2016: a pivotal year

By Cathy Keim

Here I am writing this piece on January 3, 2016, after being absent for most of the month of December. I had a wonderful holiday filled with family and friends from all over the world, and I hope that you had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year too.

My husband and I were just over in Washington, DC, to visit with some family and had the opportunity to go to the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park. It’s a great zoo, but I was trying to figure out where in the Constitution it said that the federal government should be funding a world class zoo. I couldn’t remember where that would be.

The Smithsonian Institute receives about 70% of its funding from the government. This is just one example of how our tax dollars are spent on “worthy” projects that are not Constitutional, yet most of us don’t even think about it anymore. We are used to the federal government encroaching into every sphere of our lives.

I read some of the propaganda that they have gotten children to write, then posted for the visitors to read. One piece was from a young girl that was calling upon us to work harder to save the tigers. It was an excellent example of Common Core English skills using emotionally charged adjectives to drive people to take action. (I have read the lesson plans for just such activities. Common Core would rather have the students use emotion than reason to write a persuasive piece.)

I kept wondering why this young lady was so worked up about tigers when our federal leadership could not take the time to cut the funding for Planned Parenthood despite being caught red-handed selling baby parts for profit. It seems that tigers are much more important than easily replaceable babies.

The inability of our leaders to act upon such horrific revelations as selling baby parts leads to my premise that 2016 is a pivotal year for our Republic. We have sunk to such depths in our understanding of what the American Experiment is about that many are calling this our last chance to right the ship of state.

Over my break I took the opportunity to look through some of these assessments.

Daniel Horowitz listed the top ten betrayals of the GOP elites, all of which Michael and I have covered as they happened.

Phyllis Schlafly shocked people with her statement after the passage of the omnibus bill last month,

This is a betrayal of the grassroots and of the Republican Party. We thought we were electing a different crowd to stand up for America, and they didn’t. We’re extremely outraged by what Congress has done. Nancy Pelosi couldn’t have engineered it any better. I think the people are going to react by electing Donald Trump.

Maryland’s own Ann Corcoran has started a new blog to encourage people to join the fight to save America. She has done yeoman’s work for years at her Refugee Resettlement Watch to bring attention to the deeply flawed Refugee Resettlement program. Her new blog is American Resistance 2016!

They are changing America by changing the people! Will you fight to save it, or allow the greatest nation on earth to perish?

But the quote that most caught my attention was by Diana West. She was responding to a plea by Brent Bozell for conservatives to get behind Ted Cruz because he has been leading the fight for conservative issues. Diana said:

To be honest, if these were the only issues under discussion in this GOP presidential primary season I would hardly be able to make myself pay attention. It’s not that they are unimportant issues. Personally, I support every one of them. But they are not existential issues. They are not the issues on which the very future of the Republic hangs. They are issues that a responsible Republican House and Senate, if they were loyal to their oath and to their constituents, could today begin to rectify all by themselves. (Emphasis mine.)

Our elected leaders could have stopped the funding for Obamacare, Planned Parenthood, immigration, etc. but they did not. That is why the base is done with them. That is why Donald Trump is drawing such support.

I went to Donald Trump’s website and read his immigration plan.

His three bullet points are:

1. A nation without borders is not a nation. There must be a wall across the southern border.

2. A nation without laws is not a nation. Laws passed in accordance with our Constitutional system of government must be enforced.

3. A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation. Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.

It is remarkable that his plan is seen as remarkable. Most of the points on his plan are common sense, but our leadership seems to have lost their common sense.

Roger Simon says at PJ Media:

The rise of Donald Trump is a good thing, not because any one man can easily change the course of history, not because he’s necessarily the best candidate (although he could be), but because his rise indicates that a lot of people who often ignore things are waking up to this extreme situation.

We are in for a rough ride in 2016. Our GOP leadership has given President Obama a pass on everything he has wanted right up until he finishes his term with their funding of the omnibus bill.

Winston Churchill was the man for his time. He spent the years leading up to World War II pleading with his government to rearm and to prepare for the fight ahead. The appeasers refused to listen to him, but when the time came, he was ready to lead. Donald Trump has not spent the last decade in opposition to the government and many of his statements give me heartburn, but on the great issue of our time he is leading as no other candidate.

A 2016 Congressional matchup?

I’m not on the Jim Ireton e-mail list, but a friend of mine forwarded this to me. The reference is to a Baltimore Sun editorial which ran on Monday.

