Friday, October 25, 2013

A Chronicle of the Conservative Nation, Circa 2114

The story's handed down from my father to me, from his father to him, and from his father to him, I place in your hands.

Please excuse my poor ability at letters. I am trained in many useful sciences, but feel less adept at writing.  Nevertheless, there is some practical use in setting these stories down to paper.

Many moons and tides before my birth, the Conservative Nation ran free across the continent.  Our people freely traveled, traded, hunted, bought health care insurance, fished, farmed, and did what was right in our eyes and, most of the time, in the eyes of Almighty God.

We tried to live by the Ten Commandments from our Heavenly Creator, the 11th Commandment from Reagan, and the overall doctrine that one must not infringe on another's natural rights.  Others did not live as we did.  Our people scolded, but normally did not try to restrict them.

Our people often clashed on fine points with the mostly friendly, but feistily independent Libertarian Nation.

Time passed.  Winds blew different directions.  Our republic of many states, many peoples, many cultures, pressed together more and more tightly over time.  Where once people and groups did as they saw fit under the guidance of the law, they now bound tightly together as sticks tied together by ropes.

Led by the Great Father.

Our nation resisted with rhetoric.  Sometimes we fought deftly.  Often we fought unwisely. The Great Father divided our councils.  It turned wise men and women against each other rather than it.  It mocked our ways with such vehemence and tugs on the heart that some of us also mocked our ways.  It convinced some in our councils that we ourselves lay at the root of not only our own problems, but everyone else's as well.  Some of us believed and hung our heads in shame, feeling unworthy of public praise.  Like the flagellants of old, some of us scourged ourselves and even others.

It was all a fine sight for the Great Father to behold.

Because we girded our loins to battle each other and not the darkness overtaking our people, we over time lost influence in the great councils of the country.  The people turned themselves from us.  The storytellers ignored our heroes and conjured up villains to represent our people and our ways.  They took over the schools and tried to teach false ways to our children with the aim of undermining our ways that had been useful to us, so that we may take up ways that fit their purposes instead of ours.

And then came the Great Movement.

In my father's father's father's time, the Great Father informed us that we may have some lands of our own where we could live in comfort and try to forge prosperity.  We could have them on our own, live under our own laws, and gather our people from around the country to live in these places as we saw fit.  We debated this offer in our councils.  We would lose our voice in the great councils of the country.  But maybe we could live in peace and escape the laws that multiplied as rabbits in a land with no wolves.

The Great Father offered us the lands called Wyoming, Texas, North Dakota, Alaska, Utah, Mississippi, West Virginia, Alabama, Arizona, and a slice of California known as Orange County.

We considered these lands.  Many lay unconnected with each other.  But all had marks of favor.  Some had bountiful farmland.  Some had reserves of resources.  All had strong populations nurtured on freedom and faith.

But the offer came with a warning.  If we accepted this offer, we cut ourselves free from the benefice of the greater nation.  We could expect no nurturing from the Great Father.  If we cried out in pain, Great Father would not hear our cries.  If we wanted for basic needs, Great Father would not provide.  Great Father was too busy tending to the wants and needs of his obedient children and would not suffer himself to help his unruly ones.

So we resolved to no longer be children.  We put away our childish things and decided to become strong women and men.

While members of the Conservative and Libertarian nations concentrated in the lands granted to us, others had scattered across the continent.  As we set up our lands into commonwealths (the Great Father called them "reservations") we welcomed our fellow nation members to come into our lands.

All we asked was that those who came would find some useful labor.  Those who could not find employment in useful commercial endeavors might volunteer for the quickly expanding churches, synagogues, and service organizations.  They could barter their talents for food, shelter, and money when possible so long as they behaved themselves.

We made few demands on the people who lived in our commonwealths, mostly that they refrained from infringing upon the natural rights of any other individual to speak, worship, develop their property, etc.

At first our commonwealths fell on hard times.  We had grown too accustomed to relying on the indulgence of Great Father.  It built our roads.  It gave our elders a minimum subsistence to relieve us of family responsibilities.  It taught our children some basic skills and baby sat them for thirteen years while telling them about subjects that we felt too uncomfortable to discuss, even though this taught false ways and instructed that our ways were harmful.

