Author Archive for Steven Waechter

Mr. Waechter is an attorney and a recent graduate of Drake University.

David Stockman is Right, and We Should Probably Be Afraid

Iowa Politics Money Chess TaxesFormer Michigan Congressman and Reagan Budget Director David Stockman’s new book “The Great Deformation” provoked a flurry of insult and ridicule when it first came out back in April. I’m late to the party because as a law school graduate I spend all of my spare cash on liquor; in fact, I have not yet read the book. Fortunately for me, book tour promotional speeches are readily available on Youtube, and Stockman has no instinct for holding back.

Here is the gist; the Bretton Woods Conference made the dollar the reserve currency of the world, it was gold-based until 1971 when Nixon decided to let it float free, allowing the US to run endless trade deficits with mercantilist, export-led industrializing countries in East Asia. Along …


Obamacare: Welcome to Neo-Feudalism

obamacareIt is axiomatic in history that the new worlds of the revolutionaries tend to resemble the social systems of the past. Tsar Alexander II freed 60 million serfs with the stroke of a pen, and seventy years later Joseph Stalin would re-impose serfdom under the guise of collective farms. He used bullets instead of ink. Similar stories can be told of the French Revolution, the Chinese Civil War, Oliver Cromwell, and probably all revolutions in some respect.

Alexander Hamilton wanted America to copy the British system, complete with political elites, state-supported monopoly corporations like the British East India Company, and all-powerful central government. It took two hundred years to overcome Jeffersonian resistance, but Hamilton finally won when TARP was implemented.

Perhaps it is no surprise …


What I Learned as a Foreclosure Attorney

forclosed houseA sizeable chunk of my legal career has been spent neck-deep in the morass of the foreclosure wave that has wreaked havoc across the land several years ago. If you wonder what has made me cynical about both the economy and the competency of government, it was my year doing foreclosures.

First of all, I am not the big expert, and this is in no way legal advice; I worked long enough to learn how the process works and how it ties in to real estate market and the economy as a whole. I think I have put the picture together reasonably well, and I have learned a few things about our national obsession with real estate.

Banks Do Not Hold Mortgages

The fact that …


Local Economic Development Through Youth Entrepreneurship

business start-upWell, another class of high school graduates are killing time until they begin their college experience. In four, five, or six years, many of them will graduate from college, and move to Dallas County so they can work as temps at Wells Fargo.

Meanwhile, town squares across Iowa are emptying out. I’ve spent some time exploring small towns in rural Iowa, and there are common threads that threaten to further damage the prospects of the young, and may even threaten the existence of many towns across the state.

And so it goes; young people leave to try and buy jobs that don’t matter (and often don’t exist in large numbers), buildings stand unused, and eventually the towns just collapse into stagnant malaise.

What Muscatine Has


Steve Goes to a Career Fair, Asks Obnoxious Questions

job fairsHaving nothing better to do, I decided to spend Monday morning on the DMACC campus for a spring career fair. I wanted to wander around and ask questions to people to try and gauge their perception of the job market, but I had no intention of simply administering a poll. No, I was going to make people defend their statements by asking why they held that belief, like Socrates but without the profoundness.

I asked jobseekers if they were feeling optimistic or pessimistic. I asked recruiters about what kind of people they are looking for, both in terms of skills and personality.

Optimistic, They Think

Personally, I believe that optimism is stupid and should be hated, but I appear to be alone in this sentiment. …


Steve’s Morning With the Iowa Wind Energy Association

smoking turbineTo kick off the IWEA conference at HyVee Hall, both the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor took turns at the podium to celebrate Iowa’s commitment to wind power. I was there to take notes and to take a look around.

The Governor’s comments were short, citing Iowa’s adoption of wind energy standards, the lease royalty income for landowners, the jobs associated with the wind energy sector, Iowa’s exporting of wind-generated power, and used a comment on the importance of the STEM curriculum (science, technology, engineering, and math) to introduce Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, for whom STEM is something of a pet project.

Knowledge-based Economy

The Lieutenant Governor’s comments centered around education; preparing the young for the jobs of the “knowledge-based economy,” which I put in …


Education Reform is a Waste of Time

In my senior year of high school I took advanced physics with Mrs. Osborne; one of my favorite classes with one of my favorite teachers. Being an advanced-level course, only kids who wanted to be there had signed up for it. The teacher knew that we wanted to be there, and actually wanted us to be there as well. The class was very instructional and free of behavioral problems. Amazingly, the teacher treated us like full human beings – which is not always the case in public school.

The moral sentiment at work was that of voluntarism – not to be confused with volunteerism, which is when career politicians or community leaders want you to work for free. Voluntarism is the manifest free will; when …


Casinos, Bonds, and Cigarettes

Iowa Politics - Cigarette and DieBack in 2001, Iowa decided to securitize its portion of the multi-state tobacco lawsuit settlement. “Securitize” means to borrow against it. They issued almost $700 million in bonds through the Iowa Tobacco Settlement Authority, with the settlement money itself as the asset backing the bonds. Most of them are even tax-exempt.

Such is the nature of public finance; the settlement was a windfall of revenue that didn’t have to be taxed from the citizens, but instead of just riding the wave, the government used it as collateral to borrow money. Never put off spending that can be done today.

More than seventy percent of the money Iowa receives from the tobacco settlement goes to debt service on those bonds – these, like most government bonds, …


Grassley and Branstad Blowing Smoke on Wind Power

The tax credit for wind energy is back on the agenda, and Iowa’s own Chuck Grassley and Terry Branstad are taking leadership roles in fighting for the extension, going so far as to appear together at a press conference about it.

Wind energy is my favorite target at the moment, because it combines socialist economics, corruption, aesthetic vandalism, junk science, and cynical political machinations – all melting together into a hideous soup of wasted money and ruined skylines.

Tough Love

After the last election, targeting two of Iowa’s best known Republicans for criticism is perhaps a risky business, but for those who think I – with my dislike of leftists – shouldn’t be doing it, I offer the following historical analogy:

In the days of …


Predictions for the Next Four Years (Part 1 of 2)

Well, Barack Obama will be President for a second term. It is now time to take a look around, and prepare for what is likely to happen next. Based on my observations and what I’ve learned over the years, these are my predictions:

No Housing Recovery

Commentators have been calling the bottom of the housing market – and screaming with increasing urgency that it was time to buy – since 2007. The Fed has cut interest rates to nearly zero, and through quantitative easing has flooded the financial system with new money. This will continue for the near future, especially since QE-infinity was announced earlier this year. There remains no recovery in the housing market, and there won’t be a recovery.

Bad monetary policy has …


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