Odds and ends number 100

Hey, a milestone!

The “odds and ends” concept is almost as old as monoblogue itself – my first one, actually called “Odds and year ends,” came back on December 26, 2005. monoblogue was all of 25 days old then, a babe in the woods of the World Wide Web. (It was post #20 on this website; this one will be #5,137.) In re-reading that one after all these years, I found it was a very Maryland-centric post. And what makes it perfectly fitting is that my plan was to make this a Delaware-centric post since I had used most of my other stuff pre-election and held the items for the First State back.

So as has always been the rule, we have things I handle in a couple sentences to a few paragraphs – a series of mini-posts, if you will.

A taxpayer money waste

Did you know the state of Delaware is suing energy companies claiming “Defendants, major corporate members of the fossil fuel industry, have
known for nearly half a century that unrestricted production and use of fossil fuel products create greenhouse gas pollution that warms the planet and changes our climate.”

(…)

“Defendants have known for decades that climate change impacts could be catastrophic, and that only a narrow window existed to take action before the consequences would be irreversible.”

If you really want to bother reading all 218 pages of the lawsuit be my guest, but the upshot is best described by the Caesar Rodney Institute’s David T. Stevenson, who wrote, “The suit is likely to meet the same fate as a similar lawsuit in New York that simply wasted taxpayer money.” CRI’s Stevenson instead compares the supposed future effects of so-called manmade climate change to the tangible effects of fossil fuels on societal development.

It’s true Delaware is a low-lying state, but it’s also true that sea levels have been rising for several decades, long before the first SUV was sold or widget factory was built. But to demand both compensatory and punitive damages from a host of energy companies – which would cut into their R & D budget and increase consumer costs – is in and of itself a waste of valuable energy and time. If it ever comes to the jury trial they demand, I pray that we get 12 sober-minded people who laugh this suit right out of court.

Robbing the livelihood

It’s been a bone of contention for many: what was originally billed as a state of emergency to “flatten the curve” has now almost become a way of life as our ongoing state of emergency in Delaware was quietly extended yet again on the Friday before Halloween (and the election.)

I did a little bit of traveling around the bottom part of the state this weekend and noticed some of the missing businesses. After a summer tourist season ruined by our reaction to the CCP virus, it may indeed be the winter of our discontent and there’s no better place to spend it than Delaware, right Governor Carney?

Since the Delaware General Assembly will be returning with an even stronger Democrat majority in the Senate, it’s to be expected that employer mandates will be among the items discussed. But as A Better Delaware observes, that can be very counterproductive to businesses already struggling to survive:

The cost of the health care provided to the employee does not result in more productivity or value of that employee at their firm. By adding this cost, it is more likely that incomes will be lowered in order for the total value of the employee to remain the same, even with additional costly mandates. Sometimes, the cost of these mandates results in layoffs so that the company can afford to provide them to the remaining employees.

“Employer mandates: mandating job and income loss,” A Better Delaware, October 2, 2020.

Instead, what they suggest is a private-sector solution: “either establish insurance plans that would cover short-term disability or paid family leave plans or allowing lower-income hourly workers to choose if they would want to convert overtime pay to paid leave.” The flexibility allowed by this would be beneficial, particularly as some may wish to enhance their allotted vacation time in this manner. I made an agreement like that last year with my employer to trade overtime for vacation hours I used later on to extend my year-end holiday by a couple days.

Time for public input

As I noted above, the state’s state of emergency was extended yet again by Governor Carney. But the folks at CRI believe this shouldn’t just be his call.

Instead, they believe what’s necessary is a three-day emergency session of the General Assembly, focused on the following:

  • Debate and negotiate a time limit for Executive Emergency Power, such as two or three months after which Legislative approval is needed for any extension.
  • Debate and negotiate specific metrics for re-opening the economy and return to in-person school classes based upon hospitalizations, not cases.

A state of emergency is not meant to be a perpetual grant of power, although politicians of all stripes have been known to abuse the declaration for things that aren’t immediate impediments to public safety, such as the opioid crisis. It’s important, but not to the level of a state of emergency. We flattened the curve and have learned a lot about the CCP virus, and in a cynical way it did its job because otherwise Donald Trump cruises to re-election and China continues to have a worthy adversary instead of a pocketed leader.

