June 19, 2006

More Arguments against “Net Neutrality”

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:58 pm

And once again, it comes from people smarter than me (hold your fire on that one).

A convocation of experts (HT Hugh Hewitt) convened by Wharton professor Gerald Faulhaber concluded that:

Instead of mandating network neutrality ….. current laws should regulate any anticompetitive behavior. Farber points to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) network neutrality guidelines issued in August 2005, which state:

  • Consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice;
  • Consumers are entitled to run applications and services of their choice;
  • Consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network;
  • Consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.

Faulhaber, however, says companies are better off filing antitrust suits to handle concerns over net favoritism. For instance, if Comcast cuts a special deal allocating bandwidth to Barnes and Noble, Amazon could bring an antitrust suit and show damages. “It takes much less time than the FCC,” he said.

The availability of both enforcement mechanisms looks more than sufficient to me.

Brian Wesbury Points to the Large Swath of Underrported Good Economic News

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 1:34 pm

Assuming that this is the same guy, even though his employer has changed, the last contribution of Mr. Wesbury to economic sanity that I caught was his excellent piece on the state of the economy last December in OpinionJournal.com that I blogged about here.

His post Friday at Real Clear Politics looks at more recent economic data that is also mostly strong, and mostly not known:

The Resilient Economy

Imagine you were working on a 500-piece puzzle and had assembled 497 pieces, but found out that the last three pieces did not fit. In fact, you realized that they were from a completely different puzzle all together. What would you believe, that the three pieces were the right ones and the 497 were wrong, or vice-versa?

This is an important question for people looking at economic data these days. Those who think the economy is slowing focus on the 0.1% increase in retail sales during May. But, one or two-month slowdowns in economic data mean nothing. Retail sales are up 7.6% in the past year and 8.5% at an annual rate over the past six months. Excluding autos, retail sales increased 0.4% in May and are up 9.1% in the past year and 9.6% at an annual rate in the past six months.

Moreover, the future for retail sales does not look dour at all. Yes, non-farm payrolls increased by a less than expected 75,000 in May, but the household survey reported a 288,000 jump in employment. The Household Survey has been a much more accurate predictor of economic strength in this recovery than the Establishment Survey.

….. Wages and salaries have accelerated as well, rising at a 7.9% annual rate in the first four months of 2006. Tax revenues to the federal government are growing even faster (13% above last year during the first eight months of this fiscal year) and people do not pay taxes on income they do not earn.

While industrial production data showed a decline of 0.1% in May, output has climbed 5.2% at an annual rate in the past three months and 4.4% in the past year – both faster than overall GDP.

Early data for June signals a rebound. Initial unemployment claims have fallen to 295,000, while the Philadelphia Fed manufacturing survey was 13.1 in June – a level that is indicates real growth in the 3.5% to 4.0% range.

….. When put together, a vast majority of the data reflects an economy that continues to roll along much as it has for the past three years.

Riviera Beach, Florida Proves the Need for Tough Laws Limiting Eminent Domain

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:15 am

I have stated my preference previously for tough federal legislation limiting the use of eminent domain to public use situations, as opposed to the abusive “public purpose” interpretation five Supreme Court justices pulled out of the air a year ago.

But unless and until Congress gets something passed, the states will have to step in the breach.

One state that did so in a big way is Florida, where the legislature enacted tough legislation designed to curb the abuses.

It must be a pretty strong bill, because the bound-and-determined city of Riviera Beach pulled an 11th-hour maneuver in an attempt to beat it, as described by Cato’s Timothy Sandefur:

One year after the Supreme Court shocked Americans with its eminent domain decision, Kelo v. New London, officials in Riviera Beach, Fla., announced their intention to seize 400 acres of land, including hundreds of homes and businesses, and transfer the property to a developer to build stores and condominiums.

Although Gov. Jeb Bush signed a new law on May 11, 2006, that prohibits these kinds of property seizures, the city rushed to approve its plan in an emergency meeting on May 10. Asked about these shady tactics, Riviera Beach Mayor Michael Brown insisted the city acted legally.

“We’re comfortable,” he said, “with everything we’ve done.”

Unfortunately, Brown’s audacity is typical of bureaucrats who see Kelo as signaling open season on landowners. These officials perceive themselves as sculptors of neighborhoods, who mold their ideal city from the property that people have worked hard to buy. They don’t see property as a right, but as a privilege that can be revoked or altered in the name of “progress.”

