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What Happened to My Shiny Objects?

March 19, 2012

I noticed a few items this morning while on the exercise bike, and I’d like to connect the dots to a strategic axiom.  Here’s the gist: It’s good to get everyone saying the same thing that you do (it’s my first law of strategy), but eventually you have to produce results.  When you don’t, people stop listening.  When you do, people pay attention to the consequences.

Note first over at Hot Air how the Obama Campaign fund-raising efforts are falling significantly behind its “goal.”  Of course, they’ve walked back on the $1B “goal” a while back, but the funding is looking more lethargic than most would expect.  And it’s not from lack of trying… since the president was at six events just last Friday, and even that was weaker than expected.  But in total:

The president’s events raise to 40 his total attended for the year and 107 his total for the cycle. The first lady’s event is her 17th fundraiser of the year.

One area that’s way down?  Wall Street seems to be giving the president and the Democrats less this cycle so far.  Gee, maybe a few years of scorching rhetoric on the evils of banking, investments, and the 1% are producing results, but Wall Street has been paying attention to those and isn’t opening up the wallets as much.  At least there’s still Hollywood to fall back on for now.

Here’s another example, though the article I found is about a month old.  California has been one of the most ambitious states in terms of anti-smoking measures.  But now they’ve done such a good job, it’s affecting their budget adversely.

A little more than a decade ago, 46 state attorneys general reached a settlement with the four biggest tobacco companies. The companies agreed to pay an estimated $246 billion over a 25-year period to compensate states for tobacco-related health care costs. But there is one quirk: The settlement payments are not fixed, but linked to tobacco sales.

So now smoking is down significantly in California… mostly because you can’t find a place in California to smoke without getting shreiked at by any variety of people.  The hole looks to be about $4B in funding, most of which initially came from a bond issue which is coming due now.  Well, oops.  I guess when you get results that are too good, you have to adjust.  Except the state can’t adjust because… um… it’s California.

Okay, that’s unfair.  But it’s further proof that governments have trouble giving up taxes and funding, since they assume that the funding never goes away.  But when results push you the other way, and you can’t shift your thinking.  Well, you get something you can’t pay for.

Perhaps all this extra funding of hybrid and electric cars will eventually result in lower gas use, which will mean lower gas taxes.  I wonder what the government will do then?

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