Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The tragedy of celebrating single-motherhood

Read this article and cry.

The tragedy of celebrating single motherhood is that married families have suffered. Abortion doesn't require the consent or even notification of the husband of a married mother-to-be. Divorce is easy and set up to reward a woman for breaking up her marriage, while punishing the husband. Most people won't even chastise a friend who is cheating on their mate. And almost nobody except neanderthals cares about pre-marital and extra-marital sex. The hippy free-love movement has won. Marriage lost.

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Within my lifetime, single parenthood has been transformed from shame to saintliness. In our society, perversely, we celebrate the unwed mother as a heroic figure, like a fireman or a police officer. During the last presidential election, much was made of Obama’s mother, who was a single parent. Movie stars and pop singers flaunt their daddy-less babies like fishing trophies.

None of this is lost on my students. In today’s urban high school, there is no shame or social ostracism when girls become pregnant. Other girls in school want to pat their stomachs. Their friends throw baby showers at which meager little gifts are given. After delivery, the girls return to school with baby pictures on their cell phones or slipped into their binders, which they eagerly share with me. Often they sit together in my classes, sharing insights into parenting, discussing the taste of Pedialite or the exhaustion that goes with the job. On my way home at night, I often see my students in the projects that surround our school, pushing their strollers or hanging out on their stoops instead of doing their homework.

Connecticut is among the most generous of the states to out-of-wedlock mothers. Teenage girls like Nicole qualify for a vast array of welfare benefits from the state and federal governments: medical coverage when they become pregnant (called “Healthy Start”); later, medical insurance for the family (“Husky”); child care (“Care 4 Kids”); Section 8 housing subsidies; the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; cash assistance. If you need to get to an appointment, state-sponsored dial-a-ride is available. If that appointment is college-related, no sweat: education grants for single mothers are available, too. Nicole didn’t have to worry about finishing the school year; the state sent a $35-an-hour tutor directly to her home halfway into her final trimester and for six weeks after the baby arrived.

In theory, this provision of services is humane and defensible, an essential safety net for the most vulnerable—children who have children. What it amounts to in practice is a monolithic public endorsement of single motherhood—one that has turned our urban high schools into puppy mills. The safety net has become a hammock.



Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The price of union-controlled education mills is students who can't even read

The problem with union controlled education is that unions don't serve students. They serve teachers and other members, and see parents and other taxpayers as the enemy, not as their customers. This sets up an oppositional culture that ends up so perverting the school curriculum and priorities that students don't even learn the basics, like how to read at grade level.

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( - Two-thirds of the eighth graders in Wisconsin public schools cannot read proficiently according to the U.S. Department of Education, despite the fact that Wisconsin spends more per pupil in its public schools than any other state in the Midwest.



Monday, February 21, 2011

Mitch Daniels suffering by contrast with Walker and Kasich--Updated

The public labor union bullying of the elected legislature and governor continues in Wisconsin, where Scott Walker stands resolute in his plan to balance the budget not only this year, but also for the future. Gold plated union pensions and contracts negotiated through an incestuously corrupt process threaten to bankrupt the state in the near future, and have created a $137 million deficit this year and a much larger one in the next 2-year budget cycle. Democrats in the legislature ran away from the state senate rather than participate in the democratic process. The protests are also fundamentally anti-democratic, as they seek to overturn the results of a democratic election by bullying the legislature. Republicans in the Wisconsin state senate have upped the ante: introducing fast track Voter ID legislation to prevent some forms of vote fraud and call Democrats' bluff. It remains to be seen if Democrats rush back to the statehouse in order to protect the right to commit vote fraud in Wisconsin. Democrats traditionally favor the "right" to commit vote fraud as well as the "right" of state workers to conspire with friendly Democratic state officials to negotiate sweetheart union deals in return for kickbacks to reelection funds. When these two cherished Democrat Party values are put up against each other we'll see which one wins. Obama has already backed off early White House and DNC support of the Wisconsin rabble rousers. The protests are borderline violent, with actual locals supplemented by revolutionary communists and socialists bused in from out of state. The tone of things is most definitely not civil, with union supporters, communists, socialists, and various revolutionary rabble rousers making the most bloodcurdling threats imaginable and comparing every Republican in sight to Adolf Hitler. The public perception of union demands has suffered badly.

