This is not a political site. This is an anti-political site. Our purpose is to advance civil society and the freedom philosophy and perhaps have a little fun while we're at it.

2/20/11

It's Ten Thirty On Thursday Morning, Do You Know Where Your Teacher Is?

Younger readers may not remember the TV ad of the 50's and 60's which asked a similar question to encourage parents to keep track of their kids. The ad was a reminder that 10:30 pm was the curfew time on a school night.

If you are a parent in Wisconsin, perhaps you think the ad should be revived with the above question instead. Particularly if you were wondering why your children's school was closed. It seems there was an illness that was widespread among teachers in Milwaukee, Madison and Janesville. So many called in sick that the schools were locked up. The epidemic was confined to those cities and thankfully the children didn't seem to have the same malady.

All kidding aside, there is a serious problem afoot in America's dairy land and many other states as well. And I have been asked to write about it, so I will.  I try to avoid pontificating on these well covered stories in favor of letting the more well informed and more talented writers and commentators do it because... well because... Ok, I'll admit it, because I stink by comparison. But I promised, so I will make two quick points instead of pontificating at length.

I'll leave the issues that others are covering to them and only address that which I have not seen elsewhere. No matter what your opinion is on this issue or which "side" you are on politically, there are points worth making in my opinion.

First, the lawmakers who have fled their state and are hiding like common criminals to avoid doing the job they were elected to do are cowards. They should be impeached, arrested (what they are doing may be a crime) or just plain unelected next time up no matter where people stand on the budget arguments. They were sent to represent their fellow citizens and they have abdicated. It is shameful behavior.

Second, the education employees who called in sick are acting cowardly as well. They have a job to do. They promised to educate the kids but they broke that promise so they could flex their political muscle at the expense of the kids and in violation of their legal and moral commitment.

Even if you agree with them on the budget issues, you should be mad as hell. They should be sued for breach of contract, disciplined or simply not rehired next time up, the same way as any employee of any private company should be. It doesn't take courage to do what they did. If it's possible to be ashamed of people you have never met, I'm ashamed of them.

So if I lived in Wisconsin I would have one question for each of them at the next town hall meeting or teacher conference. Where were you at 10:30 am on Thursday Feb. 17, 2011?

2/16/11

I Was Not Looking For Paradise; I Was Trying to Escape Hell

The above quote is from the new Svetlana Kunin: Perspectives of a Russian Immigrant series which runs from time to time on the opinion page of the Investors Business Daily newspaper. Many of you do not get that fine daily so I run the links here as an ongoing feature.

Readers from all over the world come to this small blog to use the links so they can benefit from her fine editorials. It's not an exaggeration. Some return over and over and others come across this blog by "googling" her name. I am happy to provide the service even though my writing suffers embarrassingly by comparison to hers. But I have to "class up" the site somehow so I frequently try to associate myself with talented writers and thinkers.

The title comment was made to Kunin by a friend of hers who also emigrated/escaped from Russia and came here, not with hopes of Utopia, but simply seeking a freer life. It's the same reason the vast majority of people immigrate to here and why so few leave. These people know what many native born Americans have forgotten or never were taught, namely, that simple but eloquent statement Ms Kunin made in her first "letter to the editor" which has graced the top of this page for a long time now.

"There is no perfect society. There are no perfect people. Critics say that greed is the driving force of capitalism. My answer is that envy is the driving force of socialism. Change to socialism is not an improvement on the imperfections of the current system."

The new editorial, which ran today in the above named paper deals with the problem of the unbalanced education system here, a system that gives short shrift to history. That problem could explain why only people who have escaped from tyranny can appreciate how dangerously close this country is to sliding beneath the waves in an ocean of lost potential and lost souls.

It only takes one or two generations for national memories to fade into meaninglessness, and from there into the fate which has befallen every free society in history when security becomes more important than freedom. It's individual liberty and personal responsibility which made this nation exceptional, not a government nanny with a bushel basket of carrots and sticks.

And it's more than a shame that few but the immigrants know that in searching for paradise we may very well get lost in hell.

2/15/11

You Don't Have To Be A Psychic To Predict The Future

The formality of the election (before the coronation) of Rahm Emanuel as boss of Chicago is scheduled for one week from today when the same people who voted for Daley, Blago, Quinn and Madigan will march to the polls and reaffirm their allegiance to "The Chicago Way."  Seeing the future in that regard, well.. it just ain't that hard.

Most of the voters in this town answer the same way when asked what candidate or policies they support by asking a question of their own, "what's in it for me?", so like everything else in a place where the fix is always in, the outcome is not in doubt.

 But that isn't my point. And predicting that a guy who sends dead fish to his political enemies will continue to act out his revenge fantasies like a Michael Corleone wannabe doesn't take a crystal ball either. But a report in the local paper today gave a peek into what being an enemy of the Rahmfather will be like as soon as the coronation is over.

I can imagine a scene similar to the wedding scene in The Godfather. But instead of Brando sitting in his office receiving people to take care of  "family business" while others celebrate at the party, Rahm will be plotting the settling of old scores from his hotel suite while the useful idiots dance the night away and drink Cook County provided food and booze in the ballroom below.

The paper report told of what Emanuel said during a debate Monday about what will happen to Alderman Ed Burke when he assumes power.

 According to the article; "Mayoral contender Rahm Emanuel suggested powerful Ald. Ed Burke will have to give up his police detail and might also lose his chairmanship of the City Council Finance Committee to move Chicago forward in the coming years. Emanuel's comments about Burke, who is supporting Gery Chico for mayor, came during a sometimes feisty debate Monday."

