Crushed in Carolina

That people disagree should come as no surprise. That the side with, literally, most of the power would use a false argument (backed by massive threat) to force compliance is a sign that of, by, and for is mostly history.

One reliable way to quash dissent and force moral codes on others is to liken your cause to that of the civil rights fight. Every liberal issue is situated somewhere on the great historical arc of “equality” and “justice.” If a person stands against even one of these causes—which were once great but are increasingly trivial—they have, according to the cultural imperialists of the Obama administration, aligned themselves with the Klan. Literally.

Bookworm Headed Upstream

In keeping with my thoughts from the other day, blogger Bookworm notes that:

We principled small, constitutional government conservatives can whine about the unfairness of it all, and about Trump’s despicable character, and about all sorts of other stuff, but the reality is that Americans have been indoctrinated to a level of ignorance that makes it impossible for a reasonable majority to understand Ted Cruz’s small government, constitutional conservativism. He is a prophet, but the people are deaf to his entreaties.

The answer to America’s woes doesn’t lie in the White House. It lies in the schools, and the movies, and the television shows, and the toys, and the universities. Ignore the White House. Turn your focus and your fire on the culture.

Aye, aye.

Gaps Are Here to Stay?

I took a gap year (well, two) before it was cool to do so. I did so under the misapprehension that I would save up money before blowing it on a university degree, but I knew I was headed to school after the gap. However, this article makes a good point:

Once upon a time, America’s university system functioned as a bridge between the frivolities of youth and the responsibilities of adulthood. These days, however, students can all but major in frivolity, while remaining shielded from inconvenient facts and uncomfortable realities. As American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray has written, “Today’s colleges are structured to prolong adolescence, not to midwife maturity.”

It’s almost as though students don’t want to grow up–and other people are more than willing to take the students’ future earnings, and parents’ current earnings, in exchange for keeping the buzz going a little bit longer.

Hard to See How Venezuela Is Going to Make It

Things have become really, really bad in Venezuela. To any who might say “well, we wouldn’t have socialism like they do because they have a dictator and we would have Grandpa Bernie” remember that the end point of socialism is always rule by the very few (oligarchy) or by a dictator. After all, when people don’t voluntarily do things which are not in their best economic interest, the experts must have the force of the state behind them to constrain people to do those things which are not in their best economic interest.

Redirecting My Efforts

I realize that this space has been silent for the space of more than three months. After posting on some South Dakota budgetary matters, I realized that my heart wasn’t in it. Oh, I enjoyed going through the material and doing a brief analysis, but it didn’t seem to be of much value, either to me or anyone else who might have come across it. As I have personally come to know in a most visceral fashion, life is too brief to spend on matters of little consequence.

Being human, however, I fully admit to having regular trouble knowing the difference between those things which are important and those things which are not. And, I’m fully aware that importance is relative. As an example, being told that a medical procedure will cost me many thousands of dollars, but could arrest my life-threatening cancer — well, the cost is of secondary importance, and by secondary, I mean it came it at 2 on the scale of 0 to 9. 🙂 On the other hand, being told that continued quarterly checkups post-cancer will also cost me thousands of dollars, the cost itself ranks more importantly at present than the spectre of recurrent cancer, if only because one has to budget for these things more carefully now that the immediate crisis is past.

Where was I? Oh yes, matters of consequence.

As Andrew Breitbart has noted “Politics is downstream from culture.” Given that, the recent elevation of a bombastic blowhard to contention for the position of the President of the United states should tell us something about the culture. Having as his competition in the general election either a truth-challenged socialist-light, or a full-on socialist who still seems to believe that everything will work out if he can help us do socialism the “right way” this time should also tell us something about the culture. The list goes on, but the bottom line is would seem to be that we (conservatives) may be able to do some small good fighting a rearguard action at the political level, but the return on our efforts is much greater the further upstream we can go.

I don’t yet know in detail how I’ll turn my writing in that direction, but that is what I believe I should do. Does this mean that I’ll put forth dry and boring pieces on things like how little Johnny can understand the principles of capitalism by proper explication of the themes in The Velveteen Rabbit? I sincerely hope not. I do, after all, have to live with myself–and my family. At the same time, there is much that can be learned from rabbits–velveteen or furred, as the case may be.

But before I go, if culture is upstream of politics, then what is upstream from culture? I believe that the answer is the individual, and ultimately the heart (spiritually speaking) of the individual. Solomon addresses it here:

Keep (protect) your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

South Dakota FY 2017 Budget Exam: Part 3

Ahh. Back after the Christmas and New Year’s break. In this final (for now) reflection on the Governor’s proposed budget, I would like to look at some of the budget internals.

