Books that provide good information. Knowledge arms us all and makes us better equipped for the future.
My son is going to graduate USF this May 5th in chemical engineering. He has had an interview with Dow Chemical already. So when I saw Dow CEO Andrew Liveris on C-Span talking about the decline of American industry I could not turn away. His book, Make it in America, is a must read for all politicians. Liveris is an extremely compelling and persuasive speaker, easily in the top 1%, and made a compelling case for America getting out of the doldrums and back into the manufacturing game.
Liveris is a CEO and not an economist. He is a chemical engineer by training and a Fortune 500 CEO by profession. His politics are decidedly Democrat Party, big government orientated but that does not diminish his arguments, some more valid than others.
The first part of the book is a look back at our history in manufacturing. Manufacturing employment has declined from 19,553,000 in June of 1979 to 11,667,000 today. A 40% drop. Today manufacturing jobs make up 9% of the work force as compared to 21.7% of the work force in 1979.
Manufacturing is important for a couple of reasons. First is the contribution to the wealth of a society or multiplier affect. Yes this is a Keynesian term Liveris recycles for his argument. It so happens that the multiplier effect for manufacturing is $1.40 for every $1.00 of production compared to only 50 cents for every $1 of retail sales. This 1.4 multiplier is higher than agriculture, forestry, farming, transportation, professional and educational services. In other words if America is to sustain its military as well as economic dominance in the world manufacturing should be priority number one.
To most the problem would seem to be cheap labor in China, Singapore and other countries. And you would be wrong. Labor is one part of the problem but as Liveris points out there are several problems that are sending jobs overseas. Some of them are legitimate, some are a corporate CEO’s wish list, and some are downright frightening. Here they are:
First Liveris correctly points out our national education is in the dumps. He correctly points out that in the 50’s and 60’s we were the best in the world and have fallen to the bottom 20% of nations in performance, especially in science ad math. His prescription of one national system with one standard size fits all is frighteningly naive and downright scary. The problem these past 50 years has been centralization. One size does not fit all. The number of school district declined from 83.624 in 1950 to 15.987 in 1980. The last thing we need is a national school system. Maybe a national law requiring local school district to offer no strings attached vouchers for every student of at least 80% of the money that is collected and paid to educate that child. Liveris gets a “F” on this issue.
Second Liveris pushes for increased immigration of the best and brightest. Most Americans would not argue with that. If we can attract the best and brightest to America that would be economically and culturally to our nations benefit.
Third is a national energy policy tilted in favor of green jobs. By this Liveris means energy laws that promote green homes, tax breaks for research and development, reducing the cost of energy for manufacturing and other corporate gimmies. Here is a corporate give me, no corporate tax and no capital gains taxes. End of gimmies.
These corporate guys always crack me up. They want all the tax breaks for their industry and their company but consider other competitors and industries as unworthy. Of course the politicians like high corporate tax rates so they can sell the gimmies to corporations like Dow Chemical. It is a stupid game that has to stop. The bottom line is we collect 11.3% of our taxes from corporations. Eliminate the tax and the increase in jobs, taxes from individuals and increased economic activity will more than pay fro the losses in revenue. Liveris is even bright enough to give some examples of revenue feedback when corporate taxes are cut. I will give him a C+ on this one. Kill any idea of subsidies.
Fourth is regulation. Liveris correctly points out that it is extremely costly to comply with several national regulations and 50 state regulations. Florida Congresswoman Sandy Adams has identified the elimination of duplicate services at the national level as one of her top priorities and with this she should combine eliminating duplicate national regulations and definitions from competing departments. As for the 50 state regulations it is clear that there needs to be one regulation not 50. This is a legitimate function of the federal government that often gets lost in bureaucratic turf wars costing business millions of dollars in research and clarifications.
Fifth is infrastructure. Liveris wants to spend $2.2 trillion over five years. If we could trust our politicians to not steal the money for their friends that would be a great policy. But as we saw with the Obama “American Recovery Act of 2009” less than 12% went towards infrastructure. No reason to expect any improvement with a new bill. With the political corruption going on it would take a $11 trillion bill to get $2.2 trillion of infrastructure improvements from the current crop of thieves in Washington. To add to the unrealistic expectation Liveris would create a national infrastructure bank like in Europe. It would take about three seconds before the bank was inundated with fraudulent characters and contracts. Thanks but no thanks. We have enough corruption without a $400 billion slush fund for contractors.
While Liveris is not a economist I do give him a “A” for his excellent presentation and realistic assessment of what a CEO looks for when they build a multi million dollar plant. He makes it clear to politicians that they need to quit playing games and make America business friendly. China, Singapore, Germany, Japan are all out there competing for our manufacturing industries and jobs. If we do not get serious and reform this economy then the jobs, industries, brilliant scientist, engineers will be gone. They will live lavish lifestyles in China, Germany and elsewhere. The Americans who remain will see the country become a second rate tourist destination. Much like Rome was the world power so too will America be. A once great nation who’s time has passed.
As for the economics Mr. Liveris here is an assist.
Zero corporate and capital gains taxes.
National regulations for goods and services.
