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Rendell’s Fast-Sinking Bailout: Build Ships With No Buyers

But Corbett Can Drop Anchor On Governor’s Taxpayer Boondoggle

In the movie Dave, Kevin Kline plays a presidential lookalike who finds himself running the country after the real President falls into a coma.  Convening a Cabinet meeting, this political novice uses common sense to expose the ludicrous mentality of the entrenched Business As Usual crowd.

Kline asks the Commerce Secretary about an ad campaign his Department has implemented to boost consumer confidence in the American auto industry.  “It’s designed to bolster individual confidence in a previous domestic automotive purchase,” the Secretary proudly explained.

Speechless at first, Kline fires back, “We’re spending millions for somebody to feel good about a car they already bought? I don’t want to tell an eight-year-old kid he’s gotta sleep in the street because we want people to feel better about their car. Do you want to tell him that?”  The shocked Secretary (finally) sees the light, and the program is eliminated.

Incredibly, that mentality isn’t limited to fictional Hollywood scripts, but is a large part of the way our governmental leaders operate. Look at what Pennsylvania’s Ed Rendell is trying to pull off before he walks out of the Governor’s Mansion a few weeks from now.

Shortly before leaving office, Rendell authorized $42 million in taxpayer money to be sent to the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA) to help bail out the sinking Aker Shipyard in Philadelphia.

The funding, we are told, would prevent Aker from going under, since it would be building two new tanker ships.  

Of course, there’s one small problem.

There are no buyers for the ships.  And the prospect of that changing course anytime soon is virtually nonexistent.

Thousands of ships worldwide are lying at anchor because of the global recession, idled indefinitely because the demand for shipping is dismally low.  It’s gotten so bad that some ship owners are even scrapping their vessels to eliminate harbor costs, receiving pennies on the dollar. But the remaining glut of vessels is still huge, depressing prices for the foreseeable future.

So, let’s be “Dave” for a second and get this straight.

Rendell wants to spend money — our money, since there’s no such thing as “state” money — to build ships…that no one is going to buy, ostensibly so some 1,000 workers can keep receiving a subsidized paycheck. And since there aren’t any buyers, the ships obviously wouldn’t be built-to-order, further devaluing them and making their eventual purchase all the more difficult.

Rendell may not care, but I certainly wouldn’t want to tell a mother that her child died in a bridge collapse that resulted from a lack of maintenance — because $42 million was spent on ghost ships instead of bridge repairs.

But what type of Rendell move would it be if he didn’t take care of his political pals and big-time fundraisers?

The Chairman of the PRPA is none other than John Estey, former Rendell Chief of Staff and a longtime partner at Ballard Spahr, the Guv’s old firm which has received the lion’s share of millions in no-bid legal contracts from the state.  And guess who the outside counsel of PRPA was?  Ballard Spahr.

This is the same John Estey who is also Chairman of the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA), which is intricately linked to the PRPA, sending millions their way over the years.

The DRPA couldn’t dole out legal contracts fast enough to Ballard when it served as its outside counsel — over $3.2 million since Rendell was elected in 2002, up from $480 the year prior. And when Chairman Estey voted to approve those legal bills, he was, in fact, approving funds that went directly to Ballard — his own firm. 

Ballard and its associated entities, by the way,…..

Read the rest and post a comment at Phily Mag’s Philly Post:

http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2011/01/07/another-rendell-bailout-build-ships-with-no-buyers/

 

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com

Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.”

Freind, whose column appears nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a guest commentator on Philadelphia-area talk radio shows, and makes numerous other television and radio appearances, most notably on FOX.  He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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January 7, 2011 at 10:16 am Comments (0)

Should taxpayers save the Aker Philadelphia Shipyard? Pro and Con In Philly.com

Chris Freind off FreindlyFireZone.com takes the con position in Joe DiStefano’s Pro & Con in Philly.com’s Business Section today. Should taxpayers save the Aker Philadelphia Shipyard, as attempted by Gov. Rendell, when there are no buyers for its ships?

Weigh in with a comment
http://www.philly.com/philly/business/Reader_Why_US_PA_should_save_Aker_Phila_shipyard.html

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January 6, 2011 at 7:59 pm Comments (0)

Philadelphia Is The Next Greece

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter recently urged college students to stay in the city after graduation, stating, “we have a more knowledge-based workforce here.”

Too bad we don’t have a “knowledge-based government.”

Nutter praised the federal stimulus bill for keeping the city solvent, stating, “we would be in a depression (without it).”

Wrong verb, Mr. Mayor.

Philadelphia is already insolvent, so there are only two explanations for Nutter’s incoherence:

1)      He has no idea how dire his city’s situation has become;

2)      He absolutely knows, but will use smoke-and-mirror tactics to get re-elected next year, passing the buck to his successor four years down the line.

Here’s betting on the latter.

*****

Nutter’s 2007 election was met with great fanfare from business leaders and city residents. They naively believed Nutter would usher in a new era by cutting taxes, slashing bureaucracy and playing hardball with union leaders.

Uh…hello?  

As a City Councilman, Nutter repeatedly voted for bills which sunk the city further into the abyss, increasing the exodus of companies and people from the City of Brotherly Love.  

