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Red Light Cameras: Safety Devices or One More Step Toward a Surveillance State? PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Wednesday, 22 December 2010 05:21

Before Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, unleashed full-body-imaging scanners and “enhanced” pat-downs on American airline passengers, she subjected Arizona drivers to red-light cameras. In August 2008, Napolitano, then the governor of Arizona, instituted a statewide system of 200 fixed and mobile speed and red-light cameras, which were projected to bring in more than $120 million in annual revenue for the state. She was aided in this endeavor by the Australian corporation Redflex Traffic Systems.

Two years later, after widespread complaints that the cameras intrude on privacy and are primarily a money-making enterprise for the state (income actually fell short of the projections because people refused to pay their fines), Arizona put the brakes on the program. And while other states – including Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Wisconsin – have since followed suit, many more municipalities, suffering from budget crises, have succumbed to the promise of easy revenue and installed the cameras. (Davenport began using red-light cameras in 2004.) As the Washington Post notes: “A handful of cities used them a decade ago. Now they’re in more than 400, spread across two dozen states. Montgomery County started out with 18 cameras in 2007. Now it has 119. Maryland just took the program statewide last month, and Prince George’s is putting up 50. The District started out with a few red light cameras in 1999; now they send out as many automated tickets each year as they have residents, about 580,000.”

WikiLeaks’ Marketing Strategy: A Stroke of Genius PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Gary North   
Wednesday, 08 December 2010 05:55

To understand what WikiLeaks has done, we must understand economic cause and effect. Let us begin with a comparable market: the market for gambling.

Governments have laws against gambling. Why? The justification is moral principles. This reason is less persuasive once the government sets up state lotteries and also licenses taxable gambling, such as horse racing. The real reason is the governments want to monopolize the vice. They expect greater tax revenues.

Governments arrest bookies. But bookies are merely providers of the service. The source of demand is the individual gambler, the guy who is placing the bets. The infrastructure that delivers the service is surely basic to the process, but it is the individual citizen who is the prime mover. Why? He is paying for it.

Want to understand the process? Follow the money. It ends with the customer.

Dead Man Walking: Dealing with Deflation PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Mark W. Hendrickson   
Thursday, 25 November 2010 05:52

To Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke, deflation is regarded as Public Enemy Number One.

In the words of New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, the “real [economic] threat is deflation.” Krugman advocates additional and even more aggressive government deficit spending.

The normally on-target Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, international business editor of The London Telegraph, favors more “quantitative easing” (i.e., a policy whereby the Fed would create trillions of new dollars with which to buy government bonds and other financial junk) to prevent deflation.

Why is deflation – by which Bernanke et al. mean “widespread declining prices” – so feared?

American Idle PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Keith Johnson   
Tuesday, 23 November 2010 08:57

“Live every day as if it were your last ... and then some day you’ll be right.” – H.H. “Breaker” Morant

History is not likely to speak well of today’s Americans. While the people of nations around the globe stand up to their oppressors, Americans sit idly by as their government runs roughshod over their life, liberty, and property.

As we speak, large-scale protests and mass demonstrations continue in more than a dozen countries as citizens strike back against injustice, criminality, and brutal austerity measures imposed by their corrupt governments.

In the UK, more than 50,000 students recently took to the streets to protest a spike in tuition costs.

In Greece, workers clashed with police outside the Finance Ministry over frozen pensions and cuts in their salaries.

In Germany, tens of thousands demonstrated to protest government policies and social inequities in advance of Merkel’s Democrat party’s national meeting.

First Steps for Branstad and the Iowa Statehouse PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries
Written by Jonathan Narcisse   
Wednesday, 10 November 2010 05:14

An Iowa Worth Fighting for was created to serve as a future firewall against entrenched status-quo power following the November 2010 elections. On August 17, 2009, the content of this comprehensive review and recommendations debuted on the Jan Mickelson radio show in Des Moines.

It spoke to some basic principles, and addressed core governing concerns – like government is best that governs least.

But it offered more than platitudes. It offered specifics that included strategies to reorganize, reduce, and re-prioritize state government; to create accountable, efficient local government; to rebuild our economy based on tax reform and citizen – not government – stimulus; to reform our education system; to promote a healthy Iowa the effective way – not through government mandate; to affirm core rights, such as the right to property; to protect Iowa’s citizens; to interdict Iowa’s severe drug crisis; to reform illegal immigration; and to advance real leadership principles.

On November 2, 2010, the political pendulum reversed course. Republicans again control statehouse politics. It was not even a decade ago they controlled both the House and Senate in Iowa. Which is to say: It was not a decade ago that they fought education reform, welfare reform, and the introduction of sound fiscal and management practices. When Terry Branstad left office, he had a Republican House and Senate. He did not fix welfare, education, our prisons, our courts, taxes, or our economy. While he managed the status quo much better than Governor Chet Culver – thanks to dozens of tax hikes and data manipulations – Branstad and the GOP did not repair, restore, or rebuild Iowa.

Now that he and Republicans have returned to power, simply invoking a term such as “conservative” isn’t good enough. This group of statehouse leaders must lead, but to lead they must first have a plan. This means not just an agenda, but a specific vision of how we fix Iowa.

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