Thursday, November 22, 2012

Marriage in the Netherlands, a Decade After SSM

Link: (via

The brief concludes: "At a minimum the data from the Netherlands does suggest that the hopes of those making a conservative case for gay marriage — that it will strengthen marriage generally and dramatically increase the stability and fidelity among same-sex couples — are likely to be disappointed."

Friends of Science | The Myths and Facts of Global Warming

Link: (via

 MYTH 10:  The earth's poles are warming; polar ice caps are breaking up and melting and the sea level rising.
FACT:  The earth is variable. The western Arctic may be getting somewhat warmer, due to cyclic events in the Pacific Ocean, but the Eastern Arctic and Greenland are getting colder. The small Palmer Peninsula of Antarctica is getting warmer, while the main Antarctic continent is actually cooling. Ice thicknesses are increasing both on Greenland and in Antarctica. 
Sea level monitoring in the Pacific (Tuvalu) and Indian Oceans (Maldives) has shown no sign of any sea level rise. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Totalitarian Impulse Rears Its Head

via Power Line by John on 9/8/10

Gateway Pundit, via Glenn Reynolds, presents another story of suppression of free speech by liberals:
School officials at Palm Beach State College kicked members of the Young America's Foundation off campus after they saw anti-Obama literature at their table.
There is much more to the story, as reported by the Orlando Political Press:
On Tuesday September 7, 2010 at around 11:00am one Palm Beach State College (PBSC) student and two Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) members, state chairman Daniel P. Diaz and state vice chairman Eddie Shaffer, were shut down and had campus police called on them after tabling and recruiting during club rush at the College. The PBSC student, Christina Beattie, had received prior permission from college administrator Olivia Ford-Morris to promote her organization on campus via telephone and email communication.
On the day of club rush, officials approached the group and after seeing information about the organization and its ideals criticizing Barack Obama's economic policy. Ms. Ford-Morris was visibly disturbed by the material presented, published by the Heritage Foundation, criticizing President Obama's administration. College officials then called the campus police to assure the group left campus. Ms. Ford-Morris denied having ever talked to Ms. Beattie about giving permission to the organization to be a part of PBSC club rush.
This reminds me of an episode years ago, when Scott and I were just becoming politically active. There was a freshman orientation at the University of Minnesota, and campus organizations were invited to set up booths and pass out literature to solicit incoming freshmen to join. The Young Republicans had a booth and passed out anti-Clinton literature--it seems like only yesterday! Students who were running the event disapproved of the presence of conservatives, ordered the Republicans out and confiscated their literature. Their obviously illegal action was backed up by the then-Dean of Students, who wrote a rather astonishing letter to the effect that because the University of Minnesota is devoted to diversity, there is no room there for Republicans. Seriously. (BTW, it is a reasonable guess that most of the tax money that supports the University of Minnesota is paid by Republicans.)
Our friend Peter Swanson, at that time the President of the Republican group at the U of M, came to Scott and me, and we represented the college Republicans in pursuing claims arising out of the obvious infringement of their First Amendment rights. We won hands down, and one of the remedies we negotiated was that the head of the Minneapolis campus of the University of Minnesota was required to attend First Amendment sensitivity training at the hands of a law school professor.
We have fond memories of that occasion, but the underlying reality is chilling. I really don't think most liberals have any respect for free speech as such, and if they had the opportunity, they would shut us all up or throw us in jail.