From: Jim Ireton <jimiretonformayor@gmail.com>
Date: July 9, 2014 at 1:50:45 PM EDT
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: You might find this interesting about Andy Harris….

I saw this in today’s Baltimore Sun and thought you might find it interesting, too.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bs-ed-harris-20140707,0,4748548.story

It concerns his actions against the residents of Washington, D.C.:

“There are several notable elements in this imbroglio. First, anyone who believes that Dr. Harris might change his mind because of a potential economic threat to his district doesn’t know Dr. Harris, a man not given to self-doubt or the concerns of others. This is someone who actively fights against efforts by the EPA to reduce pollution flowing into the Chesapeake Bay and to forestall the effects of climate change and rising sea levels, either of which would be far more ruinous to his waterfront district than a mere summer boycott.

More remarkable is that Dr. Harris, a reliable Club For Growth and tea party acolyte who so often preaches against an overbearing federal government, is so proud to have thwarted the will of District residents. The decriminalization measure has the support of 80 percent of the populace, according to a recent poll.”

-Jim

It may have been just idle chatter, but at the bottom of the e-mail was the authority line: “Authority: Ireton for Maryland. William C. Duck, Jr., Treasurer.” Before Jim can worry about 2016, though, there is the matter of getting through another election in Salisbury; however, at this early stage no opponent for Ireton has stepped forward.

Despite only being the mayor of a relatively small city, Ireton has been attracting notice in progressive Maryland circles. There was the rumor last summer that Doug Gansler had Ireton on his short list for his running mate; he eventually selected Delegate Jolene Ivey. The “Ireton for Maryland” campaign account is still active, although he has filed what are known as ALCEs for the filing deadlines this year, affirming he has neither raised nor spent $1,000 over the preceding periods since his last full filing back in January. At that point Ireton had $1,384.68 in his account, much of that from the transfer of over $2,100 from his mayoral campaign. He supplemented this income with a fundraiser on his behalf last November, spending several hundred dollars on attending and supporting various Maryland political causes and events.

But to make a run against Harris, Ireton would have to open a federal account and no move in that direction has been made.

The entire incident surrounding the Sun editorial centers around an amendment Harris made to the District of Columbia’s budget preventing the funding of a measure decriminalizing marijuana. In response, outgoing District mayor Vincent Gray and local advocacy groups called on District residents to boycott the Eastern Shore as a vacation destination. (Judging by some of what I saw on July 4th, the call wasn’t heeded.)

To an extent, I actually disagree with Harris. Although it’s not a true state’s rights issue because the District of Columbia is not a state and depends on Congress to dictate its budget, I would tend to favor allowing them as much local control as possible. Decriminalizing marijuana is not the Constitutional issue that, say, an overly restrictive gun law would be. It doesn’t bother me that Maryland did it, and it wouldn’t bother me if the District of Columbia did, either. Decriminalization is a somewhat sensible middle ground between the outright ban some states still have and the larger steps taken by Colorado and Washington state. If those two states can find success in accommodating the legal and recreational use of marijuana with the prospect of ill effects from overuse, the idea may spread. If not, the window will close on advocates just like Prohibition did once it was discovered that criminal activity skyrocketed as people willingly ignored the ban.

Yet the Sun doesn’t hide its disdain for Andy, either:

House Republicans have long made kicking District government around a veritable sport and, as Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton has observed, often do so to raise their standing among conservatives. And that would be classic Andy Harris — to confidently impose his will on others with a breathtaking level of moral certitude. As a state senator, his one-man crusade against students screening X-rated movies at the University of Maryland College Park five years ago included an unsuccessful effort to tie state funding to the development of a college “porn policy.”

In Annapolis, however, Dr. Harris was mostly a preening pest who made sanctimonious speeches on the Senate floor that annoyed even his GOP colleagues. In Washington, he’s among enough like-minded right-wing zealots to cause real trouble. Those who make their living in the tourist trade on the Eastern Shore are just collateral damage, victims of a congressman’s runaway ego. The self-serving amendment is likely to be tossed out by the Democratically-controlled Senate; a cure for the district’s bigger problems can only be achieved by its voters in November.

Actually, the Sun is right in one respect – we can cure many of our district’s bigger problems by getting rid of the current Annapolis regime in November, replacing them with people who have respect for our way of life and our values. For that, though, we need cooperation from elsewhere in the state.

