Department of Housing and Urban Development

Killing the Economy with Regulations

by Bill O'Connell on September 21, 2011

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Photo by Mike Licht, nationscapital.com

Often overlooked in the class warfare that President Obama is unleashing on America so that he can continue spending, is how business is being strangled by regulations. Every time the government fails to protect our rights and freedoms because it is too busy trying to micromanage our lives, and as a result some calamity descends upon us, the answer is always more regulations. Nowadays, that will typically mean thousands of pages of new laws that turn into tens of thousands of pages of new regulations and those who never met a payroll wonder why we are stuck at 9% unemployment.

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The Progressive War on Federalism

by Bill O'Connell on December 6, 2010

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I still find myself in awe of our Founding Fathers who created our form of government.  The competing ideas that they sifted through to come up with our Constitution and the safeguards in it is wondrous.  The designs upon it by the progressives is by equal measure disturbing.

  

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Who Is Kirsten Gillibrand?

by Bill O'Connell on September 18, 2010

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In New York we have the unusual situation of voting for two senators in the same year.  Chuck Schumer is the incumbent running for reelection and Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed to the Senate to fill Hillary Clinton’s vacant seat when the latter became Secretary of State in the Obama administration.  So in some respects, Ms. Gillibrand is running for the Senate for the first time rather than as an incumbent.

As a Congresswoman in 2007 she was a member of the “Blue Dog” coalition of conservative Democrats.  In the Senate Ms. Gillibrand has been quiet as a church mouse.  Perhaps that is because she doesn’t want people to notice her metamorphosis from a moderate Democrat from upstate New York with a 100% approval rating from the National Rifle Association to another far left Harry Reid “pet”, voting with the Democratic leadership 97% of the time.  Now that she is in the Senate she has been endorsed for election by a leading gun control group which the NRA strongly opposes which prompted this response from the NRA

“She was either being dishonest with her voters in the congressional district or she’s being dishonest to the voters in New York state,” said the NRA’s chief lobbyist, Chris W. Cox. “Either way, the key word is dishonest.”

Gillibrand’s spokesman had no comment.

Ms. Gillibrand voted in favor of giving stockholders a vote on executive compensation in corporations.  Does she favor giving Americans a vote on her and her colleagues’ compensation?  In July 2009, she voted yes on a Congressional pay raise.  So we need to keep those greedy corporate types in check, but she gets to vote herself a raise?  But that’s not all; when as an attorney she represented corporations she had a very different role.  As an attorney representing Philip Morris her job was to keep the Department of Justice from finding out that Philip Morris’ own research showed that tobacco was harmful.

“So when the Justice Department tried to get its hands on that research in 1996 to prove that tobacco industry executives had lied about the dangers of smoking, the company moved to fend off the effort with the help of a highly regarded young lawyer named Kirsten Rutnik [now Gillibrand].” – New York Times, March 26, 2009

Call it inconsistent, but whatever you call it, Ms. Gillibrand doesn’t like to talk about it.

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Rick Lazio’s Strange Campaign Strategies

by Bill O'Connell on August 23, 2010

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In today’s New York Times there is a story about Rick Lazio latching on to the Ground Zero mosque issue as his new campaign theme.  The first television ads I have seen regarding his run for governor are about this issue.  He is strongly opposed.  Okay, but he wants us to  elect him governor to do what, exactly?  New York has a lot of problems, from a state government that is completely dysfunctional to being broke and since everyone seems to agree that the mosque at Ground Zero is not about the right to build there but about the propriety of building there, what does it have to do with the office of governor?

When he pinch hit for Rudy Giuliani running for the senate against Hillary Clinton, after Mr. Giuliani dropped out of the race with prostate cancer, Mr. Lazio took a similar tack.  You probably remember their first debate when Mr. Lazio famously walked across the stage to a startled Mrs. Clinton and asked her to sign his pledge on campaign finance reform.  She refused and that was his theme.  The problem is that although many people feel our political process is corrupt, when it comes to campaign finance reform, most people don’t care about it.  Those who care about it are incumbents, who want to cripple those who run against them.  Some of the so called “reforms” have politicians spending so much time chasing $50 donations that they can’t do what they were elected to do.  Either that or we can only run multi-millionaire candidates who can spend their own money without limits.  (Simple solution: let anyone contribute any amount to any campaign at any time and just post the information on the Internet within 72 hours in a database that is fully searchable. Done.)  It only took a little time for the novelty of the debate video to fade and Mr. Lazio had no campaign.

Another challenger in this year’s governor’s race, Carl Paladino, one of the aforementioned millionaires, has been hitting the airwaves more frequently and more effectively than Mr. Lazio.  He is not a one trick pony.  His first ads hit Andrew Cuomo on being a career politician and that he, Paladino, was a business man who knows how to create jobs.  What do we desperately need now?  Jobs.  What are we sick of? Career politicians, like Mr. Cuomo, who played a role as HUD Secretary in the Clinton administration of feeding the real estate frenzy and the subsequent housing collapse that created the financial crisis.

On the mosque situation, agree or disagree with him but Mr. Paladino says exactly what he will do about it.  He will take the property away under Eminent Domain (thanks to the activist judges on the Supreme Court who gave us Kelo v. City of New London) and use the property to create a war memorial.  He doesn’t just say he will oppose it he tells us what he will do about it.