We had debates over what values our commonwealth should hold.  Some advocated that allowing those of the same personal physical parts to engage in relationships was against the morals of the land.  Others said that that the natural right of freedom of choice without infringement on others' rights was the highest value.  After some discussion, the councils in each state followed the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin.  Franklin had once related a story about a Scottish lord adjudicating a case between Anglicans who wanted to build a maypole and Puritans who opposed it.  The lord ruled that the Anglicans would have the right to build it and the Puritans had the right not only to ignore it, but also to not have to build one of their own.  When the wisdom of Franklin's anecdote was applied to this controversy, it satisfied most, but not all.

However, it became the general rule of the commonwealths and, being members in good standing of the Conservative or Libertarian nations, people tended to not make too much fuss.

Another debate came about over the cultivation of two different types of weeds.  One weed required hard labor to bring it forth from the ground and then process it to render it smokeable.  It created a somewhat disagreeable smell and had effects on health, but did not render one insensible. The second had a more disagreeable smell and did render one insensible, yet proved easier to cultivate.

We found that those within the commonwealth seemed to prefer the former, those under the care of the Great Father preferred the latter (although a few of the Conservative Nation and many of the Libertarian did not mind to occasionally experience the insensibility of the latter themselves.)  Few opposed the cultivation and sale of the former.  Some opposition rose over the latter due to its power to render people insensible.  They also argued of the slippery slope to more dangerous commodities.

The councils debated this issue furiously and reached a resolution on commodities that might tend to make people insensible.  Beverages distilled through fermentation would remain legal.  Since the Son of God saw fit to provide wine to a wedding party, we reasoned that that, plus beer, whiskey, and mead met with divine approval if consumed in moderation.

The intoxicating weed, we resolved to allow its cultivation with restrictions.  Almighty God did see fit to put it in the ground, but gave us faculties enough to make reasonable choices on commerce.  First, it could only be consumed on the property where it was grown and not sold within the Commonwealth.  We, however, found that the children of the Great Father revered its properties even more than our Libertarian Nation.  Since, strangely enough, Great Father did not allow the weed to be used for recreational or medicinal purposes, we decided to provide the commodity covertly at a fair price to outsiders.

Quickly, we found the weed to be of another advantage.  All of our schools an tutoring programs insisted that the men and women of the commonwealths learn the techniques of economy and commerce.  They did not have to enter the field, but all needed to understand the basics so that they could not be caught unawares by sharp dealing.

Strangely, the children of the Great Father intentionally neglected this learning.  Their great schools instructed children in odd and useless subjects, such as learning various ways to engage in reproduction (a subject our own people seemed quite able to teach themselves in privacy!), fingerpainting, Marxism, and other topics of peripheral interest but dubious value. Our sharper traders, though we did not condone this practice, found that once children of the Great Father became insensible after smoking the weed, more advantage could be gained in negotiation with them.  Great Father tried to regulate, then use coercion to stop the practice, which only helped to bring more profit to the commonwealths.

These represented only two examples of how principled reasoning helped to solve

After the first generation, our people learned to stand on our own.  Our commonwealths resolved to not stand in the way of any person honestly trying to better themselves through hard work and good judgment.  Through trade and innovation our people thrived.  Our people gave to the religious and service organizations who operated many charitable health care and welfare organizations for the disabled and elderly.  Those who made a business of caring for the sick.

Some noted that personal fortunes did not grow as large in the commonwealths as they did before.  They were answered by wise individuals who reasoned that this happened because of the nature of the law.  Since the commonwealth never enacted laws that plundered one group for the benefit of another, or created regulations that destroyed the spirit of competition, but enriched a powerful individual, individuals could not amass very massive estates.  Simply put, those who ran successful enterprises had to reinvest more into their firms to remain competitive.  They could not rely on their share of the market to be protected by government.  So they kept innovating and kept building.  This kept their fortunes relatively modest, but their enterprises strong.

Children of the Great Father marveled at this because in their lands a few enjoyed the protection of the Father and remained stratospherically rich and no one else could ever start from nothing and compete for a market.

In the lands of the children of the Great Father, they celebrated our absence, now that they no longer had to fear the influence of our ways.  Because they rejoiced in the Great Father's wisdom in sending us away to places far from them, they renamed the Great Father's city's football team, calling it "Robber Barons."  Some from the commonwealth objected because they used an image highly inaccurate and prejudicial to our people.  But most shrugged their shoulders, pitied their ignorance, and ignored their folly.

