Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Now I hesitate to give the Al Gore storm troopers this well-developed plan to guilt people into giving up their freedom of choice but here it goes anyway.
Step One -- some agreed upon sponsoring organization such as the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency ("MPCA" -- I drove by their building today thus my inspiration for suggesting them in this role!) would announce an "SUV Amnesty/Exchange Program" .
Step Two -- This would be a "no questions asked" program whereby guilt-ridden SUV owners would turn in their SUV's to the MPCA in exchange for a cool pair of basketball shoes or a skate board (think "kids with handguns" here folks!).
Step Three -- The SUV's would be "recycled" into scrap metal or perhaps sunk off the American ocean coasts to help create artificial reefs.
Step Four -- the internal combustion engines of course would be dis-mantled and melted down (again think "handguns" folks) so we can stop the senseless killing caused by SUV's.
So do you think I am crazy to believe such a scenario could happen one day? Personally I think it is just a matter of time before such a program will exist given today's political climate. However, I am confident that my V-8 Dodge Durango is better for the environment versus the Toyota Prius hybrid but how is this possible readers may ask? The answer is simple based on "green logic" -- if petroleum products are so bad for the environment then we should rid our planet of them as soon as possible correct? So let me call on everyone who loves the environment to purchase an SUV, perhaps even an RV, or the original HUMMER if you can afford such items so we can collectively use up all of the world's oil as fast as we can because such a course of action would move us to alternative energy options faster than any government program that exists today or is being debated as I type this posting.
Use more oil,
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Interested readers can see the entire editorial via this weblink --
Let me call on the readers of this blog to ask themselves-- "hey, does my state, city, county, school district government have a similar 'webbase' so I know where our tax dollars go?" If the answer is "no such tool exists" then find out why and what needs to be done to get one created. Here is the State of Oklahoma's spending website which I first reviewed today --
This "webbase" could be a model for your own state spending tracking tool.
As for my next steps here is where my campaign is going:
1.) August 5 -- I am hosting a meeting where people responsible for Minnesota's state spending database law will be explaining the project. This will happen in St. Paul, Minnesota if anyone wants to attend.
2.) City government -- I am drafting a memo to attach to a copy of the Star Tribune editorial so that I can hand deliver copies to our Mayor and City Council members in Apple Valley, Minnesota. I know of no city in Minnesota that does this spending disclosure today so this is a great opportunity for my city to be a leader in being completely open and honest with citizens.
So what plans do you have to add to the transparency revolution?
Yours in tax slavery,
Monday, May 26, 2008
OPEC was created in 1960 as an inter-governmental organization designed to control the supply of oil to the rest of the world. Membership (12 members currently if I read the list below correctly) in OPEC has included the following nations during its 48 year of operation:
Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela -- the Founding Members (1960)
United Arab Emirates (1967)
Ecuador (1973) – suspended its membership from December 1992-October 2007
As I noted in my earlier "Oil Imports and Free Trade" posting on this blog the USA's number 1 and number 3 export partners of oil are Canada and Mexico which are not members of OPEC so that is a very positive thing for the USA's economic performance.
Since OPEC controls the largest known oil reserves in the world I have to wonder why the US Congress did not insist on having OPEC officials testify alongside or in lieu of the American oil company executives who were compelled to explain why their corporate earnings and profits are at all time highs while Americans are paying nearly $4.00 per gallon of gasoline.
Again - I hate to advocate this but the time has come to pressure and hopefully break the back of OPEC via the creation of our own cartel called the Organization of Petroleum Importing Countries (OPIC). Here is a weblink to a wealth of information regarding world oil production, consumption, exports, and imports. I truly wish the Members of the US Congress would scan such data before they demand people to testify before Congress --
This website notes that the following 15 nations are the world's largest importers of oil:
1 United States
5 Korea, South
Based on this list we see that 6 of the 15 nations are members of the European Union (a sometimes partner of the USA and via NATO) while another three -- Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan have been staunch American allies for nearly 60 years. These 15 nations represent the vast majority of GWP (Gross World Production) , military strength, population, and the highest standards of living in the world today which should provide enough leverage via OPIC to force changes at OPEC.