Our Founding Fathers believed that government exists to protect property rights. But to “progressives” like Brown, private property – and the people who own it – exist for the government’s purposes.

Fortunately The Pacific Legal Foundation has stepped in to help the residents. PLF’s press release indicates that The Institute for Justice, the legal advocacy group defending the original Kelo ruling holdouts in New London, CT (go here for a collection of posts on that epic battle, which is by no means over), will be joining the Riviera Beach fray shortly.

Here’s hoping that The P-L-F and The I-J get R-B’s underhanded plans thrown into the S-E-A.

UPDATE: From the Palm Beach Post, which has a great collection of stories at the link, here’s a map of the city, with the targeted areas identified:


Read This Already

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:09 am

“Corpsman awarded Silver Star”:
- Marine Times
- (mirrored) Navy Times

Now tell me why this isn’t news anywhere else.

Good luck.

Bizzy’s AM Coffee Biz-Econ-Life Links (061906)

Free Links:

  • The European Union is giving itself until the end of 2008 to resolve the problems with its proposed constitution that are causing it to fail in ratification votes in country after country. Given that many member countries don’t want an insulated, unaccountable superstate lording over them, I don’t expect that another two years will change people’s minds, and hope I’m right.
  • I don’t want to see this rumored lawsuit win, but it would be cool to see it get filed just to see the reaction (HT Overlawyered) — “Barbra Streisand’s emergence from “retirement” has set off a buzz among longtime Streisand fans, who say they paid exorbitant amounts of money for her last “retirement” tour and may file a class-action suit against the legend for tricking them into thinking they were seeing her for the final time.” If I thought these kind of suits had merit (which I don’t), the people to really go after would be serial retirers like Elton John, or Sinatra when he was alive.
  • Oh, is that all“(Fannie Mae executives) Mudd and Ashley said they are in the midst of a total overhaul of the mortgage giant, which has pledged to complete by year’s end the SEC-ordered restatement of its earnings back to 2001. The anticipated $11 billion correction would be one of the largest restatements in U.S. corporate history.” Any other company doing this would have been put out of business by the SEC or the class-action lawyers by now.
  • More ho-hum economic news:

    $5 billion coal plant to add 900 jobs to state

    BATON ROUGE – Gov. Kathleen Blanco on Thursday announced Synfuel Inc. is proposing to invest $5 billion in a new coal gasification plant south of Baton Rouge that will convert Northwest Louisiana lignite into other energy to fuel petrochemical plants.
    The plant, which has several sites under option near Geissmer on the Mississippi River in Ascension Parish, would generate 900 permanent jobs paying $55,000 to $65,000 in direct salary, before benefits.

  • Reinforcing a previous BizzyBlog post (“This Swedish Model Is, on Balance, Not Attractive”) about Sweden’s stagnant social welfare state — Investors Business Daily weighs in:

    Sweden’s slope became most slippery from 1960 to 1980, when public spending increased from 31% of the economy to 60% in order to keep the Swedes rolling in the government payments they have become dependent on and to fund the bloated public sector.

    That was deadly to the private sector and contributed to an economic erosion, the effects of which are still being felt. Once thought to be the promised land, Sweden today ranks about equal with the fifth-poorest U.S. state in per capita income. Likewise, among the wealthy nations that make up the OECD, it slipped from fifth in income in 1970 to 15th in 2004.

    There’s not much optimism for a turnaround, frankly. ….. as “old attitudes about work and entrepreneurship” fade and dependence on the public sector grows, the country’s once-vibrant economy will continue to fall behind.

    The rot is alarming, not only for Sweden, but also for the U.S. If it’s not careful, the U.S. will take the same well-trod path to stagnation as Sweden. That’s especially true if it doesn’t rein its growth in entitlement spending, bureaucracy and regulations.

  • Nobody is safe from the food police

    Starbucks Corp. (SBUX) may be next on the target list of a consumer-health group that this week sued the operator of the KFC fried chicken restaurant chain for frying foods in oils high in harmful trans fat.

    The Center for Science in the Public Interest said it is planning to campaign against the global cafe chain because of the increased risk of obesity, heart disease and cancer associated with high-calorie, high-fat products it sells.

