NYC police ticket man for running “too early”

In further evidence that the police state is alive and well in the United States, New York City police ticketed New York City jogger and resident Peter Shankman for the dangerous crime of jogging through New York’s Central Park when it was “closed”.

Mr. Shankman was training for an Iron Man competition when police stopped him at 4:30am Thursday and issued him a citation because, according to city police, the park opens at 6am – making jogging through the park at 4:30 to be illegal.

Shankman wrote on his Facebook page:

At 4:30 this morning in Central Park, at mile 2 of my ten mile run, I was stopped by the police and given a summons for exercising in the park “before it opened.” Apparently, Central Park doesn’t “open” until 6am, and my exercising (running) in the park before 6am is illegal. Note – Running in the park. Not “performing sex acts for crack,” or “laying down explosive charges,” but “running.” Because apparently, a 215 pound man running through Central Park at just over a 9:10 pace is a threat to Manhattan.

To answer the question of why I was running so early – I needed to do ten miles today as part of Ironman training. If I didn’t start that early, I wouldn’t be done before my first meeting of the day.

Apparently, police in New York City are looking for things to do at 4:30 in the morning.  No murders, hijackings, thefts or violence was taking place early that morning, leaving Shankman and other joggers brazen enough to be seen jogging through a closed Central Park to be ripe for a ticket.

Enjoy your freedom and liberty…while you still have it.

TX judge strikes down gay marriage ban

Federal Judge Orlando Garcia in the deeply-conservative state of Texas has ruled the state’s ban on gay marriage to be unconstitutional, arguing the ban as no “legitimate governmental purpose” and demeans their dignity.  Judge Garcia has stayed his decision until it makes its way through the lengthy and expensive appeals process.

“Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution,” Garcia wrote in his decision.  “These Texas laws deny plaintiffs access to the institution of marriage and its numerous rights, privileges, and responsibilities for the sole reason that Plaintiffs wish to be married to a person of the same sex.”

Texas is the latest in a growing list of states that have finally decided to embrace true freedom and remove arbitrary and nonsensical bans on certain marriages.  Judges in Utah, Virginia and Oklahoma have ruled similarly, all decisions that await legal appeals.  The Supreme Court will likely be the deciding factor.

Read more from the Houston Chronical: http://www.chron.com/news/article/Texas-ban-on-gay-marriage-ruled-unconstitutional-5270241.php

TSA spends $900m on useless “behavior” program

According to a Government Accountability Office report, the Transportation Security Agency has blown through nearly $900 million on an ineffective behavioral training program designed to teach TSA agents how to spot potential terrorists based on their mannerisms.  Fewer than 1% of passengers spotted by TSA agents have been arrested and accused of terrorist activity.

A federal review of the program has offered no evidence that the costly program has enhanced the United States’ ability to stop terrorism before it starts, leading to the GAO’s recommendation that the government cut the program entirely.  The GAO accused the government of rolling out an expensive program without a reasonable expectation of its effectiveness, typical of many government initiatives.

The program supposedly trains TSA officers to spot suspicious behavior in a crowd of people, distinguishing between normal activity exhibited by passengers simply stressed out by travel and from a nervous person intent on committing a terrorist act.

The program has cost taxpayers $878 million since its inception in 2007.

Read the entire report here.

 

Sweden’s Shrinking State

Ah, Sweden, the very mention of it will often bring about the phrase ‘liberal paradise’. The land where healthcare is free, everyone lives long lives, and there’s no crime or violence, despite huge taxes and a massive public government.

All of it sounds wonderful except: it hasn’t been that way since the early 1990′s and its government is shrinking by the day.

Yes, this ‘paradise’, it seems, has been deregulating and lowering both taxes and spending for the past 20 years at a rate that’s absolutely astonishing. This myth of the ‘perfect state’ has come about due to a few things:

  1. Between 1850-1950, Sweden had one of the fastest growing economies in the world, it amassed massive capital, and was largely unregulated.
  2. Between 1950 to 1980, all the state programs began with the huge surpluses they had, and marginal taxation skyrocketed to 70% – this is the liberal paradise that people mention. Times were good, really, but it was unsustainable.
  3. Starting in the 1990s, the ‘banking crisis’ occurred where banks collapsed, the healthcare system utterly failed, killing thousands, and the entire financial system started to collapse on itself. Spending as a percentage of GDP  was at an all time high of 71.1% (for reference, the US now spends 103%). The education system was on the verge of collapse and many, many jobs evaporated overnight.
  4. Sweden went from 4th richest OECD country to the 16th in the span of 20 years.

Strangely, no big government advocate seems to know of the 1990′s Swedish banking crisis. It’s in plain view: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Sweden#Crisis_of_the_1990s and is a well studied piece of history in Sweden itself. The reasons are clear: big government intervention. Sweden, instead of continuing to go down the bad course, actually did something that is rarely done: they reversed course.

In 1994, following the banking crisis, massive market reform came down and entire industries were deregulated. Private schools were started, a voucher system was put in place, and largely, the majority of top performing schools in Sweden are for profit. The banking system was deregulated, many services were cut, taxes lowered, and spending as a percentage of GDP was cut from 71.1% to 53.3% an overall reduction of the state by over 30%.

Even the citizens are wanting less state provided healthcare. A rise of private insurance has been growing in Sweden, In 2011 about 440,000 people had private health care insurance in the country of 9.5 million (source: http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/22/socialist-swedes-take-to-private-health). If this public paradise was so great, why is it radically moving towards privatizing and deregulation faster than the US is moving towards socialization? Now, Sweden is still less ‘free’ than what most libertarians would wish, but it does show that a country can turn itself around and that even the most praised ‘ideal liberal states’ are not immune to the ill effects of big government.

