Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ever Wonder About Media Bias? Three.

In 2008, the FCC released information pertaining to the specifics of "localism."

Localism. Sounds harmless. One of the fundamentals for broadcasters, whether radio or television has been "local, local, local." That is, they focus on issues and events that occur within the framework of what they view as the local market. Given the large footprints of Portland's television stations, that view of what is local will include areas as far apart as Lincoln City to The  Dallas, north of Longview to Mossyrock or Morton, south to Albany, Lebanon and Corvallis. For a radio broadcaster in Salem or Tillamook, the idea of what constitutes local is going to be greatly constrained, due primarily to the signal strength of a small market radio station. If your station is in Tillamook, local is Tillamook. You might run a news story on Garibaldi or Short Sands, but really, pretty much all you're concerned with is the doin's in T-Mook. Your advertisers are there, their families go to school at Tillamook High School, and chances are you either own a cow, or know someone who does.

So, the FCC wants broadcasters to conform their efforts to serve their local market to rules issued by the Commission. What's wrong with that?

Let's look at KXYZ, a Tillamook radio station. Owned by a man and his wife, he takes care of the day-to-day engineering, she takes care of the bookkeeping and making sure that the spots that will run are scheduled correctly. Maybe they have a couple of folks who work on-air for three hours a day, and sell spots the rest of the day. They are committed to providing local listeners with the highest quality entertainment they are able to provide. And there are a lot of hidden caveats in that statement. It doesn't always work out, as planned. Things break. Tubes wear out. Power outages occur. Then there's the problem of talent. You can have the greatest intention in the world to be an amazing entertainer, and, by buying a radio station you may provide yourself with your own first step to stardom, but really? Some guys are legends in their own minds. So, the quality of the show may be, errm...okay, not so good. Yet, you have a killer playlist, and you know folks are listening for the music, and pretty much without regard for what that playlist is, if your station is recognized for being there, dependably and consistently, with some sort of information about what's happening in your community, high school sports scores, that kind of thing, folks are going to listen.

Is this enough for the Commission? As the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (.pdf)outlines, "...some broadcasters devote significant amounts of time and resources to airing programming that is responsive to the needs and interests of their communities of license.”

Some is not all. "At the same time time, in written comments and testimony received during six related field hearings, many other commenters have raised serious concerns that broadcasters’ efforts, as a general matter, fall far short from what they should be."

A couple of questions form, such as, "who are these "other commenters" and what is their agenda, and, here's a guy and his wife, a couple of employees spinning discs and selling spots in the community, all paid for out of the owner's pocket, and some "commenters" are willing to suggest that Pop isn't doing enough to devote significant amounts of time and resources to airing programming that is responsive to the needs and interests of their communities of license?

Wouldn't you rather think, that Pop spends most of every waking, and much of his time sleeping, worrying about whether or not the performance of his station is leading to a stable and growing listening audience, and a stable and growing advertiser base? Does Pop spend more time pining for the chili found in Austin, or the Sharp, up the road?

"Specifically, the record indicates that many stations do not engage in the necessary public dialogue as to community needs and interests and that members of the public are not fully aware of the local issue-responsive programming that their local stations have aired."

Necessary. Television stations and radio stations are, in fact, required to demonstrate that they provide "significant" on-air treatment of community needs and interests that have been determined to be worthy of such significance. Public awareness of local problems, areas of need.

Each station is currently doing such things, understood to be an obligation of the holder of a license to use the Spectrum. Necessary public dialogue. Pop and his wife, their two employees, are out in the community each day. Talking to their neighbors and friends. Picking up the phone to ask a question of a school board member, or the director of the port. Getting answers to questions the guy at the flooring store asked about the county highway. Local, local, local. But "...members of the public are not fully aware of the local issue-responsive programming that their local stations have aired."

