Saturday, June 28, 2008

Getting gas

I was recently asked what I would do to solve our gas price situation. My solution is to remove the government from the equation.

First, I would enact the FairTax. Granted, this is a more all-encompassing solution to other problems in our over-taxed society, but it would have a marvelous impact on the oil industry. Without burdensome corporate taxes on oil manufacturing, the oil industry would have more funds for exploration, drilling, and refining. On a side note, it would also place the tax burden where the environmentalists claim to want it: on consumption, at the retail level.

Second, I would open ALL federal lands and coastal areas for drilling, with the only exception being historic landmarks and locations with buildings on them. Oil companies would bid on the exploration and drilling leases as they do now.

Third, I would end all federal subsidies for ethanol production. It is a waste of money and energy, that is only creating a food crisis. In addition, it would remove a big disincentive from the oil industry: One of their main excuses for not building more refineries has been the amount of money the government has poured into alternative energy.

Fourth, ease the environmental restrictions on construction of oil wells and refineries. Of course, the oil companies will still have to deal with localities where they build these structures, but at least the federal government will be less of a factor. Specifically, I would eliminate any federal restrictions based on threats to wildlife. Sorry polar bears, but my tank of gas is MORE important than your existance. If you can't survive an oil well being built, then you don't deserve to live.

Fifth, we need significantly more nuclear power plants in this country, therefore public utilities should enjoy the same benefits mentioned above as the oil industry. What does this have to do with oil? Simply put, most of the alternatives to oil will require large amounts of energy to implement, such as hydrogen power. Even if we don't implement these alternatives in the area of transportation, we need more and cleaner power as our routine energy consumption increases.

With all these carrots, if the oil industry can't find a way to bring prices down, THEN government intervention would be necessary. However, I don't think it will come to that. Most of these proposals should lead to immediate relief at the pumps, with future prices dropping even further.

Monday, June 23, 2008

RIP George Carlin

I was saddened to hear of George Carlin's death, because that means a voice of reason has left us. Most people thought of Carlin as a comedian, but he was actually a philosopher delivering his message with humor.

Last year, I posted one of his routines, which was one of the best rants I ever heard against environmentalism and the Global Warming silliness. Below is a video of the same routine (slightly altered) by Carlin:

George, we will miss you, and tell the Big Electron I said hi.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

All the "Fit" that's news to print

My wife's old Grand Caravan developed an oil leak that was worth more than the vehicle itself to fix, so I broke down and bought her a new car: the Honda Fit (picture from

Picture the above car in a dark purple (they called it "blackberry") and that is what my wife's car looks like.

I have to be honest: This is the most fun car I have ever driven. It has a peppy 4-cylinder engine, and turns on a dime (I drove my wife crazy making u-turns at high speeds). But it has one feature which I have never even heard of on a car, which surprises me that Honda does not advertise it more: It has an automatic transmission with an extra "gear" which allows you to upshift and downshift gears from buttons on your steering wheel. What a joy it is to be able to shift gears without having to time the pressing of the clutch!

Did I mention the Ipod auxiliary connection to the stereo?

But now to the practical side: Honda makes the safest and most reliable cars on the road, period. I can feel good about my family being in this car. Also, the gas mileage is SWEET: 27 mpg city/33 mpg highway (with up to 40 mpg highway possible). Not many cars can top that for the price: $18k, fully loaded.

I know I sound like an ad, but here is the downside: There is not much negotiating with a Honda dealer. Their reputation is TOO good. They know if you don't buy it, someone else will. The only haggling to be done is over the value of your trade-in.

The other downside: My wife won't let me drive it.

On the bright side, this was her first new car, so she was giddy as a schoolgirl. Anything that makes the wife that happy is a good thing.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Government at work (6/18/08 edition)

Last week, I gave Canada grief over their lack of free speech rights. Unfortunately, these same limits don't apply to psychics.

A mother drops her autistic daughter off at school, "only to receive a frantic phone call from the school telling her it was urgent she come back right away." This is where the mother's nightmare begins (from
The frightened mother rushed back to the campus and was stunned by what she heard - the principal, vice-principal and her daughter's teacher were all waiting for her in the office, telling her they'd received allegations that Victoria had been the victim of sexual abuse - and that the [Children's Aid Society] had been notified.