I would suggest that once OPIC is formed the organization should target one member country of OPEC to pressure them to quit this cartel using the full economic, military, and diplomatic might of the OPIC member states. One option OPIC might consider doing is to coordinate the member states' oil imports so that the targeted member of OPEC receives the vast amount of OPIC foreign direct investment (FDI) versus going into other OPEC nations and perhaps all trade barriers would be lifted between the targeted OPEC member of the OPIC member states conditioned upon the targeted OPEC member quiting OPEC. Finally, once the first targeted OPEC member quits OPIC would set its sights on the second targeted OPEC member, the third one, etc. until OPEC is forced to dissolve or simply loses its critical mass of world oil reserves controlled by this cartel.
Creating a new cartel to destroy a current cartel seems justified but of course my fear is that once created OPIC will want to perpetuate its lifespan thus the founding members of OPIC would need to include a "sunset clause" to their founding documen t to ensure it will one day dissolve.
Fight fire with fire,
Thursday, May 22, 2008
I had a flash back to this childhood memory tonight as I read our local newspaper here in Minnesota. Tucked inside the Local Section was a small story about the Stillwater, Minnesota public school district (today's "poor farmer") which announced it was able to hire a new "Communications Coordinator" (today's "new vehicle") which was a job eliminated earlier due to budget constraints. The article went on to note that this position's annual salary was $70,820.
Personally I would rather see my local school focus on hiring an additional math teacher or perhaps a Chinese language instructor to better prepare students for our global economy if it was able to find an extra $71,000 (plus that excellent benefits package including health insurance, public pension, etc.). No doubt school administrators would defend this hiring by stating -- "we need to develop communication tools (newsletters, website, etc.) to communicate with our students and parents.................." -- but I have to believe a current Stillwater student could easily manage the school's website better than any communications coordinator they hire and a student newspaper could be started in partnership with the local community newspaper. Such a partnership would provide the school with trained students able to produce any required newsletters but more importantly these students would develop tangible job skills needed after graduation from high school. Any money spent in this area would be a better expenditure than adding one more FTE (full time employee) via the Commuications Coordinator job.
There are better uses for this $71,000 at Stillwater Public Schools if the education establishment truly believes in putting "students first" as the Education Minnesota teachers' union TV ads want us to believe.
Then again perhaps I should apply for this Stillwater job (insert laughter here!),
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Now I do not share Senator Kennedy's political views nor his driving record but let me be clear I do not wish him ill. This is tragic news for him and his family but it is also a "learning opportunity" for American voters this November. First, a short history lesson -- when US Senator Hillary Clinton, current presidential candidate, was named by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, as director/chairman-in-a-pants -suit of a health care reform commission she was First Lady of course. Via this commission she advocated a complete takeover by the federal government of the entire American health care system to ensure we have universal health care/single payer health care. As most astute observers noted at the time such a "reform" would have ultimately created "health care rationing" such as is practiced in Canada which motivates Canadians to drive across the border into New York State, USA to get MRI tests conducted due to the existence of long waiting lists (rationing) in Canada.
So if the utopia that was to be -- "Hillary Health Care" -- existed today the principles of health care rationing would be applied to people like Senator Kennedy because he is 76 years old with a brain tumor. Senator Kennedy would clearly have to be placed VERY LOW on the waiting list for treatment since he is clearly at the end of his projected life expectancy for white men in America so the government's limited health care resources would be better spent on a 25 woman with ovarian cancer. Doesn't that make sense??
Of course not -- instead of some government health care rationing commission deciding which patients live or die based on the health care rationing regulations, actuary tables, etc. we need to empower family members to make these very personal health care decisions.
So if any readers out there believe the American health care system is completely broken then let's "reform" it completely by getting government the hell out of the system!! No more mandates on insurance companies regarding which services/procedures should be covered. Personally I would like to have massages and yoga instruction paid for by my insurance company since I believe in this form of "alternative medicine" but I am not about to lobby my government to require such coverage nor should another group of people lobby the government to force my insurance company to pay for plastic surgery procedures. Such mandates simply add to the overall cost of insurance thus resulting in insurance premium rates which are too high for a segment of society -- essentially government health care regulations have caused people to go through life with out health insurance.
