Monday, July 29, 2013

#Public/Pirate-Partnership

Detroit, in the midst of a bankruptcy, is planning to spend over $400 million of other people's money on a new Red Wing Hockey rink. Those who fled Detroit can't bear to be without an ultra-modern hockey rink. What better way to to entice them to move back than a demonstration of egregious-corporate-welfare-as-usual?

I guess this is the Governor's way to pay Canada back for financing a new bridge. Might've been cheaper all around to move the Wings to Windsor.

Our One Tough Nerd approves this boondoggle, as does "Emergency" Financial Manager Kevin Orr. Orr is the guy who wants Detroit pensioners to take a haircut, while he auctions off the inventory at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
If it is as productive as it’s supposed to be, that’s going to be a boon to the city.
-Kevin Orr
I can see the headlines now: "Octopus sales surge!"

But, that's a big "if," Kevin.

The Red Wings appear to have been negligent in paying their taxes already: Red Wings Owe Detroit Millions in Uncollected Cable Rights Fees.

On top of the that, sports stadia promoters always over-promise and under-deliver economic benefits: Politicians and Team Owners Snooker Sports Fans and Taxpayers.

See also: What Are the Benefits of Hosting a Major League Sports Franchise? Outside of the benefits for the team owners, apparently, none.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Man-caused Disasters

Maybe this is what Big Sis was actually talking about when she said "man-caused disasters:" The socio-cultural lines that can be drawn straight from former Detroit Mayor Coleman Young to Trayvon Martin.

Young's effect on the cultural values of Detroit, resulting eventually in the election of Kwame Kilpatrick, are echoed in today's standardized, pervasive inner city culture, and reflected in the gangster government of Barack Obama and Eric Holder. This culture has more to do with Trayvon Martin's death than concealed carry permits (very little) or stand your ground laws (absolutely nothing). If that seems like a stretch, you have to remember that George Zimmerman's acquittal is being called racist, as was the appointment of Kevyn Orr as Detroit's Emergency Manager. For the same reasons:

The Decline of the Civil-Rights Establishment

Black leaders weren't so much outraged at injustice as they were by the disregard of their own authority.
Shelby Steele
The civil-rights leadership rallied to Trayvon's cause (and not to the cause of those hundreds of black kids slain in America's inner cities this very year) to keep alive a certain cultural "truth" that is the sole source of the leadership's dwindling power. Put bluntly, this leadership rather easily tolerates black kids killing other black kids. But it cannot abide a white person (and Mr. Zimmerman, with his Hispanic background, was pushed into a white identity by the media over his objections) getting away with killing a black person without undermining the leadership's very reason for being…

One wants to scream at all those outraged at the Zimmerman verdict: Where is your outrage over the collapse of the black family? Today's civil-rights leaders swat at mosquitoes like Zimmerman when they have gorillas on their back. Seventy-three percent of all black children are born without fathers married to their mothers. And you want to bring the nation to a standstill over George Zimmerman?
How the Media Has Distorted a Tragedy
Cathy Young destroys the Liberal talking points about the attempted railroading of George Zimmerman. You need to know these before attempting to discuss Zimmerman's acquittal with a Trayvon Martin aficionado.

In a bid for the surreality Hall of Fame, Ingham County Judge Rosemarie Aquilina moves us to the Detroit bankruptcy, by citing "failure to honor president Obama" as a reason to stay the Detroit bankruptcy proceeding.

Ingham County judge rules Detroit bankruptcy be withdrawn; Schuette appeals
Gary Heinlein
“It’s cheating, sir, and it’s cheating good people who work,” the judge told assistant state Attorney General Brian Devlin. “It’s also not honoring the (United States) president, who took (Detroit’s auto companies) out of bankruptcy.”
She thinks so much of her action that she directed a copy of the declaratory judgment be sent to President Obama, probably intending it be made part of the eventual Presidential Library humor section. Maybe she's looking for a Federal appointment.

Then Edward McClelland strikes again (see post below for comment on his earlier excuses for Detroit.)
Detroit is your problem, too
Detroit’s bankruptcy affects Oakland County, the state of Michigan, and really, every state, county and municipality in the nation. If Detroit defaults on its general obligation bonds, governments everywhere — but especially in Michigan — may end up paying more to borrow money, as the bond market responds to the precedent set by a major city returning pennies on the dollar to investors. When a state’s largest city goes bankrupt, it creates an increased risk for all the governments around it — including the state itself...

L. Brooks Patterson built a career out of telling his constituents that Detroit’s problems were not their problems. Now that they are, his constituents are going to pay for it.

Michigan’s refusal to share responsibility for Detroit’s finances goes all the way back to the 1970s, when Republican governor William Milliken proposed a regional tax base — only to have the plan shot down by the state legislature. Had Milliken been successful, Detroit would not be in bankruptcy today.
I looked for the sentence "When a state’s largest city is so thoroughly venal, it creates an increased risk for all the governments around it — including the state itself...," in vain.

Mr. McClelland's point is that every Michigan taxpayer should have been paying for Detroit's corruptocrat government all along. He's right that Detroit would not be in bankruptcy today only in the sense that the whole state would be. It's like cheering for the metastasis to win.