Do not be sad or feel left out. You will also get a chance to see unions in revolt in your state. The SEIU's purple people beaters are coming to a town near you! They aren't just visiting Wisconsin, but will be marching all over America to intimidate their political opponents.

Among other fiscally sane ideas anathema to Democrats, Ohio governor John Kasich and the overwhelmingly Republican Ohio legislature are also pressing right to work legislation and cost cutting of gold plated public union contracts that threaten to bankrupt that state. Unions threaten to turn out twenty thousand union supporters Tuesday for another borderline violent protest like the ones in Wisconsin.

Sinister, threatening fist posters
Sinister fist images worthy of a Kevin Jennings
Indiana also has its own problems with gold plated union contracts threatening the financial future of the state. Like Wisconsin and Ohio, prompted by disastrous state budgets and unemployment numbers, the voters elected overwhelming majorities of Republicans in the statehouse and gave the governorship to Mitch Daniels. Now Daniels, who seems according to the tea leaves to be running for the Presidency as a one-legged-stool (fiscal only) Republican, doesn't want to push HB 1468 (The Right to Work Bill) or any other legislation that claws back gold plated benefits from public employee unions. He makes excuses that he didn't run on Right to Work as a campaign issue in November. The unions are revolting in any case. Frankly, I'm not sure why Daniels is paying any attention to union demands. There is nothing for Republicans in coddling unions. Union elites will continue to drain away union pension funding and give it to Democrat campaign funds, hoping for government bailouts at some time in the future to make good the pensions they stole behind workers' backs.

Kasich and Walker know what needs to be done. They are doing the smart fiscal thing.

I think Daniels, who claims to be a fiscal conservative, knows the right thing to do. But he seems to be convinced that he shouldn't do it because... because... because... I have no idea why he thinks this. He happens to be wrong. He might not have run on forcing public unions to be responsive to the voters and their pocketbooks, but that's why the people voted for him. They understood this conversation was happening nationally just like everyone else did. Everyone, that is, except for Daniels. If Daniels claims to be a fiscal-only conservative and demands that social and national security conservatives shut up and be quiet about their principles, he will never inspire anyone in the presidential contests coming up. And now he isn't even doing the fiscal conservative part right! He will not be electable if he persists in this ill-advised political triangulation.

UPDATE: Teachers are the focus of Daniels' other education reform plans for Indiana. Among his plans are expanding charter schools, offering vouchers, and restricting the ability of teacher contracts to expand relentlessly, forever. Teachers have already been playing hooky in Indiana in order to protest these moves. And one of the first moves Daniels made on coming into office in 2005 was to rescind the license of state workers to collective bargaining. He didn't run on this change in 2004, but made it anyway. Given this, it's not clear why he is resisting a right to work law this year.

Someone at Daniels' ear needs to advise him that he needs to behave like a fiscal conservative, not like a Clintonian Democrat trying to claim the center. Otherwise he will doom his candidacy with Johnny McMaverick style centrism before he begins. And that leaves out his rejection of the other two legs of the three legged stool that supports conservatism as a governing ideology.

Further: The bailout mania of the idiotic US government in 2008 and 2009 does not bode well for political backbone when faced by the bankruptcy of the majority of labor unions in the country. It's a sure thing that unions will squeal loudly when they have to pay out on pensions. Unions have been stealing pension money without worker approval to play political games for years. When this theft comes to light union leaders will cry to the heavens for help, claiming they didn't know. Taxpayers, having already payed a monopoly premium for union work, have paid for these pensions once. Taxpayers must not be held liable for theft committed by union elites in the past, today, or tomorrow. Union members need to hold their leaders to account today, before these accounts come due leaving them completely without pensions: forced to subsist on Social Security.

That would put an exclamation point on the union-sponsored betrayal of America's manufacturing workers for the last 50 years, would it not?

And we Republicans must stiffen the backbones of the officials we put in office. They did not get put into office in order to coddle union elites or bail-out thieves. That socialist practice of bailouts must end, no matter what business the thieves are supposedly in.


