Posts tagged ‘Donald Trump’

The Wasted Vote Fallacy

Republicans before the election worked to convince Libertarians that a vote for Gary Johnson (or any other third party) was a wasted vote -- that Libertarians needed to be voting against Obama and therefore for Republicans.  Some libertarians have argued that the only way to change the Republican Party is from within.  Libertarians need to join the party and then work to make the party less statist.

I thought this was a crock at the time and think so even more now.  Here is the key thought:  Republicans are not going to change their platform and their candidates and their positions to woo voters they are already getting.  After the election, no one in the Republican leadership was talking about what a mistake it was to run a big government Republican like Romney -- the ex-governor of Massachusetts for God sakes -- who authored the predecessor to Obamacare.  No one was wondering about Gary Johnson as a 2016 candidate.

What the GOP did do is panic at the shellacking they got among Hispanic voters.  The ink was not even dry on the ballots before Republican leadership was considering abandoning their anti-immigrant stance in order to win more Hispanic voters.  I am not sure that will get them Hispanic voters, but whether they are right or not, that is the conversation they were having.  They were asking, "How do we attract voters WE DID NOT GET" -- not, "how do we attract voters we are already getting".

The turn of the century Progressive Party (William Jennings Bryant, free silver, etc) never won a Presidential election but both the Republicans and Democrats co-opted many of their platform positions because they sought to attract voters they were losing to the Progressives.

I don't see how Libertarians can look at a party that has fielded John McCain (author of speech restrictions) and Mitt Romeny (author of the proto-Obamacare) as any sort of long-term home.  Heck, the Republicans more seriously considered Rick Santorum and Donald Trump than Gary Johnson or Ron Paul.  I respect what Mr. Paul has done in bringing libertarian issues to the debate, but as long as he keeps reliably delivering his voters to whatever lame statist candidate the party fields, the GOP is never going to seriously address libertarian concerns.

More Glendale Follies

I almost hate beating on the silly folks who run the City of Glendale even further, but they keep screwing up.

One of the reasons I think that city officials like those in Glendale like to dabble in real estate and sports stadiums is what I call the "bigshot effect."  They don't have any capital of their own, and they don't have the skills such that anyone else would (voluntarily) trust them to invest other people's money, but with a poll of tax money they get to play Donald Trump and act like they are big wheels.  The Glendale city council did this for years, and when their incompetence inevitably led to things starting to fall apart, they have simply thrown more money at it to try to protect their personal prestige.

But unfortunately, incompetence generally is an infinite reservoir, and apparently the City has screwed up again.  Years ago, when the City promised the rich people who owned the AZ Cardinals a new half billion dollar stadium, they put a contract to that effect on paper.  Granted, this was a sorry giveaway, spending hundreds of millions of dollars for a stadium that would be used by the Cardinals for 30 hours a year, by the Fiesta Bowl for 3 hours a year, and by the NFL for a Superbowl for 3 hours every 6-7 years.  But, never-the-less, the City made a contractual agreement.

And then, in its rush to be real estate bigshots, the city turned about 3700 parking spaces promised contractually to the Cardinals over to a developer to create an outlet mall (of the sort that has been quietly going bankrupt all over the country over the last few years).  Incredibly, the city did this without any plan for how to replace the parking it owed the Cardinals.  To this day, it has no plan.

Apparently, there were also some shenanigans with $25 million that had been escrowed to build a parking garage.

The demand letter also blames the parking problem on the city's dealings with Steve Ellman, Westgate's former developer and a one-time co-owner of the Phoenix Coyotes. The letter states that Ellman's relationship with the city has been "characterized by a lack of transparency."

The letter raises questions about a January 2011 arrangement in which the city and Ellman equally split a $25million escrow fund that had been earmarked to build a parking garage in Westgate, the team said.

Ellman put that money in escrow in 2008 after failing to keep a promise to the city to provide a set amount of permanent parking in Westgate.

By early 2011, half of that money went back to Ellman's lenders as part of a deal to try to keep the Coyotes in Glendale, while the city received the other $12.5 million in the account.

What a mess.  This is what happens when politicians try to be bigshots with our money.

 

 

Coyote is Sad :=(

I was pretty bummed out that Gary Johnson is not to be included in the debate slate for New Hampshire.   I am not one (most definitely not one) to invest all my hopes and dreams in a political candidate, but I really like Gary Johnson and thought he could bring a new libertarian voice (in addition to Ron Paul's) to Republican discussions dominated by statists like Romney and Huckabee.   I have met him once and listening talk about things like the costs of the war on drugs and immigration is just so refreshing from a politician of any sort, particularly a Republican.    And in contrast to Ron Paul, who comes off as a bit wacky (and wonky), Johnson does it all in a very non-threatening way.   Many people in this country self-identify as fiscally conservative and socially liberal -- this is their guy.  They just haven't heard of him yet.