The result?  Philadelphia achieved the nation’s highest murder, violence and poverty rates, while leading the way in school drop-outs.

Nutter’s track record as Mayor has been worse.

Crime is rampant, unions are getting contracts the city can’t afford, public schools are deathtraps, the government workforce has swelled, and the city pension is bankrupt.

And college grads are expected to actually stay here? 

The stimulus is gone, the bailouts are over, and the rent is due. 

But if Nutter can hold off a challenger next year, life is good.

Until the Molotov cocktails start flying.

*****

Whenever a politician admits something bad, reality is always worse.

Nutter has conceded that the city pension is underfunded. Translation: it’s insolvent. 

It stands at 45 percent funded — catastrophically low — and anyone with one eye open knows accounting gimmicks can easily inflate that number. 

According to last week’s Financial Times, of all American cities, Philadelphia has the most immediate cause for concern because “…current pension assets for plans sponsored by Philadelphia can only pay for promised benefits through 2015…”

So in a few short years, the city will be forced to send out letters that could read something like this:

“Dear Retired Police Officer,

Sorry, we didn’t exactly manage your …..

Read the rest at Philly Magazine’s Philly Post:

http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/2010/10/19/philadelphia-is-the-next-greece/

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com

Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.”

Freind’s column can be read in numerous publications, including the nationally-renowned NewsMax and Philadelphia  Magazine’s Philly Post.  He also serves as a weekly guest commentator on Philadelphia-area talk radio shows, and makes numerous other television and radio appearances, most notably on FOX.  He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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October 19, 2010 at 10:43 am Comments (0)

Bankrupt Rangers’ Trade For Cliff Lee Should’ve Been A Strikeout

The cries should be loudest in Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco — and Tampa Bay.

But they’re not.

Fans and baseball owners in those cities should be expressing outrage that their prospects of winning the World Series are seriously hampered by Cliff Lee.

Lee just happens to be one of the best post-season pitchers in baseball.

Last fall, he went 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA in five postseason games, including two wins against the Yankees in the World Series.  He was a major reason the Phillies were playing October baseball at all. 

And his performance in his three playoff wins this year has been remarkable.         

After being traded to Seattle, he was later sent to the Texas Rangers, bolstering a team that always faded in the second half of the season. 

Now, having advanced to the League Championship Series (the only MLB franchise that had never done so) — in which Lee had two of the three wins, including the decisive last game — the Rangers are a threat to go all the way.

There’s only one problem.  The Lee trade should never have happened. 

The fact that it did is a direct affront to every team owner, player and fan.

All except the Texas Rangers, that is.

Why?

Because the Rangers were in bankruptcy at the time of the trade.

Instead of getting their financial house in order — and paying their creditors —, Texas pulled out the most improbable victory of the season.

But unlike most games, where there is only one loser, the Rangers’ achievement came at the expense of the other 29 teams.

*****

How did a team in bankruptcy hit this home run?

That bastion of hypocrisy, Major League Baseball, came in as the relief pitcher.

Last year, it loaned the Rangers $18.5 million. And when the team’s ownership defaulted on its $525 million debt, MLB came through with another $21.5 million.

Let’s get this straight.

A team that can’t pay its bills or meet payroll receives a loan from the League — whose money comes from the teams themselves — and then uses that money to acquire arguably the best pitcher in the game.

Hmmm.  Something with that picture just isn’t right.

It’s similar to the U.S. government subsidizing companies, such as the GM bailout, while victimizing those who have done nothing wrong. 

For example, Honda gets punished for having efficient operations and fiscal responsibility, being forced to compete against the unlimited resources of the Government.

But here’s the difference. Honda still makes a superior product, so it will continue to rule the day, although its road to success will be bumpier.

Not so with the Rangers.  The “product” they acquired — with OTM (Other Teams’ Money) — is superior to virtually all others on the market.

How many millions is a playoff appearance worth?  A League Pennant?  How about a World Series appearance, let alone a Championship?

For the other teams that missed the postseason because of Lee’s prowess, that’s millions down the drain — because of what should have been an illegitimate trade.

The Rangers’ competitors, albeit unwillingly, have given that team the rope — in this case money — to hang the rest of the League.

And should we even mention the riot potential in Philadelphia if the Phillies meet Texas in the World Series, only to lose Game 7 to Cliff Lee?

*****

Most disturbing, but least surprising, is the lack of on-the-record displeasure from the baseball executives.

Too many business leaders exhibit cowardice, instead of guts. And since baseball….

Read the rest at NewsMax:

http://www.newsmax.com/Freind/bankrupt-Texas-Rangers-Cliff/2010/10/18/id/374028

 

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com

Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.”

Freind also serves as a weekly guest commentator on Philadelphia-area talk radio shows, and makes numerous other television and radio appearances, most notably on FOX.  He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

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October 19, 2010 at 6:02 am Comments (0)

Get your Ushanka’s and military boots ready

Ushanka and military boots – I know that sounds a bit extreme doesn’t it?

