Odds and ends number 72

Perhaps rainy days and Mondays always get you down, but this potpourri of snippets I’ve collected over the last couple weeks will hopefully brighten your day. As always, they’re items which merit anywhere from a paragraph to four to five.

First of all, you are probably aware that Indiana and Michigan are the two latest states to throw the yoke of forced unionism off their workers and adopt right-to-work laws, with Pennsylvania also strongly considering such a measure. Conversely, I’m not hearing about hitherto right-to-work states making much of an effort to close their shops, which should tell you something.

And while Maryland is not a state one would consider a candidate ripe for such a refreshing change, there is a bill out there to bring our state out of the unionized Dark Ages and join other states where workers are free to choose affiliation regardless of where they work.

Best of all, this news comes from one of my favorite counties to cover, Cecil County. HB318 is being heard tomorrow, and their Republican Party leadership under county Chair Chris Zeauskas has taken a bold stand on the issue. They’re calling out Delegate David Rudolph, the Vice-Chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee, as “bought and paid for by compulsory unionism – and that’s wrong.” Certainly the unions donate thousands and thousands of dollars to state politicians, most of which goes to Democrats.

But the question I have is more local. To what extent has Big Labor “bought and paid for” Delegates Rudy Cane and Norm “Five Dollar” Conway, or State Senator Jim Mathias – the king of across-the-Bay fundraisers? Surely a significant portion of their largess comes from the coffers of workers who may not necessarily prefer these policies be enacted. HB318 can help change that, but my guess is – if they get to vote on it at all (neither Cane nor Conway is on Economic Matters) – they’ll play along with the union line like good little minions.

Meanwhile, our tone-deaf governor doesn’t get it on wind farms, and I had to chuckle when I saw even the Washington Post admits Big Wind “(d)evelopers and industry analysts say those and other (subsidy) concessions will make the project reliant on further federal tax incentives or help from other states to make it profitable.” At a quarter per kilowatt hour, you better believe it needs a subsidy. Yet the Post believes it’s “likely to pass.” That depends on the level of sanity in the General Assembly; yes, a dubious precipice to cling to, but one nonetheless.

And here I thought wind was free – that’s what people tell me, anyway.

I also thought Maryland had a top-notch school system, but President Obama’s Department of Education begs to differ. This nugget came to me from Change Maryland, which continues to occupy that little place in Martin O’Malley’s mind reserved for those who have pwned him:

In the second year of the $5 billion Race to the Top initiative, the Obama Administration singled out Maryland, Washington D.C. and Georgia as coming up short on progress in fundamental areas.  According to the U.S. Department of Education, Maryland did not set clear expectations for the 2011-2012 school year in the development of a teacher and principal evaluation system which rendered the data meaningless and inconsistent.  Lack of coordination between the state and local school districts was cited as the primary reason for the data collection failure.

“I would like to see Gov. O’Malley reach out to President Obama while he has his attention… and seek assistance on properly implementing the Race to the Top initiative,” said (Change Maryland head Larry) Hogan. “Our students and their parents deserve a way to measure how effective their teachers are.”

I have one bone to pick with that approach, though. I would really rather not have a dependence on federal money or a federal role for education, which is more properly a state- and local-level concern. But there should be some consistency in evaluations so that underperforming teachers and principals don’t lead to underperforming schools – unfortunately, that seems to be more and more the case.

And here’s yet another example of state incompetence. On Thursday, State Senator E.J. Pipkin blasted a process which shut out hundreds of people from testifying against SB281, the gun bill:

We can’t turn away people who take the day off, drive for hours and wait even longer, to have their voices heard.  Turning away interested citizens in such a manner further fuels cynicism about our legislative process.  Next time, they might not come back.

Yesterday, a system that can accommodate 100, 200, or 300 people, broke down when numbers reached into the thousands.

Thousands couldn’t get into the Senate’s Miller building to sign in to testify. Those who signed in but left the building were unable to reenter.  At the end of the evening, some who stayed 10 to 12 hours, were brought through the committee room, allowed to say their name, home town, and whether they supported or opposed the legislation. (Emphasis mine.)

The reason I put part of the above statement in bold: that’s what they want. The majority – not just in the General Assembly, but in Congress  and 49 other state capitols as well – really would rather we just leave them alone to do what they do, enriching themselves and a chosen few cronies while leaving the rest of us to pay for it and suffer the consequences of their actions.

Now for something completely different. Several years ago, I copied a late, lamented blog whose owner is no longer with us in offering “Sunday evening reading.” Well, today is Monday but there are some items I wanted to include that I read and felt they would add to the well-informed conversation in some way.

My old friend Jane Van Ryan (who I thought “retired” but seems now as active as ever) sent along the link to this piece by Paul Driessen which discusses the concept of “sustainability.” She thought I would have something to say about it, and I do.

Driessen’s main point is that the concept of “sustainability” as preached by Radical Green doesn’t take into account future technology. It would be like watching “Back to the Future” knowing that it was filmed three decades ago but set in the modern day today – for example, who drives a DeLorean these days? Sometimes their predictions seem quite humorous, but we know technology has taken many turns they couldn’t predict when the movie was written and filmed.

While oil, gas, and coal are “old” technologies, who’s to say we can’t improve on them? As long as there is a supply which comes to us at reasonable cost, you can’t beat their reliability when compared to wind which may not blow (or gale too hard) and the sun which seems to be stubbornly parked behind a bank of clouds as I write this. Instead of dead-ends like the E15 technology which ruins engines (but is acceptable to Radical Green) why not work with what works?

