Thursday, June 30, 2005

Good News for the Hometown

We're Still Number 5!

According to newly released estimates of the cities' populations, Philadelphia retains a slight edge on the Arizona capital, 1,470,151 to 1,418,041.

The numbers, which project populations as of July 1, 2004, come as something of a surprise. Estimates after the last decennial census declared that Phoenix would pass Philadelphia about May 17, 2004, and sparked a round of City Hall finger-pointing a year ago.

But those estimates assumed the cities would evolve at the same rate they did during the 1990s, when Philadelphia shrank by 4 percent and Phoenix grew by a torrid 34 percent.

Instead, Philadelphia's rate of decline slowed for four straight years. Last year, it lost only an estimated 6,802 residents, 0.5 percent of the population. That was better than 43 other big cities.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of retaining population for cities in general, and this city in particular. Urban renewal is not possible without the people to invest in their homes and neighborhoods. Homes are not bought in abandoned neighborhoods and businesses don’t get started without customers.

Naysayers in the Inquirer article refuse to get excited over the lessening of the population hemorrhage:

Critics, many of whom blame high taxes for a 45-year population slide, were less impressed. "It's pretty sad to turn cartwheels over the fact that we're only losing a half a percent of our population every year," said Brett Mandel of the antitax group Philadelphia Forward. "We want to be a city that is growing."

This kind of pessimism is ridiculous. Any progress in the right direction is worthy of celebration. Just because you recognize that high taxation is an obstacle to growth doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy other factors offsetting some of that liability and helping to cauterize the urban flight wound. The more folks that stay and fight for the city, the better the chances of reform taking place, and the closer our shared goals of lower taxation and stronger economic growth are to becoming reality.

So enough with the naysaying. The turnabout has begun, and sure, Philly’s got a lot of room for improvement, and net population growth is still a few years off, but we’ve got a hell of a lot going for us too, and fulfilling this city’s boundless potential begins with fewer people leaving and more people deciding this is a place worth investing in.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Pledge Your Loyalty to Our Great Leader

or forget buying a baseball team.

Sally Jenkins calls out the power-mad GOP.

Some Republican lawmakers don't think George Soros should be permitted to purchase a Major League Baseball team because he's too liberal and he has some wacky notions. I must have been napping, and that's why I missed the part where we became a country in which Democrats are no longer allowed to buy things.


I don't much care about George Soros, and I don't care at all which rich guy gets the privilege of spending $400 million in heavy sugar on the Nats. But I do care when members of a ruling party start pushing people around, because next, it could be me. This is supposed to be the party that doesn't believe in government telling business or private citizens what to do.


If congressmen want to ban major Democratic fundraisers from MLB, could they please start with Peter Angelos? Surely he's a more "polarizing" figure than George Soros? And then there is Rupert Murdoch, who as the head of Fox was nominally in charge of the Dodgers. Another "polarizing" figure. A lot of people find President Bush rather "polarizing," and he owned the Texas Rangers

Rock on, Sally. If you ever want to move from the sports page to the Op-Ed page, I'll write up a recommendation.

I Wonder...

if the "McCain for President" crowd is gonna pursue a lawsuit against me if I point out, within six months of the election, how idiotic and insanely unamerican his crown jewel campaign finance law is. Anyone who would sponsor this junk without being able to foresee the inevitable consequences is unfit to hold public office, much less be president.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Get Behind the "Lost Liberty Hotel"!!!

Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter? A new ruling by the Supreme Court which was supported by Justice Souter himself itself might allow it. A private developer is seeking to use this very law to build a hotel on Souter's land.

Justice Souter's vote in the "Kelo vs. City of New London" decision allows city governments to take land from one private owner and give it to another if the government will generate greater tax revenue or other economic benefits when the land is developed by the new owner.

On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home.

Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.

The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Café" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."

Press release here

I propose a "Walk of Economic Liberty" where names can be etched in a brick in return for a reasonable investment. I'd certainly be in for one.


From KYW:

Crawley’s complaint, he later told reporters, was the mayor’s vendor plan for the Live 8 concert:

"If you’re celebrating African economic equity, and you don’t want to include African-Americans in that economic equity, it looks a bit hypocritical."

All Live 8 vendors will have to pay fees ranging from $750 to $1,500. Crawley says that’s too much for his members, who sell things like t-shirts and incense.

Have we abandoned any pretense of meaning in the word "equality"? Having a set price for all people is not "equal" enough?

Tonight's Bedtime Thought

These houses will be stolen by Crate and Barrell through their force-wielding intermediaries in the government of Norwood, Ohio thanks to the decision in Kelo v. New London. Think it can't happen to you?

Monday, June 27, 2005

Live 8 Skepticism

Note to Bob Geldof:

No, I am not going to feel guilty about living in an economically successful capitalist country, no matter what you call your stinking concert. No, I don't think the American taxpayer has an obligation to carry the bill for money stolen in a faraway land by corrupt dicatators, so I don't readily accept your call for no strings attached debt forgiveness. No, I don't think that your self congratulatory charity with money pilfered from common Americans is worthy of praise. No, I don't think your "Live Aid" event was the defining moment of a generation.