One wonders if either McClelland or Aquilina felt the same sympathy for the GM and Chrysler bondholders. McClelland would probably have argued for tariff barriers to be raised against imported cars, and Aquilina would declare their importation unconstitutional because of the threat to UAW pension plans. Oh wait, if it wasn't for screwing over the bondholders, there would be no UAW pension plans.

Mr. McClelland again blames "all the white people" who fled Detroit, oblivious to the fact that anyone who could leave Detroit, has left Detroit, superficial melanin content notwithstanding.

As to "white flight", it wasn't just white people, or even white Hispanics, who left Detroit:
The Unheavenly City
Michael Barone
Detroit's black population peaked at 777,000 in 1990; it leveled off to 775,000 in 2000 and plunged to 590,000 in 2010. Blacks with decent jobs and steady habits have been moving to the suburbs or back to their grandparents' South, and those who remain tend to be the people with no good alternative and no hope.

Friday, July 19, 2013

#BlueModel Detroit

"Sooner or later, you run out of other people’s money."
- Margaret Thatcher.

People's lives are being ruined by Detroit's bankruptcy. Pensioners may get only 10% of what was promised them. The health insurance they expected will vanish.

People will blame Republicans; though even our current president refuses to bail out Detroit. They will say big business is at fault; even though they are now simply getting a taste of what they cheered when the GM and Chrysler bondholders were gutted. They will decry the white exodus; really just a symptom. None of those factors caused the problem.

The root cause is half a century of increasing corruption, cronyism and race-based machine politics. Detroit's failure is because of 50 years of Progressive "governance."

If only Detroit could print money...



Update: 3:17PM
In a Salon article, Edward McClelland confirms "white flight" is the problem, because people with the means to do so moved out of Detroit. His suggestion? Make the suburbs merge with Detroit.

Mr. McClelland's preferred solution is to subject a larger base of serfs to Detroit's looting power. But, the problems which drove people out of Detroit haven't changed - they've just come to fruition. Binding more taxpayers over to Detroit would solve nothing. It would just convince the demagogues and ward heelers that other people's money doesn't run out.

Flight to the suburbs didn't cause Detroit's failure, it's a logical consequence of the way in which Detroit has been governed for 50 years. Too bad the voters in Detroit didn't get it in time. I doubt they get it yet.

McClelland claims Detroit was stiffed by the State when it didn't get the quid of more State money (taxes collected outside of Detroit) for the quo of lowering its city income tax. He fails to consider how much faster and deeper the flight to the suburbs would have been without that tax cut. Overtaxing came first, not urban desertion.

But the worst part of this article is that it never even mentions the uninterrupted string of venal Democrat politicians and union-boss rent seekers since the 60s. Nor does it acknowledge that people might willingly share services, or even move back into Detroit, if the malfeasance, nepotism, graft, bribery, embezzlement and fraud were removed. It took 50 years to kill Detroit. It will take at least that long to restore the trust that McClelland documents as preventing regional co-operation.

Mr. McClelland wants to export Detroit's corrupt profligacy to the surrounding areas. Instead, why not just force people to move to Detroit? Then, we'd be spared a McClelland article 20 years hence titled, "Who killed the Detroit Metro area as far west as Grand Rapids?"

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Brawley, Mangum and Martin

In the tradition of Al Sharpton's Tawana Brawley fiasco (Brawley's false accusation of rape), over which Alton H. Maddox, Jr. lost his law license, and the travesty of justice in the Duke Lacrosse case (false rape accusation from Crystal Gail Mangum) that cost Durham County North Carolina District Attorney Mike Nifong his job and his law license:

"[T]he Department of Justice played a major behind-the-scenes role in organizing protests against George Zimmerman."

I guess this is what president Obama's Administration calls "community organizing."

Now that most people expect George Zimmerman to be exonerated in a trial that should never have taken place, you should know about the involvement of the Obama Administration. You paid for the DOJ bit, after all.

Florida taxpayers should be livid that they've paid for the trial.

For the record, I don't expect Eric Holder to be disbarred.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Happy Birthday to the United States

President Calvin Coolidge shared his birthday with that of the United States. This coincidence did not lead him to conclude he had been divinely called to fundamentally change the country. He was modest. He was perhaps the last Chief Executive to pay any heed to the 9th and 10th Amendments. He was not known for flights of empty oratory. He considered small government as the intent of the Constitution. His administration was free of scandal, and he dealt with those scandals he inherited from his predecessor quickly and appropriately. Coolidge provided a model of stability and respectability for the American people.

In short, it would be difficult to find a higher degree of contrast with our present administration.

You may find Silent Cal's speech on the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of interest.

I urge you to read the whole thing in order to appreciate the intellectual rigor an American president could reasonably expect the American people to possess in 1926.