Overall, the children of the Great Father grew more restive over time.  Great Father took much of their produce and handed it to its more obedient, but less industrious children.  When those creating the produce complained, Great Father scolded its children, calling them greedy and unpatriotic.

Some of those people moved to our commonwealth and enlivened our communities.  Others remained silent, but sullen.  Often, they quietly resolved to produce less so as to reduce the burdens assessed to them.

Great Father, however, relied too heavily on  gifts to his obedient children.  When its ability to hand over gifts diminished, the formerly obedient children complained that Great Father itself had grown greedy.  Great Father had always taught that one was greedy when one refused to hand over to another what they thought they needed.  Now Great Father's words turned against it.  It needed more.

Great Father looked at our lands and began complaining.  How is it fair that the people in the commonwealths abandoned their country, abandoned its people, and get to be prosperous while others starve?  Where is their compassion?  Where is their sense of humanity?  What does their Christian and Jewish faith teach them about the less fortunate?

People in our commonwealths reacted with surprise and anger.  We asked nothing but to be left alone, but in their jealousy, they keep wanting more.  Their hunger for our production never ceased to amaze and vex the councils.  A few argued to leave them alone and let their people suffer the consequences of their false ways.  More saw their suffering and wanted to make a gift that might help them through hard times that were hopefully temporary.  The practical in the council reasoned that a good faith gift to the Great Father might appease its wrath, convince its children of our good will, and inspire them to leave us in peace.

We voted a munificent one time gift of gold, silver, food, and other commodities.  Many of our people voluntarily contributed a tenth of their goods to help the suffering children of Great Father.  We hoped that the good faith would bring good results.

Great Father responded with wrath.  How dare you grant this insultingly small offering?  One tenth?  That is all you offer?  My children give between two thirds and three fourths, sometimes more, with the exception of a few of the most obedient children whose loyalty has earned them the right to keep their produce!  We call upon the greedy rich of the commonwealths to give their fair share over to Great Father so that it might alleviate the suffering of its children! And it must come every year, not just once!

Our councils were shocked and extremely vexed.  This tribute would leave our charitable hospitals, religious institutions, and service organizations without the support they needed.  The sick and elderly would be left without help.  Incentive for work would disappear.

It would leave us as destitute as Great Father's own children. So we refused.

Great Father always surprises.  If it applied such ingenuity and boldness towards encouraging enterprise rather than stealing from its children and others, it need not worry about how to pay its own bills.  Great Father one day sent its warriors to the borders of our most dynamic and wealthy commonwealth, Texas.

Our brothers in Texas were shocked into insensibility to see Great Father's warriors at their borders.  Had they not left Great Father's children alone?  Had they not gone their own way and prospered while Great Father's children sank into poverty?  Where was the justice in Great Father's demands that Texas, made productive and rich, now be handed over lock, stock, and barrel to Great Father?

Once again our councils divided.  The injust audacity of Great Father's demands shocked us all.  Many of us shrank back from overt resistance.  Great Father placed tanks, planes and artillery at the borders of the Lone Star Commonwealth.  The flat land offered little place to hide and fight guerrilla style.  Great Father had chosen well and caught us unawares.

Unprepared for this because we believed in Great Father's promises, we decide to abandon Texas.  Its vast farms, oil and gas fields, manufacturing, and other enterprises now divvied up.  Many children of Great Father swarmed the lands, but none know how to farm.  Some friends of Great Father took the oil and gas.  But Great Father also decreed that this energy is bad and cannot be used.  The power plants we built go unused and fall apart.

Our commonwealths take in the refugees who come with only what they could put into one car.  The rest went to Great Father.  It takes years to absorb millions of people, but they bring their brains, their bodies, and the desire to work.

And work they will.  Until now, we satisfied ourselves that with a small police force and an armed population, that we needed few additional munitions.  We had no limits on personal weapon ownership, and as a result, very little crime.  But these weapons were bought for sport, property protection, and hunting.  We had no organization or training on collective defense.

Now we see the error of those ways.  We relied on a shared sense of justice with Great Father, you go your way, we go ours.  Now we know that the way of the plunderer cannot be satiated until it has taken all that can easily be taken.

So we put some of the refugees to work in a new field.  Our commonwealths revived the spirit of medieval England's  King Henry II's Assize of Arms.  Every man and woman will have a weapon.  Every able man and woman will learn the necessary arts of war.  We will not start hostilities with any creature of God, but by the good name of the same, we shall not suffer ourselves to be plundered.  Great Father will find it tougher to plunder in the forests and the mountains against those stout and sturdy men and women resolved to protect what they own by natural right.