The Commission must fix this. "Against this backdrop, the Commission proposes certain changes to its rules and policies that will promote both localism and diversity." Yeah. Because Pop doesn't have a clue that having contact with the community, having contact with his audience, and providing a consistent and dependable source for entertainment, news, sports and weather is important. "We also discuss ways to encourage broadcasters to improve programming targeted to local needs and interests, and to provide more accessible information about those on-air efforts to the people in their communities."

All great stuff! And, it looks good on paper. But how to get it into practise?

"Because the centerpiece of localism is the communication between broadcasters and the members of the public that they are licensed to serve, the Report also addresses current efforts undertaken by both broadcasters and the Commission itself to make relevant information concerning broadcasters’ efforts to serve their communities readily available to the public. The record here suggests that the dialogue
between broadcasters and their audiences concerning stations’ localism efforts is not ideal." To the guy writing this. We're asked to come to a mythical place, where a guy who built his radio station with his own hands and money, relies upon his performance to dependably and consistently entertain and inform, who relies upon his relationships with the jobs creators and economic movers and shakers in his market for his survival, doesn't exist. Because there isn't the level of "dialogue" deemed by the Commission to warrant their approval.

And you ever wonder about media bias? How do you avoid the kind of nightmarish schemes proposed by the Commission? Well, you show how you're doing what they want, voluntarily. You go into your community and create a list of community organizations and advocacy groups that you will inform when you plan to hire an additional full-time employee. Of course, that this makes you a potential target for retaliation if you don't hire a referred potential hire is unimportant to the Commission. (Just joking.) "As a result, the actions discussed herein will allow greater diversity in what is seen and heard over the airwaves, and ensure that communities have access to valuable, locally responsive programming."

Ensure that communities have access to valuable, locally responsive programming." As you read through the NPR, you'll find these types of slippery slopes all over the place. It isn't enough for Pop to spend his own time and money bringing this unique resource to his listeners, free, at his own expense, but the Commission wants to make sure that the content of his programming meets standards developed by them, not the owner/operator, his listeners, his advertisers.

How to do it? "Creation of advisory boards whereby stations regularly meet with community leaders and individuals from all sectors of the community...Providing for improved access to station decision-makers by the leadership of all local community groups." So, folks who have absolutely no idea of how to run a show, are going to be telling the guys who run the show, how to run the show. Brilliant. Every radio station must sound like KBOO or NPR, or else. "We do tentatively conclude, however, that the same fundamental objectives can be achieved through other means, including regular, quarterly licensee meetings with a board of community advisors and improved access by the public to station decision makers." Ah! The Paris Commune! Of course! It's just what every broadcast executive wants, meeting with a "board of community advisors" in order to further the access goals of the board. Forget the show! Forget entertaining the audience. We must have priorities!

You ever wonder why there's bias in the media?

One last note; none of this applies to newspapers, books and magazines. Broadcasters have no First Amendment rights. The content of what broadcasters may broadcast is regulated. A broadcaster affirms that he will voluntarily abide by the rules of the Commission, as a condition of his licensure. If the Commission wills it, broadcasters must abide.

More, at Broadcast Law Blog.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ever Wonder About Media Bias? Two

Broadcasters, even with the best intentions, face incredible pressures to meet the rules and regulations of their Master, the Federal Communications Commission.

Who is it that owns a radio or television station? The costs and expenses of owning a broadcast facility are enormous. To be fair, the costs of owning and operating a radio station are clearly lower than the costs associated with operating a television station. Given, that the television station is in a large market. There are small, rural television stations that make do with budgets that almost unseemly, when compared to major market television stations. But, small market TV does make do. Locally produced shows show the lack of technical quality of the major stations, but they exist. Local television, whether in small markets or LPTV stations exist, and fill a niche for their viewers. Is it "HD" TV? Nope. But, putting pictures together with content is still an important source of information for the viewer. A camera that would have cost $15-thousand dollars fifteen years ago is one helluva camera. Video toasters are a dime a dozen, today. Good shooting, decent graphics, point is, whether you're small market or LPTV, you can perform for pennies on the dollar for what is produced by major market television stations.

