Sunday, January 31, 2016

How did we get here? Socialist, Felon or Bloviating Ignoramus.


How is it possible the Republicans are potentially nominating a demagogue who is more of a Democrat, one who is best described by George Will as a "bloviating ignoramus," and the Democrats nominating either a self-avowed socialist or a potential felon? How is this possible?

I think we are going to have the answer to the question of "Which party has deteriorated most?' on Monday night.

I'm going to stick with my prediction that the bloviating ignoramus will not win any caucuses or primaries and he comes in third, at best, in Iowa. I have no predictions for the Democrats in Iowa but stick with my prediction the felon will not be nominated. The socialist or the felon is not much of a choice. Good luck with that.

Is it really going to come to a choice between the socialist and the bloviating ignoramus? One thing I do believe strongly is the Democrats will regret their cheerleading for executive action and their complaints against gridlock. If the next president is a socialist or a bloviating ignoramus gridlock will be the best we can hope for.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

When Pensions Crowd out Infrastructure


I read this, from The American Interest, and kept thinking of Connecticut and its current budget issues.

When Pensions Crowd out Infrastructure

The enterprising blogger Greg Branch has an interesting explainer on the origins of the Flint water crisis that doubles as a rebuttal to those (mostly on the left) who are trying to turn it into a crude bludgeon against their political opponents. As Branch explains, the disaster was caused by a cascade of failures at multiple levels, implicating people in both parties as well as non-partisan bureaucrats. One passage:

So Flint’s water department is asked to start treating its own water – something it hasn’t done in at least 50 years, if ever. The water guys told the mayor and Council and the EFM (by this time, Darnell Earley), “sure, we can do that.”

Apparently, they couldn’t. I’m speculating here: They had no experience in treating raw water. I don’t know if they read a book, took a seminar or watched a how-to on YouTube, but either way, they started treating the water as if it were being run through a modern distribution system of plastic and copper pipes.
It’s not. It’s running through a 100-plus-year-old system of cast iron mains and lead service lines.
The crisis may have been averted if the authorities understood the need to treat the water properly given their aging water distribution infrastructure—but it would also have been averted if that infrastructure was up to date. The reality is that revenue-hungry city governments had been systemically starving basic infrastructure maintenance for decades while scrounging every dime to meet the demands of unions, feed the greed of crooked politicians, pay exploding health care and pension costs, and fund other “urgent” priorities. As a result, little things like maintenance and upgrades for century-old water systems were apparently out of the question.

Sound principles of public finance and administration, like the laws of arithmetic and the logic of cause and effect, are neither Republican nor Democratic. And when a society like ours ignores basic principles for decade after decade, the consequences start to build up.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Whistling Past the Graveyard


GE's move to Boston has many reasons but to argue, "It is clear that GE’s decision has nothing to do with taxes, or even business costs, and cannot fairly be viewed as a referendum on Connecticut’s growing economy" seems foolish.
Statements from Senate President Martin M. Looney & Majority Leader Bob Duff

Senate President Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven) and Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) today released the following statements regarding General Electric’s (GE) plan to move its headquarters to Boston.

“General Electric is rebranding its image and shifting its central business platform away from heavy industry and financial services to digital software and technology, changing the very structure and composition of its headquarters. While I am disappointed that GE has chosen to relocate its headquarters, given all the facts, moving some of their employees to Boston’s Seaport matches their shift in business strategy,” said Sen. Looney.

“It is clear that GE’s decision has nothing to do with taxes, or even business costs, and cannot fairly be viewed as a referendum on Connecticut’s growing economy. Connecticut’s unemployment rates have dropped to the lowest level since March 2008. In 2015, Connecticut saw the sixth-largest unemployment drop in the country. In fact, GE just increased its workforce in Connecticut after purchasing Alstom Energy, adding 1,200 jobs in Windsor and Bloomfield,” continued Sen. Looney.

“Those who would seek to paint GE’s departure as an economic referendum should have their motives examined very closely. The 16 Fortune 500 companies that still proudly call Connecticut home, a number that places Connecticut by far as number one in the nation for most Fortune 500 headquarters on a per capita basis, will continue to prosper here, as will the new businesses that move to our state every single day,” Sen. Looney concluded.

“While I am disappointed that GE is moving approximately 200 jobs to Boston, it is, however, an undeniable fact that Connecticut’s economy is growing and creating jobs and we are training our workforce to compete in a global economy. Businesses around the country and the globe know Connecticut for its business competitiveness, worker productivity, and highly educated workforce. That’s why GE will still have thousands of employees in Connecticut” said Sen. Duff.

“2015 brought the sixth-largest drop in unemployment in the nation to Connecticut. Last month, the largest mattress manufacturing company in the country, Serta Simmons Bedding, announced 200 new jobs were moving to Connecticut from Massachusetts. Just days later, the headquarters of Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits left New York for Connecticut bringing more than 100 new or relocated jobs. Meanwhile, communication companies Frontier and Comcast are continuing to invest and recently announced they were each adding 150 to 200 new jobs,” continued Sen. Duff.

“Connecticut remains the number one state for Fortune 500 company headquarters per million residents. Among the sixteen headquarters here in Connecticut are aircraft manufacturer United Technologies, health insurance leaders Aetna and Cigna, and well-known companies like Xerox, Priceline and Stanley Black & Decker. Our state offers a quality of life that is second to none, and we will continue to grow jobs and attract new businesses to Connecticut,” concluded Sen. Duff.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Donald J. Kardashian


The collective we keep treating and thinking of Trump as a serious candidate, but he isn't. He's a reality TV star, who has taken his show to a new venue. The problem, as you pointed out last night, is one of anchoring. The media is anchored in the belief Trump is a candidate and not a reality TV star and cant' understand why the electorate judges him by a different set of rules than every other candidate. To the electorate, he isn't a candidate, he is entertainment and they will not judge him like a candidate but instead like a reality TV character.

Watch the Real Housewives of wherever, or Keeping Up with the Karadashians. The more outrageous they are the better; that is what the audience expects. And that is exactly what Trump delivers to his audience: outrage and outrageous behavior. Why does the electorate keep rewarding him for this we ask? It's easy, because it's not the electorate, it's the viewing public and they are entertained.

Back to anchoring. If you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And if you are a journalist covering politics Trump looks like a politician and the polls sound like expressions of what the voters will actually do when they enter the caucus or polling booth.

I still believe he is a distraction and will go away, like 90% of illnesses, if we let it.

Not to say he can't do damage. He can, and is. Unfortunately, the other politicians in the contest are anchored in their beliefs as well and don't see he is an act in a show, an interloper on their stage. So they treat him seriously and treat his (frequently contradictory) positions as something to either embrace of run from.

Steven Colbert was interviewed recently and said

“I’m not the first person to say this, but I completely agree that he’s my old character with $10 billion,”

Exactly. But instead of thinking of Trump as a character, they think he's real. He's not. He's been a reality TV star for 10 years and he still is.

Maybe it's wishful thinking on my part, but I continue to believe he won't win any primaries or caucuses. Certainly there are some who would vote for Donald J. Kardashian, but my bet is most of his support is a more akin to a TV rating, and not political support.