Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: May 17, 2012


To My Friends In Maryland

Q: Why doesn’t Delaware fall into the ocean?
A: Because Maryland sucks.
Q: Why doesn’t California fall into the ocean?
A: Because Maryland really sucks.

Dear Marylanders:

I see that your financial picture is looking rather dicey again. Sorry to hear that. Who could have guessed that high taxes, profligate spending and a general hostility to business would lead to such things? No worries, though. I’m sure political leaders will continue to work hard at righting the ship and get Maryland sailing along smoothly again (how is that plan to repeal the laws of economics coming anyway?).

On a related note, I understand that the Maryland legislature, in collaboration with Gov. O’Malley, has passed a new tax on all six-figure income earners in Maryland. Well, bully for you! That’ll teach those nasty capitalists to stop being so productive. And Gaia knows that they really need to pay their fair share (I mean, how is it that the top 20% of earners only pays about 68% of the income taxes? How’s that “fair”?). So, here’s hoping that works out for you (fingers crossed!).

Of course, I seem to recall that the last time you all did something like this (with that “Millionaires Tax” thingy), we here in Virginia experienced a bit of an influx of former Marylanders. Not too many that we couldn’t handle it, mind you, and probably fewer than some thought. But it does raise an issue, especially since the latest tax scheme stands to affect a much larger portion of Maryland’s population. While we’re always happy to welcome you all into the Commonwealth, we’d really appreciate it if you’d leave things here the way you found them.

You see, all too often when Virginia takes in refugees of high tax and high regulation states, they tend to bring a lot of those policies with them. They seem to really like our neighborhoods, schools and business environment, but for some reason they get all worked up about the fact that our government doesn’t spend as much money as they’re used to (in fact, we’ve actually had a budget surplus the past couple of years, and look to do so again this year!). They also tend to push for more state intrusion into our lives. Thing is, we really don’t like that. (In fact, it’s a fairly common complaint in the South.)

You see, before they came, we were doing just fine. Sure, some of us moved to places like New York and California so that we could enjoy that wonderful embrace of the Nanny State, but for the most part it’s been the other way around: people moving from high-tax/high-regulation states to places like Northern Virginia. We completely understand why you would want to leave a place whose policies increase your costs of living, impair your livelihoods, and generally intrude on your lives in unwanted ways. That’s why we try not to do that sort of thing here (albeit, with some annoying exceptions). Problem is, when you all move in, you start enacting all the same policies that made the place you left so bad. We’d all really appreciate it if you wouldn’t do that.

So, like I said, I really hope that whole tax-the-hell-outta-the-rich thing works for you. If it doesn’t, and your looking for change of scenery, you’ll always be welcomed with open arms on this side of the Potomac. Come on over, make yourselves comfortable and set a spell. Just don’t go touching anything.

Yours Truly,

Michael J. Wade


Legalized theft: civil forfeiture

From my earliest days of blogging I’ve been talking about this (i.e. civil forfeiture) and still, nothing has been done to stop it.  It is legalized theft, plain and simple.  And it still makes me as angry as can be:

"If somebody told me this happened to them, I absolutely would not believe this could happen in America."

That was the reaction of a New Jersey man who found out just how risky it can be to carry cash through Tennessee.

In this latest case, a Monterey police officer took $22,000 off the driver — even though he had committed no crime.

"You live in the United States, you think you have rights — and apparently you don’t," said George Reby.

I want you to read carefully the arrogance implicit in the “law” that these sorts of forfeitures represent.  A more convoluted and outrageous example of the tyranny of the law I can’t imagine (although I’m sure there are many):

Reby was driving down Interstate 40, heading west through Putnam County, when he was stopped for speeding.

A Monterey police officer wanted to know if he was carrying any large amounts of cash.

"I said, ‘Around $20,000,’" he recalled. "Then, at the point, he said, ‘Do you mind if I search your vehicle?’ I said, ‘No, I don’t mind.’ I certainly didn’t feel I was doing anything wrong. It was my money."

That’s when Officer Larry Bates confiscated the cash based on his suspicion that it was drug money.

"Why didn’t you arrest him?" we asked Bates.

"Because he hadn’t committed a criminal law," the officer answered.

Uh, then why did you take his freakin’ money?

Bates said the amount of money and the way it was packed gave him reason to be suspicious.

"The safest place to put your money if it’s legitimate is in a bank account," he explained. "He stated he had two. I would put it in a bank account. It draws interest and it’s safer."

"But it’s not illegal to carry cash," we noted.

"No, it’s not illegal to carry cash," Bates said. "Again, it’s what the cash is being used for to facilitate or what it is being utilized for."

NewsChannel 5 Investigates noted, "But you had no proof that money was being used for drug trafficking, correct? No proof?"

"And he couldn’t prove it was legitimate," Bates insisted.

WHAT?! 

He shouldn’t have to prove anything.  Not his freakin’ job!  That’s the law’s job.  And as is obvious, they’ve got zip in that regard.  But that aside, they also have his money.