Infrastructure funding returned to the states. Why should Texas receive 83% of every dollar they pay into the highway fund? Let the states compete with their own resources.
School vouchers must be mandatory for all children with no strings attached paying 80% of the funds collected for the child going to the child’s parent for the child education and benefit. Competition works.
Eliminate the Federal Reserve and return back to gold and silver. If not the elimination of the central bank then a balanced budget amendment and a monetary growth target for the Federal Reserve that cannot be exceeded. A stable money supply would greatly reduce the volatility of energy prices and create a stable price structure to facilitate international trade.
Industrialists hate the gold standard because they are required to pay back loans in “hard” currency and not inflated paper money. One of the reasons the Rockefellers supported the Federal Reserve.
Free trade agreement whenever and wherever we can get them.
A national energy policy that is all the above. We need all forms of energy and no industry should be given special subsidies or treatment.
Entitlement reform. End Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. If not then the 9.4% unofficial inflation we are seeing today will seem like a fond memory in five years. Although from Liveris point of view a weak dollar would help exports.
Liveris is weak on economics; his policies would bring America closer to “State Capitalist” aka fascism like what now exists in China.
His ability to communicate the problems that face corporations, especially manufacturing corporations in America is a breath of fresh air. He does a superb job of communicating the very real danger that faces America right now, today. We all need to thank him for his contribution to our economic debate that we will all face in the next decade.
I was at a political party talking trash when the subject of what books do you read came up. Most of the thirty something crowd liked the current political authors Jonah Goldberg Liberal Fascism, Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt, Crash Proof by Peter Schiff and others. With the Internet and cable television people today have access to information that not so long ago was reserved for the halls of academia. Way back in 1984 before the Internet this was not the case. Government and private institutions hid embarrassing data like the CIA hiding the latest jet design from the USSR. One scholar, Charles Murray, decided to go public with a most politically incorrect set of data and observation that eventually let to welfare reform in 1996. The book was simply described as “explosive.”
So if welfare was reformed in 1996 why is the book still relevant? Because a lot of politicians today on the left and right want to impose the same mistakes and moral principals into law. The politicians on the right want to abolish abortion keep drugs illegal, keep prostitution illegal, and for women who want an abortion to force them to pay for an ultrasound to see their unborn baby they are about to kill. On the left they want even more government goodies for the “disadvantaged” to “even the playing field.” As with the goals for ending poverty on the left and making people more moral on the right both are fighting a battle that should not be fought. The proper role of the government should be to let moral law be decided by those of faith. History shows when the government interferes in the family structure with programs and policies disaster follows.
First some highlights of Losing Ground. The book shows that the greatest gains in black education and employment were from 1950 to 1965. You will not learn that in any textbook today. Up to that point black teenage unemployment was 19% compared to 15% for white teenagers. Two parent families had been stable for decades at 78% compared to 88% for whites. Out of wedlock births varied little from 4.5% to 5.3% overall for both races. Then from 1965 to 1970 the year the Great Society programs were signed into law and gradual implementation and spending for the programs the poor and especially black progress towards integration into mainstream society took a huge leap BACKWARD.
The easiest example to understand why this happened is the case of a couple of teenagers starting a new family with a child on the way. Back in 1960 a woman could get Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) $23 dollars a week (about $171 today) and could not have a live in boyfriend. She was subject to unannounced searches of her residence for evidence of a live in boyfriend. This means that the man cannot live off the welfare of the woman and must set up a separate household with the accompanying expenses. If the man gets a bare substance job he will make after taxes $111 a month (about $824 after taxes today). So the choice was $690 a month and living alone with duel residences or $824 with a single residence, social approval, psychological and physical comforts. Statistics show most couples in this predicament choose marriage.
By 1970 the equation had completely changed. Unannounced inspections of a woman’s residence were eliminated; men could come and go as they pleased. AFDC payments were $50 dollars a week (about $1160 a month today); food stamps $11 a week (about $255 a month), rent subsidies and Medicaid another $5 a week (about $116 a month). On the conservative side an unwed mother would get $66 a week (about $1550 a month today). A typical low wage job would pay $64 a week (about $1,480 a month). The woman gets these benefits as long as she is unwed and there is no legal responsibility for care from the father. Clearly for any young couple starting out the contrast is quit stark from the 1960 couple. By the mother remaining unwed and with no father they can double their purchasing power ($1,480 verses $3,030 today’s dollars), the man can cohabitate as he pleases. If life becomes difficult the couple can split up and go their separate ways.
As a result of this federal government intervention into the low income black families out of wedlock births went from less than 25% to over 50%, two parent families dropped from 78% to 60%, homicide almost doubled, rape, theft all increased in black communities. The one group that escaped was upper income blacks who took advantage of their opportunities and left these communities in large numbers making huge strides in white collar employment opportunities.
This is just one example in the game changing book but my point is that when the government gets involved in family law there are unintended consequences no matter how good the intentions of the law are. As Mr. Murray correctly points out the greatest strides in family formation, out of wedlock stability, black economic progress, black educational progress was from the period of 1950 to 1965 when there was very little government intervention into black and poor white families. Is there a lesson to be learned here?
