Where Free Marketers Meet and Take Action in Southeastern Wisconsin

A Little Something, Something

03.22.2009 · Posted in News

Rep. Gwen Moore was one of Mike Gousha’s guests on UpFront this morning.  She discussed the A.I.G. bonuses amongst other things.  Check out her response to Mike’s question at the 3:10 mark.  It sounds as though she’s referring to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  I wonder if she read my post from Friday?

Mock Chicken and Outrage

03.20.2009 · Posted in News

I was reviewing the biography of Congresswoman Gwen Moore on her official U.S. House of Representatives website and came across the following:

Congresswoman Moore is a strong advocate for measures that focus on improving the economic and employment conditions in low-income communities. Rep. Moore has fought to curb predatory lending in minority neighborhoods, supported sound efforts to help small businesses grow and advance the creation of new jobs, pushed for the creation of more affordable housing, and also for compliance in the non-discriminatory hiring of minority-owned businesses for government contracts. (My emphasis added)

The “affordable housing” phrase is linked to a May, 2005 press release, in which Rep. Moore touts an amendment she helped add to a major housing bill aimed at “encouraging” Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to “reach out to underserved minorities.”  While that bill never became law, it appears that Rep. Moore is still proud of her efforts and considers this one of her accomplishments as a member of Congress.  Apparently, Rep. Moore felt that Fannie and Freddie were not lenient enough in supporting the subprime housing market through their purchasing of mortgage-backed securities from lenders.  Does she still feel that way today?  Her (not yet updated?) biography seems to suggest that she does.

Keep in mind, we now come to find out that Fannie and Freddie intend to dish out sizable bonuses this year that even surpass last year’s amounts.  This is six months after both firms were placed into conservatorship and despite seeking nearly $60,000,000,000 in taxpayer assistance to stem massive losses.  According to Yahoo,

 Fannie Mae said regulators determined that the bonuses were needed because keeping key employees “was essential to ensure our viability through 2010, which would allow Congress, the administration and other parties involved time to determine what the form and function of the company will be in future years.”

The bonuses were authorized last year by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which seized control of Fannie and Freddie in September and ousted the companies’ former CEOs

“It was critical to retain their most important asset — their employees — who are being asked to play a vital role in the nation’s economic recovery,” James Lockhart, the agency’s director, said in a statement. “As the previous senior management teams left, it would have been catastrophic to lose the next layers down and other highly experienced employees.”

Hmm…so these bonuses were agreed upon many months ago and have been known about for quite some time, and are intended to prevent the firms from losing talented and experienced employees which could be important for long-term viability.  Sound vaguely familiar?  It seems that “tin ears” are not only limited to the leaders of Wall Street firms bailed out by the government–if you accept the hysteria of the past week.

As for those A.I.G. bonuses, Rep. Moore has made her displeasure known.  With just a few minor changes, I am in full support of her comments:

“The fact that some on Wall Street in Congress have sought to exploit the public tax dollars is not only outrageous but is an egregious violation of the public’s trust,” said Rep. Moore.  “If the leadership of companies our government officials who implicitly and explicitly encouraged GSEs to increasingly finance the subprime housing market and that receive TARP dispense bail-out funds are determined to waste taxpayer dollars on extravagant bonuses then I believe we as taxpayers- who significantly subsidize these same companies GSEs– have the right to recoup those funds.”

I, along with Fannie and Freddie, await her outrage.

Open the Floodgates

03.19.2009 · Posted in News

According to supporters of the Milwaukee streetcar system (scroll to the bottom for the updates to the story), this will be a “magnet for young people” and tourists alike. 

Although the Mayor’s chief of staff, Patrick Curley, admits that:

Local funding may be necessary for the streetcar system, which could come from a variety of sources including tax incremental financing (TIF) or parking surcharges

Frankly, that’s the last thing we should be concerned about.  Of course, we’ll find a way to pay for a vital piece of infrastructure if it means ushering our city into the 21st century as Alderman Robert Bauman suggests.  Ald. Bauman goes on to contend that:

There are dozens and dozens of cities, many of which are smaller and with less population density than Milwaukee, which have experienced great success in terms of ridership and public acceptance (with rail systems). Right now we are behind the curve.

In Mayor Barrett’s Comprehensive Transit Strategy for Milwaukee, Seattle and Cincinnati are ahead of Bauman’s curve, while Toledo and Omaha are behind it.