No good reasons for public employee unions to exist

There is only one police force in any city. Is it right that the police can go on strike against the citizens who pay their taxes, thereby leaving them without any official enforcement of the law? Doesn't that leave taxpayers at the mercy of criminals?

How about firemen?

Isn't it the job of the public servants elected by the people to decide the proper staffing and funding levels for such important government employees as firemen and police? How then can the union trump decisions made by the lawful representatives of the people? Isn't that immoral and wrong?

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Playing off the ongoing story out of Wisconsin, Professor Bainbridge makes a strong argument against the very existence of public sector labor unions:

In effect, public sector unionism thus means that representatives of the union will often be on both sides of the collective bargaining table. On the one side, the de jure union leaders. On the other side, the bought and paid for politicians. No wonder public sector union wages and benefits are breaking the back of state budgets. They are bargaining with themselves rather than with an arms’-length opponent.

Bainbridge’s argument isn’t a new one. In fact., it was made more than 70 years ago by Franklin Delano Roosevelt:

“The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service,” Roosevelt wrote in 1937 to the National Federation of Federal Employees. Yes, public workers may demand fair treatment, wrote Roosevelt. But, he wrote, “I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place” in the public sector. “A strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government.”

Indeed, for many years, the very idea of public sector workers being able to organize and force the government to bargain with their representatives was largely rejected:

Courts across the nation also generally held that collective bargaining by government workers should be forbidden on the legal grounds of sovereign immunity and unconstitutional delegation of government powers.

Courts across the nation also generally held that collective bargaining by government workers should be forbidden on the legal grounds of sovereign immunity and unconstitutional delegation of government powers. In 1943, a New York Supreme Court judge held:

To tolerate or recognize any combination of civil service employees of the government as a labor organization or union is not only incompatible with the spirit of democracy, but inconsistent with every principle upon which our government is founded. Nothing is more dangerous to public welfare than to admit that hired servants of the State can dictate to the government the hours, the wages and conditions under which they will carry on essential services vital to the welfare, safety, and security of the citizen. To admit as true that government employees have power to halt or check the functions of government unless their demands are satisfied, is to transfer to them all legislative, executive and judicial power. Nothing would be more ridiculous.

The very nature of many public services — such as policing the streets and putting out fires — gives government a monopoly or near monopoly; striking public employees could therefore hold the public hostage. As long-time New York Times labor reporter A. H. Raskin wrote in 1968: “The community cannot tolerate the notion that it is defenseless at the hands of organized workers to whom it has entrusted responsibility for essential services.”



Need ID to buy beer, need ID to vote

Since the Democrat state senators are out of state instead of in-state, doing their jobs, the grownups will proceed with a bill that has long been needed in Wisconsin and every other state that doesn't check IDs for voters.

Say you are a Wisconsin voter and a drunk. When you go to the bar to get loaded on a day of early voting the bartender checks your ID to make sure you are allowed to drink. But when the nice people from the local Democratic Party come by in their van to carry you to the polls, you stumble drunken into the polls and sign your name anywhere they will let you. No ID needed! No need to vote in your own name. Just sign next to any name. Then go vote, stumble back into the van, and go back to drinking. They'll even give you a couple of bucks for your time when dropping you back at the bar. Heck, you can do the same thing tomorrow at another precinct. The nice people in that van are so very helpful with allowing you to vote early and often, and not checking voter ID makes it much easier.

So how about we stop that scheme?

Thank goodness the foxes have left the henhouse so as to better protect their best campaign contributors, public sector unions.

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Hey, maybe we’ve got this all wrong.  Maybe all those Democratic state senators should stay in hiding for a couple of days longer; it’ll let the adults get some business done.

…Republicans plan to move ahead with regular Senate business. In addition to tomorrow’s calendar, that could mean public hearings on other legislation, and possibly a floor vote on a voter ID bill that Democrats don’t like.

Background on the Voter ID bill here: essentially, it’s the usual commonsense notion that people who vote should have to go through the same kind of hoops to establish identity that we expect from people who, say, buy beer.  The Democrats hate the very idea, of course - it’s not that they personally indulge in election fraud, but it’s a weakness of some of their dearest companions - so they’ve been fighting it tooth and nail in Wisconsin for years.