Read the rest if you have the stomach for it.  It actually gets worse.

This has been going on for years and years.  It is a legal travesty driven by the “war on drugs”, it is taking without due process and it should have been stopped years ago.

Yet here we are.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Economic Statistics for 17 May 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:

The Philadelphia Fed Survey shows a dramatic slowdown in that district, with the headline index falling from 8.5 to -5.8. Delivery times, inventory, and unfilled orders all fell steeply, as did the 6-month confidence assessment. Input costs were little changed and prices received were actually contracting, a sign of decreasing demand.

Initial claims are unchanged this week from last week’s revised 370,000. The 4-week moving average fell to 375,000 from last week’s 379,750.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell to -43.6, its lowest level since January, as pessimism about personal finances and spending increased.

E-Commerce Retail Sales rose 3.1% in the 1st quarter, from 4th Quarter 2011. Year on year sales rose 15.1%. Online sales made up 4.9% of total retail sales.

The Index of Leading Economic Indicators, designed to predict economic activity over the next 6 months, declined by -0.1%. Building permits, jobless claims, and consumer expectations were the big negatives in the report.

~
Dale Franks
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Salute to the Troops: And One-Eyed Jacks …

Thought I’d share this with you folks.  I’m in Las Vegas as a part of a group of bloggers invited to blog about a great program called Salute to the Troops where 70 wounded warriors and their guests are flown to Vegas, all expenses paid, put up at one of the plushest properties there (the Palazzo) and treated to 3 days and nights of VIP treatment.  On a scale of 1 to 10, this is a 12.  It has been a blast so far.

——–

The Palazzo had a Blackjack tournament yesterday for those of our group that signed up.  It ended up being a 3 table affair with some very keen competition.  The grand prize wasn’t chips, but instead round trip airfare for 2 from Southwest Airlines and free accommodations at the Palazzo for the winner and his guest to do this all over again.

The players battled it out over the three tables and you could hear the cheers and groans as lady luck had her way with all.  But it all came down to the championship table and the final 15 hands.  Here’s how the championship table looked as they began.

Poker

If you look to the far right, the guy counting his chips and plotting his strategy is Marine Corps Sgt. Ken Fischer. Sgt. Fischer built a nice lead early and then continued to increase it throughout the 15 hands with some aggressive betting. But it was tight at the end, and all the players went for it on the final hand with the dealer cooperating and busting (to cheers all around). Sgt. Fischer prevailed with over $10,000 in total chips.

While they were playing I got to talk with some of the other dealers and managers who were there and supported the tournament.  Almost all were veterans.  So while they players played, we swapped stories about C-Rats, P-38s and the usual stuff military folks like to reminisce about.

Most impressive, at least to me though, was how into the “Support the Troops” program they were.  This wasn’t just some extra duty to them, but something they felt privileged to be a part of.  I spoke with one of the dealers who’d served in the National Guard with the 42nd Division in NY before moving to Las Vegas.  As we spoke and laughed about our most memorable C-Ration meals of the past, she pulled out her dog tags and held up, you guessed it, a P-38.  Loved it.

That evening we had a great dinner at Lagasse Stadium (the ultimate man cave).  It’s a sports book, with fabulous food (yup, that Lagasse as in Emeril) and more flat screen TVs than Korea outputs in a year.  Shrimp the size of your fist (yeah, your fist. I swear they were bordering on small lobster size.), roast beef – like I said, a guys place.

We had dinner on a patio which was awesome.  It was 97 degrees out, but somehow the hotel kept it cool and pleasant.  Treasure Island is across the street and they have a live pirate show every hour.  So we’d all be enjoying our feast and fellowship and suddenly we’d hear the pirates attacking the fort across the street.  Only in Vegas.

Anyway, here’s Sgt. Fischer as he received his prize for the Blackjack win:

Fischer

There are other bloggers and some special guests here as well.  So I’ll give you a little pop quiz.  Take a look at the next picture, take a look at the glass in his hand and tell me who it is:

vodkapundit

Yes that’s Stephen Green, aka “Vodka Pundit”, originator of drunk blogging and his incredible wife, Melissa.  Green is also covering the event for PJ Media.

And finally, someone who I’ve always wanted to meet but figured I’d never have the opportunity. I watched and cheered him on for years.  Hint: I’m from Atlanta and this has to do with baseball.  Pay no attention to the ugly guy on the left (that’d be me), tell me who the guy on the right is:

Maddux

Yes friends, that’s future Hall of Fame pitcher, Greg “Mad Dog” Maddux.  He quietly took a night to come out and hang with everyone one and salute the troops.  It was funny, most of us didn’t even know he was with the group until he was announced and then a line literally formed to meet him.  Gracious and funny, he took pictures with everyone.  Thanks, Greg.

And again thanks to everyone who is making this amazing week possible.  I asked one soldier, while we were walking to dinner, what he thought of all this.  He sort of smiled and said, “you know, we’ve been treated to some great things while I’ve been at BAMC, but this just  blows everything away”.

There ya go …

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO