17 February 2007

a new federalism

the governator has announced that he is moving beyond the tired governance habits of modern america and is establishing his state as a "nation-state" in the vein of Athens or Sparta. the country is too large to be governed well by a central authority. rather, regional authorities (such as coalitions of states) provide a more representative view of a constituency. thus new england need not rule or be ruled by the bible belt and vice versa. decentralization also provides a means of shifting focus to important matters (e.g. global warming or health care) without the need to persuade everyone of the importance.
A new wave of regional devolution could also build on the more than 200 compacts that now allow groups of states to cooperate on environmental, economic, transportation and other problems. Most likely, regional empowerment would be popular: when the Appalachian Regional Commission was established in 1965, senators from across the country rushed to demand commissions to help the economies and constituencies of their regions, too.

11 February 2007

the cost of war

i can't put some snarky words with this.

minimum wage

i've posted some little things on the minimum wage hike here and there, displaying my obvious dislike of the thing. i think it's the policy equivalent of using a chainsaw to perform a coronary bypass. it is woefully inadequate in targeting the underclass in that it focuses on those earning minimum wage rather than on households below the poverty line.

something more akin to the earned income tax credit, that targets households by tax return, is a much better scheme for addressing low income. a teenager in a wealthy household earning minimum wage does not need a pay raise since they are not the main earner in the family. a single mother working two minimum wage jobs is much more likely to need the financial assistance. the older someone is while still earning a minimum wage, the less likely they are to earn meaningful pay raises. it's likely a matter of missing skills or some similar handicap, something that may keep them entirely out of the job market should the minimum wage exceed their employment value.

the unintended consequence i see is the loss of hours or income of some because of the increased costs of payroll to companies that pay the lowest wages. an article from Arizona points out the losses suffered by teenage workers already. since teenagers have other means of support, i suppose it's not earth shattering. i would be more worried about what happens to those who really need the income and have no other options.

but i wonder why the minimum wage was not hiked to, say, $20 per hour. if $7 or $8 per hour is better, why isn't $20 even better? there is obviously some sort of economic force at work that adherents prefer to ignore. rather, they (in fact, everyone on every side) grab on to easy sound bites to hurl at each other in a polemical war of rhetoric rather than deal with underlying issues and quantifiable results of programs.

10 February 2007

quote of the day-or-so

Every politically controlled educational system will inculcate the doctrine of state supremacy sooner or later. . . . Once that doctrine has been accepted, it becomes an almost superhuman task to break the stranglehold of the political power over the life of the citizen. It has had his body, property and mind in its clutches from infancy. An octopus would sooner release its prey. A tax-supported, compulsory educational system is the complete model of the totalitarian state.
Isabel Paterson, The God of the Machine (1943)

2nd amendment as defense against KKK

Ken Blackwell provides a small history lesson (unknown to me) about a group of black citizens, the Deacons for Defense, that protected themselves and their communities by exercising their right to bear arms.
Following a KKK night ride in Jonesboro, the Deacons approached the police chief who had led the parade and informed him that they were armed and unafraid of self-defense. The Klan never rode through Jonesboro again. Local cross burnings ceased when warning shots were fired as a Klansmen’s torch met a cross planted in front of a black minister’s home. The initial desegregation of Jonesboro High School was threatened by firemen who aimed hoses at black students attempting to enter the building. When four Deacons arrived and loaded their shotguns, the firemen left and the students entered unscathed. It was this series of efforts by the Deacons that caused the Klan to leave Jonesboro for good.
He draws further attention to the historical underlying purpose of gun control laws.
That gun rights have played such a pivotal role in racial equality makes the historical correlation between gun control and discriminatory policies unsurprising. From their beginnings, gun control measures have worked to create legal disparities, granting unequal rights to members of various socioeconomic groups.
His few short paragraphs on the use of gun control to keep populations down are worth a read.

voluntarily green

i think Richard Branson has made a brilliant move in aiding the planet. it's funny that it may be a private project that helps to save us all from the coming apocalypse.
"I believe in our resourcefulness and in our capacity to invent solutions to the problems we have ourselves created," said Branson, who has pledged to invest $3 billion in profits from his transportation companies, including Virgin Atlantic Airlines and Virgin Trains, to fighting global warming.

uncle sam needs you


who needs a draft when you can scour mental hospitals?

update: i should note that i have no idea if this pic is real.

08 February 2007

slippery slope identified

in the culture war over gay marriage, we've finally seen the highlighting of the slippery slope of denying legal status to contractual relationships. voters in Washington state will decide whether heterosexual couples will be required to have children or face annulment.
Under the initiative, marriage would be limited to men and women who are able to have children. Couples would be required to prove they can have children in order to get a marriage license, and if they did not have children within three years, their marriage would be subject to annulment.
Opponents say the measure is another attack on traditional marriage, but supporters say the move is needed to have a discussion on the high court ruling.

a life lesson

Tom McMahon gives us a wonderful life lesson that we as parents try to hide from our kids until they graduate college.

03 February 2007

plug

some of my reader might not have noticed a link i've added: sonic boon.

walking while black

in what first seemed like a snippet straight from the onion, comes a story of an Atlanta community under siege by arbitrary law enforcement.
According to the DC-6 ordinance: "It shall be unlawful for any person [to] ... be in or about any place where gaming or the illegal sale or possession of alcoholic beverages or narcotics or dangerous drugs is practiced, allowed or tolerated[.]"

What that means, essentially, is that a person can be arrested simply for being in what police designate as a "known drug area" -- even if he or she just walks down the street or chats with a neighbor. That's problematic, says American Civil Liberties Union Legal Director Gerry Weber, because the law is so ambiguous that it invites discriminatory enforcement and therefore may be unconstitutional.
discrimination is not dead in this country.

we're the government and you're not