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Archive for August 21st, 2010

I don’t know if this exchange of letters is real, but what’s amusing (and sad) is that it could be real. Enjoy.

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Mr.  Ryan DeVries, 2088 Dagget Pierson, MI 49339

SUBJECT: DEQ File No.  97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec.  20; Montcalm County

Dear Mr. DeVries:

It has come to the attention of the Department of Environmental Quality that there has been recent unauthorized activity on the above referenced parcel of property.  You have been certified as the legal landowner and/or contractor who did the following unauthorized activity:

Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet stream of Spring Pond.  A permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity.  A review of the Department’s files shows that no permits have been issued.  Therefore, the Department has determined that this activity is in violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, annotated.

The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially failed during a recent rain event, causing debris and flooding at downstream locations.  We find that dams of this nature are inherently hazardous and cannot be permitted.  The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist all activities at this location, and to restore the stream to a free-flow condition by removing all wood and brush forming the dams from the stream channel.  All restoration work shall be completed no later than January 31, 2002.

Please notify this office when the restoration has been completed so that a follow-up site inspection may be scheduled by our staff.  Failure to comply with this request or any further unauthorized activity on the site may result in this case being referred for elevated enforcement action.

We anticipate and would appreciate your full cooperation in this matter. Please feel free to contact me at this office if you have any questions.

Sincerely, David L.  Price

District Representative Land and Water Management Division

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This is the actual response sent back……..

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Dear Mr.  Price,

Re: DEQ File No.  97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec.  20;  Montcalm County.

Your certified letter dated 12/17/01 has been handed to me to respond to.

First of all, Mr. Ryan DeVries is not the legal Landowner and/or Contractor at 2088 Dagget, Pierson, Michigan.  I am the legal owner and a couple of beavers are in the (State unauthorized) process of constructing and maintaining two wood “debris” dams across the outlet stream of my Spring Pond.

While I did not pay for, authorize, nor supervise their dam project, I think they would be highly offended that you call their skillful use of natures building materials “debris.”

I would like to challenge your department to attempt to emulate their dam project any time and/or any place you choose.  I believe I can safely state there is no way you could ever match their dam skills, their dam resourcefulness, their dam ingenuity, their dam persistence, their dam determination and/or their dam work ethic.

As to your request, I do not think the beavers are aware that they must first fill out a dam permit prior to the start of this type of dam activity.

My first dam question to you is: (1) Are you trying to discriminate against my Spring Pond Beavers or (2) do you require all beavers throughout this State to conform to said dam request?

If you are not discriminating against these particular beavers, through the Freedom of Information Act, I request completed copies of all those other applicable beaver dam permits that have been issued.  Perhaps we will see if there really is a dam violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, annotated.

I have several concerns.  My first concern is – aren’t the beavers entitled to legal representation?  The Spring Pond Beavers are financially destitute and are unable to pay for said representation – so the State will have to provide them with a dam lawyer.  The Department’s dam concern that either one or both of the dams failed during a recent rain event causing flooding is proof that this is a natural occurrence, which the Department is required to protect.

In other words, we should leave the Spring Pond Beavers alone rather than harassing them and calling their dam names. If you want the stream “restored” to a dam free-flow condition please contact the beavers – but if you are going to arrest them, they obviously did not pay any attention to your dam letter, they being unable to read English.

In my humble opinion, the Spring Pond Beavers have a right to build their unauthorized dams as long as the sky is blue, the grass is green and water flows downstream.  They have more dam rights than I do to live and enjoy Spring Pond.  If the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection lives up to its name, it should protect the natural resources (Beavers) and the environment (Beavers’ Dams.).

So, as far as the beavers and I are concerned, this dam case can be referred for more elevated enforcement action right now.  Why wait until 1/31/2002?  The Spring Pond Beavers may be under the dam ice then and there will be no way for you or your dam staff to contact/harass them then.

In conclusion, I would like to bring to your attention to a real environmental quality (health) problem in the area.  It is the bears!  Bears are actually defecating in our woods.  I definitely believe you should be persecuting the defecating bears and leave the beavers alone.  If you are going to investigate the beaver dam, watch your step!  (The bears are not careful where they dump!)

