Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Apple Valley Job (aka tax) Summit 

Tuesday, after attending a job (aka tax) summit in Apple Valley (AV) sponsored by the AV Chamber of Commerce, I visited a friend who works at Medtronic.

He told me about Medtronic's founder, Earl Bakken. His is a classic story, �What is the problem? Here is a solution." The first battery powered pacemaker was developed by Bakken as a huge improvement to the then existing devices that required a wire connection to an electrical source. Today there are over 1, 000,000 pacemakers implanted per year, and additional millions in use. This is the good news. The sad news is that today, it quite possible the device never would have been invented. Why? Government regulations. Now it can take up to five years to get approval to test a new medical device, and more to get a device to humans who can use them. Because of far too much bureaucratic intervention, many life-saving device ideas never see the light of day.

Connection with Apple Valley: The attitude that government can solve everything was alive and well with the legislators attending the AV summit who were DFLers and one lone Republican, Representative Tara Mack (who does not have a government can do all belief). Their talks were short but also worrisome. While MN does face problems including these:

1� Banks leery of lending money for two reasons: First, some government agency will come and second guess them; second, if you can get money at 0% from the federal government and earn a safe 2-3% in an investment, why take the risk on someone for a possible 6% return? Solution � the government needs to let the markets determine the interest rates, that is the value of money.
2 � Employers cutting back on hours worked in order to save jobs. Actually, this is commendable because it gives people an income versus letting them go.
3 � An erroneous attitude that in two years, the economy would rebound and all would be fine. In fact, that is one of the reasons the DFL wants to push through a $1,000,000,000 bonding bill this year. It looks nice but this is just more debt MN will have to retire. But oh, it goes for roads, zoos, etc.

Does the government have to intervene to solve everything including jobs?

As I listened to the politicians, I learned that MN has established a lot of government agencies trying to �help� business through programs, training, etc. While all this may sound good, it costs the taxpayers money to fund "middle man" government bureaucracy. I would think a business enterprise could provide the same service. What also was bothersome, some DFLers mentioned they wanted to "work with our partners at the federal level" to solve the job problem.

I distributed a chart with data that shows the 5+x rate of spending in MN versus population since 1960. Immediately, I was challenged on specific blips on the chart, etc. My response, �Even if the chart is off 100%, the approximate 45 degree trajectory is simply unsustainable. The easiest solution is to get government out of the way of business. Then the creativity, the risk takers, the Earl Bakkens, etc. can get moving on the job creation.�

My ultimate suggestion was this: �In the upcoming legislative session, make a commitment to cut business taxes and regulations by 20%. If you want jobs to come and stay in MN, this is the fastest way to get them. If government believes companies that left will come back, wake up, they won�t. They are gone. Now we need to protect the jobs still here.

Some regulation is necessary but the mindset to "protect everyone from everything" and
"government must interject itself to solve all problems" will not work. We need to remove the lousy middle man in job creation, the government.

Addition: Today's Star Tribune tells the story of a former Olympic swimmer who has a pacemaker. Would she even be alive without this invention? Who else will be denied a life-saving device because of "middle man" government's eagerness to "help" (aka get in the way)?

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

I learn a new phrase 

I was reading on Bill Easterly's new blog about Refugee Run. It reminds me of a long-ago time here at SCSU when various multicultural student groups would take a day to turn the student union building into apartheid South Africa. White students would be asked to show their passes (student ID) and perhaps questioned. I believe one year they tried to separate where the white students could eat lunch. There was then to be discussion groups to take advantage of this consciousness-raising exercise. I had always wondered what the students of color who acted as the guards that day; did they learn Acton's Law, for example?

Refugee Run is basically that, except replace white students with Davos attendees.

But that wasn't the most important thing I got. Easterly writes:
Alex de Waal in his equally great book Famine Crimes (and continuing writings since) writes about �disaster pornography.� He gives an example of a Western television producer in Somalia in 1992-93 who said to a local Somali doctor: �pick the children who are most severely malnourished� and bring them to be photographed.
"Disaster pornography", as Sam Kinison famously lampooned, continues to this day. At the Super Bowl party I attended Sunday someone wondered where Sally Struthers is. (It was a guy, so I let his ignorance of Gilmore Girls pass unremarked. Until now.) We all take advantage of it -- there are conservative talk show hosts that use the image of starving Haitians to raise money to send money as well as the more liberal Sachs-Stiglitz types who think the U.S. aid budget is too stingy.

Disaster pornography is what killed the Bush presidency in New Orleans. What will be the DP image that weighs down the Obama popularity rating? You may think the MSM would never do such a thing, but what bleeds, leads, and the Obama presidency will be dull soon.
In the time since his inauguration, Mr. Obama has been on every screen in the country, TV and computer, every day. He is never not on the screen. I know what his people are thinking: Put his image on the age. Imprint the era with his face. But it's already reaching saturation point. When the office is omnipresent, it is demystified. Constant exposure deflates the presidency, subtly robbing it of power and making it more common.
Before long, some cameraman will be looking for the doctor in some faraway place to hold up the sickliest child to the lens.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

End of political correctness? 

On Monday, MPR is holding a discussion on whether political bias exists on campuses. The debate features Matthew Woessner and April Kelly-Woessner, whose research I discussed a couple of years ago. In short, they are part of the defense of liberal bias by arguing the students don't change much and they like liberal professors more anyway.

They may find it interesting that one student did not agree with one of the Daily Effects of Indoctrination, adding something to this picture:
The First Amendment protects the right of persons to express ideas that are politically incorrect, even if those ideas displease left-wing professors.
Just this week, someone added a release on the affirmative action referendum from Nebraksa, though it's not clear if it was posted by the department that created this display or the student(s) who are speaking out against it. (Notably, it is behind in a cliffhanger in Colorado.)
Debating as well will be Steve Balch, president of the National Association of Scholars. I think the debate will be excellent and worthy of your time Monday.

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