And yet, most of the rules, of either television or radio, are the same. The guidelines for what a radio or television must do--repeat MUST DO--are typically the same in each and any occasion. There are a few exemptions, such as the radio or television station that employs fewer than five employees. And yes, I'm sure that there are television stations with fewer than five, full-time employees. (There are some clear bifurcations of the rules governing television and radio, and maybe I'm "stepping in it," but from my past brushes with FCC regs, I don't think I'm mis-characterising the situation. If I am, sorry. Do some research, that at this moment, I'm unwilling to do. Laziness.)

Last post, I wrote about how the FCC required broadcasters to demonstrate their adherence to rules that purport to advance a notion of community outreach. This is an important issue, since it relates to why the media has the bias it has, when reporting current events, or more importantly, how it reports the news. Diversity is the aim of current FCC regs, and the question must be asked, why?

How is it that a broadcaster must address issues of diversity, when that broadcaster is engaged in serving a certain number of viewers/listeners in his broadcast footprint?

This is a copy of a coverage map for KGW television (RabbitEars.Info)

What kind of diversity exists within the area described by this map? The Great Northwest! Portlandia!

Not much. Seventy-three percent white. Nine percent Hispanic or Latino. Eight percent Asian. Eight percent Black. About three percent from the Tribes. Three and an half percent, anything else.

But, that's just race. When it comes to sex, men are the minority, with a ration for every 100 women 18+, there are 97.8 males. When it comes to age, those who are between the ages of 25 to 44 are the plurality, with 34.7 percent of the population. 18 to 24, ten-point-three. 45-64, 22.4 percent, and around eleven and a half percent for people 65 and older.

A government mandated policy of diversity would needs include such statistical data. But, what about religious discrimination? What about education discrimination? What about sexual preference discrimination?

What would a "perfectly diverse" company look like? In my opinion, like a zoo. Representative elements from each of these "diverse" populations. It's not my opinion of what a company should even attempt to adopt. What value can there be to a company, to be able to show diversity, without showing that there are elements of cohesion that drive the company? Are those elements of cohesion racial, sexual, gender purity?

Of course not. That's nutty. But the Commission's take on diversity is therefore, nutty, too.That no one is willing to take on the Commission speaks volumes for the power the Commission has over Broadcasters. And as re-licensing time is just around the corner for broadcaster in this state, adherence to the intent of the Commission is firmly in the minds of those who operate broadcast operations within the state.

On the 17th, the FCC announced a new audit for broadcasters. Two-hundred radio stations and 75 television stations are to be audited by the FCC to "assure the FCC" about these stations' compliance with the Commission's EEO rules "requiring wide dissemination of information about job openings and supplemental efforts to educate their communities about job opportunities in the media industry." (Broadcast Law Blog.)

Hit the link, and follow the links on their page. And imagine, if you will, the effects of these rules on your business, were you to engage in such simple things as making widgets, shoes, or growing potatoes.

How does the FCC get away with requiring such things as "wide dissemination" and "supplemental efforts"? Because Broadcasters don't have First Amendment Rights. Broadcasters can't defend themselves against intrusive regulations from the FCC behind the cover of the First Amendment. Broadcasters don't have a First Amendment guarantee of freedom. They, instead, have duties. Duties described by FCC regulations. And one of the more important duties of Broadcasters is to insure that they are not complicit with any effort to restrict the diversity of its employees, or of its programming. (Slippery Slope warning; there is not yet a rule in effect that requires Broadcasters to demonstrate that their programming matches their program content with the rules for outreach to diverse groups in their hiring practices. But that step is on the lips of every Commissioner, and every owner of any Broadcast property.)

