Jeremy Kolassa

Recent Posts From Jeremy Kolassa

Michigan Set To Become Next Right-To-Work


If you’ve been sleeping under a rock, Michigan — a heavily unionized state — is about to become the next state to adopt right-to-work laws:

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan, considered the birthplace of the American organized labor movement, was on a fast track Thursday to becoming the nation’s 24th right-to-work state after the state House and Senate approved bills as part of a package to pass the law.

Labor and Democrats were pushing back hard against the Workplace Fairness and Equity Act, but the efforts seemed futile as the controversial measures moved like greased lightning — and without going through committees or public debate — and could land on Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk by next week.

The debate raged across Michigan, and the country, as to whether the legislation would do what proponents say, bring fairness to workers and spark economic growth; or do as opponents claim, lower wages and benefits and destroy the middle class.

“The goal isn’t to divide Michigan, it is to bring Michigan together,” said the governor, who previously had said the issue was not on his agenda.

It should be noted that the law exempts police and firefighter unions, who are perhaps the most powerful unions of all (next to teachers, who from my understanding are not exempt), and also exempts current contracts. The latter doesn’t bother me; those contracts will eventually expire and be up for grabs later. The former does; caving into the police and firefighter unions sets a bad precedent. However, I don’t think it will be a problem in the short run.

The Detroit Free Press does a decent job explaining the law:

VIDEO: Heritage Foundation Bloggers Briefing With Reps. Justin Amash and Tim Huelskamp

Jason has already blogged on how Boehner kicked several freshman conservatives off the Budget and Financial committees. Now, here their side of the story, as Representatives Justin Amash of Michigan and Tim Huelskamp of Kansas came to Heritage Foundation to note what they see as the failures of GOP leadership — namely, they’re not running on their advantage of sane fiscal policy, and they will do anything, even hike taxes, in order to avoid cuts in military spending.

Also on hand was David Williams, president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, who talked about LEED certification, and how it’s a giant racket for the US Green Building Council. The Council is supposedly a nonprofit, but it’s dictated that federal building policy to mandate Gold LEED certification for all government buildings, which nets the Council some $50,000-$200,000 on average per building, on top of taxpayer monies they receive. Nonprofit? I hardly think so.

As USS Enterprise Retired, A Question: Why So Many Aircraft Carriers?


Over the weekend, the USS Enterprise—the real one, not James T. Kirk’s ship—was retired in Virginia:

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - The world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was retired from active service on Saturday, temporarily reducing the number of carriers in the U.S. fleet to 10 until 2015.

The USS Enterprise ended its notable 51-year career during a ceremony at its home port at Naval Station Norfolk, where thousands of former crew members, ship builders and their families lined a pier to bid farewell to one of the most decorated ships in the Navy.

“It’ll be a special memory. The tour yesterday was a highlight of the last 20 years of my life. I’ve missed the Enterprise since every day I walked off of it,” said Kirk McDonnell, a former interior communications electrician aboard the ship from 1983 to 1987 who now lives in Highmore, S.D.

The Enterprise was the largest ship in the world at the time it was built, earning the nickname “Big E.” It didn’t have to carry conventional fuel tanks for propulsion, allowing it to carry twice as much aircraft fuel and ordnance than conventional carriers at the time. Using nuclear reactors also allowed the ship to set speed records and stay out to sea during a deployment without ever having to refuel, one of the times ships are most vulnerable to attack.

Notice how the story says that the number of aircraft carriers is only “temporarily” reduced to 10 until 2015. That’s because they’re building more of them, and yes, the next one will be named Enterprise:

Jovan Belcher Shooting Not A Case For Gun Control


I’m not a sports guy, so I didn’t find out until this morning, but Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher murdered his girlfriend, then shot himself in front of his coaches.

Naturally, some are calling this an example of why we need gun control. People like…Bob Costas:

You knew it was coming. In the aftermath of the nearly unfathomable events in Kansas City, that most mindless of sports clichés was heard yet again, ‘Something like this really puts it all in perspective.’ Well if so, that sort of perspective has a very short shelf life since we will inevitably hear about the perspective we have supposedly again regained the next time ugly reality intrudes upon our games. Please.

Those who need tragedies to continually recalibrate their sense of proportion about sports, would seem to have little hope of ever truly achieving perspective. You want some actual perspective on this? Well a bit of it comes from the Kansas City-based writer Jason Whitlock, with whom I do not always agree, but, who today, said it so well that we may as well just quote or paraphrase from the end of his article.

The Fiscal Cliff: Let’s Just Dive Off And Get It Over With


Everyone is fearing the fiscal cliff set to hit the country this New Year’s, a point when various tax cuts (including the Bush tax cuts) expire and automatic budget cuts agreed to in last year’s budget deal go into effect. Everyone is—except a growing number of politicians and pundits, who think that going over the fiscal cliff might be a good idea.

Senator Rand Paul, writing in the Wall Street Journal, seems to think so:

Americans are told that they face a “fiscal cliff” if automatic federal spending cuts and tax increases occur at the end of the year. I’m not in favor of jumping off a cliff, but the logic of the supposed threat needs to be questioned.

The fiscal-cliff narrative assumes that spending cuts are bad for the economy. It follows, then, that more spending (and therefore more government debt) are good for the economy.

Didn’t we try that with President Obama’s trillion-dollar deficit-spending spree? You remember the stimulus—the one that created or “saved” American jobs at a cost of $400,000 per job. The one that left the unemployment rate over 8% for 43 consecutive months, the longest span since the Great Depression.

So is it good for the federal government to borrow more and spend more, or is it good for the economy to spend less and borrow less? These questions might need to be addressed before we wring our hands in despair at the possible fiscal cliff.

