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Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve

Today is the Seventh Day of Christmas.


It is the last day of the year 2010 on the Western/Christian calender.

Many people choose to get inebriated but all I have to say is: stay safe and travel sober.  Stay out of jail.

MSU will stem the Tide!

I believe him!

the Capital One Bowl - Michigan State Spartans versus the Alabama Crimson Tide

Here we go!
   vs.   
Alabama
Day: Saturday
Date: Jan. 1, 2011
Location: Orlando, Fla.
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Because of forces of destiny the Spartans will stem the Tide! It remains unfortunate that we will be saddled with this exhibition game instead of the Rose Bowl we truly deserve!

It is also deeply unfortunate that we are saddled with a cable game and not the ABC Sports program that will let the show be universally-accessible!  More importantly my sister's cable package does not include ESPN so I will be.... cut off.... as my New Year's, post-political, will be based on family.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

2010-2011 SCHEDULE
Date Opponent / Event Location Time / Result
09/04/10 vs. Western Michigan TV East Lansing, Mich. W, 38-14
09/11/10 vs. Florida Atlantic TV Detroit, Mich. W, 30-17
09/18/10 vs. Notre Dame TV East Lansing, Mich. W, 34-31 (OT)
09/25/10 vs. Northern Colorado TV East Lansing, Mich. W, 45-7
10/02/10 vs. Wisconsin * TV East Lansing, Mich. W, 34-24
10/09/10 at Michigan * TV Ann Arbor, Mich. W, 34-17
10/16/10 vs. Illinois (Homecoming) * TV East Lansing, Mich. W, 26-6
10/23/10 at Northwestern * TV Evanston, Ill. W, 35-27
10/30/10 at Iowa * TV Iowa City, Iowa L, 37-6
11/06/10 vs. Minnesota * TV East Lansing, Mich. W, 31-8
11/20/10 vs. Purdue * TV East Lansing, Mich. W, 35-31
11/27/10 at Penn State * TV State College, Pa. W, 28-22
01/01/11 vs. Alabama TV Orlando, Fla. 1:00 p.m. ET

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mike Lopresti's Bowl-mas

I think it is from the Associated Press or USAToday and is relevant to me for the Spartan's role in the Capital One Bowl, and the stolen glory inherent in that ignoble stupid assignment.

So it begins Saturday, the 24 Days of Bowl-mas.
On the first day of Bowl-mas, my TV gives to me: Remember Frank Solich? Once, he coached Nebraska into the national championship game. Now he's at Ohio. Remember when Ohio last won a bowl? Trick question. The Bobcats never have, but maybe this time against Troy.
On the fourth day of Bowl-mas, my TV gives to me: Louisville's 15th-rated scoring defense against Southern Mississippi's 15th-rated scoring offense in the Beef 'O' Brady's. That's a bowl, not an entre.
On the fifth day of Bowl-mas, my TV gives to me: Boise State, still wishing that kick had been good at Nevada. Nothing against Utah, but it'd be nice if the Broncos win on a last-second, 50-yard field goal, so the kicker can finally find peace.
On the sixth day of Bowl-mas, my TV gives to me: San Diego State and Navy _ with its large San Diego presence _ playing in San Diego. Attendance shouldn't be a problem.
On the seventh day of Bowl-mas, my TV gives to me: Hawaii vs. Tulsa, averaging 79.6 points between them.
On the ninth day of Bowl-mas, my TV gives to me: Florida International in its first bowl. That should be a big deal for the Panthers, even if it is in Detroit, against Toledo.
On the 10th day of Bowl-mas, my TV gives to me: Georgia Tech, Air Force, and a lot of handoffs. The nation's top two rushing teams combined to complete 136 passes all season.
On the 11th day of Bowl-mas, my TV gives to me: Iowa, hoping to stop a free-fall, against Missouri. The Hawkeyes lost their last three games, suspended their top running back, and had a star receiver charged with operating a drug house. Happy holidays!
On the 12th day of Bowl-mas, my TV gives to me: Oklahoma State's 27-year-old quarterback, Brandon Weeden, trying to give Arizona a fifth straight loss.
On the 13th day of Bowl-mas, my TV gives to me: A bowl game in Yankee Stadium, as Kansas State and Syracuse savor winter in the Bronx. Also, Nebraska _ which beat Washington 56-21 in September _ playing, uh, Washington. The long-awaited sequel. Just like Harry Potter.
On the 14th day of Bowl-mas, my TV gives to me: Miami against Notre Dame. All those who still have their Catholics vs. Convicts shirts from the 1980s and wear them should get in free.
On the 15th day of Bowl-mas, my TV gives to me: Jan. 1, otherwise known as New Year's/Big Ten Day. Five of the lodge members play, three against SEC opponents. Plus, Wisconsin will try to spoil TCU's dream trip to Pasadena.
On the 17th day of Bowl-mas, my TV gives to me: Virginia Tech's 11-game winning streak against Stanford's high SAT scores in the Orange.
On the 18th day of Bowl-mas, my TV gives to me: Ohio State vs. Arkansas and history in the Sugar. The Buckeyes are 0-9 against the SEC in bowl games. That's not as awful as, say, losing two straight to Michigan, but it's rather embarrassing.
On the 20th day of Bowl-mas, my TV gives to me: Miami (the one from Ohio) and its 9-4 record (the one that was 1-11 last year) and its coach (Mike Haywood, the one leaving for Pittsburgh) against Middle Tennessee.
On the 21st day of Bowl-mas, my TV gives to me: LSU and Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. It'll be a chance for Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to inspect the merchandise, since he is talking about buying a college football playoff system as a gift to himself.
On the 22nd day of Bowl-mas, my TV gives to me: Kentucky vs. Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass. Pitt was so eager to get there, it fired the coach.
On the 23rd day of Bowl-mas my TV gives to me: Boston College vs. Nevada, and I have no idea why they're waiting so long to play the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
On the 24th day of Bowl-mas, my TV gives to me: Oh yeah, the national championship. Auburn will be led by a quarterback coming off of the most awkward Heisman trophy presentation in history. All Oregon wants is a game its new uniforms can be proud of.
___
(c) 2010, USA Today.
Visit USA Today on the Internet at http://www.usatoday.com/
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

No need to stereotype Michigan's new lobbyists

As far as I reckon the Founders of the United States of America, and the scribes of our highest law, the United States Constitution, anticipated lobbyists, "Special Interests" and advocates of certain ideas, businesses, services, and producers, as middle-people and messengers between the government (legislators, the executive branch) and the citizens, including those with fiscal and moral investments in the country. I believe the Constitutional proponents, collectively known as Publius, who wrote the Federalist papers, including that prediction in their articles.

On the other hand, if I read it properly oh so long ago, they never anticipated the existence of political parties and these were created by Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson as a course of their conflict. John Adams' Presidency was a victim of that concept execution as he had no second term.

Which is to say that James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton probably would not be opposed to the large number of lobbyists which purportedly will be running abound and operating in Michigan as they attempt to persuade the new Governor Rick Snyder and educate the rookie legislators for various best interests. Kathy Barks Hoffman, on November 15, essentially speculated as to their growth. We don't know that their role will necessarily grow yet although her conclusions are logical.
The sweet rolls and coffee Michigan lawmakers partook in as they met with Gov.-elect Rick Snyder didn't come with a price tag - yet.

The cost of Tuesday's continental breakfast was picked up by the owners of the Ambassador Bridge, who have contributed heavily to lawmakers this past year in an attempt to block approval for a competing Detroit-to-Windsor bridge that state and Canadian officials want built.

The Detroit International Bridge Co. wasn't doing anything wrong in feeding the lawmakers, or in having Nora Moroun, wife of bridge owner Manuel "Matty" Moroun, in the room.

But it's a sign of the major role those with business before the Legislature play in Lansing, a role that could grow next year as an especially large class of freshmen lawmakers and a governor with little previous political experience take office.

Michigan lobbyists reported spending $17.8 million on lawmakers' meals, travel, lodging, gifts and tickets to events the first seven months of 2010. Last year, they spent at least $32.1 million, according to figures compiled by the nonpartisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network. That doesn't include spending that doesn't have to be reported because it's below certain limits.

Snyder pledged during his campaign that he wouldn't be beholden to special interest groups. He didn't accept any campaign money from political action committees, instead relying on individual donors and $6.1 million of his own money.

Many of Snyder's individual donors had ties to businesses that stand to gain from Snyder's plan to cut business taxes, such as Meijer Inc. executive Frederick G. Meijer, Dow Chemical Co. manager Ronald Emmons and Haworth Inc. President and CEO Franco Bianchi.

The Ann Arbor venture capitalist also benefited from more than $3.5 million in campaign ads paid for by the Republican Governors Association with the help of a hefty $5.4 million donation from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

It's not unusual for a pro-business governor to be elected with the help of business supporters. But if Snyder thinks his pledge to lessen lobbyists' mark on his administration means a huge change in Lansing, he needs to think again, said executive director Rich Robinson of the campaign finance network.

"He's not the only person involved in running the government," Robinson said. "There's 148 legislators who may not have his strength in being immune to the influence of lobbyists."

Snyder transition spokesman Bill Nowling, a State House veteran who has worked for Republicans in both the House and Senate, said the governor-elect is fully aware of how lobbyists can hurt - or help - his efforts to reinvent the economically struggling state.

"It's not that he doesn't think special interests have a role in the process. They do," Nowling said Friday. "But he wanted to be able to stand up and say, 'Look, I'm not beholden to anyone except the voters.'"
Bill Nowling is correct. We should especially consider that in many cases a good lobbying firm will have resources, especially for research, that a legislator cannot and will not possess on his own. Typically the media and a particular lobbyists' philosophical or political opponent will slander the whole idea and practice of lobbyists when, and only when, it is politically useful to vilify the use of the First Amendment. Besides, every citizen has an interest in these legislators, regardless of campaign contributions and it is in every citizen's best interest to have a voice to speak in State Representatives' ears.
Michigan had 2,783 registered lobbyists last year, 500 more than in 1999, according to secretary of state figures. That means there are nearly 20 lobbyists for every lawmaker. Lobbyists last year spent nearly $12 million more annually than they did in 2001, a 59 percent increase, according to the campaign finance network.

Some Capitol regulars work for big multi-client lobbying firms such as Karoub Associates, which hosted Tuesday's freshman caucus event with Snyder at its offices a half-block east of the Capitol. Others represent businesses or unions
It's a service and everyone has a right to it.
multi-client firm Governmental Consultant Services Inc.... boasts in its company brochure that its "strong working relationships with all the political powerbrokers in Michigan ... lend you valuable access to the Governor, Speaker of the House, Senate Majority Leader and other such political leaders of our state, which is vital to realizing your legislative goals."

It also boasts it has access to a network of powerful political action committees - ones that can donate campaign cash to friendly lawmakers and top state officials. Especially for House members who must run for re-election every two years, those donations can be critical.

Nell Kuhnmuench, one of GCSI's five directors and a lobbyist for more than 20 years, said hiring a lobbyist is sometimes the only way a business, group or individual can make sure their voice is heard at the Capitol.

"In our world, we have laws and regulations. And every time the Legislature writes a law, every time a regulation is adopted, it impacts some entity or someone, or both," she said. "There are a lot of lobbyists ... because there are a lot of people who are impacted by government decisions, but also because one interest may differ from another.

"Those interests want to make sure they're heard as decisions are being made," she said.