Lomborg Denies Global Warming Conversion - I Told You So

via Hit & Run by Ronald Bailey on 9/16/10
Remember the silly Guardian story from a couple of weeks back that breathlessly revealed that Skeptical Environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg had made "an apparent U-turn" on man-made global warming that "will give a huge boost to the embattled environmental lobby." In an op/ed in The Wall Street Journal, Lomborg explains that The Guardian made it all up. (OK, maybe the British near-tabloid just exaggerated and very selectively quoted him.) In any case, Lomborg notes that a panel of eminent economists one of his Copenhagen Consensus Conferences in 2008 basically rejected the carbon rationing scheme that is embodied in the Kyoto Protocol as too costly and ineffective.
Last year, Lomborg convened another group of economists to rank proposed policies to address future warming. The panel found that geoengineering and R&D on low carbon energy technologies would be worth pursuing, but they still rejected carbon rationing. As Lomborg explains in his op/ed:
Our experts (including three Nobel laureates) identified a number of other approaches to the problem that were economically feasible and likely to have a quicker and more powerful impact.
The most promising involved massive increases in R&D funding for green energy technologies and geo-engineering. I spent a good part of last year and most of this year advocating for this sensible approach to solving global warming, which is "one of the chief concerns facing the world today," as I said in an Aug. 31 interview with the Guardian, the British newspaper.
What happened next was startling. The Guardian reported my commonplace observation as evidence of "an apparent U-turn" by "the world's most high-profile climate change skeptic." This set off a media stampede; news organizations around the world scrambled to report my so-called change of heart.
I tried to explain that I had always considered climate change to be a problem. The only thing that had changed was that we finally had some good solutions to consider. Some people took the point, but just as many didn't. As far as the latter group was concerned, I had finally seen the light, and that was that.
I suppose I should take some comfort in the fact that I've been accused of being both a denier and a warmist. But the polarized nature of the global warming debate is no laughing matter. Limiting the debate to only two valid positions—for or against—makes a constructive discussion impossible. If we truly want to make progress on climate change, we must acknowledge a middle way—one that recognizes that while we do need to deal with the reality of global warming, solutions based on worst-case scenarios will actually do more harm than good.
The smart middle path means making green energy so cheap everyone wants it. There's nothing confusing about it.
So no conversion to carbon rationing. I told you so.
By the way, Lomborg's plan to greatly expand government R&D on low carbon energy technologies is very similar to the plan being pushed by techno-optimistic environmentalists Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger at the Breakthrough Institute. Both plans suffer from the same defects.
Government may simply be an inadequate (perhaps even counterproductive) technology for solving the problems posed by man-made global warming.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sweet Liberty

