Your tax dollars at work

Posted on March 15th, 2009 by bile
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Microsoft Corp., which has $20 billion of cash in the bank, is among the first in the Puget Sound area to benefit from the investment in roads and bridges through President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan.

Local planners allotted $11 million of $214 million awarded to the region to help pay for a highway overpass in Redmond, Washington, connecting one part of Microsoft’s wooded campus with another. The world’s largest software maker will contribute almost half of the $36.5 million cost. Other federal and local money will pay the rest.

Work is scheduled to begin by June, while larger projects in the area await funding, including replacing an elevated highway in Seattle damaged by a 2001 earthquake and a bridge over Lake Washington at risk of cracking in a windstorm. Spending watchdogs and even some Microsoft employees see more pressing needs.

“I’m sure Steve Ballmer or Bill Gates could finance this out of pocket change,” Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, said of Microsoft’s chief executive officer and chairman. “Subsidizing an overpass to one of the richest companies in the country certainly isn’t going to be the best use of our precious dollars.

“It’s a bridge to Microsoft,” he said. Ellis’s Washington, D.C.-based group, which tracks government spending, coined the phrase “bridge to nowhere” to describe a proposed span in Alaska that got $223 million in federal funding in 2005 and later was canceled.

The city of Redmond says the overpass will relieve congestion on other streets and support a big employer in the region, though one cutting jobs lately. Microsoft said in January that it’s eliminating as many as 5,000 jobs, including some from its Seattle-area workforce of 41,480.

“This project is a mobility improvement for the area as a whole,” said Lou Gellos, a spokesman for Microsoft. An existing bridge a few blocks away is congested and a nightmare for pedestrians and bicycle riders, he said.

The 480-foot (150-meter) span will run over a state highway from an older part of Microsoft’s campus to its newer west campus, where workers are constructing multistory buildings. Plans call for one car lane in each direction, a bike lane and a pedestrian walkway.

“Would it help me personally? Maybe, if I have to go that way,” said Jeff Fletcher, a Microsoft contractor waiting for a bus. “But I think there are better places to spend our money.”

If Microsoft and other private companies had to build all the connecting roads in the first place this wouldn’t be such a problem. If the cost to build the roads were too high other means would be created to transport people or telecommuting would become better developed.

China tells US what’s up: Don’t devalue the dollar!

Posted on March 14th, 2009 by bile
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China’s premier didn’t say it in so many words, but the implied warning to Washington was blunt: Don’t devalue the dollar through reckless spending. Premier Wen Jiabao’s message is unlikely to be misunderstood at the White House. It is counting on Beijing to help pay for its stimulus package by buying U.S. bonds. China already is Washington’s biggest foreign creditor, with an estimated $1 trillion in U.S. government debt. A weaker dollar would erode the value of those assets.

“Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I’m a little bit worried,” Wen said at a news conference Friday after the closing of China’s annual legislative session. “I would like to call on the United States to honor its words, stay a credible nation and ensure the safety of Chinese assets.”

The appeal suggested the outlines of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s stance when he meets with President Barack Obama at an April 2 summit in London of the Group of 20 major economies on possible remedies for the global crisis.

Wen gave no indication whether Beijing wants changes in U.S. policy. But economists said his comments reflect fears that higher U.S. budget deficits from Washington’s $787 billion stimulus package could drive down the dollar and the value of China’s Treasury notes.

Makes you wonder if that whole “FEDS GRANT EMINENT DOMAIN AS COLLATERAL TO CHINA FOR U.S. DEBTS” stories are true to some degree.

Of and by the people? Legalized extortion used to cover falling revenue from other legalized extortion

Posted on February 11th, 2009 by bile
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Drivers across the country, beware – a heftier fine could be coming to a dashboard near you. Faced with rising deficits and dwindling revenues, many states and local municipalities are turning to increased traffic and parking fines to fill their coffers.

In California, the cost of a “fix-it ticket” nearly tripled on Jan. 1, meaning that drivers in the Golden State can pay up to $100 for having a broken headlight – an infraction that didn’t even garner a citation years ago. A bill approved by the state Legislature raised fix-it fines to $25 from $10 and hiked surcharges on regular traffic tickets by $35. Parking tickets and court costs to attend traffic school also increased, by $3 and $25 respectively.

Motorists in Pensacola, Fla., saw fines for parking in front of a fire hydrant or in a fire lane skyrocket from $10 to $100 – a 900 percent increase – after the city’s Downtown Improvement Board reportedly unanimously approved the hike earlier this month. Statewide, speeding fines also increased by $10 this month, along with an increase of an additional $25 for exceeding the speed limit by 15 to 29 miles per hour.

And in the Boston suburb of Malden, Mass., Police Chief Kenneth Coye urged officers to bring in revenue for the cash-strapped suburb by writing at least one parking or traffic ticket per shift.

“We need to increase enforcement in areas that create revenue … write ‘ONE TAG A DAY,’” Coye told officers in a memo obtained by the Boston Herald.

Coye said tickets are crucial to maintaining quality of life, the Herald reported. He did not return several requests for comment from

According to a study in this month’s Journal of Law and Economics, local governments like Malden use traffic citations to bridge budget shortfalls. Researchers Thomas Garrett and Gary Wagner examined revenue and traffic citation data from 1990 to 2003 in 96 counties in North Carolina, and they discovered that the number of citations issued increases in years that follow a drop in revenue.

Karen DeCoster has already given the appropriate statement:

This is how parasitical governments will attempt to survive without making any adjustments to their revenue realities in a Depression: they will feed off of the productive elements in society by using their monopoly of legal aggression and extort cash from peaceful citizens who are forced to use the government’s road monopoly to go about their daily lives.