Many lobbyists will play a more prominent role in the months ahead as they work to get new lawmakers up to speed on a dizzying number of issues. Twenty-nine out of 38 senators and more than 50 lawmakers in the 110-member House will be new in 2011. As Tuesday's breakfast showed, lobbyists already are reaching out to them.
Despite that lobbyists are only accountable to those paying them and not to the general public (although some special interests groups are issue advocacy groups and are not working on behalf of private enterprise, so they are answerable only to donors and I suppose a board of directors, depending on circumstance) we should give them some benefit of the doubt as their honor lies in the strength of contracts and frankly presuming that all lobbyists are evil, although many are, is just the height of cynicism.

On the other hand, there are honest advocates who work to further bad ideas and terrible, destructive policy, that they honestly believe is good and beneficial to the country and/or state. These should be thwarted. There are also people lobbying for good things that are doing so using dishonest practices and they should be held accountable.

"Fight As One" lyrics by Guy Erez & David Ari Leon

Song performed by Bad City
Our World's about to break.
Tormenting and Attacked
Lost from when we wake
With no way to go back
I'm Standing on my own.
But now I'm not alone (Avengers Assemble).

Always we will fight as one,
Till the battle's won
with evil on the run
we never come undone

Assembled we are strong
Forever fight as one
Assembled we are strong
Forever fight as one
The intro to Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes:

Friday, December 10, 2010

When Rick Michigan becomes Michigan Governor Snyder his first task is to fulfill the prophecy inherent of economics. He must weigh cost and benefit.  Interestingly the situation and circumstances that define this first task was directly mandated by the Granholm administration,
That very week, 3,500 state employees will have left their jobs after accepting an early retirement incentive package. Their departure will bring the number of state workers accepting the incentive package to 4,755 - including those who already have retired or will do so Dec. 1.
That means Snyder, who campaigned on the need for cost-effective government, will have a head start on achieving that goal.
And because 44 percent more employees took the offer than expected, the state should see more savings in its coffers than the $81 million projected in September.
But it also presents a headache for Snyder and his staff as they decide how many of those vacant positions to replace and minimize the inevitable disruptions caused by the loss of experienced employees. The state now has a total work force of about 53,000.
"There's no doubt it's a brain drain, but it does give the opportunity to hire new people at presumably less money," said Senate Fiscal Director Gary Olson, who is among those taking the retirement incentive after serving 32 years with the state Legislature.
When the administration of Gov. Jennifer Granholm pushed through the early retirement package, it anticipated that many of the vacancies would be filled on a 2-to-3 ratio... "There is always a concern when you have an early out, in terms of the experience drain," said Bill Nowling, spokesman for Snyder. "It's an issue we're aware of, but we really have to get the agency directors in place first. We won't know what the replacement ratio will be until that is done.".. at least one agency - the Department of Human Services - already is taking interviewing applicants to replace the caseworkers who are leaving, said Edward Woods III, the agency's spokesman. Under a federal court order, the state must replace child welfare caseworkers on a 1-to-1 ratio to maintain a certain level of caseworkers. Woods said the goal is to minimize disruptions in the agency of 10,000 employees as it deals with the loss of 1,306 veteran staff members.

Even so, Ray Holman, a former DHS caseworker who now is spokesman for United Auto Workers 6000, which represents 17,000 DHS caseworkers and other state employees, predicted it will be a rough transition for the agency and its clients.
"Those jobs are really complicated," Holman said. "The training period is quite a while. Even if they are replacing them, there is going to be lag time until the (new employees) can take new cases."... it remains unclear how much additional money the added retirements will provide, partly because Snyder's team has not determined how many will be replaced.Officials of both the House and Senate fiscal agencies say they cannot project new budget savings. But the state likely can apply new budget savings toward a projected $1.4 billion shortfall for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2011. (Scott Davis • sedavis@lsj.com • November 15, 2010 )
In any case it is all simply projection. You also tend to get what you purchase.  On the other hand we really could discover that we can get by with less people and that all of the jobs do not need quite as much experience to accomplish successfully.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Lansing State Journal wants the old Michigan State Police building issue resolved now

I cannot say that they are incorrect.

