Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Proof of birth is becoming more valuable

President Obama produced a birth form today in an effort to put to rest the rumors that he does not have such proof. He also pooh-poohed the notion that this is a legitimate controversy.

I would disagree. With the rising cost of U.S. entitlements, health insurance and the controversy over citizens who are here legally and illegally — proof of birth and citizenship is becoming much more important and valuable.

And, as Obama points out, a birth certificate or any other piece of paper will not dispel the doubts of those who do not believe.

When the value is high, forging a birth certificate or a passport or a driver's license or a Social Security card is worth the effort.

Before the cost of entitlements soared into the trillions of dollars and having health insurance became as valuable as having a job, the pieces of paper proving our identity did not require much security.

Workers who enter the country illegally, criminals who steal our identity, and even people who defraud employers and health insurers -- they know the value of proof of identity and citizenship.

As to Obama's feeling that this is much ado about nothing, I know exactly how he feels. This week I was asked to send in proof -- in the form of a marriage certificate and a birth certificate -- that my wife and son were eligible to be covered by my insurance. I thought it was rather silly that I was asked to provide such proof. It used to be that I just had to sign that these dependents were who I said they were and if they weren't I would be liable for prosecution for fraud. Now I am required to produce the paperwork, which I know could be easily forged.

But as this trend continues, all of us, not just the president, are going to be held to a higher standard of proof about who we are. The present pieces of paper are not going to cut it.

I don't know what that standard will be, but I am quite sure it is coming.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

M-59 construction -- be very careful

The orange barrels are up, the lanes are restricted, the work has begun on the final segment of lousy pavement between I-75 and Crooks.

This was the worst, and they saved it to last.

Now of course, the traffic is redirected onto the worst two lanes of pavement going both east and west in this construction zone. And to make matters even more dicey, since they are about to tear up those bad spots, they do not bother to fill them in with hot patch.

The potholes are growing and are to the point where they can do damage to your vehicle.

The final cap to this difficult time, it is uncertain what the speed limit is in this construction zone -- and most drivers proceed at 70 or above.

This is one of those sections of pavement that should be posted: Driving at the speed limit may be dangerous to your health and may result in damage to your vehicle.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Want to save gas? Slow down

The cost of filling a tank in an average American car is approaching $50. That is high enough to make many drivers reconsider how much they have to spend on other purchases.
However, the higher fuel charge is just the beginning. You probably have noticed that the cost of groceries is heading up, and that fuel surcharges are reappearing on your garbage bills.
Funny how whenever the cost of fuel goes up, taste in vehicles gets smaller. Suddenly, small cars with high mpgs are going for $20 Gs, no discounts thank you.
You will also remember that last year, when gas was $1 a gallon less, and two years ago the American automakers (well, two of them) were still emerging from bankruptcy, the buying public was focused on large trucks and SUVs.
Such gas guzzlers still make up the majority on the roads. However, nobody, or at least very few are heeding the advice to slow down and save gas.
On highways in particular, a driver who proceeds at 60, when the speed limit is 70, takes his life in his own hands. Other drivers — often in large pickups and SUVs — sail by at 75, often with angry hand gestures at any fool who gets in their way.
You don't have to take my word for it. Go to "HowStuffWorks" and it is explained in detail.
But to provide the short version, it takes a lot more than twice the gas to from 40 mph to 80 mph. The peak efficiency varies from vehicle to vehicle, but most get their peak gas mileage somewhere between 40 and 60. Those with a lot of drag -- vehicles with large square fronts and big tires -- are on the low end of that scale. Small light cars with pointed fronts are at the high end.
So, when you are driving 60 and some monster SUV blows by you at 80, you can just imagine what his or her mileage is like.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tax day -- hidden taxes

Monday is tax day, which is bad enough, but what about hidden taxes?

Competitive Enterprise Institute will issue a Monday report that the cost of complying with federal rules and regulations exceeds the cost of the deficit -- around $1.75 trillion.

On Monday, look for Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State by Wayne Crews.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What budget cut?

Congress is likely to pass the budget "cut" today.