They keep pushing and they keep pushing. One of these days someone or some group is going to push back.

I’m sure that the residents of these municipalities are completely OK with this whole thing. They did elect the officials which are now raising the fines right? Voting (or not) for someone gives them complete authority over your life it seems.

Some pork gets cut, keeping out of the internet and science industry some

Posted on February 8th, 2009 by bile
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A coalition of Democrats and some Republicans reached a compromise that trimmed billions in spending from an earlier version of the Senate economic stimulus bill.

CNN obtained, from a Democratic leadership aide, a list of some programs that have been cut, either entirely or partially:

Partially cut:

• $3.5 billion for energy-efficient federal buildings (original bill $7 billion)

• $75 million from Smithsonian (original bill $150 million)

• $200 million from Environmental Protection Agency Superfund (original bill $800 million)

• $100 million from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (original bill $427 million)

• $100 million from law enforcement wireless (original bill $200 million)

• $300 million from federal fleet of hybrid vehicles (original bill $600 million)

• $100 million from FBI construction (original bill $400 million)

Fully eliminated

• $55 million for historic preservation

• $122 million for Coast Guard polar icebreaker/cutters

• $100 million for Farm Service Agency modernization

• $50 million for Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service

• $65 million for watershed rehabilitation

• $100 million for distance learning

• $98 million for school nutrition

• $50 million for aquaculture

• $2 billion for broadband

• $100 million for National Institute of Standards and Technology

• $50 million for detention trustee

• $25 million for Marshalls Construction

• $300 million for federal prisons

• $300 million for BYRNE Formula grant program

• $140 million for BYRNE Competitive grant program

• $10 million state and local law enforcement

• $50 million for NASA

• $50 million for aeronautics

• $50 million for exploration

• $50 million for Cross Agency Support

• $200 million for National Science Foundation

• $100 million for science

• $1 billion for Energy Loan Guarantees

• $4.5 billion for General Services Administration

• $89 million General Services Administration operations

• $50 million from Department of Homeland Security

• $200 million Transportation Security Administration

• $122 million for Coast Guard Cutters, modifies use

• $25 million for Fish and Wildlife

• $55 million for historic preservation

• $20 million for working capital fund

• $165 million for Forest Service capital improvement

• $90 million for State and Private Wildlife Fire Management

• $1 billion for Head Start/Early Start

• $5.8 billion for Health Prevention Activity

• $2 billion for Health Information Technology Grants

• $600 million for Title I (No Child Left Behind)

• $16 billion for school construction

• $3.5 billion for higher education construction

• $1.25 billion for project based rental

• $2.25 billion for Neighborhood Stabilization

• $1.2 billion for retrofitting Project 8 housing

• $40 billion for state fiscal stabilization (includes $7.5 billion of state incentive grants)

I’m mainly happy about the broadband stuff being cut. As far as I know the government isn’t destroying that industry yet with subsidies. I’d like to keep it that way. Unfortunately that belief is not shared by much of the tech site authors.

Obama, hypocritically, tells Citibank to drop plans for $50m private jet

Posted on January 27th, 2009 by bile
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According to a report from ABC News, President Obama is not taking kindly to corporate greed, especially when it’s funded by taxpayer money. Read more from ABC here:

The high-flying execs at Citigroup caved under pressure from President Obama and decided today to abandon plans for a luxurious new $50 million corporate jet from France…

ABC News has learned that Monday officials of the Obama administration called Citigroup about the company’s new $50 million corporate jet and told execs to “fix it.”

On Monday, the news broke that bailed out bank was going through with its $50 million private jet purchase even though it had recieved $45 billion in government funds:

The New York Post’s Jennifer Keil and Chuck Bennett reported in Monday’s paper that Citigroup, which has received $45 billion in government bailout funds, is about to upgrade to a new $50 million, twelve-seat corporate jet.

The plane, the Dassault Falcon 7X, is a luxurious jet with a range of 5,950 nautical miles (meaning it can fly from New York to all of Europe and South America, as far east as Riyadh, and as far west as Honolulu or Petropavlovsk, Russia). The Post reports it has “plush interior with leather seats, sofas and a customizable entertainment center.”

Isn’t there talks of a new Air Force One? It’s not to be delivered for some time. Long after Obama is gone. Assuming he doesn’t become führer of the world by then. But still. The US government is 50+ trillion dollars in debt. It’s gotten its money through theft and borrowing. Why is it okay to spend $150m+ on an inauguration? Who knows how much the new tank limo to drive the supreme bureaucrat cost? What was wrong with the old one?

If the Obama administration wants to control what Citibank buys why don’t they personally buy up stake in the company, throw out the board, and put in their own people and vote on new company rules? Oh! That’s right…. it’s because these bureaucrats are little more then thugs with an aura of legitimacy and they likely don’t have the wherewithal to withstand life in the free market. They have to do all their “business” at the barrel of a gun. Oh and they can not give Citibank stolen money either. Then there wouldn’t be this dilemma in the first damn place.

Excellent economic analysis

Posted on January 26th, 2009 by bile
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About John Thain though… I agree with Lew Rockwell. What about Obama?

Ex-Merrill Lynch CEO Thain is being villified for spending $1.2 million to redo his office, including $1,400 on a wastebasket, as the company was losing money. It was wrong, and he paid the price. But Obama is redecorating the White House, and buying a new “Air Force 1″ for himself, the most expensive airplane in the world, as the government loses trillions. How much stolen money does it take to keep the president and his court in imperial style? Is any of this appropriate in a depression? How much are the wastebaskets in his palace? Such questions are never asked.