For more reading on the subject, an article that appeared in Forbes does a great job going into more detail: http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulroderickgregory/2012/05/13/look-to-sweden-obamas-high-tax-gurus/

Losing the war on poverty

After trillions of spent dollars on our government’s supposed “War on Poverty”, what exactly does the United States have to show for it?  Millions still live in poverty (although the definition of “poverty” in the United States includes ownership of flat screen TVs, cable/satellite television service and high speed Internet) despite the enormous toll the war has had on the American people’s tax dollars.

Every year, the government spends more than a half-trillion dollars on programs designed to “end poverty”.  10s of trillions of dollars later, we find ourselves no better off than the year before.  Consider the following analysis by Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute, who wrote recently:

In 2012, the federal government spent $668 billion to fund 126 separate anti-poverty programs. State and local governments kicked in another $284 billion, bringing total anti-poverty spending to nearly $1 trillion. That amounts to $20,610 for every poor person in America, or $61,830 per poor family of three.

Spending on the major anti-poverty programs increased in 2013, pushing the total even higher.

Over, the last 50 years, the government spent more than $16 trillion to fight poverty.

Yet today, 15 percent of Americans still live in poverty. That’s scarcely better than the 19 percent living in poverty at the time of Johnson’s speech. Nearly 22 percent of children live in poverty today. In 1964, it was 23 percent.

How could we have spent so much and achieved so little?

The answer lies in government involvement.  Propping people up with government anti-poverty programs succeeds at keeping people in poverty with a consistent and dependable monthly check.  Consider this: what how motivation would you have to find a job if your unemployment benefits do not run out until 2015?

“Fewer than three percent of full-time workers are poor, compared to nearly 25 percent for those without a job. Even an entry level, minimum-wage job can be the first step on the road out of poverty,” Tanner wrote.

Will our government ever learn?  Better yet – will the American people make them learn?

A new gov’t regulation every 2.5 hours

According to a report obtained by the National Review, government regulatory agencies produce another regulation, on average, every two hours – which, if the pace is kept through the end of 2013, puts the number of new regulations at more than 3,600.

“They have no incentives to even make sure that these regulations are needed, appropriately addressing a problem, or not causing more harm than good. The result is more and more regulations,” wrote the National Review.

According to the report obtained by the National Review:

  • Last week, 66 new final regulations were published in theFederal Register. There were 78 new final rules the previous week.
  • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 33 minutes.
  • All in all, 3,186 final rules have been published in the Federal Register this year.
  • If this keeps up, the total tally for 2013 will be 3,604 new final rules.
  • Last week, 1,689 new pages were added to the 2013 Federal Register, for a total of 68,313 pages.
  • At its current pace, the 2013 Federal Register will run 77,278 pages, which would be good for fifth all time. The current record is 81,405 pages, set in 2010.
  • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of $100 million or more in a given year.  No such rules were published last week, keeping the total at 35 so far in 2013.
  • The total estimated compliance costs of this year’s economically significant regulations ranges from $6.42 billion to $11.82 billion.
  • So far, 289 final rules that meet the broader definition of “significant” have been published in 2013.
  • So far this year, 629 final rules affect small business; 86 of them are significant rules

Read the entire report.

Despite massive spending, underachievement prevails

r-SAN-FRANCISCO-MINIMUM-WAGE-HIKE-large570Did you know that the number of people on food stamps has grown over the past 13 years by nearly 30 million, which accounts for almost 20% of households receiving taxpayer-funded food subsidies?  At the same time, the federal government is spending more per household than ever before – in fact, a 152 percent increase since 1965.

Our middle class is shrinking – the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, due in large part to insanely complex government rules and regulations that only those with resources can bypass.  In fact, the top 7% of households own 63% of the nation’s wealth.  During the so-called economy recovery, the other 93% of families lost wealth, putting into question the effectiveness of big spending government stimulus packages and who, in reality, the recovery truly helped.

ABC News reports that nearly 50 million people in the United States live in poverty, but yet, most Americans view our nation as the most prosperous in the world, fundamentally superior to our foreign counterparts despite our poor education system, insanely expensive healthcare industry and THE biggest government that we’ve ever had.

In fact, our healthcare system spends twice as much per person than any other developed nation in the world, a cost that accounts for more than 16% of our nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  Our healthcare spending has increased at twice the rate of inflation, but yet our pharmaceuticals continue to kill and emergency rooms remain clogged with people using it as their primary care service.

A much-maligned segment of the population, the top 1% of income earners in the country have a greater net worth than the bottom 90% put together.  Perhaps this is due to nearly a quarter of all jobs in the United States that pay a wage of less than $10/hour.

Worse, spending in Washington continues to grow, more than it ever has despite record tax revenues.  Federal politicians managed to rack up $755 billion in deficits through the first eleven months of 2013′s fiscal year.  Spending during the same period amounted to a whopping $3.2 trillion.

Now, the government wants to take over healthcare.  Already the most expensive healthcare system in the entire world, the 10,500-page Obamacare monstrosity has authorized the government to spend even more money.  The new healthcare system’s broken Healthcare.gov web site cost the American taxpayer $634 million to build.  Obamacare has caused many insurance companies to cancel policies and create more expensive alternatives.  Premiums have risen and job hours have decreased to sub-30 hours to avoid Obamacare penalties.

The evidence of the big government effect is clear and overwhelming, and it is costing the American taxpayer trillions of dollars in reckless spending.  Both the Democrats and Republicans represent the cause of these problems, and our nation will never truly fix our ailing spending habits until we replace those responsible for it.