In a recent press release, http://www.lp.org/news/press-releases/libertarian-chair-time-to-re-legalize-immigration, Wes Benedict demolishes many myths about immigration. He also points out some unintended consequences of making it more difficult for people to come to this country legally. One point caught my eye, partly because I’m jealous I didn’t think of it, but mostly because, well, I didn’t think of it. And, I bet, neither has anyone else: Pushing immigration underground makes it easier for terrorists to enter this country.

Bet you haven’t considered that, tea partiers.

Last chance

October 21, 2010

…before the US turns into Denmark or Sweden.  Last chance to tell Nancy Pelosi to go eat a hodgy. A news post from one of the directors of NCPA:

Dear Policy Patriots –

Election Day is Just Two Weeks Away! If ObamaCare is not repealed, you will face lower quality, higher cost health insurance. Your access to care will suffer. The time to act is NOW!

Top 4 Reasons to Repeal ObamaCare. There are dozens of good reasons to repeal ObamaCare but here are the top four:

  • Americans Don’t Want It. People will be required to buy a product whose price will be rising at twice the rate of growth of their incomes and they will be barred from doing many of the things needed to control these costs.
  • Businesses Can’t Afford It. ObamaCare imposes a bizarre system of subsidies which will disrupt the entire labor market – causing massive layoffs and, ultimately, a complete restructuring of industrial organization.
  • Patients Don’t Need It. The health insurance exchange will give health plans perverse incentives to attract the healthy and avoid the sick; and after enrollment, to overprovide to the healthy and underprovide to the sick.
  • The Health Care System Can’t Support It. As is the case in Massachusetts, people will have perverse incentives to game the system – remaining uninsured while healthy and obtaining insurance only after they get sick; choosing limited-benefit plans while healthy and scaling up to richer plans after they get sick.

Change You Can Believe In! The American people deserve better than ObamaCare. You should expect more. Health reform should include higher quality, lower cost and strong protections for the care of senior citizens. Repealing ObamaCare is step one in achieving these important, attainable outcomes.

Walk Your Block This Week! Policy Patriots just like you have distributed more than 350,000 copies of the NCPA’s What Does Health Reform Mean for You? This week, many have committed to walking their neighborhoods, distributing this important educational guide. Do your part today by order 100 pamphlets from http://www.policypatriots.org and committing to walk your block this week.

———–

Okay, it’s a little hysterical-sounding, but he’s on the right track. I’ve been harping on that fourth point for many moons now. The health care system won’t be able to stand the strain. http://wp.me/pzqik-2R, https://shutyoureverlovingpiehole.wordpress.com/2009/07/13/stop-single-payer-health-care-now/

I’m happy that my representative, Frank Kratovil, voted against the thing, mainly on point #2; and dismayed that one of my senators, Ben Cardin, has stated in his publicity literature that he sincerely believes that health care is a right. He’s wrong, of course. If you have to pay for it, it’s a commodity, not a right.

…but at the same time, I would be unwise to put on my car, lest it be vandalized by rightwingnuts.

It’s already blazing hot here at the beach, which is one of the reasons I moved here. (And, parenthetically, why I don’t move to New Hampshire: I just can’t take winters that cold and snowy any more.) I bought a cute swimsuit last week, a two-piece tankini in tropical bright blues and greens, and I can’t wait to wear it.

At my age, my biggest fear is not how I’ll look in a swimsuit. Frankly, I’m not out there as eye candy for anyone else, and I don’t really give a shit if you think I’m not tan enough, too fat, or too hairy to be on the beach. My biggest fear is that total strangers, eager to share their disagreement with the above, will approach a random stranger (moi) to let me know exactly how I look, as if I didn’t know:

“You really need to shave down there.”

“You shouldn’t be wearing a two-piecer; you don’t have the figure.”

“You really need to visit the tanning booth.”

“You really need to lose some weight.” My personal favorite: like fat people don’t know they’re fat.

