Monday, February 22, 2010
Following President Saakashvili’s speech at Parliament on October 6, the Georgian Government submitted the drafts of Constitutional Amendments and Constitutional Law on Liberty, Opportunity and Dignity (the Liberty Act) to the President of Georgia to initiate the legal process.
The Liberty Act seeks to constitutionally enshrine the key economic policies Georgia has successfully pursued since the Rose Revolution. Its highlights are as follows:
- Budget expenditure capped at 30% of GDP (FY 2012)
- Budget deficit capped at 3% of GDP (FY 2012)
- Public debt capped at 60% of GDP (FY 2012)
- Extrabudgetary funds are limited
- Budget earmarks are limited
Freedom from Bureaucratic Discretion and Interference
- An increase in the overall number of licenses and permits is capped
- Establishment of new Independent National Regulatory Bodies (in addition to the currently existing regulators in the financial services, utilities and communications sectors) is banned
- Price controls of any kind (including on the interest rates) are banned
- The state ownership of banks and other financial intermediation institutions is banned
- Any restrictions on the full currency convertibility (which Georgia has enjoyed since the mid-1990s) are banned
- Any kind of control of capital movement are banned, including on the repatriation of profit and capital
Empowering Citizens by Ensuring Choice in Social Programs
- The Liberty Act advances the long-standing policy of delivering targeted social assistance by funding citizens through vouchers and cash benefits (healthcare coverage, education, poverty benefits, etc) rather than funding directly the institutions engaged in the provision of healthcare, education and other services. It provides for the freedom of choice of the beneficiaries to select the service providers
Returning the Power to Tax to the People
- No new taxes or increase in the tax rates may be imposed other than following an affirmative vote in a nationwide referendum
“The government is delighted to have worked with President Saakashvili on this ground-breaking initiative. The Liberty Act seeks to limit severely the discretion of the executive branch of government and ensure that the government remains small and limited and taxes (other than through the sovereign will of the people) low and flat. Since 2004, as our economic advancement gained momentum, we have gained many admirers and supporters among the international investor community. However, given that our policies increasingly stand out, even our admirers sometimes could not help but be skeptical about the irreversibility of our reforms in the medium term. The Liberty Act addresses these concerns, by constitutionally enshrining our key policies and thus making them immune to policy drift and reversal”, commented Nika Gilauri, Prime Minister of Georgia.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
However, the main function of the evening was for the President to outline plans for one of the most sensible pieces of legislation enacted since the United States' Constitution: The Liberty Act. This seeks to constitutionally enshrine the economic reforms pursued since the Rose revolution, by imposing a strict cap on the remit and size of any future government. Under the Act, government spending is not permitted to exceed 30% of GDP, while the budget deficit is capped at 3% and public debt at 60%. Price controls and state ownership of financial institutions are banned, and no new taxes or increase in tax rates can be imposed without a referendum.BRAVO, PRESIDENT SAAKHASHVILI!
. . . One question in particular elicited a marvelous response. When asked why he was seeking to bind his successors, the President promptly replied, "I don't trust any government, including my own".
(via Michael Labeit!)
If only more of America's politicians had that kind of back-bone!
Hmmm . . . I may have to forward this to all of my elected officials.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Here are some quotes from the Democrats. The question I ask myself when reading such things is, do these people expect anyone to actually believe such statements?
Governor Brad Henry: "States don’t have the ability to impact the cost of health care . . . " Really? Since when? "It’s not healthy to create these battles between state and federal government . . . " Uh, excuse me, wasn't it the federal government that created this battle?
Senate Minority Leader Designate Andrew Rice, D-Oklahoma City: "The level of disrespect in those resolutions is troubling to members of our caucus . . . " Oh really? Who's disrespecting who here?
Senator Tom Adelson, D-Tulsa: "Work with us, because I’m sick of it." What exactly is that supposed to mean? So what if you're sick of it. "Work with us" or what, Senator?
Interesting, too that Senator Rice would actually admit publicly that Obama is not popular.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
The French philosopher Auguste Comte (who coined the term “altruism”) puts this clearly: Because “to live for others” is “for all of us a constant duty” and “the definitive formula of human morality,” it follows that “[a]ll honest and sensible men, of whatever party, should agree, by a common consent, to eliminate the doctrine of rights.” Altruism, explained Comte, “cannot tolerate the notion of rights, for such notion rests on individualism.” On the premise of altruism, “[rights] are as absurd as they are immoral. . . . The whole notion, then, must be completely put away.”I strongly recommend reading the entire article.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
The bills proposed by McKenna would prohibit use of eminent domain for economic development and redefine blight so that it applies only to specific properties rather than broad areas.According to this editorial, Washington's cities have succeeded in preventing the bills from being considered by the state's legislature so far.
The legislation also would reform the state's Community Renewal Law to keep cities from using it as the means for transferring private property from one private party and to another for economic development purposes.
For the record, my personal position is that eminent domain should be abolished, not simply restricted.
The Oklahoma City Council voted 7-1 Tuesday to declare a 692-acre area south of downtown blighted and subject to urban renewal.So, how many individual properties in this area actually fit the description of "blighted"? What is the definition of the word? Urban Renewal Authority attorney Leslie Batchelor told the City Council
The move allows the city to use eminent domain to buy land for MAPS 3 projects, including a $130 million, 70-acre downtown park and a $280 million convention center. The city also could buy land in the area and turn it over for private redevelopment, a controversial urban renewal tool that drew the lone no vote from Ward 5 Councilman Brian Walters.
" . . . declaring the area blighted isn’t a negative judgment. It allows the city to use new tools to help the area come back to life."So, "blighted" means whatever the City needs it to mean to "allow" it to use "new tools"? Not what I would call an objective definition.
Kudos to Ward 5 Councilman Brian Walters for voting against this smoke-and-mirrors routine and for publicly saying:
"We’re supposed to have private property rights in this country."
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
In sum, Christianity envisioned all the horrors of totalitarianism, millennia before human dictators achieved the technological capability to realize them on Earth. And said that they were desirable; indeed, it called them the Good News.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
Not all alike
The left is going bonkers over the recent Supreme Court ruling that reinstated the right of corporations, just as for other groups of organized citizens, to free speech (political speech). Especially vocal has been the media who denounced the ruling, stating that this would allow the deep pockets of these organizations to "drown out the messages of candidates” and unduly influence the voting public. These talking heads from NBC, CBS, ABC, New York Times, etc., seem to ignore the simple fact that they’re all owned by corporations. Apparently they’re OK with corporate influence as long as it’s a "media” corporation doing the influencing!
While most of us think of a Microsoft or a General Electric when someone mentions corporations, thousands of small corporations are owned by individuals and families that will also be able to participate. And it’s foolish to think they’d all be on the same side of every issue, therefore providing competing resources for both sides. Does anyone think Google and Disney would view energy or environmental policies in the same way that Exxon or Chesapeake might?
While there is much angst over this ruling by the left, the Founders’ principled idea that, when it comes to political speech, more speech is far superior to less, has been furthered by this ruling. The left will perhaps now be forced to argue more persuasively than it has in the past, rather than simply resorting to demonizing its opponents.
Steve Curry, Oklahoma City
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Whether giving religious charities better access to government money makes them more effective or not is beside the point. The point is, it involves government in religion, and religion in government, and that is unconstitutional.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Letter to the editor: Whence 'can-do'
By Rob Abiera, Oklahoma City
In your Jan. 18 story, "How religious are we?" Bishop Bob Hayes says, "Oklahomans represent a kind of can-do pioneering spirit with its genesis in faith."
He's wrong. The "can-do pioneering spirit" he says Oklahomans represent is the product of reason, not faith. The rediscovery of the pagan philosophy of ancient Greece brought an end to the Dark Ages. Its focus on human reason led to a renewed concern with this life and this world, and the possibilities open to human beings when they are free to think for themselves as opposed to being tyrannized by religious dogma.
This discovery of the possibilities of life inspired an ever-increasing confidence based on the idea that the world is knowable, as opposed to the blind groping of faith. And it opened a new era of exploration, science and technology, leading directly to the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, with its crowning achievement: the discovery of individual rights and the creation of the United States of America.