  • I mean, NOBODY is safe from the food police (HT Interested-Participant) –

    Students in Forsyth County may be unable to bring homemade cookies to share with their friends in school if the county school board establishes a wellness policy that restricts such goodies.

    ….. Forsyth County appears to be the only metro Atlanta school system considering such a policy for now. Marietta and Fulton County school system officials said they will discuss the idea during the next school year.

Positivity: Deceased Black Holocaust Museum Founder’s Legacy of Forgiveness Remains

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

What he did to ensure that our past, even its perhaps most inglorious part, is not forgotten was as extraordinary as his story of survival:

June 13, 2006
James Cameron
Founder of America’s Black Holocaust Museum. Born La Crosse, Wisconsin, 1914. Died Milwaukee, June 11, aged 92.

JAMES Cameron’s life could have ended at the end of a rope one August day in 1930 after an angry mob broke into the Marion, Indiana, jail and dragged out Cameron and two other prisoners. He watched as the other two black youths were hanged. As a rope was thrown over his head, he prayed for God to save his life.

That Cameron lived another 75 years to tell his story and the story of all blacks lynched in the US because of the colour of their skin is a testament to a man who knew the power of forgiveness. As the only known survivor of a lynching, Cameron was virtually a one-man crusade who led and cajoled the US into admitting and apologising for its complacency over its shameful history of racial hate crimes.

Last year, the US Senate formally apologised to Cameron and others for its failure to outlaw lynching.

Though Cameron had to mortgage his house to pay for the printing of his book A Time of Terror in 1982 after numerous rejections from publishers, he and his story eventually reached a wide audience that included television host Oprah Winfrey, Martin Luther King Jr’s widow, Coretta Scott King, and former president Bill Clinton.

A Wisconsin TV station produced a documentary called A Lynching in Marion. Cameron was taped by the BBC as well as by Dutch and German TV, interviewed on US TV network CBS and written about in Newsweek. He was invited to lecture at colleges across the nation. Marion presented him a key to the city. Shortly before his death he was negotiating a movie deal on the story of his life and signed the contract the day before he died.

The message in his autobiography was not hate but forgiveness. “He survived a lynching and never became bitter,” says civil rights leader Vel Phillips, Wisconsin’s first African-American judge. “He epitomised what it takes to realise what faith is.”

….. Milwaukee has the only museum of its kind in the US that commemorates and memorialises victims of lynching. America’s Black Holocaust Museum, however, doesn’t dwell on hate but on hope and a vigilant awareness against other hate crimes, Phillips says.

Cameron’s museum, begun in 1988 on a financial shoestring, displays hundreds of photos, posters and essays on the history of racial attacks, lynchings, tortures and other evils done to African-Americans in the US.

One photograph at the museum is of the mob in Marion standing under Cameron’s two black friends, hanging from a tree. The picture has appeared in history books, newspapers and magazines, and became one of the most infamous American lynching scenes.

….. eron was inspired to found the museum after a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Israel. “I want to prick the conscience of America, to raise the moral sensitivity of the American people,” he said.

In proposing the museum in 1984, he noted: “We must erect, build with our own hands and resources, a museum, a memorial so that the world can never forget the wrongs done to us in America.

“The emphasis must be on lynching because that is the method used mostly on us to hold back the progress of America.”

In his autobiography, he wrote about the inhuman sounds of an angry mob – believed to be 10,000 strong, including local members of the Ku Klux Klan – and the steady thud of battering rams against metal locks. The mob broke into the county jail and dragged the three black youths into the street.

Following the murders of his two companions, Cameron prayed in terror. For the rest of his life, he believed what happened next was a miracle.

“Take this boy back,” he heard a voice say. “He had nothing to do with any raping or shooting of anybody.” The crowd stopped and dispersed. Years later, Cameron went back to Marion and interviewed witnesses. No one else had heard the voice.

“God saved my life that night,” he said. “I don’t have any doubt about it.”

Cameron had left the scene before the crime occurred. The woman later testified that she had never been raped. Nevertheless, Cameron was convicted of being an accessory to voluntary manslaughter and served four years in prison. Years later he was pardoned.

Son Virgil Cameron says his father carried the memory of the lynching throughout his life but became deeply spiritual as a result of it. Hopefully, says the younger Cameron, “my father will be remembered for shaking people out of their doldrums. He liked to rattle their cages and always said if you weren’t aware of your history, it would be repeated.”