Poll measures national support for Walker over public sector unions

Union thugs not so popular as they pretend.

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If these sorts of numbers hold up, the unions, the Democrats, and Mr. Obama will have managed to turn a local setback into a major defeat by accepting battle on a ground not of their own choosing.

That poll is a national, not a Wisconsin poll.

What are the Wisconsin-only numbers? Last week Walker was apparently behind.

43% approved, 53% disapproved. But that was last week, the question is slanted, events have moved on and that is only one poll. (That same poll found that by 55/36 people wanted the Democrat senators to return to the capitol.)



White House inaction comforts the dictatorial regime in Iran

Once again, when an American ally faces an internal rebellion our White House leaps to the attack against its current government. But when an American enemy, that is also the enemy of every other free country in the world and seems to every eye to be set on the destruction of Israel, faces internal rebellion the White House refuses to take sides against it.

How many lives will it take to pay the toll in blood of this presidential inaction?

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The people flooding into the streets of Iran to seek regime change find no support from the U.S. government
President Obama, who hectored Egypt‘s President Hosni Mubarak to transfer power “right now,” suddenly doesn’t want to get involved when it comes to the dictators running the Islamic republic.

The administration argues that taking a firm stand on regime change would hand Tehran a pretext for cracking down on pro-democracy protesters. It took the same approach during the 2009 protests, and the result was that Tehran’s thugs ruthlessly suppressed demonstrators and blamed the United States for instigating them. Iran‘s leaders will do the same again no matter what Mr. Obama says. The president has nothing to lose by standing up for freedom, especially because the Iranian regime really needs changing.
The Apologizer-in-Chief has nothing to lose, except for the left's fairy tale view that if only the world would come together, it would see that there are no enemies — except, of course, for America's clueless combative conservatives.


More climate change fraud

This time instead of fraudulent data, it's a fraudulent company providing "relief" from CO2 rationing. Expect more if CO2 rationing and taxation become more widespread.

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Washington, D.C., Feb. 18, 2011 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a group of seven individuals who perpetrated a fraudulent pump-and-dump scheme in the stock of a sham company that purported to provide products and services to fight global warming.



Friday, February 18, 2011

Anti-democratic protests in Wisconsin

When Joe Klein of Time Magazine agrees with conservatives that the union protests in Wisconsin are wrong on the facts and wrong in tone, then progressives have gone too far. Personally, I think all those teachers who walked off the job have quit their jobs. They shouldn't be allowed to go back.

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Revolutions everywhere--in the middle east, in the middle west. But there is a difference: in the middle east, the protesters are marching for democracy; in the middle west, they're protesting against it. I mean, Isn't it, well, a bit ironic that the protesters in Madison, blocking the state senate chamber, are chanting "Freedom, Democracy, Union" while trying to prevent a vote? Isn't it ironic that the Democratic Senators have fled the democratic process? Isn't it interesting that some of those who--rightly--protest the assorted Republican efforts to stymie majority rule in the U.S. Senate are celebrating the Democratic efforts to stymie the same in  the Wisconsin Senate?



White House in contempt of court

What is the remedy when the White House behaves as if it is above the law? Is the president, or is he not, subject to the same laws that bind everyone else? This is the fundamental question that needs to be answered.

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Last May, after millions of barrels of oil had been pumped into the ocean, Barack Obama issued an order to halt all U.S. deep sea drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.   Immediately, constitutionalists began to rail against the moratorium, which appeared to be a severe abuse of Presidential authority – a quick grab for powers that the commander in chief simply doesn’t wield.  The courts agreed, and on June 22, an injunction was issued by U.S. District Judge, Martin Feldman, who argued that Obama’s directive was “overly broad.”

A few hours after their defeat, U.S. Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar issued a statement stating that the Obama administration would be presenting a “new order in the coming days that eliminates any doubt that a moratorium is needed, appropriate, and within our authorities.”

A second drilling ban was enacted last July, only to be rescinded in October – before Judge Feldman could rule on it.  Since then, the government has used a cadre of regulators to deny drilling and enforce a de facto ban.  In fact the government has not issued a single drilling permit in the last 9 months.

Two weeks ago, Judge Feldman found the Obama administration in contempt of court.

