Archive for October, 2005

Public Employees, Unions, Schools

Found at gullyborg via Upper Left Coast.

There is a strike looming for the Oregon Trail School District.

To address his second point first, his conclusion is

Making threats of violence is a crime. … Any striking teacher who harms, or threatens to harm, a substitute teacher should never be allowed near our children again.

I agree fully. But the last I heard, it was specifically not a crime for a union picketer to threaten and in some cases to use violence. If these laws are still on the books, they should be repealed or invalidated soonest. Returning to the first point,

Now I have always thought that teacher’s unions should be barred from striking, the way air traffic controllers and other unions are.

This makes sense to me, but in an inverted sort of way. It’s a rational reaction to an unsane situation. To hit the high points, because

… the Supreme Court has found a constitutional right to an education.

and because

when a public union strikes, there is often no alternative for the people .

and finally

This amounts to sheer blackmail, especially when the service withheld is essential to the public as a whole.


Congress made it illegal for certain unions, such as the air traffic controllers, to strike. But Congress didn’t take it far enough. As long as there is no viable alternative to government, it should be illegal for ANY government employee to strike.

I find this to be a rational conclusion, but also wrong. Taking a government job should not be contingent on giving up your civil rights. Organizing to negotiate collectively is the best way to balance the power of the employer. People should not have to give that up when the employer happens to also be the sole employer available in that line of work as well as possessing a monopoly on the use of force. If that sacrifice IS necessary, it should be applied to the smallest number of people possible. Maybe there’s a better answer. tl-pharmacy.com

The key phrase in the problem seems to be “As long as there is no viable alternative”. Perhaps the root of the problem lies in having the government actually provide the services. If schools were run by a series of private companies, a strike against one would be of little effect on students. Perhaps the real answer to dealing with public employee strikes is to simply reduce the number of public employees to the bare minimum required to provide services that cannot be provided any other way?

The best way to deal this problem is to reduce the number of public employees to the bare minimum. Privatize and outsource the rest of the work. Eliminate the unnecessary government monopolies. Then this problem (and others) simply disappear.

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After Harriet Miers

Earlier today President Bush reluctantly accepted Harriet Miers’ withdrawal from the confirmation process. It shows he really can back away from a mistake. Over at the Volokh Conspiricy there’s already discussion of the next nominee. But what about Bush’s state of mind? I see three ways he can go from here, Stubborn, Petulant and Thoughtful.

Stubborn Bush will now follow up by picking a tougher crony to hand it to. Expect an Alberto Gonzales to get the nod.

Petulant Bush responds to his critics by giving them just what they want, then fails to back it up. Expect a Janice Rogers Brown to be hung out to dry with no support.

Thoughtful Bush goes for a strong conservative candidate that can win, then starts hammering on opponents like he was hammering on allies last week. Look for a Douglas Ginsburg or a Michael McConnell to get the nod.

I’d love to be wrong and see Bush nominate and fight for Brown, but Bush has shown very little spine in 5 years so I don’t expect him to.

Time will tell which Bush will win out.

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The Carnival of Gamers …

… is up. This is, what, the 7th?

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Avian Flu

Don’t Panic

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Ten Commandments

I often see blogs by people who hold Christianity in contempt, and have quotes from Christians to prove why Christianity is contemptible. One of the latest such quotes was attributed to Robert T. Lee.

Raising your children under americanism or any other principles other than true Christianity is child abuse.

This is a quite strong statement, certainly over the top when compared to real child abuse, but understandable from the position that a child’s soul needs protection as much as their body does. The problem here lies in calling for the government to enforce this idea. Not wanting to accept something that might be out of context, I did a dogpile search. What I found at Robert T. Lee’s “Society for the Practical Establishment and Perpetuation of the TEN COMMANDMENTS!” (at www.tencommandments.org) is actually pretty fairly summed up as an American Taliban movement. Robert T. Lee and his son appear to be advocating a new government based on a theocratic dictatorship with no civil rights, and enforcing the Ten Commandments as civil law with the death penalty for infractions. There’s no word on how much of the rest of Mosaic law he wants to bring back as well.