 

In the interest of full disclosure, I contributed to Rick Lazio’s senate run in 2000 and I have no connection with the Paladino campaign.  But if Mr. Lazio is serious about defeating Andrew Cuomo for governor, he has to find some issues that not only resonate with the people of New York but that are the responsibility of the governor to address.  If not, rather than split the conservative vote, he should step aside and help ride the anti-incumbent wave that Carl Paladino is surfing.

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Good Government, Bad Government

by Bill O'Connell on November 18, 2009

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If I asked you a simple question, what government organization works well, what would you say?  Let’s take a look at two government organizations and compare their effectiveness and motivation.

The Military

Whether you support our troops on the battlefield or want them to always stay home in their barracks, most Americans will say the military does a pretty good job.  Why? That is, why are they effective, not just why do people think so?  Well, they put a lot of investment in training and technology.  They seem to have solved the problem of integration, being based on merit rather than racial prejudice.  These are all important things, but I don’ t they get to the core of the issue.  The key question is, what happens if they don’t do their job?  They die…they die, the guy beside them dies, their buddies die, and depending on the size of the conflict, their families and country may eventually die.  With that kind of motivation, race is not even secondary.  If the guy next to me has got my back and I have his, I don’t care what color he or she is.  We do it right, we live;  we don’t, we die.

The K-12 Teacher

K-12 education comes under fire in this country, and rightly so, for failing to produce an educated workforce.  In New York, for example we spend over $14,000 per student, per year on education, far above the national average of around $9,000.  Are students in New York 50% smarter than the country in general?  Hardly.  Is the nation as a whole turning out well educated students?  Sadly, no.

Our K-12 public schools are a government run monopoly.  So what happens to a K-12 teacher if they fail to do their job?  If they have been in the job long enough to get tenure, nothing.  They will get a raise like everyone else.  So what motivates them to turn out outstanding students?  I’ll wait.

Let me be clear that I don’t want to lump all teachers together.  They are many teachers who, by having what  I suppose is a strong moral streak,  do a great job because they want to teach.  Okay, so let’s look at the teaching profession where there is a group that does their best because they get satisfaction from doing a good job.  Now, some studies come out that say the way to improve results is smaller classroom size.  The teachers’ unions get behind it and eventually push it through.  So what does that mean?  If you cut the size of the class in half, you double the number of classes.  If you double the number of classes, you have to double the number of teachers and thus have to go deeper into the labor pool to find them.  Before you took this step, we can probably assume that all the self-motivated teachers were already on the job.  So the additional teachers are motivated by what?

Co -conspirators

That brings us back to the teachers’ unions.  When government’s come under pressure to cut educational expenses, the airwaves are soon flooded with the heart wrenching commercials pleading to restore the funding “for the children’s sake.”  What you don’t hear is the trailer that says, “This commercial paid for by the PTA,” or “This commercial paid for by the Association of Concerned Parents.”  No, what you typically hear is, “This commercial paid for by the X Teacher’s union, Joe Blow, President.”

Who do the unions really represent…really? The students? or the teachers?  They want the funds restored so that their membership is not hurt and their dues are not curtailed.  If their true concern was for the students, why not support school vouchers and charter schools?  They fight the former with a vengeance and the latter, if it is not union organized.

Let’s Not Pick on K-12 Education

Let’s look at other government areas.  Government is the only area where union membership is growing.  How many people relish going to their Department of Motor Vehicles?  How efficient is the Post Office?  Amtrak?  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have a bonus compensation plan, which is a step in the right direction unless it leads to cooking the books and making extremely risky loans that lead to the near collapse of our economy.  How can we get this under control?

Controlling the Uncontrollable

Our government is trying to install a massive health care program that will cost a trillion dollars.  At the same time, tens of billions of dollars are stolen from Medicare every year and they can’t stop it.  Early this year, the Obama Administration passed a $787 billion stimulus package, spent $18 million to build a website to track it, and put Joe Biden in the role of watch dog.  How is that working out?  A recent report from ABC News, of all places, found that credit for creating jobs was given on the web site to Congressional Districts that do not exist.  A $1,000 grant was purported to have created 50 jobs.  The New York Times investigated and found that the $1,000 went to purchase a lawn mower.  It took from the time of the founding of the Republic until about the mid 1990s to accumulate $6 trillion in debt.  It has doubled since then, and it is projected to go from $12 trillion to $14 trillion by next year!

It cannot be controlled.  It is impossible to control.  The only solution is to cut the federal government down to size.  Take out the Constitution and read what the true functions of government are supposed to be.  The military, absolutely;  the Post Office, yes it’s in there; coin money; establish patents and copyrights; establish the courts; control the District of Columbia; regulate interstate commerce; make treaties; give the State of the Union address.  That pretty much sums it up and everything else should be left to the states and local government or the people.

We should jettison all the rest and cut this government down to size and get out of debt.  Department of Labor–gone;  Department of Health and Human Services–gone; Department ment of Housing and Urban Development–gone; Department of Transportation–gone; Department of Energy–gone; Depatrment of Education–gone; Department of Veterans Affairs–gone, rolled into the Department of Defense;  Department of Homeland Security–gone, rolled into the Department of Defense; Department of the Interior–gone; Department of Agriculture–gone.

The amount of money saved would be enormous.  Selling all the real estate and buildings would bring in more money.  We could then cut taxes to jump start the economy and run a surplus to cut the debt.  The next step would be to make it illegal for unions to organize government workers without a referendum approved by all the voters.  Side benefits would be less campaign money because there would be less government to influence.  Government would be more accountable to the people because it would be closer to the people, that is, at the state level or local level.  We can do this proactively, or wait until the government is bankrupt and we have to sell off the parts to the Chinese.

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