The current political climate of “if the government’s involved, that makes it my business because I pay taxes” is more of a symptom than a cause of a bizarre shift in personal behavior in this country I can only describe as the abandonment of privacy. The glut of gossip magazines discussing celebrities’ and wannabes’ every private move; the glut of trashy television programs discussing the same topics; the vast amount of information available on the public Internet, including the terminal narcissism known as Facebook and Twitter—all exposing every second of people’s lives to worldwide scrutiny. Some people think this is a good thing. It is certainly legal, but that doesn’t make it good, proper, or right. I’m still scratching my head over how this happened.

Specifically, if you, a total stranger, tell me any of the above, certainly that is your right. However, it’s none of your business. To paraphrase Thoreau, just because you have a right to say something does not mean that saying it is right. Here’s a tip: Saying nothing—shutting your everloving piehole—is always an option.

So if you’re on the East Coast beaches this summer and you see a middle-aged lady in a blue and green Gottex two-piece tankini, reading The New Yorker, smile, wave hello…and move on.

One of the great things about our rights is that, coming from G-d as they do, they’re free. Life? Liberty? Pursuit of happiness? All free. The stuff in the Bill of Rights? Free. You don’t have to pay for the right to free speech. (Please don’t confuse this with the need to pay for devices, such as a printing press or a personal computer, that facilitate your rights. That’s not a need. You can go down to the corner, stand there and yell, “The President is a fink!” without any purchased tools. That’s not only free, but very satisfying.)

The flip side of all this is that if you do have to pay for something, it’s not a right, it’s a good, a commodity. Which is why I’m disappointed, but not one bit surprised, that one of my senators, Ben Cardin, declares access to affordable health care to be a right: http://cardin.senate.gov/news/enews/nov23.cfm

As I’ve said in a prior post, I think Ben Cardin is a pretty smart guy. I know he had a class in Constitutional law as part of his J.D. degree and he knows quite well that health care is not a right, at least not in our Constitution. It’s too bad that he makes it sound like it is. It’s not. Health care is a commodity. In this country, one must pay for it.

It seems that too many people, politicians and others, on the pro-government health care side of the debate are getting two rights confused: the “right” to affordable health care, which is not a right, with the right to not be denied access to a commodity because of intangibles such as the color of your skin, your sex, your native language, or even to which deity you pray. As human beings, we are all equal in human dignity and those G-d-given rights enumerated in the Constitution. That doesn’t mean we are all equally entitled to equal access to the same commodities. If that were the case, I have just as much right to drive a Bentley as Kobe Bryant or Paris Hilton does, and therefore I demand that a Bentley be delivered to my house, tout suite. Can I get it in burgundy?

In my opinion, the best commentators on the monstrosity knows as health-care reform are those elected representatives who also happen to be health care providers. You guessed it, no one “gets” the issue better than Ron Paul:

http://www.house.gov/htbin/blog_inc?BLOG,tx14_paul,blog,999,All,Item not found,ID=100322_3678,TEMPLATE=postingdetail.shtml

Ben Cardin is one of my senators. He’s been one of my elected representatives for fifteen years, either as my U.S. representative or my senator, and been in federal office and state office much longer than that. He’s a smart guy, a nice guy, and has a career of dedication to public service. In other words, he’s pretty much everything that’s wrong with Maryland politics.

I’m not sure how that “red state–blue state” thing got started, unless is was Dr. Seuss’s contribution to the political discourse. But we have it now, so believe me when I tell you Maryland is one of the deepest blue states in the nation. We have a few Repubs in the public eye—Ellen Sauerbrey, Andy Harris, Michael Steele. But as long as I’ve lived in Maryland, we’ve had public officials who’ve made careers out of sincerely believing that government is here to help people. Some of them, like John Sarbanes, are personal acquaintances; others, like Martin O’Malley, Cardin, and Sarbanes’ father, I’ve only had the opportunity to meet and say hello. But they all approach government the same way: the bigger, the better.

In response to an announcement by Spirit Airlines, a mid-range regional carrier, that they would begin charging passengers $45 for each piece of carry-on luggage, Cardin is one of the cosponsors of a particularly meddlesome piece of legislation, S.3195, the Free of Fees for Carry-On Act, which he claims will preserve airline rights but also prevent travelers from being abused with fees. This bill is the essence of government micromanaging our lives.