Sweet Liberty

Let's suppose you were born with an inheritance, something that accrues to you by virtue of being born and being human.
It's something you can spend, but not directly, like a lot of cash.  But you can trade for it.  Let's say it is a beautiful, rare, exquisitely cut diamond.  You can wear it, but it's not quite suited for display.  It's just something you've always had, more precious than anything else you have except life.  And if you keep it, lifelong, your kids will be given equal ones when they're born, and then your grandkids too.
How would you go about safeguarding such a jewel?
Would you keep it always under your control, where you are the only one who has a say on whether it's kept or taken away?  Or would you trust politicians – politicians who btw are telling you they can keep your jewel for you by taking other people's jewel away and trading it to keep yours safe – to safeguard that jewel by putting yourself, your life and everything you own in their power?
I'm very afraid for a number of people the answer is the second.  And that the answer is the second for even one person scares me beyond reason.
I was watching Bill Whittles's excellent video Cannibals, which details our fiscal and cultural troubles.  I wanted to leave a comment (ended up not doing it because youtube drives me nuts on registering to do so) so I looked at the comments.
Comment after comment, with names like "proudfree American" said things like "I voted for Obama because I don't want to have to bear a rapist's child.  My body is mine and no one else can make decisions about it."
(A friend pointed out these are pathetic comments both in search of approval of like minded people, and sticking one in the eye of what they imagine to be the opposition. Let that stand for a moment.  I'll come back to it in the end.)
Abortion is, of course, one of those complex things.  It is not a natural right.  It can't be a natural right because a human woman in a state of nature who tries to abort will more often than not end up offing herself along with the child.  You could say infanticide is a natural right, as it has been practiced by most civilizations throughout the ages, less so in Judeo Christian lands, but impossible to stamp out just like murder is impossible to stamp out.  Of course it violates another person's natural right to life, but in the case of infants that is always iffy as "natural" as they require someone else to defend them.  So, it is a very complex thing, not from a moral but from a NATURAL point of view.
Let's leave aside for a moment that no one in this election – not even Todd Akin – ever said a woman BY LAW should bear a rapist's child.  What Akin (who is an idiot for the way he expressed himself and for walking into the matter at all) and the other guy said was based on their own moral judgment, involving "if it happened to someone I love."  Let's leave aside, also, that my answer would be rather similar to theirs, and it's more germane, since I CAN get pregnant.  (In theory.  Well, it happened once naturally.)  "If I got pregnant by rape, it's impossible to know what I would do, but it would be hard to get over the fact that the child DIDN'T commit the rape, and that what causes a man to become a rapist is not necessarily genetic otherwise every man and woman born would be a rapist, because we're all descended from rapists several times over.  Though I can't say for sure what my state of mind would be, there's a good chance I'd decide the moral thing is to keep the child.  Because I like children, because it would still be mine, and because it's not the child's fault."
That is not important.  It's also not important that while Mitt Romney made noises about abortion, the MOST he could do – and he wouldn't, any more than he would abolish the department of education.  That's not how DC works – is sent the matter back to the states.  And he NEVER said anything about outlawing abortion in cases of rape or incest.
Let's instead assume that it is right and just, always, for a woman to abort a rapist's child.  This right to "not carry a rapist's child in MY body" is not only NOT a natural right – it is one that depends on an advanced enough technology, a functioning economy, and no one being able to regulate what kind of medicine is practiced upon you.
There is an English proverb "He who pays the piper calls the tune."  Same thing.  Updated "you buy your CDs, you buy whatever music you want."  However, if the government is giving you free music, then you will listen to whatever they want you to listen to.  And it can change.
So, let's suppose that for these young women the most important thing in the world, truly is that if they should get pregnant  from rape – unless you extend rape to "changed my mind afterwards" a small enough chance – they should be allowed to abort the child.
Very well.
To secure this non-natural (because it requires functioning high tech) right they voted for the man who promised them this AND contraceptives for free.  I.e. they voted for someone who said they'd pay for what these women consider a need, so that the women can "control their own bodies."  Further, to secure this, this man – this party – is trying to make people against whose conscience it is to pay for such things… pay for them.  That is, they are willfully violating what is a natural right of other people: the right to not pay/endorse things that violates their conscience.
And these women think giving these group of people the right to pay for/decide what is done to them gives the women control of their own bodies.
It never occurs to them apparently that those who give them contraceptives/free abortions today can also deny them tomorrow.  Or that the fiscal mess Bill Whittle is talking about in the video means a diminishing level of wealth and therefore of tech.
What I mean is even if the government isn't lying to you – and frankly, after Benghazi how can ANYONE believe these people won't lie to you and with a straight face – their policies are almost guaranteed to make doctors flee the country in droves, or go into retirement.  They are also guaranteed to add a layer of bureaucracy that will delay everything.
The end result might be that you did in fact get raped – I understand in countries where law breaks completely down this is a risk women run from eight to eighty – and you got pregnant.  (Or you had a night of sex with your boyfriend and didn't take precautions, so you're being "punished with a baby.") You have a right to your free abortion.  Great.
Only the nearest hospital is chock a block with more urgent cases and the nurse practitioner who could have done it is full up for six months.  In six months it will be a high-risk abortion, and gee, we just don't have the equipment.  Maybe if you go to Mexico?  I hear they can do these same day, for ten thousand dollars.
Think this is unlikely?  This is almost guaranteed.
Other nightmare scenarios include the government running out of contraceptives.  (No?  When something is free, people get it.  And when it's free there's no incentive for companies to research better stuff OR to make it cheaper or more abundant.)  I once heard an – hilarious, because it wasn't me, and because these people had escaped – interesting story by a group of Russians, at the end of the USSR, discussing how this group of ten men shared a condom which they washed after sex and which, btw, the one of them who worked in a rubber plant patched more than once.  If you think that can't happen here, you have missed the fiscal mess we're in to which we're adding an unimaginable amount of debt for an "entitlement" that can't be secured without enslaving doctors and other health professionals to serve at the pleasure of the government.
So, suppose you run out of contraceptives and your ONLY contraception is abortion.  But the birth rate is going through the floor and our lords and masters become aware they won't have enough of a next generation to bear the massive burden of debt.  Think they won't forbid abortion?  Or they decide you're from a non-favored group and they don't want you reproducing at all, so they mandate that you be sterilized and your existing children killed.  Think it won't happen?  It's happening in China.  Google "dying rooms" China and children, and I hope you have a strong stomach.
You think it won't happen here?
Why do you think that?  Show your work.  Is your body any more sacred than other people's convictions?  Why?  Why should a government that has the power of life and death over you, a government that can literally decide that you're too expensive to keep alive and send you home with palliative care (no?  It happens practically everywhere the state runs medicine.  Maybe everywhere.  Reporting on these things is iffy) NOT make you bear a child because it suits the state's needs?
You were born with this special, priceless jewel: Liberty.
You can keep it – that includes covering the costs of it, both monetary and in informed citizenry – and get to decide what to do with it, and in which circumstances to apply it.  OR you can entrust it to people who lie and whose very nature is predicated on having power over you.
Whether the liberty is freedom of religion, of assembly, the right to bear arms – no matter what those rights are, entrusting them to the government is a bad idea.  All the more so when those "rights" require a complex, functioning civilization to be effective.  (For instance, I would not vote for a government that promised me free weapons, because I know how bureaucracies work and in the end I'd have the right to a chipped bit of flint.)
No, you do not have a right to your own body.  No one does.  You can't say "I won't bear this child" any more than you can say "I won't die from this cancer."  Both of them involve a complex civilization and other people's skill and knowledge to avoid.  And neither can be granted to you by a tyrannical government who HAS to control other people's work, intelligence and freedom of thought to grant you this.
You do have a right to your own mind, and that so many people have chosen to give up their natural right to inform themselves and make informed decisions makes me seethe.
My friend was right, on the people who commented on that video being special snow flakes in search of social approval.  Of course why they think that idiotic statement makes them sound "correct" is why we must speak out.  For too long we've let the idiots own the air and the soundbites, because we didn't want to rock the boat.  And what we've created is sort of a state religion, in which young people repeat platitudes that don't make sense, in the sure certainty of social approval.
It's time to start taking back their minds.  And then maybe they'll understand how to keep control of their bodies.  And maybe they'll understand the meaning of liberty.
You can't enslave a free man.
Only person can do that to a man is himself.
No, sir—you can't enslave a free man.
The most you can do is kill him.  Free Men by Robert A. Heinlein