(Mr. Lee’s site also has a laughable use policy that purports to disallow even reading any material on his site without his permission, and forbids “fair us”. So I’ll rely on my ‘fair use’ rights here.)

OK, so Mr. Robert T. Lee appears offensive, dictatorial, and perhaps as much of a rabid moonbat as some people might claim. He makes a variety of claims including: God has made the Ten Commandments the most glorious Laws in all of creation; when Adam was created he was bound to obey the Ten Commandments; God requires that every individual person perfectly obey the Ten Commandments; and hypocritical professing so-called Christians are among the heathens who say that the Ten Commandments are no longer in effect. But is he Christian? He apparently thinks he is, and he refers to himself that way, but does he follow Jesus Christ in truth? I don’t think so, since there is much in Gospel and Scripture that he is either ignorant of or ignoring.

The Ten Commandments are glorious Laws, but they are not the ultimate in laws. The Mosaic covenant, of which the Ten Commandments are only a part, is definitely inferior to the New covenant. Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-19 that the law was not to pass, but went on (in the Sermon on the Mount) to demonstrate the imperfection of the Ten Commandments and the rest of Mosaic Law.

One is rightly entertained by the concept of Adam before the Fall being enjoined from working on the Sabbath (in Eden?), or coveting his neighbors’ possessions, let alone seeing Adam and Eve honor their fathers and mothers. Adam was bound not to the Ten Commandments but to a much simpler Law of Faith and Obedience. Indeed, Abraham so fulfilled the Law of Faith that it was accounted to him as righteousness, thus proving that the Law of Faith is superior to the later Mosaic Laws.

Reading scripture, not only does God not require every individual to obey the ten commandments, but there are repeated warnings that simply following the law is an apostate teaching. No one (other than Jesus) can be righteous under the law (Romans 3:10,19-20), the law can only condemn to death, it cannot save a single soul. Jesus taught a new ‘law of the Spirit’ based upon Faith and Grace. The believer must be dead to the law that Faith and Grace may make them live unto God.

If hypocritical professing so-called Christians are among the heathens who say that the Ten Commandments are no longer in effect, I guess we must include the Apostles Matthew, Paul and John in the heathen. Through these ‘heathens’ we see that Mosaic law was added to Abraham’s covenant of Faith as a preparatory discipline, a foreshadowing of Grace. Mosaic law was abolished, blotted out in Christ. Just as Jesus was better than Moses, so is Christ’s covenant perfect where Moses’ was faulty.

Given the above examples of specific errors on the part of Mr. Lee, I would be remiss to not mention that this type of error (legalism) is rebuked in many places in scripture, and false teachings are noted. This form of heresy is not Christianity, and to accuse all Christianity based on this heresy is an accusation both unfair and untrue.

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D.C. Council likes Drug-Free Pharmacies

In an amazingly short-sighted move, the DC City Council has passed a law limiting the reasonable price of drugs in DC to “30 percent over the comparative price in Germany, Canada, Australia or the United Kingdom”. There are just so many things wrong with this idea, where do I start?

  • Price controls always cause shortages.
  • Maximum price limits rapidly become minimum price points.
  • The liability environment in Germany, Canada, Australia or the United Kingdom is nothing like that in DC, so expenses are not the same.
  • Ever hear of the Commerce Clause? Think pharmaceuticals are a national market? By today’s readings, the council has no authority to attempt to regulate this trade.
  • The companies are guilty until proven innocent. Lovely.
  • Presumably, we’re talking the LOWEST price of Germany, Canada, Australia or the United Kingdom.
  • Currency fluctuations.
  • The drug companies aren’t selling in DC. Local pharmacies are. They buy from a wholesaler that probably isn’t in the district. The wholesaler buys from a distributor that isn’t in DC. The distributor bought from Pfizer. So sue Pfizer. Riiight.
  • The Council passes a law lowering the Council’s burden of proof in a lawsuit. No hint of corruption or conflict of interest here, is there?