In my current job, I bet I travel way more often by plane than Cardin does (though he probably travels longer distances). I also bet he doesn’t fly coach, where the overhead bins are a pandemonium dominated by preschool children with their very own wheeled luggage (why? why do four-year-olds need a bag as big as mine?), inconsiderate adults putting their bags in the wrong way and thereby taking up too much space, and still other adults thinking it’s okay for them to put their jackets in the overhead bin so other passengers have no room to put their bags up there. On Southwest, if you don’t have an “A” boarding pass, woe is you; I bet my paycheck there won’t be any room for your bags by the time you board.

Some larger airlines, such as United, are charging for checked luggage. I totally understand the desire to not check luggage, since it may get lost.  However, in this day and age, of overhead bins crammed to the gills, I think it should be the other way around. Make checked luggage free, and pay for carry-ons. I suggest that Spirit has the right idea. Don’t want to pay the $45? Check your bag, and leave room for the rest of us who don’t mind paying. Or, I have an even better idea: Don’t want to pay the $45? Don’t fly on Spirit. No one is forcing you to, after all. An added side benefit of this would be that fewer bags to process would mean fewer tie-ups in the TSA lines. (Now, granted, I do think the best solution for tie-ups at TSA lines is to abolish TSA. But I digress.)

S.3195 could come from no other legislator other than a nanny state type. For a bright guy, Mr. Cardin certainly has lost sight of how much easier and, ultimately, better a free-market solution could be.

A final thought: Would a terrorist pay $45 for the privilege of bringing bomb components onboard? I doubt it.

Like many of you, I had not seen even a preview of the much-discussed Pam Tebow/Focus on the Family spot. And honestly, by the time it rolled around I didn’t much care. In fact, I cared so little I missed the thing and didn’t even care that I missed it. I missed it because I was over at the neighbors’ house, and to my perplexment discovered they don’t own a television. Just my luck. I went back to my house and tuned in to the Super Bowl with eight minutes and change left in the first quarter, and Indy up 3-0.

I did manage to see the Tebow spot later, as there were myriad links on various web sites pointing thereto. However, even though I disagree with just about everything Focus on the Family stands for, I have to admit that when Dr. Dobson said it was a big nothing, and people were making a big deal about it, he was right. Here’s the commercial you should be concerned about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wq58zS4_jvM

For those who don’t feel like clicking the link, this is the “Green Police” spot created for the Audi A3 TDI, putatively an environment-preserving vehicle. The part that set me off, if you’ve been following my posts, is the scene where the homeowner is carted off in handcuffs for the unforgiveable sin against humanity, the horror, of installing incandescent light bulbs in his home’s light fixtures.

California, as you know from hanging out at Shut Your Everloving Piehole Central, has already tried the stunt of banning incandescent lightbulbs, albeit with a five-year phase-in (https://shutyoureverlovingpiehole.wordpress.com/2009/09/29/just-because-its-good-for-you/). In 2012—not that far away—you could be looking at an extended stay in the Graybar Hotel, or at least being fined hundreds if not thousands, for simply lighting a room in your home with a good old Tom Edison light bulb. But that’s not the only place you can find incandescents. Christmas tree lights? Car headlamps and taillamps? Warming bulbs on a cafeteria steam table, for crap’s sake? All illegal.

The worst part, besides the possibility of such an Orwellian scenario being frightfully close to fruition, is that us changing lightbulbs isn’t going to make a shit bit of difference as long as other countries keep belching smoke into the air from their industrial output.

As well, the poetic justice of a German car company running an ad for such a pure expression of fascism is not lost on me. How about you?

Consider this story from http://www.baltimoresun.com:

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-invention-20100416,0,3512549.story

One thing you can say about terrorists is that they’re attention whores and drama queens. They virtually never do the same terrorist act twice. This keeps the surprise level high. This is also why TSA in general, and the idiotic rituals we have to undergo at airports specifically, are not only a rape of our civil liberties, but also pretty much worthless. I would bet my paycheck an organized terrorist organization such as al-Qaeda, ETA, Hamas, or even the Hutaree is not planning to blow up a plane or fly it into a building. Yawn. Been there, done that. I figure the Muslim terrorists are laughing their asses off at us while watching al-Jazeera: “Oh, shit. They’re on to the shoe thing. We’ve gotta try something else.” The underpants bomber was pretty much acting alone, not on command from any of the major groups.