Rationing is not rational,
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
US Senator Robert "Name Another Building After Me Paid With Your Tax Dollars" Byrd of West Virginia endorsed US Senator Barack Obama for President of the USA yesterday. Now this biographical note does not appear on Senator Byrd's official website (http://byrd.senate.gov/bio.htm) but he was (can you quit this organization?) a member of the Ku Klux Klan which he comes to grips with via his book noted in this Washington Post (if you don't believe me perhaps you will believe the Post) article:
A Senator's Shame
Byrd, in His New Book, Again Confronts Early Ties to KKK
By Eric PianinWashington Post Staff WriterSunday, June 19, 2005; Page A01
In the early 1940s, a politically ambitious butcher from West Virginia named Bob Byrd recruited 150 of his friends and associates to form a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. After Byrd had collected the $10 joining fee and $3 charge for a robe and hood from every applicant, the "Grand Dragon" for the mid-Atlantic states came down to tiny Crab Orchard, W.Va., to officially organize the chapter.
So congratulations Senator Obama -- you have to be the first black man/African-American (covering my bases here!!) in American history with a 50/50 chance of becoming president to be endorsed by a recovering Klansman. This is even a great accomplishment than when the Reverand Jesse Jackson ran for President.
Personally I think race relations in the USA would be helped by Senator Byrd taking his endorsement one step further by doing a national town hall meeting with Senator Obama to talk about his experiences in the KKK.
Now this is diversity,
Sunday, May 18, 2008
The WSJ article included a very informative bar graph which depicted the USA's "Crude Oil Imports, March 2008, millions of barrels a day" (from specific countries). The overall rankings included the following list from highest to lowest provider of crude oil to the USA:
Now without me conducting extensive geo-political/cultural research on these 10 nations here is my quick snapshot overview of our reliance on these oil exporters based on my years of general observation, study, and travel:
Four (4) of these ten countries' (located in the Mideast and Africa) political systems are dominated by Islamic organizations -- many of which are hostile to the USA. Another three (3) of these countries (located in South America) have socialist governments with cool diplomatic relations with the USA but one in particular, Venezuela, consider the USA to be a greedy and corrupt empire destined to be overthrown.
Which leaves us with three (3) of these top ten oil suppliers to discuss -- Angola, Canada, and Mexico. First - Angola, located in Africa of course so this can pose distribution problems for the USA since President Chavez could use his oil money (partially gained from the USA) to build a naval presence capable of destroying Angolan oil tankers -- far fetched you might say but did anyone predict the Twin Towers in New York City would be bombed by passenger aircraft??
So that leaves us with Canada (which is # 1 on this WSJ list) and Mexico (coming in at #3 on the WSJ list) that we should consider not only valuable oil suppliers but also solid allies for the USA. Let's pause here to count our blessings since these two countries are of course our northern and southern neighbors. Additionally the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) helps to ensure that these three economies are reliant and inter-dependent on each other. Tell me -- does anyone out there fear Canadian troops invading the USA? No because the old maxim is true -- "trading nations are not warring nations."
Here are two key things we should focus on in terms of American foreign policy:
1.) Encourage (and assist) Mexico to modernize and privatize its national oil monopoly to increase its production capacity so the American economy receives an increase in supply.
2.) Enhance the Canadian-USA relationship via --- increased exchange student programs especially in the fields of geology and engineering, state trade missions led by all 50 of our governors to Canada, and film festivals featuring movies like "Canadian Bacon" and "Strange Brew" (hey -- just trying to little the mood here after the earlier talk of Islamic radicals and Latin dictators!!).
Free trade has benefits that people like Senator Obama and Senator Clinton want to overlook since they are pandering to the Democratic Party's "base" at the general public's expense not just in pocketbook but also in national security terms.
Free trade is the oil that lubricates the world economy,
Saturday, May 17, 2008
From what I have seen all the speculation has focused on whether or not Clinton will become Obama's Vice Presidential running mate or that Senator Clinton would drop out gracefully to help unite the party as she looks towards the 2012 presidential election - which of course is based on the scenario that US Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee, would defeat Senator Obama in November 2008.