I believe in Jesus Christ as my savior. I believe God gave man free will. Jesus if he were alive today would use the power of the church to fight abortion and other social issues. I somehow don’t envision Jesus lobbying Pontius Pilate for anything. Render to Cesar what is Cesar’s.
Republicans would be smart to understand the true root causes of the destruction of the family in America and look to get to that cause. Passing ultra sound laws will cost mostly poor women extra money and for some even further traumatize them for the rest of their life. Maybe some babies will live. But is it the role of the state to enforce moral law? Would Jesus lobby Pontius Pilate for an equivalent law?
Outlawing abortion on the federal level will drive it underground just like drugs, prostitution and other very expensive law enforcement issues. Do we go back to throwing doctors in jail? How will that look on every cable news outlet? That will be a one way ticket into oblivion for the Republican Party.
Conservative religious politicians who want to attempt moral laws that are destructive (or help?) to the family should first recognize what the bad laws are first. This would include child support payments and their effect on the divorce rate. Tough hard issues that will make a change for millions of parents and children. Without a basic understanding of these issues there will most likely be more harm done than good. We need to get back to 1960 where it made more sense for a young couple to get married then playing the system. Anything less is politics.
Matt Falconer is a local developer in Orlando, Florida and the surrounding areas. In the not so distant past Florida had a fantastic business climate. We have year around good weather on a sand bar that was fantastic to build on and a fresh underground water (Avon Park and Osceola ) supply. We enjoyed low taxes and had the “mail box” economy where retirees with social security and retirement checks to spend littered the landscape. There was enough tourism to drive the locals crazy from the traffic congestion and we good people running the local governments. And then the craziness set in.
Bush was elected; 9-11 happened, the housing bubble came and burst. Ten years later we suddenly wake up to see our local government went nuts in the sea of tax revenues. In a nutshell local government has increased 100% to 300% depending on the government program and municipality. A complete orgy of wasteful spending and consumption.
All the cool kids in high school without the drive, ambition or brains to go to college have flocked to the high paying government jobs and joined the union. We all know the politically correct cool kids. The Ken and Barbie’s of yesteryear, so sweet, cute and so contemptuous of all us everyday people who work for a living. Ken is now working 58 days a year in the Orlando Fire Department making $90,000 a year and Barbie is the Mayor’s assistant making $117,000 a year with some bogus four year degree about political science or some such nonsense anyone with an IQ over 90 could achieve. Now the “in” crowd has migrated into government and they are using the police power of the state to extort monopoly profits from the working class slugs that would make mobster Tony Soprano blush with envy.
In the past a government worker might get $25,000 a year and a good vacation plan. Maybe $35,000 or at the most $50,000 for the super duper ones. Now that is all chump change to the cool people. These overpaid under worked too lazy to get a real college degree in a subject like engineering or economics are regularly pulling down $70,000 with benefits while the average taxpayer makes $38,000. Ken and Barbie found the easy way to live the high life and make the un cool kids their servants working the boring everyday jobs and taking their money using the power of government to steal for them. Good work if you can get it. It must be nice to be making $70,000 with 30 days vacation, the best medical and dental benefits with job security while the peasants suffer 12% official unemployment and unofficially 20% if you include all those illegal’s who up and left and the discouraged private sector productive workers.
Mr. Falconer has seen this disdain and arrogance from the other side as a person treated like a peasant by government. Government just getting bigger and more ridiculous by the day until he finally got fed up and did something about it. Instead of picking up the pitch fork and invading city hall which has always been the peasants’ recourse in the past against dysfunctional government he decided to use his wits. He formed a 30 member commission to look into the waste and abuse of our local government. Citizens who would donate their time and effort for the propose of building a better local government to protect and serve the people. The Taxpayer Budget Review Boards of Florida was formed in 2008 with the goal of improving local government and not overthrowing it.
Basically the committee looked at Orange County and the cities contained within. All together there are 14 governments with zigzagging jurisdictions inside Orange County. Orlando, Ocoee, Apopka, Oakland and so forth. All these local governments with their own police, fire, code enforcement, zoning and bureaucracies. All run to control the people and using the police powers of the state to extort the maximum revenue from the working stiffs trying to feed their families. The Ken and Barbie’s of the world along with the affirmative action and union crowds have transformed our local governments into mobster thugs looking to make a buck. Matt and his commission spent the better part of a year extracting financial information from these municipalities and developing strategies to reduce expenses. Here are his basic themes.
The first theme that occurs throughout the book over and over again is the waste in duplication of services. This means if city A is next to city B why not share resources? The equipment, manpower, facilities can be reduced and economies of scale can be achieved UP TO A POINT. There is no set point like the Laffer Curve has for excessive tax rates but the commission divided up Orange County into four service areas. Orange County has a population of a little over a million so setting up service zones around 250,000 seems reasonable. Of course local citizens will have to decide the size that best serves them. The point is that there are diminishing returns in government by getting too big. There is a loss of contact with the people and the services unresponsive to the needs of the public. Getting the perfect size and forming regional zones will be more of a art than science but the benefits is greater utilization of manpower, equipment and facilities saving the public a estimated 10% to 20% according to Mr. Falconer. This seems conservative to me. I suspect there are more savings especially in areas like fire protection, code enforcement and administrative staffing.