The camel's nose is in the tent. Broadcasters, and the businesses that they have built to educate, inform and entertain us, stands on the edge of a precipice. Broadcasters, being timid, are attempting to hold at bay the rules that would take from them the principles of good service to their clients, whether viewers/listeners, or advertisers. No Broadcaster of any sense at all would wish to offend any segment of a possible viewer/listener base. But, let's be practical; to be Number One means providing service to the greatest number possible, whether viewers or listeners. That certain segments of the population would, therefore, be under-served speaks not about the failure of Broadcasters to work to provide the best possible service to their communities, but more about the "under-served" population to adopt the values and expectations of the dominant mores of the community that surrounds them.

Pay special attention to the link "Today's Public Notice announcing the audit, containing the form audit letter and listing the stations subject to the audit is here ." Click the link. These radio and television stations must be s*itting bricks. None of the rules promulgated by the Commission gives anyone adequate notice of what compliance is. If you're in a town of five thousand people, most of whom are church going, white folks, what kind of diversity outreach is necessary to comply with the Commission's rules? If there's one gay guy, do you need to have a gay outreach? If there's one embittered Socialist, must you have a Socialist outreach? Do you have an atheist? A retired union representative?

What clear meaning do the rules of the Commission have?

Well...none. But they are the rules. And, the rules must be enforced. And there is no argument with the Commission. They, after all, hold the keys to your license renewal. And all the time, effort and expense the owners of these broadcast outlets are held to the whims of the Commission.

And you wonder why Broadcasters are reluctant to voice clear concerns over the actions and efforts of the elites in our governments? Threaten a Broadcaster's license, and you control the behaviour of the Licensee.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ever Wonder About Media Bias?

Why would any broadcast company tend to ignore certain tendencies of our national life?

As newspapers decline in importance, we keep looking toward the electronic media to give us the kind of information that we need to have, in order to make intelligent decisions. And yet, it seems, that every day we find ourselves watching Suzy Cutie and Howie Handsome on the Idiot Box, telling us about kittens caught in trees, and the valiant efforts of local fire crews coming to the rescue.

Is there a dumb pill out there?


There is a reason why major newsrooms fail to provide information that you and I need to have to make intelligent decisions. The reason? The Federal Communications Commission.

Let's look at some of the language found in FCC Form 396 (pdf):

"Broadcast station licensees are required to afford equal employment opportunity to all qualified persons and to refrain from discriminating in employment and related benefits on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, and sex. See 47 C.F.R. Section 73.2080. Pursuant to these requirements, a license renewal applicant whose station employment unit employs five or more full-time station employees must file a report of its activities to ensure equal employment opportunity. If a station employment unit employs fewer than five full-time employees, no equal employment opportunity program information need be filed. If a station employment unit is filing a combined report, a copy of the report must be filed with each station's renewal application.

"A copy of this report must be kept in the station's public file. These actions are required to obtain license renewal. Failure to meet these requirements may result in sanctions or license renewal being delayed or denied. These requirements are contained in 47 C.F.R. Section 73.2080 and are authorized by the Communications Act of 1934, as amended.

"DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINTS. Have any pending or resolved complaints been filed during this license term before any body having competent jurisdiction under federal, state, territorial or local law, alleging unlawful discrimination in the employment practices of the station(s)?

"If so, provide a brief description of the complaint(s), including the persons involved, the date of the filing, the court or agency, the file number (if any), and the disposition or current status of the matter."

"Discrimination Complaints."

A Silver Bullet. Apply for a broadcast job, and if you find that Lisa Takagawa got the job and you didn't, you may have a case for a discrimination complaint. If your name is Sam Jones. Or Luis Ortega. Or, if you find out that Lisa is heterosexual, and you're not. It was close to thirty years ago, when I got hit with a discrimination complaint. A young man alleged that I gave full-time employment to a young woman, because she would "do me" and he wouldn't. Imagine the embarrassment that a General Manager of any broadcast company would need to feel, to be required to provide a brief description of this complaint?

Why would a federal agency want to have this type of embarrassment filed?

