Home

The Infraction Tax

(Cross-posted from Poligazette)

800px-lapd_police_car

So today the road in front of my house was full of police.  No, they weren’t there to investigate a crime.  Well, sort of, but more in a minute.  However, the crime wasn’t one of murder or even robbery.  No, the police were there to look out for cars, and specifically, drivers in those cars.  What kind of drivers?

Those not wearing seatbelts and those using cell phones while driving, of course.

Continue reading »

 

Education in America: Why Both School Choice and Improvements in Public Education Are Needed

(Cross-posted from Poligazette)

800px-pencil_357

I just finished reading Michael van der Galien’s article here at Poligazette and at Hot Air’s Green Room on the Obama administration’s plans to spend over $100 billion from the stimulus bill on education reform.  I’ve also read Andrew J. Rotherham’s article at US News where he suggests the efforts the administration are putting forth are not enough:

The recent economic stimulus bill contains more than $100 billon in education spending, a historic investment equal to about 16 percent of the nation’s annual expenditures on public elementary and secondary schools

. In exchange, states are required to report more information about student performance and make “assurances” that they will work to improve schools. However, the law requires little in the way of actual changes.

Michael criticizes Rotherham:

Rothberg [sic] does not actually offer a solution – that would be taking responsibility and that is of course above the good man – but he implies that more government interference is the answer. [...]

[...] not more money nor government interference but less of both is needed to improve American schools. They suffer not from too little money and too few checks, but from a tremendous lack of competition. It has to become easier for parents to send their children to private schools: this will help those students receive a better education, and research shows it helps the public school they left behind improve as well, because teachers feel pressure to improve the quality of their work if they want to keep their students (and they do).

I agree with Rotherham that the bill doesn’t do enough to make actual reforms.  It’s basically a continuation of No Child Left Behind.  Money while collecting information does little to actually change anything.

However, I also agree with Michael that Rotherham doesn’t suggest any solutions himself.  Conversely, I disagree with Michael that school choice is the ultimate solution to the education problem.  The problems with education in America are multi-pronged and will require a multi-pronged solution of which school choice is just one part.

Continue reading »

 

Clarence Thomas and the Drug Company Ruling: Not Exactly Liberal

(Cross-posted from Poligazette)

Liberals are shocked!  Shocked, I tell you.  Why?  Well, a recent Supreme Court concurring opinion to a ruling that will allow patients to sue drug companies for injuries related to the drugs was written by none other than Clarence Thomas, that avowedly conservative justice.

Of course, without even having to read his opinion, this LA Times article tells you all you need to know about why Thomas supported the right to sue.  In short, he supports state law:

Four years ago, for example, the court, with Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony M. Kennedy in the majority, upheld the power of federal agents to raid the homes of Californians who grow marijuana for their personal use — legal under state law but not federal law. Thomas disagreed. [...]

“If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything,” Thomas wrote in dissent. ” . . . Our federalist system, properly understood, allows California and a growing number of other states to decide for themselves how to safeguard the health and welfare of their citizens.”

Basically, Thomas is a federalist, a supporter of limited federal government interference into state affairs.  So, knowing this, his concurrence with the majority isn’t so surprising.

Continue reading »

 

Mother/Doctors of Pregnant Nine Year Old Excommunicated from Catholic Church

I’m so glad the Catholic Church has got its priorities straight here.

A nine year old girl from Brazil was raped by her father and became pregnant as a result.  The mother opted for an abortion at 15 weeks as her doctors believed her life to be in danger.  Then the church steps in and excommunicates the mother and the doctors.

While I understand the Church’s position on abortion, I just can’t agree with them here.  Instead of excommunicating them, perhaps the church should have praised the mother for saving the life of her nine year old daughter.

Of course, this poses another question: What exactly are they putting in the water that a nine-year-old can even get pregnant?  I remember when everyone was going wild about 12 year olds developing faster than they used to.  A nine year old shouldn’t ever have to worry about the distinct possibility of becoming pregnant.

 

My Kind of Atheist

This article was cross-posted from Poligazette.

In the past, I’ve written about ‘militant atheists,” or those type of atheists who spend their time ridiculing and disrespecting believers for their beliefs.  But, I’ve also taken pains to point out that not all atheists are this way.  Not all of them going around laughing at Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc. for belief in a deity.  Some are content to “live and let live.”  Freddie DeBoer, an atheist of the non-militant flavor, ponders the motives behind his more vocal comrades:

I’m left with three possibilities when I consider the atheism of disrespect. Either people like Richard Dawkins, PZ Meyers, Bill Maher, and assorted don’t know that the way they are confronting these issues is disrespectful, in which case they are tone deaf to a frankly absurd degree; or they think that, tactically, the way to get the kind of change they say they want is to ridicule people into believing as they do, in which case they have a dramatically underdeveloped understanding of human psychology and sociology; or they are more interested in producing ridicule than in producing change.