The second theme that runs throughout the book is technology, technology and technology. Basically placing as many function on the web as possible. Plans inspection and review, traffic tickets, code enforcement beefs, education on line to be accessed by the public. Basically putting as much as is possible on line for the average citizen to be able to access government services from the comfort of their home or business. One of the many examples is getting a permit for a billboard. Why do citizens have to fill out the paperwork and make a trip to the courthouse? Why not do it on line? The process would involve the normal information gathering as well as a question and answer session that the public may need to make sure the billboard is in compliance with construction codes. The same would apply to builders who submit plans on a regular basis. Why not have accounts where all updates and submittals can be handled on line instead of the regular trips to city hall? Creating a 21st century city hall will save both the public and local government valuable resources estimated again at a conservative 10% to 20%.
The third theme of the book is failure to utilize private services. The classic example is garbage pick up where the city service cost 40% more than the private service and occurs less frequently. There are other services that should be considered on a case by case basis. Building inspection, engineering, prisons, information technology, administration and many other aspects of government. The idea is to eliminate the functions outside the core functions of safety, justice, safety net, education and maintaining respect for the public and public property. Do we need public golf courses? The proposition is to eliminate all government functions outside the core functions and concentrate on delivering those services in an economical and responsive manner.
Education reform recommendations include Cyber Schools, Virtual Schools; Charter Schools, Smaller Schools of 50 to 100 students and Vouchers. A massive decentralization of the schools for the benefit of the public. There is nothing sadder and no sin greater than having our young loved ones sent to these huge government monopoly indoctrination centers of 3,000 to 6,000 students. Huge bastions of unionized teachers preaching progressive lockstep thinking to the poor peasant children that cannot escape to private schools. One recommendation that I would give would be to assign the money including transportation cost to the student and give the money to the principal to spend as he or she pleases. Let the principal budget for transportation, salaries, maintenance, administration, and overhead to Orange County at 445 West Amelia Street. Currently Orange County spends about $13,500 per student including capital projects and not including transportation cost. Put a voucher on each kid of say $8,000 + transportation cost and let the schools fight over the kids. We will see how eager the principals are to give any of that $8,000+ to 445 West Amelia Street and the bureaucracy. Education needs to be centered on the STUDENTS! If we give the power of the purse to the principals we will get more bang for the buck. Guaranteed.
It makes people feel good if they are spending on children and their education to go to first rate schools. It makes me feel horrible that all this money is being wasted on unions and bureaucracy that is designed more for indoctrination than education. I am saddened that my children and other children suffer this abuse from the government at such a young age.
There are more figures and recommendations and I would urge every local politician to read the book. It is amazing that Mr. Falconer and his volunteers have put together real numbers at the local level. It took the amazing 30 a lot of e-mails and conversations to get an overall view and idea of the waste in Orange County. When you’re taking about a few billion saving 20% is nothing to be taken lightly. Thank you Matt and the amazing 30 who put this book together.
Matt Falconer is a guy who did something constructive about the problem of fiscally insane government. He has identified problems and proposed concrete solutions to those problems. Mr. Falconer proposes an amendment to the Orange County charter. It contains language to eliminate duplicate services in nearby municipalities and other reorganization goals and realignments. Mr. Falconer is currently running for Orange County Mayor and has one of the most organized volunteer forces currently going from door to door spreading the government reform movement message. In local straw pools he finishes first by wide margins. I wish him the best and would vote for him if I could but currently reside in neighboring Seminole County.
A few amendments I would like to see to eliminate the gravy train for Ken and Barbie aka local government.
Amendment I. This would have to be statewide since implementation of it on a county level would give some merchants an unfair advantage for retail customers. The amendment would force all local taxes into three areas. The millage rate would be set at 1.65 or 2.00 or something agreed upon for residential and commercial real estate. No more two tier system of a fixed rate for the homeowner and a different rate for commercial and secondary homeowners. All other revenue collected must come from gas or sales tax so the public can see the true cost of local government every time they fill up or go to the store. No more hiding behind 100 fees for 100 different clients. This amendment would make all those thuggish behaviors of the union bureaucrats sniffing out more revenue disappear. Real simple like “All property tax rates shall be 1.65% and all remaining city and county revenues shall come from retail sales tax and or gasoline taxes.” Done. No need to be fancy or complex. I guarantee you the day this went into affect everyone would be REALLY interested in their local government and waste.
Amendment II. “No local worker can serve a city, county or state government agency longer than 12 years.” Real simple and it gets Ken and Barbie out of the government gravy train and into the private sector with all the other unwashed peasants looking to feed their families. The pension nightmare is ended. Lifelong government slugs are forced to get a real job. An elite class of union parasites are shown the door.
Just those two reforms would turn local governments upside down. Isaac Newton said “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Well it’s time for the reaction to the insanity of our local governments.
