New Articles: Federal Budget Dysfunction and FOIA Delay Games

Two articles published today, and there’s a serendipitous common theme of people in government doing what’s best for themselves rather than what’s best for their constituents.

At Think Freely Media, I make the point that any discussion of the “federal budget process” should start from the basic point that we really don’t have “federal budgets” any more, at least in terms of how most people think of a budget. That’s great if you’re a politician or lobbyist; not so good if you’re a taxpayer.

Once politicians get our money, it’s a core tenet of representative democracy that we should be able to keep tabs on what they’re doing with it. That’s why we have FOIA, the Open Meetings Act and other transparency laws. Michigan’s already one of the worst states in the country for transparency, but the City of Detroit seems to have found a new way to get around the FOIA law’s requirements: They told me closing their Law Department for a week paused their 15-day deadline to respond to my FOIA request: Detroit FOIA response

Journalism and transparency advocates think this is a terrible precedent to set.

New Article at Think Freely Media on Socialism and Starvation in Venezuela

I’ve got a new article in Think Freely Media’s “What Should Be Said” series, looking at the rhetoric from Venezuela’s socialist leadership versus the reality of societal collapse in a formerly prosperous country: Venezuelan Socialists Blame Capitalism for Socialism’s Starvation.

New work in Detroit News and Watchdog.org

I had two articles run on the same day today:

The Detroit News ran my op-ed on Dan Gilbert’s new skyscraper in Detroit. The more people understand about the mechanisms and machinations behind the shiny talk of “incentives,” the less they like what’s going on. At some point, we can only hope they hold their elected representatives accountable.

I also covered the dynastic politics in play in Detroit’s Congressional races for Watchdog.org. Prof. Gary Wolfram of Hillsdale College asked an excellent rhetorical question: If this is how we’re going to pick the people who run our government, do we really want them to have that much power over us?

Expert Opinion

It’s always nice to have people whom I respect like my work. But it hit an entirely different level today when nationally-known and widely respected economics professor Mark J. Perry wrote a blog post for the American Enterprise Institute to point people at my “excellent” and “insightful” Jones Act corporate welfare article.

That makes one thing I’ve written that Dr. Perry liked and found valuable (as far as I know), so I’ve only got several hundred more to go until we’re even.

They’re Aware. Now What?

Any time you’re told someone wants to “raise awareness” of a policy issue or topic, your immediate response should be, “OK, and then what?” Just as if you were trying to sell pickup trucks, hamburgers or prescription medication, awareness of a policy topic is only the first step in a marketing funnel-based strategic process that gets your target audience to the point where you can close the deal.

Continue reading “They’re Aware. Now What?”