But I think the “runaway ego” is exhibited by a newspaper which becomes more shrill as its readership fades away, yet still deigning to exhibit the sheer condescension to posit that Congress can do a thing about climate change and the supposed rise in sea levels which would follow. (Given recent temperature trends, I’d say Harris has a point.) Even if I don’t agree with him on this particular issue (as well as a handful of others) I still believe having about 400 carbon copies of Andy Harris in Congress would help turn this country in the right direction.

The choice needs to be ours

Last year I wrote about School Choice Week at the tail end of one of my final “odds and ends” segments. Rather than make you read the whole thing (although I think it was pretty good, even a year later) here’s what I had to say:

But to get jobs, we need a better educational system and that means giving parents a choice in where to send their child for their education. National School Choice Week begins next Sunday, but no local organization on Delmarva has yet stepped up to participate in an event. (There are 22 in Maryland, but all of them are on the Western Shore. No events are planned in Delaware or on the eastern shore of Virginia.)

As it turns out, my fiance made the choice to send her child to a private, faith-based school. It’s good for her, but it would be even better if money from the state was made available to cover her tuition and fees. Years ago I volunteered for a political candidate whose key platform plank was “money follows the child” and I think it makes just as much sense today. (Note: second link added in 2014 reprint.)

Alas, the same is essentially true for Maryland thus far, but Delaware has stepped up its game with events in the Wilmington area and in Milford.

Since I don’t have a local event to report on at this time, a suggestion made by the folks at Watchdog Wire was to share this video of a family who took advantage of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship.

So what do you think the chances of having a college graduate, another attending school, and a third who’s intending to go to college would be if all three were saddled with attendance in the District’s failing public schools? My guess is that the older two of the three would be single moms like their mother, because the public schools aren’t necessarily environments conducive to learning. In the eyes of many “parents” pubic schools are instead glorified babysitters and day care.

Now I know neither charter schools nor parochial schools are perfect, and homeschooling isn’t for everyone, either. I know a few people who tried homeschooling but didn’t think they were doing the job and sent their children back to a traditional school. But let’s look at a theoretical here.

Between the new Bennett High School and proposed Bennett Middle School, the cost to Wicomico County and state taxpayers for building the facilities will be roughly $125 million. Naturally that’s not the life-cycle cost; since the current rendition of Bennett Middle is about a half-century old we can probably expect the newer versions to have the same lifespan. (One can argue over whether the cost was excessive due to state-imposed design choices and price of labor; regardless, the taxpayers will end up paying these bonds off for years to come.)

Enrollment varies, of course, but right now the two schools handle about 2,200 students – so each student’s “share” of the cost is $55,000. Needless to say, there are going to be students there for a half-century so that cost is spread out but may well be $1,000 per student per year – not counting interest on the bonds, necessary maintenance – if they don’t let the schools fall apart as they did the existing ones to guilt trip taxpayers into replacing otherwise structurally sound buildings – and of course the normal operations costs of heating, cooling, keeping the lights on, and technology. It wouldn’t surprise me that these additional costs double or triple the $1,000 per student per year number, and I haven’t spent a moment actually teaching.

[Pardon me for taking a dim view about the perceived uselessness of old facilities, but for my education (1969-82) I spent most of it in buildings dating from the 1950s or before - my (now demolished) middle school was first built in 1909 and added onto in the 1930s and 1950s as a former high school. I turned out okay without air conditioning in the school or fancy equipment, so spare me. And how many charter and private schools operate out of similar "obsolete" structures?]

If school choice can be the magic bullet to reduce costs by peeling away the myriad onion layers of bureaucracy, red tape, and questionable curriculum which seem to get in the way of children actually learning, shouldn’t we be making a mad dash toward that concept instead of propping up the failure of modern public education?

Maryland is not a state which is perceived as friendly to school choice. Between the scare tactics to homeschooling parents, the oversized influence of the teachers unions, and the willingness to subject children to the watered-down Common Core curriculum, there aren’t a lot of pathways to success. For a state which is supposedly tops in education, we don’t seem to be putting out a lot of educated students.

That’s why competition needs to be introduced and alternative paths to success, such as a renewed focus on skills-based vocational education, need to be provided. Let’s give parents the choice and put the money in their hands.

Calling the bluff

Back in the early days of my website (and its predecessor) I devoted a lot of space to the foibles of Walmart in Maryland, simply because of the so-called Fair Share Health Care Act Maryland used to try and punish the nation’s largest retailer with. (This piece is an interesting look at how that bill came about. Notice it was Walmart’s largest – and unionized – competitor taking a lead role here.)