  • $561.5 million (37.6%) for Health, Human, and Social Services;
  • $451.7 million (30.3%) for Aid to Schools;
  • $206.6 million (13.9%) for Higher Education;
  • $100.1 million (6.7%) for Corrections;
  • $69.1 million, (4.6%) for the Legislature, Unified Judicial System, Public Utilities Commission, and Elected Officials;
  • $19.6 million (1.3%) for Agriculture; Environment and Natural Resources; and Game, Fish and Parks
  • $83.9 million (5.6%) for the remainder of State Government

Those are some remarkable numbers. Just over 3/8ths of the total is going to support social welfare and related programs. More than 2/5ths is for education; with the balance going to support things which one might claim should actually be the responsibility of the state government.

We could consolidate the above categories further into the following:

  • Social Welfare (37.6%)
  • Education (44.2%)
  • Other (18.2%)

If you could have asked yourself (before reading this post) to rank these categories from largest to smallest, what would you have answered?

South Dakota FY 2017 Budget Exam: Part 2

Last time, in Part 1, we looked at the big number for each year and the changes to that number from FY 2005 through the proposed FY 2017 budget. This time, I would like to consider the three main breakouts of that big number: the general fund, federal funding, and other funding.

General Fund

The general fund has been as high of 34.06% of the total budget in FY 2008 and as low as 28.29% in FY 2012. Its average from FY 2005 through FY 2017 is 31.71%. FY 2017 is 30.85%, or slightly below average.

Federal Funds

Of the three categories, federal funding has fluctuated the most. Over the period in question it has ranged from 38.73% in FY 2016 to 47.51% in FY 2011. Its average from FY 2005 through FY 2017 is 42.64%. FY 2017 is 42.09%, or slightly below average.

Other Funds

This category has been as low as 23.92% in FY 2011 and as high as 28.22% in FY 2016. Its average for FY 2005 through FY 2017 is 25.65%. For FY 2017 it is 27.06, a good bit above average.

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So, what can we tell from this? Not too much, other than the fact that federal funding is the single largest component of the budget, though the legislature spends the bulk of its time debating the contents of the general fund portion of the budget. This is true because federal funding comes with federal strings which determine how the money can be allocated and spent. As a result, there is usually little to be gained from talking about how to spend the federal funds.

There is, however, the continuing question of whether the state should be accepting such funds seeing that the federal government is providing funds to South Dakota which are created via a magical process that turns nothing into something–until that does not work anymore.

One could make argument that some of these federal funds are disbursed to the state for legitimate purposes, such as defense. Nonetheless, the underlying issue of debts and deficits remains.

South Dakota prides itself on having had a balanced budget for the entire existence of the state. It seems wrong for the state to continue to celebrate balancing its budget while taking full advantage of an increasingly lopsided imbalance of the Federal budget.

South Dakota FY 2017 Budget Exam: Part 1

I realize that its a Saturday, which means that most of us are doing different things than during the rest of the week. Despite that, I wanted to crunch a few numbers with reference to Governor Daugaard’s proposed budget for next fiscal year. For purposes of these discussions, I’m going to compare previous actual budgets with the Governor’s proposal for 2017. Historically, the difference in raw numbers between the proposed and adopted budget is quite small, so it does not signify for the big comparisons we need to do.

Let’s start with some history:

  • FY 2005: $2,907,686,333
  • FY 2006: $3,055,919,196
  • FY 2007: $3,186,869,182
  • FY 2008: $3,340,084,390
  • FY 2009: $3,548,708,486
  • FY 2010: $3,919,562,591
  • FY 2011: $4,064,074,188
  • FY 2012: $3,959,175,442
  • FY 2013: $4,006,460,307
  • FY 2014: $4,090,632,223
  • FY 2015: $4,259,323,695
  • FY 2016: $4,326,703,120

And look at a possible future:

  • FY 2017: $4,827,070,205

Next year’s proposed budget would appear to be a raw spending increase of 66% since FY 2005. In the same period of time, the state’s population has increased from 783,033 to 853,175 (as of 2014, the last year for which I could find firm numbers). Let’s be generous and say that the state’s population will go up to 875,000 by the time the new budget would begin.

As a per capita cost, then, we would have the following:

  • FY 2005: $3,713
  • FY 2017: $5,517

Doing the same math we did for the budget numbers above, that would work out to having spending indexed to population increase by 49% since FY 2005.

And yes, we still need to look at inflation. If we average inflation over the years from 2005 through 2017 (realizing that inflation years and fiscal years don’t quite match up, and the future hasn’t happened yet) we would get 2.44%. To arrive at that, I put the unknown current/future years at a 3% rate of inflation since that is the usual placeholder, at least in modern times.

If we adjust for a 2.44% annual inflation rate, the FY 2005 budget of $2,907,686,333 would increase to $3,883,134,136 for FY 2017. This works out to a 34% increase due to inflation.

If we go back to our per capita valuation from above we could change that list to the following:

  • FY 2005: $3,713
  • FY 2017: $5,517
  • FY 2017: $4,975 (if spending had kept pace with inflation and population only)

We find then that the per capita cost of the South Dakota budget has increased by 15% more than can be explained by population increases and inflation load since FY 2005.