How did they come by such startling knowledge? Leduc was incredulous as they poured out their story.

"The teacher looked and me and said: 'We have to tell you something. The educational assistant who works with Victoria went to see a psychic last night, and the psychic asked the educational assistant at that particular time if she works with a little girl by the name of "V." And she said 'yes, I do.' And she said, 'well, you need to know that that child is being sexually abused by a man between the ages of 23 and 26.'"

Now it is bad enough that school officials would report this incident to the Children's Aid Society (the Canadian version of a child protection unit in the U.S.). So you know the story couldn't possibly end here:
The mom, who is divorced and has a new fiancé, adamantly denied the charges, noting her daughter was never exposed to anyone of that age. And fortunately she had proof. The mother was long dissatisfied with the treatment her daughter had received at the school, after they had allegedly lost her on several occasions.

As a result, the already cash strapped mom had spent a considerable sum of money to not only have her child equipped with a GPS unit, but one that provided audio records of everything that was going on around her.

So she had non-stop taped proof that nothing untoward had ever happened to her daughter, and was aghast that the situation had gone this far. But under the Child and Family Services Act, anyone who works with children and has reasonable grounds to suspect a youngster is being harmed, must report it immediately - and the CAS has an obligation to follow up.

The word of a psychic constitutes "reasonable grounds"?

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is taking a month off from Congress to recuperate after her marathon run for the presidency.

She is not expected to return to the Senate until July 7 or July 8 after the Independence Day recess, according to two Democratic sources.

Let me get this straight: You spend 18 months basically on leave from your job in order to run for president, then you get a month off AFTER that?

Maybe I need to run for senate in New York? If only I didn't have to live in New York to do it...oh wait, I forgot about the New York rules where you only have to visit the state occasionally to qualify to run for the senate. Sign me up!

From Financial
[Chris Dodd, the Democratic chairman of the Senate banking committee]on Tuesday admitted he was one of a number of Washington officials who were made members of a VIP programme by a leading mortgage provider but denied he knew this would secure him preferential treatment.

...[Dodd] said he had not asked what Countrywide Financial’s VIP offer entailed and insisted he had not been told that he would receive favourable loan terms.

Sounds like the Democrats have a new version of "don't ask, don't tell".

Friday, June 13, 2008

Phone out of order

Anyone trying to reach me by phone, or expecting a phone call today, I have bad news: My cell phone is out of order.

It started this morning when I woke up and the power was out. I have no candles or flashlights in the place, but Necessity is the mother of invention. Unfortunately, Necessity can also be the mother of bastard accidents.

No light, so naturally I use the light from my cell phone to get around. After I went to the bathroom (and flushed), I reached for the cell phone I had put on the counter next to the toilet. Do I need to tell you where the cell phone ended up?

I took the phone apart, and it is drying now. Hopefully, it should work within the next day. Otherwise I'll be buying a new one.

As for Necessity, she can retain custody of this child. I don't want it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Indiana Jones and my daughter

Prior to the release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, my kids took an interest in the series after my son got a set of Indiana Jones Legos.

They watched all the movies for the first time, about 20 years after the last one was made. They loved them. (They haven't seen the new one yet, but I'm hoping to take them next weekend.)

One day, my wife pulled up a screen shot from the new movie on her computer. My 10 year old daughter, looking over my wife's shoulder, saw the picture of Harrison Ford and said, "Eh, it's just an old guy trying to be Indiana Jones."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Government at work (6/11/08 edition)

I enjoyed my last post about the absurdity of government, I figured I would do it again!

You have to love the un mitigated gall of public school districts. They take our tax dollars to educate our children because they can allegedly do it better.

Take the Austin, Texas school district for example (from
[The Austin School District] is fighting a ruling that makes them give out statistical information on how many teachers have a criminal history.