But in the last few days the chain’s been back in the regional news as the Council of the District of Columbia approved a bill specific to Walmart as it’s in the midst of building a half-dozen stores in the District. So when the United Food and Commercial Workers union chimed in on Facebook with their approval of this half-baked measure bragging that “The DC Council has just passed the Large Retailer Accountability Act! Here’s to a living wage in DC and and hopefully many more cities to come!”, I felt compelled to chime in:

Those who bash Walmart make the mistake of assuming ALL jobs at Walmart are minimum-wage jobs. So how is it their average wage is over $12 an hour? People are paid what they are worth to the company, and those who make minimum wage are worth that or less to the overall bottom line. Eventually those who stay and do well at their jobs get raises and additional benefits.

If those who propose enacting this law want to be fair, why not just legislate that ALL businesses in D.C. pay $12.50 or more an hour? What, you say that will hurt the mom-and-pop stores and cause them to furlough workers? Thanks for playing.

Businesses are not in the game to create jobs or sell products to the public. They are in it to make a profit. If Walmart can’t make a profit at a store the correct thing to do is pull the plug. If a chain can’t make a profit they go out of business – remember Montgomery Ward?

They tried this same law in Maryland, which was narrowly tailored to Walmart, and it was tossed out in court due to violating ERISA. In the meantime, plans to build a distribution center in one of Maryland’s poorest counties were scrapped.

You may not like Walmart but it looks like they may have called D.C’s bluff.

I have to admit: people indeed have a love-hate relationship with Walmart. I know I do when I do my outside job, since it involves me traveling from time to time to any one of nine local Walmart stores in three states. Sometimes the help is most helpful and sometimes it leaves a lot to be desired. A good friend of mine who works for Walmart would probably tell you the same.

But the fact is Sam Walton’s brainchild exists in the market as the largest player and now America’s largest private employer. (I didn’t know that until I worked on my pieces for Patriot Post last week and read this. Number two is temporary job-placement firm Kelly Services.) In many respects Walmart is also a temporary employer, as I’ve noticed the stores along the coast hire extra people for the summer as well as holiday help, and it wouldn’t shock me if they had five to ten applicants for each open position. So obviously people are willing to work for minimum wage – if that’s indeed what Walmart pays; it can be much more depending on the position – rather than continue to collect unemployment, or they may consider Walmart a step up from their current job.

Yet Washington D.C. is trying – by writing a law so narrowly that it affects Walmart and only Walmart – to accomplish the same goal, except they have a big problem: there are no Walmarts there yet. While it may be somewhat difficult to place new stores in the inner Maryland suburbs, there are already seven Walmart stores within 20 miles of our nation’s capital and room could probably be found for more as needed. In the meantime, residents of the affected areas will have to suffer from a lack of options and at least one major revitalization project is in doubt due to the Walmart law.

Whether the District cuts off its nose to spite its union-stuffed face is still up in the air because D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray is hinting he’ll veto the bill and it passed without a veto-proof majority. This is even though Walmart warned the city it may pull out despite the fact construction on three stores had commenced and they’ve tried to promote their local image through stunts like this one in Maryland. But they can install all the solar panels they want and not get on the good side of a party which owes its allegiance to Big Labor and not the working-class people who can benefit from a career at Walmart.

Perhaps the store can invest some of the money saved by abandoning D.C. into renovating a couple of our older locations which could use a facelift. We’d appreciate the investment if those inside the Beltway don’t want it; in fact, we would find that a refreshing change.

One man’s observations

Just because I didn’t feature them as prominently as I had last year didn’t mean I wasn’t interested in what Delegate Mike McDermott had to say about the recently-concluded General Assembly session. Granted, once the gauntlet was thrown away last November by an electorate more interested in glitz and glamour than seriously pondering our state’s future we figured the path was clear for Martin O’Malley to create his legacy for 2016. And if you think Democrats in Maryland don’t have those sorts of dreams of reflected glory from electing the first President from Maryland in the state’s long history, think again. Sure, there are a few who are allowed to stray from the party line in the interest of political self-preservation, but when the chips are down they will come through.

This was particularly true when it came to the idea of making the state as hostile as possible to small businesses, as McDermott points out:

Our Corporate Tax rates remain the highest in the region and our layers of government process insure that we continue to be slow to respond and costly for business start ups.

