Previous month:
August 2009
Next month:
October 2009

September 2009

The Growth of Government

Today the federal government continues to grow under both Republican and Democrat administrations and neither the Congress nor the President is taking a serious look at reducing the size and scope of government. The United States, especially in the 20th century, has seen a continual growth in the size and power of the federal government. The Progressive era in the early part of the 20th century saw a push by reformers to increase the regulatory power of the federal government to respond to the economic, political, and social problems that resulted from the industrialization during the Gilded Age. Progressives believed that the social contract of limited government and economic liberty was no longer sufficient to deal with the complications of a modern society.

The first wave of progressivism emerged with the presidential administrations of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. The modern administrative or regulatory state emerged in the first wave of progressivism. The federal government also continued to grow during the First World War when President Wilson centralized a majority of the economy.  The Great Depression in the 1930s enabled the second wave of progressivism under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.    

The New Deal institutionalized the administrative state, modern presidency, and initiated the welfare state.   Roosevelt and the philosophy behind the New Deal argued that as the economy and capitalism changed the federal government needed to step in and provide economic security. The New Deal legacy continued through the presidential administrations of Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, and in the mid-1960s President Lyndon B. Johnson built on the Roosevelt tradition by declaring war on poverty and launching the Great Society.

The current recession has provided another opportunity for progressives to call for reform and for additional Keynesian-style spending proposals. The federal budget is over $3 trillion, the national debt is $11 trillion, and the current budget deficit is approaching $2 trillion. In addition the federal government, along with state and local governments, are thirsting for additional tax revenues, but quenching that thirst is getting more difficult. The federal budget is also under tremendous stress with the looming entitlement crisis of Social Security and Medicare.

Chris Edwards, Director of Tax Policy Studies at Cato Institute, recently wrote in Tax & Budget Bulletin that “the government is also increasing the scope of its activities, intervening in many areas that used to be left to state and local governments, businesses, charities, and individuals.” Edwards reported that by 2008 “there were 1,804 different subsidy programs in the federal budget.” “We are in the midst of the largest federal gold rush since the 1960s,” noted Edwards.  This is true when examining the health-care and environmental policy proposals, and the push for new regulations to provide a new form of economic dependency.

Edwards and his colleagues at Cato Institute have done remarkable work in finding constitutional solutions to reduce government programs and spending. The current path of government growth and spending is not sustainable and perhaps policy leaders should be asking the question of what would former Treasury Secretaries Alexander Hamilton and Andrew Mellon recommend?

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Public Interest Institute.  They are brought to you in the interest of a better informed citizenry. 

John Hendrickson is a Research Analyst with the Public Interest Institute in Mount Pleasant, IA.  

Web site:

County Board doesn't care about Sullivan's behavior

Johnson County supervisor and staunch liberal Rod Sullivan used vulgarities during email exchanges with two Iowa City men and threatened physical violence against one of them according to reports in the Iowa City Press-Citizen.  Mr. Sullivan has a history of getting inflammatory online with those who challenge his stances and oppose his point of view.

For many of you who frequent the Press-Citizen commentary boards, Rod Sullivan's behavior, his use of vulgarity and the threat he issued comes as no surprise.  This is not the first time Mr. Sullivan has 'treated' a constituent who disagrees with him with vulgarity and/or attempts at intimidation.  This isn't the first time Sullivan has sought confrontation with someone who disagrees with him and called a constituent at home.  Sullivan's fellow members of the board know this, they've been briefed and by more than one source.

So how do they respond to what has become obviously beligerent behavior and poor judgement by Sullivan? 

Supervisor Sally Stutsman in an interview with the Daily Iowan:  “What Rod does on his own personal account is his business,” she said. “Had I wished he would have used different words? Of course. But that is his own businesses. He has never used those words around me.” 

According to a Press-Citizen report, Supervisor Terrance Neuzil said he did "absolutely nothing," after seeing the e-mails.

Also discussing the issue with the Press-Citizen, Supervisor Pat Harney said, "It doesn't affect us," Harney said. "How he conducts himself is his business."

Apparently members of the board don't realize that for Sullivan to switch from using his county government email address to his own personal account when he wants to get vulgar in correspondence is a calculated move. More importantly, a threat of physical violence was issued by Sullivan.

That's troubling.

Whether the other members of the board care to acknowledge it or not, Sullivan's behavior reflects poorly on the board to a certain degree and that should be a concern to them.  Where's the accountability?

The guy clearly has anger management issues.

What's next for Sullivan, do we wait and find out? 

Lamb Shawarma - a tasty treat

By Filiz Thayer


Here's a recipe that is a great dish for casual entertaining.


1.5 lbs boneless lamb

3 Tbsp plain yogurt

1 Tbsp tomato paste

½ Tbsp hot sauce

1 teaspoon  salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon cardamon


Cut the lamb into bite size pieces. Mix the rest of the ingredients well and  pour over the lamb. Mix all and let marinate for about 6 hours. Cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes and either serve over rice or make sandwiches with pocket pita bread, lettuce, tomato, and onion.  Enjoy.

Johnson County Supervisor Rod Sullivan needs to step down

Rod sullivan

Johnson County supervisor and staunch liberal Rod Sullivan used vulgarities and threatened physical violence during an e-mail exchange with an Iowa City man according to reports in the Iowa City Press-Citizen.  He has apologized for his use of vulgarity in this instance, but it was a shallow apology and his behavior should continue to be questioned.  Why?  Because he's done this kind of thing before.  It's a habit, a very troubling one.  And if his email exchanges would not have become public knowledge, then it could easily be said that he wouldn't have apologized at all.  Links to the articles covering this issue are listed below.  It's an important story because:

1.  Rod Sullivan is an elected official, serving the people of Johnson County on the Board of Supervisors
2.  His conduct was extremely unprofessional
3.  Most importantly, he threatened physical violence

Background information before you read the articles

For many of you who frequent the Press-Citizen commentary boards, Rod Sullivan's behavior, his use of vulgarity and the threat he issued comes as no surprise.  Sullivan's comments are frequently pulled by the Press-Citizen comment board moderators, for abusing the publication's terms of service.  Violations would include use of vulgarity, hate speech, writing something libelous or slanderous, that kind of thing.