A much more effective way to kill thousands of people at once would be with NBC weapons—nuclear, biological, chemical. Someone who developed trust over a number of years working a menial civil servant job in, say, the water or sanitation department would be in a perfect position to dump a tumbler full of ricin or sarin into the water supply of a large city one day and not even be detected doing it. Or, more to the point of the story in The Sun, someone could do major damage with a crop duster and a payload of anthrax. Just fly it over a large sporting event such as a football game, preferably in the middle of the continent where the disease could spread exponentially. The annual Michigan-Ohio State matchup in Michigan Stadium (current capacity about 106,000) would be perfect. That game is always a sellout or oversellout. Infect all the fans, as well as players, coaches, staff, and stadium employees, and then send them home to major metropolitan centers to spread that shit.

So what’s the government doing? Making us take off our shoes and strip-searching elderly flyers (http://www.gadling.com/2008/07/27/tsa-pulls-pants-off-of-elderly-man-during-search/12, among others). Way to go, douchebags.

Wanna help? Leave my bags alone and support this initiative instead.

Personal responsibility

April 16, 2010

I’m sitting here in a Panera Bread near my home, working and playing a very important game of Freecell online, while observing two young families dining near me. That party consists of three adults and two cute little girls, probably each about four or five years old. The adults are discussing something, I’m not listening, while one of the little girls has apparently decided that there is no better jungle gym than the Panera furniture. I’m watching her use two chairs like parallel bars. Her athletic prowess aside, my main thought is: What if she falls and hurts herself? I cannot tell if that is the main thought of the adults, because they are largely ignoring her.

Parents, please take care of your children. I don’t believe in collective responsibility, as you may have figured by now. So I’m not going to interrupt the parents. This is exactly the kind of situation that spurs the current discussion revolving around tort reform: Cute little girl falls, breaks her neck, spends the rest of her life in a wheelchair. Parents sue Panera Bread, figuring it was Panera’s fault, not theirs, that their kid was grabassing all over the furniture. Jury delivers a $10 million or more verdict. Judge doesn’t have the balls to set aside the verdict and tell said plaintiff (parents) that if they’d been watching their child, this never would have happened, and it’s on them.  Said plaintiffs become rich precisely because they are lazy, and Panera goes out of business, costing hundreds of jobs and me a place to eat and get free Wi-Fi.

This is just wrong.

I’m all for children getting some exercise and blowing off steam…in the right venue. And supervised by the right people. Not in a restaurant.

It’s probably better I never went to law school. If had become a judge, I might have told those parents, “You weren’t paying attention to your kids, and this is the result. It was your fault. Deal with it.” And if I had become law school faculty, I might have tried to teach young lawyers that, if they become judges, they should grow a set and refuse to even hear cases like this, let alone permit lottery-like judgments, a reward for laziness and flat-out stupidity.

Consider the following opinion column run last week in The Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/06/AR2010040601010.html

It’s too bad comments are closed for this item, because I have one other thing to say to those statist who applauded the efforts of Big Government to stifle marketing and advertising aimed at children. There was a lot of discussion noise revolving around whether Froot Loops and Twinkies are bad for you. Well, no shit, Sherlock. That’s not the point. The point is: Just because something is bad for you does not mean it’s good for Big Government to prevent you from doing it. This is the flaw of a statist’s thinking.

The same thing is true in reverse. Just because something is good for you does not mean it’s a good idea for Big Government to coerce or force you to do it. As I posted back in the fall, what if the government had declared it mandatory to consume heroin, based on the glowing declarations of physicians of 100 years ago?

Happily, there were many rejoinders from the flip side which basically said: do some parenting. I know my mother certainly did when we were children. To all the moaners and hand-wringers who curse Kellogg’s, Post Cereals, Hostess, Skittles, etc. for daring to advertise on Saturday morning TV, or place their product on the lower shelves of the grocery store, I suggest using some of my mother’s techniques for deflating our hopes. Mom, if you’re reading this, thank you.

“We’re not getting that.”

“You don’t need that.”

“We don’t need that.”

“Forget it, we’re not buying it.”

And my personal favorite: “You got money?”