Being unable to comply with your dam request, and being unable to contact you on your dam answering machine, I am sending this response to your dam office.

Sincerely,

Stephen L.Tvedten

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I hope the title of this post is an exaggeration, but it’s certainly a logical conclusion based on what is written in the Congressional Budget Office’s updated Economic and Budget Outlook. The Capitol Hill bureaucracy basically has a deficit-über-alles view of fiscal policy. CBO’s long-run perspective, as shown by this excerpt, is that deficits reduce output by “crowding out” private capital and that anything that results in lower deficits (or larger surpluses) will improve economic performance – even if this means big increases in tax rates.

CBO has also examined an alternative fiscal scenario reflecting several changes to current law that are widely expected to occur or that would modify some provisions of law that might be difficult to sustain for a long period. That alternative scenario embodies small differences in outlays relative to those projected under current law but significant differences in revenues: Under that scenario, most of the cuts in individual income taxes enacted in 2001 and 2003 and now scheduled to expire at the end of this year (except the lower rates applying to high-income taxpayers) are extended through 2020; relief from the AMT, which expired after 2009, continues through 2020; and the 2009 estate tax rates and exemption amounts (adjusted for inflation) apply through 2020. …Under those alternative assumptions, real GDP would be…lower in subsequent years than under CBO’s baseline forecast. …Under that alternative fiscal scenario, real GDP would fall below the level in CBO’s baseline projections later in the coming decade because the larger budget deficits would reduce or “crowd out” investment in productive capital and result in a smaller capital stock.

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with CBO’s concern about deficits, but looking at fiscal policy through that prism is akin to deciding who wins a baseball game by looking at what happened during the 6th inning. Yes, government borrowing drains capital from the productive sector of the economy. And nations such as Greece are painful examples of what happens when governments go too far down this path. But taxes also undermine economic performance by reducing incentives to work, save, and invest. And nations such as France are gloomy reminders of what happens when punitive tax rates discourage productive behavior.

What’s missing for CBO’s analysis is any recognition or understanding that the real problem is excessive government spending. Regardless of whether spending is financed by borrowing or taxes, resources are being diverted from the private sector to government. In other words, government spending is the disease and deficits are basically a symptom of that underlying problem. Indeed, it’s worth noting that there’s not much evidence that deficits cause economic damage but plenty of evidence that bloated public sectors stunt growth. This video is a good antidote to CBO’s myopic focus on budget deficits.

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A reader has asked me to weigh in on the mini-controversy that was triggered when a Wall Street financier said fighting Obama’s tax hikes was like a war and that the battle was “like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.” While it seems clear that Stephen Schwarzman was not saying Obama was a Nazi or that his policies were akin to those pursued by the National Socialist Workers Party, he obviously should have used a better analogy. Even if the intent is totally innocent and/or intellectually legitimate, it distracts from the core message when you make references to Nazis or fascism (indeed, I’ve made this point in previous posts about whether Obama is a socialist). Here’s an excerpt for those who want to know more about the story.

The billionaire Blackstone private equity boss Stephen Schwarzman, who is among Wall Street’s most visceral proponents of the free market, has been obliged to apologise after comparing Barack Obama’s tax policies to the Nazi advance across Europe at the beginning of the second world war. The tycoon, whose empire stretches from Hilton hotels to the Weather Channel, United Biscuits and the London Eye, has worked himself up into a lather about a proposed tax hike on so-called “carried interest” profits – the gains made when private equity firms buy and sell businesses – from 15% to as much as 35%. “It’s a war,” he told a board members of a non-profit organisation, whose members leaked Schwarzman’s remarks to Newsweek on condition of anonymity. “It’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.” …Schwarzman expressed regret for his comments, telling the New York Post: “I apologise for what was an inappropriate analogy.” But he added: “The fundamental issue of the administration’s need to work productively with business for the benefits of the overall economy is still of very serious concern not only to me, but also to large parts of the business community.”

P.S. Obama’s tax hikes are very misguided. But the best analogy is that this is like…um…when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor.

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