“Each step the government took following the court’s imposition of a preliminary injunction showcases its defiance,” Feldman ruled. “Such dismissive conduct, viewed in tandem with the re-imposition of a second blanket and substantively identical moratorium, and in light of the national importance of this case, provides this court with clear and convincing evidence of the government’s contempt.”

The Obama administration has remained silent on the issue but, tellingly, their refusal to grant permits has not wavered.

This pattern is repeating itself in regards to Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare overhaul.  First, in December, U.S District Judge Henry E. Hudson determined that Obamacare’s individual mandate was unconstitutional – though he angered conservatives by refusing to extend his ruling to the entire bill.  A month later, however, Florida U.S. District Judge, Roger Vinson, did exactly that.

According to the Florida ruling, “Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire act must be declared void.”  Vinson went on to say that there was no need to issue an injunction against implementing the law since it’s illegal for the government to enforce an unconstitutional law in the first place.

“There is a long-standing presumption that officials of the Executive Branch will adhere to the law as declared by the court, Vinson wrote in his judgment. “As a result, the declaratory judgment is the functional equivalent of an injunction. There is no reason to conclude that this presumption should not apply here. Thus, the award of declaratory relief is adequate and separate injunctive relief is not necessary.”

Apparently, the President simply doesn’t care.



Thursday, February 17, 2011

Good intentions are never enough to prevent equal and opposite reactions

What Newtonian mechanics has to do with the results of legislation. After all, the results are what is really important, aren't they?

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In sum, a moral evaluation of public policy cannot stop short with the good intentions that go into crafting a law or government program. We have a moral obligation to pay attention to the other side of the equation as well—its actual, and often predictable, outcomes. Richards suggests that a great place to begin is for every policymaker, upon encountering proposed legislation, to ask, “And then what will happen?”



What does the evidence say about federal education spending?

That should be the first thing we look at when deciding what federal education programs stay and what ones are canceled. Right?


Read on.

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Take the embattled -- and near dead -- Washington, DC voucher program. There is currently a concerted effort to revive the program, but the Obama administration and most congressional Democrats evinced no qualms about killing it despite its well-documented success with graduation rates and parental satisfaction. Documented, in fact, using "gold-standard," longitudinal, random-assignment research methods. That documentation is why Cato Center for Educational Freedom director Andrew Coulson last week testified to the House education committee that "there is one federal education program that has been proven to both improve educational outcomes and dramatically lower costs. That is the Washington, DC Opportunity Scholarships Program."

Sadly, the administration -- and, to be honest, pols of all stripes -- are as happy to ignore the evidence of success in programs they dislike as the very common evidence of failure in programs they support.

Take the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which funds after-school activities intended to keep kids off the streets and provide them with social and educational enrichment.  A series of studies -- the last published in 2005 -- found that not only didn't the program appear to provide many positive results, it might have had overall negative effects:

Conclusions: This study finds that elementary students who were randomly assigned to attend the 21st Century Community Learning Centers after-school program were more likely to feel safe after school, no more likely to have higher academic achievement, no less likely to be in self-care, more likely to engage in some negative behaviors, and experience mixed effects on developmental outcomes relative to students who were not randomly assigned to attend the centers.


In light of its (at-best) impotence, did the program go away? Of course not! In FY 2010 it was appropriated $1.17 billion, and the Obama administration has asked for $1.27 billion for FY 2012. And this despite not just poor performance, but a pesky $14 trillion national debt.

This is small potatoes, though, compared to some other programs. Take Head Start: Run by the Department of Health and Human Services, Head Start is supposed to give poor kids an early boost in life. In reality, however, it has proven itself to be largely worthless, with benefits disappearing after just a few years. It's a finding that was repeated in a federal evaluation released in 2010, which reported that "the advantages children gained during their Head Start and age 4 years yielded only a few statistically significant differences in outcomes at the end of 1st grade for the sample as a whole."

Despite this fecklessness, the administration wants to increase funding for Head Start from $7.23 billion in FY 2010 to $8.10 billion in FY 2012.

Clearly, "evidence" doesn't drive budgeting decisions



Ahoy! How are you?

Why is it that we say "Hello" to each other?

