State senator believes the way to fix
By Doug French
The Nevada Legislature has been in session but a few weeks and already lawmakers are trying to repeal the laws of economics. Senator Dina Titus seeks to make outlaws out of businesspeople who charge “too much” for their goods and services when consumers need these products most—during an emergency.
Senate Bill 82 calls it a “deceptive trade practice” for a person to sell or offer — during a state of emergency — a service or product for an “unconscionable” price (defined as a price greater than 25 percent over that good’s or service’s price during the 30 days before the emergency).
Silver State highway problems merely
What’s the real source of Nevada’s road construction and maintenance problems?
While few elected political leaders question the economic importance of roads and highways, the reality remains that governments, whether state or federal, are notoriously negligent in keeping up with road needs.
Some important clues why can be discerned from a new book produced by two Deloitte & Touche public-sector experts. States of Transition: Tackling Government’s Toughest Policy and Management Challenges, was published last year.
Revenue outlook worse than Arnold contends, warns non-partisan analyst
By Greg Lucas, Tom Chorneau
In a more than 1,000-page tome, Elizabeth Hill, the Legislature's fiscal watchdog, laboriously pored through Schwarzenegger's $143.4 billion spending blueprint for the fiscal year starting July 1 challenging some of his revenue assumptions and offering hundreds of recommendations, large and small, on what lawmakers should support or reject.
Hill's assessment is a sharp contrast to Schwarzenegger's budget plan, announced in January, which he said would leave California $20 million in the black by June 30, 2008.
Housing analyst Dennis Smith says don’t be surprised if some homebuilders “close their store” in Las Vegas this year.
Smith, president of HomeBuilders Research, predicts one, two or three big public homebuilders will leave the market or merge, and it’s not because of a lack of demand. Instead, Smith blames the shrinking supply of land that became even more of a problem in Las Vegas when national builders cut back on their supply of land across the country.
“It looks like it’s difficult for the builders to replace the lots they are absorbing,” Smith said. “If a builder stopped buying land six months ago, they didn’t stop selling houses. Call any builder and it’s difficult for them to find land to buy for two or three years out.”
Supreme Court rule living on borrowed time
Consider the following hypothetical: Carl Candidate is a seasoned Nevada lawyer. He has grown weary of billable hours and is now looking for a public-spirited change of pace: donning the black robes of a Nevada state district judge. But becoming a judge in Nevada is not usually a matter of applying to an appointing authority. Nevada directly elects its judges. If Carl is to judge, he will have to persuade the voters to elect him. He ponders seeking the Nevada Republican Party’s endorsement.
Fiscally prudent states appear to be winning the war on poverty, according to a recent study by the Goldwater Institute, which found low-tax and low-spending states are more successful at reducing poverty than their high-tax, high-spending counterparts.
The 10 states with the lowest tax burdens saw a 13.7 percent decline in poverty during the 1990s (more than double the national average), according to the study. Meanwhile, the 10 states with the highest tax burdens suffered an average poverty rate increase of 3 percent. The poverty rate dropped nationwide during the decade, the report notes.
The same correlation was found with spending. The 10 states with the lowest per-capita spending benefited from a sizable decrease in overall poverty. The 10 biggest spenders saw poverty increase 7.3 percent.
Corzine brings business, not political, imperatives to problem bedeviling nation
Soaring government pension costs have prompted New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) to call for “serious restructuring” of the state’s government employee pension system.
In a December 19 interview with reporter David W. Chen of the New York Times, Corzine said, “It’s impossible for us to stay on the course that we are on today, and deliver what people are asking for.”
He also said the state’s estimate of an unfunded pension liability of $18 billion may be too low. State Rep. Gordon M. Johnson (D-Bergen) said he believes Corzine is serious about pushing for pension reform in 2007.
Illegal aliens are killing more Americans than the Iraq war, says a new report from Family Security Matters that estimates some 2,158 murders are committed every year by illegal aliens in the U.S. The group says that number is more than 15 percent of all the murders reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the U.S. and about three times the representation of illegal aliens in the general population.
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The new Congress that convened last month may be more willing to tinker with the Sarbannes-Oxley Act than the previous one.
Let’s remember that the law’s chief architects, Rep. Michael Oxley, R-Ohio, former chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., the former ranking member on the Banking Committee, have retired. Therefore, any thorough discussion of the Free Enterprise Fund’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board — and Sarbanes-Oxley by extension — should outline each side’s arguments and should also note that the case may force Congress to act on the comprehensive corporate reform law even if the legislature does not choose to do so on its own.
By Chuck Muth
LV Business Press
It drips off their tongues like some vulgar, four-letter word. In the minds of union activists it’s every bit as derogatory as the “n-word.”
The phrase is “for profit.”
This is the heart of the labor dispute between the Service Employees International Union and two Las Vegas “for-profit” hospitals. In the eyes of the SEIU, the only good hospital is a government-owned/union-run hospital. You know, like the King/Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles.
You haven’t heard about King/Drew? You might want to sit down.
King/Drew was a government-owned/SEIU-represented public hospital which, according to a December 2004 Los Angles Times report, “had a long history of harming, or even killing, those it was meant to serve.”
Lenders New Century and HSBC finally admit problems, but the bulls still don’t want to see the obvious
By Bill Fleckenstein
Reality kidnapped Goldilocks on Feb. 8, if only fleetingly. That’s when folks took to heart negative announcements from mortgage lenders New Century Financial and HSBC.
From New Century came word that (a) its financials were basically no good and that (b) it hadn’t properly accounted for loans it had sold to other institutions and that might now be sent back.
Even more important was the news from HSBC (HBC, news, msgs), regarded as a good operator, which revealed that it was going to take its mortgage loan-loss reserves from $8.8 billion and change to $10.6 billion and change. The disconcerting conclusion reached by HSBC, as described recently in The Wall Street Journal:
By Robert P. Murphy
In my opinion, given the current political and cultural climate, the two biggest threats to economic liberty are environmentalism and trade protectionism. On these pages I’ve written numerous articles on the latter, where I restated the traditional case for free trade, and defended it in light of new concerns such as outsourcing and global capital mobility.
Although Austro-libertarians have always been staunch supporters of free trade, many are worried over the unusually large current account deficits of recent decades. Even though they concede that a truly free market trade deficit would be perfectly benign, they believe that the current “global imbalances” in trade patterns largely reflect the behavior of central bankers, rather than voluntary exchanges between private individuals across the planet.