You won't find me throwing a pity party for Burke, a supercilious megalomaniac who knows for certain how everyone should live their lives and proposes absurd laws constantly to prove it. But he was surely singled out as a message to others who might displease the Rahmfather in the future.


You don't have to be a psychic to be sure that the smell of governance in Chicago will be the same as the dead fish he used to send once he is crowned boss of bosses in a few weeks. It's nothing if not predictable.

2/10/11

Republican Hypocrisy - Down On The Farm

Last month, when the conservative Republican Study Committee released its plan for $2.5 trillion in budget cuts over the next ten years, one enormous item of wasteful government spending was conspicuously missing — farm subsidies.

Perhaps that reflects the fact that 24 of the RSC's 165 members sit on the House Agriculture Committee, the notorious overseer of farm-welfare programs. Total direct government farm payments to the districts of those 24 representatives alone costs taxpayers more than $1 billion per year. Numerous other RSC members hail from farm states, and therefore have a vested interest in protecting payments to their constituents.

We are also seeing the usual quadrennial pilgrimage of supposedly fiscally conservative Republican presidential candidates to Iowa, where they swear eternal fealty to farm subsidies generally, but, even worse, to ethanol subsidies in particular.

Perhaps the most revolting example of this spectacle was former House speaker Newt Gingrich's claim that opposition to ethanol subsidies and mandates stems from "big city" folks who just don't like farmers. But Gingrich is hardly alone.

The level of hypocrisy is breathtaking. For example, conservatives rightly denounced government subsidies to business when the auto industry was at issue. Why, then, are subsidies a good idea when directed to, say, Archer Daniels Midland?

Read the rest of Michael Tanner's article
at Cato.org

Michael D. Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute

This article has been cross-posted to The Humble Libertarian

2/8/11

A Tale of Two Perspectives

While reading a story on the front page of the Chicago Tribune yesterday (2-7-11) I began to think about the different ways the story might have been written. The same story could be "spun" from at least two different viewpoints.

So I thought maybe I would write it differently than the way the paper wrote it to see what it looked like from a different perspective.

My story is about a great country, with generous people who save the life of a hard working twenty year old foreigner and are able to eventually stabilize him even though he has suffered catastrophic injuries in a fall.

The man, who snuck into the country illegally in order to find work to support his poverty stricken common law wife and child has become a quadriplegic and will never be able to resume a normal life.

Even though the man is penniless and has no insurance, the hospital where he was taken spent six hundred and fifty thousand dollars to care for him for four months. If he had suffered the same accident in his home country he probably wouldn't have lived.

And yet, without any family here, total strangers looked after him at every step. Some of those who gave him emotional support were from his home country. Finally, after looking in vain for a long term facility that had the means to care for him indefinitely, the man was returned to his own country at no cost to him, or even to his country. The monetary cost for that service was sixty thousand dollars. The story at once lifts your heart, even while tearing it out.

While the Tribune writers provided the same facts I just used, the story didn't read the same way.

The lead-in headline (in bold) was;
"They threw him out like he was a piece of garbage" as it quoted Horatio Esparza, a disability rights advocate. (Perhaps Horatio spends $710,000 and four months of his time on his garbage before he throws it out.)

The actual headline read;
Seriously injured, abruptly deported.

The story went on to describe how the man was sent back to his own country without his permission. (This struck me as somewhat odd since no such permission is sought from uninjured illegal aliens.) It also went into detail about his family back in Mexico and the small town where he lived before he came here. Every such description of life in third world countries truly touches the hearts of all but the most callous.

Although I do not count myself among the calloused, I won't be surprised if I am added to that list by some folks for even suggesting that some anti-American, anti-private business bias might be evident in the Tribune story. Who knows, maybe the authors were just going for the most sensational headline they could muster up in the great tradition of news reporting.

As a non professional blog writer, not a trained reporter and journalist like the three authors who contributed to the story I can only speculate as to their motives. But I know this, it's only the other fellow who has biases, never ourselves.

The only copy of the story I can find online is a much abridged version (dated 2-6-11) which you can find here. You will have to decide for yourself what to think about what happened.

This man deserves our prayers, not an eagerness to make him a political football in the controversy over immigration reform. That's my perspective, or spin, if you would prefer that description.

2/3/11

It's All Very Taxing

The time to comment about taxes is when they happen (all the time), not on the last day you can file before the government starts to charge usurious interest rates on yet to be be paid obligations. If you wait until April 15th to write about them, whatever was written will probably get lost in the blizzard of other articles that occur at that time every year.

The stuff I write is already forgettable enough without getting trounced by the competition, so I'm going for it now.

The other (and more important) reason is that I just came across a wonderful video by a college student which explains one of the most overlooked and outrageous truths of our whole insane tax system. The video also demonstrates that sometimes students can teach us too.

The student's name is Hiwa Alaghebandian and her short presentation was featured on a blog I only discovered a few days ago. The blog belongs to Dan Mitchell, who some of you regular readers might recognize from the many times his own videos have appeared on the sidebar of this site. The name of the blog is International Liberty - Restraining Government in America and Around the World.

After finding Dan's site I enjoyed it so well that I have added it to the short list of blogs I follow at the bottom right hand side of this site. New posts are updated automatically for those sites so if you take a peek down there whenever you visit here you can easily navigate to them. It's worth the click.

Dan is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and although I have not met him personally I have seen him speak on several occasions and we have exchanged a few brief emails in regards to my featuring his work on this site and on the Humble Libertarian blog where it is my responsibility to post articles from Cato in exchange for an opportunity to post some of  my own commentaries to a larger audience.

The video is below and although it's not my intention to irritate you more than these crazy times already do, I'm sure you will be irritated after you watch it. I apologize in advance.