The News & Observer reports on Charles Meeker's idea to assemble a student assignment review team:
Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker is wading into the Wake County schools debate again, this time quietly [yet reported in the N&O] assembling a group of town mayors and “high level” residents to scrutinize the student assignment plan currently being developed by the school board.
Steve Milloy at the Green Hell Blog has a good article on a group called The Republicans for Environmental Protection (REP). Of course, as Milloy points out, this implies that there are Republicans who are against protecting the environment. REP apparently is on the side of the angels, as opposed to the side of greedy polluting corporations. What this group is, in reality, is just another environmental pressure group. There views are indistinguishable from the Sierra Club or Al Gore. As Milloy points out:
REP supported the Waxman-Markey “cap-and-trade” bill... And what did REP say about Republicans who
opposed Waxman-Markey?...Reps. Joe Barton of Texas, John Shimkus of Illinois and Fred Upton of
Michigan were given “environmental harm demerits” for their supposed
“failure to engage constructively in the committee debate about climate
legislation.”...REP slammed Reps. Mike Pence of Indiana, Michele Bachmann of
Minnesota and John A. Boehner of Ohio “for their efforts to poison and
polarize the debate on energy and climate legislation.” REP doesn’t just
speak ill of fellow Republicans – it demonizes them...On the Senate side, REP slammed South Carolina’s Jim DeMint for the
audacity of trying to bar the Department of the Interior from reducing
water allocations to the aforementioned California farmers. Alaska’s
Lisa Murkowski was hit for blocking efforts to regulate carbon dioxide
because of polar bears. Oklahoma’s Tom Coburn got a demerit for opposing
a 2009 Obama administration land grab...So it appears that any Republican who dares to oppose the radical
environmentalist agenda of total government control over energy use and
property is a Republican Against the Environment.
In a little more than 90 days, taxes on incomes, capital gains, dividends, and estates are going to rise. Not just for some families. For every family. And the Democrats haven’t lifted a finger to stop it. They haven’t even written a bill. They have not found the time, in the twenty months they’ve controlled Congress and the White House, ever actually to try to block the tax hikes. It’s amazing: The Democrats have no problem passing unpopular legislation. But when they are charged with doing something that the public actually wants, such as preventing the coming tax hike, they turn to jelly.
The chances for a compromise are nil, at least until after the election. It’s a decision that reveals the depth of the Democrats’ ideological commitment. One of the president’s favorite lines during the tax debate has been that Republicans are holding tax cuts for the middle class “hostage” to tax cuts for the rich. But events have proven that it’s the Democratic leadership and Obama who are holding taxpayers hostage. It’s the Democratic leadership and Obama who would rather have taxes rise on everyone than extend current tax rates for everyone including the wealthy.
This obsessive focus on income redistribution has divided the Democrats and left them in the grip of a political panic. One reason no bill has been brought to a vote is the leadership is afraid they’d lose. They don’t want to be exposed as weak in the run-up to Election Day. Or, if they did win the vote, then Democrats would have supported higher taxes on small businesses. And since that’s not exactly a campaign winner, the Democrats have punted.
I serve on the Wake County Sustainability Task Force that is charged with providing the county commissioners with recommendations to improve the sustainability of water, energy and solid waste.
I offered this definition as an alternative to the usual definition used by many environmentalists:
Definition of Sustainability:Meeting the needs of the present and
future generations by using privatized resources based on incentives produced
by a fully functioning price system.
To illustrate my definition I sent the following to the Task Force members:
This link provides an example from the N&O that indicates the importance on our definition of sustainability. Forcing taxpayers and utility rate payers to subsidize an industry selected by lobbyists, politicians and bureaucrats is not the way to achieve sustainability in energy or any other area. Once the subsidies run out it is highly likely that this operation will fold.
Anyone remember the Synfuels Corporation of the early 1980s?
And this link is an article from Arizona about a solar plant that recently went belly up. This example indicates the futility of government picking winners and losers. There is little or no evidence that politicians and bureaucrats, who are motivated by votes and budget increases, are better at providing a sustainable use of resources than millions of individuals making choices about how to spend their own money.
National Review's Jonah Goldberg makes the case in this post at The Corner.
Amidst all of this talk about education this week, there’s an omission that drives me crazy. Yes, yes, the horrid state of American education is an American problem, and to that extent we’re all to blame in some abstract sort of way. But is there another major area of American public policy that is more screwed up and more completely the fault of one ideological side? Which party do the teachers’ unions support overwhelmingly? What is the ideological outlook of the bureaucrats at the Department of Education? Which party claims it “cares” more about education and demagogues any attempt by the other party to reform it? Who has controlled the large inner city school systems for generations? What is the ideological orientation of the ed school racket? Whose preferred teaching methods have been funded and whose have been ridiculed? ...
