Saturday, June 29, 2013

Mark Steyn Describes the US Government

As I say, just another day in the life of the republic: A corrupt bureaucracy dispensing federal gravy to favored clients; a pseudo-legislature passing bills unread by the people's representatives and uncomprehended by the men who claim to have written them; and a co-regency of jurists torturing an 18th century document in order to justify what other countries are at least honest enough to recognize as an unprecedented novelty. Whether or not, per Scalia, we should "condemn" the United States Constitution, it might be time to put the poor wee thing out of its misery.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Alaska State Trooper retires so he can go back to work for troopers

Here we go again, a public employee gets his much deserved retirement and then goes right back to work for the same agency, effectively doubling his income.  No financial details in this story from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner but the most essential ones are obvious.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Can Political Freedom Survive the Welfare State?

James Taranto, in his daily "Best of the Web" column in the on-line Wall Street Journal, has been exploring the ramifications of the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups.  The implications aren't pretty.

Can Political Freedom Survive the Welfare State? 
A point this column has emphasized repeatedly is that if the Internal Revenue Service scandal turns out not to have been directed by the White House, the situation is much direr than if it turns out Barack Obama or Valerie Jarrett was giving the orders. In the latter case, we have a corrupt administration; in the former, a corrupt government. Reader Thomas Hodson, responding to a Friday item on the subject, has this penetrating elabortion on the idea:
The possibility you omit is that every IRS employee over GS-12 instantly recognized that the Tea Party is a credible threat to the IRS as an organization. I am quite confident that nobody had to issue any orders, directions, suggestions, hints, or blow any dog whistles for them to know what to do to defend their jobs and promotion possibilities. Indeed, the difficulty for the GS-14s, -15s, and SES-types would be to prevent this kind of activity, assuming that the 14s, etc. were so inclined, which I doubt very much. It was not an accident, either. Even if every single one of the elected federal officials were a Republican, and even if the entire federal bureaucracy were populated by Republicans, you would still get this self-protective behavior from IRS leadership and staff.
In my view, this episode reveals a problem that is much worse than the sort of political direction at which you hint. It means that the only remedy is to remove the institutional incentives for this kind of behavior. The only way I can see to do that is to eliminate the federal power of direct taxation. There is a reason that the Framers deprived the federal government of this power, being concerned as they were, especially Madison, to impede the use of government power for political ends.
This is much more than a mere political scandal. I have not been able to conceive of a clearer illustration that with the power of direct taxation, any government, even the U.S. Government, can become over time as totalitarian as it finds useful. Nevertheless, even the most limited-government-oriented commentators I have heard or read are still treating it as a political scandal.
Abolishing direct taxation sounds good to us. But how does one pay for a vast (or even only half-vast) welfare state without it? Abolishing the welfare state sounds good to us too, but even paring it back has proved tough to sell politically. If the welfare state inexorably erodes freedom, that poses a hell of a political problem for those who cherish the latter.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Interesting Fact of the Day

US government sources estimate that 48% of the Americans that own riding lawn mowers also have health club memberships.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Joelle Numainville Canadian Time Trial National Champion and Elite Women's Road Race Champ

Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies second year team member Joelle Numainville has captured the Canadian Women's National Time Trial crown at St. George, Quebec by a 20 second margin over Anika Todd, averaging 40.6 km/hr over the 27 km. course.  The next day she overcame a puncture and went on to sprint past team mate Leah Kirchmann and former team mate Lex Albrecht for her second national championship in as many days.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Tibco Women Win At Nature Valley GP

German Claudia Hausler, victor in the 2009 Giro Donne, won the Stillwater Criterium, final race in the Nature Valley GP series.  Hausler moved into the NRC  lead with 822 points, Allison Powers is second with 730 and Shelley Olds third with 688.

After the Optum win on Friday night in the Minneapolis Uptown Criterium, it looked like the orange and black clad ladies had everything going their way.  New US road champion Jade Wilcoxson had won the previous day's  road race near Cannon Falls, MN and her powerful team had delivered her first to the line in Uptown as well.  The long and wearying Menomonie, WI road race on Saturday, however, ended with Wilcoxson having the infinitesimal advantage of one second over Tibco star and 2012 Olympian Shelley Olds, who had worked hard to collect as many bonus seconds as possible.  On the final turn at Stillwater leading to the finish on Chilkoot Hill, Wilcoxson crashed into the outer barriers and was unable to cross the finish line.  Given the time that the group she was with, she lost the general classification to Olds by 8 seconds.

Overall winner Shelley Olds also won the NVGP women's GC in 2010.

Best young rider winner Denise Ramsden of Optum Cycling and the Canadian Olympic team.

            St. Paul Criterium winner Lauren Hall and Tibco mainstay Samantha Schneider.

                             Optum super rookie Brianna Walle finished fifth in the general classification.