Here are a few excerpts:

...We are obliged to conclude that the Declaration of Independence represented the movement of a people. It was not, of course, a movement from the top. Revolutions do not come from that direction. It was not without the support of many of the most respectable people in the Colonies, who were entitled to all the consideration that is given to breeding, education, and possessions. It had the support of another element of great significance and importance to which I shall later refer. But the preponderance of all those who occupied a position which took on the aspect of aristocracy did not approve of the Revolution and held toward it an attitude either of neutrality or open hostility. It was in no sense a rising of the oppressed and downtrodden. It brought no scum to the surface, for the reason that colonial society had developed no scum. The great body of the people were accustomed to privations, but they were free from depravity. If they had poverty, it was not of the hopeless kind that afflicts great cities, but the inspiring kind that marks the spirit of the pioneer. The American Revolution represented the informed and mature convictions of a great mass of independent, liberty-loving, God-fearing people who knew their rights, and possessed the courage to dare to maintain them.

...Governments do not make ideals, but ideals make governments. This is both historically and logically true. Of course the government can help to sustain ideals and can create institutions through which they can be the better observed, but their source by their very nature is in the people. The people have to bear their own responsibilities. There is no method by which that burden can be shifted to the government. It is not the enactment, but the observance of laws, that creates the character of a nation.

About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.

In the development of its institutions America can fairly claim that it has remained true to the principles which were declared 150 years ago. In all the essentials we have achieved an equality which was never possessed by any other people. Even in the less important matter of material possessions we have secured a wider and wider distribution of wealth. The rights of the individual are held sacred and protected by constitutional guaranties, which even the Government itself is bound not to violate. If there is any one thing among us that is established beyond question, it is self-government--the right of the people to rule. If there is any failure in respect to any of these principles, it is because there is a failure on the part of individuals to observe them. We hold that the duly authorized expression of the will of the people has a divine sanction. But even in that we come back to the theory of John Wise that "Democracy is Christ’s government." The ultimate sanction of law rests on the righteous authority of the Almighty.

On an occasion like this a great temptation exists to present evidence of the practical success of our form of democratic republic at home and the ever-broadening acceptance it is securing abroad. Although these things are well known, their frequent consideration is an encouragement and an inspiration. But it is not results and effects so much as sources and causes that I believe it is even more necessary constantly to contemplate. Ours is a government of the people. It represents their will. Its officers may sometimes go astray, but that is not a reason for criticizing the principles of our institutions.

Today, some may regard Coolidge as naive. That he could claim 1926 America "has remained true to the principles which were declared 150 years ago", will strike modern readers as untenable, for example, on racial grounds.

Coolidge certainly knew many living veterans of the Civil War, that does not mean he could envision the 1964 civil rights act - but he would have appreciated that its passage had been obtained by the blood of 600,000 American dead.

Coolidge comments directly:

Readers may be interested in the excerpts from his letter "Equality of Rights," dated 9 August 1924, and published in Coolidge, Foundations of the Republic: Speeches and Addresses (1926):

"My dear Sir: Your letter is received, accompanied by a newspaper clipping which discusses the possibility that a colored man may be the Republican nominee for Congress from one of the New York districts...you say:

'It is of some concern whether a Negro is allowed to run for Congress anywhere, at any time, in any party, in this, a white man's country.'

"....I was amazed to receive such a letter. During the war 500,000 colored men and boys were called up under the draft, not one of whom sought to evade it." [As president, I am] "one who feels a responsibility for living up to the traditions and maintaining the principles of the Republican Party. Our Constitution guarantees equal rights to all our citizens, without discrimination on account of race or color. I have taken my oath to support that Constitution...."

Yours very truly, etc.

Calvin Coolidge
1926 America was not utopia. It was not hell. It was the best humankind had been able to achieve at that point.

That that still appears to be the case, despite withering statist efforts to fundamentally transform it, is a testament to the ideas and the ideals of the men who pledged their "lives, liberty and sacred honor" to realize a United States of America.

President Coolidge had something to say about that, too:
In its main features the Declaration of Independence is a great spiritual document. It is a declaration not of material but of spiritual concepts. Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man — these are not elements which we can see and touch. These are ideals. They have their source and their roots in religious convictions. They belong to the unseen world. Unless the faith of the American people in these religious convictions [endures], the principles of our Declaration will perish. We can not continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Gettysburg - 150 years later

Modern technology presents: A Cutting-Edge Second Look at the Battle of Gettysburg (overview here). The map upon which it is based was
[C]reated in the late 1860s and early 1870s by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers...

It measures 12 by 13 feet, with each foot on the map measuring 1,200 feet on the ground, with a contour interval indicating every four feet of elevation change. It shows the buildings, the topography, the land cover, where the hardwood trees were, where the pines were, where the orchards were, whether fences were made of wood or stone...
"It's combining this historical terrain with the changing position of the troops and then digital technology -- of course is the other crucial element here -- that enables us to put ourselves on that recreated terrain and show, either in the panorama views or the viewsheds, what commanders could and could not see," [Middlebury professor of geography Anne Kelly] Knowles told me. By exploring the map from Lee's perspective, she was able to see how "blind" he was -- how, when he decided on the battle's third day to launch his doomed assault, he could not have known the full extent or formation of the Union troops. "That really changed my view of the battle. It makes it look all the more hopeless and bold -- I guess, or foolish -- for Lee."
Worth a look.