Economic Freedom in the U.S.

I like this YouTube video produced by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation (yes, he’s one of the Koch brothers that liberals have been treating as boogeymen):

According to Caleb Brown at the Cato Institute, this video draws on the Economic Freedom of the World: 2010 Annual Report from Canada’s Fraser Institute. The Heritage Foundation conducts research on economic freedom, too, and arrives at the same conclusion as the video: economic freedom in the U.S. has been on a steep decline since the 2008 financial market meltdown and the laws and policies that were enacted in its aftermath—TARP, the un-stimulating stimulus, the GM and Chrysler bail-outs, the Frank-Dodd bill, etc. Piling on the regulatory burdens and costs associated with Obamacare didn’t help.

We in the private sector can’t regain our economic freedom (and the quality of life and other freedoms derived from it) until the federal government relaxes its regulatory grip and reduces spending to a meaningful degree. Barack Obama and Harry Reid show no signs of taking action here—in fact, according to Chuck Schumer, the administration is exploring how to justify ignoring the debt limit (they’re even studying the Constitution!). It’s crucial that the Congressional Republicans stand tall on the debt limit issue—it’s the only lever they have that can force reductions in federal spending before the 2012 election.

Lesser Known Founding Fathers

Quin Hillyer wrote an article for the American Spectator that describes two of our lesser known founding fathers, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston. I remember reading Sherman’s name, but I didn’t appreciate his accomplishments. He signed the Articles of Association of the Congress of 1774, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution—he’s the only person to sign all four. He ran a store, worked as a county surveyor, served as a judge on Connecticut’s highest court, and was elected mayor of New Haven—the first person to hold that office. He designed the Connecticut Compromise, which called for the states to be represented proportional to their population in the House of Representatives but equally in the Senate. To top it off, he was elected to the House and the Senate, although he passed away (at age 72) before he took office as a senator. His Wikipedia entry says he died of typhoid fever. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was exhaustion that did him in—he accomplished extraordinary things.

Texas Businesses Opposed to the “Sanctuary Cities” Bill

Reuters reports that Texas business interests lobbied against “sanctuary cities” legislation, specifically naming homebuilder Bob Perry and grocery store magnate Charles E. Butt. Unnamed Texas lawmakers told the reporter that these business interests were “worried that the law would allow police to harass their workers.” The sanctuary cities legislation died in the Texas Senate during this year’s regular legislative session and died in the House during the special session.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that on June 9, Alabama’s governor signed an immigration law that’s more strict than Arizona’s law, and is much more strict than Texas’ failed sanctuary cities bill. Illegal immigrants are reacting by leaving Alabama in droves, including many who would otherwise be rebuilding Tuscaloosa after its April 27 tornado.

So if the Texas businesses who lobbied against the sanctuary cities bill are trying to avoid the outcome that Alabama is experiencing, who are those businesses employing?

Thank You for Your Service, Now Please Go

Empower Texans released its Fiscal Responsibility Index for the 82nd session of the state legislature, and my state senator, Jeff Wentworth, scored an “F.” Last year Wentworth was bucking for a job as a chancellor of the Texas State University System, but he didn’t get it. I hope he’s planning to spend part of his summer polishing his resume and taking another run at that job, because after five years as a member of the House and eighteen years as a member of the Senate, it’s time to move aside for a more fiscally conservative Republican.

Not With a Bang But a Whimper

The Texas anti-TSA groping bill died in the House of Representatives today, the last day of the special legislative session. The bill’s champion, State Representative David Simpson, gave a personal privilege speech after the bill failed:

The text of Rep. Simpson’s speech is available on his web site [PDF]. He directed much of his criticism at House Speaker Joe Straus, who is serving his second term. He was elected to his first term by a coalition of the House Democrats and a few RINOs. Tea Partiers and conservatives voiced opposition to re-electing Straus as Speaker, but the Republican super-majority in the 82nd legislature elected him to a second term anyway. That was a mistake. Not only did Straus work against Rep. Simpson’s anti-TSA groping bill and resort to revenue gimmicks to close the budget shortfall, but there was no attempt, as Empower Texans points out, to enact spending limits, prune state agencies, or reform taxes.

Links for 6-3-2012

  • Texas Governor Rick Perry was one of the first big name Republican politicians to publicly associate himself with the Tea Party movement. That suited his interests at the time: he was running for re-election. Now that his candidate for U.S. Senate, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, is opposed by Tea Party and other conservative groups (they’re backing Ted Cruz), he’s deeming Tea Partiers to be “out-of-state interest groups.” He continues by saying that if people understood how things in Texas work, they’d support Dewhurst. Actually many of us do know how Texas works — and we know what Dewhurst did as leader of the Senate in the last legislative session. In particular he buried the Interstate Health Care Compact and the TSA anti-groping bill and he mishandled the sanctuary cities bill (which was one of Perry’s priorities).

  • Exxon Mobil plans to construct a new chemical plant in Texas, taking advantage of cheap natural gas from fracking operations in the state.

  • The new head of Mitt Romney’s transition team, Michael Leavitt, is a proponent of states implementing ObamaCare’s health insurance exchanges, putting him in conflict with conservative think tanks who advise states not to implement the exchanges. This may be related to the fact that Leavitt owns a consulting firm that would profit handsomely if/when states implement exchanges. In response to concerns from conservatives, the Romney campaign assures us that Romney is committed to repealing ObamaCare.

  • A Citigroup study asserts that countries are forcing banks to buy sovereign debt: “Regulators are allowing banks to escape counting their country’s debt against capital requirements and loosening other rules to create a steady market for government bonds…” If these nations default on their debt, the banks are obviously screwed.

  • Iran threatened U.S. troops stationed in the Middle East with their expanding missile inventory.

  • The New York Times covered the self immolations in Tibet. There’s not much new in the article if you’ve been following these events, but it’s nice that a newspaper that liberals read is covering the story and explaining that some Tibetans are doing more that putting “Free Tibet” stickers on cars.