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Willisms

« March 2010 | WILLisms.com | May 2010 »

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 789 -- Best Cities For Job Growth.

Texas-

Out of 397 cities studied nationally, 26 are in Texas. 10 of those 26 cities performed in the top 10% of all cities. 21 of the 26 performed in the top 25% of all cities.

Four of the top 12 overall cities are in Texas:

overallcities.gif

Of large-sized cities, Texas cities took first place, second place, and third place, and 5 of the top 7:

largecities.gif

Of medium-sized cities, 3 of the top 7 cities are in Texas:

mediumsizedcities.gif

Of small-sized cities, 2 of the top 4 are in Texas:

smallcities.gif

This is truly a national recession, as only 13 cities out of 397 showed any growth whatsoever in 2009:

During volatile times, places with the broad-based growth strategies -- like Texas and Utah -- do best. Cities that are heavily dependent on a narrow set of industries leave themselves vulnerable, paying back the gains of good years in poor years.

Part of the success of Texas is not just energy (as the modest performance of Midland and Odessa shows), but rather to the state’s adjustments to a past crisis, the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s.

Ideas matter. Policies matter. Let's pay attention to results and put more successful conservatives in, kick more failing liberals out.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: The Best State Business Climates.

Posted by Will Franklin · 30 April 2010 12:02 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 788 -- The Best State Business Climates.

Republican States, Not Surprisingly, Score Higher-

Policies matter:

statebusinesstaxratings.gif

Indeed, economic freedom propels job creation:

Now, there is more evidence in a state-level study just released by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, “Economic Freedom and Employment Growth in the U.S. States.

Keep people and capital free, and they will flourish. Obama and the socialists in his party are simply ruining America. They want to turn successful states like Texas into poorly performing states like California through their anti-freedom one-size-fits-all mandates.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Enthusiasm Gap.

Posted by Will Franklin · 29 April 2010 12:41 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 787 -- Enthusiasm Gap.

The 2010 Political Enthusiasm Gap-

From Chris Cillizza's "The Fix":

enthusiasmgap.gif

Indeed. Without revealing too much, let's just say there are Texas numbers that exist that look very, very similar. Democrats aren't excited. Republicans and Republican-leaning Indies are.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Newspaper Circulation Cratering.

Posted by Will Franklin · 28 April 2010 02:59 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 786 -- Newspaper Circulation Cratering.

Wall Street Journal Only Paper Without Decline-

Newspapers continue to struggle:

top25newspapers.gif
Overall average paid daily circulation fell 8.7% year-over-year for the six months through March, ABC said. That's an improvement on last fall's numbers, which were down 10.6% year-over-year. Sunday was down 6.54% in this report compared to a 7.5% drop in 2009.

But at the top of the circulation charts, the big just keep getting smaller -- often much smaller.

Of the top 25 dailies, only The Wall Street Journal managed to record a year-over-year gain, and at that, the 0.5% rise would in past years be described as flat.

....

Of the 21 big metros whose circ could be directly compared to the year-ago period, fully 10 fell by double-digit percentages.

Two dailies fell by more than 20%, The Dallas Morning News (down 21.47%) and the San Francisco Chronicle (down 22.68%).

The Dallas Morning News, after one of the top two declines in the country, is down to 260,659-- 21st place-- below the papers of smaller cities like Cleveland, Minneapolis, Denver, and others.

I am not surprised. There are a variety of reasons for the decline in newspaper circulation, but (correctly) perceived bias is a huge reason in Texas for the failure of newspapers.

Why pay to support an outdated, left-leaning industry when there are so many emerging alternatives?

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Foreclosures Low In Texas.

Posted by Will Franklin · 27 April 2010 09:14 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 785 -- Foreclosures Low In Texas

Half The National Rate-

The foreclosure rate in Texas is far lower than the rest of the country:

usforeclosures.gif

Texas has about 4% of the nation's foreclosures, but 8+% of the nation's population.