Let me offer another scenario I have heard or read anywhere. Here is a hint -- Hillary is a "lawyer". Any guesses?
If you haven't guessed yet here we go -- Senator Clinton drops out gracefully by cutting a deal with Senator Obama and does all she can to help Senator Obama elected in November 2008 with no plans to run in 2012. The deal? President Obama appoints Senator Clinton to the US Supreme Court which of course is a lifetime appointment versus the potential 8 years (assuming she get re-elected in 2012 or 2016 depending on when she would potentially run - this year or in 2012. Yes - I know that is complicated!) that Senator could serve as President due to the current constitutional limitations.
Today Hillary is 61 years old so assuming President Obama appoints her to the Supreme Court in 2009 (assuming there is a vacancy - although the Clintons could probably arrange that!!) she could serve in that capacity for potentially 25 years based on current life expectancy rates.
Wow! I don't know which scenario gives me worse nightmares -- President Clinton for 8 years or Justice Clinton for 25 years.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Here in the State of Minnesota we had a new law that went into effect in 2007 that requires the state government to create a database/website (aka "Google Government") which would show any interested person where the state spends OUR money. After nearly 1.5 years since this bill became law we tax slaves of Minnesota still do not have a tool that will allow us to follow the money.
After numerous telephone calls and emails -- too many actually in terms of transparency/efficiency for citizens -- with the state Department of Administration , the state legislature, local activists I know, and even some Washington DC groups that track these issues for a career -- I still do not have a good answer that explains why we do not have this database/website operational yet. Today I was told that "yes this is the law but we did not receive any money to pay for the implementation and our consultant told us we need $1 million to $2.5 million to implement this website............"
Wow, that sounds like real money!!
How is it that several states have moved forward with this "Google Government" concept at very low costs but Minnesota needs millions of additional tax dollars to do the same thing? Here are some examples for readers to ponder and for asking your own state governments why they don't have such a website:
http://www.nebraskaspending.com/ -- Nebraska
www.window.state.tx.us/wherethemoneygoes -- Texas
The one encouraging aspect of my last two days of telephone calls and emails is that I found out our local media is very interested in this database project. Historically I have "challenged" far too many journalists to emphasize the "investigative" part of their reporting such as when I read an article about the St. Cloud, Minnesota school district being unable to purchase textbooks due to a lack of funding. No where in the article did you see evidence of the reporter asking some hard questions like -- how much does the school district need for text books and how much does it spend today on automobile allowances for administrators? A classic question since my teacher friends complain this is why they have to purchase equipment for their classrooms with personal money every August. The vital lesson for me is that even though they are un-elected/un-paid by taxpayers our journalists are currently more accountable to taxpayers than many government officials are today. Yet another reason to continue buying newspapers!!
Finally, I need to note that the population of Minnesota is about 4.5 million people while the population of Texas is nearly 17 million YET the Comptroller of Public Accounts for Texas reports that she developed their spending transparency database/website at a total cost of --
So Minnesota needs at least $1 million dollars but the State of Texas did essentially the same thing for only $310,000?
Something is clearly wrong here and further justifies the need for spending transparency in government.
Monday, May 12, 2008
However, what REALLY does excite me is the opportunity that US Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has at her fingertips. Since Senator Clinton highlighted for American voters that her opponent for the Democratic Party nomination, US Senator Barack Obama, is NOT qualified to "take that call at 3 am" that tests what every president is made of during a crisis.
If Senator Obama is really not prepared for the extreme challenges that are likely during his presidential term then Senator Clinton must, in fact is required, to launch a third party campaign assuming Senator Obama wins the Democratic Party nomination for President and does not choose Senator Clinton to be his vice presidential candidate.
So which party for Hillary to save the American public from an unqualified President Obama? Green Party? Not a great option since she would somehow have to overcome/replace Ralph Nader who is seeking this party's nomination -- http://www.votenader.org/
I won't even begin to find a new party for Senator Clinton to join but here is an extensive list of her choices --
Given her current opposition to free trade agreements and "concern for working families" perhaps she should pursue a "Hillary Clinton-Lou Dobbs" ticket with one of these various third parties.