Having an online personality on the Press-Citizen allows you to respond to various articles, letters to the editor, opinion pieces and so forth on the online PC publication.  Enabling an online personality is free and you can make your online profile public or private. 

If a profile is checked as public, anyone visiting the article comment boards can click on a poster's icon, go to their page and review all the posts - reponses to articles, etc. - a person has written. The story title the poster responded to is listed and linked and a snippet of the comment made is displayed and clickable to read in full. 

If a profile is checked private however, then you cannot review that particular poster's comments from that person's profile page.  The posting activity of someone who has chosen to have a private profile is withheld from public viewing.  This is what Rod Sullivan did with his online personality.  He doesn't want you to see his responses all neatly packaged on his page. It should be noted that not only can you not see the summary of the various stories and related comments Rod Sullivan has responded to under the activity list, it also means you cannot see how often the line, "Rod Sullivan's comment has been removed for violating the terms of service," where the Rod's comment snippet would be if the profile were public.   It would be nice if the Press-Citizen would provide us a tally of just how often the Johnson County Supervisor's comments have had to be pulled.  Without question the number is high. 

Mr. Sullivan has a history of getting inflammatory online with those who challenge his stances and oppose his point of view.  You would be able to see some examples of that if Sullivan's profile page was public......

As a side note, Mr. Sullivan chastises people who use anonymous online personalities, how ironic given the man has a posting history he wants hidden from public view.  And gee, with people like Sullivan - a public official - issuing physical threats, it's no wonder people feel a need to have an anonymous online personality. 

This is not the first time Mr. Sullivan has treated a constituent who disagrees with him as he did as outlined in the stories below.  This isn't the first time Sullivan has called a constituent who disagrees with him at home.  His fellow members of the board know this. 

Mr. Sullivan needs to step down, his conduct is unbecoming of a Johnson County Supervisor.   Email vulgarity, angry telephone calls made to constituents at home, a threat of violence....  Do you see a pattern here?  To switch from using your county government email address to your own personal account when you want to get vulgar in correspondence is calculated.  What's next?  Do we wait and find out?

Resident says official sent vulgar e-mail

Official sent second vulgar e-mail

Rod Sullivan's e-mails to David Dowell

Sullivan apologizes for foul language

Download F_bomb_promo_from_rod_sullivan


Conservative vs. liberal thinking

If a conservative doesn’t like guns, he doesn`t buy one.

If a liberal doesn't like guns, he feels that no one should have one.


If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn`t eat meat.

If a liberal is, he wants to ban all meat products for everyone.


If a conservative sees a foreign threat, he thinks about how to defeat his enemy.

A liberal wonders how to surrender gracefully and still look good.


If a conservative is homosexual, he quietly leads his life.

If a liberal is homosexual, he loudly demands legislated respect.


If a black man or Hispanic are conservative, they see themselves as independently successful.

Their liberal counterparts see themselves as victims in need of government protection.


If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation.

A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.


If a conservative doesn’t like a talk show host, he switches channels.

Liberals demand that those they don’t like be shut down.


If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn’t go to church.

A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God or religion silenced.


If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it.

A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

Thanks C.G.!

A picture of responsibility vs., well, not so much....

Remember that Sesame Street tune, something like, "One of these things is not like the other..."

Here’s a picture of the Washington Mall on Saturday right after the Project 9/12 Rally:

912 rally

…And here’s a picture of the Washington Mall taken after the Obama inauguration:

Obama inauguration

What’s the difference?
Some people feel accountable for their own actions and behave responsibly.  Others do not.

Another see I told you so moment.... Iowa film credit program being investigated

By Mike Thayer

I told you folks that the film tax credit program was a bad idea...  What happens with big government?  Big abuses, bad oversight. 

Today, Gov. Chet Culver fired the director of Iowa's state program that offered millions of dollars in tax credits to moviemakers.  Lacking oversight up to now, Culver (under the pressure of crap hitting the fan) asked the state auditor and attorney general to investigate abuses in the program.

In announcing the firing of Iowa Film Office manager Thomas Wheeler on this afternoon, Culver also accepted the resignation of Vince Lintz, deputy director of the Economic Development Department.  Last week, Economic Development Department head Michael Tramontina - whose agency oversees the program - abruptly resigned. 

Why on earth do we have a specialized state program that offers millions of dollars worth of breaks to film makers?   This is another example of government creating its own problems.  BIG government, liberal government.  And AS IF a large sector of the state's economy is film making.

This state does not have the luxury of just dismissing the tax liability of certain businesses in this economy.  It shouldn't happen in any economy for that matter.   In the name of consistency where's the tax credit for grocery stores?  Where's the tax credit for restaurants?  Where's the tax credit for barber shops and hair salons?

Screw the tax credits, just let taxpayers keep more of their hard-earned money in the first place.  Government officials need to quit making promises they can't keep and manipulating budgets and taxpayer money in the process.  We don't need government officials making up programs that are doomed to fail.  We don't need well-intended but substance free programs and liberal pipe dreams, we need basic, functional, efficient government.  What we have now ain't cutting it.