Well, they spell it out later, in their form:

"The FCC is authorized under the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, to collect the personal information we request in this report. We will use the information you provide to determine if the benefit requested is consistent with the public interest. If we believe there may be a violation or potential violation of a FCC statute, regulation, rule or order, your request may be referred to the Federal, state or local agency responsible for investigating,prosecuting, enforcing or implementing the statute, rule, regulation or order. In certain cases, the information in your request may be disclosed to the Department of Justice or a court or adjudicative body when (a) the FCC; or (b) any employee of the FCC; or (c) the United States Government, is a party to a proceeding before the body or has an interest in the proceeding. In addition, all information provided in this form will be available for public inspection. If you owe a past due debt to the federal government, any information you provide may also be disclosed to the Department of Treasury Financial Management Service, other federal agencies and/or your employer to offset your salary, IRS tax refund or other payments to collect that debt. The FCC may also provide this information to these agencies through the matching of computer records when authorized. If you do not provide the information requested on this report, the report may be returned without action having been taken upon it or its processing may be delayed while a request is made to provide the missing information. Your response is required to obtain the requested authority."

A broadcasting license is worth millions of dollars. A broadcast station's newscasts can form a basis for a discrimination complaint. There are a lot more rules about who you can hire, and more importantly, how you can hire, that I haven't posted here. Maybe later.

But you wonder why broadcast TV and radio fail to inform the public?

One last thought; broadcasters have no "freedom of expression" guarantees. Since radio and television stations receive grants of authority to broadcast from the federal government, the language and ideas expressed must meet the standards of communication set out by the Federal Communications Commission.

No wonder they want to control the internet.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Register for Dorchester

'Standup Economist' to speak during Friday night session

The famous (or is it infamous?) Dorchester Tent Show may not be the funniest nor most provocative part of this year's conference. Why? Because Yoram Bauman, Ph.D, better known as the "Standup Economist," will address the Dorchester Conference during the event's Friday evening session.

Dr. Bauman, "the world's first and only stand-up economist," performs regularly at colleges, companies, and comedy clubs. He has appeared in TIME Magazine, on PBS and NPR, and on YouTube, where his videos have over a million hits.

"Dorchester has always been a place where we try to make politics fun," stated Dorchester President Grace Ishida. "We think delegates will enjoy the intellectual sense of humor that Dr. Bauman brings to discussions about economics and public policy."

Bauman is the founder of Non-Profit Comedy, a series of benefit shows that has raised almost $100,000 for local non-profits. He has a BA in mathematics from Reed College, a PhD in economics from the University of Washington, and spends his non-comedy hours teaching in the University of Washington's environmental studies program.

Go here.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My Expectations


I expect the current financial bubble to burst during the Second Quarter of this year.

There are too many concurrent antecedents to the forthcoming burst to be ignored.

Greece is not going to be the cause of this pop. Greece will be the victim. Liquidity will be blamed. As in, not enough. But this isn't, and won't be true. There is plenty of liquidity. The problem will be, as it was in the Weimar Republic, currency devaluation.

In my last post, I put up a video of a mathematician talking about the simple math that leads to doubling of value; whether that value is one of debt, or growth. The amazing thing is, I heard, tonight, Governor Romney complaining about a sixty percent increase in government spending during Senator Santorum's tenure in the U.S. Senate. Taking a look at the math, it's obvious that government spending, during Senator Santorum's tenure as a U. S. Senator, was less than seven percent, per year.

How effective would Governor Romney's objection had been, if he were to have said, "you know, when Senator Santorum was in the U. S. Senate, growth in federal spending occurred at under a seven percent annual rate!"

Paper tiger.

But, let us not parse the knowable. Let's think about the unknowable.

What will be the value of an ounce of gold next year? What will be the price of gasoline next year?

When President Obama was elected, the price of gold was $700.00 per ounce. The price of gasoline was $2.00 per gallon. The majority holder of debt for U.S. debt was China. Today, it is the United States. Imagine the poverty that has been imposed upon U.S. citizens by the current administration. We have move back, each and every one of us, by more than fifty percent, in JUST THREE YEARS.

Not ten years. Not twelve years.