There are a lot of explanations out there for this. Slate has a bit more on another aspect of the housing market:

The Texas housing market also has fared better than many. The mortgage delinquency rate (the portion of borrowers three months behind on payments) is 5.78 percent, compared with 8.78 nationwide, according to First American CoreLogic. That's partly because relaxed zoning codes and abundant land kept both price appreciation and speculation down. "House prices didn't experience a bubble in the same way as the rest of the nation," said Anil Kumar, senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. But it's also because of two attributes not commonly associated with the Longhorn State: financial restraint and comparatively strong regulation. Unlike many of its neighbors, Texas has state laws that prohibited consumers from using home-equity lines of credit to increase borrowing to more than 80 percent of the value of their homes. The upshot: Dallas housing prices have fallen only 7 percent from their 2007 peak, according to the Case-Shiller index.

So, Slate cites both lack of regulation and strong regulation as the reason for the strong housing market in Texas.

I tend to credit the overall relative strength of the Texas economy for the relative strength of the Texas housing market. Fewer people losing their jobs in Texas has meant fewer people defaulting on mortgage loans.

Democrat blogger Mickey Kaus, who is running against Barbara Boxer in the California Senate primary, has a few other ideas on why Texas has not faced 12-14% unemployment like California:

a) fewer rigidities in the labor market, allowing it to adjust to the market more quickly--tiny quick wage cuts for a lot of people, for eample, mean employers don't have to lay people off as quickly b) fewer rigidities in organization structure--they don't have UAW-style work rules at Dell; and c) the absence of the public sector union "death-grip on state and local government" and politics and finances, which has helped produce near-bankruptcy at the state level

Yeah, those are some good reasons, actually. If all Democrats were more like Mickey Kaus, Republicans would be in a world of trouble, electorally-speaking. As it is, the vast majority of elected Democrats today are beholden to union bosses and far-left ideology.

Foreclosures are relatively low in Texas, because the economy is still relatively healthy-- as healthy as it can really be in this national and global crunch we're in.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Spending Growth Versus Income Growth.

Posted by Will Franklin · 23 April 2010 10:57 AM · Comments (23)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 784 -- Spending Growth Versus Income Growth.

Spending Out Of Control-

Does this look sustainable?

spendinggrewfasterthanincome.gif
Over the past few decades, middle-income Americans’ earnings have risen 29 percent, while spending has increased 242 percent.

Federal spending grew more than eight times faster than median income over this period.

Does that seem like a pace we can keep up indefinitely? Or even for another several years?

Policies have consequences, after all.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Spending, Not Tax Cuts, The Problem.

Posted by Will Franklin · 22 April 2010 04:38 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 783 -- Spending, Not Tax Cuts, The Problem.

Spending Out Of Control-

Recent government spending patterns were one of the reasons America threw the Republicans out of office. The additional ratcheting up of spending is one of the main reasons Americans are likely to throw the Democrats out of office in 2010 and 2012.

Indeed, spending is projected to rise substantially:

historicalandprojectedrevenuesandoutlays.gif
From 1984 through 2009, federal tax revenues averaged 18.3 percent of GDP while spending averaged 20.7 percent of GDP, for a typical annual budget deficit of 2.4 percent of GDP. (Nobody said we were angels in the past, either.)

Over the next 25 years, however, the CBO projects that tax revenues will increase to 19.9 percent of GDP. That’s equivalent to raising all federal taxes by about 9 percent. And this is under CBO’s “alternative fiscal scenario,” which assumes that the Bush tax cuts are extended and the Alternative Minimum Tax is indexed to reduce its intrusion on the middle class. Without these assumptions, tax revenues would rise even higher.

The real driver of the fiscal gap is rising federal spending, which will increase from an average of 20.7 percent of GDP over the last 25 years to 25.3 percent of GDP over the next quarter-century. That’s a 22 percent increase, for anyone who’s counting. Most of this spending increase will be driven by Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid as the Baby Boomers retire, the population ages, and healthcare spending rises.

Someone has to tell the truth on this. The truth is not pleasant. America is fiscally overpromised-- committed to far too much spending, much of which operates on auto pilot.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Other Nations Cutting Tax Rates, America Not So Much.

Posted by Will Franklin · 21 April 2010 03:40 PM · Comments (0)

National Lampoon: Obama Vacation.

Knocking on doors, cavassing a liberal part of Houston near downtown in 2004 on behalf of George W. Bush's reelection, I rang a doorbell and began a conversation about the Presidential race in 2004 with an individual living a few blocks away from me.

As I handed her a George W. Bush flyer and asked if she had decided whom to vote for in November, she said, "isn't he that guy who plays golf all the time?"

She was referring to this scene from Michael Moore's anti-Bush movie that came out that year:

For whatever reason, her statement has stuck with me as evidence that left-wing propaganda works. It is effective. It is harmful.

But propaganda like that can also backfire. Eventually.

Michael Moore and the liberals tried to make President Bush's golf outings an issue in the 2004 election and beyond. It was the overriding narrative on Katrina-- that he was somehow disengaged because he was in Crawford.

How will they spin this?

Barack Obama has come in at eighth in a list of golf-playing American presidents, higher than both George Bush and Ronald Reagan.

Bush was known for his love of golf, but figures released by Mark Knoller of CBS Radio, the unofficial White House statistician, have revealed that Obama has played golf 32 times during his presidency -- eight times more than his predecessor did during his entire tenure at the White House.

At this rate, Obama will be one of the golf-playingest Presidents in American history. We still have some pretty serious issues going on, including active military conflicts, the last time I checked.

Is Presidential golf playing suddenly not such a big deal? Just asking.

Posted by Will Franklin · 21 April 2010 12:29 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 782 -- OECD Cutting Corporate Tax Rates, While America Holds Them High.

People Angry At Washington-

The top corporate tax rate in the United States is too high, and relative to the rest of the world, it is getting higher:

ustopcorporaterateoecdaverage.gif
High U.S. corporate tax rates make it difficult for businesses to compete internationally. While other countries are reducing corporate tax rates, the U.S. has maintained a rate of 35 percent, the highest of any nation in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

This harms individual states, too. Low tax Texas, for example, could compete much better against European and Asian economies, if we didn't have these high national corporate rates dragging us down.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Anger Toward Government.

Posted by Will Franklin · 20 April 2010 02:56 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 781 -- Distrust & Discontent About Government.

People Angry At Washington-

Plenty of people are talking about the Pew Center's new survey research showing growing levels of anti-government, anti-establishment sentiment. You should really take a few minutes to read this. It's important, because Americans (in the modern era of constant polling) have rarely-- if ever-- been so fed up with the federal government:

Just 22% say they can trust the government in Washington almost always or most of the time, among the lowest measures in half a century. About the same percentage (19%) says they are “basically content” with the federal government, which is largely unchanged from 2006 and 2007, but lower than a decade ago.

Opinions about elected officials are particularly poor. In a follow-up survey in early April, just 25% expressed a favorable opinion of Congress, which was virtually unchanged from March (26%), prior to passage of the health care reform bill. This is the lowest favorable rating for Congress in a quarter century of Pew Research Center surveys. Over the last year, favorable opinions of Congress have declined by half – from 50% to 25%.

Some really ominous numbers for Democrats:

governmenthasanegativeimpact.gif
Independents who are highly dissatisfied with government are far more committed to voting this year than are independents who are less frustrated (78% vs. 58%). Overall, independents voters slightly favor the GOP candidate in their district by a 41% to 34% margin, but those who are highly dissatisfied with government favor the Republican candidate by an overwhelming 66% to 13% margin.

Indeed, Buyer's Remorse is strongly evident, after a brief flirtation with big government:

smallergovt.gif

These numbers also foreshadow some serious demagoguery coming down our way in the next several months:

publicanger.gif

You can bet your britches that Democrats will ratchet up their already-fiery anti-business rhetoric even further in the next few months.

The best news in the survey is that a) Republicans are the most fired up and eager to vote in the Fall, and b) Independents are more fired up than Democrats to vote, and they are planning on voting Republican in the Fall.

Turnout wins elections. In 2006 and 2008, Republicans didn't have great reasons to go to the polls. Far too many of our elected officials had let us down. Democrats, meanwhile, were fired up and eager. Turnout won the day. Turnout and enthusiasm will win the day in 2010.


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: American Regulatory Costs The Size Of Canada's Entire Economy.

Posted by Will Franklin · 19 April 2010 12:07 PM · Comments (7)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 780 -- American Regulatory Costs The Size Of Canada's Entire Economy.

Red Tape Strangling U.S. Economy-

The American government's regulatory regime is larger than many world economies:

regulatorycostscanadiangdp.gif
U.S. regulatory costs of $1.187 trillion exceed the output of many major national economies. Figure 4 shows that U.S. regulatory costs nearly equaled the entire 2007 gross national income (GNI) of Canada, which stood at $1.307 trillion. The regulatory burden also exceeded Mexico’s GNI of $989 billion. For the United States, the CBO estimated 2009 GDP at $14.253 trillion. Total regulatory costs of $1.187 trillion are equivalent to 8 percent of that amount.