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Limited Government Case Against Gay Marriage

The Limited Government Case Against Gay Marriage

Same-sex marriage advocates frequently appeal to our countrys limited government tradition to urge redefining the age-old, cross-cultural understanding of marriage as the union of husband and wife into a union where a husband or a wife is unnecessary. Government shouldnt tell people who to marry," they say.

Notwithstanding this arguments misleading claim (no one is telling" you to marry anyone-though a society with gay marriage will have the force of law to tell some opponents to participate), its premise is still troubling. Expanding legal marriage to include same-sex unions, far from being a victory for limited government, is inconsistent with it.

A limited government can remain limited only when citizens take responsibility for the consequences of their choices. The less people take responsibility, Benjamin Franklin observed, the more they need government. The same is true with marriage. Marriage as traditionally understood ensures that a man and a woman channel their attraction for one another into a stable, committed relationship that gives any children they have the best developmental benefit: a mom and a dad.

In the absence of an independent institution that holds men and women accountable for their relationships public effect-the having and raising of children-government must make greater expenditures to fight crime, improve the education system, enforce child support requirements, aid abandoned single mothers, and provide general social services.

To be sure, the increasing severance of marriage from procreation-not same-sex marriage-caused these problems. Same-sex marriage, however, represents a further break. Marriages purpose as the only institution that unites children with their mother and father disappears if a union for which that purpose is inherently irrelevant is also considered a marriage. The marital union is distinct in this regard.

Even infertile couples have the potential to conceive a child, and even those who use birth control can potentially conceive. A male-female couple fully open to conception wont conceive every time they mate, but same-sex partners never present this concern. Marriage as a legal institution would have to be geared toward something else to remain distinct if a husband or wife is no longer needed.

The new basis of marriage, same-sex marriage advocates tell us, is not procreation or sexual difference, but love. For them, the personal promises husbands and wives make to each other is the governments only reason to license (or not license) a marital relationship.

