Sunday, May 7, 2017

May, 2017, Part 3, Political Class Insdanity: Failing Basic Economics In NYC and Failing To Poroect the Citizens of Washington State...On Purpose

It is the beginning of another month which means it is again time to review the latest political class insanity from Washington and around the world. Political class insanity takes many forms including the wasting of taxpayer wealth, criminal fraud within government programs, inane and stupid political quotes and actions, the inability to create and implement effective and efficient government programs, stupid and ill performing economic policies and strategies, and other forms of insanity that continue to evolve and surprise and shock us.

Today and for all of the insanity posts this month, let’s start off with a welcome piece of honest political dialog. It comes from a State Department spokesperson. Mark Toner, who is about to start the daily State Department press briefing. In a joking matter, he makes the following quote: "Welcome to the State Department. I think we have some interns in the back. Welcome. Good to see you in this exercise in transparency and democracy."

He then burst out laughing at his own quote, indicating he also knew what a joke the Obama administration has been, especially Mr. Toner’s State Department, when it comes to cover ups, lack of transparency, denial of Freedom of Information Act requests, the prosecution of whistleblowers, etc. But at least it was a little refreshing to finally hear some actual honesty out of Washington as we see from the actual clip of the news conference:

With that context of honesty, let’s see what other insanity has been going down:

1) In a recent political class insanity post, we described the economic ignorance of the mayor of Philadelphia relative to a new city ordinance he put forth. The ordinance severely raised the taxes on sodas sold within the city limits with the pig headed assumption that if it became more expensive to buy sugar laden sodas within the city limits, his citizens would become less obese and healthier.

Of course, his ignorance of simple economics doomed this plan to failure from the start. Given that the higher tax on soda was only on city sales of soda, Philly residents simply went outside the city limits to purchase their sodas. Thus, the city residents did not get healthier, more energy was likely used and wasted going to purchase soda outside of the city limits, and the city’s economic health deteriorated as soda sales that would have flowed to city stores now flowed outside of the city to suburban stores. 

In addition, city residents who went outside of the city to purchase soda likely purchased other grocery goods as well while they were there. And many city residents lost their jobs as a result of residents migrating outside of the city limits to purchase their soda and other groceries.

This same ignorance is occurring again today but in the city of New York. There, the mayor also does not understand that raising taxes on something usually results in LESS tax revenue flowing to government coffers despite the higher tax rate and never resolves the underlying problem that kicked off the insanity to start.

According to a recent article in the National Review:
  • NYC recently raised the cost of a single pack of cigarettes to a nation wide high of $13 a pack.
  • This increase jacks up the price from an already sky high price of at least $10.50 a pack.
  • This is supposed to get people to stop smoking.
  • But as the article points out, you can walk into any number of local stores in the city and purchase a bootlegged pack of cigarettes for about $8.00 that have been purchased outside of the city limits and smuggled in to undercut the now exorbitant price of $13 a pack of a legally purchased pack.
  • Thus, the city has raised taxes and will likely get LESS revenue as a result, the same economic principle that was at work in Philly and their sky high soda tax.
  • Which means all this increase likely did is create more criminals feeding a market demand while intruding more and more into the lives and freedoms of Americans living in New York City.
Look, smoking is bad. It kills people. But so does heroin and cocaine. They have been banned completely. If the mayor was really serious about reducing cigarette use, why not make cigarettes illegal, just like heroin and cocaine? Why be a hypocrite?

But in reality, banning cigarettes would also be as ineffective as banning cocaine and heroin. The craving for these drugs and cigarettes still exist regardless of how the law treats them. Politicians never attack the root causes, in this case the addictions. Dry up the demand for cocaine, heroin, and cigarettes and you get results. Increase the tax and criminal burden on cocaine, heroin, and cigarettes, and you create more crime and more criminals.

And it is not as if raising cigarette taxes has worked for the city in the past. At the very high price $10.50 or more a pack, the smoking rate in the city is 14.3%. In Denver, where the average cost of a pack is $6.00 (less than half the price of a NYC pack), the smoking rate is 16%, less than 2% higher than in NYC. The national smoking rate is about 15%, even closer to the NYC rate.

Thus, is it worth the hassle, the decreased tax revenue, and increase in criminality to attain a difference of less than 2% vs. say Denver or less than 1% vs. the national rate? 

Attack the root causes with treatment and support, not increased taxes and laws. But that would require planning, and long term attention and support, two qualities that today’s politicians sorely lack.

2) One of the primary functions government, a list of which should be brief, is that of protecting the citizens which that government level serves. And one area this function covers should be both natural disasters (e.g. tornadoes, hurricanes, mud slides, etc.) and made made disasters (e.g. terrorist attacks, criminal elements, etc.). 

Okay, so far so good. And the state of Washington seems to be fulfilling that primary function very well...except in one area. According to V. Saxena, writing for the Conservative Tribune on May 1, 2017:
  • According to an actual law on the books (that I actually read on the state government website to confirm this story), the state government of Washington is by law prohibited from being allowed to prepare for a nuclear bomb attack.
  • Specific to law statute RCW.38.52.030: “The comprehensive, all-hazard emergency plan authorized under this subsection may not include preparation for emergency evacuation or relocation of residents in anticipation of nuclear attack.”
  • Additionally: “State law does not allow any advanced planning,” Karina Shagren of the state’s Emergency Management Division told local station KING.
  • Think about that for a minute: one would think that a potential nuclear attack would be of utmost importance and a top priority of a state government.
  • But in Washington state, government agencies and employees are by law not allowed to even plan for such a catastrophic contingency.
  • Which obviously raises the simple question of WHY NOT???
  • According to the article, the law was enacted in 1995 by a then Democratic governor but was written by state politician Dick Nelson. 
  • He has this idiotic idea and concept that he wanted to create “an example of peace” in writing and help to enact this inane piece of legislation.
  • And apparently he still has no regrets about this stupidity: “I haven’t abandoned my basic belief that we need to find peaceful ways of dealing with the nuclear threat.” 
Nice going Dick, I am sure Putin and the nut case in North Korea are having second thoughts about using nuclear arms all because of your “example of peace.”

That statement is obviously sarcasm. How can so-called leaders be that stupid to think that you thinking of peace is going to have ANY impact on despotic and dangerous dictators...even if they knew of the restriction which they probably do not.

And the good people of Washington will likely pay if some nut case somewhere in the world goes nuclear on the state of Washington since on purpose the political class in that state decided not to be ready or be prepared. That is why the call it emergency preparedness. Insane.

That will do it for today’s insanity but they were good pieces of stupidity: deliberately putting Americans at risk of a rogue nuclear attack in Washington state and still failing Economics 101 in NYC. More insanity to follow.

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