For the United States, the CBO estimated 2009 GDP at $14.253 trillion. Total regulatory costs of $1.187 trillion are equivalent to 8 percent of that amount. Combining regulatory costs with federal FY 2009 outlays of $3.518 trillion indicates that the federal government’s share of the economy (of GDP) now reaches 33 percent.

And yet, the answer, to Democrats, seems to be that our economy is too unregulated.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Pensions Out Of Whack.

Posted by Will Franklin · 16 April 2010 10:58 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 779 -- Pensions Out Of Whack.

Really Bad News For Socialists-

Underfunded public pensions are worse than anyone is acknowledging:

* California, the most populous state, has the largest unfunded teacher pension liability: almost $100 billion. * The worst-funded plan in our sample is West Virginia’s, which we estimate to be only 31 percent funded. * Five plans are 75 percent funded or better: teacher-dedicated plans in the District of Columbia, New York State and Washington State and state employee retirement systems in North Carolina and Tennessee that include teachers.

Too many defined benefit plans, as opposed to defined contribution plans:

definedbenefit

Too many promises.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: 2010 Looking Bad For Democrats.

Posted by Will Franklin · 15 April 2010 05:28 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 778 -- 2010 Election Projections.

Really Bad News For Socialists-

This could be a serious wave election. When Democrats took over Congress in 2006, unemployment was below 5%. It has doubled since then. When Barack Obama took over the White House, our nation was facing a serious recession. Now, we're in a deep recession. The economy is bad. The socialists now in power have enacted a controversial agenda, to say the least. And the past two elections have extended the Democrats, electorally-speaking, beyond their natural constituencies and into territory they had no business occupying.

Indiana!

Montana!

Democrats are vulnerable on many levels. Republicans still have to give voters a reason to rally behind them. We are getting there, but we need some kind of unifying, easy-to-understand message, some kind of positive Reaganesque idea, to be successful in 2010. It's happening, but we still have just under 7 months to a) screw things up and b) let the media right the ship on the Democrats' behalf. If the three factors hold any predictive weight, it could be an enormous year for Republicans in 2010:

uswaveelections.gif
The data show that in elections where two of these factors are present, the party that controls the Presidency loses about 50 seats. But in this election, all three factors are present. To get an idea what this means, imagine what 1974 might have looked like if 1972 had produced a Congressional landslide to go with the Presidential landslide, and Republicans had entered the year with 232 seats instead of 192 seats. What if the economy had been in recession in 1966? What if Eisenhower had followed a more partisan agenda before 1958? What if Roosevelt had enjoyed his typical coattails in 1944, instead of receiving the fairly narrow 242 seat majority?

Those elections probably would have looked like 1938, 1894, or 1874. In those elections, the American people took their vengeance out on a party that was perceived as incompetent, and that was predisposed to fall due to the massive size of its majority. What we're seeing in the polls is a manifestation of something similar. While the power of incumbency has increased significantly since the 1950s, it's also true that both the Republicans and the Democrats are national parties now for the first time in our history. If Republicans can win in Massachusetts, they can win just about anywhere. And remember, Republicans don't need to win in Massachusetts for a landslide; they could pick up seventy seats without winning a single one in a Democratic-leaning district.

Add to this, Barack Obama is leading Ron Paul by only one percent in a new poll. Obama has vastly overstepped his mandate, which, admittedly, was the strongest mandate for "change" in several election cycles. Turns out Barack Obama was all the terrible things we said he was and none of the hopey dreamy things they said he was.

The damage from just two years of Obama, Pelosi, and Reid will be long-lasting, but America is not unrecoverable.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Entitlements & Debt.

Posted by Will Franklin · 14 April 2010 10:53 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 777 -- Entitlements & Debt.

Social Security, Medicaid, & Medicare Unsustainable-

Heritage has a ton of great but scary new charts and graphs:

national-debt-skyrocket.gif
In the past, wars and the Great Depression contributed to rapid but temporary increases in the national debt. Over the next few decades, runaway spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid will drive the debt to unsustainable levels.

