Archive for July, 2011

Taking a “Blight” Out of Taxpayers

Posted by on Jul 29 2011 | Corporate Welfare, Economics, Government Largess, Politics, PPC

Boy is the corporate welfare machine rolling in Aurora these days. Gaylord Entertainment is benefiting from a massive amount of subsidies and tax breaks from the city of Aurora for the honor of locating their hotel and conference center there. If Gaylord were not granted the $300 million in generous “support,” the theory goes, they would not have located their project in Aurora. Of course whether they put roots down in Aurora or somewhere else is besides the point. What matters is the massive wealth transfer from taxpayers in Aurora to a private corporation.

One way for a city to oil up their corporate welfare machine is to “blight” some land, which allows local governments, schools and special districts to “rebate to developers what they pay in property taxes for 25 years.” The word “blight” is to developers as the word “candy” is to children. Except that children have to work a little sometimes to get their candy. However, blighting some land only requires some fancy English language tricks and a stroke of the corporate welfare pen. Here’s what Sen. Morgan Carroll had to say in the Denver Post about this scheme,

It does not pass the straight-face test for the blighted designation… It’s a financing game to get public subsidies for a project that might be wonderful if it were privately financed.

Sen. Carroll hits it out of the park with, “if it were privately financed.” You know, I remember a time when companies would raise money the old-fashioned way – through bank loans. And, now I know I’m showing my age with this one, through private investors. Crazy right? Corporations used to raise capital through means that do not take taxpayers hostage. Not anymore. Now when a project isn’t profitable enough to catch the attention of folks who want to make investments with their own money (to earn a little profit), corporations go to city councils and pitch unprofitable ideas to be financed off the backs of the residents. If banks say no, governments say yes.

Beware of the terms, “incentives,” “grants,” “urban-renewal,” “blight,” “public-private partnership,” and “public investment.” They are all euphemisms for the taxpayer funded corporate welfare gravy train.

Here’s what senior fellow Randal O’Toole has to say about this Gaylord project in the Denver Post earlier this month: Taxpayers Should Reject TIF.

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What’s Going on with Obamacare These Days?

Posted by on Jul 28 2011 | Health Care, health control law, Idiot Box (TV Show), PPC

What’s going on with that little health care law know as Obamacare? Tune into this week’s Devil’s Advocate to find out as I am joined by Independence Institute health care policy center director Linda Gorman and Galen Institute president Grace-Marie Turner to talk about Colorado’s new health insurance exchange and Grace-Marie’s new book. “Why Obamacre is Wrong for America.” That’s Friday, July 29 at 8:30PM on Colorado Pubic Television 12. Re-broadcast the following Monday at 1:30PM.

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Fiscal Child Abuse – in a 2 min video

Posted by on Jul 28 2011 | debt, Government Largess, PPC, Video

Power Line just ran a highly contested and highly coveted contest for a grand prize worth $100,000 to “whoever can most effectively and creatively dramatize the significance of the federal debt crisis.” They allowed any and all types of creative art – like sculpture, paintings, songs, poems, videos, dance, etc. The Independence Institute decided to get in on the action so we created a video for the contest that you’ll find below. It focuses on the fiscal child abuse our national debt is hanging around the necks of our future generations. Although we didn’t win, we did get 7th place! I am so proud of our team for making such a high quality video, while having to work with such difficult on-screen talent (Todd!). You can see some of the other top entries here.

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Mary Katharine Ham – ATF Party 2011

Posted by on Jul 27 2011 | Events, guns, Popular Culture, PPC

If you were crazy enough to miss our 9th annual ATF Party this past Saturday, you missed the very funny and entertaining keynote speaker Mary Katharine Ham. But as always, we’ve got you covered. Below you will find the YouTube playlist of Mary Katharine’s remarks and the Q and A that followed.

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TABOR Still Doesn’t Violate the Constitution

Posted by on Jul 27 2011 | Constitutional Amendments, Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, Petition Rights, PPC, TABOR, U.S. Constitution

The Legislative Council’s executive committee, consisting of 3 Democrats and 3 Republicans, took a vote the other day on whether to oppose the TABOR lawsuit. You might recall that our Taxpayers Bill of Rights is going to court soon to determine whether it violates the Constitution’s guarantee of a “republican form of government.” As with anything TABOR related, the vote came down 3-3 along party lines. You might be thinking, “so what?” This vote was purely symbolic. It doesn’t mean anything. And you would be right, this vote doesn’t change anything. It is also true that this lawsuit against TABOR is purely symbolic. As I’ve stated before, this lawsuit isn’t about TABOR. It’s about our right to petition our government. What this lawsuit argues is that citizens do not have a right to petition their government and vote on constitutional amendments. Thus, it endangers all of our citizen enacted amendments to our state constitution – not just TABOR. Our resident constitutional scholar Rob Natelson disagrees. He argued in this Colorado Springs Gazette op-ed that the evidence is solidly on the side of petition rights and of TABOR. The Founders would have had no beef with citizens voting on constitutional amendments. In fact, they were quite fond of it in their day. So while this latest effort to undermine TABOR might result is some more public trashing of its good name, it won’t result in anything substantial.

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Are You Serious and Mature Like Your Fellow “Defaulters?”