(ahem) It’s time for economy to get back to work so we can deal with all the abuse it might be about to take from the incoming Harris/Biden regime.

One last tax question

Should Delaware relent and adopt a sales tax?

This was another item considered by the CRI folks over the last few weeks, and their data bears out my armchair observations as someone who’s lived close by the border for 16 years. Since we don’t collect sales tax, strictly speaking this puts Delaware’s border-area retailers at an advantage. (Technically, residents of Maryland, Pennsylvania, et. al. are supposed to remit the sales tax they would have paid in-state after buying in Delaware but I’ve yet to meet one who does.)

But if you assume that Delaware takes in $2.89 billion from the retail industry, a 3% sales tax would give the state $86.7 million. However, when you compare that to the possible retail jobs and revenue lost by eliminating the state’s “tax-free” status, the net would be much smaller and could become a negative – a negative that increases the closer the state comes to matching its neighbors’ sales tax rates, which range from 6% in Maryland to 6.6% in New Jersey. (By comparison, these rates are among the lowest in the nation, so perhaps Delaware is a tempering factor for those states, too.)

Retail is a tough enough business, though. Why make it harder for those in the First State?

And last…it’s that time of year

Every year it seems I have a post about items made in the USA. Our fine friends at the Alliance for American Manufacturing continue to chug along with their list, and they’ve been looking for suggestions over the last month or so. The list usually comes out just in time for Black Friday, although this year may be different. (There’s still time to squeeze in a last-minute idea, I’ll bet.)

Admittedly, sometimes it’s a bit of a reach as last year‘s Delaware item was RAPA scrapple, but previous years they’ve featured Delaware self-employed crafters for baby-related items and unglazed clay bakeware, giving those small businesses a hand. I’d be very curious to see what they come up with this year.

And I’ll be very curious to see what I come up with for items for the next odds and ends, which begins the second hundred if the Good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise.

Odds and ends number 99

This will be the pre-election edition of odds and ends. I have so much stuff in my e-mail that’s interesting and intriguing that I’ll end up doing two parts, with the less time-sensitive stuff coming later this week or maybe next, depending on my mood.

As always, these are items I can deal with in a span of words covering anywhere from a couple sentences to three or four paragraphs, give or take.

The media is not your friend

I get a lot of items that pick on the media, but none have said so more succinctly than The American Spectator‘s editor Melissa McKenzie. This wasn’t from a featured article, but an e-mail summary:

Whether Trump wins or loses, THEY’VE ALREADY LOST. Their industry is over. Their ideological hegemony is done. They are relics of a bygone era. The worst part is that they’ve done it to themselves. They’ve torched their credibility and manage to cover nothing of importance. 

(…)

The insanity you’re seeing from the mainstream media is terror. They hate Donald Trump, but without him, they’re over. They’ve boxed themselves into a corner.

So while marveling about the MSM’s nuttiness, keep in mind that it’s not really about Trump. It’s about them. They’re experiencing existential dread. They’re right to be afraid.

“Trump: The End is NOT Nigh,” Melissa McKenzie, October 5, 2020.

To take the point further, Erick Erickson compared two styles of new media, pointing out the difference between Left and Right:

The difference is that the conservative sites are frequently just running pre-written PR pieces. The Acronym sites actually have reporters and editors, running as partisan news operations. They are actively digging dirt and churning stories to damage the GOP. Their efforts are not to facilitate truth, but to advance a leftwing narrative.

(…)

As an aside, conservatives need to take note on this. In the past, conservatives tried to do something similar to what Acronym is doing. Unfortunately, the donor structure on the right largely exists to make a profit and see a financial return on investment. Progressive donors want to affect change and see their return on investment based on narrative shaping and advancement of an agenda.

“A Tale of Two Stories With Common Facts,” Erick Erickson, October 19, 2020.

Back in the day I used to be one of those conservatives who knocked themselves out doing news reporting and commentary. Over the years I have worked with a bunch of news aggregators; here’s a list gleaned from my blog categories: Examiner.com, Conservative Weekly, Red County, Watchdog Wire, and Liberty Features Syndicate. Except for the pittance I made off the Examiner, these weren’t paying gigs because of what Erickson noted – these entities had to make a profit and could not with paid contributors. (The Examiner got less and less lucrative over time, too.)

But there is a market out there that’s being filled with videos and podcasts, and someone somewhere is making money for nothing, as Dire Straits would sing. That’s where people are going for news, and it’s driving the gatekeepers crazy.

The realms of money and mail in politics

Did you know that over 40 percent of Democrat donors are unemployed? That’s what a September story in PJ Media claimed. It was even more pronounced in 2020, as the number edged up over 50 percent.

I think there’s something wrong with the system when it’s being gamed in that way. But that’s nothing to how vote-by-mail seems to be manipulated: here’s a list of recent vote-by-mail disasters compiled by the fine folks at the Capital Research Center.

Then again, if you asked Rebecca Mansour and James P. Pinkerton at Breitbart, this is all part of a seven-part scheme to promote vote-by-mail “chaos.” Add in accusations of ballot harvesting, and, if the Russians’ goal was to sow distrust in our electoral system then the Left is helping them succeed beyond their wildest dreams.

All I know is that I’m going to go express my preferences on Tuesday, and hopefully the state and national voters agree. Let’s just say I won’t be supporting the ones who are the target of these allegations.

The coming unrest

As I’ve probably mentioned from time to time, I keep tabs on the Indivisible movement. While they have reached the late TEA Party stage of constantly begging for money, they also have their little schemes and one they recently hatched is called “Protect the Results.” (Why do I suspect the only results they are interested in protecting are the ones where they are winning?)

They claim that they “created a coalition of more than 100 organizations that are committed to protecting our democracy if Trump and his desperate Republican allies throw our country into a manufactured constitutional crisis.” If it takes until January to find the needed votes for Joe Biden Kamala Harris, they are willing to wait.

At the time I initially heard from them, they were up to 240 events nationwide (now it’s 471) but the one I’m most interested in is slated for Ocean City on November 4. (There are none in Delaware or elsewhere on the Eastern Shore.) Of course, the location is not released but we know the sponsor: “Join Indivisible Worcester MD to wave signs to honor the valid results of the 2020 election, ensure that every vote is counted, and show up to demand the peaceful transition of power. We’ll have some signs but not enough for everyone, so bring signs if you can.”

There are only so many outdoor locations in the Ocean City area where a crowd of a couple dozen would be noticed at this time of year, so be looking and if you see them ask them if they’ll accept a Trump victory.

One problem I have with Trump

There are a lot of things I’ve liked about Donald Trump, as I detailed yesterday. But one bone I have to pick with him is his energy policy – while he isn’t going to ban fracking like Joe Biden, he’s leaving a lot of chips on the table and one of those was his recent extension of an energy exploration ban in the Eastern Gulf and South Atlantic until 2032. We just finally got to energy independence, so why leave these potential assets to wither?

As API’s Mark Green opines:

Most concerning is the abrupt about-face for U.S. energy policy embodied in the president’s executive order. Suddenly shelving the vast oil and natural gas potential of the Eastern Gulf and South Atlantic, which would be critically important to the nation’s strategic energy needs, is a 180-degree shift from the U.S. “energy dominance” theme heard so often from the administration the past few years.

Mark Green, “The Administration’s Misstep On Eastern Gulf, South Atlantic Offshore Policy,” Energy Tomorrow, September 14, 2020.

We don’t know how much oil is down there, but without seismic testing and exploratory drilling, we won’t know if they are going to find dry holes or millions of barrels we can use. We should make the attempt to find out – not just in those areas but farther north where it can perhaps create jobs unlike the wind turbines no one but the moneyed interests want.

Misdirection

Charles “Sam” Faddis is a veteran intelligence operations officer, so I think he has a pretty informed opinion when he writes:

The Iranians have already begun sending spoof emails to potential voters seeking to sow dissension. The Russians may soon follow suit. Americans need to be on guard.

(…)

The same FBI that wants us to believe that Iranian spam is a serious threat to our democracy is the same FBI that has been sitting on Hunter Biden’s laptop for ten months. That laptop is filled with evidence of what appears to be a worldwide operation by the Biden family to cash in on Joe Biden’s position as Vice-President and then as former Vice-President. It is also filled with evidence to suggest very strongly that Joe Biden – the Democratic Party candidate for President – looks like he may be bought and paid for by Beijing.

Charles Faddis, “Are The Chinese One Step Away From Putting Their Man In The White House While The FBI Worries About Iranian Spam Mail?” AND Magazine, October 22, 2020.

It’s somewhat unfortunate that the Hunter Biden child porn angle has drawn the most attention in this scandal. Hunter Biden isn’t on the ballot, but Joe Biden is and anything that ties him into this sordid tale is more important to know than the drug habit and other details of his son’s tawdry life.

Sunday evening reading (on Monday)

Erick Erickson is back on here, and this time he says he’s gonna make you mad. But I didn’t get mad because I just remember God is in control.

You’ve got two old geezers who act like they’re fighting over the last chicken wing at an all you can eat buffet early bird special who the American public has concluded are the best we can do in a nation of over 350 million people and that is a damning indictment on the whole nation. Part of me thinks your excitement and enthusiasm for your particular candidate is just to cover the shame of these two candidates being the best we could do.

(…)

PS — while you were out on your boat parade or car parade or in your socially distanced circle of jerks bragging that your side was all masked up unlike the other side, you weren’t phone banking, you weren’t knocking on doors, and you weren’t getting out the vote in the closest presidential election in our lifetime. Now you can get off my lawn.

Erick Erickson, “Gonna Make You Mad This Morning,” October 30, 2020.

What’s really funny is that I just read a Facebook post from a self-styled Maryland political expert (and #NeverTrump) who complained the exact same thing about the 4,000 to 5,000 cars that participated in a mobile Trump rally along the Beltway.

Of course, that implied these people were going to help out in the campaign. There are a lot of people who do political volunteering, but 95% of those drivers in that parade weren’t political volunteers and never will be. It’s like a mobile yard sign – if not, why would it be a big deal when President Trump draws 60,000 to a rally and Joe Biden has half a hundred? The CCP virus is just an excuse – Trump backers are passionate, and they will show up at the polls. Just make sure you bring a friend or two.

What’s at stake in Delaware?

If you are a recipient of e-mail from A Better Delaware, you’re already aware of this, but they came up with an outline of their priorities.

There are ideas to return the estate tax, and increase the top rate for income taxes – which are already rather high to begin with. They will also create issues for small business, many of which have owners who file as individuals and not businesses.

They point out that proposed regulations and mandates on businesses will result in job cuts. These mandates include paid family leave and increasing the minimum wage.

The government transparency that was already an issue before the CCP virus has been enhanced by the suspension of FOIA compliance and lack of input into the budget process, including how to spend our (surprising) budget surplus. It was never explained how some businesses were deemed essential while others withered on the vine.

Corruption in the state – it’s not just shady land deals, but a legislature that routinely ignores its own rules.

Certificate-of-need laws the federal government scrapped end up restricting our access to health care.

I’m going to talk a lot more about Delaware in the post-election edition, but this is enough for now. Tomorrow I’ll make a few wild guesses and we will see if 2020’s election is just as bad as the rest of the year.

Odds and ends number 97

You know, I figured just as soon as I put old number 96 to bed that my e-mail box would fill up with interesting tidbits, so it wouldn’t be nearly as long before I got to number 97. So let’s see what I have here.

A look at theology

People tend to think of Erick Erickson as just a radio personality and pundit, but it’s not as well known that he’s studied divinity. So when he talks about religion it makes my ears perk up, and this recent column of his was one of those times.

Christians need to be preaching Jesus, not Christianity. We need to preach about the end and the return and the world made new. It is fantastical and supernatural and unbelievable for so many. But it is real and right and true and will give the hopeless hope.

Erick Erickson, “Groaning for Justice: The Theology of What is Happening”, June 25, 2020

It sounds a lot like my church. But it’s worth remembering that on one side is the world and on the other side is God, expressed in the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Perhaps I have a simplistic perspective about it all, but then again I came to the game later in life than a lot of other people so my flaws were more apparent.