Oh, but Social Security reform in 2005 was not necessary. There was no crisis or anything like that.

The chickens of generations of kicking the can down the road on entitlements are coming home to roost.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: U.S. Budget Growth.

Posted by Will Franklin · 13 April 2010 10:16 AM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 776 -- U.S. Budget Growth.

Spending Growth More Than Temporary-

Growth in government spending is not just due to temporary, emergency factors:

federal-spending-hikes-not-temporary.gif

Indeed, base spending is up substantially.

Scary.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Unfunded Liabilities.

Posted by Will Franklin · 12 April 2010 05:50 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 775 -- Unfunded Liabilities.

Scary Outlook For Most States' Public Employee Pensions-

Not good:

publicpensions.gif
States report that their public-employee pensions are underfunded by a total of $438 billion, but a more accurate accounting demonstrates that they are actually underfunded by over $3 trillion.

Yeesh.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: New Taxes Coming.

Posted by Will Franklin · 8 April 2010 05:44 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 774 -- New Taxes.

Filers Not Paying Sharply Upward-

Taxes are going up, particularly for upper income people-- to the tune of $41 billion next year and $969 billion over the next decade:

obamanewtaxes.gif

Welcome home to the Republican Party, you millions of moderately to highly successful Obama-supporting Americans who were taken in by his cool posters and stadium-filling Hollywood-style rallies. Welcome back, professionals and small business owners. We've missed a lot of you.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Non-Taxpayers Growing.

Posted by Will Franklin · 7 April 2010 11:02 AM · Comments (597)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 773 -- Non Tax Payers Growing.

Filers Not Paying Sharply Upward-

When nearly 50 million tax filers file with zero tax liability, we're risking turning America-- politically-- into the tax consumers versus the taxpayers:

notaxliabilityatall.gif
In 1962, the first year of the Index of Dependence on Government, the percentage of all taxpayers with zero tax liability stood at 20.1 percent. This number fell to 16 percent by 1969 before beginning a ragged but ultimately steady increase. By 2004, the percentage stood at 31.3 percent. It stood at an estimated 34 percent for 2008.

Taxes should be low and flat, rather than heavy and graduated and tilted toward only some successful people, while others only derive benefits.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Foreign Debt.

Posted by Will Franklin · 6 April 2010 04:13 PM · Comments (15)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 771 -- Foreign Debt.

Growing Portion Of Overall Federal Debt-

Not a beautiful, inspiring trend here:

Foreign-Debt.gif
In 2000, foreign investors held roughly half as much debt as domestic investors; by the end of 2009, foreign debt holdings were slightly greater than domestic holdings of the public debt.

It is a good thing for foreign governments to put their faith in the U.S. economy, and if America's debt was held by zero foreigners, it would be a red flag in its own right, but the trend toward more and more foreign-owned debt puts America in a vulnerable position. It's just too much. It's too much domestically-held debt, for that matter.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Red Tape & Regulation.

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 April 2010 04:46 PM · Comments (867)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 770 -- Red Tape Strangling Economy.

New Rules Requiring Nutrition Information On Restaurant Menus Not Helpful-

So, the economy is showing a few glimmers of hope but is still struggling to get back on track. Small businesses are still closing stores, putting projects on hold, and scaling back when and where possible. Corporations are laying people off and freezing hiring.

What is the solution?

Onerous regulations and mandates, of course.

Over the past couple of years, federal red tape is on the rise:

regulatoryburden.gif

A lot of these regulatory schemes were a reaction to the financial meltdown, which allegedly happened because we did not have strong enough regulatory agencies in place, but the cost of new regulations in America seems to be accelerating:

While the total number of regulations for 2009 was less than in 2008, in terms of cost, the total was much higher than in 2008. Based on regulatory impact analyses prepared by the regulatory agencies themselves, some $15 billion in new regulatory costs were imposed on Americans in FY 2009; savings to Americans from deregulations were estimated at $412 million, making the net increase for the year about $14.6 billion.

With Obamacare, many of the regulations and mandates now fall on individuals rather than faceless corporations or states/cities/counties.

Red tape is prolonging America's economic "Great Recession," and we need to send a clear message in November that it's time to get back to our nation's limited government, free enterprise roots.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Tax Freedom Day.

Posted by Will Franklin · 1 April 2010 01:32 PM · Comments (48)