Another Spaceport?

While New Mexicans have been led to believe that their economic futures are tied to the New Mexico Spaceport now being built near Truth or Consequences, the truth is that spaceports are already under development across the nation.

With an already-crowded spaceport field, I read over the weekend in the Albuquerque Journal that Hawaii is the next state that may be entering the fray. According to the report:

If the plan goes forward, tourists would pay $200,000 for a weeklong package including spaceflight training, resort accommodations and short test flights to simulate weightlessness.

At the vacation’s finale, five voyagers would embark on a horizontal takeoff aboard a special rocket plane, climb to 40,000 feet before rockets fire, accelerate to 3,500 mph, coast for a few minutes of weightlessness 62 miles above the Earth, flip over and then return to ground.

While New Mexico’s spaceport will undoubtedly be an early entrant into , it seems highly unlikely that the space industry will be very lucrative for the Land of Enchantment given the ever-increasing number of competitors. Perhaps Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle will give Hawaii taxpayers a break by not releasing funding for that State’s spaceport. Unfortunately, spaceport fever seems to be spreading among elected officials nationwide.

Federal Waste: Moving an Entire Town

To those who know anything about Albuquerque history, the idea of shifting a town may seem logical. After all, Albuquerque got its start at Old Town, but when the railroad came to town, downtown shifted to the current downtown which is known as “New Town.” All of this was done for market reasons, absent government subsidy. But that was the “good old days.”
Nowadays, the federal government — in this instance the Corps of Engineers — is more than happy to come in with hundreds of millions of dollars to move the town of Martin, Kentucky. Read the entire story from the Los Angeles Times here. All this for a town with a population of 633 according to the most recent census data. That is a subsidy of an amazing $138,000 per resident.
I don’t know if anyone has polled these people — wouldn’t be too hard with a population so small — but I’d think the Corps could probably convince them to move for $70,000 per person or less. And Obama wants to put the federal government in charge of health care and all energy-related decisions!
HT: PJ Chavez

Americans are Angry (finally)!

There is an anger building in America. Having been hoodwinked by the supposedly “free market” Bush Administration, the transparent socialism of the Obama Administration is causing average Americans and even the media to take notice. If you haven’t already seen it, check out the following spot-on Rant from Rick Santelli on CNBC:

Lest you think Santelli is just another ranting, talking head on television, check out his insightful interview on National Review Online.
Lastly, a friend of mine, local Albuquerque businessman Wayne Unze, had an excellent letter to the Albuquerque Business Journal. The letter is pasted below:

In case you’re not already painfully aware, since the election stocks have plummeted approximately 2,000 points. This demonstrates a tremendous amount of investor displeasure, or at best, uncertainty, with regards to the newly elected administration. And with so many of the newly appointed Cabinet members either coming under fire and/or resigning for various inappropriate activities or resigning due to an inability to reconcile the new Economic Stimulus Package, investor confidence appears to be non-existent.
It will be interesting (and possibly very frightening) to see what the future holds for those of us who have worked so hard only to see our retirements usurped by a government more focused on earmarks and entitlements than restoring the free enterprise capitalistic system that made America great for so many years. Most Americans seems to have forgotten a very important principle: whenever you accept a “handout” from another individual or entity (especially the government), you relinquish some degree of personal freedom.

How to spend the stimulus?

We at the Rio Grande Foundation certainly did not and do not support the so-called stimulus bill. Of course, with the fear factory in Washington working at a feverish pace and President Obama still in his honeymoon period, Congress caved in and gave him the nearly $800 billion in spending he wanted.
Of course, this did not stop the legislation from passing. But that doesn’t mean that all is lost. Money is going to be spent, so New Mexicans might as well benefit somewhat from this debacle. To that end, check out the New Mexico projects at this site called Stimulus Watch. You can then click on your area and individual projects and vote for the ones you think are either critical or not critical. As you can tell by going to the site, the voters seem to have a better grasp on what is important than their elected leaders. For example, the Paseo and I-25 interchange has been labeled a high priority by voters while the Albuquerque arena and streetcar have justifiably been categorized as low priorities.
I don’t know that the politicians in charge of spending this borrowed money will go to the Stimulus Watch website and peruse the results, but they would be smart to do so. Anyway, given the lack of control average citizens will have over how this stimulus money is used, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to try to influence them in this way.