LSJ editorial

November 15, 2010 

The state and Michigan State University should split costs to prepare the site of the former Michigan State Police headquarters for another use.

That's the best solution to end the seven-decade relationship in which the university leased property on the west side campus of to MSP for $1 per year. The state covered maintenance costs and made modifications.
But the state approved a new headquarters for the State Police in downtown Lansing. They have now moved in to the $52 million office building, leaving the outdated facilities on campus behind.
If the university chooses to demolish the buildings, it should pay for those costs, estimated at $1.9 million. Since demolition or significant renovation would likely involve asbestos abatement, it seems logical that MSU should foot the estimated $1.5 million in asbestos-related costs as well.
I would disagree with the charge that the old facilities were "outdated" as the old location was equipped for various bits of crimefighting and logistical equipment that the new office building never could be. The reason for that is that the new building is an office building, and not a full headquarters complex. The old one had a helipad for instance.

Aside from that we are saddling the University with the cost of renovation, repair, and/or demolition when we could have merely fixed the old building, which would arguable have been less expensive. I find it ironic that we parsing costs and responsibility among the state government and public university lines, as the public university is something that is paid for in part by state taxes.
costs of removing an incinerator used for evidence destruction and removing underground storage tanks and fuel stations used by MSP should fall to the state.
The state's share of costs, based on estimates in a report MSU submitted last month, should fall below $1 million.
That's a reasonable expense for the value the state gained by its long relationship with the university.
Either way we are paying for it, although I imagine some sort of fiscal assault on tuition and the alumni association(s) will occur because of this. As it is this cost, in the final assessment, should be added to the big tally of rental, construction, and purchase of the giant near-useless office building downtown.
why the state and MSU didn't discuss and agree upon these costs a long time ago?
A committee of lawmakers approved construction of the new MSP building in 2007. If university officials believe the state should help cover some of these costs, they could have done an environmental study well before fall 2010.
Rep. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, was a leading critic of the MSP move, criticizing both the downtown Lansing location and cost of the project, which was originally approved as a long-term lease. After loud public outcry, the state opted to purchase the building outright. Even that decision vexed many taxpayers.
But by leaving details such as these final costs to linger, MSU and the state have given another opportunity for Jones to focus voters' ire on the whole affair.
There might have been better sites or cheaper options for locating an MSP headquarters. The entire story of the new MSP headquarters is filled with "shoulda, woulda, coulda."
All of this should have been calculated and placed on the table in public a long tiem ago and the only reason it was not is likely because such increased revelations would have been damaging politically... or a lot of these politicians are incompetent.
The university and state officials should quickly resolve this issue and move on.
To heck with that, some Democrats and University trustees ought to be punished. Too bad those options are not politically viable.

Monday, December 06, 2010

The Light Bulb Will Shatter

Late on the night of Saturday the 4th of December I destroyed a CFL bulb (that is the technical term,  I call it an "Al Gore bulb"; I also refer to incandescent light bulbs as "Edison bulbs"), worked on cleaning it up that evening and briefly recorded my disaster, my behavior, and my derision of the artifact early on Sunday morning.

Now first I'll deride again the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which suggests that if break a bulb over your rug your must cut a large slice of your carpet out to have it taken away by angels in hazmat suits to some indescribable glowing section of heaven, sealed off from the rest of the afterlife.  They also describe the mercury in the spindle bulbs to be such that everything that touched the bulb effectively turns to ash, in other words each item is contaminated beyond human ability to recover.

Second we get to my point tonight, which is that although many light bulbs somehow get through their entire existence from creation and formation to disassembly and dissemination, dissolution, and disintegration (is that even possible?), these things usually end up shattering.  When the light bulb is only the incandescent light bulb all that means is that glass, paint, and metal filaments are the materials that we need be concerned about.  Just the same even as they burn out and become instant waste they shatter afterwords in the trash, in the landfills, and alternatively as functional light bulbs an accident occurs and they shatter becoming waste.  In many cases it is ineivatable although as I postulated the bulb shattering occurs outside a household.

Presuming that bulbs shatter while still in the potential for functionality and not merely after they burn out, (that is, the bulb falls while being changed and before it is inserted firmly in the socket, or the lamp falls and the bulb shatters then, before its life cycle terminates) it is logical that among incandescent bulbs that end like this are the  compact fluorescent bulbs.

In other words, lamps fall and bulbs shatter.  People drop light bulbs and they shatter.  Bulbs burn out and then people drop them and they shatter.

So what is my point?  That some people do not understand that in general these things will shatter.  In the case of CFL bulbs the materials are metal, plastic, glass, mercury, and phosphor.

That, my second point, is derived from the environmental "Green" blog I located when I attmpted to determine possible damage occurring from the relase of mercury into the environment but the breaking of a bulb, and in part just how much material is necessary to poison an individual human; the amount in a shatter CFL bulb will poison a small child or an unborn baby in the womb of a pregnant mother but is insufficient to harm me or most adults. Yet
Angie said,
May 17, 2007 at 4:45 pm
If you read the bulb information, CFL bulbs will last up to five years! Now, personally being a woman and all and having children myself, your unborn child will be in school before the bulb blows. If you’re that concerned over the bulb breaking, put an incadescent back into the socket and replace it later on. The likelihood of a CFL breaking is slim, unless you’re using pliers to get it out of the light socket. Your unborn child will reap the benefits of switching over to a CFL as you will be providing him/her with a cleaner, healthier environment! Still worried, have someone else change the bulbs for you.
Some people will believe that these things will just be safe.

Also, the point of the green blog's article is thus
While there is trace amounts of mercury in CFL bulbs, and I do believe that there needs to be more public education from places that sell the bulbs to avoid them ending up in the garbage – I would like to note that the possible reduction in mercury emmisions from coal fired power plants outweighs the amount used to produce the bulb, over the bulbs lifetime.
Of course ultimately what they do not know is that perhaps there might be accumulative build-up of carcinogens.
What people have not considered is the accumulated time they are exposed to the tiny amount of mercury vapor in the every day use of these CFLs. One might not be able the trace cancer or other chronic diseases to the use of these CFLs yet, 20 years from now it will become a national health issue. And the country will then ban the use of these CFLs like we did for the DDT.
When was the last time you checked if Al Gore actually used these CFL bulbs?
Of course DDT is not carcinogenic and Al Gore is hardly an expert on anything.

In any case we are too trusting that the immediate expenses will mitigate long-term expense or damage when we should just guess, declare that we are guessing and record the results within a pre-set period of time.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

so I shattered a mercury enviro-style Al Gore CFL bulb in the living room

I was afraid I destroyed the room and contaminated the carpet and my physiognomy.  I need not have worried.  Here is what the Environmental Protection Agency says:

Cleanup Steps for Carpeting or Rug

  • Carefully pick up glass fragments and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
  • If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken.
  • Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister), and put the bag or vacuum debris in a sealed plastic bag.
The government of Massachusetts told me to cut the carpet to pieces and label it as a Universal Contaminant. They also warned that I would contaminate my vacuum cleaner. Idiots...

Friday, December 03, 2010

local roads are the responsibility of local government

From a letter published in the Lansing State Journal on Monday November 15, 2010
It has been a long time since Holt has had its roads repaved. As of right now, a lot of the roads are in need of repair. All the roads need to be repaved so that they are smooth and easy to drive on. Instead, Holt is re-paving sections of roads.