This reminds me of the old adage about whether it is wise to jump off a bridge if everyone else does the same.  Randel O’Toole, a Cato senior fellow, warns cities about the danger of jumping off that bridge

Will the streetcar be successful?  Will a KRM, heavy-rail linking Chicago-Milwaukee-Madison, and perhaps light-rail transform our regional economy and quality of life?  Possibly. 

But that’s not the right nor only question to ask.  How should we pay for these “improvements” or any improvement to our public transportation infrastructure (yep, that includes roads and highways)?  What, if anything, should we subsidize?  Should we subsidize location decisions or should central planners decide where it is best for us to live and work?  And why are private transportation solutions not part of the discussion? 

Dr. Michael Munger, chair of the Political Science department at Duke University and former North Carolina gubernatorial candidate, documents how a private transportation system flourished in Chile before it was “transformed” into a better system for all Chileans.

Hopefully, we do learn by the examples of other cities both in the U.S. and around the world, and proceed cautiously where taxpayer funds and trasnportation options are concerned.  Unfortunately, the last few months leave me less optimistic on that front.

Perhaps my pessimism will be drown out by the rush of stampeding tourists and young folks flocking to the region.  We shall see.

Success at Half the Price

03.15.2009 · Posted in News

My wife and I are proud members of St. Marcus Lutheran Church in Milwaukee on Palmer and North.  In addition to a vibrant congregation, St. Marcus accounts for one of the real ongoing education success stories in Milwaukee.  The school includes 330 students and 45 staff, all of whom are committed to excellence.

As a recent WPRI article points out, 85% of the students are categorized as school-choice.  The article also points out that St. Marcus educates students for around $7,500 per-pupil, or roughly $5,500 less than MPS.

Recent moves by Democrats in Congress prove just how strong their attachment is to teachers unions.  Not only are Democrats not willing to permit the growth of school choice nation-wide, but many are even willing to kill programs that for the most part have been a success.  In fact, right in the District of Columbia Democrats are attempting to kill the school choice program which assists over 1,700 low-income children receive a chance at a better future.

With Democrats in control at all levels in Wisconsin and national Democrats making clear their intentions for school choice, it will be increasingly important that Wisconsin conservatives continue to spread the news of Milwaukee’s success stories, especially like those at St. Marcus.

As Superintendent Tyson at St. Marcus notes:

“Urban education is not rocket science. Our model is largely stolen. People who are serious about school reform need to ask themselves why St. Marcus is more successful than most inner-city public schools at about half the cost,” Tyson says.
“What we do here works. We should be replicating what works, but society has chosen not to.”

Henry is absolutely right.  And it is our responsibility to fight any attempts to suffocate successful measures while at the same time encouraging the replication of success and not failure.

If you are interested in learning more about St. Marcus or any of the many ways in which you can help out, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Wauwatosa Republican Party Thirsty Thursday

03.14.2009 · Posted in Uncategorized

The Wauwatosa Republican Party is having its first “Thirsty Thursday” as an informal social event. It’s for Republicans and conservatives, but mainly for sensible people who believe that mortgaging our children’s and our children’s children’s future for pork barrel spending is just not a good idea.

There is no cost and no membership required (although drinks are not provided); just show up and have a good time. We’ll be in the Fireplace Lounge.

For more information and news, please find the Wauwatosa Republican Party at www.wauwatosarepublicans.com

Please feel free to invite anyone who may be interested.

When:  Thurs. March 26, 6:00-8:00

Where:  Firefly Urban Bar and Grill

The American Dream

03.11.2009 · Posted in Uncategorized

A personal hero of mine, Professor Russ Roberts of George Mason University and EconTalk fame, was a guest on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “At Issue with Ben Merens” earlier this week.  His discussion on The American Dream with Ben and callers is worth the listen.  The exchange with Randy from Chippewa Falls at 28:35 is particularly noteworthy in countering the notion that life was better in “the good old days” and considering the effects subsidization has on all of us; even if it benefits some of our fellow Wisconsites.

Proposed Solutions to Job Losses Only Create More Problems

03.08.2009 · Posted in Uncategorized

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, American unemployment rose again in February. This is further evidence of a declining economy and people are looking for solutions. President Obama has offered the recent federal “stimulus” package. However, it seems abundantly clear that no government action, no matter how many inspiring speeches one gives and no matter how much political capital one spends in support of that action, will make unemployment magically disappear entirely. Government interference, on the other hand, may and in this situation almost certainly will make the problem worse.