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The Oxford English Dictionary says the first published use of "hello" goes back only to 1827. And it wasn't mainly a greeting back then. Ammon says people in the 1830's said hello to attract attention ("Hello, what do you think you're doing?"), or to express surprise ("Hello, what have we here?"). Hello didn't become "hi" until the telephone arrived.

The dictionary says it was Thomas Edison who put hello into common usage. He urged the people who used his phone to say "hello" when answering. His rival, Alexander Graham Bell, thought the better word was "ahoy."



Alabama-Auburn rivalry now so crazy it has gotten to tree killing

This is crazy! Why would a football fan want to kill 130-year old oaks that fans of his rival team use as a stage for celebrations?

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The Alabama-Auburn rivalry is as intense as any in college sports, consuming the state year round. If anything, the intensity is hotter than ever, as the two schools have alternated the last two national championships.

A 62-year-old Dadeville man has been arrested in connection with the poisoning of the historic Toomer’s Corner oak trees at Auburn University.

A man claiming to be “Al from Dadeville” phoned a radio show late last month, claiming he poured herbicide around the 130-year-old oaks that are the scene of celebrations after Auburn’s sports victories.

“The weekend after the Iron Bowl, I went to Auburn, Ala., because I live 30 miles away, and I poisoned the Toomer’s trees,” the caller told The Paul Finebaum Radio Show, saying he was at the Iron Bowl.

Calling himself “Al from Dadeville,” he said he used Spike 80DF, also known as tebuthiuron, and the trees “definitely will die.” The caller signed off with, “Roll Damn Tide.”

Auburn discovered the poisoning after taking soil samples on Jan. 28, a day after “Al from Dadeville” called Finebaum’s syndicated show saying he had used the herbicide on the trees.

The university said in a statement Wednesday that an herbicide commonly used to kill trees was applied “in lethal amounts” to the soil around the two trees, and that they likely can’t be saved.



What do computer models prove?

They prove the programming ability of the programmers. That is all they prove. If you have garbage data, you will get garbage results. If the programmers are bad, you can start with good data and get garbage results. In no case do the computer models have any more value than the data used as their input has by itself.

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When I listen to the public debates about climate change, I am impressed by the enormous gaps in our knowledge, the sparseness of our observations and the superficiality of our theories. Many of the basic processes of planetary ecology are poorly understood. They must be better understood before we can reach an accurate diagnosis of the present condition of our planet. When we are trying to take care of a planet, just as when we are taking care of a human patient, diseases must be diagnosed before they can be cured. We need to observe and measure what is going on in the biosphere, rather than relying on computer models.



40% of union teachers in Madison called in [fired?]

When teachers shut down a school while lying about the reason they are taking the day off, is that not a firing offense? When teachers take their students on unauthorized field trips in order to serve as extra bodies in a protest, is that not a firing offense?

Ronald Reagan fired the air traffic controllers who threatened to shut down US air travel by going on strike. Scott Walker should do the same to the teachers who have shut down their school districts in order to retain their gold plated benefits.

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Public employees should not be allowed to unionize or if they are, they should be forbidden to contribute to political campaigns. The current system essentially allows the employees to buy off the managers (politicians) in order to rip off the owners (the public). It's a system that is corrupt by it's very existence. The proof of this is the public pension and benefits schemes that threatens to crush the fiscal solvency of many states.

Even that well known conservative, anti-labor President Franklin Roosevelt knew this.



Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Why Conservatism instead of the other choices?

Because Conservatives realize that our laws and ideals of fairness and the honoring of laws and contracts, instead of living the law of the jungle, came from Christian civilization and not from atheists, libertarians, or pot smoking hippies. Matt Lewis says it better than I can.

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You know the negative stereotypes: Conservatives who embrace both fiscal and social conservatism are either prudes who want to tell you how to live -- "bigots" and hate-mongers -- or people who derive their policy positions solely from the Christian Bible (which, depending on your views, may seem either admirable or dangerous).

But what is not widely understood or appreciated is the philosophical rationale for traditional conservatism, especially as it relates to creating a strong and vibrant society. (In may ways, this philosophy actually traces all the way back to Aristotle, whom many view as the father of political conservatism. Though he was a pagan, Aristotle argued that political life requires a moral foundation, and viewed the family as the fundamental political element.)