We in Michigan are familiar with this sort of thing. It isn't really a cut, it is a reduction from the amount that the Democratic leader wanted to spend this year. And even with the "cut" it will be more than was spent last year.

To put this into perspective: Obama will likely spend more money in his re-election bid than was cut out of the budget in this deal.

Why we should care that China has $3 trillion in foreign reserves

China now has over $3 trillion in foreign reserves

This bit of financial information needs a bit of translation. It mean that China has in its possession a lot more foreign money (mostly U.S. dollars) than most other countries. Japan, for example, has only $1 trillion.

This is important to Americans for two reasons:

1. Having so much foreign currency allows the Chinese to artificially deflate the value of their money, which means they can sell the stuff they make for less and therefore sell more of it. That is good for them because it keeps their employment up but bad for us because it keeps ours down.

2. On the other hand, much of the U.S. dollars that the Chinese possess is in the form of Treasury securities and other forms of federal debt. Which means that we can still keep borrowing when we don't have enough real money to pay our bills. But the U.S. borrows so much money that it is making the Chinese nervous about our ability to repay it.

So, in a nutshell, we are borrowing a lot of money from the Chinese which helps them artificially lower the value of their money and sell us a lot of stuff for much less than we could make it. Which adds to U.S. unemployment.

American consumers, including those who are unemployed, compound this dilemma by borrowing money from their credit cards in order to buy the Chinese stuff which keeps Chinese workers employed.

Higher postal rates

U.S. Postal Service responds to loss of business to the Internet by raising rates.

Only a government service would come up with such a solution.

Let's see, if this was a for-profit business, a better way might be to reduce the number of days of delivery. If we can skip Sunday deliver, why not Saturday also?

How many letters do you get? How many are bills? And doesn't every postal increase push you toward email, ebills and epayment?

And, since we are looking for ways to decrease the deficit, how about selling the federal postal service and getting an annual payment from a private postal service?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Work day protest

Thousands of public employees are gathering this afternoon at the state Capitol to protest Gov. Rick Snyder's plans to cut spending -- and the already passed expansion of powers for emergency managers which allows them to drop union contracts.
It is interesting that this protest is being held on a work day, and most of the people there had to take off from work to attend.
The City of Detroit reports that so many bus drivers called in sick that bus service has been disrupted. The assumption is that this is a "protest flu" so at least some of the 82 absent drivers can attend the protest.
It will be interesting to see how many other Michigan teachers and public employees will call in with the flu.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sticking it to the younger generation

The government battle continues over spending -- the relatively small cuts, the push to borrow even more and the reluctance to touch entitlement programs that were designed as safety nets, but continue to send money to rich people...

We know how seniors view these things -- AARP tells us and, being one of the largest lobby organizations in Washington, they let us know how powerful the senior voting block can be.

But what about the younger generation? There is no lobbying group for young people and they often are too busy to vote.

That is too bad, because those young people are about to be stuck with an enormous tab for all the spending the baby boomers are doing. What is worse, boomers continue to insist is their right to spend all they money they have and to borrow what they don't have.

That process of spending our kids' inheritance works pretty well as long as the boomers are in power and the older Americans do get out and vote.

But what happens when the next generation begins to fill the seats in Washington? Good Lord, imagine if young people actually became aware of what was being dumped on them and they began to vote in their own self interests.

As a boomer with grown kids, that idea worries me. Will they be angry about the mess we are handing them? They should be. And, if they get really angry, will they push us old folks out on the icebergs?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Controlling medical costs

The debate goes on about how to pay for health care in the U.S.

But what ever happened to all those ideas about controlling the costs? Seems to me that was the selling point when this national health care plan was proposed and then passed.

I suppose it is not going to happen as long as we all remain insulated from the true, individual cost of health care.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Michigan closing rustic campsites

Michigan announced today that to save money the state will close 23 rustic campsites.

The details are covered well by fellow blogger Gr8LakesCamper

But I did have a few questions for the state:

If these rustic campsites are not staffed and offer almost no services, where is the savings?

Are we talking about picking up the trash once a week?

How about leaving them open and requesting that campers carry out their own trash?

I always wonder about such cuts: They draw a lot of publicity but save very little.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Government: Is less better?