As an ex-governor well respected by independents, he strikes me as infinitely more worthy of a debate spot than, say, Donald Trump, who did receive an invitation.  I wrote a whole column on the importance of being previously famous, rather than experienced, as a qualifier for office nowadays.

Kim Kardashian for Congress

From my column today at Forbes.com, this week on Donald Trump and campaign finance reform. An excerpt:

Have you heard the news?  Apparently Donald Trump is running for President.  Of course you would have to be living in a hole not to know that.  Over the last couple of weeks, based just on media stories tracked by Google News, there have been over a thousand news stories a day mentioning Trump’s potential run for the White House.  In fact, there are more than double the number of articles on Trump’s potential run than their are on the actual candidacies of Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, and Tim Pawlenty combined.

Do you like candidacies by crazy populist billionaire reality TV stars?  If so, then by all means, let’s have campaign spending limits.

If GOP Candidates Can't Make It Here, They Can't Make It Anywhere

It's hard to see populist, wacky GOP candidates making much progress nationally if they can't get any traction in Arizona.

A poll of 623 Arizona voters released today reflects a couple things -- almost nobody likes Donald Trump, and most people would prefer Sarah Palin not move here.In the poll -- from Public Policy Polling -- opinions are recorded about possible GOP nominees for the 2012 presidential election, and how they'd vote if they ran against President Barack Obama.

Donald Trump was the most unfavorable of five possible GOP candidates -- with a full 2/3 of people dissin' the Donald with an "unfavorable" ranking.

Remember that whole thing about former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin moving to Arizona for a possible Senate campaign?

Most people would prefer that not happen.

Palin was the second-most-disliked candidate -- with 62 percent having unfavorable opinions -- and a later question revealed 57 percent of people would prefer that she not move to Arizona.

Trump also suffered the biggest blowout in a hypothetical match-up against Obama, garnering votes from only 36 percent of respondents.

More Reasons to Fear Public Employee Unions

Most all local governments have extensive programs in place for government inspection of elevators because, you know, private businesses can't be trusted to operate safe equipment.  But it turns out the least safe elevators are operated by the government itself:

New York City Transit
has spent close to $1 billion to install more than 200 new elevators
and escalators in the subway system since the early 1990s, and it plans
to spend almost that much again for dozens more machines through the
end of the next decade. It is an investment of historic dimensions,
aimed at better serving millions of riders and opening more of the
subway to the disabled.

These are the results:

¶One of every six elevators and
escalators in the subway system was out of service for more than a
month last year, according to the transit agency's data.

¶The
169 escalators in the subway averaged 68 breakdowns or repair calls
each last year, with the worst machines logging more than double that
number. And some of the least reliable escalators in the system are
also some of the newest, accumulating thousands of hours out of service
for what officials described as a litany of mechanical flaws.

¶Two-thirds of the subway elevators "” many of which travel all of 15
feet "” had at least one breakdown last year in which passengers were
trapped inside.

The whole thing is pretty depressing.  But perhaps just as depressing is the fact that the NY Times, in a quite lengthy article, never once questions why the government is in the elevator maintenance business at all.  You see, the New York City Transit system hires all of its own maintenance people, presumably because, though the article never mentions it, the public employees union insists that these functions remain in house.  OK, here is a quiz:  How many private elevator owners in New York City have their own staff repair elevators?  My guess is the answer is close to zero.  Everyone uses third party elevator equipment repair companies or operate under long-term service contracts with the manufacturer.  Why?  Well, lets see what problems NY Transit faces:

"They don't have enough competent people with the proper training,"
said Michele O'Toole, the president of J. Martin Associates, which the
transit agency hired in 2006 to evaluate its elevator operations. "It
all reflects back to qualifications, training, capabilities."...

Elevators and escalators are spread out over a far-flung system,
requiring more mechanics and slowing responses to breakdowns. There has
been little standardization of parts, so mechanics must cope with a
bewildering hodgepodge of machinery. And the machines, which operate 24
hours a day, are subject to all sorts of abuse: Elevators become
makeshift bathrooms, and escalator steps are pounded by heavily loaded
hand trucks.

Guess what?  These are all classic reasons for outsourcing.  Manhattan elevator maintenance companies are set up to handle a far-flung elevator inventory, and can more efficiently stock parts, buy special equipment, and provide specialized training than can any individual operator.   Shared external capacity can also be sized and used much more efficiently to deal with random failures -- the more elevators in a region one maintains, the better staff can be utilized across a stochastic system.

But of course, the NY Times is never going to go against any public employee union, so it takes the line that this is a good governance issue, rather than a structural issue where an individual elevator owner is always going to be less efficient than outsourcing to a large regional third party company.  It compares NY Transit to other public transit agencies, but not to other private owners of elevators.  My guess is Donald Trump owns more elevators than NY Transit - how does he handle elevator maintenance?

By the way, the article says that there are 167 elevators and 169 escalators in the system.  They also say there are 200 full-time maintenance people.  So, on average, one person spends 60% of their year on a single elevator or escalator.  Think about the elevators and escalators you ride every day.  Can you imagine someone working on it for 1200 hours a year?