Freddie goes on to say that he really would like to wish that the third choice wasn’t reality.  But, I doubt number one is, since people like Dawkins are far too smart to be unaware of what they’re doing.

(H/T Andrew Sullivan)

 

The Medical Free Market: Is Safety or Choice a Priority?

This article was originally posted on Poligazette.

Watching CSI: Miami on Monday, I was intrigued by a question: Do state mandated safety regulations trump free market choice in the medical field?  Or should consumers be allowed to choose to undergo a medical procedure that might cost less than what you could get at a hospital, even though it might not meet all the standard safety requirements?  For those of you wondering what in the world I’m talking about, I’ll see you after the jump, so CSI junkies don’t try and murder me.  For those of you on the RSS feeds, you have been warned: spoilers abound.

Continue reading »

 

Food for Thought

As I take a break from packing for a work trip I’ll be on next week, I’ve been reading tons of blog posts around the Internet about this latest Israeli-Palestinian war.  Then I saw this comment by our own Jason Steck.  The following is the portion that piqued my interest:

If the Palestinians had elected a government that was open to peace with Israel in ANY form, you might have a legitimate point. But they didn’t. They elected a government that openly declares its desire and intention to commit genocide. There can be no compromise with that.

I have no misconceptions on the goals of Hamas.  They wish to see the State of Israel utterly destroyed, and would do it today if they could.  This is simply a fact.  However, I do have some questions.

Continue reading »

 

Jon Stewart Speaks on the Media

I meant to write this yesterday, but I’m glad I waited until today, since I now have more material to reference.

Basically, Jon Stewart sat down on Monday morning for breakfast with a bunch of journalists from all across the media spectrum and spoke about his disdain for cable news, and offered a warning to newspapers that they shouldn’t follow their lead.

There were several different reports filed about the speech, but the one I like the best comes from Comedy Central blogger Daniel DiClaudio (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).  Just a warning that it is a bit long winded, and reeks of Stewart fanboyism in some parts (DiClaudio claims to not work for or represent The Daily Show), but I also think it’s the most extensive coverage of the breakfast.

Other media reports fill in the gaps DiClaudio missed, such as this one from the WaPo and this one from the Wall Street Journal.  I’ll provide some key quotes after the jump, and some brief analysis.

Continue reading »

 

Repealing Discrimination

For those not in the know (like I was not too long ago), the United States is one of only 12 countries to restrict people who have HIV/AIDS from immigrating or visiting the U.S.  Those visiting or working have to get a waiver, and nobody with HIV can become a permanent resident.  For more information, blogger and columnist Andrew Sullivan has written an article for the Washington Post on the issue, including his own struggle with it.

Personally, I think discrimination of all types cannot be allowed to be legislated in the U.S., and no matter which way you cut it, this is discrimination.  So, what can be done?

Coming up soon in the Senate will be a vote on an amendment to repeal this ban.  The amendment thus far has bi-partisan support, but you can do your part to help.  Locate your state’s senators and email them urging them to support the amendment (and later the bill).

I’ve emailed Dodd and Lieberman in my state.

 

McCain: Gas Prices Won’t Be Lower Soon

Everyone’s reporting on John McCain’s lack of knowledge of current gas prices.  I’ll let Joe Gandelman over at TMV take that one.

Yet, McCain’s interview with OC Register Martin Wisckol included more than a revelation of a possible disconnect with the American public.  I have my own issues with one of his other responses:

Wiskol: Under your presidency, can you offer any ideas on what we’ll be paying for gas in two years?

McCain: It’ll be less because we will have been moving forward with measures to become oil independent – independent of foreign oil. I’m very confident that the American people can do it. We didn’t get into this situation we’re in yesterday. So we’re not going to get out of it tomorrow. But Americans want a little relief. That’s why I support a gas-tax holiday. And if you don’t think it’s important to some people, ask someone who owns a couple of trucks and is paying 24½ cents tax on every gallon of gas.

The point is that we need to have clear plan of action and we will have a clear plan of action. We will become energy independent.

Now, I understand McCain is doing this interview quite literally as he’s walking through an airport, but he needs to think before he speaks.  The question is asking if gas prices will be lower in two years, and though McCain initially seems to agree, later he says it won’t happen “tomorrow.”  I think he really means that no, gas prices won’t be lower in two years.

Continue reading »

 

Next Page »

Copyright © 2005-2009 Michael Merritt
Creative Commons License