Imagine how much fun November would be for voters -- beyond college football of course -- if the presidential candidates included -- McCain, Obama, Clinton, and Barr -- running as candidates from four different political parties. Now that would be an exciting range of choices.
Run Hillary Run until November,
Friday, May 09, 2008
Now that is progress in the USA when a black man is considered elitist versus being considered mere chattel to be sold in the public square!!
As I have posted here before I find it comical that the "party of the common man" (Democratic Party) has a provision in its party rules whereby an elite politburo of "super delegates" exists to essentially determine who becomes the party's nominee this year due to the close nomination battle between BHO and HCC. So we end up with a group of elites (super delegates) choosing from two elites (BHO and HCC) to rule over us tax slaves.
Now this coronation process should bother all of us -- especially anyone who has read what guided the Founding Fathers' thinking as they created the USA. They specifically forbid the creation of titles and royalty but I will admit their Electoral College was a semi-elitist check on the popular vote. Hey, nobody is perfect, even James Madison the Father of the US Constitution.
However, I am not surprised by the American public's willingness to defer to various elites to govern us as evidenced by the default royal class we have created in the USA via Hollywood stars and celebrity weddings such as Jenna Bush's (daughter of US President George W. Bush of course) in Texas. In fact I saw a newspaper article about the wedding with a photograph of the wedding copy featured on a computer mouse pad that can be purchased in Crawford, Texas.
Of course I will probably be called an elitist myself for my disdain of this aspect of American society by both of my readers but so be it. Jenna didn't even invite me!!!
Get me to the cabin,
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
- Country specific food booths featuring cuisine from around the world
- The "bazaar" where you could purchase products from around the world including ethnic-specific products such as a "Parking for Germans Only" sign (my dad loves the one I gave him years ago!!) and where you could speak with natives of the countries represented.
- Live entertainment -- music and dance performances such as Irish step dancing which in a Catholic Irish town like St. Paul, Minnesota is always a favorite!!
One additional feature of the festival that I like to highlight is that for US$0.75 you could purchase a "passport" that you would get stamped at each country booth that you visited. So we purchased one for our four year old daughter so she could see the world. While we visited at least 20 country booths the one we had the most fun at was the Mongolia booth because they had a "yurt" (native home) set up that you could tour. Our daughter and I explored the yurt's interior (I want to buy one for a family cabin but then again I don't want to go through a divorce so I won't buy one............) for too long of a time since we had numerous countries to visit.
The best thing about this "travel" was that we did not have to strip down like prisoners for inspection by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) storm troopers - although someone from TSA will probably think having a booth at the Festival of Nations in 2009 would be a great "community outreach" idea!!
Consumers Without Borders,
Thursday, May 01, 2008
Since it was the end of April when I was in Anchorage the weather was clearly "nearly Spring" which of course means the annual "city wide clean up" sponsored by the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. Overall I like the idea of the city -- population about 300,000 -- coming together to clean their city of the winter trash that accumulates so that the city looks clean, safe, and welcoming for the tourist season. Now granted it was just the end of winter when I was there but from what I saw while walking around downtown and via my 20th floor view from my hotel room was the Anchorage Chamber should combine its annual city clean up with a tree/shrub/flower planting event -- perhaps held a few weeks later to avoid a late freeze. I suggest this because from what I saw Anchorage is pretty dominated by surface parking lots and no downtown parks that I could see especially since I walked everywhere so I had a ground level perspective on the city.
As for the football -- what could be better than Monday Night Football via the "Intense Football League" (same game as Arena Football League only the IFL has smaller salaries and smaller crowds!!) which paired the Alaska Wild (Anchorage) against the San Angelo (Texas) Stampede Express?? My little group had a great time at this game especially since the Wild won!! I have to say though there is no reason to "hype up" the league via the "Intense" moniker in their name. The overall quality of play was very good plus the team spirit and competitive drive exhibited by the players was the most entertaining. You really have to admire the players' intensity especially since they get paid about $300.00 per game.
Overall I really enjoyed my time in Anchorage and look forward to future opportunities to see the Last Frontier.