January 22, 2006

S.O.B. Alliance Member Porkopolis Reminds Us of Shadegg’s Co-Sponsorship of AZ Land-Transfer Shenanigans

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:35 pm

And Mike Meckler at Red-State.com Wakes Up BizzyBlog

I got reminded today why I can’t allow myself to get too far behind Mike Meckler’s posts at Red-State.com.

His January 19 post made a huge point about Arizona Republican Congressman and Majority Leader Candidate John Shadegg — namely that he is, from all appearances, perfectly fine with (and even co-sponsored the original bill relating to) the Arizona land giveway of the Western Cotton Research Laboratory that S.O.B. Alliance member Porkopolis has researched, exposed (and today reminded us of) over the past few months.

Plus, this Porkopolis post relating to the land-transfer deal brings up some interesting names in the recent news in somewhat analogous situations, like “Ney” and “Abramoff.”

It seems at a minimum that some of Shadegg’s crusaders ought to be doing a collective “Hmm,” and asking the Arizona Congressman some tough questions right about now.

Given that Shadegg is the current darling of the center-right blogosphere and has the endorsement of the supposedly no-nonsense, no-pork Club For Growth, I believe he owes us an explanation as to how the Arizona land giveaway is consistent with his idea of a “clean break from the scandals of the recent past.”

UPDATE: The Phoenix-area’s East Valley Tribune also did a story, with significant Porkopolis input, on the free transfer of the Western Cotton Research Laboratory.

Column of the Day: When Has There Ever Been “A Level Playing Field”?

Filed under: Corporate Outrage,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:46 pm

Dave Cloud is a high school economics and business law teacher in Pendleton, Indiana. He’s also a very clear-thinking guy, as he reacts to GM Chairman and CEO Richard Wagoner whine about the lack of a “level playing field” in the car business (“level playing field” translation: “We need some kind of direct or indirect bailout from the government to survive”):

The term is cliché, but it is an extremely misleading one. The sports analogy implies that everyone should be required to play by the same rules; that all competitors should have approximately the same equipment for the contest. Who could object to that? Well, anyone who understands that this is simply not how the world works.

If Mr. Wagoner is interested in a level playing field, he should take up tennis, football or some other sport in which the rules of the game decree equal access to resources. Business is not that way. But for that matter, neither is sport. Does anyone believe that when Tiger Woods is playing his best golf any other golfer playing his best game will win? Were the 1980 Soviet and U.S. Olympic hockey teams equally matched? We don’t refer to the U.S. victory as a miracle just for the heck of it.

Mr. Wagoner knows there is no such thing as a truly level playing field. Each competitor has distinct advantages and disadvantages. Sam Walton wasn’t competing on a level playing field when Wal-Mart first went up against discount king K-Mart. Tiny Microwave Communications, Inc. (MCI) wasn’t in a fair fight in 1969 when it began to offer long distance telephone service between Chicago and St. Louis, putting it in competition with mighty AT&T. Would we better off if these and other challengers had insisted on waiting until the odds were evened out before taking on the established order?

When a business leader, politician or pundit calls for a ‘level playing field’, he or she is exposing either a startling ignorance of real world economics or, more likely, displaying a truly disingenuous attitude toward the facts. My home state of Indiana is at a terrible disadvantage to Hawaii in attracting tourists. Should Hoosiers insist that Uncle Sam provide a level playing field? We could limit the number of people who can go to Hawaii each year or make airlines charge more to fly people there. It sounds stupid, but then so do quotas and tariffs.

If a truly level playing field is set as a prerequisite before competition can begin the result will be an economy that resembles that of France: little innovation, stagnant wage growth and virtually no job creation… all on a very level playing field. This of course will lead to more calls for government intervention in the economy. Before long you’re enacting idiotic ideas like France’s mandatory 35-hour workweek in an attempt to force employers to hire more workers. Of course it doesn’t work, but French citizens—at least those with jobs—don’t mind the shorter workweek at the same pay.

The decline of the U.S. auto industry has been painful to watch, especially in my hometown of Pendleton, which was particularly dependent on General Motors. But if the success of Mr. Wagoner’s recovery plan is dependent upon being granted a level playing field, GM’s stock has a great deal further to fall.

I also criticized Wagoner’s “level playing field” argument in the third item at this post.

The playing field never will be totally level. Even though you’re on the disadvantaged end at the moment, Mr. Wagoner, that doesn’t mean your company can’t return to dominance. It will require massive rethinks, by you, your company, and The UAW, but you can do it.

Now let’s play ball.

The Captain and The First Mate Need Your Prayers

Filed under: News from Other Sites — Tom @ 8:54 am

I can’t believe I missed this until now. From Captain Ed:

First Mate Update: Bad News

I’m afraid today hasn’t been a good day for the First Mate and I. Today she started her third week of treatment for her polyoma virus infection, and her blood pressure and creatinine levels have gone up rather dramatically since last week. The doctors informed us today that the FM will need a new kidney and that we probably can’t expect too much more function from the current transplant. The average wait for a cadaver donor in this part of the country is four to five years, which means that she’ll need to go back on dialysis if the treatment can’t recover at least some part of the current transplant’s function.

….. Your prayers have been much appreciated, and we certainly can use more of them in the future.

Please pitch in accordingly.

Positivity: Man Rescued from Sea after His Abandoned Boat Crashes

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:57 am

This guy was very lucky, but also held on because of his faith: