Friday, December 21, 2007

Politics - Big prisoner release plan - "In what may be the largest early release of inmates in U.S. history, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration is proposing to open the prison gates next year for some 22,000 low-risk offenders."

It seems to me that "follow the money" should be the first instruction given to anybody who wants to understand state and local government these days. This shows the limits of political mandates, even ones that come directly from "the people." In 1978 Prop. 13 passed overwhelmingly, cutting property taxes radically. But during the 1980s and early 1990s the voters and the state legislature created all sorts of new "go to prison" mandates, which happens to be hugely expensive because it costs a good $30K per year per inmate. Then Governor Terminator came along with new and expensive educational policies, and the Democrats took over the state legislature and had some great new expensive pro-social welfare and anti-business ideas. The middle class began fleeing the state for low-tax states like Nevada, as large numbers of poor people entered the state from Central America and elsewhere.

Net result: a $14 billion budget deficit. And now it is time to release 22,000 people from prison. But the service cuts won't stop there.

Rand Corporation predicted massive fiscal consequences from the mandatory minimums a long time ago. It isn't hard to do. But for some reason, you just can't get people to listen until it is too late.

Thursday, December 20, 2007 - Lakota Indians Withdraw Treaties Signed With U.S. 150 Years Ago -
People in gated communities are accused of secessionist views, but here is secession on a more dramatic scale.

The Lakota Indians, who gave the world legendary warriors Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, have withdrawn from treaties with the United States.

"We are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country are free to join us,'' long-time Indian rights activist Russell Means said.