But before we get too deep into that, it's important to note what conservatism is not.

Liberals tend to set up equality as the highest good. Equality is the end goal of most liberal policy. The conservative asks, "Why does that idea become valued over all others?" Equality is certainly good, but as a highest end and goal, it can lead to devastating consequences.

Likewise, the pure libertarian (as opposed to those of us who have some libertarian leanings) sets up liberty as the highest good. Liberty is the end goal of all policy. The conservative looks to the libertarian and asks, "Why does that idea become valued over all others?" Liberty is obviously a great good, but as the highest end goal, it can also lead to devastating consequences.

The conservative argues that the greatest instructor on what laws should exist in a civil society is human experience. So, it would seem libertarianism hits its own walls when it ventures out of its world of make-believe theories and steps into the world of reality.

Alternatively, traditional conservatives believe the rise and success of Western society was not merely a lucky accident or the result of a couple Enlightenment period thunderbolts, but rather the product of diligent work, trial and error, and human experience -- and in may ways the result of Christian civilization.

As such, they argue that preserving a strong moral order -- an order that took shape over millennia -- is vitally important to a functioning society (including a functioning economic system).


If a disordered desk signifies a disordered mind, what does an empty desk signify?

Don't take this too seriously. It's just a bit of fun.
William F. Buckley's Desk...

William F. Buckley's desk

And Nat Hentoff's Desk...
Nat Hentoff's desk

And Albert Einstein's Desk...
Albert Einstein's desk

And Barack Obama's Desk...
Barack Obama's desk Have a better caption than the one I put in the title? Add it to the comments, please.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The education bubble is fuel for Revolution

What is the common thread between Tunisia and Egypt? Free university education, with courses of study determined by the government, and a correspondingly high youth unemployment rate.

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Having such a large number of unemployed youths can be dangerous. As George Mason University sociologist Jack A. Goldstone notes, "Educated youth have been in the vanguard of rebellions against authority certainly since the French Revolution and in some cases even earlier."

In Egypt, enrollment in tertiary education increased from 14 percent in 1990 to approximately 35 percent in 2005. Yet this has not helped the unemployment rate among recent grads. The national Egyptian unemployment rate is 9.4 percent, comparable to the United States, but the unemployment rate for people between the ages of 15 and 29 is 87.2 percent. College graduates, largely because of their age, have a ten times higher unemployment rate than for those who did not attend college.



What is really going on in Wisconsin?

No more closed union shops. State workers are able to keep their jobs without paying union dues. State workers will need to pay 12% of their healthcare costs and half their pension deposits. This hardly seems overly burdensome.Oh, and the exemptions that allow state workers to unionize (as FDR would have never allowed) now exclude benefits from the collective bargaining agreement, plus voters have to approve wage increases that are higher than the cpi. None of this removes anybody's rights, though it removes extremely generous privileges only state workers had that those who work in the private sector have never had.

And what was the alternative? Raise taxes on everyone in Wisconsin in the middle of a recession that has led to a huge number of home foreclosures. That would increase unemployment and home foreclosures. Hardly a good idea. I support Walker's choices in Wisconsin.

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Wisconsin is broke. The current budget is already $137 million in the red. The 2011–2013 biennial budget faces a $3.6 billion hole. So Governor Walker has called the legislature into special session and presented them with an emergency budget. His plan closes the deficit without raising taxes.

Government employees in Wisconsin get amazing benefits. They get a generous defined-benefit pension with minimal contributions on their part. They also only pay 6 percent of the cost of their health-care premiums. Few taxpayers enjoy anything this generous.

Government employees get these benefits because of the special privileges government unions enjoy. Government workers in many states — including Wisconsin — must pay union dues or lose their jobs. The state subsidizes their fundraising by using its payroll system to collect these forced dues.

This gives the union movement billions of dollars, which it uses to elect favored candidates. The American Federation of State and County Municipal Employees (AFSCME) spent more than any other outside group in the last election. Government unions have used this political clout to hijack state government to serve their interests.