Now we hear of Great Father's hunger pangs again, that its children demand his gifts, and that he needs our people to give "their fair share."

Others must know, despite what has been taught elsewhere, that we only desired to be left alone.

It may come.  It may even take what it wants.  But it will not find the task easy.

Written in my own hand In The Year Of Our Lord 2014

Delenda est diripientium

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Rent to Own Store Aaron's Accused of Illicit Recording

Aaron's was accused by the Federal Trade Commission of secretly recording from customer's webcams on computers they rented.

According to, the FTC says that a prior case was settled last April.  This is a new instance of cybersnooping on customers.

Aaron's has outlets in Mineral County and throughout the region.

Interplanetary Internet Coming Soon. But What About Service Here?

NASA just figured out how to increase data transmission, including potentially internet service, 500 percent . . . to the moon and back.

According to Wired, a science and technology blog (duh), NASA successfully tested a laser based system of transmitting data.  It launched a probe that traveled almost a quarter of a million miles (the approximate distance to the moon) and fired a laser at it.  The test worked.  Data streamed successfully to and from the probe.

One of the major hurdles to interplanetary space flight lay in reliance on radio waves for data transmission. While radio waves are, essentially, as fast as lasers (both traveling at light speed), radio transmission requires more power and energy to transmit.  It also needs larger surfaces to "catch" signals from farther away.

Laser transmissions can also carry a broader range of information, such as 3 D videos.

The downside to laser transmission lies in the precision needed.  Radio waves broaden out from the source.  Lasers remain tightly focused in a small beam.  Imagine a pitcher trying to hit a catcher's mitt from ten million miles away.

Google, NASA, and others look to the future and plan for an interplanetary internet.

Meanwhile, West Virginians are also looking for reliable high speed access.  But problems with government waste may be standing in the way.  Perhaps the best business and research minds in rural states with spotty access should take note of this latest development and see if it could help.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pro Obamacare Ad Promotes Spending on Drinking Rather Than Insurance

Above is a real live pro Obamacare advertisement.

It seems to say that college students should spend their money on binge drinking instead of their own health insurance.

The Centers For Disease Control suggest that people might be healthier if they bought their own health insurance with the money, rather than go binge drinking.

Hat tip Cam Matheny

Ignorance Is Not Bliss

Hat tip to Terry Headley for passing this gem along from the director of the AFL-CIO's  West Virginia Center for Budget and Policy:

Ted Boettner @WVpolicywonk
It's amazing how many people say America is "broke" and have little clue that since we issue our own currency that we can't go broke.

Ted needs to go back to the drawing board on his economic thinking.  History is chock full of examples of states that have deluded themselves in this way.  Thinking that one can simply print money to pay bills assumes way too much.

Paper currency based upon "full faith and credit" of the government relies on the understanding that the state will work to maintain its artificial value.  It assumes that people will use it in place of commodities that have tangible value.

Some states have abused the trust and faith of the people in their money and government by printing money to pay its bills.  This produces the classical definition of inflation, which is "too many dollars chasing too few goods."

Liberals like a moderate amount of inflation because it redistributes wealth from creditors to debtors.  If debt is repaied at fixed amounts with a fixed interest rate, its real value will fall during periods of inflation.  The debtor has to pay back less value than he or she originally borrowed.  This will harm an economy in the long run because lenders will adjust their policies to protect themselves against this kind of loss.

Taking Boettner's idea to its logical end produces disaster.  The Confederate States, Weimar Germany, and countless Latin American countries fell to this temptation.  Weimar Germany obtained loans from the United States to shore up its system after the world saw the spectacle of people wheelbarrowing in bills to pay for bread.  Those in the Confederacy relied on barter toward the end of the Civil War because the central government simply printed to pay.

There is no easy way out of paying debt, even for nations.  To think otherwise is either delusion or ignorance.

That being said, America does not need to be broke.  If federal and state regulators pare down burdens to those which are necessary.  If the federal government gets out of the way of energy production.  If Obamacare is reformed and put on a free market basis.  If, if, if the competitive free market can be restored, then the United States can prosper and pay its bills.  We have wealth locked not in our power to print money, but in our resources and potential production.

Unleash it, pay off the debt, secure the future.

