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AgitProp in the 21st Century

News stories on the Michigan road tax proposal are replete with compelling, eye popping factoids about the costs poor roads impose on Michigan drivers. These factoids are so compelling that our colorless Governor cites them to sway voters in the upcoming sales tax proposal debate. Some examples:

  • An inadequate transportation system costs Michigan residents a total of $7.7 billion every year
  • Driving on rough roads costs Michigan motorists a total of $2.3 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs
  • Driving on rough roads costs the average Detroit urban area motorist $536 annually in extra vehicle operating costs
  • Driving on rough roads costs the average Michigan motorist $357 annually in extra vehicle operating costs

You are expected to conclude that a 16.67% sales tax increase is a just trifle to escape these ghastly financial burdens. These factoids are always attributed to “TRIP, a national nonprofit transportation research organization”. Sounds like an independent, credible source – right? The adjectives ‘nonprofit’ and ‘research’ give you a high level of confidence in their pronouncements? Perhaps you should dig a little deeper than our conniving politicians and their lazy media scribes.  The TRIP report they are mining for these factoids is: MI_Transportation_By_The_Numbers_TRIP_Report_Jan_2014

So who exactly is TRIP [www.tripnet.org]?

It is an empty front for a five person IRS 501(c)(6) category business organization in Washington, DC more properly known as Road Information Program, Incorporated. The IRS category is important in this case because legitimate nonprofit public research organizations register under IRS chapter 501(c)(3). IRS chapter 501(c)(6) is reserved for ‘business leagues’, such as chambers of commerce or realtor associations: “Encouragement of the use of goods and services of an entire industry” in the IRS lingo on page 50 of IRS Publication 557.

All nonprofits are required to file IRS Form 990 annually, describing their finances and major backers. The TRIP IRS Form 990 was actually filed under the Road Information Program, Inc. name and makes for some interesting reading. RIP had a budget of about $ 1 million in 2012, of which they spent just under $ 360,000 on their ‘researchers’ wages. Not much money to accurately assess road conditions across the entire USA. TRIP would set a new standard for efficiency in Washington, DC were it actually researching road conditions everywhere in America. Especially when the officers and a director are carving $ 194,000 out of the pot.

RIP has 112 voting members in its ‘governing body’, about a hundred of whom are listed at the end of their Form 990. A couple of insurers, but the rest are road construction contractors, contractor associations, paving equipment manufacturers & rental firms, and civil engineering firms. You get the picture, we’re not talking public interest here.

Now about those vehicle operating cost factoids. TRIP has generated cookie cutter reports for each of the 50 States with the very same metrics. They are using a computer program called HDM-4 which is being circulated around the globe by the World Bank. It is a very useful pavement management system program coauthored by Dr. Christopher Bennett in New Zealand [www.lpcb.org – strange mixed business/personal website, but the best collection of HDM-4 information – including an actual download mirror for the HDM-4 software package].

dozer-moneyWhen it comes to the vehicle operating costs section of the HDM-4 program, Dr. Bennett is adamant that the accuracy of its results are entirely dependent upon calibration. Small changes in calibration coefficients can result in four fold errors in the program’s vehicle maintenance calculations. A Bennett HDM-4 Calibration Presentation reviews a Canadian HDM-4 vehicle operating cost example showing just that. Data mean little in a scientific computer algorithm, calibration coefficients dominate the outcome. Much the same type of coefficient gaming is done in the computer models which are used to demonstrate ‘global warming’.

 

So we have a contractor’s organization masquerading as a scientific research organization, producing eye popping factoids with a twitchy computer program, in support of additional road funding, being quoted verbatim by lazy journalists and our totally sincere Governor. How can democracy fail?

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The Window Dressing of Reverse Racism

Since early 2014, there have been ever-escalating smear attacks against our national committeeman, Dave Agema, that have been as predictable as the calendar, in that they’ve occurred, if my memory serves me correctly, during the runup to every national or state committee meeting last year, as well as during the weeks immediately preceding the “fall” state convention (and are now occurring concurrent to the weeks preceding the “spring” state convention four weeks from now). The pattern is also predictable, in that either Ken Braun or Dennis Lennox (occasionally Kathy Hoekstra just for the sake of variety) will get wind (via one of their trolls) of a social media post on Agema’s Facebook page, will then cherry-pick some alleged “money quote” from the source article (or an article buried up to three links deep from that source) and then report that “money quote” as though Agema originally said it . . . and never-you-mind that they can’t be bothered to accurately report what he actually said with regard to why he found something post-worthy. The next step, again ridiculously predictable, is that the three amigos will then use their press credentials to publish opinion pieces, which allegedly-more-credible reporters will then use as source material for front-page “news” stories, which the usual suspects will then use to fuel a smear campaign of manufactured outrage, which the party’s useful idiots and low-information voter bloc will dutifully echo as an ever-increasing crescendo of calls for Agema to step down “for the good of the party.”