Those currently in power have come up with the following solutions:

1. Spend the “stimulus” money on projects that will create few, if any, actual jobs. See this article in which Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett talks about how the first federal dollars will be spent in Milwaukee. I am certainly not against homeless shelters and other social programs to help those in need, but to use money given under the guise of a job creation program for these purposes is ridiculous. The money spent on these and the other programs in the bloated spending bill leads to the argument for the next solution…

2. Villainize the “rich,”  demanding that fewer individuals bear the burden for the remainder of the country while an increasing number of people pay no tax at all. Most entrepeneurs are hardworking individuals; they aren’t taking home $60 million bonus payments or spending months traveling the world every year while their employees are toiling for minimum wage.  Ultimately, President Obama can continue to blame business for the economy’s woes until his proposed tax, labor, and health care policies shut the doors of the small and medium-sized businesses in this country (ironically, for all the criticism by public officials, only the huge conglomorates where abuses tend to happen will be able to survive). Who will be to blame in his mind for the unemployment rate after that point, likely to be just as high or higher than we are currently seeing, is anyone’s guess.

3. Attack the charitable deduction (see Jason Kohout’s much more detailed analysis below). I’m not going to go so far as to say that people will stop giving to charity altogether because of this action, but everyone who actually has to pay taxes in this country wants to lose as little of their hard-earned income as possible to the government and this deduction certainly helps if one itemizes. More troubling than the impact on taxation, however, may be Obama’s response to concern that donations to non-profit organizations will decline; he has proposed that the government step in and give federal funds to certain non-profits. Which ones? One of the great benefits of giving to a charitable organization is that I can put my dollars directly to work in support of certain causes or organizations while people who disagree with me politically give to others. I know I don’t want those currently in power to decide which organizations are “worthy” of my tax dollars.

4. Put this really cool logo on stuff funded by the new “stimulus” plan. One can’t help but wonder who profited from developing this logo, how much public money it cost, and how its creation will put Americans back to work.

These solutions are unrelated to job creation. They are efforts to implement a far-left policy that takes power from the individuals in this country and consolidates it in the government on the theory that government knows what is in our best interests better than we do. It is time that we send our elected officials the message that government exists because of individuals and not the other way around. The 2010 elections will be absolutely critical to sending this message before we stray too far down the current path.

Paul Ryan and Fish Fry

03.08.2009 · Posted in Uncategorized

Reagan Day Dinner on Fri 3/13 at Serb Hall with Cong Paul RyanMilwaukee County Reagan Day Dinner
Friday March 13, 2009
5:30 pm Private reception, 6pm Social Hour, 7pm Dinner & Program
Serb Hall, President’s Hall, 5101 W. Oklahoma Avenue – Milwaukee 

 

Meet Wisconsin’s Congressman Paul Ryan Jr. for a discussion on free markets and economic growth. 
$29 per person in advance; $35 per person at door / $55 per couple / Student Price $18
Host Committee: $125 includes dinner for two, private reception, photo opportunity, preferred seating and recognition from the podium.

For a flyer with a reservation form for this event, go to the Milwaukee County GOP website:
http://www.milwaukeecountygop.com/

Any questions or to RSVP, please call 414-727-1220.

Rose Bowl

03.08.2009 · Posted in Uncategorized

Come and support
Rose Fernandez for State Superintendent of Schools

DATE: Monday, March 30th
TIME: 6:30-8:30
MORE: One candidate for state superintendent is standing up for truly improving our children’s educations and for responsibility to the taxpayer:  Rose Fernandez (www.changedpi.com).  Help her fight the teachers’ union with a suggested donation of $20 and by joining us for a night of bowling (bowling costs $10 w/shoes).  All donations welcome. 

Joe the Plumber–A Success

03.07.2009 · Posted in Uncategorized

The event last night was a success. We’ll be collecting pictures and posting them. Thanks to everyone who came or passed along the word. Special thanks goes to www.AmericansforProsperity.org/WI for cosponsoring the event and to Bootleggers for hosting it.
I talked to a few people afterwards. They were a little surprised that Joe is (gasp) a pretty average guy. Nothing wrong with that.