David Harsanyi also thinks going over the cliff would be better than trying to concot a deal at the last minute, though for him, it’s a bit more on the politics side than anything else:

French Socialist Minister of Nationalization: “Obama Does It!”

In what is sure to raise eyebrows and cause some headdesk moments across the world, the French Industry Minister, a member of the ruling Socialist Party, has said that what he’s doing is what Obama is doing:

The French politician who said Indian steel company ArcelorMittal should leave the country has told CNBC that his government is only acting like U.S. President Barack Obama.


Eric Feferberg / AFP/Getty Images

French Minister for Industrial Recovery, Arnaud Montebourg poses as he arrives at the Hotel Matignon (the Prime Minister’s official residence) in Paris.

Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg, a member of the governing Socialist party, caused controversy last week when he said that the Indian company, which employs close to 20,000 people in France, should leave after it said it would have to close down a factory.

The French government announced on Thursday that it could nationalize the factory in question, with backing from an unnamed businessman.

The news raised the specter of the nationalizations of the early 1980s, which were instigated by Hollande’s predecessor Francois Mitterrand.

Montebourg told CNBC after a meeting with trade unions in Paris: “Barack Obama’s nationalized. The Germans are nationalizing. All countries are nationalizing. I’ve also noticed the British nationalized 6 banks.”

R STREET: 3 Taxes We Should Kill

As the fiscal cliff looms ahead of us, the R Street Institute has just come out with a “A TAX HIT LIST FOR THE 113TH CONGRESS” (PDF) naming three taxes that we should kill. Namely, they’re looking at the Corporate Income Tax, the Estate Tax, and tariffs.

From the report, on corporate income taxes:


While the corporate income tax is politically popular and has strong populist appeal, many economists have called it into question. For example, conservatives such as American Enterprise Institute economist Kevin Hassett and liberals like former Obama advisor Austan Goolsbee have studied the deadweight losses and other distortions imposed by the tax. As a result, policy analysts from across the political spectrum believe that it simply shouldn’t exist. It generates an enormous amount of economic dislocation relative to the revenue it raises, while encouraging myriad behaviors that do little or nothing to promote economic growth in the name of legal tax avoidance. Meanwhile, the potential benefits of eliminating it are substantial.

Though obscured by their structure, corporate income taxes are just another form of individual taxation. Every dollar of corporate income tax is ultimately paid by one of three groups of people: employees, customers, or shareholders. Because corporations pass all costs on to these groups, corporate income taxes inevitably lead to some combination of lower wages, higher prices, and lower returns for investors.

COMMENT CHECK: Obama Has No Mandate, And Might Does Not Make Right

A commentator going by the handle of “Travis” posted an, shall I say “intriguing” comment on my recent post about Grover Norquist. Travis writes:


This has nothing to do with the evil media, this has everything to do with elections.

Your slash-taxes-and-government policy preferences were put up to a vote earlier this month, and they lost. The American people re-elected a president who campaigned on raising taxes on the wealthy, protecting entitlements and preserving government services.

This is just the bandwagon fallacy.

To illustrate my point, let me put it to you this way: Suppose Candidate A (for a naughty word Jason says I cannot type) campaigns on a platform of fixing our economy by killing all the poor people. Now, let’s say that, for whatever reason, a majority of Americans disagree with Candidate A’s policy position, yet, strangely, they end up electing him into office anyways. Does this mean that Candidate A’s policy to kill the poor is the right thing to do?

That was a rhetorical question, there’s really no need to answer.

Yes, Obama won the election. But just because a guy wins what is essentially a popularity contest does not mean that his policies are ipso facto the right ones and everyone else should roll over and play dead. I guarantee you that liberals would not have done that if Romney won, as they did not do it when Bush won (particularly after 2004, when he won the popular vote.)

Actually, GOP could—and should—ignore social conservatives

Of all the post-election autopsies I’ve read, this one may be the silliest. It is definitely an excercise in sticking one’s head in the sand, of deliberately ignoring what is going on around you. But since it is written by the President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, maybe I can give Richard Land some slack. Maybe. I mean, after all, it’s not like he’s going to say “Ignore me!” is he?

Here is what Mr. Land writes, in the New York Times of all places (so I suppose he’s just consigned himself to hell for writing in there):

The G.O.P. must not, and cannot, ignore its foundation and base. Exit polls show that white evangelicals made up 26 percent of the electorate, 3percent more than in 2004. Furthermore, these evangelicals voted for Mitt Romney in virtually the same percentages as the governor’s fellow Mormons (78 percent for Romney vs. 21 percent for President Obama, according exit polls by Edison Research). Obama received 26 percent of evangelical votes in 2008.

On the pro-life and same-sex-marriage issues it should also be remembered that while Obama won the total Catholic vote 50 percent to 48 percent, he won Hispanic Catholics 75 percent to 21 percent, while Romney won non-Hispanic Catholics 59 percent to 40 percent. On the issue of same-sex-marriage, the pro-same-sex-marriage forces did win their first electoral victories, but they did so in four liberal states: Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington. And, in all four cases they won by relatively small margins in spite of having outspent their opponents by margins approaching nine to one.

Dear Media: This Isn’t About Grover Norquist

Grover Norquist is under fire. Unjustly.

With Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham, Saxby Chambliss, Rep. Peter King and others seemingly deserting Grover Norquist and the Taxpayer Protection Pledge created by his organization, Americans for Tax Reform, media outlets across the spectrum are declaring that the GOP is “Over Grover” and that his vicelike grip of eternal dominance on the GOP might not be so eternal after all. We have images like this one, showing Republican leaders bowing to him as if he is a god. And on and on and on.

What it really is, though, is just another round of misinformation, wrong data, and interpretations based on faulty premises. Yet another sideshow that is completely missing the point, the real debate we should be having in DC.

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Jeremy Kolassa

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