Fully detailing this pattern and the miscreants perpetuating it – which I intend to do – is a topic for another day soon. My purpose in mentioning it here is to merely highlight the hypocrisy of selective outrage within the party leadership, specifically in regard to a certain vice chair whose own conduct has been perhaps more offensive than that of the national committeeman for whose resignation she has recently called.

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Heads Up Watchdogs

With the push by big government to drive a 16.7% sales tax increase, we need to be especially vigilant.

A few days ago, Rick Snyder (allegedly) broke the law. We expect the filed MCFA complaint to be fought, but there is little defense when the AG Bill Schuette, and SoS Ruth Johnson were in the front row watching (Witnessing) him doing so. Certainly, the Attorney General cannot decide which laws he will enforce, right?

There are other folks with ‘skin in the game’ who will be weighing in on the ballot measure.  One of them is State Superintendent Mike Flanagan.  Flanagan, already pushing the envelope by posting his advocacy on a state (taxpayer) paid for website will be “actively promoting its passage” in venues as-yet undetermined.

Mike-Yes

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Rotten Fish in Michigan

Politicians of all stripes are rooting around for fresh money to fulfill past, present, and future promises lately, figuring that the economy is so hot that their depredations will go unnoticed and have no consequences. Let’s take a look at a Michigan example: the increase in license fees for hunting and fishing which the Legislature authorized in 2013 and which took effect in 2014.

The most popular hunting and fishing license prices doubled under the new fee schedule, although a direct comparison is not possible because the licenses were restructured to ‘simplify’ the license schedule. Governor Snyder’s goal for these increases was to raise an additional $ 18.1 million dollars annually for the DNR. The Senate Fiscal Agency benchmarked the anticipated annual increase at $ 19.7 million.

These are fees, paid voluntarily, so why should we care? Only taxes matter? The State of Michigan has been reducing the amount of money appropriated to the DNR from tax revenues since 2000, a reduction that now amounts to about 70%. So fees are now required to replace taxes. A common story across the United States. Fees play better with voters than taxes.

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Climate change is real. The “republicans” in Congress even said so themselves.

Senate Amendment 29 to SB-1 (Keystone XL Pipeline Bill):

“To express the sense of the Senate that climate change is real and not a hoax. “

And these are the people we were counting on to stop the Obama Agenda?

I can only surmise that they didn’t read the bill.

Submitted without any further comment.

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Arrogance Of The Aristocracy

Watching Obama the other night was something many of my friends could not do.

As he quite literally leaned on the podium and gave an in-your-face ‘I don’t give a damn about your efforts’ speech to the congress, he further provoked with the threat of veto for anything that did not meet his agenda. The soft sneer of disrespect to the people’s house and its ‘opposition’ inhabitants was palpable.  But it was not unexpected.

How else might a top executive act when he is given every thing that he wants? In what other way would he comport himself when weak threats are buttressed by inaction and outright political cowardice?  The Republican controlled House of Representatives has hardly put its foot down each time the president has acted in an unconstitutional manner, and there is little indication it might in the future.

So the law does not matter to this president, and for many of the same reasons, it does not matter to Michigan’s governor.  When people seek power, they are sometimes willing to overlook the blatant disregard for checks and balances, and pretend the emperor is indeed fully clothed.

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FYI: Registration Deadline for 30 Counties Holding Elections

Just caught this.

Michigan residents have until Monday, Jan. 26, to register to vote in the Feb. 24 election, said Secretary of State Ruth Johnson.
….

School districts and municipalities in 30 counties are holding elections. The polls will be open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. To find out if there is an election in your community, visit www.michigan.gov/vote.

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View the info for yourself. Consider the February election a precursor to the $300M the MEA wants on, May 5, of which, I will be voting NO.

Fix “JUST” the roads, and enough of the nerdy CPA, robbing Peter to pay Paul EITC games.

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Bill Schuette: NO TAX INCREASE

Sent out Just after Obama’s State Of The Union

schuette_logo

Schuette: Obama Tax Increase Bad For America

LANSING– Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette issued this statement following the State of the Union address by President Obama:

“The last thing America needs is a tax increase. What hard working American families and job providers deserve is comprehensive tax reform that cuts taxes and provides the incentive for growth that will create jobs and keep the United States as the economic leader worldwide.”

Right On Brother Bill!
STOP-167

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