McDermott uses the obvious examples of offshore wind, the submission of our state to the effects of Obamacare, the increased gasoline tax, and the adoption of last year’s “rain tax” as examples of how our state is lagging further and further behind our neighbors. Yet aside from the outrage we exhibit in our little corner of the state, we seem to be having little if any impact on the direction Annapolis is taking.

Unfortunately for us, the majority Democrats – and some of the more centrist, “go along to get along” Republicans – are a reflection of the areas in which they live; areas which seem to be succeeding despite themselves thanks to the heavy influence of Washington, D.C. on our state. In the city of my birth, Toledo, we had a saying that if Detroit sneezed we would catch the cold because we were so overly dependent on one industry for our economic livelihood – even moreso than the Motor City. Here in Maryland the I-95 corridor, as I call it, plays the same role Detroit did for Toledo by calling its tune. My contention is we would be in the same dire straits as a state like Rhode Island or Nevada if it weren’t for having thousands of workers on the federal payroll living within our borders.

Indeed, Maryland is a state where government checks aren’t just for the poorest among us but also feed a growing number of well-to-do families. Consider the fact that Maryland has been a state in the top 5 of per-capita income for all but one year since 1990 – in 2008 we were 6th. States which have outranked us have generally done so on the strength of the New York or Boston metro areas and a lack of poorer rural regions. (Note that Washington, D.C. would be far and away #1 if it were ranked, though.) It’s also worth pondering, though, that a state is now close on Maryland’s heels and threatening its position in the top five – thanks to the strength of a booming energy industry, North Dakota has surged upward 21 spots in just five years.

Yet rural Maryland lags well behind their I-95 corridor counterparts. There are areas of our state which fare just as poorly as those states in the Deep South do, and they don’t receive the economic benefits of having federal government employees on every block. Unfortunately, the policies which discourage private investment in the state hurt rural areas more than urban ones, for there are some businesses with enough economies of scale – and desire to be closer to those high-income families in Montgomery and Howard counties – which can either grin and bear the increased costs or can otherwise pass them along to end users.

And while the idea of job creation was one of the issues in the recent election here in Salisbury, the reality is that we will have to succeed here despite the state’s best efforts to stymie our development in favor of agricultural preservation. It doesn’t matter to those in Annapolis and across the bay because they already have theirs, so if it’s to their advantage to keep us as a rural backwater which has to be kept in line every so often when it gets uppity, so be it. They’ll just punish us a little more until we learn our place again.

So what is the solution? Obviously we need to convince Maryland voters to stop voting against their best interests and instead promote the benefits of limited government and liberty. Granted, there are many thousands of Maryland voters who won’t get that hint because a limited government also would limit their government-backed paycheck but as I have said before the world needs ditchdiggers too. Enhance private industry and the best and brightest will find work – if we play our cards right, it could happen here in Maryland.

The end of a bad O’Malley month

Updated below, at end of post.

Before everyone goes on vacation and tunes out until Labor Day, Martin O’Malley’s worst Presidential campaign nightmare fired yet another salvo at the good ship S.S. O’Malley 2016. The 18,000-strong Change Maryland group found more interesting data to back up a new claim that 6,500 businesses have pulled up stakes and left the Free State in the 2007-2010 time period.

And I like this Change Maryland release because they added the context I’ve had to provide with their numbers over the last month. Someone has been doing his homework!

Here you go:

Change Maryland announced today that nearly 6,500 small businesses vanished or left the state since 2007 – more evidence of a sharp decline in the productive components of the economy.  As with other reports Change Maryland has produced, this publicly available data comes from government sources, namely the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Governor O’Malley says repeatedly the most important priority is ‘jobs, jobs, jobs,” said Change Maryland Chairman Larry Hogan.  ”If we are to hold the Governor accountable to the standard he set, then by every objective measure he has failed miserably.”

This latest Change Maryland report draws on census bureau economic research that quantifies the number of firms from one to 99 employees during 2007 to 2010, the latest year for which numbers are available.  Confirming earlier Change Maryland findings, government data shows the state’s ability to support business, produce jobs and maintain its tax base is eroding. This report comes on the heels of Maryland leading the region in job loss this year and in out-migration of tax payers from 2007 to 2010.

Since 2007, in addition to losing 6,494 small businesses, Maryland has lost 31,000 residents of tax-paying households and 40,000 jobs. “The pattern here is unmistakable,” said Hogan. “In record numbers, taxpayers, jobs and small businesses are fleeing state government’s big-spending, over-taxed, over-regulated, anti-jobs agenda.”

Maryland’s loss of small businesses is statistically tied with Delaware as the worst in the region, as a percentage of such firms that existed in 2007.  Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia saw relatively smaller declines in a period of economic activity marked by pre-recession, recession and feeble recovery.   On a percentage basis of firms lost, Delaware lost 4.72%, Maryland 4.71%, West Virginia 4.51%, Virginia 3.66%, and Pennsylvania 2.64%, Washington D.C., on the other hand, experienced a 2.59% gain in small businesses.

That also seems to echo my findings regarding the most recent report done by Change Maryland in relation to the number of overall jobs and overall capital lost in each state over the time period.

So it’s obvious that an argument can be made that Martin O’Malley’s job creation policies aren’t working. Furthermore, because we happen to be so close to Washington D.C. we can gather that their modest successes come at the expense of the rest of the country – hey, pencil-pushers have to eat, shop for groceries, get haircuts, and conduct all the other economic activities of life, too. It’s just that their elite lives high off the hog while the rest of us struggle with the burdens of supersized government. Therein lies the true 1% vs. 99% argument.

Yet there are a couple legitimate questions asked by those who ponder Maryland politics. One is why the effort to hammer a politician who has nowhere else to go politically in Maryland politics? Unless he wants to return to office in 2018 after sitting out his mandated one term away, Martin O’Malley isn’t going to run again on a statewide basis unless he decides either he wants to be a United States Senator – and there has been a gut feeling from some who think he’s lining himself up to be appointed to the unexpired term of Barbara Mikulski should she decide to retire early – or, he’ll be on the Maryland primary ballot for President in 2016. While his record as Governor is a legitimate campaign issue in that case, there’s a statewide vote for many offices in between now and then.

The second is why only pick on O’Malley? Certainly he has more discretion than most state executives in the country, but Martin O’Malley has never voted on a tax or fee increase. That task has been left to the Maryland General Assembly, and because there’s a wide enough Democratic majority there to pass anything O’Malley wants – even without the need for some of the center-left members of the dominant party who come from more conservative areas of the state to participate – perhaps the blame needs to be shifted away from the governor’s office. However, my guess is that there is a risk of alienating the portion of Change Maryland which is registered Democratic and may happen to agree with some of their party philosophy.

But there is one thing to be said about the Change Maryland group. At the GOP convention in late April, they celebrated attaining the 12,000 member mark (although the cake originally reflected a much higher number.)

Three months later, thanks to some outstanding marketing and usage of free media, that number is 50 percent higher. At this pace of exponential growth, come 2014 they might well be at 120,000.

Yet there is context to be had here, too. In 2010 the upstart conservative Brian Murphy picked up just under 1/4 of the GOP primary vote in losing to Bob Ehrlich. But his actual vote total was 67,364. Furthermore, even Michael James, my local GOP candidate for State Senator who lost a close race to Jim Mathias, received just under 23,000 votes in a single State Senate district. When you look at things that way 18,000 is nice but there’s a long way to go to become a powerful movement.

In my heart of hearts, I think Larry Hogan has an eye on Government House in January, 2015, and he’s laying out some of the parameters of his campaign via the Change Maryland vehicle. There’s nothing wrong with that, just as there’s no problem with David Craig getting cozy with the conservative blogosphere or Blaine Young looking to meet local conservative leaders at a Ocean City meet-and-greet next month during MACO. (I just received that note.) And certainly there’s no shortage of schadenfreude in watching O’Malley flail about trying to combat the slings and arrows launched by Change Maryland.

In the end, though, the key to really changing Maryland will be in supporting good, conservative candidates at all levels. Unfortunately, the other side is smart as well and they know that some of these ticking time bombs will go off at the county level, particularly in counties otherwise ably run by the GOP. Once we get everyone pulling in the same direction, it’s only then my adopted home state can deliver on its promise.

Update: Jim Pettit of Change Maryland responds:

Governor O’Malley is pursuing the Presidency – the last thing we want to see is a continuation of the same irresponsible fiscal policies pursued on the state level that would only cause further damage to our entire nation in the years ahead.

In the meantime, Change Maryland is focused on stopping more bad things from happening within our state, and we’re too busy leading the fight against the anti-jobs agenda of the incumbent governor to worry about who the next governor might be in 2015.

More depressing Maryland employment news

The bad month for Governor Martin O’Malley continues, with his new nemesis Change Maryland at the forefront once again. They did the research and determined that Maryland’s anemic employment gains were, in fact, no gains at all over the first six months of 2012 – as it turned out the Free State lost more jobs than any other state. Bureau of Labor Statistics data from the watchdog group indicates around 10,300 jobs were lost by Maryland during this time frame; indeed, that’s more than any other state.

And the news gets worse if you expand the period of study backward – only Pennsylvania has lost more jobs in this region than Maryland, and it’s a larger state.

So far Governor Martin O’Malley has been mum on this data – as opposed to previous releases by the group, where an O’Malley mouthpiece tried his best at obfuscation - but Change Maryland head Larry Hogan seems to be burnishing his gubernatorial credentials by pointing these dismal employment numbers out, stating in the accompanying release:

Governor O’Malley says repeatedly that Maryland has fared better than other states during the recession. He should be talking about our state’s performance relative to others in this region, not compared to Michigan or Nevada.  Once again he is cherry picking data in an attempt to fool people.

As someone who has lost his job during the time period in question, I think Hogan may be on to something when he talks about the frequent tax increases and lack of spending discipline being an issue in the state.

Apparently Nancy Jacobs does too, as the State Senator and Second District Congressional challenger talked about job losses in her region during her opponent’s recent Congressional tenure:

News of layoffs has been especially bad in Congressional District 2 where I am the Republican nominee for Congress. On Friday two more Baltimore County companies announced layoffs.  At Siemens in Dundalk, 38 jobs are being cut.  Bank of America in Hunt Valley reports it will cut 55 employees in Hunt Valley. Eastern Baltimore County was especially hard it by the loss of 2000 jobs at RG Steel in Sparrows Point Plant earlier this month.  We must ask what Dutch Ruppersberger what is he doing in Washington to address this issue so critical to his constituents!

Well, the truth of the matter is that doing something in Washington is the wrong approach – the better question to me is what Nancy Jacobs will undo in Washington. One who uses the slogan “Vote Jobs – Vote Jacobs” may be well-served to show what she can do. Luckily she does have a record:

Maryland Business for Responsive Government gives me a 100 percent ranking when it comes to my votes that improve business and create jobs.

But I wanted to get back to that raw data. Thanks to Jim Pettit, who forwarded me the data, I looked at all the states which lost jobs – here’s the list, in alphabetical order:

  • Kansas lost 7,800 jobs.
  • Maine lost 4,300 jobs.
  • Maryland lost 10,300 jobs.
  • Mississippi lost 4,100 jobs.
  • Missouri lost 7,700 jobs.
  • Nevada lost 400 jobs.
  • New Hampshire lost 3,700 jobs.
  • New Mexico lost 4,400 jobs.
  • Rhode Island lost 800 jobs.
  • Tennessee lost 4,200 jobs.
  • West Virginia lost 6,800 jobs.
  • Wisconsin lost 2,100 jobs.

So it’s true that in raw numbers Maryland performed the worst. But there is a proviso which Martin O’Malley may be able to hang his hat on just a little bit. These are job losses expressed as a percentage of the workforce for these states:

  • Kansas, 0.58%
  • Maine, 0.72%
  • Maryland, 0.40%
  • Mississippi, 0.38%
  • Missouri, 0.29%
  • Nevada, 0.04%
  • New Hampshire, 0.59%
  • New Mexico, 0.55%
  • Rhode Island, 0.17%
  • Tennessee, 0.16%
  • West Virginia, 0.89%
  • Wisconsin, 0.08%

Measured this way there are five states which did worse than Maryland: Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and West Virginia. So now we’re #46 instead of #51…woohoo!

But the other chart Change Maryland bases its assertions on compares Maryland to a peer group of surrounding states and Washington D.C. and tabulates the total employment figures from January, 2007 through last month. This time I will do both the total jobs gained or lost and percentage, along with peak and trough months:

  • Maryland, a net 39,900 jobs lost (-1.53%) – peak February 2008, trough February 2010.
  • Virginia, a net 32,100 jobs lost (-0.85%) – peak February 2008, trough February 2010.
  • Delaware, a net 20,000 jobs lost (-4.55%) – peak February 2008, trough February 2010.
  • Pennsylvania, a net 58,800 jobs lost (-1.02%) – peak April 2008, trough February 2010.
  • West Virginia, a net 600 jobs gained (+0.08%) – peak September 2008, trough February 2010.
  • District of Columbia, a net 46,200 jobs gained (+6.69%) – peak April 2012, trough June 2007.