The Attorney General has told the district they have to comply with open records requests to give the information to the media. The district is arguing that releasing information of how many people on each campus came back with a criminal record violates employees’ privacy rights and is not in the public interest.
Why would a public entity which is responsible for our childrens' education be allowed to HIRE people with a criminal history, let alone keep that fact confidential?

Obviously, the eyes of Texas missed this one.

Political correctness is legislated north of the border, as columnist Mark Steyn has found out. The Canadian Human Rights Commission has Steyn on trial for spreading hate in a book excerpt that was printed in Canada's newsweekly Maclean's(from Robert Knight at
A highlighted piece of the case was a comment from an imam, Mullah Krekar, that Steyn drew from an interview in a Norwegian newspaper:

‘“We’re the ones who will change you,’ the cleric said. ‘Just look at the development within Europe, where the number of Muslims is expanding like mosquitoes. Every Western woman in the EU [European Union] is producing an average of 1.4 children. Every Muslim woman in the same countries is producing 3.5 children. …Our way of thinking will prove more powerful than yours.’”
Yep, sounds like hate speech to me. The Canadians ought to be trying the imam.

Thanks to President Bush's signature on the Democratic Congress's transportation bill, $45 million of our tax dollars are going to help pay for a MagLev train from Disneyland to Las Vegas. This from the Associated Press:
...the train would use magnetic levitation technology to carry passengers from Disneyland to Las Vegas in well under two hours, traveling at speeds of up to 300 mph.

...The money is the largest cash infusion in the project's nearly 20-year history. It will pay for environmental studies for the first leg of the project.

...The train is meant to ease traffic on increasingly clogged Interstate 15, the main route for the millions of Southern Californians who make the 250-plus-mile drive to Las Vegas each year. There is no train on the route — Amtrak's Desert Wind between Los Angeles and Las Vegas was canceled in 1997 because of low ridership.
Let me get this straight: The last train route between these areas was cancelled due to low ridership 11 years ago, yet this project has been going on for 20 YEARS?!

In other words, those of us who do NOT live in L.A. or Las Vegas need to help pay for a train between one of the Disney Company's (made $1.1 billion net profit last quarter ALONE) primo amusement parks, and all the casinos (I can't even begin to guess where to look for their profits. Too many of them) in Vegas?

Explain to me why does the federal government need to blow my money in order for Los Angelinos to be able to get to Vegas quicker to blow their money?

If you ever needed it, there is the proof our government is truly "goofy".

Friday, June 06, 2008

The purpose of government

Frequently, when I go on an anti-government tirade, I will receive comments like "Would you prefer anarchy?". I should be clearer: I do believe government has a purpose, and that we need it.

The best description of the purpose of government comes from the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution:
...establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity
Governments since the beginning of recorded history have carried the burden of resolution dispute. Our legal system is needed for this purpose, and this purpose alone.

People have always had conflicts with other people, ever since the first caveman took a branch to the head of another caveman who angered him. When a justice system fails, it can lead to everything from riots to vigilantism (although there are times when a justice system is put in a no-win situation, and these kinds of things will happen regardless of a court decision).

Once justice has been established, what is left for the government to do to "insure domestic tranquility"?

Alexander Hamilton described the problem best in "The Federalist Papers":
It is impossible to read the history of the petty republics of Greece and Italy without feeling sensations of horror and disgust at the distractions with which they were continually agitated, and at the rapid succession of revolutions by which they were kept in a state of perpetual vibration between the extremes of tyranny and anarchy.
The key, as Hamilton describes it, is to maintain a balance of power between the individual states and the federal government. If one state should descend into anarchy, the other states can prop it up. If one state should take advantage of another, then the other states can mediate the dispute.

In addition, Hamilton (quoting Montesquieu) left an opening for the states against the federal government:
Should abuses creep into one part, they are reformed by those that remain sound. The state may be destroyed on one side, and not on the other; the confederacy may be dissolved, and the confederates preserve their sovereignty.
In essence, you have a natural justice system for the states and the federal government, thereby insuring "domestic tranquility".

If a government cannot defend itself against other governments, it risks becoming a mere vassal to another government, subject to that other government's political sytem and laws.

