Saturday, October 17, 2009

Detroit, Michigan: Microcosim of America's Future?

I have a great love for the city of Detroit.  Although it was never an official residence of mine I have spent much time there.  My parents were born there, met there, married there and had two of their three children there (I have to be the odd man out).  Thus I keep my eye on websites for the Detroit Free Press (the Freep to locals) and secretly root for Detroit sports teams.  Sometimes it feels like a deathwatch, for Detroit, along with all its beauty and automotive history is a city with big problems.  Some of them include:
  • A population of 900,000; half of what it was in the 1950's
  • 24.9% High School Graduation rate
  • Median home sales have hovered as low as $11,800
  • Detroit schools are in danger of bankruptcy
  • Detroit is looking to sell off its Airport to the private sector
A long history of political corruption does not help things out as years and years of Democratic meddling have dug a hole that frankly this city may never recover from.  Do I think a change to Republican administrations would help?  Maybe short term, any change would have to be considered a better option, but other problems just as damaging would surface for really, in the grand scheme of things there is very little difference between a Democrat and a Republican.

Detroit would be a ripe plum for the picking for a dynamic smaller political party to come in with a message that the people need to hear.  It would not be easy, but a determined group willing to get out to the people who even now have to be suspicious of any ensconced politician coming down the pike with promises as empty as their head, could make a difference and show America that it can be fixed; furthermore it can be fixed with private money and Government money.

Lets start with the Detroit Metropolitan Airport and the ideal of privatization.  The British have done this with London's Heathrow Airport and six others Gatwick, Stansted, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Prestwick, and Aberdeen.  The benefits of this would be an increase in competition, an increase in managerial efficiency, a reduction in political interference and the removal of private sector borrowing requirement constraint on investment programs.  It could also have an effect on an increase in competition.  Airports don't really compete on price because their primary revenue, landing and passenger fees, account for only about 5% of an airlines costs.  Certain aspects of the Airport would have to remain under government control, chief among those would be the FAA to oversee Air Traffic Control.  That system is proven and reliable given the safety records we enjoy in the United States.  Through a public sale of stock and a smart marketing campaign to regain or restore public confidence it would not be hard to duplicate the success the British have had.

Schools would be the other area where semi-privatization would greatly benefit the city.  Currently the public school district has been shutting down schools for one simple reason.  The system was built to handle twice the amount of students it currently does.  As a result somber images of closed schools standing unused with libraries full of books, computer labs overturned and art classrooms still stocked with supplies riddle the city.  Under semi-privatization these buildings could be sold by the city with money from the sales of the properties used to fund other urban renewal projects that the city could use.  Under semi-privatization, taxes brought upon the people could be returned to the private sector in the form of vouchers, these vouchers would in turn allow parents to send their child to their school of choice within the city limits. Cities would act as a broker collecting tax money at a reduced rate as private industries would alleviate the district from duties such as custodial, food preparation, outdoor maintenance, transportation and even teacher salaries could be deferred to the private sector who, under need for maximum funding from the city would need to show improvement of scores, graduation rates, dropout rate decline and school age crime rate statistics.  A reduction in school taxes would allow for some families to be able to afford personal funding of some after-school projects and athletics (which could be funded almost entirely by booster club activities and sponsorships).

There really is no limit to the areas where private enterprises could not do many things cheaper, faster and more effectively than a government bureaucracy.   Because many current government employees have a certain level of expertise at their jobs those positions considered essential could be rolled over into the new privatized company therefore avoiding unnecessary mass unemployment.  It would then be up to former civil service workers to prove their worth in the private sector. I would love to see this in action at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

You start with better schools, better transportation, smaller government and then go make the city go to ridiculous lengths to attract business to come back to Detroit not automotive related.  Detroit will always be the Motor City, but it can no longer count on that industry for sustainability.  Detroit is ripe for projects to do with renewable energy with rivers weaving through the city for hydra electric projects that can be sustainable while not endangering the rivers aquatic population.  It has many thousands of people, approximately 21% of them that would love the chance to be trained for a career in that or any field. 

There are a lot of good reasons to go to great lengths to save Detroit...

... and all it would take is some smart people united in liberty to come in and motivate the people to vote to save the city, to show them that their future is in their hands after they take it away from the greedy, power-hungry fear mongers that are the donkeys and the elephants.  And then, most importantly, back up and watch the people and private industry show the United States how to save the country and feel good doing it. 