Out of these states, only Delaware has fared worse in terms of a percentage of jobs lost. It’s also very telling that early 2008 was peak employment for most areas – except Washington, D.C. And while the others hit bottom in February 2010, the District – while in a bit of a lull – was still well above its pre-Obama low point.

So maybe the problem is in Washington, because these jobs are the fool’s gold of the economy – pencil pushers who add no real value.

And while the Change Maryland group is securing sensational headlines a little bit beyond the true scope of the revelations, the news is still quite bad for Martin O’Malley. As he tours the country on his perceived 2016 Presidential run, MOM’s failing to notice the vast majority of states are creating jobs despite his party’s best efforts. How long this can go on may depend on who is elected this fall.

The antithesis of smart growth

Read the quoted paragraph and tell me what’s wrong with this picture. It comes from a Washington Times story by David Hill, from Wednesday:

The population of the District of Columbia is growing faster than that of any state in the country, according to a new U.S. Census report that shows an acceleration of a trend in which largely skilled and educated workers have flocked to the city’s resilient local economy and its well-paying jobs connected to the federal government.

I don’t begrudge people getting jobs, but shouldn’t we be trying to lessen the influence of the federal government?

And a reason for the growth Hill cites in the story strikes me as ironic:

Former Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who served from 1999 to 2007, is credited with starting the trend with a pro-development, business-friendly agenda that helped revive the downtown commercial districts and neglected neighborhoods while improving schools and public safety.

So are we to assume that a conservative agenda would create growth? That’s the way I read this, as the Radical Green platform can’t stand development and wants to punish business aside from a few certain favored industries. Lord knows our federal government doesn’t have a “pro-development, business-friendly agenda” with the guy in charge now, not by a long shot. Yet that approach turns out to be a boon for Washington; unfortunately their gain is our pain.

Obviously there will always be a group of people who work in government, even if it is rightsized. There are legitimate functions which need to be performed and can only be done through that arena. But I wouldn’t mind seeing the population of the District of Columbia decline, or simply grow only because Washington is a nice city with plenty of tourism possibilities because of its history. Those who thrive because of the ever-increasing size and scope of the nanny state are the ones I’d love to see get real jobs – after all, the world needs ditch diggers too.

Time for a guilt trip

I manage to somehow forget about this every year, but the Competitive Enterprise Institute reminded me once again that tomorrow is “World Car-Free Day.” (I should remember because I usually get a card or two, have some cake and/or go out to dinner on the same day WCFD is “celebrated.” Yep, 29 again.)

So how did the day which they share with me get selected? Well, like most liberal ideas it comes from Europe, where the date falls within its “European Mobility Week.” Their idea is for “encouraging European cities to promote (public transport, cycling, and walking) and to invest in the new necessary infrastructures.” CEI’s point is that the automobile is among the most liberating inventions ever created, allowing personal transport and freedom of mobility. Try taking a bus to the mall, grocery store, or your place of work on their schedule.

Surprisingly, the state of Maryland (which is led by a notoriously anti-growth, anti-freedom governor in Martin O’Malley) isn’t doing anything special for WCFD, but Montgomery County and the University of Maryland are. Washington, D.C. is also participating, with a mixture of private- and public-sector sponsors. (I’m definitely disappointed in the Washington Nationals’ participation, which makes little sense because they’re playing this week at Philadelphia. Did the players use public transit to get there?)

Certainly if someone wants to participate, well, more power to them. Walking or riding a bicycle presents health benefits, although those can be negated if you don’t follow basic traffic rules (walk outside travel lanes and against traffic but ride a bicycle with traffic. If there’s no dedicated bike lane, bicycles are entitled to the 3 feet of pavement closest to the extreme right-hand shoulder as I recall.) But the idea expressed in the Mobility Week credo is more the true aim of organizers – just read “invest in” as “subsidize” things like bike paths few use or mass transit that not many people ride because it’s not possible to take everyone from their thousands of different origins to thousands of different destinations. Even something which has point A to point B ridership, like Washington’s Metro system, still needs a heavy subsidy to survive.

Again, it all comes down to freedom. Having access to my car makes it possible for me to do my job because I cover a large geographic territory. But it also allows me to drive to a so-called “Smart Growthmeeting where I can say my piece and then come right home to write about it, without having to wait for a bus or traverse dark streets at night for an hour.

We already have restrictions on how fast we can travel and what we do within the car, but we still have that opportunity to get up and go where we need to when we want to. Others can be car-free for a day, a week, or even a lifetime, but don’t force me to do the same.

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