I will help Matt Falconer, Todd Long, Franklin Perez, Karen Diebel and anyone else who exhibits a basic understanding of Austrian school economics and just plain respect for their fellow human beings. We have become a nation of governments plundering the populations they are reported to be serving. It happens at the top and has infected even the lowers levels of government. This is not a Democrat or Republican problem. I could not tell you Mr. Falconer’s party affiliation before he declared his candidacy and I could care less. The man understands government is a dead weight on society that is dragging down our living standards. And let me be even more frank. When the government starts causing me to be unable to feed and protect my family I WILL grab that pitchfork and get some payback.
On another level this is so unfair for one class of privileged Barbie’s and Kens to be taking money from another class of people who are productive members of society. Government needs to remember they produce NOTHING! Why on earth should government workers be paid more than productive members of society? Most of them are nice good looking people that can sit around five days a week looking busy and pretty. Handsome firefighters and policemen who work 58 days a year with lots of time to work out and be buff for the wives. So far removed from the rest of society working at Home Depot or on a construction site producing goods and services that benefit the people.
It reminds me of high school and the reunion 30 years later. The dumb guys who were in the “good” crowd all went into the government or union jobs. Very few of them had college degrees but they all had nice wives and nice pensions. The smart ones who went to college became chemist, doctors and contractors. And then there were the same poor saps that mostly didn’t go to college but were not cool enough to get that government job. Struggling to get by. It was like nothing had changed in 30 years. The “in” crowd was hogging all the money and fun plundering and pillaging the working class crowd only instead of using social circles and school functions they used the police power of the state to set up tax breaks for their industries and generate monopoly revenues for the unionized workers.
Most of the people like me who see the coming financial collapse and most likely break up of the United States are going to give the elections of 2010 and 2012 a chance. We owe it to the good decent people like Matt Falconer who played by the rules all his life and wants to fight government with peaceful legal means. Make no mistake there is a smoldering undercurrent to America just like it was 1858. The sides are lined up. Progressive verses conservative. There is very little middle ground. It will not take much to light that flame and when it is lit there is a huge amount of fuel just waiting to burn. Give it your best shot Matt. I and others with the education and military background will be waiting in the wings. Simper fi or was that Go Blue!
Matt Falconer is a local Orlando, Florida developer of some note and is running for Orange County mayor this fall. His book looks at Florida government from an “evil” developer’s point of view. This allows him to relate personal experiences and the frustration of dealing with government over the decades.
I have meet Matt once or twice and e-mail him once in awhile pretending we are buddies taking advantage of the fact that he is running for local office. He e-mails me back politely on occasion surly scratching his head wondering who the hell I am. Politicians God bless em. They do put up with a lot of crap come election time.
The forward is from Richard T. Lee of milk fame, one of the congressionally favor industries receiving billions in artificial price floor supports, caught me off guard. Having the corporate welfare queen write the forward to an anti government tax book was probably not the greatest idea. Fortunately he has a new book out and a second chance at redemption.
The first thing that sticks out in The Socialist Republic of Florida is Mr. Falconer’s looks at just the Florida economy explaining the boom and bust of the 2000’s. Quite shocking to the rest of us who are familiar with Alan Greenspan’s infamous 1% Fed Funds rate, Fannie and Freddie, the Community Reinvestment Act, Sarbanes-Oxley, foreign dollars flooding onto our shores and all the assorted macro issues with what is referred to as the “housing bubble”. Not to mention illegal immigrants buying up huge housing stocks in Central Florida and then exiting when the going got tough. Quite a bit to leave out of the book but in a way it’s a blessing because it allows the reader a more “micro” look at the state economy.
The first portion is about economic tax distortions caused by Florida’s homestead exemption that fixes property taxes for primary property owners leaving secondary home owners and commercial business exposed to the mercy of government officials. This is typical government thinking because the voters don’t get hit with a direct tax on their personal property. They get taxed with lost economic activity in their communities due to business failures and uncompetitive commercial properties. This can be seen in the huge commercial business buildings all around Central Florida partially or totally empty with no clients. A lot of these are not old out of date strip malls that are at the end of their life cycle but relatively new
10 years old or less structures that should be in their peak utilization years today. Here in the swank suburbs of Winter Springs we have several of these structures sitting unused begging for tenants. The point being that government economic distortions in the marketplace are not some abstract geek concept but real world policies that have devastating effects on the quality of life for our communities.
Simply put if $5,000 is taken away from the tax bill of a private residences and added to the local hardware store the hardware store has to lower profits, cut wages, cut staff, cut something to pay the bill. With the Internet and competition from competing chains the ability to pass the cost on consumers is limited by how sensitive consumers are to price. At the retail level the answer to that is VERY sensitive. So for most commercial enterprises they have to absorb part or all of a tax hike in property and related taxes. Because of the inability to pass cost on to consumers it becomes a contest to stay in business with eventually the death of marginal businesses. This is nothing new. Take a drive around Canada sometime. What do you see? Very limited competition, a couple of food and tire chains, a few specialty shops and a lot of blandness. Some would say like the Canadian people. Some in government see no problem with losing marginal competitors but those are real people losing their life dream. Those marginal competitors give consumers another choice. We lose competition and diversity when local and regional businesses go under.
