We just had John Fund on talking about the deleted tweets. Here's his column in National Review about them.
The State newspaper's top story today regards our police department releasing several different plans that would install anywhere from 400 up to 1,640 security cameras around Columbia. The price range is from $300,000 up to 2.2 million dollars. Their argument is that cameras help solve crimes. We already know that cameras aren't a deterrent to crime as the BBC reported following London installing their "ring of steel". That is a half million cameras all over their city.
Both violent crime and robberies actually went slightly up. The NY Times reported in 09 that NYC had installed millions of dollars in cameras and found that the cameras’ impact on reducing crime was statistically inconclusive. And the researchers raise the question whether the trade-offs in cost and loss of privacy are worth it.
Which brings me to my point. Even if cameras did deter crime on city streets, the police have no business using them. Police are the fist of local government. The idea of government being able to target a citizen for surveillance without a warrant should rouse most people from their dream of safe streets. A series of cameras on every corner that can clearly detect license plates and faces, as the Columbia police department is requesting, would give them the power to follow anyone. "So what?" you may ask. "I'm not doing anything wrong, plus you're in public. There is no privacy in public". You're right, that there isn't any privacy from other people but there is an expected level of privacy from the government tracking you.
Why would the government ever want to track a good person? Let's see... they may want to keep a closer eye on people whom they have noticed attending a pro-gun or pro-life rally at the state capital. Remember our current Director of Homeland Security has identified people who attend such rallies as potential terrorists. She also identified potential terorists folks who enjoy conservative talk radio. So if you show up at my remote broadcast from Window World or Stone Interiors, Columbia PD may begin tailing you via their sophisticated new camera system. There's also dirty cops who could use the system to target people or politicians who could use it to tail their opponents. I mean the list of how government run security cameras could be used against its citizens is endless!
Now some folks are no doubt screaming at their screen that I'm a moron because security cameras helped catch the Boston bombers. That's true, but notice whose cameras they were. Lord & Taylors
The Forum restaurant.
The point being the cameras used by private companies for security is fantastic. Private companies can't use cameras in a way to track people. The police can request access to them to help solve crimes in the area, and it's a win win. Crimes are solved, and privacy is protected from the government. Taxpayers willingly turning over more power to the government in the hopes that they will keep you safer however always seems to end poorly.
Last Summer President Obama issued the red line warning to Syria about chemical weapons.
They appeared to dance well past that line over the past few weeks with hundreds of people being filmed dying with foam pouring out of their mouth and nostrils. As the President said in that warning, he wasn't just warning the leader of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, but all players on the ground. So if anyone uses chemicals we're coming in because now you're out of control and a direct threat to one of our closest allies, Israel. Imagine people in Charlotte gassing each other. Do you think folks around here would be nervous? Damascus to Jerusalem is about the same shot. Nazareth would be about where Lancaster is.
The reason be floated by the press as to why we're not doing anything is because we are not sure it's gas. We're being more cautious because of the intel disaster we had in Iraq. But this is different. We have video proof of people dying from gassing. Israel, Spain, France, England, Australia, and us have all detected gas being used.
No the reason we're stalling is the problem is bigger that an evil dictator gassing his own people. The problem is we don't know who is a bigger threat to Israel and the US! Assad hates Israel. He has threatened for years to fire upon Tel Aviv. His best friend and closest allie is fellow Israel/US despiser Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.
Photo Getty Images
Nobody from the West or sane wants Assad in power. But the problem is he is being attacked by Al-Qaeda! Yes the freedom loving rebels are really thousands of Al-Qaeda jihadists! They declared jihad because Assad banned the teaching of religion or wearing of religious garments in school. So who do you want to win this battle? Assad who has threatened to attack Israel or Al Qaeda who has already attacked the US? In rebel controlled areas the black flag of jihad is the one being flown.
Photo: Getty Images
The rebels will surely love the support that John McCain and Lindsey Graham are demanding we send. At the same time we can rest assured the rebels will kill all of us the first chance they get, so perhaps it would be wise to slow that help down. On the other side, Assad will feel invincible if he survives this jihad and along with his bff Ahmadinejad will probably feel good enough about themselves to attack Israel very soon. I would do what the President is doing, which is nothing. If one side looks like it's going to win, help the other. Maybe we can keep these 2 fighting each other forever. Because once they stop fighting each other they're looking for another fight and we're probably going to be in it.
As you may have seen on the front page above the fold on today's State Newspaper "The Richland County Election search panel is misled and confused". As my partner Jonathon Rush said when he read that "congratulations you're now in the same boat as the voters". So welcome aboard!