The worst road is the section of Cedar Street between Holt and Aurelius roads. It's in need of serious repair. My drive on that part of Cedar Street is not smooth. When I'm on the bus, the ride is bumpy and that shows the roads are in terrible condition.


During the winter, the roads are going to get even worse and could be more dangerous due to the ice melting and freezing. This can make the roads crack and be a problem to safely drive on.


In general, Holt needs to save their money for road projects.
In my opinion, the roads are the most important because they are in constant use.
They really need to be fixed soon.


Tori Rueckert
Holt
That makes sense to me.  If it is up to Holt to keep its citizens safe and ensure safe travel on these particular surfaces then the city's money should be distributed and spent as such.

A person's water is his own, not the government's water

Public Trust Should Not Be Trusted

When politicians talk about placing natural resources in public trust, landowners should be worried. The right to own and use private property is a bedrock principle of a free people. These rights are threatened by House Bill 5319, which would place groundwater in public trust and require landowners to secure a permit from the state of Michigan in order to use that water. The bill would essentially overturn more than a century of Michigan water law.

A ballot initiative amending the Ohio Constitution and protecting the rights of landowners to use groundwater was approved by an impressive 72 percent of the voters in the November 2008 election.
Property rights are often compared to a bundle of sticks. Philosopher John Locke was an early proponent of this idea, which holds that the sticks that make up the bundle are a compilation of the various rights that come with owning private property, including the rights to live on or bequeath it. Water rights are a significant "stick" in that bundle. With the introduction of House Bill 5319, Michigan property owners are threatened by government action that would steal a stick from that bundle and give it to the state.

Like most states east of the Mississippi River, Michigan is a riparian water-use state. In Michigan, if you own the land, you own the water and have a legal right to use that water as long as you do not interfere with the reasonable use of water by your neighbors. This has been true since the state was first settled.

Riparian water law has worked well in Michigan for the simple reason that Michigan has abundant water. In fact, Michigan groundwater tables are so high that many homeowners have to install sump pumps just to keep water out of their basements.

The proposed public trust legislation treats groundwater as if we lived in an arid Western state, where water tables can be 1,000 feet or more beneath the surface. In many of these states, water is appropriated by the government, leading to endless conflicts and lawsuits. Mark Twain, who spent time in Nevada, famously quipped about the situation: "Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting."

The Michigan Legislature dealt with recent groundwater concerns with the passage of Public Act 33 of 2006. That law requires a landowner to obtain a groundwater permit in certain circumstances, such as proximity to a trout stream. Public Act 33 was a compromise between landowners and business groups that wanted to preserve private property water rights, and environmental groups that believed that all water should belong to the government. That law has already made it more difficult to use water in the state, removing a competitive advantage Michigan once enjoyed and turning it into a minor liability.

Increasing government control of water in the state would not only be a taking of private property, but would be a serious threat to future economic growth. Access to abundant water in the state is a key advantage Michigan has in attracting much-needed jobs in energy, agriculture and manufacturing, including the so-called green jobs Gov. Jennifer Granholm seeks. The state cannot afford to throw that advantage away, especially since Michigan is not threatened by a shortage of water.

Rather than threatening water rights, Michigan needs to follow the example of Ohio. A ballot initiative amending the Ohio Constitution and protecting the rights of landowners to use groundwater was approved by an impressive 72 percent of the voters in the November 2008 election. The constitutional amendment in Ohio merely codified existing riparian water law, which was similar to the kind used successfully in Michigan for the past century.

Many Michigan officials seem more interested in taking away existing rights of property owners rather than protecting them. It may be time to take the critical issue of property rights directly to the voters, bypassing the political class. As the Ohio example shows, residents understand the importance of property rights better than do many politicians.

#####
Russ Harding is senior environmental analyst and director of the Property Rights Network at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Mich. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the Center are properly cited.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Barry Goldwater and income tax criminalizing

quotable
The income tax        
barry goldwatercreated more
criminals than any
other act of government.           
Barry Goldwater