But if that were true, any relationship that has love and makes promises could also be regulated and licensed by government-including dating relationships and cohabitation-while also giving the government a rationale to criminalize adultery. Whats more, if the institution of marriage only exists to license love, then how can we justly discriminate between relationships characterized by love but that lack sexual relations-like two brothers who love and support each other, or two best friends who live together after their spouses died and raise a child? For same-sex marriage advocates, these relationships arent marital precisely because they are not sexual.

Many gay marriage advocates claim that part of the point of legalizing gay marriage is to get the government out of our relationships, yet in reality, it would expand government so as to discriminate in favor of relationships with sex partners versus relationships without sex partners. How is that not an intrusion? Traditional marriage is concerned only with public effects-so while other relationships may be fulfilling and loving, they arent marital because they do not advance societys interest in responsible procreation and child-rearing.

Perhaps more worrying, a likely result of redefining marriage is that it will ultimately mean nothing at all. If friendships, dating relationships, or any relationship that has love with a remote possibility of sex is all it takes for the government to choose (or not choose) to license its existence, nearly all relationships will constitute a marriage; and thusno relationship will constitute a marriage.

A society where marriage is divorced from its procreative purpose within a stable union is a society that neuters its ability to prevent predatory men from impregnating women and abandoning them and to ensure that men take responsibility for their offspring. And it denies the child an incontrovertible social benefit: a present mother and father.

In such an alternative society-where marriage is divorced from procreation-the government steps in to look after children and relationships. And why not? If same-sex advocates view government validation of relationships as the means to achieve their social legitimacy, why not also look to government to solve the social failings of relationships?

Ultimately, the argument for same-sex marriage attempts to appeal to the personal promises we husbands and wives make to each other. But it only uses this course of reasoning because it cannot appeal to societys reasons for establishing marriage laws in the first place. Yet when debating whether or not to license something, we cannot let our emotions determine the extent of government power. Government power that lacks a logical limiting principle-as the argument for same-sex marriage does-is inconsistent with limited government. To support limited government is to support traditional marriage.

William J. Haun is a lawyer in Washington, D.C.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Saving Savita from Gravely Misleading Abortion Politics - By Kathryn Jean Lopez - The Corner - National Review Online

Link: (via

"The lack of precise medical details included in media coverage of the Savita Halappanavar case does indeed make it difficult to offer a cogent moral analysis of what transpired," Reverend Tadeusz Pacholczyk, director of education at the National Catholic Bioethics Center cautions. "If it were the case, for example, that she suffered from a serious placental infection unable to be controlled by other remedies, it would have been allowable to induce labor under a proper application of the principle of double effect. Such an action would not constitute a direct abortion, but maternally directed therapy to remedy the infection, with the secondary, unintended effect that the life of the child would be lost."
As is so often the case in tragic situations, one family's tragedy has become a cultural one too, leading to misrepresentations and pouring salt in painful wounds. In being a leading defender of the lives of the most vulnerable, the Catholic Church does not insist on the forgoing of medical treatment to suffering women. We do no one any good by adding a myth-based debate over the Catholic Church to an already awful situation.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Eff you, it's my blog: Time to realize what you voted for. Update: Instalanche!

Philosophy aside, it is important to realize that elections have consequences. One of the consequences of this election is that Obamacare is here to stay, at least for a while. It is too inherently unworkable to stay for long, but it isn't going away in the next few years. Live with it.
Liberal contract attorneys might want to consider what "live with it" means. Under Obamacare, companies with 50 or more full-time employees either have to provide them with government-approved health insurance policies, or pay a per-employee fine. Further, the fine kicks in at the 31st employee, not the 51st, and it starts at $2,000 per year per employee. It goes up later. Companies, therefore, are discouraged from having full-time employees, or at least 50 or more of them. Hello, part-time employment. Think I'm fucking with you? Think again.
While you're thinking again, start thinking about the industry in which you work. Obamacare, unlike other government regulations, defines a full-time employee as one working 30 hours a week. Every temp agency in town worth a shit has 50 people working "full-time" in any given year under that definition. If you think that temp agencies will give you employer-funded health insurance that meets Obamacare standards (hint: lots of mandates make insurance less affordable), you are delusional. They already didn't offer comprehensive insurance, which was cheaper before Obamacare started affecting rates, so they won't start now. ....Temporary employment as we know it is unlikely to survive Obamacare, at least as it is currently structured. That's not my opinion, that's what temp agency heads said to Congress. I suggest you read the entire transcript. These guys have a pretty good idea of how Obamacare will fuck their industry and, by extension, you.
But don't worry about them. Maybe they're full of shit. Maybe you'll be fine. Or maybe you're fucked. but hey, that's what you voted for.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Edward Niedermeyer: Romney's Plan Would Also Have 'Saved' Detroit -