Friday, October 9, 2009

Whether 'tis Nobel-er in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

<<<  This guy just won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Let that sink in for just a moment... Barack Hussein Obama, won a prize that he was made a nominee for 12 days after taking the oath of office.  I am not outraged, nor am I mad that he was awarded one of the most well known awards in the world because let's face it, he was getting it sooner or later.  I do wonder how though.  The nomination process includes a group that I am pretty sure it came from;  University professors of history, political science, philosophy, law and theology, university presidents and directors of peace research international affairs institutes.  It could have been from past winners as well, those are the only two groups that seem likely.

Just what was it in his first 12 days in office that qualified him for this award?  In his own words this morning at the White House he claimed that "I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many trans-formative figures that have been honored by this prize," Obama said.  So would that mean you would be giving it back?  What about the money included with the prize?

According to the Government the President can keep some gifts and awards.  Since the Medal that comes as the prize has no real monetary value he will get to keep that.  I have no problem with that.  The award comes with a check for a reported $1.4 million which he has already stated will go to charity.  Excuse me Mr. President?  That check belongs to the American people as outlined in the Constitution Article 1 Section 9.  Granted, $1.4 million is a drop in the bucket, but that would be that much less that we or our children would have to pay back to the national debt.  Certainly in Obama's new transparent Government he would disclose the charities, he wouldn't give it to, say, Chicago based charities or ACORN would he?


What was Alfred Nobel's original intent for this prize?  Thanks to the wonders of the internet I have that answer.  According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize should be awarded "to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."  Oh... ummm... yeah.... he did all that in his first 12 days, don't you remember?  Once again I am not blaming President Obama for this, oddly enough in a recent precedent if he had gone overseas to lobby for the prize odds are we would not have got the award, it would have went to Luiz InĂ¡cio da Silva, the President of Brazil.  Rather I blame the current committee charged with caring for Nobel's vision and legacy.  The bones of Nobel are probably rattling in the grave tonight.  Below is a picture of Alfred Nobel (possibly suffering from a toothache) and his Medal.

This won't be the last of the major accolades coming the way of President Obama I am sure.   It would be nice if they would wait until he did something of note to hang the nomination on first.  You know, like Ronald Reagan who ended the Cold War and saved the lives of hundreds of millions of Europeans.  Reagan never received the Nobel Peace Prize for ending the Cold War.  Or Richard Nixon who ended the Vietnam War.  It was won by Yasser Arafat though, he brought peace to... um... what exactly did he bring peace to again?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Dawn of a New Era

For those of you following from my old blog ( ) welcome to the relaunch of my political blog.  I felt hemmed into my old style of angry third party voter and disgruntled American; also I was unhappy with the website hosting my blog, I felt Blogger would allow me access to a wider audience.  While I am still very disgruntled I have taken the energy wasted on angry voter and channeled into community action.  Instead of just writing about getting back to an America that the Founding Father's dreamed about I am now active in my community to make it happen.

I am the Treasurer of the Libertarian Party of Clark County (Washington), as well as a candidate for several commissions on a city and state level.  While I have not been assigned to a Board or Commission yet I am hopeful that it will happen sooner than later.  In the meantime my local Libertarian's and I are trying hard to see the defeat of long time Mayor of Vancouver Royce "We have a tax for that" Pollard.  We are backing City Councilman Tim Leavitt for the job and hopefully entrusting him with the future of Vancouver, Washington.  We also endorse Adam Baldwin for Evergreen School District Board.

Don't worry though, I won't just be on my soap (bread?) box about all things local, believe me there is much to be written about on a state and federal level.  As I like to say, "Defeating Socialism one social network at a time."  Being active on Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and here takes some time, but you, my friend, are worth it.

A few of my views:

1.  We need health care reform, but rather it should be in the form of regulation of the health insurance industry rather than the destruction of it.  Much like the airlines were regulated, but smarter.

2.  Cap and Trade Bill H.R. 2454 will change the way every person in this country lives.  This should be unveiled for the evil piece of legistlation it is.

3.  We need to play to win in Afghanistan or get out immediately, no middle ground.  Iraq is a lost cause, we need to get out of there right now and leave it to the sovergien government to sink or swim, we have spilled enough blood over that sandy plot of land.

4.  Some politicians have had over 30 years to get it right, and they have consistently failed term after term, decade after decade.  They are the problem.  Vote in fresh new ideas, do not overlook third party candidates if they match with your core principals.  Not all Dems and Repubs are bad, sort them out and cut off the dead weight and bring us back to the ideals of Jefferson, Adams, Monroe and Washington.

This is just a taste of what is to come.  I am glad to be back and hope you will join me for the ride.