Thursday, August 26, 2010

More Stimulus Waste

Elizabethton's "bridge to nowhere" is now complete and open to the public. This bridge was build with federal stimulus money. It is a five lane bridge with a bike lane and sidewalk that replaces a two lane bridge that "did not even have room for a sidewalk." There was no need for a sidewalk and no need for five lanes.

This bridge goes to the Old Bristol Highway. So, we now have a five-lane bridge that runs into a crooked, two-lane road that was replaced many years ago by a modern highway. Can these people find nothing better on which to spend taxpayer's money? I think the lack of need for this is apparent from the map.

View Larger Map

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Is Subsidized Employment the Answer?

Yesterday, Lynn Tilton was a guest on Bill Bennett's show. She suggested that the way to solve America's problem with people staying on unemployment forever was to adopt a policy of "subsidized employment," like they have in Germany. The way she explained it, if a company was about to lay off people, it would go to the government and the government would pay to keep those people on the payroll so they could keep doing something productive. It would keep factories from going idle, etc. She provides additional explanation on her blog.

While I agree that it would be preferable for people to engage in productive work over drawing a check for doing nothing, I am concerned that this proposal could create perverse incentives. In particular, if a plant is idle, it is likely because no one is buying what the plant is producing. Creating more things that few people are buying will only increase inventory (i.e., supply) and result in lower prices for those goods. How much good would it do to put all of GM's factories to work to build more cars that no one wants (or can afford) to buy? This seems to me to be a temporary fix that could ultimately result in a colossal misallocation of resources and massive market distortion. On the other hand, more people might buy cars if they were cheaper and they might be better able to compete globally. But does a new car really add value to a society that is already awash in automobiles?

Tere is no easy solution. What could the unemployed do that would truly create long term value so that the taxpayer's get something in return for the payments they are making? I am no fan of FDR's policies, but it seems to me that we should be able to find something that could be done to create value without using something like "subsidized employment" to build a bunch of unneccessary inventory. What if, in order to get unemployment benefits beyond, say, 6 months, you had to be willing to work at a project to benefit all of society? Maybe that means building a dam or building some windmills. Maybe that means modernizing and rebuilding schools that actually need it (or roads that actually need it), unlike this crap where we are paying for Obama-esque re-election signs to build bridges to nowhere and pave roads that don't need paving. Or does it mean subsidizing employment so we won't have to buy from China?

While I would love to see a free market solution, there is no way that will happen with King Barry in charge. So, we must decide where to get the most bang for the buck. Certainly, paying people to sit at home and watch Oprah is a recipe for disaster. That is creating its own set of perverse incentives and must be stopped. I would certainly prefer subsidized employment to what we currently have - subsidized unemployment.

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Ground Zero Mosque Video

While one of his statements has been disproven, I think is general sentiment is one worth considering.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Hollywood Idiot of the Day

I don't spend a lot of time with celebutards, but Brad Pitt is worthy of today's Idiot of the Day honors. He apparently things the death penalty would be a good idea for those responsible for the gulf oil spill.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Warning and Apology to Bristol Race Fans

Don't forget to watch out for the speed cameras located on 11E in Piney Flats. Don't forget to watch out for the red light cameras in Johnson City and Kingsport. Do not turn right on red. It may be legal, but you have to come to a complete stop and you will have a tough time proving that you did. The camera will take your photo regardless of whether you come to a complete stop. I would encourage you to patronize the businesses in Bristol, Tennessee (not Virginia) or Elizabethton, Tennessee, because they have managed to keep enough pressure on the local politicos to keep the cameras at bay, at least for now. Those towns prefer to get your money the honest way - by giving you something in return for it.

You won't be any safer here because of the cameras, but your wallet will feel lighter when you leave if you aren't very careful. On behalf of those of us who oppose this scam, I apologize, for whatever that is worth.

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Friday, August 06, 2010

What happens when you extend unemployment benefits?

You get situations where people turn down jobs to stay on the dole. Food stamp use is at a record high while unemployment benefits continue to get extended. A days back, I met with a local businessman and we discussed some of the aspects of his business. He has a large number of employees and says his biggest challenge is getting and keeping employees. Due to the type of business he is in, wages are always low - just slightly over minimum wage. That is what the market demands, as it is a labor-intensive business and the customers simply will not pay more. In the past few months, he stated that he is having particular difficulty hiring people because they are waiting until their unemployment runs out to go back to work. They don't want to work at $8 per hour when their unemployment plus their food stamps is almost that much. And who could blame them? If unemployment plus food stamps equals $7 or $8 per hour, why go back to work for just marginally more? In Tennessee, you can draw up to $275 per week in unemployment. That is equivalent to $6.88 per hour, based on a 40 hour week.

This is not just idle speculation. He told me that several of the potential employees have told him that they do not want to start work until the unemployment runs out. One of them told him they would be ready to start in three months, once the checks stop.

When you pay more for something, you get more of it. That is what is happening with unemployment. Look at the long-term unemployment in this chart. If you scroll down on this chart, you can see how this has compared to prior recessions back to 1990.

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal comes forward with additional examples of this phenomenon.

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Conservatives Split Vote in Republican Primary

I haven't read today's news, but I suppose the Wamp camp is blaming the Ramsey camp for not bowing out of the Tennessee governor's race and the Ramsey camp is blaming the Wamp camp for the same. In any event, it is sad that Tennessee will have to choose between a Democrat and a so-called Republican who has supported red light cameras and who has associated himself with groups who want to curtail gun rights.

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Speed Cameras Create Bad Drivers

An insurance company surveyed drivers to determine that, shock of all shocks, drivers quit paying attention to the road and start looking at their speedometer when approaching a speed camera. It also found that drivers have a tendency to brake when they get to the cameras.

Of course, if you have been reading this blog, you already knew that speed cameras are a distraction from driving.

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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

People who know Bill Haslam best vote for Ron Ramsey

I just talked to a friend of mine in Knoxville. Not only are he and his wife voting for Ron Ramsey, his wife's parents are voting for Ramsey as well. They say they have had enough of Bill Haslam.

I couldn't agree more. I've already voted for Ron Ramsey and the primary reasons I voted for him over Bill Haslam are:

1. I like Ron Ramsey's voting record. It is simply rock solid.
2. Bill Haslam was involved in Bloomberg's anti-gun mayor group and opposed allowing law-abiding citizens with carry permits to be able to carry in parks.
3. Haslam has not denied supporting global warming hypocrite, Al Gore. That probably should be number one.
4. Haslam has been a big proponent of red light cameras in Knoxville.

To me, his position on guns and red light cameras speaks volumes about his views on government. Basically, he seems to believe that you have few or no rights that the government cannot take away at will. He has already tossed the 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th amendments out the window when it suited his convenience. Which amendments will be next?

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Benjamin Franklin Comments on Obama Administration

"He that lives upon HOPE will die fasting."

Well, that's probably more of a comment on America as a whole....

But let's not forget this gem as King Barry continues to blame Republicans for everything that is wrong with the world:

"He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else."

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