Grant and Garrett Counties Part of Federal Small Business Preference Program

Two Upper Potomac region counties are part of a long established, but relatively unknown, federal program to promote small business.

Garrett County, Maryland and Grant County, West Virginia both participate in the HUBZone program of the Small Business Administration.  The brainchild of former Missouri US Senator Kit Bond, this program encompasses qualified census tracts, qualified no-metropolitan counties, areas around closed military bases, and Indian reservations.  In HUBZones, small businesses receive preference for federal contracts.

In fact, the first contract awarded under the program went to a firm in Accident, Maryland.

West Virginia has eight counties (Grant, Pocahontas, Webster, Wetzel, McDowell, Calhoun, Mason) that meet any or all of the three criteria:

1) That the county's median household income is less than 80 percent of nonmetropolitan median household income in the state

2) The county's unemployment rate is not less than 140 percent of the average unemployment rate for the United States or West Virginia, whichever rate is lower.

3) The county includes a Difficult Development Area, as defined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

After the 2010 Census, the Small Business Administration removed Jackson, Tyler, Tucker, Summers, and Mingo from the list.

Apart from designated counties, the SBA recognizes (but cannot legally designate) a number of qualified tracts.  Mineral County has one qualified tract that extends along the western boundary around Elk Garden and Piedmont, but does not quite extend to Keyser.  Western Morgan County and the western and southeastern portions of Hampshire County also hold these designations.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

West Virginia Keeps Doing It Right

Good news, West Virginia!  State leaders continue to make strides to make the area more attractive to investors and residents.

The State Journal reported that a recent Tax Foundation study rated West Virginia as having the 23rd friendliest tax climate.  This places it slightly ahead of Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky yet far ahead of Ohio and Maryland who ranked a dismal 41.

The Mountain State scored best in corporate taxation at 20.  Property taxes scored at 27.  Individual income and sales taxes rated between the two.

This makes West Virginia an average state, but also shows improvement.  Under Governors Manchin and Tomblin, the state has looked at gradually reducing tax burdens anticipating a payoff in better economic growth.

In other words, counting on a Laffer Curve type of result.  Laffer was one of President Reagan's chief economic advisers early on, arguing that lower taxes brought better economic returns.

One must give credit to Democratic governors who don't shy away from an idea because it came from Reagan.

The State Journal also noted that recent administrations have focused on making the overall tax climate more friendly to all levels of business growth, instead of offering drastic temporary tax breaks to lure investment.  This results in a more evenly developed economy with more opportunities for in state entrepreneurs.

Governor Tomblin, however, warned that the state's expected expenditures next year would outstrip revenues.  He said that either taxes would have to rise or spending be cut.  With Republicans pushing hard at taking over at least one house of the Legislature next year, most likely spending will drop.

Certainly increased federal demands of states under Obama have pushed many states to have to stretch their budgets.  West Virginia is no exception.  Just last week a state official warned that the state expansion of Medicaid would likely force a funding cut to higher education.

West Virginia has done very well in making the tax regime more entrepreneur friendly.  If it makes equal strides in reducing regulation and establishing a state court of automatic appeal, the Mountain State could grow into a serious competitor for attracting business from anywhere.

Monday, October 21, 2013

National Security Needs Must Be a Factor In Energy Policy

Energy production equals a more productive economy and a more secure nation.

West Virginia's Republican congressional delegation, Shelley Moore Capito and David McKinley, have pushed this idea for years.  They have joined many colleagues in advocating an "all of the above approach" to fulfilling not only national needs, but also to make the US a powerful energy exporter as well.

Now a panel of retired military officers has expressed the same opinion.

John Gizzi last week covered the America's Future Energy Conference.  He reported that retired military officers joined business leaders like FedEx CEO Fred Smith in arguing for higher production.  American energy dominance, they claim, will help to ward off production cut threats from unfriendly organizations such as OPEC.

One such hostile action was the 1970 production cut to protest US support of Israel.

With the Middle East perpetually on the verge of conflict, an unpopular turn of US policy or a disastrous war could hurt the world's supply of energy.  Stable American production could lead the world away from reliance on this fickle region.

One major improvement could be approval of the Keystone pipeline project.  Obama opposes the construction of this connection between the Upper Great Plains and the Gulf of Mexico which would create tens of thousands of jobs.

The group also supported decreasing reliance on oil with more innovation.  Electric and natural gas powered vehicles, once a particular interest of Senator Jay Rockefeller, could also help build energy security.