All-around threat Joelle Numainville finished sixth in the GC

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Optum Lady Cyclists Dominate Nature Valley Grand Prix

New US elite women's road racing champion Jade Wilcoxson pedals her red, white and blue bike across the finish line first in the Minneapolis Uptown Criterium on Friday night. (Star-Tribune photo)

Defending champion and current US time trial queen Carmen Small from Specialized-Lululemon and Team Tibco sprinter Shelly Olds are making a serious effort but no one else seems capable of slowing down the Optum ladies team led by current US champion Jade Wilcoxson.  On a pleasant Friday night in the Minneapolis dining and entertainment destination Uptown neighborhood Wilcoxson continued her remarkable season with a criterium win a day after victory in the Cannon Falls road race. Seven of the first eleven positions in the general classification are held by Optum riders.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Alaskan Bear Kills Man

A 64 year-old Fairbanks resident has been killed by a bear outside his cabin near Delta Junction, AK.  The linked article from the Daily News-Miner website indicates that extensive scientific investigation will be done to ascertain if a bear killed by a state trooper near the scene is, indeed, the guilty party.  Legal authorities were informed of the incident by a cell phone call and responded with two helicopters and an airboat.  So much for the "wilderness" theory.

Even more notable, however, is the extension of societal norms to the animal world.  An animal that injures or kills a human has apparently broken some law requiring that it be pursued by the authorities.  A DNA swab and hair samples have been taken of the dead bruin to determine if, in fact, he is the killer of the innocent human.  And what happens if he's not?  Will state troopers comb the forest searching for bad bears until they get a match?  If the tooth marks seem to show that the dead bear is guilty, if a bear can be "guilty" in the sense that a human might be, is it case closed?

If a bear can't do bear-like things, mauling transient humans, for instance, in the now cell-phone inundated Alaska wilderness, where can he do it?  Shouldn't a human maybe have to accept some risk when he waddles into the domain of large carnivorous beasts?  If I take a nap in a dark alley in parts of Detroit I won't get much sympathy from the cops if somebody comes along and conks me in the head and leaves with my billfold.  They won't examine my body for DNA and try to match it with members of the local predator population.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Women's Cycling Team Sponsor Lululemon Loses 17% of Market Value

CEO Christine Day has left Canadian yoga wear company Lululemon, resulting in a humungous slide in the stock price of the trendy firm that's a title sponsor of one of the most successful women's international cycling teams. Founder Chip Wilson lost $600 million in assets in a single day.  No word on what possible effect the financial reversal will have on the cycling team's future or on yoga fashion.

European "Austerity" in Graphical Form

Total general government revenue and expenditure in billions of euros — European Union (27 countries)
Source: Eurostat, Government revenue, expenditure and main aggregates.

Total general government expenditure in billions of euros
Source: Eurostat, Government revenue, expenditure and main aggregates.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

June 9, 1943, A Splendid Anniversary

This from the blog Zero Hedge

Happy "Withholding Tax" Day

On this day in 1943 the “Current Tax Payment Act”, was passed by Congress. It provides for income taxes on wages and salaries to be withheld by employers from paychecks. The purpose stated was that is was an emergency provision for the War. Sure — but it is still with us today. Milton Friedman, who was a key player in implementing the “tax withholding” system realized what he had done and sought redemption: "... It never occurred to me at the time that I was helping to develop machinery that would make possible a government that I would come to criticize severely as too large, too intrusive, too destructive of freedom. Yet, that is precisely what I was doing."

Nature Valley Fixed Gear Classic

The much-anticipated Nature Valley Bike Festival began on June 6 and continued through Saturday with the Fixed Gear Classic track competition at the National Sports Center Velodrome in Blaine, MN.  European track stars Franco Marvulli, Leon von Bon and Patrick Kos showed up for the races on the 250 meter steeply-banked wooden track, along with domestic riders from all over the country.

Perennial women's endurance champ Cari Higgins of the powerful Exergy 2016 team brought along a squad of junior ladies that appear to represent a big part of the next generation of female American track cyclists.
                High school junior Kirsten Williams, winner of the women's 40 lap scratch race.

      Cari Higgins and 18 year old protege Tara McCormick line up for the start of a race.

McCormick and high school junior Nadia Latzgo wait their turn in the team sprint competition.
                         National sprint champion Dana Feiss won the women's sprint omnium.
                      Kate Wilson, USA Cycling Elite Track Nationals Competitor.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mia Loquai New Minnesota Elite Women's Criterium Champ

                Mia Loquai is ready to race.

The well-manicured lawns and boulevards surrounding the Minnesota capital grounds and the nearby Cathedral of St. Paul were the scene of the Minnesota State Criterium Championships on a breezy but pleasant Sunday, June 2.  The ladies elite competition figured to be a confrontation between veteran local riding star and previous winner Teresa Moriarity and relatively new threat Mia Loquai.  The small remaining field wasn't able to change this script and the race became a two rider break with Loquai pulling away from Moriarity on the final climb to the finish line.

The sprint to the finish line.

                    Golden girl of Minnesota road cycling Mia Loquai watches husband John compete in   the men's elite division after her victory over the ladies.