Oakland Press readers seem to think so. You can join the debate by adding your comments at

One thing is certain, while our leaders try to get the other side to blink first, they should keep in mind that their approval ratings are still in the pits.

Another consideration is that tax deadline is just a week and a half away. As one reader asks, if the government shuts down, do we have to send in our taxes?

Hmmm, let's see. The leaders are unpopular and it is tax time. Maybe they should rethink this.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What is an undocumented immigrant?

Our Story Monday about and undocumented immigrant dying in a crash -- -- brought a host of comments. I have included them below.

Interesting to note that many were questioning what to call someone who is allegedly in this country illegally.

We had the same debate on the desk last night.

AP style says avoid calling such people "aliens" and I can see that. Makes me think of little green men.

But there is a much larger debate that seems to be tangled in the bigger debate about what to do with all the people who are in this country without proper documentation.

Those who advocate deportation would like to call them "illegal, or illegal immigrant . Those who say let them stay advocate just "immigrant" or "undocumented immigrant."

The OP does not want to come down in favor of either side in this debate -- at least not in the news pages -- and so we settled for both "illegal immigrant" in the headline and "undocumented immigrant" in the story.

What do you think? Add your comments below or go to our Facebook page and let us know.

hoss wrote on Apr 4, 2011 3:44 PM:
" Whatss an 'undocumented immigrant'? "

128712 wrote on Apr 4, 2011 4:44 PM:
" How about illegal instead of undocumented.
Just how PC do we need to be. He came into
our country illegally period. "

pattyz wrote on Apr 4, 2011 5:20 PM:
" Sad for anyone but the alcoholic did save expense for deportation officers, he must have taken a wrong turn at about 80 mph. I'm glad he did'nt harm or kill anyone, just himself. "

WasteWatcher wrote on Apr 4, 2011 8:55 PM:
" Agreed pattyz, at least he didn't harm a citizen and took the initiative to remove himself from our population instead of forcing ICE to do it.

Unnecessary loss of life is tragic but I have a very hard time being overly sensitive when ILLEGAL ALIENS (not undocumented immigrants) befall hardships in OUR country.

Each and every illegal alien needs to be reported to ICE. If you're a patriotic American then get involved instead of turning a blind eye or saying "that's someone else's problem". If you're fed up with our country being overrun with illegal aliens do something about it, if you know where illegals are working or residing contact the authorities NOW!:

Detroit Field Office
333 Mt. Elliott St.
Detroit, MI 48207
Phone: (313) 568-6049

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
1-866-DHS-2ICE "

panola60 wrote on Apr 5, 2011 2:24 AM:
" The road signs in the picture say "Bridge Out" and "Bridge Closed". I would think being able to read our Road Signs would be required to drive a car. Do the majority of illegal alien criminals read English? "

Joe USA wrote on Apr 5, 2011 5:53 AM:
" This is our road job tax money at work. "

rd rge wrote on Apr 5, 2011 6:47 AM:
" maybe we are not being PC enough we should start putting spanish above the english writing on the road signs NOT!!!! "

Turd Ferguson wrote on Apr 5, 2011 8:08 AM:
" Due to this "accident", I won't be surprised to see spanish written on the construction signs...

Wow, what has this country come to... "

Sherlock Homes wrote on Apr 5, 2011 8:09 AM:
" Illegal, Drunk, and Stupid...Nuff said. "