And now it appears the results were even worse than I could possibly have imagined.

Oh, and that insipid "We are the World" tripe that your adoring minions foisted on us back in the day? Well, this scathing analysis outta PJ O'Rourke puts it in its proper place:

We are the world (solipsism)
We are the children (average age near forty)
We are the ones who make a brighter day (unproven)
So let's start giving (logical inference supplied without argument)
There's a choice we're making (true as far as it goes)
We're saving our own lives (absurd)
It's true we'll make a better day (see line 3 above)
Just you and me (statistically unlikely)

"That's three palpable untruths, two dubious assertions, nine uses of a first person pronoun, not a single reference to trouble or anybody in it and no facts. The verse contains, literally, neither rhyme nor reason."

credit to commenter "Stevo Darkly" on the Reason Hit and Run blog

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Elections in Iran

Friday, June 24, 2005

Screw Eurovision

Greenjolly helped win the REAL battle

Radio Free Europe

Last year, the Ukrainian pop artist Ruslana, a brunette scantily clad in a leather and fur ensemble, won the Eurovision song contest with a song featuring traditional Ukrainian instruments. This year, another Ukrainian group, GreenJolly (right), vied for the top honor on home turf in Kyiv. But the trio placed only 20th out of 24 with their rap song "Razom Nas Bahato." Contributing to their weak finish were poor marks from the Russian and Belarusian judges. Journalists speculated that the judges panned the song not because they didn't find it catchy enough but because of its role as anthem for Ukraine's Orange Revolution

If you missed the catchy anthem of the Orange Revolution,
check it out here courtesy of Dan McMinn at Orange Ukraine

Also up on Radio Free Europe is
another inflammatory article suggesting the 2006 presidential elections are targeted for another youthful revolution:

Syarhey Salash, chairman of Skryzhavanne (Crossroads), an independent NGO dedicated to educating and training political active youth, declared that he is "absolutely sure our Belarusian youth will be very active in [Belarus's 2006 presidential] elections. They will be just as passionate as the youth in Georgia and Ukraine were and other countries of the former Soviet bloc. I am very hopeful that 2006 will be the year of great changes in our country."

And So It Begins...

This is so goddamned infuriating

D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) said that the ruling should give the city apowerful hand during negotiations with the 33 property owners at the ballpark site.

"It puts to rest the issue of whether the city has legal rights to take the properties," Evans said. "This strengthens our hand to get control of the property. Hopefully, it will encourage owners to settle with the District and accept a fair price and move on."

The city is completing assessments of property on the ballpark site and expects to begin making offers in late July, said Carol Mitten, director of the Office of Property Management. Property owners will have 30 to 45 days to negotiate with the city, Mitten said. If a deal is not reached, the city will seize the land, and a court will decide the sale price.

As I Go to Bed Steaming Mad About Kelo v. New London

Here's a great observation from Warren Meyer at Coyote Blog:

Little guy vs. big guy -- where is the Left? Well, the problem is that progressives generally support the erosion of private property rights. They like cases that reinforce the ability of government and politicians to take, redirect, or otherwise control private property for their own goals. In this case, I presume that they are willing to sacrifice a few little guys in Connecticut for the larger goal of increasing statism.

Polish Ex-pats Fuel Netherlands Economy

Given the history of the Poles to over come adversity and their propensity work hard where ever they go, is it any suprise I'm not suprised?

Hey, the Pirate said it, I didn't.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

A Dark Day for America

Today the average American without connections to government elites lost big.

I've written about the New London Eminent Domain case before. I don't think I stressed strongly enough the absolute Pandora's Box of tyranical evils that this decision opens. Government power may now be employed in the confiscation of private property for the gain of a third party private entity. What this ruling does is nothing short of establish that nothing you have is truly your own. Everything you have is only in your possession at the whim of the all-powerful government. If they should choose to reclaim it for whatever reason, or determine that someone else can use it to what they deem a better purpose, then it ceases to be yours without any need for justification and with compensation only defined as whatever they feel to be reasonable.

This is the same attitude towards private property that existed in Stalin's Soviet Union, and I stand by my position that it's not an incomprehensible leap from the New London homeowners having their houses siezed to collectivization in the 1930s Ukraine.

My gratitude and admiration goes out to Justices O'Connor, Thomas, Scalia, and Rehnquist for their defense in a losing effort. To Stevens, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Souter, and Breyer... you have destroyed a massive component of a free market system, the cornerstone of a free society. We as individuals are left only to rely on the restraint of officials in power for the ability to maintain the product of our lives' labors - a tenuous situation at best. I can only hope that that restraint will be shown, by and large, for if it is not history will surely judge you harshly for the grave mistake you made today.

Via Politburo Diktat: See Arguing with Signposts for a roundup of the outcry.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Summer Spy Thriller

Just finished reading Benjamin Wieser's A Secret Life, an account of the life of Polish Colonel Ryszard Kuklinski who operated as a spy for the CIA, passing some 35,000 pages of secret material from Polish and Russian sources to the US over the course of a decade. I am ashamed to admit I knew nothing of this story prior to picking up the book a few weeks ago, but apparently Kuklinski is a well known and obviously highly controversial figure in Poland to this day. In addition to the fascinating descriptions of covert missions, Warsaw Pact military strategies, and insight into the Cold War circa 1970-1980, the inevitable discussion as to the real meaning of loyalty and patriotism that this scenario raises is intriguing and difficult, even from this distant vantage point.