Posted by on Jul 26 2011 | Capitol Crazies, denver, Economics, Economy, Government Largess, PPC, Taxes

Oh Diana. We know economics isn’t one of your strong suits, but at least think a little harder before you parrot irrational talking points. Like the good Keynesian she is, Congresswoman Diana DeGette continues to push the popular and fallacious narrative of debt ceiling default. Here is what she had to say in the North Denver Tribune,

To avoid defaulting on our obligations and sending the world economy into a tailspin, we must raise the debt limit by August 2nd.

I talked about this last week and made the point that although this false narrative is winning the popularity contest, it is still magnificently illogical. The strategy of, let’s call them “defaulters,” is to scare the daylights out of the American public with talks of an impending economic doom if we don’t raise the debt ceiling. It’s quite likely you’ve heard a dozen catastrophic doomsday scenarios from various political pundits and politicians. Diana DeGette takes the typical doom and gloom talking points, but adds her own unique twist: asserting “defaulters” as mature adults looking for compromise, and the opposition as immature little children holding onto to principles with deadly consequences.

For example, are you “serious” and “mature” like Diana?

If they resisted the extreme urgings of some in their party to hold out for unpalatable concessions on budget cuts, serious policymakers in the center could hammer out bi-partisan solutions and mature policy decisions.

Apparently, I’m neither serious nor mature. In fact, I think it’s very unserious of Diana to suggest that we balance the budget without touching the 2 biggest items in the budget: Social Security and Medicare. I bet the immature folks over at Reason Magazine would agree. They’ve been hammering back against this silly narrative for awhile now and just released a short and completely unserious video, “3 Reasons Why the Debt Ceiling Debate is Full of Malarkry.” Gosh, if only they knew about the mature adults taking a serious position on this issue.

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Take It From Us Atlanta, Don’t Do It

Posted by on Jul 25 2011 | PPC, Taxes, Transportation

If you’ve lived in the Denver metro area in the last decade, you’re likely to be familiar with the light rail fiasco called FasTracks. You’re probably aware that voters approved the project in 2004 and with it, many claims about hundreds of miles of rail in and around Denver. For just a few pennies on a $10 transaction, we were promised less traffic, better connectivity, easier living, convenience, and of course, a cleaner environment. You’re also aware that from the very beginning, the Independence Institute warned that this ambitious project was doomed. Our transportation expert Randal O’Toole predicted that FasTracks would be under funded and over budget. He was right. He also proved that empty rail cars would pollute a heck of a lot more than cars do. He was right. We also predicted that RTD would have to come back to voters for another tax increase to continue the failed rail experiment. We were right. They continue to mull tax increases each year.

Now it seems like Denver’s “success” in passing a tax increase to fund a failed public transportation project caught the eye of the central planners in Atlanta. Because of their heavy congestion, they are studying the fine art of selling a transportation tax increase according to this article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution. They are looking to Denver for inspiration for their own tax increases and silly transportation projects. For some bizarre reason, the article heaps praise on our FasTracks project as if it were a success. Oh, I get it. That’s step number 1 in selling a tax increase to voters: pretend the massive transportation failures in other states were actually successes. By the time you reach the bottom of the article, I’m quoted – a lone voice in a wilderness of doomed central planning.

If I had to do it over again, I would have said, “Please study our tax increase in 2004 and our failed FasTracks experiment. Please! So that you don’t repeat the same mistake!”

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Criminal Justice Bills in 2011

Posted by on Jul 21 2011 | criminal justice, Criminal Law, Idiot Box (TV Show), PPC

For those that couldn’t make it to their TV last Friday and missed this riveting episode of Devils Advocate starring yours truly, public defender Doug Wilson, and District Attorney Don Quick on where criminal justice has been and where it’s going in 2011.

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Michael Brown on His Book, Dave Kopel on Gunrunning

Posted by on Jul 21 2011 | guns, Idiot Box (TV Show), Kopelization, PPC

Give your love life a break this weekend and watch Devil’s Advocate this Friday night. First, former FEMA director Michael Brown joins me to talk about his book, “Deadly Indifference.” Then the Independence Institute’s Dave Kopel discusses the ongoing gunrunning scandals involving the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. That’s 8:30 PM Friday night on Colorado Public Television 12.

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Will the Real John Marshall Please Stand Up

Posted by on Jul 20 2011 | Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, Health Care, health control law, iVoices.org, obamacare, PPC, The Founders, U.S. Constitution

Exactly who is Chief Justice John Marshall? That question has special importance today. Due to a belief that Chief Justice Marshall was a progressive judicial activist, many today are using his words as ammunition in the case for our overbearing and clearly unconstitutional federal regulatory state. However, like he’s often done many times before, Professor Rob Natelson is here to set the record straight. In a recent blog post on constitution.i2i.org and this iVoices.org podcast, Rob explains why Marshall may have gotten this ill deserved reputation and also why it’s wrong. Rob explores three cases which, when taken in the context of the law and language of the time, irrefutably dispel the notion that Marshall would have ever been in favor of the vast regulatory state we have now – let alone the health control law. In fact, Rob and Dave Kopel let Marshall refute Obamacare in his own words! How’d they do that? With a little research and a dash of creativity. In this article, “Health Laws of Every Description”: John Marshall’s Ruling on a Federal Health Care Law,” Rob and Dave use Marshall’s own words to help destroy another pro-Obamacare argument.

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