Governor Walker could have raised taxes or fired 6,000 state employees. Instead, like Governor Christie, he decided to actually fix the problems that brought Wisconsin to this point. His budget limits government collective bargaining to just wages, taking benefits and work rules off the bargaining table. He would also require voters to approve any raises above inflation. Walker would prevent government unions from forcing taxpayers to cough up for their gold-plated benefits.

Having done that, his budget requires state and local employees to contribute half of the cost of their pension contributions — roughly 6 percent of their salary. He also requires them to pay 12 percent of their health-care premiums. By private-sector standards these are modest changes, but they will help close Wisconsin’s budget gap.

Walker’s budget removes the special privileges that give government unions their outsize influence. His plan allows workers to quit their union without losing their job. He requires unions to demonstrate their support through an annual secret-ballot vote. He also ends the unfair taxpayer subsidy to union fundraising: The state and local government would stop collecting union dues with their payroll systems.



Alleged bias against women in science disproved

The number of politicized studies pointing to discrimination against women or any affinity group you care to name keeps on growing. The problem with these studies is that they, like the studies about the role of CO2 with relation to climactic effects, depend more on volume than on accuracy. They are trumpeted to a receptive press and a political establishment looking for another excuse to increase its control over people's lives, and their conclusions become law without any skeptical scientists ever being allowed to examine the evidence, let alone testify against them. If the evidence doesn't prove the conclusions, or if it is falsified to be more persuasive than it was when raw, in most cases we the public will never know.

So it's wonderful when science works the way it is supposed to and allows other scientists to challenge the results of earlier studies. That's what we have here.

Amplify’d from

In “Understanding Current Causes of Women’s Underrepresentation in Science,” Cornell professors Stephen Ceci and Wendy Williams provide a thorough analysis and discussion of 20 years of data. Their conclusion: When it comes to job interviews, hiring, funding, and publishing, women are treated as well as men and sometimes better. As Williams told Nature, “There are constant and unsupportable allegations that women suffer discrimination in these arenas, and we show conclusively that women do not.” Put another way, the gender-bias empress has no clothes.

Congress should hold hearings on the merits of continuing to spend hundreds of millions on Title IX science reviews and the ADVANCE grants. This time skeptics like Ceci and Williams must be included. It is hard to see how the gender-bias empire will stand once reason and truth are given a place at the table.



When the fawning mainstream media doesn't fawn enough

The mainstream media did its best to get Obama elected, and continues to do what it can to prop his administration up amid the disastrous economic numbers and terrifying developments overseas, but they aren't obsequious enough for the White House.

What to do, what to do? How about doing an end-run around the mainstream media to put out an even more whitewashed and falsified view of what goes on?

Amplify’d from

As the 2012 presidential campaign kicks into gear, President Obama's White House media operation is demonstrating an unprecedented ability to broadcast its message through social media and the Internet, at times doing an end-run around the traditional press.

The White House Press Office now not only produces a website, blog, YouTube channel, Flickr photo stream, and Facebook and Twitter profiles, but also a mix of daily video programming, including live coverage of the president's appearances and news-like shows that highlight his accomplishments.

"The administration has narrowed access by the mainstream media to an unprecedented extent," said ABC News White House correspondent Ann Compton, who has covered seven administrations. "Access here has shriveled."

Members of the press have always had quibbles with White House media strategies, calling cut-backs in access an affront to transparency, even as administration officials insist they're simply taking advantage of new technologies.

But some say the current dynamic is different, and dangerous.

"They're opening the door to kicking the press out of historic events, and opening the door to having a very filtered format for which they give the American public information that doesn't have any criticism allowed," said University of Minnesota journalism professor and political communication analyst Heather LaMarre.



102.6 percent

The US Government's debt will be 102.6% of the GDP this year, according to Obama's budget. To put this in perspective, you must know that he aims for the government to spend 25% of the US GDP while taking in about15% in revenues. This is like you buying a million dollar house on a yearly budget of $250K while only earning $150K. How long do you think that will last before it collapses?

Amplify’d from

Mr. Obama‘s budget projects that 2011 will see the biggest one-year debt jump in history, or nearly $2 trillion, to reach $15.476 trillion by Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. That would be 102.6 percent of GDP — the first time since World War II that dubious figure has been reached.



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