Geno’s Update: The Mayor, The Profile, and The Letter

Filed under: Economy,Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:01 am

The Mayor

So how does Philadelphia Mayor John Street react? He’s a politician; he wants it both ways (also note the flaming-hot bias in the writeup):

With everyone from Lou Dobbs to Rush Limbaugh fulminating over Geno’s Steaks – home of a controversial sign exhorting customers to speak English, and currently the focus of a related media firestorm – Mayor Street tiptoed into the fray yesterday, too.

Cornered by reporters in a City Hall corridor, Street said that he thought “we would all be better off without the sign.” But he stopped well short of drawing any conclusions about the sign and did not endorse any actions against Geno’s.

“I speculate that [owner Joey Vento] has a right to that sign,” Street said, “if he faithfully and without any kind of discrimination serves anyone who comes up to that window, no matter the language that person speaks, in spite of the fact that he has a sign.”

The mayor’s cautious comments came after days of intense e-mail discussions among aides about how to handle the controversy over the iconic South Philadelphia institution – specifically, how to avoid saddling the city with a reputation as a bunch of ugly Americans while also protecting free-speech rights.

While some officials urged Street to speak out more forcefully, the mayor opted for a process-oriented response: He said the city’s independent Human Relations Commission should carry out an investigation before anyone drew any conclusions. And he accused the electronic media of “making a mountain out of a molehill.”

Well, it WAS a molehill in a sense until the Human Relations Commission turned in its complaint (the state commission followed suit on Friday)

The Profile

Michael Currie Schaffer’s Joey Vento profile paints a picture of a quite interesting person, including this little-known fact that should make at least some people concerned about who they’re going after:

The man cast as the Neanderthal of Ninth and Wharton is the same guy who last summer forked over $100,000 to support an Elton John AIDS-awareness concert – a donation that Philadelphia Gay News publisher Mark Segal says was “the tip of the iceberg.”

“They had been very touched by the issue and are very involved,” Segal says of Vento’s family. “They have been extremely supportive of the entire community.”

Like most stories, Joe Vento’s is one of contradictions.

He’s the son and the brother of violent criminals. But he’s raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for police charities. He’s a wisecracking everyman from the streets of South Philly. But he lives on a 13-acre Camden County spread with a stable for horses. He’s made more than enough to retire to a sunny golf course. But he still pulls a daily 4 a.m. to 11 a.m. shift at a neon-lit sandwich shop.

I can hear it now: “How can someone who puts out THAT sign be so sympathetic with those going through AIDS?” — as if such a combination is philosophically impossible.

The Letter

From Tom Norton of Mt. Laurel, NJ:

IN RESPONSE to David W. Brown’s op-ed lesson on business etiquette, let me just say that I am proud to be an English-speaking Mexican-American (my grandparents came from Mexico), and I will have no problemo plunking down my hard-earned American dollars in a fine American establishment owned by a true American, Mr. Joey Vento.

Mr. Vento is merely pointing out the complacency of the government when it come to non-English speaking immigrants. This has nothing to do with his views about illegal immigration, as Mr. Brown and those liberals like him would like us to believe.

If it’s not the Ten Commandments, it’s a decal on the window at Geno’s. I can hardly wait for the ACLU to start their class-action suit on behalf 10,000 Mexican illegals just because they have nothing better to do with their worthless law degrees.

You go, Joey V! You ARE a great American. And to my fellow Mexican amigos: ¡Aprenda a decirlo en Inglés! Es la lengua de los Estados Unidos de America.


Previous Posts:

  • June 12 — Welcome to the Club, Joey Vento — Philly Human Relations Commission Has Filed a “Discrimination” Complaint
  • June 10 — As in Greater Cincy, “For Service Speak English” Place in Philly Is Catching Flak
  • May 31 — The Pleasure Inn Has “For Service Speak English” Company
  • May 13, 2006 — Why Won’t the Ohio Civil Rights Commission Get Off Tom Ullum’s Back?
  • Dec. 19, 2005 — Update: Thought Police 1, Bar Owner 0; Bar Owners Showing Solidarity–1
  • Dec. 16 — Thought Police 1, Bar Owner 0
  • Oct. 9 — Questions for the Thought Police at the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and The Cincinnati Enquirer