- so you have a better understanding of your political ideology. My personal results placed me on the grid along with free market economist, Dr. Milton Friedman, so the quote I opened this posting with really caught my attention.
Now Dr. Friedman mentions the word "subsidy" in this quote which I would widely define to include "court administered bankruptcy protection" used by companies like the legacy airlines in the USA.
A great example is Northwest Airlines (NWA) which emerged from bankruptcy recently. NWA is the subject of speculation that it will merge with Delta Airlines unless Delta pursues a merger with United Airlines. The merger speculation of course has fueled further speculation that a merger of 2 of these 3 airlines would trigger a second round of mergers such as American Airlines merging with one of the remaining companies.
Instead of being protected by the bankruptcy court and Minnesota's Metropolitan Airports Commission perhaps the economy should have simply let NWA close operations so that other airlines/entrepreneurs could buy up the assets (airport slots, airplanes, etc.) for better utilization.
Yes there is pain associated with economic change but sometimes the pain can be minimized but removing the handcuffs/restrictions on competitors that today we call "bankruptcy protection" so that the transition to new providers is shorter.
Have a good flight,

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Caucus Time!

Amazing that it has been seven days since I last posted. I had a lot to say but when it came time for posting I waited and waited since I got caught up in two things this past week -- 1.) the US presidential campaigns and 2.) college football championship.

So now I offer a review of what happened during the last week:

  • Iowa Caucus -- my home state of Iowa has historically kicked off the presidential campaign process for over thirty years now. Iowa is unique in that it has a "caucus" versus a "primary election" thus requiring candidates to focus on retail politics where they actually have to talk with voters on a personal level. Personally I am a huge advocate of the caucus system so I was pleased when I heard the national journalists who were reporting from Iowa say that the "caucus system is a very interesting process that is really good for the election system........." (my paraphrasing several sources). Yes this is a great alternative to a system where the best-funded candidates would simply focus on the "Big Four" states of -- California, New York, Texas, and Florida to raise money to blanket the nation with television ads.
  • College Football -- I love college football but hate the NCAA's "Bowl Championship Series" which is essentially a mythical championship versus having a legitimate playoff system. However my lack of faith in the BCS format did not keep me from watching Ohio State University get defeated by Louisiana State University. I was cheering for the Buckeyes so I was sad to see them lose.
  • New Hampshire Primary -- Yes an amazing turnaround victory for Senator Hillary Clinton (New York) in the Democratic Party primary after her loss to Senator Barack Obama (Illinois) in the Iowa caucus. Based on state proximity - New York close to New Hampshire and Illinois close to Iowa -- we really should have expected these candidates to do very well/win the states in their geographic region. If anything I would say since she grew up in Chicago, Illinois Senator Clinton should have performed better than third place in Iowa especially since she considered moving to Illinois to launch her political career (opting for New York State instead) when her and Bill completed their removal of furniture from the White House!!!

More elections to come but college football is done until August 2008 which is probably the saddest news in this posting,


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Lions, Tigers, and Bears oh my!!

At a time when family and friends were spending time together on Christmas Day Mr. Carlos Sousa, Jr. was touring the San Francisco Zoo. Sadly his life ended that day when he was attacked by a four year old tiger named Tatiana:

Personally I have always enjoyed zoos and believe they serve a worthy educational function since they provide visitors with insights on the world beyond their neighborhood. Now this attack was tragic and is still part of an ongoing investigation -- plus a lawsuit of course! -- so perhaps more details will become known regarding how something like this could happen. Yes perhaps Mr. Sousa and his friends did something wrong to provoke the attack but I trust the investigation will explore such a scenario.

Let me depart from Mr. Sousa's tragic end for a moment to focus on the other zoo visitors that day. I could not help but consider what I would have done if my family was visiting this zoo (or our Minnesota Zoo) where we would be a potential victim in a similar attack. Why should my family have to rely on the security measures taken by the zoo (which are being questioned in the lawsuit I heard about) versus allowing me to carry defensive weapons such as a firearm or taser?

San Francisco has historically been a leader in gun control measures thus leaving law abiding essentially unarmed and unable to defend themselves in such situations like this tiger attack. Beyond my gun control critique I would also note that this attack is a great reminder that our modern, urban world is still subject to the law of the jungle as humans interact with the lesser animals.

Be prepared,


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Go Ospreys!!

During the New Years Day holiday this week I enjoyed some couch time watching the college football bowl games. I especially enjoyed the Rose Bowl where the University of Southern California showed the national audience that they are clearly one of the top teams in the country given their dominance of the University of Illinois. The final bowl games will be completed with the mythical "national championship" game on January 7th between Ohio State University and Louisiana State University -- go Buckeyes!!

The soon to be ended college football season coupled with the fact that the National Football League regular season has ended with playoffs and the Super Bowl on the way means that the American football season is drawing to a close. So my focus is rapidly moving to college basketball so in this posting I want to promote my favorite team (after my alma mater Iowa State University of course) -- the University of North Florida Ospreys in Jacksonville, Florida.


Coach Matt Kilcullen and I have been in touch for a couple years now since I contacted his office with my initial "Go Ospreys" posting stating that I love underdogs so I plan to cheer for them because the "Sagarin Power Rankings" in the USA Today newspaper rated the Ospreys dead last (about #247 if I remember correctly) a few years ago for the college basketball pre-season rankings.

I encourage readers to follow the Ospreys this season via their website at -

Unfortunately the Ospreys lost recently to Notre Dame University which of course I always cheer against in football so I took this loss personally!! It is difficult to overcome Catholic Youth Organization basketball programs Coach Kilcullen - a great farm team for the Fighting Irish. :-)

Hoop it up,