Another Problem with the Stimulus

As if there were not enough reasons to be concerned about the so- called “stimulus package” (you can read it here) now being consideration in Congress, the legislation contains “Buy American” provisions that could start a trade war. Check out this article on the reaction from Korea.
Stifling free trade — and potentially igniting a trade war — would be a great way to extend the current malaise. As one economist pointed out in the aforementioned article, “If we only buy American, we’ll probably pay more for inferior goods.” That may create some jobs for Americans in the short-term, but it will hurt our standard of living even more than the current downturn has.
The Great Depression was ignited in large part by Smoot-Hawley tariffs which imposed the highest tariff increase in US history. I hope our political leaders are smart enough not to repeat that mistake in this spending package.

The Best of Intentions

We are often told that government acts with the best of intentions. Personally, I believe it, but also realize that the road to hell is indeed paved with the those very same good intentions. This scenario is about to play itself out when it comes to toys. In the wake of the scandal over the toys from China that contained lead and other harmful substances, Congress passed a law called the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act which was supposed to rectify the problem through a whole host of regulations. Unfortunately, the government solution may be as bad as the problem of unsafe toys itself.
As abundant materials on the Handmade Toy Alliance point out, these laws, by adding a $300 – $4,000 fee per toy in the form of testing and licensing costs, this law will actually make it tougher for domestic, small-scale toy producers to stay in business. There were a few excellent letters to the editor in the Wall Street Journal on the topic as well.
The fact is that the large toy companies that import toys from China can easily fold testing and licensing costs into the cost of their mass-produced toys, small, domestic producers will go out of business. Congress is now considering amending the legislation which is set to take effect in a few weeks, but this really is an excellent example of what well-intentioned government policies can do when they are actually implemented.

Rove is Right

I am no fan of President Bush and by extension i have not been a fan of his closest adviser, Karl Rove. After all, despite his “conservative” rhetoric, Bush has been a big-spending liberal who has stolen plays from LBJ’s playbook throughout his presidency.
That said, Rove makes some excellent points in his article in today’s Wall Street Journal on the current economic crisis. As Rove points out:

The housing meltdown is largely a story of greed and irresponsibility made possible by government privilege. If Democrats had granted the Bush administration the regulatory powers it sought, the housing crisis wouldn’t be nearly as severe and the economy as a whole would be better off.

The whole article is worth a read. While I’ll certainly complain about No Child Left Behind, a massive Medicare expansion, lost privacy, and massive government spending growth, Bush is largely not to blame for the housing crisis which precipitated the current economic crisis.

Election Reaction

Are you feeling down? Honestly, after last night, my feelings are mixed. At the national level, the Republicans got what was coming to them. They increased the size of government (No Child Left Behind, Medicare Prescription Drug Bill, out of control defense spending, to name just a few examples) and governed with more hubris than I’ve seen in a long time….and that’s saying something for politicians. So, I fully expected Obama’s victory and tough sledding for Republicans running for Congress, regardless of their personal merits.
It is unfortunate that Republicans in the Legislature and in local offices were also swept away in the tsunami because “change” in New Mexico would require a shift to the right, not the left. Instead, New Mexico’s big-government majority has been strengthened and emboldened with primary victories over moderate Democrats and an Election Day shift to the left as well. We’ll see what happens with Governor Richardson more than likely leaving for an appointment to the Obama Administration.
Regardless of yesterday’s results, we know that free markets and limited government work and have worked around the globe and throughout history. If you are discouraged about the direction we are heading as a nation, read the following from Larry Reed, formerly of the Michigan-based Mackinac Center, now of the Foundation for Economic Education.

Continue reading “Election Reaction”

Face-off over converted garage could land woman, 83, in jail

The story of an 83 year old California woman Ageda Camargo is unbelievable and truly scary for anyone who cares about property rights. She is from La Quinta, CA and has owned her house for years, before La Quinta was even a city. When she bought her house, it had a third bedroom that was originally a garage. Now they are threatening to put her in jail if she doesn’t change the room back to a garage.
Of course, the city is not offering to refund Camargo the additional taxes she’s paid all these years for the additional living space. Thankfully, I haven’t heard any stories like this from New Mexico, but one never knows what government bureaucrats will do next.