The Dutch Follow Suit

The Netherlands has followed France's lead and rejected the EU Constitution.

Dutch voters overwhelmingly rejected the European Union constitution Wednesday, the prime minister said, in what could be a knockout blow for the charter roundly defeated just days ago by France.

Less than an hour after the polls closed, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende conceded defeat in his campaign to ratify the constitution and said the government would respect the results of the overwhelmingly "no" vote on the referendum.

"Naturally, I'm very disappointed," he said in a televised statement.

An exit poll broadcast by state-financed NOS television said the constitution failed by a vote of 63 percent to 37 percent, an even worse defeat than the 55 percent "no" vote in France's referendum

Turnout was 62 percent, far exceeding even the most optimistic expectations and a reflection of the heated debate in recent days over an issue that has polarized Europeans. Dutch liberals worried a more united EU could weaken liberal social policies, while conservatives feared losing control of immigration.

Although the referendum was consultative, the high turnout and the decisive margin left no room for the Dutch parliament to turn its back on the people's verdict. The parliament meets Thursday to discuss the results.

The constitution was designed to further unify the 25-nation bloc and give it more clout on the world stage. But the draft document needs approval from all the nations to take effect in late 2006, and the "no" vote in both France and the Netherlands founding members of the bloc was a clear message European integration has gone awry.

With these two members rejecting the Constitution, it's as good as dead. This is a mixed result at best. Europe needed the free market reforms that the EU will someday provide it, this rejection continues the social welfare state for nations like France, the Netherlands, and Germany. That's not good for the global economy at all.

But the Constitution's defeat also maintains the sovereignty of these nations - not the diplomatic counter to the U.S. men like Chirac and Schroeder had wished their EU to be.

Surprised It's Not "May Day"

Congratulations Wisconsin Marxists, Communists, and other "Progressives;" your dream of a higher minimum wage comes true today.

This is, of course, nothing more than a "Save Governor Jim Doyle, a wholly-owned subsidiary of WEAC, and his floundering Governorship" move.

The real tragedy of this is that no one with an "R" after their name had the guts to make a reasoned free market-based argument against raising the minimum wage. Instead, we get a pre-emption bill that Doyle "would consider" signing sometime today because they were all afraid to go on record with a sound logically-based argument.

The only legislator to make that free market argument spoke once more against it this morning.
The false impression continually reinforced by the overheated partisan political rhetoric is that raising the minimum wage helps poor families. The truth is that an overwhelming majority of these jobs are held by first time workers desperately in need of work experience, most often for a short time, not heads of households trying to support a family. Raising the minimum wage will only have the effect of making it much harder for those needing that first job to enter the work force and gain the experience that will allow them to move up to get a better job, most often, quickly.

This isn't about making profits for business. Making these jobs harder to get will greatly hurt the anonymous poor and the young workers who need employment. Knocking out another bottom rung on the ladder of economic opportunity by raising the minimum wage just makes it harder for those who deserve the opportunity to climb aboard and share in the prosperity of America."
Thanks again Ziggy.

Post-Crescent Rains on HOPE

The Editors of the Appleton Post-Crescent aren't fooled with the latest 'feel good sounding name, but lack of a way to pay for it' tax shift that Democrats in the State Legislature.

I almost feel sorry for State Senate Minority Leader Judy "Moonbeam" Robson (D-Beloit) and State Rep. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) for this brow-beating.

Did Democrats in the Legislature decide first to call a sketchy plan they introduced last week for controlling property taxes the Homeowner's Property Exemption act, then realize that, in a happy accident, they'd be promoting HOPE? Or did they come up with the acronym HOPE, then with a proposal that would fit?

Indeed, as we suspect they did with its name, lawmakers seem to have backed into the legislation. HOPE, they tell us, would give property taxpayers a break and pay for it by closing some of those evil corporate tax loopholes. Most of the specific loopholes are yet to be identified. HOPE relies on the Joint Survey Committee on Tax Exemptions to recommend which the state should close to pay for the tax break.

Democratic lawmakers referred to some of states' more ludicrous sales tax exemptions, like luxury skyboxes, and note that "loopholes" amount to more than $3 billion. The skyboxes are a pittance. It's the exemptions for business-to-business services, like attorneys' and accountants' fees and advertising, and on personal services, like doctors' and dentists' services, that really add up. But it's not really businesses that pay sales taxes. It's consumers.

Property taxpayers are eager for real relief, not a tax shift. They need more than HOPE.
HOPE stands for Homeowner's Property Exemption; to paraphrase a known TABOR opponent: Where'd they get the "O" from?

Sometimes it's too easy...

Makes the Unemployment Check Easier to Swallow

Meant to talk about this yesterday when it broke.

Arthur Anderson, or what's left of it, was acquitted of any wrongdoing yesterday by a unanimous 9-0 Supreme Court Decision in the Enron case.
With a brief, pointed and unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned Arthur Andersen's conviction for shredding Enron accounting documents
as that company was collapsing in one of the nation's biggest corporate scandals.

The court held that the trial judge's instructions to the jury failed to require the necessary proof that Andersen knew its actions were wrong.

But the decision represents little more than a Pyrrhic victory for Andersen, which lost its clients after being indicted on obstruction of justice charges and has no chance of returning as a viable enterprise. The accounting firm has shrunk from 28,000 employees in the United States to a skeleton crew of 200, who are attending to the final details of closing down the partnership.
The Wall Street Journal's editorial on the matter is a bit more pointed.
The verdict, if not the indictment itself, was a death sentence for the partnership, 98% of whose employees had never cast an eye on an Enron audit. It was handed down by a Houston jury after 10 days of deliberation, and nearly a hung jury, following instructions from the judge that the Supreme Court now says were faulty. Anyone interested in a succinct history of Andersen's role in the Enron collapse, by the way, should make a point of reading Chief Justice William Rehnquist's 12-page ruling for the Court.
That ruling can be found here.

I was at college at the time this all went down. (Wrote about it here.) Part of the problem that surfaced was that the media, fresh off of Recount 2000, wanted to bring Bush down to the level their Democratic and liberal friends felt he deserved to be at. So, in a fool-hardy attempt to make Enron Bush's "Watergate" and "Whitewater," a fine institution of American corporate enterprise was sacrificed.

Was there corporate wrongdoing? Yes - but not enough to have the damage effected to it and the thousands now employed elsewhere lose their livelihoods for what in essence was a media and political witchhunt.

Most of my friends at college who were Accounting majors ended up working for Ernst & Young out of the Twin Cities after school. E&Y is one of the remain "Big Four" accounting firms in America. Along with them are KPMG, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (Kurt has a friend who works there), and PriceWaterhouseCooper (PWC).

Arthur Anderson made it five.

Be Mindful of the Orange Cones

Just a quick heads-up to our readers.

We are in the midst of some tweaking of the blog right now.

Because of that, we've lost the comments. Kurt and I are both sorry about that.
We're hoping we can get them back shortly (once we figure out what we're doing) and regular blog activity can resume.

The only concern we have in resuming blog normality (blogality?) is that both Kurt and I are going to be extremely busy over the next week or so.

Thankful to all those who are understanding of this.

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