When the president forced GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy court, the White House's auto task force used the process to execute a prearranged reorganization it had masterminded with political allies. By contrast, Mr. Romney called for a true bankruptcy, in which creditors and stakeholders negotiate reorganization together, with the government merely providing the minimum support needed to prevent disorderly liquidation. In retrospect, Mr. Romney's approach not only would have produced outcomes superior to the president's, it was actually the braver course of action.

To understand why, it is necessary to examine GM and Chrysler's behavior in the weeks and months that preceded their bailouts. Thanks to inept management and a rapacious union, GM and Chrysler had been shedding market share and jobs for decades before the credit crunch of 2008 brought the global economy to its knees. Despite rocky shores and rough waters, the managements of GM and Chrysler and their United Auto Workers partners never imagined they would have to pay the true cost of their failure to compete.

In fact, when Mr. Romney's op-ed was published in November 2008, the leaders of both GM and Chrysler were insisting that "bankruptcy is not an option," because they were sure nobody would buy a car from a bankrupted company, despite both having already repeatedly begged Congress for a government bailout. Industry watchers later discovered that, despite an emergency transfusion from the Bush administration, the auto makers never prepared contingency plans before President Obama decided to initiate a bailout and reorganization.

This failure to prepare bankruptcy plans was more than inexcusable mismanagement, it was akin to blackmail. Without responsible preparations in place for a worst-case scenario, GM and Chrysler could argue that unless the government intervened they wouldn't be able to secure financing for a bankruptcy in the necessary time frame. They would have to liquidate their holdings and assets, which would jeopardize if not crush America's entire auto-manufacturing supply chain.

The White House auto task force pushed a dealership cull on the auto makers that eliminated over 2,000 GM and Chrysler dealerships, forcing tens of thousands of Americans onto unemployment rolls, all with no appreciable benefit to either company.

Making matters worse, the Treasury Department issued notices which let "New GM" acquire $45 billion in tax write-offs from its defunct predecessor, a blatant violation of basic bankruptcy law. This not only deprived the government of billions in tax revenue, it hid the true cost of the bailout while disproportionally benefiting the UAW, an unsecured creditor.

By giving the UAW's unsecured claims against GM and Chrysler a higher priority than those of secured creditors, the government's reorganization further damaged bankruptcy precedent. The net result was a $26 billion transfer to a key Democratic ally and political donor, according to analysis by scholars from the Heritage Foundation and George Mason University.

GM and Chrysler could have averted tens of thousands of lost jobs, and the government could have preserved billions of dollars in tax revenue, by undergoing a true bankruptcy reorganization, even if the government had provided full debtor-in-possession financing.

In a true bankruptcy guided by the law rather than by a sympathetic, rule-bending political task force, GM and Chrysler would have more fully faced their competitive challenges, enjoyed more leverage to secure union concessions, and had the chance to divest money-losing operations like GM's moribund Opel unit. True bankruptcy would have lessened the chance that GM and Chrysler will stumble again, a very real possibility in the brutally competitive auto industry.

Michael Tanner: In Disaster Relief, Bigger Government Isn't Always Better -

Link: (via

The wind and rain from Hurricane Sandy hadn't even stopped before some people argued that the storm made the case against reducing the size of the federal government or giving states more say in their affairs. The federal response to a crisis became the proxy for big government in all its bureaucratic glory. Cutting government, we were meant to understand, means letting Sandy's victims fend for themselves.

