A foreign power, in theory, has no authority to dictate another nation’s domestic policy. But don’t remind the National Labor Relations Board. Late in July the NLRB and Mexico’s Foreign Ministry signed a letter of cooperative agreement to promote the rights of Mexican workers on U.S. soil, regardless of their legal status. The pact commits the board to work with Mexican consulates in notifying that country’s workers in the U.S. of their rights and to investigate employer violations of labor law against their workers here. NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon believes the agreement will “promote a broader awareness within the Mexican community of the rights and responsibilities of employees and employers.” This statement appears at odds with the board’s mission. Worse, it exhibits an extreme political naivete.
International cooperative agreements, for better or worse, are a fact of contemporary life. The United Nations is a set of international agreements. … Read More ➡
NLPC has reported regularly on several of the large-ticket boondoggles that have received taxpayer support via President Obama’s “green” stimulus initiatives, but for every Fisker, Nissan Leaf or Ecotality, there are thousands of smaller, equally unworthy beneficiaries that deserve public scorn.
Government watchdogs – both “professional” and amateur – can scour the Recovery.gov Web site and find the waste pretty easily. But KCNC-TV reporter Brian Maass had the stimulus program come to his doorstep. Denver had launched a program, paid for out of the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to plant about 4,000 trees at private residences (photo courtesy KCNC) – many in high-priced neighborhoods that didn’t need the free shade.
“This fella said, ‘How would you like to have a tree in your yard?’ And I said, ‘Really?,’” said John Backlund, who lives in Denver’s Cherry Creek North neighborhood in a home worth more … Read More ➡
We now have had some time to digest the groundbreaking news from General Motors that it is working on a “Tesla-Killer” electric car that will get 200 miles on a charge and cost about $30,000. The most obvious takeaway is that the news is more unfounded green hype from GM, something that they have been guilty of in the past when they over-promised on the Chevy Volt. The best indicator of how serious a challenge to Tesla the new report really is would be found in Tesla’s share price, which has gone from about $165 a share at the time of the news to the current price at around $185. While that barometer would give the indication that GM is once again exaggerating the potential for its latest green miracle car, let’s assume that the technology to develop a car that goes 200 miles on an electric charge at a … Read More ➡
The financial crisis brought havoc to just about every financial institution in the country. But let’s focus on the current status of state pension funds, where the crisis is beginning to look particularly grim.
Just how underfunded are state pension funds? The estimates start at well over a trillion dollars and go up from there. The answer depends on the observed time period, the difficulty in raising taxes on an already overtaxed public, and the severe problems in getting decent returns without taking unacceptable risks.
But consider the fundamentals. The disproportionately large baby boomer generation born from 1946 to 1964 already has begun retiring. This represents a demographic time bomb even without the economy faltering.
Then consider that a study of state pension funds released in 2012 showed that annual returns for large public pension funds averaged about 5.9% over the last ten years despite the fact that the target … Read More ➡
After the Department of Energy announced this week it had given up on not-bankrupt-but-should-be Fisker Automotive, and will auction off its loan for a pittance, you’d think (and hope) Congress would have had enough of this kind of thing. Senator John Thune certainly has.
“The Obama administration has gotten into the business of picking winners and losers at a significant cost to taxpayers,” said the South Dakota Republican yesterday. “I’m calling for the Senate to consider my amendment to eliminate the wasteful ATVM loan program and for my colleagues to join me in protecting taxpayer dollars from any future risky green energy investments.”
ATVM stands for “Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing,” but Fisker’s allegedly advanced technology vehicle – the once and often hyped Karma – hasn’t been manufactured for over a year. Nor is Vehicle Production Group, another failed ATVM recipient, producing any handicapped vans that run on compressed natural … Read More ➡
Ecotality declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday.
Compared to other Recovery Act beneficiaries that have failed – like battery maker A123 Systems and electric auto company Fisker Automotive – the deathwatch was short. A July 25th report issued by the Department of Energy’s Inspector General declared Ecotality’s EV Project largely a waste of time and misallocated money.
Then in mid-August Ecotality informed the Securities and Exchange Commission it was in deep financial trouble, with bankruptcy a possibility. A filing showed that the company was unable to obtain additional financing and the DOE had ceased payments to it for the EV Project until the agency could investigate further. DOE also warned Ecotality to not incur any new costs or obligations under the EV Project.
NLPC first raised questions about Ecotality’s viability and origins in October 2011.
Monday’s development is another black eye to President Obama’s green energy agenda, but … Read More ➡
The internet has been abuzz with stories about General Motors competing with Tesla by offering a vehicle that will get 200 miles on an electric charge and cost only $30,000. One headline even declared that GM might be the winner of the competition with the title reading, “GM Takes on Tesla- and Just Might Win.” The only problem is that the car being hyped does not even exist. Nor may it ever.
GM has much experience in the field of green vehicle hype now having a couple of years under their belts with the Chevy Volt. Those in the media that bought on to the hype and helped spread the good (but false) word on the Volt do not seem to have learned from the experience. Perhaps it is GM’s multi-billion dollar marketing budget that helps influence coverage that is not based on facts. Or maybe it is … Read More ➡
A hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform last week investigated the Obama administration’s practice of concealing email communications, with former top officials getting grilled about their use of private Internet accounts to conduct government business.
Two of the most egregious offenders were subject to withering scrutiny, although it didn’t last long enough to get very deep. Lisa Jackson, the former EPA Administrator whose FOIA-evadable email address was under the alias “Richard Windsor” – named in part for her dog – was questioned about a message sent to Siemens vice president Alison Taylor in which she asked her to “use my home email rather than this one when you need to contact me directly….”
Jackson, of course, said it was perfectly normal to direct a corporation official that she regulates to communicate with her via methods for which the public has no access. Marlo Lewis of … Read More ➡
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., like his late father, Robert F. Kennedy, long has had a reputation for bluntness. And though a partisan of the Democratic Party Left, he can be as unsparing in his assessment of his allies as he is of anyone else. Just how unsparing was brought home yesterday in the New York Post in an article that summarized several of the younger Kennedy’s entries in a diary back in 2001. Obtained by veteran Post reporters Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein, the diary underscores many things National Legal and Policy Center has been saying for years, particularly about Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. See my Special Report titled Mainstreaming Demagoguery: Al Sharpton’s Rise to Respectability. Kennedy had written that the two civil rights leaders “give me the creeps.” One takes satisfaction in the knowledge that disdain for some of more disreputable members of the nation’s political upper class is an activity not … Read More ➡
It looks like General Motors is attempting to make up for the money it loses on every Chevy Volt in volume as August sales, spurred by recent price cuts, reached an all-time high of 3,351. The fact that the car has been on the market for about three years and initial much-hyped proclamations from GM would have put sales at 20,000 per month by now goes unrecognized by those that think 3,351 vehicles is a lot of cars to sell in a month. To put the sales in perspective, it took Toyota about 2 ½ days to sell that many Camrys with August sales coming in at 44,731. Fortunately for taxpayers, Volt sales are nowhere near those figures. The 3,351 Volt sales came at the expense of over $25 million dollars of federal subsidies.
The big three plug-in electric cars, Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf and Tesla, led combined plug-in car … Read More ➡