Mr. Falconer stumbles on the solution but bypasses it in favor of a “Taxpayer Amendment for Florida.” The amendment spells out a bunch of gobble gook that the average voter will never understand and the average politician could bypass in a New York minute. The solution is to limit taxes on property, all property to 1.35%. Put that on a statewide ballot. It will pass. And then put on a ballot an amendment eliminating all other local taxes except the gas and sales tax. You want to bring the cost of local government up front and personal to the average citizen? Force local governments to put the cost onto every purchase a citizen makes at the gas pump or grocery store. I guarantee you local governments will not be so caviler about expanding the scope of services if they have to add another 5 cents at the pump.
Why do the media cover gas prices and ATM fees so much? It’s something people deal with every day. It’s out there for all to see every time they drive anywhere. Use the same concept for local government taxes. When people in Seminole County see Volusia County pay 5 cents less for a gallon of gas and a penny less in retail sales taxes they are going to become involved in local government real quick demanding some answers. Simply put scrap the bloviating and expose inefficient operations by forcing local governments to display their cost to everyone on a daily basis. And yes some exemptions and waivers would need to be granted for special merchant situations on a case by case basis. By closing local taxing options, including impact fees, and exposing the true cost of government to the public on a daily basis people will demand and be very sensitive to price fluctuations.
Mr. Falconer exposes some local government waste like the City of Orlando buying Segway scooters and hiring people to drive them around town giving tourist tips and directions for lost souls from bland places like Canada. Pretty crazy and normally I wouldn’t believe him except I live here and he’s not lying. Really he’s telling the truth. This “rent seeking behavior” where government spends money to kill a budget on completely stupid crap has reached a boiling point here in Florida and the nation. The Tea Party has emerged at a powerful political force because of millions of Segway projects all across America.
Education, police, fire inefficiencies are explained. Mr. Falconer correctly points out the pension system for local governments cannot possibly be honored in the long run but offers up a “pay as you go” plan similar to a 401K plan. This will create a conflict between government workers and taxpayers without solving the real problem. The real problem is people get lazy in their government jobs. They lose their ability to be competitive in the private sector and sponge off the taxpayers their whole life. If you want to change the system you have to address this problem. Pass a constitutional amendment where no one can be employed by the state or local government longer than 12 years. No exceptions at all levels of government including elected officials. I know this would be a hard sell but it would eliminate the pension problems as well as the lazy slugs looking to suckle the government tit their whole working lives. Government workers attitudes would change dramatically if they knew their job was temporary and they would be working in that dreaded private sector sooner or later. You want change? That’s real change.
Mr. Falconer talks about the absurdity of government boards and their zoning requirements. Basically a bunch of do gooders trying to be productive on someone else’s dime. Zoning boards making goofy recommendations to developers like having buildings close to sidewalks to encourage pedestrian traffic to the shops. He points out that 99% of people in Florida drive and restricted parking access limits consumers and many of these new developments fail.
There is also something else he fails to mention but believe me it will happen. In Winter Park there is a new shopping development on Orlando Avenue right next to the sidewalk. Thousands of cars pass everyday. Cars get in accidents. When they do sometimes they stay on the road and other times they will end up on the sidewalk or into that nice expensive development just a few yards off Orlando Avenue. It’s a disaster waiting to happen and someday it will happen. Hopefully no one will be killed because of this government insanity but it just shows the complete lack of common sense these government officials have. If you want to be stupid and make a ass out of yourself there are better ways to do it than putting peoples lives at risk just because you think the peasants should be confined to half a square mile in the city. Appallingly stupid and disturbing.
Mr. Falconer is one of the few higher income people to understand the relationship between taxes, lawyers, regulations and blue collar wages. Most “educated” upper income people believe income is related to education and to a certain degree they are right. For most Americans without a degree wages are directly tied to their employer’s ability to make a profit. The more an employer has to pay out in workman’s compensation, compliance cost, court cost, and the millions of other cost the less money there is for compensation. Kudos to one of the rich guys for recognizing the slugs in government and legal profession living off the sweat of the productive citizens.
I have seen this first hand in construction over the years. Back in the 1980’s I was the private inspector 12 story high rise, Orlando City Hall, as well as others. Back then the project had one inspector. The threshold inspector was required to do soil density testing, rebar inspection, form inspection, mold concrete cylinders, check the shoring holding up the forms for the elevated decks, break concrete cylinders, do daily reports, write structural request for further information (RFI’s) and fax as well as explain the changes to the structural engineer and deliver any paperwork or construction testing materials to the main office. The only time the inspector was given help was if there was an elevated slab concrete placement and the inspector could not physically be in two places t the same time. Other than that the inspector was on his own. And I can personally attest to the fact that Orlando City Hall (1989 phase) was an easier project than the 33 story Sun Trust right across the street was in 1987. Sun Trust (formerly Sun Bank) was twice as brutal and dangerous.
Generally inspectors had to be certified with the private Southern Building Code Congress International but it wasn’t the law. A lot of times a company with the inspection contract would simply pick out a smart guy known not to be involved with drugs and give him a set of multi-million dollar plans and just expect the guy to figure it out. Believe it or not most did. The ones who didn’t were kicked off the job usually because of a tip from the contractor to the inspection company. Contrary to popular belief most contractors want the job done right the first time. If there are problems in the future contractors love the phrase “but I did it exactly like the plans showed!” So the inspectors learned real quick or were demoted back to simpler tasks.
On the City Hall project a city inspector would come on the job once in a while and proclaim all was well or pick out some minor problem and spend weeks addressing it in meetings with the contractor. To the private inspector and contractor this was like some side circus played out to appease the city egos across the street. The real drama was being played out everyday in the sweltering 95 degree heat 80 feet up in the air. Never once did I see a city inspector up there long enough to check a post tension cable. Inspection is tough work if you do it right.
Now city, county and state inspectors have people to do all the physical work for them. They stand around job sites for hours waiting to do an inspection. They get paid well with job security and benefits. Political correctness has creped into the inspectors life since so little is required of them. Anyone can do the job now so why not get the “right” inspectors with the right political views in place to receive government checks. If you did a survey of the Turnpike, FDOT, Orange County, City of Orlando I would guess 70% or more of them are Democrat and the number is rising as the politically incorrect ones are shown the door. The job has gone from physically and mentally demanding to being the right fit for the affirmative action profile.
Down in Miami a Turnpike Enterprise Project Manager was in charge of a project for years. The contractor had been screwing up the paperwork for years and the private inspectors assisting the turnpike inspectors were in and out of the project with no continuation of a designated private inspector which the Turnpike “Project Manager” should have insisted upon. Clearly the responsibility to maintain consistency of the project would fall on the Turnpike Enterprise inspector. Unfortunately this inspector was often at bars and failed to keep up with the paperwork, missing contract requirements. Sometimes not even notifying the proper private inspection firms the contractor was performing work. To make a long story short a complete and utter screw up. So what to do?
Believe it or not the Turnpike called in inspectors from Orlando to cover the job for this jerk and then over a month or so blamed them for the screw ups. In one instance the Turnpike authority was so desperate to make themselves look good and private inspectors bad they had several government inspectors stand around a work trailer while others were trying to work and be productive. The government inspectors standing around made fun of some other government inspector sitting down pretending to work because the inspector believed in Islam. I swear to god this happened. The idea was to make fun of the Islamic guy and hope the private inspectors would join in the religion bashing so they could report the incident to the government and fire some private guys to obscure the fact the Turnpike had completely blown it’s assignment. It was strait out of the novel 1984 by George Orwell. Who cares about the job when there is politically bad thought out there to be demonized. Of course traditionally guys always went into construction because they were NOT politically correct but this is where the government has taken the inspection industry in the last 25 years. Lazy politically correct slugs that do nothing but push paperwork around (badly in the case of the Turnpike Authority), flap their lips and collecting a check while others do the real work.
Mr. Falconer covers communist goals of promoting the UN, promiscuity, media control, destruction of the family unit and so forth. What he fails to see is the real motivations behind Marxism in journalism, government and the upper middle class. Only the useful idiots truly believe the goals of communism. Most upper class people stay married and don’t have children out of wedlock. They promote communism simply because it’s the best way to promote their carriers. If you are a lawyer it’s nice that the black community has an almost 70% out of wedlock birth rate and 28.6% of black men end up in jail. It keeps you rolling in the cash. There is never a shortage of criminals flowing in and out of the justice system.
If you are a journalist its easier to get emotional responses to “justice” stories and a lot less complex than explaining why not allowing across state line health insurance sales creates oligopolies and higher cost. Just put the brain into neutral and go for the emotion as well as the higher paycheck. Really why would any reporter want to take the hard road of explaining complex problems like Fox News John Stossel? John has to research and explain problems. It’s hard work. Why not just do a Chris Mathews and get some uninsured guy on with cancer and blame the government? Sure takes lot less work and gets better ratings.
The true motivation of the communist at the top is simply that they are cold hearted bastards that exploit stupid people for their own personal gain. Obama loves capitalism as can be seen in his expensive King Louis XVI taste. He just doesn’t want the peasants enjoying those same benefits. What communist truly want is just enough servants to sustain them in their life style of luxury while keeping the countryside clear of development so as to enjoy it when taking excursions out of the big city. Pretty much the same as the bully in high school who wanted to screw all the girls and beat up any guy who tried to get some. People need to recognize this behavior in government Mr. Falconer describes and be rude. In high school the best way to take down a bully was to break his nose. The same tactics need to be displayed to government bullies. Get in their face, be rude and take them down a few notches. Kick some ass. Whenever you see some communist government crap freak out and cause a scene.
Some of Mr. Falconer’s solutions are common sense like privatization of services. Again his Declaration of Taxpayers Independence is long winded and well intentioned. But it fails to get to the heart of the matter. The problem is people can make careers out of government service. Smart people who will figure out ways to get more money from taxpayers. Government workers need to be limited to a total of 12 years service in their lifetime. Government service should be a temporary employment situation at best. 12 years and then you are gone. 12 years gives enough time for even the most complex functions to be performed. And then it’s over and back to the private sector.
The second thing is to get government cost out in the public domain every day. Gas tax per gallon and sales tax are everyday things that will keep the cost of government permanently in front of the publics eye. Any local government wanting to increase its scope of services will not be able to hide behind taxes on business. Opps there it is! Exposed!
All these reforms could be done with a few amendments to the Florida constitution. Simple amendments. Amendment 12 “All new state and local employees shall not be employed longer than 12 years.” Government arrogance, pensions, attitude solved. Keep it simple and with some luck something positive will come out of the looming economic melt down.
I wish Matt the best of luck. Government needs more people like him with the intelligence and distrust of government to do good things for the average taxpayer. God speed.
The best selling book by Sarah Palin has been reviewed in the Wall Street Journal and other outlets. Most concentrate on her beefs with the John McCain camp or her economics. Some do the same old same old and try to nit pick her and belittler her. To me they miss entirely the real story of her life. The transformation of American culture from one of God, family and country to the government is god.
Sarah like millions of isolated white Americans grew up in an isolated America in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s believing America was good. Work hard and trust in god and family. She had a lower middle class nuclear family with both the mother and father present in her life. School was the usual rivalries in sports and competition for boys. There was not a lot of political correctness from what I can detect in her school or politics. From her accounts she had the all America lower middle class upbringing surrounded by friends and family. She was lucky.
Also going on in the 70’s in the inner cities throughout America was forced desegregation that brought political correctness, white flight, riots and the begging of the end to the American school systems as nonpolitical entities. This started in the 50’s but reached new plateaus in the 70’s brought about by abortion rulings and busing orders from liberal activist judges. I was there in Pontiac, Michigan in the 1970’s and saw first hand this insidious destruction of values and academic standards in favor of politically correct agendas that destroyed and disabled the moral and traditional values of our kids. Sarah and millions of other “regular” kids missed this and for years were ignorant of this movement into the schools of America by the leftist.
Then one fine summer afternoon she got a call from John McCain to run with her for vice president of the United States. And suddenly her world changed from local skirmishes with weasels involved in local issues to dealing with the fascist machine both in Washington and in the media. She like millions of other good and decent Americans sheltered from the viciousness and derangement of these New Leftist. Emboldened by a declining intelligent electorate and years of propaganda in our educational institutions both in lower and higher learning and she was shocked! Prey tell Sarah and the rest of white America where were you as our cities were destroyed in the 70’s and 80’s?
Sarah like millions of other middle and upper class white people have finally been awakened to the reality us lower class whites have been dealing with for decades. These bastards are vicious, prejudice and anti American. They will stoop to any means to demonize and destroy anyone who stands in the way of power and total annihilation of “white privilege”. They have federal, state and local policies in place that discriminate as a matter of public law. Welcome to the club Sarah. Was it fun?
Sarah, like millions of other Americans, seems to have wakened up from her slumber. Will she run for the White House? My bet would be yes. It’s in her nature. So to it’s in the lefts nature to destroy her by any means necessary and I mean that literally. She would be putting her life at risk because with the exception of General Petraeus her road to the Republican nomination is strait as an arrow. I wish Sarah the best. She’s not perfect but who is?
She’s somewhat ethnocentric but only has a mild case of the world revolves around me syndrome. Her economics is tolerable but she would be well advised if she ever graces the White House to name Cato scholar Dan Mitchell as treasury secretary and LISTEN to every word he says.
And yes Sarah you did the “slime line” but millions of Americans have done worse. I worked as the asbestos inspector back in my college days. When I got done with class on the other side of campus I got in my car to drive across campus to my job supervising illegal aliens and they removed the carcinogens from the University of Central Florida Administration Building. I got in my car not because I was lazy but because I didn’t want my professors or fellow classmates to see what my real job was. Yes I and millions of other American have done these types of jobs that we don’t like to brag about. You are not alone.
And yes Sarah’s family was lower middle class but she had a family. She obviously doesn’t know how valuable that is unless you never had one. It is a HUGE advantage having a male biological father figure in the house protecting you and providing for your siblings. This is why I don’t get Sarah’s “I am woman” and support of Title IX attitude.
How many men were denied scholarships at universities because of Title IX? And for what? To make room for women’s badminton? The answer is college wrestling programs were drastically reduced in the 70’s to make way for women’s sports teams that were almost impossible to field. Another attempt by the left to marginalize men and their masculinity as well as their sports. Let the marketplace dictate the number of men and women in athletics. Shame on Sarah. She needs to scrap the women crap and support the removal of Title IX and all other anti male legislation. It’s not a whole lot of fun going to the welfare office with your single mother to get the necessities of life from some government worker. It is better to be lower middle with a father than suffer the depravity, be ostracized and endure the humiliation of poverty and no father.
I get the feeling she doesn’t really see the war in the lower 48 that has occurred on fatherhood brought about by welfare, child support and the virtual elimination of men’s role in their children’s lives. In the lower 48 men are looked at as walking wallets and nothing more to the leftist.
Sarah is cute and smarter than most women. She would be a great president over the dolt we currently have who is in love with the idea of being dictator for life. She needs to drop the feminist ego and listen to her kid Track. If she does that she can make a positive change for America if for no other reason than she will be the final straw that broke the republics back and separated the lower 48 forever. Live free or die.
Good luck Sarah and cover up when that buckshot starts falling down on you.