And what is this in the quotes above about slow responses to breakdowns in the far-flung empire?  With 200 people for 336 devices, they could practically assign an individual repair person to each one.   I can see him now, with his toolbox, sitting on a folding chair in the back of the elevator with a box of Krispy Kremes, waiting to spring into action at the moment of failure.

Don't Ever Lend Money to Politicians

I don't have a problem with someone who has had a bankruptcy in the past.  Bankruptcy is not some Scarlet B that should ruin one for life.  Ideally, its bad enough that folks should want to avoid it but forgiving enough that people can move on and get a fresh start.  Via TJIC

"¦ moderator Tim Russert asked former senator Mike Gravel about Gravel's
somewhat troubled financial history. A condominium business started by
Gravel went bankrupt, and Gravel himself once declared personal
bankruptcy. "How can someone who did not take care of his business,
could not manage his personal finances, say that he is capable of
managing the country?" Russert asked.

Here would be my answer:  "Bankruptcy does not necessarily mean that one has managed finances poorly or that one is somehow guilty of malfeasance.  It can mean those things, but it can also mean that one took a risk on a business vision, did the best job possible, but the vision turned out to somehow be wrong.  Some of the greatest names in American business backed Internet ventures that went bankrupt.  Some were just poorly managed, but many just made poor bets as to what would and would not work over the internet.  When people look at Enron, they assume that there must have been malfeasance for the company to go bankrupt.  And while folks were indeed breaking some laws there, those actions had nothing to do with Enron's bankruptcy.  Enron died because they made some huge bets on things like broadband that didn't pan out."

Here, in contrast, is Gravel's response:

"Well, first off, if you want to make a judgment of who can be the
greediest people in the world when they get to public office, you can
just look at the people up here," Gravel said in a nod to his fellow
candidates.

"Now, you say the condo business," he continued. "I
will tell you, Donald Trump has been bankrupt 100 times. So I went
bankrupt once in business.

Doesn't this guy sound like some overweight guy wearing a wife-beater and sitting in his trailer with a cheap beer watching a baseball game on his old black and white TV, railing against all the rich guys that never gave him a chance?  But the best is yet to come:

who did I bankrupt? I stuck the credit card companies with $90,000 worth of bills, and they deserved it "“ "

People in the audience began to laugh.

"They
deserved it," Gravel repeated, "and I used the money to finance the
empowerment of the American people with a national initiative."

That sound you hear is the dying gasps of individual responsibility.  And what the hell is that last part about "empowerment of the American people?"  Sounds like Gravel is channeling Lee Hunsacker.

Don't Ever Lend Money to Politicians

I don't have a problem with someone who has had a bankruptcy in the past.  Bankruptcy is not some Scarlet B that should ruin one for life.  Ideally, its bad enough that folks should want to avoid it but forgiving enough that people can move on and get a fresh start.  Via TJIC

"¦ moderator Tim Russert asked former senator Mike Gravel about Gravel's
somewhat troubled financial history. A condominium business started by
Gravel went bankrupt, and Gravel himself once declared personal
bankruptcy. "How can someone who did not take care of his business,
could not manage his personal finances, say that he is capable of
managing the country?" Russert asked.

Here would be my answer:  "Bankruptcy does not necessarily mean that one has managed finances poorly or that one is somehow guilty of malfeasance.  It can mean those things, but it can also mean that one took a risk on a business vision, did the best job possible, but the vision turned out to somehow be wrong.  Some of the greatest names in American business backed Internet ventures that went bankrupt.  Some were just poorly managed, but many just made poor bets as to what would and would not work over the internet.  When people look at Enron, they assume that there must have been malfeasance for the company to go bankrupt.  And while folks were indeed breaking some laws there, those actions had nothing to do with Enron's bankruptcy.  Enron died because they made some huge bets on things like broadband that didn't pan out."

Here, in contrast, is Gravel's response:

"Well, first off, if you want to make a judgment of who can be the
greediest people in the world when they get to public office, you can
just look at the people up here," Gravel said in a nod to his fellow
candidates.

"Now, you say the condo business," he continued. "I
will tell you, Donald Trump has been bankrupt 100 times. So I went
bankrupt once in business.

Doesn't this guy sound like some overweight guy wearing a wife-beater and sitting in his trailer with a cheap beer watching a baseball game on his old black and white TV, railing against all the rich guys that never gave him a chance?  But the best is yet to come:

who did I bankrupt? I stuck the credit card companies with $90,000 worth of bills, and they deserved it "“ "

People in the audience began to laugh.

"They
deserved it," Gravel repeated, "and I used the money to finance the
empowerment of the American people with a national initiative."

That sound you hear is the dying gasps of individual responsibility.  And what the hell is that last part about "empowerment of the American people?"  Sounds like Gravel is channeling Lee Hunsacker.