The commish of this debacle is Herbert Sims who apparently informed the rest of the rag tag crew to keep it secret who the 3 finalists to replace Lillian McBride are. That according to search panel member Sue Berkowitz. Now that goes in direct violation of state law which dictates the 3 finalists names are to be released to the media upon request. But of course they weren't. Not until the press got a hold of Richland County attorney Larry Smith. Smith seemed confused as to why the panel wasn't releasing the names. "I told Mr Sims once you got down to 3 names, the law made those 3 names subject to being released to the media upon request. Sue Berkowitz said Sims "either didn't understand that or chose to tell the rest of the committee we were not allowed to give it out". Sims was reached Wednesday by phone but told the press he'd have to call them back and as of this morning has not. What can't these people screw up?
In case you're wondering the press finally did receive the 3 names. They are all currently election directors in their respective counties. Howard Jackson Orangeburg. Patricia Jefferson Sumter. Adam Ragan Gaston NC. One of these 3 will have the pleasure of replacing Lillian McBride.
I found this interesting as well. Lillian was paid $89,124 a year. She had no previous experience, and yet received the highest salary for county Election Commissioner's in the state. She replaced a man who had held that position for 4 decades and had run complaint free elections. Mike Cinnamon made approximately $68,000 before the commission violated our state law by combining the commission and voter registration. The violation was because they never had the authority to do that. Then to add insult to injury they paid McBride 20 grand more than Cinnamon, and when the election turned into a joke tried to blame Cinnamon! They said he didn't leave her enough information to run a smooth election. McBride eventually resigned and was quickly re-hired at a salary of $74,600 per year this time working with Voter Registration and Absentee voting. The thing that's striking is the new Director of the Elections Commission will be hired at an approximate salary of $75,000 a year. Yes Lilian McBride will be making roughly the same salary as the person who is supposed to come clean up her disaster. And still several thousand dollars more than the guy who did it great till he was forced out.
Yesterday the SC Supreme Court ruled against the Governor's proposal that state employees would have to split the costs of the increase in their insurance premiums. Now taxpayers will pay an extra 51 million dollars so that the 255,000 state workers can enjoy their insurance benefits at the same rate they paid as before. Gov Haley's spokesperson said
“It’s a shame that taxpayers will have to foot the entire bill for increases in state employee health care costs. Anywhere other than government, the costs would be shared, and we hope the Senate will do the right thing in their budget and split these costs evenly this year.”
It is a shame and it didn't have to be this way. Everyone knows that insurance rates have been rising faster than the rate of inflation. The past 5 years the rate of inflation has averaged 2.06% a year. That's about the average for the past 25 years. Last year CNN reported that health insurance premiums have been increasing at about 7% a year the past 5 years. The 59% of American workers who are fortunate enough to have health care provided through a company have been splitting those increases with their employers. So why aren't state employees going to do that?
According to The State here's the reason; After years of budget cuts, state lawmakers decided last year to give state workers a 3 percent raise, the first raise in four years. But lawmakers also increased state workers’ required contributions to their retirement fund. That left lawmakers worrying that if they also increased health-insurance premiums, state workers’ 3 percent raises effectively would be wiped out.
That's the kind of liberal thinking that should get everyone who voted for that budget, voted out of office. Every American pockets less money today due to health insurance costs! The math dictates it. If you have a contract that is tied to rate of inflation you take home less, and if like most people, you make the same or less than the year before, you take home a lot less. That's where the country is right now. Working for the state should not insulate people from fiscal pain. Do state employees get put in a magic bubble like it's a Travolta movie.
As for wiping out their raise, there is more money going into their retirement accounts. It's still their money! If you're making $50,000 a year and they bump you up to $51,150 but tell you that entire $1500 will be in your retirement fund, are you not better off? Are we in some weird time space continuum where giving someone thousands of dollars more for their retirement isn't considered giving them more money? That sounds like some Massachusetts math where that extra money doesn't count because they can't spend it today. So we'll give them more money for their retirement fund and we'll give them more money to spend today and we'll give them more money to cover the increase in health insurance. Because if we only gave them more money for 2 of the 3 it's like we didn't give them squat!
Photo: Getty Images
Governor Haley apparently knew this was bad math for the citizens because she's the one who proposed last August that the rate increase be split by tax payers and state employees. But why didn't she know it was bad math June 29th 2012 when she received the budget? Why didn't she and her team know it was bad math after they took all 5 days allowed by law for them to review it? They came up with 81 vetoes, after reviewing it, but this wasn't one of them.
She waited and tried to backdoor the deal a month later at a Budget & Control Board meeting. As the Supreme court noted in their unanimous decision, “If the (budget) board could decline appropriated funds based on its own policy choices, it would have the unbridled power to disregard the General Assembly’s appropriations and make its own appropriations decisions". Of course the Supreme court is correct. You can't have the Governor signing a budget and then getting a couple of people on a commission to just change it to however they really wanted it to look. If it was legal to change deals after everyone signed it there would be no need for fine print. So a good question for legislator (you can find them all here) would be 'did you vote for the budget last year?'. If they answer yes, a good follow up, 'why is it taxpayers are paying the entire increase in state employees premium increase?'. A potential follow up for that 'you don't like this job very much do you?'.