The quote from bill author Councilman David A. Catania is interesting. “This is not price control, this is not price fixing”. I have a news flash for you David. A law controlling the price IS a price control. Must be a public school graduate.

My first reaction? If I ran the drug company, I’d stop selling in DC. All sales contracts will require that the distributor / wholesaler shall not offer the product in DC nor allow their customer to. Then wait and fill the larger orders destined for drug stores in Maryland, Virginia and surrounding communities. That’s not overreacting. This needs to be smacked down hard, right now.

Catania, chairman of the council’s health panel, said the District’s bill is the first in the nation and he has fielded inquiries from legislators in other states, such as Maine, who are interested in introducing similar bills.

If the drug companies can’t cover all their expenses AND risks, they’ll stop taking risks. I like the idea of new drugs, but research is risky. If the American public likes seeing $500 million dollar liability awards, they should pay for such foolishness when they buy products that get sued. Germany, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom don’t have that kind of silliness, so they get lower prices. Sounds fair to me.

This kind of ‘consumer protection’ only hurts the consumer, and reminds me more of another kind of protection racket.

from Reason

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Lord of the Princess Bride of the Rings

If you like campy crossover, you might like this retelling of Lord of the Rings in Princess Bride quotations. Sample:

The Inn of the Prancing Pony:
STRIDER: I am waiting for Gandalf! You told me to go back to the beginning, so I have. This is where I am, and this is where I’ll stay. I will not be moved.
STRIDER: I do not mean to pry, but you don’t by any chance happen to have a Ring of Power on your right hand?
FRODO: Do you always begin conversations this way?
HOBBITS: Who are you?
STRIDER: No one of consequence.
HOBBITS: We must know.
STRIDER: Get used to disappointment.

The Grey Havens:
SAM: What is it?
FRODO: Open it up.
SAM: A book?
FRODO: That’s right. When I was your age, adventures were called books. And this is a special book. It was the book my uncle used to write when he was adventuring and I used to write it when I was adventuring … and today, I’m gonna give it to you.
SAM: Does it got any sports in it?
FRODO: Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles.
SAM: It doesn’t sound too bad. I’ll try and stay awake.
FRODO: Oh, well, thank you very much. That’s very nice of you. Your vote of confidence is overwhelming. Oh. All right: “There and Back Again: A Hobbit’s Tale by Bilbo Baggins.” …

via Heretical Ideas

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Bloggers (and unpopular press) not eligible under ‘Shield Law’

Alright. so by posting on this, it sounds like a blatent case of self-interest. But it actually feeds my fair-play ideals than anything much else..

According to senator Richard Lugar (R.-Ind.), the Shield Law provision of the ‘Free Flow of Information Act of 2005′ would not protect bloggers, yet is written widely enough to cover anything from the New York Times to the hometown newsletter, to Internet-only publications.

So why do the “real publications” (sic) need something like this Shield Law provision? Supposedly it is so they don’t have to reveal thier sources when under oath; Allows whistle-blowers stay anonymous and rumor-starters to need no accountability. This has been related to a doctor-patient or a priest-confessional relationship. I can see how the concept might have been linked, but it should never have been accepted as such.

A doctor needs certain information from thier patients so the doctor can save thier life. Such as things the patient has done that might not be all that legal. Without this information the doctor cannot properly save lives.

The relationship within a religion should be considered private, because without an assumption of trust, priests cannot properly tend to thier flock. Invasion of this relationship interfers with the practice of that religion, causing bad kharma all around.

There are very few other cases where an assumption of secrecy is required. Usually it is because it interferes with certain vital social functions; the doctor’s ability to save certain unmentioned body parts, the preacher’s ability to save souls, and a defense attorney’s ability to save thier clients certain other unmentioned body parts.