Consider this:

– Law breakers being put in charge of/nominated for federal agencies (getting to be too numerous to count how many of these people “forget” to pay their taxes) of the “most transparent administration” in our history.  I guess they are morally superior so they don’t have to obey the law – it’s written for everyone else.

– A new rule that states how much money executives at financial institutions can earn if they take the federal bailout money.  Forget the unintended consequences – it’s about being fair.

– Federal bailouts.  Who’s going to pay for this?  I guess we’ll just print more money.  (Of course no one is going to tell you that means the money you have will be subject to possible hyperinflation and end up being worthless).

– Sen. Stabenow discussing hearings on reinstituting the “Fairness Doctrine.”

– Possible passage of the misnamed “Employee Free Choice Act,” which is more commonly referred to as Check Card.  Interesting that Senators would want to outlaw the private ballot just so a union could be formed in any business, isn’t it.

– Our Fearless Leader’s broken promises just three weeks into his administration – No lobbyists in the administration and likely imposition of taxes on people earning under $250,000.  Did anyone really believe these promises in the first place?  I’m mean really?  A Democrat wanting to tax cuts.  Really?

– Expansion of SCHIP – to 30 year olds!!!!

– New stats that show January payrolls shrank almost 600,000.  (Granted that’s mostly during Bush’s admin, but bear with me on this, there’s a point that I’m just about ready to make)

Exit question for you to consider:

How long will it be until Mr. Thompson, I mean Mr. Obama (Sorry, I had a Randian slip there), decides to have someone introduce a bill to make it illegal for employers to layoff or fire any employees?  The line will be that it’s to stabilize the economy and that it’s only fair, why should people be without work, blah, blah, blah.

See, here’s the thing – a question I’ve been asked lately.  Why are those in charge so insistent on everyone liking them and what they are doing – they want 100% support and do not like dissent against them.  I mean come on, they know what’s best for everyone right?

Here’s what I’ve come to understand – These people won’t be happy if we all just say the stuff they want to hear – we have to believe it too (drink the kool-aid, as we conservatives like to say).  Why?  They have a lack of confidence, a huge lack of confidence.  They don’t fully believe in themselves.  Their self-esteem is so shallow and fragile, that anyone one who disagrees must be silenced or else they will have to face their own fear, which is uncomfortable to say the least.

What underlies this is really the idea that these people do not have any, or very little, self-love.  If you don’t love who you are, you see yourself as worthless.  Misery loves company, so it becomes a quest to bring everyone else down to your level so that you can feel better about yourself because someone is “worse” than you.  If you “feel” better about yourself, then, in your own mind, you might actually believe that you have worth and are worthy of love.  Of course, like any addiction, this is a lie.  You need more and more of what you are addicted to in order to get the same feeling of adequecy.

This keeps happening because you are looking for enlightenment, purpose, meaning, love, etc. from somewhere and someone who is “out there” when you should be looking inside yourself.  To me, this perfectly explains the “change we can believe in” slogan.  When you discover these things inside yourself, how you percieve everything changes.  You understand self-love, you become confident of who you are – which means that you understand criticism and dissent are great things to assist you in finding and understanding truth.  Questioning your beliefs is good because you and your beliefs are not the same.  Questioning beliefs is not the same thing as questioning someone’s worth.  You are more than willing to face your own fears and be uncomfortable for the sake of growth.

And here’s where it gets good.  If you have proper self-love, then you can love others.  This allows you to have self-respect.  The same is true here – only when you believe in respecting yourself can you respect others.  Finally there is leadership.  When you have self-leadership, it’s only then that you can lead others.

Think about this – it applies in so many areas of life – take freedom for example.  You can’t allow freedom if you don’t believe in it for yourself.  Why?  It comes down to a basic view of life – an age old question:  Is man inherently good or evil?  If man is good, then freedom makes sense.  If you believe that man is good, then, left to his own device, he will do “good” things.  If man is inherently evil, then restrictions on him makes sense.  Otherwise, if left to his own device, he will bring harm to himself and others.

Take it further – If man is inherently evil, why would you want him to think for himself?  He would most likely spend most of his time thinking of ways to take advantage of his fellow man, hence rules are established.  Rules reduce the need for men to think – the thinking about what is “right” and “wrong” is already done for him.  Now he can just work and not question the “correct” thoughts that are spoonfed to him.

Take this idea even further and you end up at Social Justice, which goes to the larger question that was once asked – is the universe friendly to man or unfriendly to man.  If unfriendly, then it makes perfect sense that we do something about it, “correct” the inherent injustices of the universe.

I’ll close with this  – we have a nation that is full of victims.  (I’m not arguing that everyone who voted for Obama is a victim.  There are sincere people who believe in all the policies that Obama promotes.)  You can relate this to where we are in the process of a civilization – either apathy or dependence depending on your preference.  At any rate, we are who we elect.  Since we have so many victims, it stands to reason that we would elect a government of victims to “lead” us.

As I’ve been saying lately, read Atlas Shrugged.  You’ll understand.  I’d also recommend Leadership and Sefl-Decption by The Arbinger Group and Cosmic Justice by Thomas Sowell.

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February 6, 2009 at 3:07 pm Comments (0)