Three years. And the bad things about monetizing debt are still standing off-shore. We haven't yet experienced the effects of excess liquidity, since the markets have been extraordinarily defensive in their asset allocations. We have parked most of our national economy in deep water, waiting for the flood. (And, worse yet, all of our retirees who have made investments are slowly being robbed of their capital, as markets seek to trade on dips.)

Nobody loves the rich. They have stuff and money, and stuff. It's easy to hate the rich, since, if you hate the rich, chances are you're either the spawn of the rich, or wish to be rich yourself. Envy is a hellofan attitude. "They have stuff that we want to have." Well, yeah! Hella! Want me some rich guy stuff!

I don't know how you're getting ready for the next bubble-burst. I'm planning acquisitions. Why? Because, when bubbles burst, some are able to make money, some aren't. In 2008 I made money. Have for three years. I depend upon my clients to understand why I'm spending their money, and what the benefits for those expenditures are. They are stated. My clients give me their money, freely. I don't have the authority to work in their own best interests as a mandate provided by the government. They can choose not to use my services. They are free.

After years of Solyndras, isn't it time we look at the mandates our government has imposed upon markets, and more importantly with the imposition of ObamaCare, ourselves, that we take a look at the success ratio of government investments to outcomes? Governments suck at investments.

People don't. Unless they are idiots. (See, equity holders in Washington Mutual.)

Time to tuck in. Gold coins that I bought years ago at thirty dollars each are now worth $1700.00 per ounce. Silver I bought for face value is now worth $33.50 for ten dimes. Money has value. Good money drives bad money out. Gresham's Law. I'd gladly pay you Tuesday, for an hamburger today.

Be smart. Look for alternatives.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Math is a peculiar thing. It can be used to help elucidate (explain) a problem. Take a thing, like a budget. And say you have a budget for projects that don't make any economic sense, but advance an agenda.

Contrast these projects, that don't make any economic sense, with projects that make economic sense. What is the difference between these two projects? For example, let's look at a project that makes no economic sense, and contrast it to a project that makes economic sense.

What would a good example of a project, that works to advance an agenda, be? How about a cellulosic ethanol?

What a grand idea! Instead of relying upon food for alcohol for creating a cheap combustible like gasoline, let's instead create a fuel, less efficient than that of the cheap combustible--gasoline--and give it agenda credits; it is less reprehensible than the production previous agenda. That is, the part of the fuel isn't petroleum-based may have less of a negative impact than the current part of fuel that isn't petroleum-based. Of course, I'm writing about ethanol, not from corn, but what is called "cellulosic ethanol," ethanol from agricultural products that aren't involved in the food chain. In many instances, this cellulosic ethanol would be created from the waste products of the timber industry. Out here, in the Northwest, we call them chips. Chips are important, since that's where we get paper.

The argument against petroleum-based fuels began during the Carter administration. Trends are important, and an important, new trend, that had been discovered during the years leading up to the Nixon administration; the environmental impacts of life.

The impacts of life. That we exist, means we impact the world around us. That would be, in my day, a "no duh" statement. Obvious. Simple. We exist, we impact the world around us. 

Living was dirty in the 1960's. Not as dirty as it had been during the rise of the Industrial Age. Not as dirty as it was in the industrial cities of any other country. But taking the trip across the bridge into New Jersey from New York meant one came nose-to-smell in contact with chemical refineries. It was a nauseous moment. If you were living around Albany at the time, you probably remember our friend, Wah Chang. Now, multiply it by an order of magnitude. New Jersey, frankly, stunk. Not the momentary Wah Chang kind of stink. But a malodorous, living, yellow stink. Pollution was a driving force behind a series of laws that were required to gain control over the problem of the Commons.

Portland is an interesting example of how easy it was to gauge pollution in the city. Sundays (for me) required driving cross-town, from Beaverton to the East Side. At the time, the only road available was Barbur Boulevard. And Barbur has one of the nicest views of Mount Hood of any thoroughfare in the city. On bad pollution days (during the early 1960's), you couldn't see the mountain. That is, the pollution in Portland was visible. Advocates of pollution control were simply describing the problem; visibility.