Sometimes, property owners manage to fight off attempts to confiscate their land via eminent domain. One such case occurred a few years ago in Freeport, TX and it was the subject of a book by Carla Main entitled Bulldozed, published by Encounter Books. (I reviewed it and found the book to be fair, although definitely not "balanced" in that the private developer who wanted the land was shown to be a rich, greedy scoundrel.)
There is a fascinating twist to the case, recounted by William McGurn in his WSJ column today. That developer is suing the author of the book and Encounter for libel. The Institute for Justice is defending them. Texas is not exactly famous for its justice system, but let's hope that the judge slaps down this effort at silencing criticism through libel litigation.
In his most recent program, John Stossel advocated that the US adopt the "loser pays" rule that most other countries have. If you bring a meritless case, you have to make whole the party you dragged into court. This is an excellent illustration of the need to do that.
If you've spent much time thinking about hobbits, chances are pretty good you've never considered them the Anti-Federalists of Middle Earth.
Yet that's how Benjamin Wiker describes J.R.R. Tolkien's mythical hobbits. Why the connection between small, hairy-footed, homebodies and the chief original critics of the U.S. Constitution prior to the adoption of the Bill of Rights? Wiker invokes both Tolkien and the Anti-Federalists in his latest book, 10 Books Every Conservative Must Read.
In addition to the collected writing of the Anti-Federalists, Wiker features The Federalist Papers. His chapter on that set of essays includes the following observation:
[R]ather than having an efficient, vigorous, wholly united federal government, one that could use its great energy in a united effort for good, the Federalists envisioned the three branches as three giants tied together at odd angles by tight ropes, a step forward by one causing a painful pinch and a reaction by the other two.
The Federalists were willing to sacrifice significant energy and efficiency because they realized an important conservative principle. Among mere human beings, power is ambiguous. The power to do great good is also the power to do great evil. Since human beings are inclined toward wickedness, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, we would be safer hamstringing federal power.
One of the key differences between conservatism and liberalism emerges precisely here. Despite what some conservatives might think, liberals want to do great good and they realize that great power is necessary to do it. As secularists, they have largely discarded any notion of human sin as a pervasive toxin in every human heart. Certain classes of people may be corrupt, but there is no fundamental corruption plaguing man. All that is needed to fix our problems is power, which they assume they can wield with unambiguous goodness. For this reason, liberals chafe at the federal checks and balances and incline to methods of political change that disregard them, such as using the judiciary as a legislative power to make laws, or allowing the president to have special czars and make endless use of executive agencies not accountable through elections to the people, or bypassing protective legislative procedures to ram through favored programs. ...
Happily, the "dependence on the people" is still "the primary control of government," and conservatives, at least, can see the wisdom of the further check against tyranny of the federal government in the Constitution, the election of a third of the Senators and of all the Representatives every two years.
But I can offer a little snippet, which challenges the traditional notion that government workers get generous benefits and unique job security in exchange for accepting lower salaries than their private-sector counterparts.
Nationwide, according to BLS data for 2009, state and local government employees were paid an average wage of $26.01 per hour, which was 34 percent higher than the average private-sector wage of $19.39 per hour. Even more lopsided was the public-sector advantage in fringe benefits, such as health and life insurance, paid vacations and sick leave, and — above all — retirement income: state and local governments provided their workers with benefits valued, on average, at $13.65 per hour, a 70 percent premium over the average benefits package in the private sector.
Yet when it comes to outearning Americans who labor in the private sector, state and local government employees are left in the dust by their counterparts at the federal level.
In 2008, the 1.9 million civilians employed by Uncle Sam were paid, on average, an annual salary of $79, 197, according to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis. The average private employee earned just $49, 935. The difference between them came to more than $29,000 — a disparity that has more than doubled since 2000.
Add benefits to the mix and the federal advantage is even more striking. Total federal civilian compensation in 2008 averaged $119,982 — more than twice the $59,908 in wages and benefits earned by the average private-sector employee.
The latest Commentary — not yet posted online — includes Yuval Levin’s review of William Voegeli’s book Never Enough, which highlights the sad fact that advocates of America’s welfare state never will be satisfied that it’s just the right size.
Levin quibbles a bit with Voegeli’s focus on the welfare state’s size, but generally praises the author’s attention to a more critical issue:
[W]hat the welfare state requires is not so much a limiting principle as an organizational principle — … what it lacks is a clear purpose that would help distinguish its proper from its improper uses. Lacking a well-defined purpose, it simply grows from more to more. The last successfully conservative reform of a major government program — the welfare reform of 1996 — was driven by this insight. Rather than determine how large the welfare system should be, champions of that reform sought to define what that system should do.
The aim of a welfare system, simply put should be to help the needy. Our government, Voegeli says, has come to offer public benefits largely to people who do not need much help — older middle-class beneficiaries of Social Security and Medicare. It should instead provide help only to the poor, on a means-tested sliding scale. The welfare state should be a safety net, not an all-encompassing web of rules and benefits spun by a vast spiderous bureaucracy.