I believe that when Jesus said no one comes to the Father but through him that He was absolutely right. There’s nothing wrong with trying to make the world better but there should always be that end goal in mind, too.

Is there any reason for college?

This may seem strange to say as an alumnus of Miami University, but insofar as career preparation I learned as much in a year of work as I did in securing my four-year degree. (However, I did manage to consume many “Gobblers” and adult beverages from various eating and drinking establishments around Oxford, Ohio, and I got to go see Division I sports for free. So there was that.)

By the same token, Victor Davis Hanson has toiled in the academic field for decades – yet he delivers a scathing critique of college life and educational achievement in 2020, 34 years after I walked away from Millett Hall with my diploma case in hand.

31 years later I was witness to a similar scene but under wildly different circumstances, as my wife received her bachelor’s degree from a nationally-recognized college after taking online courses tailored to the working world. For these folks, their campus was the Washington, D.C. area and beyond, and hundreds of them were in what was then the Verizon Center for their big day. They received their degrees after enduring a lifestyle of trying to juggle work, kids, and other responsibilities with their academics as opposed to being cloistered on a campus and shuttling between academic halls, student centers, and their dorms. That was my world in the mid-1980s as a snot-nosed kid from a small Ohio town.

Yet many kids still do the same thing I did four decades ago, and the problem with that approach is that it’s rapidly becoming an information silo. Kids learn a lot about things of little importance in real life then wonder why it bites them in the ass. I remember pounding the pavement for a job right out of college then finally taking something outside my field to tide me over – turns out I was there less than a month before I got the break I needed; then again I was in an avocation where there was demand in the real world so it finally needed my supply.

And my alma mater wonders why I ignore their pleas for alumni donations.

More from smart people

How this guy ever got to be governor of his state – and then re-elected – often mystifies me. IMHO he was really too smart for the job, and the same went for being President. I think Bobby Jindal could have been the next Calvin Coolidge, a President who exhibited admirable restraint of his powers and led the government to do the same.

Recently he penned an op-ed for the Washington Examiner where he focused on some items he saw as long-term trends accelerated by the onset of the Wuhan flu. This one was the one that piqued my interest the most:

De-densification: Elevators, mass transit, and air-conditioned spaces, all critical components of urban living, will be rendered safe again one day. Yet, the nation’s most successful cities were already victims of their own success, with the rising cost of living pushing working families to the suburbs and exurbs. Workers are going to demand more flexible work arrangements and less time wasted commuting. Remote work and virtual meetings will allow many office workers to be productive in the exurbs and in the country. Wealthy families will join them with getaway homes, and companies will require less-dense and smaller offices. Smaller communities near urban centers will benefit and become more economically viable for their permanent residents. The economic efficiencies that have driven urbanization will still continue to be compelling, and first-tier cities especially will reinvent themselves and continue to attract immigrants and new businesses.

“How the COVID-19 pandemic will change us”, Bobby Jindal, Washington Examiner, June 24, 2020.

The initial push to the suburbs in the postwar era was fueled by the surge of new families looking for room to grow, coupled with the inexpensive cost of gasoline and car maintenance and expansion of highway construction allowing commuters to bypass mass transit. Suddenly small towns that were once on the outskirts of metro areas and surrounded by cornfields became the loose center of dozens of subdivisions looped together by beltway interstates surrounding the city core. My parents did this in spades, bypassing suburbia altogether to buy five rural acres for three active boys to play ball on and dealing with a half-hour or more commute.

Being in the design world, I’ve seen the push for a new urbanism. For example, in nearby Salisbury their mayor Jake Day has pushed for a new style of downtown revitalization, attempting to bring in mixed-use development accessible by multiple modes of transportation. Surface parking on city-owned lots downtown is rapidly becoming a thing of the past as lots are sold to developers.

Fortunately for Day, Salisbury is still a small enough city that it doesn’t suffer from the maladies of Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia, and others which have seen their urban core rot away from a toxic combination of crime, poverty, and lack of opportunity. It could yet go that way, or it could become a destination precisely because it’s been small enough to escape these issues – the sort of small town Jindal envisions succeeding thanks to the remote technology we now have.

