Saturday, February 12, 2011

Old Juarez

Friday, February 11, 2011

Tough Task Ahead

"California’s new governor, Jerry Brown, must rapidly close a $25 billion budgetary shortfall. Right now it seems almost a hopeless task, since the state’s disastrous budget is merely a symptom, not the cause, of California’s much larger problems." [from Victor Davis Hanson's article Jerry Brown, a Modern Sisyphus]

"Take unemployment. It currently runs at 12.6 percent in California, the second-highest in the nation. Take livability. A recent Forbes magazine survey listing the 20 most miserable cities in the nation ranked four California municipalities in the top five.

"Take education. California public schools test near rock bottom in national math and science scores. Take the business climate. A recent survey conducted among CEOs ranked California dead last for jobs and business growth.

"Take taxes. California has the highest gasoline tax in the nation, and its combined sales-tax and local and state income-tax rates are among the nation’s steepest. California incarcerates the highest number of prisoners in the nation. It costs nearly $50,000 per year to house each one, near the highest per capita cost in the country.

"I could go on, but you get the picture: The newly inaugurated Brown has problems well beyond a massive budget shortfall.

"Perhaps the state’s problems are not of its own making but arise from a deficit of natural riches? Hardly. California has the most fertile soil and the climate most conducive to farming in the country. Tourists flock to see the beauty of Yosemite, Death Valley, and a 1,000-mile coastline. San Diego and San Francisco Bay are among the most naturally endowed harbors in the world. The state is rich in gas, oil, minerals, and timber. It has the largest population in the nation at 37 million residents.

"Okay, but maybe prior generations failed to develop such natural bounty? Again, no. At one time, California educators ensured that their tripartite system of higher education was the envy of the world. The Golden Gate and Oakland Bay bridges, along with the Los Angeles freeway system and the complex network of state dams and canals, were once considered engineering marvels far ahead of their time. Visionaries made Napa Valley the world’s premier wine-producing center. California’s farmers found a way to produce 400 crops and half the nation’s fruits, nuts, and vegetables, and created the richest food region in the nation. Silicon Valley and Hollywood are still the global leaders in computer innovation and entertainment, respectively.

"Perhaps California did not invest in its public workers, skimped on entitlements, and turned away newcomers? Not really. Its teachers and public servants in many comparative surveys remain the highest-compensated and best-pensioned in the nation. Its welfare system is still the most generous in America. Seventy percent of its budget continues to go for education and social services. A state that accounts for 12 percent of the nation’s population generously provides for 30 percent of the national welfare load. More than a quarter of the nation’s illegal aliens are welcomed into California.

"So in truth, the state’s problems involve a larger “California philosophy” that is relatively new in its history, one that now curbs production but not consumption, and worries more about passing laws than about how to pay for them.

"California uses more gasoline than any other state and has the most voracious appetite for electricity. But Californians also enact the most obstacles to developing their own sources of oil, natural gas, and nuclear power. State referenda and the legislature have made it the hardest state in the nation in which to raise taxes and the easiest in which to pass costly new laws." [...]  (continue article)

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Stossel's S.O.T.U.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Public Education Transparency in Action

What happens when you ask a bureaucrat about government spending? (by Adam B. Schaeffer)

Freedom On Trial

Below is the speech given by Geert Wilders on the opening day of his new trial on “hate speech” charges in Amsterdam. Many thanks to Vlaamse Leeuwin for the translation:

The lights are going out all over Europe. All over the continent where our culture flourished and where man created freedom, prosperity and civilization. The foundation of the West is under attack everywhere.

All over Europe the elites are acting as the protectors of an ideology that has been bent on destroying us for fourteen centuries. An ideology that has sprung from the desert and that can produce only deserts because it does not give people freedom. The Islamic Mozart, the Islamic Gerard Reve [a Dutch author], the Islamic Bill Gates; they do not exist because without freedom there is no creativity. The ideology of Islam is especially noted for killing and oppression and can only produce societies that are backward and impoverished. Surprisingly, the elites do not want to hear any criticism of this ideology.

My trial is not an isolated incident. Only fools believe it is. All over Europe multicultural elites are waging total war against their populations. Their goal is to continue the strategy of mass immigration, which will ultimately result in an Islamic Europe — a Europe without freedom: Eurabia.

The lights are going out all over Europe. Anyone who thinks or speaks individually is at risk. Freedom-loving citizens who criticize Islam, or even merely suggest that there is a relationship between Islam and crime or honour killing, must suffer, and are threatened or criminalized. Those who speak the truth are in danger.

The lights are going out allover Europe. Everywhere the Orwellian thought police are at work, on the lookout for thought crimes everywhere, casting the populace back within the confines where it is allowed to think.

This trial is not about me. It is about something much greater. Freedom of speech is not the property of those who happen to belong to the elites of a country. It is an inalienable right, the birthright of our people. For centuries battles have been fought for it, and now it is being sacrificed to please a totalitarian ideology.

Future generations will look back at this trial and wonder who was right. Who defended freedom and who wanted to get rid of it.

The lights are going out all over Europe. Our freedom is being restricted everywhere, so I repeat what I said here last year:

It is not only the privilege, but also the duty of free people — and hence also my duty as a member of the Dutch Parliament — to speak out against any ideology that threatens freedom. Hence it is a right and a duty to speak the truth about the evil ideology that is called Islam. I hope that freedom of speech will emerge triumphant from this trial. I hope not only that I shall be acquitted, but especially that freedom of speech will continue to exist in the Netherlands and in Europe. (H/T Gates of Vienna)

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Alison Krauss and Union Station