Is the loss of one of our most important views something that should be corrected,through regulation, or not?

In the 1960's, we became aware of the pollutants we were putting into our air, and water.

Issues about water quality were being similiarly addressed. The Cuyahooga River had been a source of environmental concern for years. The various states, in this case, Ohio, failed to act.

(Map from Wiki, here.)

The Cuyahoga was an Ohio River. Prior to the Nixon Administration, riverways were the sole province of the state. And Ohio failed to act. Ohio was an industrial state. Shared costs of the state (public costs), from which industries were thriving under industrial development, included the costs of that industrialisation; that is, while a burning river was obviously a bad thing, local politicians were unable to act. 

The problem of a burning river is, you can't ignore the public costs of industrialisation. Some societies deal with public costs (externalities), and some don't. I shudder to think about dousing myself in the Ganges River. There are waterways around the world that I would choose not to swim in. The Cuyahoga was a river that, in the 1960's, met that criterion.

Some of the biggest employers in Ohio were General Motors, Armco, Cyclops, Jones & Laughlin, National, Pittsburgh, Republic, Sharon, U.S. Steel, Wheeling and Youngstown Sheet & Tube

Coal was king, kiddies. And coked-steel was strong. And Ohio made a lot of steel.

The process was a dirty process. States were unwilling to address the problems. And there were competing political problems. Why would a state, or a municipality, attempt to regulate an industry that would put the local, domestic products into an unfavourable competitive state against other states, or foreign sources of steel? The problem of pollution became known as an external cost in the production of steel. In economic analysis, an external cost is one placed upon a person, or persons, who didn't agree to accept the costs imposed. That is, since pollution, especially in the case of the Cuyahoga, was imposed upon people who didn't want their property burned by a river polluted with industrial waste, the cost of the pollution was "externally" imposed upon them.

But no mayor, and no governor, was willing to place their local fief in a less competitive environment, when it came to the production of industrial goods. It would take the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act to place rules that made the protection of our air and water a responsibility of government.

An expansion of the meaning of "interstate commerce." But, in my opinion, based upon fairly decided law. An example of this would be Missouri v. Illinois, 180 U.S. at 241. "The Court indicated that states, having given up the powers of independent sovereigns to make war and to conduct diplomacy, must be able to turn to the federal government for protection from trans-boundary pollution, rather than force their citizens to rely on state private nuisance actions."

As a Republican of the time, the lack of state and local protection of air and water quality was an obvious error in prior law. And it was clearly an issue that, under our Constitution, was clearly the type of problem that required federal involvement. For me, the clearly Constitutional question was, "does the Constitution allow for Federal involvement in this case?"

There's a good chance that Constitutional doctrine didn't, or wouldn't, have allowed this expansion of Federal authority in this case. It did involve navigable waterways. Navigable waterways were defined in 1824. These are old Commerce Clause cases. Restraint was called for.

But, not the restraint of government. Instead, an extension of government was called for. Authority for trans-state pollution needed to be imposed. The rules of the EPA act were clearly defined, and Constitutional for the act passed in 1969.

What occurred since has been an expansion, based on sound Constitutional and legal theory, that has surpassed the intent of the framers of the original EPA act. What was based upon a theory of waterways, has been extended to embrace all forms of contiguity. It's now not enough to have a clearly defined waterways act, but now the EPA has used its regulatory powers to assert itself over air quality.

I'm not sure that the EPA, which had a limited mandate to provide rules under which certain combustible machinery was regulated, in order to reduce visible pollution, extended to cover the range of possible causes of "pollution," that it wishes to control today. Agencies tend to push the boundaries for their mandates. The greater the control an agency is able to confer upon itself, the greater the funding available, and necessary, for that agency.  Imagine being an assistant to the Secretary for Wartime Sourcing for Secondary Products.

