Gongol.com Archives: January 2007
Brian Gongol

January 29, 2007

Iowa Yet more perplexing local sales taxes on the way
Iowa's HF 132 would increase the number of ways in which local areas could pick and choose how to tax themselves. While everyone loves local control, Iowa's sales-tax system is completely bonkers, and this proposal appears to only make the situation worse.

Iowa Pay for performance? Not if HF 140 passes.
Bill in the Iowa Legislature would do away with bonuses for anyone working in or for state government. While bonus abuse was at the heart of the CIETC nonsense, bonuses (if administered properly) are a good way to distinguish good work from the mediocre, and to reward (and consequently incentivize) the good behavior. It's rarely a good idea to make law on the basis of an isolated instance of abuse.

Iowa Prove your car is insured or no registration
Iowa HF 129 would require auto owners to show proof of insurance before they'd be allowed to register their vehicles. Requiring proof of insurance before allowing a vehicle on the road sounds like an efficient way of ensuring that reasonable drivers aren't forced to bear disproportionate costs because of reckless behavior by those who don't carry insurance. By defining the rules (every driver must carry at least some insurance), the government makes it easier to determine who's responsible for what behavior on the roads.

Iowa Des Moines Botanical Center to get upgrade -- with private cash

Aviation News UAL puts harsh expiration dates on frequent-flyer miles

News Miami plans an official party for the death of Fidel Castro
Much more sensible: Lift the ridiculous economic embargo now and get the party started before he kicks the bucket

Humor and Good News Life comes at Kevin Federline fast
(Video) Nationwide Insurance releases its Super Bowl ad a little early

Computers and the Internet Microsoft ID's a new attack on Word
As usual, the best rule is to not open Word documents from people you don't know and trust, and to wait before opening ones from people you do in order to give anti-virus programs time to catch up. Meanwhile, computer-security types are also tracking a Trojan horse called "Peacomm", which is a toxic brew of worm, virus, spam relay, peer-to-peer botnet, and a bunch of other stuff no one wants on their computer. It's designed to send out tons and tons of spam, and it's another reason to use a webmail account for your e-mail instead of programs like Outlook.

Health Hungary, Nigeria both testing suspected cases of bird flu

Water News How-to tips for pump maintenance

Graphics Graphic of the day: Middle Lane

Socialism Doesn't Work "Why should North Carolina taxpayers pay for something they find objectionable?"
NC state senator wants to apply prior restraint to the scripts used to make films under the state's filmmaker-incentive program. The real question is, why should taxpayers pay for anyone to make a movie? It's just one more instance where stupid economic-development incentives and the impossibility of regulating tastes and preferences come together in a perfect storm of government nonsense. It's by far not the only one -- Atlantans are being pillaged for $8 million a year to keep the Underground Atlanta shopping mall open. Time to celebrate Milton Friedman Day by getting government out of stupid activities. It's not just a North Carolina thing, either -- welfare-wannabes are lobbying for Iowa tax support, too.

The United States of America Vice President gives Sen. Hagel a back-handed endorsement
Cheney says it's "very hard sometimes to adhere to" Reagan's 11th Commandment (not to speak ill of fellow Republicans) when discussing Chuck Hagel. Given the number of Republicans who are tired of the VP, that might actually be an endorsement.

Threats and Hazards Iran claims it's installing 3,000 centrifuges at a nuclear plant
They would be more than enough to enrich uranium in pursuit of a nuclear bomb. The US may be accelerating down a very nasty path towards war with Iran.

The United States of America Maine fights back against DC and "Real ID"
The Federal government handed down a massive unfunded mandate that would essentially create a liberty-squishing national ID card. Maine is the first state to say, "No," but (one hopes) not the last.

Science and Technology Two-way headphones prevent embarrassment over musical tastes

News Terrorist organizations changing their ways for the better?
Sinn Fein (the political wing of the IRA) has decided to cooperate with police in Northern Ireland, and the rival factions among the Palestinians have agreed to sit down and talk to mend fences. Trouble will continue in the Palestinian Authority, though, for quite some time while the region's economy remains crippled.