But perhaps there is a sense of foreboding brought on by the Radical Green propaganda of a collapsing ecosystem. One way this manifests itself is by a lack of willingness to have children, which goes in well with the decaying culture of life in this country.

Last week in the Wall Street Journal, author Jonathan Last advanced his theory that our nation is heading down the same road as other moribund industrialized nations – not necessarily because of policy, but because of falling birthrates. According to Last, we as a nation have been below the replacement birthrate for most of the last forty years. Whether this is through abortion or other lifestyle choices isn’t important to him; instead, it’s become an ongoing problem of our population aging – as Jonathan puts it, “(l)ow-fertility societies don’t innovate because their incentives for consumption tilt increasingly toward health care.” Put another way, those energy advances I write about above may not appear because more demand will come for health-related technology advancements.

Instead, what has primarily increased our population over the last few decades is immigration, a large part of it illegal. Normally I’m right with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, but I have to disagree with their stance on E-Verify. I can understand their point regarding civil liberties, but no one says mandatory E-Verify has to be permanent. Instead, I would like to see it set up to be a five-year plan with one possible five-year renewal – this would give us ample time to secure the borders and address those who are already here illegally. (Ideally, they would return to their country of origin and reapply to come here legally.)

Understandably, that may be a pipe dream but I’d prefer not to reward lawbreakers in a nation built on the rule of law. We have enough of that already given the greed of the redistributionist state.

And so ends another edition of odds and ends, right around the length I like.

The jobs governor? Must be Bob McDonnell (or Rick Snyder)

You know, it’s like a cat cornering a mouse. He paws at it a little and rolls it around, but you know sooner or later the cat will get tired of playing and finally take care of the doomed rodent. Whenever I get an e-mail from Change Maryland, I keep seeing Martin O’Malley’s record as that little squeaky thing trapped in the corner.

The cat’s paw took a nice little chunk out of O’Malley’s self-professed accomplishments the other day, once again noting the abysmal job creation record of Maryland as compared to Virginia as they tied together much of the data released last month:

Maryland has lost 36,200 jobs, while Virginia has lost 12,400 jobs since 2007 according to the latest available numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Maryland is a much smaller state so on a percentage basis of jobs lost there is an even wider difference – four times as many jobs have vanished in Maryland as in Virginia.


“O’Malley has no business going on national TV talking about the economy, especially with Gov. McDonnell who is pounding our state into submission on job creation,” said Change Maryland Chairman Larry Hogan. “Maryland is lucky enough to be one of the biggest recipients of federal government jobs and federal government spending which has kept the bottom from completely falling out of the unemployment rate. But, we have lost 6,500 businesses under O’Malley and our private sector economy is in shambles.”

Governor O’Malley frequently compares Maryland’s employment picture to the entire nation as if states like Michigan and Nevada have common economic attributes. Actually Virginia is the most apt comparison since they are our next-door neighbors, share the border of Washington D.C. and compete directly for businesses and jobs.

Maryland has lost more businesses, taxpayers and jobs than its southern neighbor since O’Malley’s term in office began in 2007.   What’s more, Virginia is the largest net recipient of that capital flight from Maryland.

Maryland accounted for the largest migration exodus of any state in the region between 2007 and 2010, with a net migration resulting in nearly 31,000 residents having left the state.  Most of these individuals went to Virginia, now home to 11,455 former Marylanders, who took $390 million in earning power from the tax rolls during this three-year period, according to the IRS.

As a percentage of jobs lost since 2007, which in context puts Maryland’s loss at four times that of Virginia, the state saw a decline of 1.39%, while the commonwealth stands at just .33%. In the July preliminary BLS numbers, Virginia’s month-to-month gain of 21,300 jobs was the third-highest in the country, while Maryland’s gain was a measly 800.

Subtract a nation’s capital and add a couple shuttered automakers and Maryland might well be Michigan circa 2010. Both states have a lot of shoreline, too – but Michigan isn’t as restrictive about growth in those areas as we are; in fact, they seem to be moving in the right direction on that front. Moreover, Michigan’s 9% unemployment is down 1.6% over the last year while Maryland only dropped from 7.2% to 7% – and Michigan gained over 21,000 jobs last month, second in the nation.

And if you look at Maryland’s unemployment rate by county, you’ll find the more rural areas of the state like the lower Eastern Shore and western Maryland have unemployment rates comparable to Michigan’s, as does Baltimore City. That’s a component of Martin O’Malley and liberal Democrats’ War on Rural Maryland.

Our governor is one who seems to believe the only valid “investment” is that which is produced from money confiscated by taxpayers, whether they’re through paying increased income taxes, higher sales taxes, or that regressive tax known as money from Maryland’s casinos. (Interesting to note that the predicted gambling revenue is now only around $713 million by FY 2017 – a far cry from the rosy but wild guess that we’d be collecting nearly $1 billion a year by now. In truth, we’ve made less than $300 million.)

By discouraging private investment through punitive taxation and onerous regulation, the governor has belied the “One Maryland” idea he frequently promotes. If you happen to live along the I-95 corridor and/or work for the federal government, you don’t mind paying higher taxes because you’re rolling in clover and the money will eventually be returned to you anyway. But those of us out here in “flythrough country” (so named because people speed on through this area on their way to a beachfront condo) don’t have those luxuries – we have to produce something to make our money, whether it be a chicken, a bushel of crabs, a beanfield, or even a memorable vacation which entices a tourist’s return. We earn every penny government confiscates to promulgate the ineptocracy, whether it’s the one in Annapolis or Washington.

With all that, it’s no wonder a growing number of people want to change Maryland.