Obviously, this applies to the military, but it should also include foreign intelligence gathering, as well as counter-intelligence, without which we leave ourselves just as vulnerable to other nations.
If a government does nothing else, it MUST do these things, or else it is pointless.

This is the economic aspect of government, applying to everything from coinage to the regulation of interstate and international trade.

To promote the general welfare, the federal government must provide an economic "level playing field" for all the states. But the key is in the word "promote": If the federal government places too many restrictions on trade, then it is working against trade, and no longer promoting the general welfare.

While this may seem like flowery language, it does serve a point. A government which serves itself is a tyranny, regardless of whether it does so with popular consent. What happens when the consent is no longer popular? In other words, if you hand over your own liberty to the government, you are also handing over the liberties of your children.

Ironically, this last part puts the onus of government on the governed. It is up to YOU to secure the blessings of liberty for yourself, and your children.

But what is "liberty"?
freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.
As long as one person's liberty does not impede upon another person's liberty, then that person should be allowed to do whatever they please, within the framework of government as mentioned in the previous sections.

But the key here is that it is up to the individual to utilize their own liberty to keep the government at arm's length.

(NOTE: I could do a whole post on the implications of individual liberty within the framework of government. Suffice it to say that there are many specific situations, as well as subjective views, where individual liberties are called into question, because of the question of whether they impede upon another person's liberties. That is NOT the purpose of this post.)

It is within the framework of all of these items that we must view government actions. Any government action which falls outside of these purposes should be opposed.

When I go on anti-government tirades, it is because I believe a government action has exceeded the government's purpose. Sadly, there are far too many government actions today to which this applies.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Government at work

It can make you laugh at it's absurdities, or angry that you're paying for it, or even cry in frustration, but government is amazing at it's ability to display incompetence, from the highest elected politician, down to it's lowest bureaucrat.

For all this incompetence, one might ask whether we pay politicians too much, or even not enough. Don't worry: They take what they want. As the Fox News documentary “Porked: Earmarks for Profit” shows, at least three U.S. congressmen (two Republicans and one Democrat) managed to get earmarks for either their own or their family's profit.

Here is one example for you from Fox News:
In February 2004, [former Speaker of the House Dennis] Hastert, with partners and through a trust that did not bear his name, bought up 69 acres of land that adjoined his farm some 60 miles outside Chicago. The price was $340,000. In May 2005, Hastert transferred an additional 69 acres from his farm into the trust.

Two months later, Congress passed a spending bill into which Hastert inserted a $207 million earmark to fund the “Prairie Parkway” which, when completed, would run just a few miles from the 138 acres owned by Hastert’s trust.

After President Bush flew to Hastert’s district in August 2005 to sign the bill, Hastert and his partners flipped the land for what appeared to be a multi-million dollar profit.

The issue of man-made Global Warming has been tabled temporarily, thanks to over 31,000 American scientists who have signed a petition which states:
There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catostrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate.
So now that we have decided there is NOT a problem which requires immediate attention, what does the U.S. Senate do? They are debating the America's Climate Security Act of 2007, more affectionately called "The Lieberman-Warner Cap and Trade Bill" by the National Center for Public Policy Research.

What will the bill get us?
...Lieberman-Warner would have virtually no effect on the climate, according to Dr. Patrick Michaels, a former president of the American Association of State Climatologists and now senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute: "Say the U.S. actually does what the law says, though no one knows how to. The result is an additional 0.013 degrees (C) of 'prevented' warming," says Michaels.
And the potential cost? (from
According to a study released by the National Association of Manufacturers earlier this year, Lieberman-Warner would cause 1.8 million job losses, as much as a $210 billion gross domestic product reduction and possibly a 33% increase in electricity prices by 2020.

But with all this comes good and bad news. The good news is the Senate will probably not pass it. Even if they do, President Bush has already said he will veto it.

The bad news? Both Barack Obama and John McCain have said they want to institute a similar system.

What can you say about a court clerk working in an understaffed office who refuses to perform a wedding ceremony because she is "too tired"?

I know what I say. This is your government at work.