This is the classic straw-man gambit. To argue in favor of smaller or less costly government is not to demand no government at all. Opposition to, say, the federal government granting $505,000 to a thriving company that makes pet toothpaste and shampoo doesn't lead inexorably to opposing disaster relief. Calls for reforming a Medicare program that is at least $38 trillion in debt aren't tantamount to saying that the storm-stricken people of New York and New Jersey should be on their own.
An old trick of governments at all levels is to respond to the prospect of spending cuts by announcing that they will lay off teachers and firefighters first. By targeting the most essential services, they try to assure that public outcry will keep the tax dollars flowing. Equating disaster relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency with big government and big spending in general represents the same old scam.

The federal government spent $10 billion on disaster relief last year. That amounts to roughly 0.002% of federal spending. It also suggests that an awful lot of federal spending could be cut before we put FEMA under the knife. One might even argue that a smaller, leaner and more efficient government could better offer services such as disaster relief. A government that tries to do everything is liable to do nothing particularly well.
Mitt Romney is being attacked in some quarters because he suggested in a 2011 debate that some federal disaster-relief functions might be shifted to the states. Critics claim that this means he simply doesn't care about people affected by disaster—that he is putting dollars and ideology before people's lives. But might not a more locally focused disaster-relief program make sense?

After all, much of the federal government's relief efforts simply amount to shifting funds from one part of the country to another and back again. Yesterday New York paid for assistance to Louisiana; today Louisiana pays for assistance to New York. Is that necessarily the most efficient way to accomplish our goals?

FEMA essentially represents a centralized "command and control" approach to disaster relief. It presumes that only the experts in Washington—not state and local officials, and certainly not private charities—know best how to respond to local needs and conditions.

In the wake of Katrina and other disasters, there have been numerous stories of federal officials rejecting offers of assistance—from Coca-Cola KO -1.48% offering to send water, for example, or private organizations trying to deliver hospital supplies—because those offers didn't fit neatly into the bureaucratic script. Initial indications do suggest that with Hurricane Sandy, federal, state and local coordination has been better. But that doesn't argue against giving more authority, and more responsibility, to those actually in the affected areas.

The bottom line: Big government is seldom the same as effective government. That applies as much to disaster relief as to anything else.

Friday, November 02, 2012

How to Crack a Wi-Fi Password

via Lifehacker on 10/19/12

Cracking Wi-Fi passwords isn't a trivial process, but it isn't difficult. Learn how it works so you can learn how to protect yourself. More »

10 Questions a Pro-Choice Candidate Is Never Asked by the Media – Trevin Wax

Link: (via

These really deserve some thought, and where the question admits to a yes/no answer, justify the answer.
1. You say you support a woman's right to make her own reproductive choices in regards to abortion and contraception. Are there any restrictions you would approve of?
2. In 2010, The Economist featured a cover story on "the war on girls" and the growth of "gendercide" in the world – abortion based solely on the sex of the baby. Does this phenomenon pose a problem for you or do you believe in the absolute right of a woman to terminate a pregnancy because the unborn fetus is female?
3. In many states, a teenager can have an abortion without her parents' consent or knowledge but cannot get an aspirin from the school nurse without parental authorization. Do you support any restrictions or parental notification regarding abortion access for minors?
4. If you do not believe that human life begins at conception, when do you believe it begins? At what stage of development should an unborn child have human rights?
5. Currently, when genetic testing reveals an unborn child has Down Syndrome, most women choose to abort. How do you answer the charge that this phenomenon resembles the "eugenics" movement a century ago – the slow, but deliberate "weeding out" of those our society would deem "unfit" to live?
6. Do you believe an employer should be forced to violate his or her religious conscience by providing access to abortifacient drugs and contraception to employees?
7. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. has said that "abortion is the white supremacist's best friend," pointing to the fact that Black and Latinos represent 25% of our population but account for 59% of all abortions. How do you respond to the charge that the majority of abortion clinics are found in inner-city areas with large numbers of minorities?
8. You describe abortion as a "tragic choice." If abortion is not morally objectionable, then why is it tragic? Does this mean there is something about abortion that is different than other standard surgical procedures?
9. Do you believe abortion should be legal once the unborn fetus is viable – able to survive outside the womb?
10. If a pregnant woman and her unborn child are murdered, do you believe the criminal should face two counts of murder and serve a harsher sentence?