But these urban escapees have another close-by alternative which is also retiree-friendly – if we don’t screw it up.

Picking too many losers

The state of Delaware lags the field in state-level GDP growth these days, one survey placing the First State last in the nation.

Perhaps a reason for this, argues the group A Better Delaware, is that our state government is terrible at determining winners and losers. As it has often turned out, the well-connected are the winners and taxpayers are the losers, and the group goes through some examples in this recent piece.

As I see it, job creation is about filling needs. An entrepreneur sees a market void and figures out a way to fill it, then once that venture is a go he or she may find the work is too much for one person to handle. Suddenly they’re signing the front of a paycheck, and the measure of a business-friendly state is just how easily that employer can get to that point without feeling violated from the anal rape of a corrupt system installed to grease the palms of a thousand bureaucrats. Somehow Delaware seems to believe that making life easier for those who promise scores of jobs without figuring out the market void is a good thing to do. I tend to like my strategy better.

The library

I was recently introduced to an interesting website in a unique way: one of its employees requested to purchase a paper copy of The Rise and Fall of the TEA Party. So I autographed it and sent it to Tennessee for his enjoyment. (By the way, I have several more available.)

So while Ammo.com sells – as you may guess – many different varieties of ammunition, they also feature what’s called the Resistance Library: a collection of articles on many and varied topics. (Actually, the whole site is worth exploring.) The post my newfound friend was dying to share with me, though, was on “Policing for Profit.”

Civil asset forfeiture is a popular concept with the “if you don’t do anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about” crowd; the same ones who shout “blue lives matter!” (And they do, but so does the law.) In reading this lengthy, well-written treatise on the subject I found out that Delaware is a state which is one of the worst in that regard.

And civil asset forfeiture laws are difficult to change because there are two large lobbies already stacked against these efforts: law enforcement and local government. Imagine what $200,000 seized could do for a local government’s bottom line when they may spend $2 million on a police department annually. Never mind it’s not their property and they have only suspicion that it was gathered illegally. It’s like crack cocaine to an addict: wrongly or not, they can’t pass it up. We need to send our state to a proverbial NA meeting next year when the General Assembly reconvenes.

More bad advice

I like to end on a light-hearted note when I can, and what better way than to poke fun at those who tell me how to run this place?

Hello monoblogue.us team:

As you know because of Global pandemic, the world has shut down and a big question mark on sustainability of business.

We are connecting the business owner to create a high standard for their business website and marketing strategy. To start this, we recommend to upgrade the website to more customer friendly.

If you have same idea in your mind, Let’s discuss about redesign of your website in economic cost.

A really badly written e-mail.

I can’t decide whether this came from China, India, or some other third-world country where English is taught as a second language. (In this case, maybe third.)

Fortunately, I didn’t shut down during the pandemic. Now I won’t say that I was terribly productive during the time span, but the college degree I alluded to way above led me to a job deemed “essential” so I have been working my usual full-time hours. Even so, I sustain into my fifteenth year of this site. (I even outlasted Red Maryland.)

My site is not really a business site, but I do have a marketing strategy: write good sh*t. It’s even customer-friendly because I kept out the offending letter.

And, in case this guy missed it, I redesigned my website a couple years ago, finally retiring old “Black Lucas” after nearly a decade of service. I still miss that theme sometimes but I like the back end that goes with the current “Twenty Sixteen” theme much better.

So I think I have flogged the dead horse of my inbox enough for one visit. I didn’t even get to the silliness that’s the Delaware governor’s race, but maybe I’ll hold onto that for a standalone post after all.

Programming note

Once we clear the filing deadline this coming Tuesday I’m going to add my Delaware political sidebar with all the primary and general election candidates and then the following Monday or Tuesday release the 2019-20 monoblogue Accountability Project – Delaware edition. The delay is because I have to determine whether the legislators involved get a free ride in November or not.

Because the Delaware session was truncated this year, I decided to simply amend the 2019 edition to use four votes this year and drop the least impactful four votes from last year to maintain 25 separate votes. You’ll see what I mean when I put it up later this month.