If you can assert that Secondary Products are more valuable than Primary Products, you're going to end up with more money for your agency. And, you're going to be invited to more cocktail parties. If, instead, it turns out that being the Secretary for Wartime Sourcing for Primary Products is, instead, more vital, then the Secretary of Primary Products will be invited to more cocktail parties, than the Secretary for Secondary Products.

This is Washington.

It, absolutely, has nothing to do with the needs and concerns of our nation's citizenry. The game being played in state houses and city halls is the same game being played in our nation's capital. Being more important is the goal. Having more authority is the goal. Leadership has been reduced to pandering. "Here's something you should know!" is more likely a pitch, offering more for less, and trading on the worst impulses of the public.

It's called Populism for a reason.

But here is an important point: you cannot extend your promises beyond your ability to pay for them. I'm reminded of the story of a certain frog, and the result of the findings that one particular frog had been filled with shot.

What is the commons?

I've alluded to this a couple of times in this essay, and it's worthwhile for you to find out. The document that the Left refers to when invoking the Commons is an essay by Garrett Harding. The take-away line is this, "Perhaps the simplest summary of this analysis of man's population problems is this: the commons, if justifiable at all, is justifiable only under conditions of low-population density."

The narcissism of this statement alone should lead one to condemn the author and his entire thesis.

What a bone-headed statement. What intellectual delirium must this man laboured under to conjecture such a line?  For those of us who live in Oregon, only two percent of the state is in a condition that can be called "developed." Fifty percent of this state is defined as "frontier." OMG! Yes, we must begin to kill babies!

And the increase in development projected for Oregon is, by 2024, four percent of our state will be developed.

All of this "sky is falling" rhetoric is boring, it's stupid and uninformed, and is akin to Druid Priests chanting against the darkening sky. Futile, defenseless and moronic. But when you hear these claims on a daily basis, from your newspaper, your television set, what are you to believe? And, when you throw in boring, stupid and uninformed, you end up with a major dose of apathy. WTF care? You know it's propaganda, you know it's probably full of BS. Why make waves disagreeing? Why worry about confronting teachers, elected officials, newspaper guys, the television talking heads, the morons down at the labour hall, the cool chicks at the Women's Center?

Here's why.

Government spending is increasing at a rate higher than seven percent a year. Seven percent federally, seven percent at the state level. And seven percent at most county and local levels. Private sector growth is occurring around one-point-five percent.

What happens when spending growth increases by seven percent for ten years?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Prop 8

There is nothing that I can see in Proposition Eight, California's act that prohibits marriage between same-sex couples, as violating the principles of the Constitution.

Perversity is not a crime. Being viewed as perverse isn't actionable as a crime. One of the fundamentals of civilization is, that to be a crime, there must be harm. And not just a civil harm, but a criminal harm.

I read Rousseau as a college student. Having the freedom to choose what to do with yourself is a natural freedom. Whether you choose to paint yourself pink and yellow and prance about your bedroom is as natural a right as it is to pray to God. What right have I to tell you not to paint yourself pink and yellow and prance about your bedroom? The freedom to express yourself is a Constitutional right. The freedom to act in a manner that offends, is a Constitutional right. The license to marry is a contractual obligation that is recognized by the state. The state defines the conditions under which such a license is issued. Just as I must be able to pass a vision test, and a driving skills test, the state has under its jurisdiction the authority to issue rules to which one must abide, in order to gain the license of that state, to enter into a state of matrimony.

States don't have the authority to limit our freedom of speech, our freedom to express ourselves, or our freedom to choose much of our own lives. It does have the authority to tell each of us whether or not we can drive a car, build a dam, or shoot our neighbors. It does have the authority to tell us whether or not our children must attend school. It has authority over our lives that we may object to.

And all of this authority comes from the same place; the laws a state passes and then enacts.

Again, the Ninth Circuit attempts to wander from the tested waters of jurisprudence.

Good luck in the majors.