Around Colorado: 2/11/09

Bailout Madness

The Denver Post believes that the problem with the alleged “rescue plan” is that it lacks detail. No, the problem is that it exists. Which special-interest group gets how many dollars is rather beside the point.

Thankfully, Hannah Krening has a nice letter in the (online) Post:

[W]e need a drastic reduction in taxes and government spending. Those who really produce in this country are “thanked” by being branded as villains, then taxed and regulated to death. Their money is then given to failing companies. Those badly run companies should face the realities of a global marketplace, evaluate their failures, and make necessary changes without government help — not be bailed out!

The government should protect individual rights, including the right to succeed (and reap the benefits of success), and also to fail (and bear full responsibility for that failure). The government should be limited to police, courts and national defense — not picking economic winners and losers.

Forcible Wealth Transfers Don’t Create Jobs

It would be pleasant if news reporters would stick to reporting news, and leave the editorial remarks to the editorial section.

Jerd Smith writes for the Rocky Mountain News, “Colorado water projects are in line to receive at least $67 million of federal stimulus money, funds that could help ease water woes from small towns to big cities and create jobs.”

But even calling it “stimulus money” unjustifiably grants Obama’s case. And claiming that it will “create jobs” is simply nonsense. If the Rocky can’t do any better than that, it frankly deserves to fail.

This so-called “stimulus” money does not just fall from the sky. The funds come from somewhere. In this case, it comes from deficit spending, which reduces the amount of investments available for free-market industry. So the “stimulus” will “create” some jobs only by destroying others.

Yes, we are in a recession, and unemployment is higher than normal. The recession was caused by easy-money policies of the Federal Reserve and laws encouraging risky mortgages. Even under relative economic freedom, it takes time to unwind all the federally-promoted malinvestment and get the economy back on track. But the best, surest, and fastest route to sound, long-term economic recovery is to return to free markets; the U.S. currently is taking the opposite course. The “stimulus” will help some people at least in the short run, but only at the expense of longer term recovery.

As for water spending, politicians at multiple levels control the water industry. If it’s a good idea to spend more money on some of these projects, it’s a good idea whether or not we’re in a recession, and “stimulating” the economy properly has nothing to do with it. The larger problem of the political takeover of the water industry is far too complicated a matter for today’s post.

“It’s Working”

Lynn Bartels makes the same mistake in a blog posting. Her headline: “New energy economy: Hey, it’s working.” It’s “working” to accomplish what? Sure, if you subsidize something and legislatively harm its competitors, you’ll get more of it. So we have more wind farms. But this comes at the expense of higher total energy costs, lost production elsewhere in the economy, and lost economic liberty.

The Conservative Attack on Free Speech

Conservatives and liberals seem to be competing for which side can more viciously attack free speech. Today Tom Lucero, a supporter of Amendment 54, writes, “‘Campaign contributions are the equivalent of political speech,’ the Rocky boldly proclaims, despite consistent Supreme Court rulings to the contrary. Independent expenditures can be considered protected speech, but not political contributions.” Did you get that? Lucero is explicitly attacking not only free speech but property rights. The fact that the Supreme Court sanctioned such violations of rights does not change the basic facts.

Lucero supports Amendment 54 in the name of “clean government.” Nothing could be dirtier than violating the right — the right! — of free speech.

Grocery Bags

Okay, so plastic bags are more environmentally friendly than paper bags, and they’re more convenient for many shoppers. But, argue Scott Vickers and Mark Waddell, they contribute to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. But how much of this is due to plastic bags? Our authors claim it consists of “80 percent plastic products.” (I have no idea where they’re getting this information, or whether it’s accurate.) Well, “plastic products” do not equal “plastic bags.”

Perhaps our authors have noticed that Colorado is a land-locked state. Seriously, what fraction of the ominous Great Pacific Garbage Patch consists of plastic bags from Colorado? The fraction must be vanishingly small.

If the problem is littering, then we should address that problem directly, not ban useful products.

And yet the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the reason these authors offer for fining, and then banning, plastic bags at grocery stores in Colorado. Pathetic. Unless the writers are intentionally writing a parody, in which case, funny.

Barack Obama High

“A Boulder High student group is pushing to rename the school after a hot new historic figure: Barack Obama High School.”

Well, why in the hell not? We should also carve his face into Mount Rushmore. Strike that: he deserves his own mountain. We can get on that right after we repeal the Constitutional limit of presidential terms. All Hail Caesar Obama.