mercantilist wrote on Apr 5, 2011 9:08 AM:
" A human life is accepted to have value – even those that are involved in ongoing crime.
I expect that their will be law suits. Perhaps, the lack of Spanish on the road signs will be a factor. Feiger law is probably in action now. Some crimes are the results of spur of the moment decisions or even procrastination. Much immigration crime is occurs after some planning. Interviews with border agents show that it not uncommon for those illegals coming from countries not adjacent to our borders to spend $15,000 - $20,000 for illegal entry. Illegals from China, India and elsewhere in Asia also pay large transportation costs as well as smuggling fees. Tax payers and and American workers are injured by illegal immigration so immigration crime is not victimless as well as premeditated. The behavior by politicians such as Carl Levin that encourage violation of immigration law through rewards (amnesties) and support of local governments (say New York) that refuse to assist IMS is particularly reprehensible. These politicians are essentially announcing it is fine to ignore laws that you do not like.
It is reasonable to believe that he was working or at some point working. It is likely that some "good citizen" employer chose to violate the to hire the illegal either because they do not obey laws of their choosing or because there was an illegal buck to be made. Again there is a need for mandatory use of E-verify by employers. For employers the use of E-verify should provide a defense from prosecution should immigration find that they are hiring illegals. Since the numbers of illegals working in Michigan is at most in the low hundreds of thousands, some argue that mandatory E-verify is not needed. Of course, when the numbers are in the high hundreds of thousands or millions the same voices will argue that the problem is too big to solve by enforcement. "

go813 wrote on Apr 5, 2011 9:08 AM:
" This article should call attention more to the drunk driving aspect than that he was undocumented. This man's family lost a son/brother, maybe husband/brother... Very sad... Thank goodness no one else was hit. "

mercantilist wrote on Apr 5, 2011 9:25 AM:
" I commend the Oakland Press for reporting the immigration status of the deceased. One of the benefits of news stories is that they provide information (some times personal) that are relevent to public policy discussion. So the immigration status of the convicted killer of Sandra Levy was relevent (if frequently not presented). Learning from isolated events occurs- even if it is far less efficient that learning from carefully designed statistical studies. "

Kablam wrote on Apr 5, 2011 9:27 AM:
" Will AG Holder sue Obummer due to the sign not being in spanish? "

dabigdog wrote on Apr 5, 2011 9:35 AM:
" Since he was illegal, his family should be forced to pay for the police and fire services. "

resident11 wrote on Apr 5, 2011 10:19 AM:
" Someone claiming to be his family will be calling lee free, or sam, again, looking for something for nothing! We should never allow aliens in the US that cannot speak English! How bout, we never allow aliens here period! We would sure be better off! "

Estebell wrote on Apr 5, 2011 10:46 AM:
" One less. His family is probably ILLEGAL too - they gotta go. BUT like Resident11 said, they will call Jeffery Fieger and be awarded millions. It's the American way. "

Dr. Leo Marvin wrote on Apr 5, 2011 10:52 AM:
" Wonder if Sheriff Alligator Bouchard will hold a press conference and say he was part of the "South American Drug Cartel" that came up here to make the big bucks by growing 12 plants...? "

eyerock wrote on Apr 5, 2011 11:37 AM:
" Leo, one thing about me is that I am anything but a hypocrite, I remain consistent in my beliefs, unlike you and your multiple personalities. "

eyerock wrote on Apr 5, 2011 11:55 AM:
" Many of the comments posted on the OP site demonstrate a fundamental lack of intelligence or intellectual curiosity on behalf of those posting.
The dumbing down of America is evidently a larger issue than I first believed.
If the powers that be (Walmart, Tyson, Home Depot, Koch Industries and many, many others), and local companies involved in landscaping, food harvesting and processing, maintenance, etc. would NOT HIRE illegals for their own selfish reasons (increased profits), there would be NO illegals. Policies have been in place for many years to keep the doors open to the flood of illegals as a source for low cost labor. Now the spin doctors controlling the media (that you buy in to) want to blame the illegals for all the problems OUR country is experiencing so that you don't examine the real issues that are sucking OUR once great country down the toilet.
And yes, now I feel better. "

Monday, April 4, 2011

Crash tax is just another tax increase

Fraser has a crash tax.

In a nutshell, if you don't live in Fraser and get into an accident there, the city sends you a bill for police services related to your crash.

The trick here is to pass a tax that is acceptable to the local taxpayers because it is applied to someone else.

However, just because a city can get it past the local voters, does not mean that it is acceptable or even logical.

Think it through Fraser voters. This tax is very clever as long as you are the only ones that charge it. It stops being clever as soon as all of your neighboring communities, and then communities everywhere, pass the same tax.

At that point, it is just a tax increase on everyone, including the residents of Fraser.

In the mean time, it is one more reason never to visit Fraser.