So how is it so important that the press recieves this special benifit? The most obvious answer is so they can protect the identity of whistle-blowers - people who are afraid of backlash for speaking about corruption in thier company. But there are other answers. It allows reporters to cover up felonies they commit; such as the knowing and willfull reception of classified materials. This legislation creates an assumption of privacy for the press’ sources where there should not be one. And, thanks to senator Lugar’s interpretation, it sets up a division line between state-sponsored media outlets and the media outlets created by regular folk.

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Harriet Miers just tipped the balance

I’ll admit that my initial reaction to Miers’ nomination was a dismayed “who?” followed by growing anger. I would still prefer her nomination to be defeated, primarily because the Senate’s ‘advice and consent’ role was intended to be a check against blatant cronyism. I’m certainly not the first to read some dusty old papers and see that:

It would be an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the President, and would tend greatly to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment, or from a view to popularity.

He would be both ashamed and afraid to bring forward, for the most distinguished or lucrative stations, candidates who had no other merit than that of coming from the same State to which he particularly belonged, or of being in some way or other personally allied to him, or of possessing the necessary insignificance and pliancy to render them the obsequious instruments of his pleasure.

On the other hand, I disagree with those who claim that Miers is unqualified. She is simply not as qualified as they would like, in the manner they would like.

I think I’m really seeing (and feeling) that this is the last intolerable betrayal of MY principles by a President I voted for. Strike that. I honestly voted against the other guy, not for this bozo.

I’ve said more than once that voting for the lesser evil is still voting for evil. Guess I had to be slapped with it one more time.

I don’t see where Bush has any credibility left with fiscal conservatives, small government believers or any liberty loving citizen. The 0 for 2 on appointing judges comes on top of drug welfare for seniors, a blank check to the corruption that drowned NOLA, expansion of police powers, dangerously half-hearted military action, and others. No wonder his base is fragmenting.

Miers’ nomination isn’t offensive enough for the heat that’s been generated, not by itself. But on top of everything else, it seems to be the last straw.

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Internet Struggle “Reaches Climax”

As covered on Slashdot multiple times, The world is looking to take away the control of the internet from the United States by allowing the United Nations to control the world’s DNS servers. Currently the United States “controls” the internet’s DNS servers via an independant company called ICANN, who approves of the formats used in the internet’s protocols and manages the world’s DNS servers (such as the Top Level Domains (’.com’, ‘.net’, ‘.org’, etc) and format of the DNS records).

So why do we need a shift of power in who controls the internet? I am having problems finding the answer to this one. Suggested in the Guardian, some governments have become dependant on the internet for some of thier basic infrastructure, such as tax collection and voting. As a result, these countries have invested an interest in controlling the internet - invited themselves to the party, so to speak. Perhaps it’s because these other countries aren’t happy with merely paticipating, they want to regulate. But like all forms of regulation, it’s the private sector that makes things fun and interesting, and the public sector that makes things more restrictive and less interesting.

Case in point: The great firewall of China. Classic case of what one of these other countries can do with an american-held ICANN if they’re sufficiently motivated. This is not the situation of “Let’s invent a new way of using these old internet technologies for something nifty”. This is instead a case of restriction and blocking the message the government doesn’t want it’s citizens to hear.

So what’s the score? The United States is adament on not letting ICANN go. The rest of the world is adamant that the United States let it go.

So what if the U.S. doesn’t back down? Is the world going to have a snit and kick the U.S. out of the U.N.? What has the U.S. done wrong that it should give it up? What is the U.N. going to do with it once they have it?

Personally I think the only realistic thing the other nations do is to put together thier own ICANN-lookalikes and make thier own set of authoritative root servers. Maybe they’ll follow suite with China, and put up a set of firewalls and special routers to block certain worldwide messages the current regime doesn’t like thier people to hear.

It’s certainly nothing new; “pirate” root servers were rather prevelant before ICANN opened up some alternative top-level-domains. There will be several inconsistancies when some countries decide to handle thier protocols differently than the norm. you can imagine that will score big points, when companies based in one country can’t do business with other countries.

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