Obviously, as an third generation American first, and Polish descendant second, I am strongly biased, and consider Kuklinski a hero of the storybook variety. By overcoming the tendancy to glorify a system that had served him so well, by being proactive and seeking any way possible to work for the release of Poland from the prison of Soviet imperialism, and by being so completely selfless as to subject himself to the stress and dangers of being constantly alert and fearful for his safety and that of his family over the course of a decade, Kuklinski indeed defines heroism. There certainly were easier and more personally rewarding paths available to him as a high ranking officer in a Warsaw Pact nation.

Whether or not you share my disproportionate fascination with Eastern Europe and particularly the era late in the Cold War where the facade of indominable Soviet strength began crumbling at the foundation, I highly recommend this book as either a page turning spy novel that is coincidentally factual or as an intriguing real life account of the intrigue surrounding the CIA and the Warsaw Pact.

See also: The CIA account of Kuklinski and his service

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Ukraine Update

As one who was unabashedly enthusiastic about the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine sixth months ago, it's only fair that I point out this article from the Economist which shows a healthy skepticism.

I'm not nearly as pessimistic as Neeka,
who claims that she wouldn't even vote for them next year.

For better or for worse, these changes can be glacial. The jury is still out, and I'm still giving Viktor and Yulia the benefit of the doubt.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Tax Cuts Work!!!

I've stopped watching Hardball with Chris Matthews. Not because it's not a good show, or I have anything particularly against Chris, who amuses me with his what-the-hell-no-one-is-watching-anyway manner, but because I have this problem. You see, it seems every time there's a lefty pinko pundit on there, they talk about how the Bush administration is running the economy into the ground and charging up a huge deficit - okay so far - but then their explanation for the root cause of this is irresponsible tax cuts for the rich. This is the genesis of the problem. Upon hearing this, I become so furiously frustrated with the idiocy of people who actually hold power in this country that I take my trusty old Pedro Guerrero Louisville Slugger to my television... repeatedly.

I'll grant you that due to the great benefits of globalization, televisions cost significantly less than what they once did, but this is nevertheless far too expensive to have occurring on a regular basis. Hence I have removed the problem from my life and begun watching Tivo'd episodes of
Mythbusters during the 11 o'clock hour (by the way, don't tell my wife, but Kari is just dreamy).

Anyways, the results are coming in, and low and behold it sure as hell seems that when we cut taxes, revenues go up.
Check out the op ed in yesterday's Wall Street Journal:

Now we have overpowering confirming evidence from the Bush tax cuts of May 2003. The jewel of the Bush economic plan was the reduction in tax rates on dividends from 39.6% to 15% and on capital gains from 20% to 15%. These sharp cuts in the double tax on capital investment were intended to reverse the 2000-01 stock market crash, which had liquidated some $6 trillion in American household wealth, and to inspire a revival in business capital investment, which had also collapsed during the recession. The tax cuts were narrowly enacted despite the usual indignant primal screams from the greed and envy lobby about "tax cuts for the super rich."
Earlier this month the Congressional Budget Office released its latest report on tax revenue collections. The numbers are an eye-popping vindication of the Laffer Curve and the Bush tax cut's real economic value. Federal tax revenues surged in the first eight months of this fiscal year by $187 billion. This represents a 15.4% rise in federal tax receipts over 2004. Individual and corporate income tax receipts have exploded like a cap let off a geyser, up 30% in the two years since the tax cut. Once again, tax rate cuts have created a virtuous chain reaction of higher economic growth, more jobs, higher corporate profits, and finally more tax receipts.

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Credo of the Radical Individualist

From the high priest, Don Boudreaux

I, a radical individualist, --

- put no faith in the notion that Jones knows better than Smith what’s best for Smith, and that Smith knows better than Jones what’s best for Jones;

- deny that a dozen or a hundred or a thousand Jones know better than Smith what’s best for Smith;

- have no interest in saving the souls of strangers, and only limited interest in saving the souls of people I know and love;

- am quick to anger whenever I encounter any stranger trying to save my soul;

- cherish the freedom of each adult to do as he pleases so long as he accords all others the same courtesy;

- have good reason to believe that each of us acts more responsibly when we attend to our own business than when we attend to the business of others;

- retch at the very thought of being part of any mythical collective consciousness, or of being obliged or even expected to act as if some larger, collective consciousness has a claim on me and my affections.

In short, I – a radical individualist – find no romance in local or national collectives or in the state. To fancy the first as real, or the second as some sort of transcendent expression of people's hopes and dreams, is to fall victim to vile abstractions. These abstractions perhaps afford some people temporary false comfort, but over the long-run they inevitably weaken the true fabric that alone gives real meaning to the term "human society": the voluntary market order.

I affirm my adherence to and full agreement with these values.

Full context, and link to the individualist's parable here.