Archive for March 2nd, 2010

Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky may be the most unpopular man in Washington right now. And, as you may surmise, this means he is doing something admirable (envision Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and you’ll have the right context).

Republicans and Democrats want to rush through a bill to spend more money on everything from highways to healthcare to joblessness. Senator Bunning is simply saying that the new spending should be financed by reallocating some of the unspent money from the so-called stimulus. For this modest proposal, Bunning is being treated like a porcupine at a nudist camp, with both Republicans and Democrats expressing irritation that he is making it harder for them to buy votes with other people’s money.

I am delighted that Senator Bunning is putting some roadblocks in the path of bigger government, but this episode also illustrates how our hopes and expectations have been eroded. For all intents and purposes, Sen. Bunning is saying that if we want to waste money on A, B, and C, then we should not waste as much money on X, Y, and Z.

Even in the unlikely event that he succeeds, all Bunning will have accomplished to keep a bloated federal government at its current size, which is about twice as big as it was when Bill Clinton left office about nine years ago.

Whatever happened to getting rid of the Department of Education and Department of Energy? Who has a proposal to get rid of the Department of Housing and Urban Development? Are any politicians even talking about getting rid of the Department of Transportation? Or Department of Commerce? I could go on, but I’m already getting suicidally depressed.

Three cheers for Senator Bunning, but it says a lot about the era of Bush-Obama profligacy that his very modest proposal is seen as a radical idea.

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When even the Democratic mayor of an overwhelmingly Democratic (and pro-union) city is accusing government workers of being obstinate and unrealistic, that pretty much cements the argument that there are too many bureaucrats and that they are vastly overpaid. The Detroit News reports:

Mayor Dave Bing today criticized leaders of the city’s largest union for foot-dragging on contract negotiations, saying it’s costing the financially strapped city $500,000 a month and could result in more layoffs. “Either they can’t read, they can’t add or they can’t comprehend,” Bing said at a press conference this morning in his office at City Hall. “It has to be one of the three. …Bing has been at odds for months with AFSCME leaders over calls for concessions, including 10 percent pay cuts through 26 furlough days and fringe benefit cuts. The union represents about 3,600 workers such as landscapers, street pavers and crossing guards.

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Since I don’t like nuisance taxation and mindless bureaucracy, I’ve never been a big fan of having to get a license for pet dogs and cats. But the folks across the pond have pushed this to a new level and are considering licenses for dog owners. These so-called competency tests in the United Kingdom are just the tip of the iceberg. Owners would be required to insert microchips (in the animals, though I shudder to think what’s next) and buy insurance in case their pets attacked someone. The actual motive for this extremist proposal is to inconvenience owners of pit bulls and other dangerous breeds. But in typical government fashion, they refuse to directly tackle a problem and instead impose high costs on everyone. Needless to say, it is highly unlikely that the new people-licensing rules will have any affect on the cretins who actually do own certain breeds for the wrong reasons. The Daily Mail reports:

Every dog owner will have to take a costly ‘competence test’ to prove they can handle their pets, under new Government proposals designed to curb dangerous dogs. Owners of all breeds would also have to buy third-party insurance in case their pet attacked someone, and pay for the insertion of a microchip in their animal recording their name and address. …critics said responsible dog owners would be penalised by yet more red tape and higher bills – one expert estimated the extra costs at £60 or more – while irresponsible owners of dangerous dogs would just ignore the measures. …Under the proposals, would-be owners would have to show they had a basic understanding of their dogs before being allowed to keep one. The document says: ‘There have been suggestions for a competency test for all or some dog owners, akin to the driving theory test.’ But the document admits the cost of setting up such a scheme to cover Britain’s six million dog owners ‘is likely to be prohibitive’, and would have to be met by either charging for the test or by imposing a dog licence fee.

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