The “People United” Go Down In Flames

Very good article by Walter Russell Mead from “The American Interest”

Few interesting quotes:

  • “For the unions who represent its employees, the bureaucratic, civil service state is a solution permanently in search of new problems to solve and new worlds to conquer.”
  • “The power of the public unions within the party pulls Democrats much farther to the left than they would otherwise go.”
  • “To the extent that these unions shape the Democratic agenda, Democrats aren’t just the party of government; they are the party of inefficient, expensive, unresponsive, bureaucratic government.”
  • “The left lost this election because it failed to persuade the people that its analysis was correct. The people weren’t a herd of sheep dazzled by big money campaign ads on TV; the Wisconsin electorate chewed over the issues at leisure, debated them extensively, considered both points of view — and then handed the left a humiliating, stinging and strategic defeat.”

Obesity in America

Very good video produced by Reason.tv regarding the fight against obesity.  In general, the ‘good intentions’ of creating laws to control behavior is pretty useless and gives government the green light to find other ways to restrict freedom.

There are all sort of examples of laws created to ‘help’, the most controversial of late is New York’s Mayor Bloomberg banning sodas larger than16 oz.  If the people really wanted this, then wouldn’t they just stop buying the smaller soda?  There is, of course, some pricing strategy that promotes buying a larger soda (price per oz is a little less if you buy the larger drink) and then once you buy the larger drink, you may fee obligated to drink the whole thing.

Still, it doesn’t seem at all appropriate for a city to ban a particular size of product.  Maybe, for his next law, he’ll ban larger clothing with the idea that if you can’t buy extra large sized clothing, you’ll be forced to loose weight.  A part of me is thinking I shouldn’t write things like that lest it comes true.

An even more surprising ban comes from Reason’s Nanny of the month.  A federal prosecutor filed to ban raw milk, making the statement that citizens don’t have the freedom to eat what they want. Link to Nanny of the Month

Smashwords vs PayPal

From Fast Company, an interview with Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords.

Smashwords is an independent e-book publisher, popular with authors that don’t have mainstream contracts.  Basically, anyone can write a book, upload it to Smashwords, who will then distribute it.  Most of the revenue goes back to the author.  Great model for aspiring authors.

This is a very odd conflict, in that PayPal, at the prompting of credit card companies, threatened Smashwords with canceling their PayPal service if they did not remove titles that were considered “smutty.”  The reason I find this odd because I wonder if credit card companies have the same problem with online pornography.  Also, I’m not quite sure how the title of the book is attached to the credit card companies – if I buy something at a store, it’s usually the store’s name that I see on the  credit card statement.  Very odd situation, but glad Smashwords prevailed.

Regardless on your position on erotica, this is one of those slippery slope issues.  Once you start down it, where is the line drawn?

Volunteer Police Departments

Reason.TV video about volunteer police departments.  This video focuses on Redlands, CA, but there are similar programs around the nation.

Important points about the way the Redlands program works:

  • All volunteers go through the same police training program that regular police do.
  • All volunteers provide their own equipment, including cars.  They usually fundraise to pay for everything.  No money comes from the general fund.
  • The Redlands program includes a new aviation program, also funded through donations.
  • More information at: www.policevolunteers.org

 

DC’s City Hall vs Record Stores

Reason TV published a story about the “assault on record stores by DC City Hall.”  (Link to video)

There really aren’t very many record stores around any more.  The few that do exist sell mostly used vinyl records, posters, clothes, and other music paraphernalia.  Recently, it looks like DC changed their business licensing requirement and now require these stores to register as pawn shops.  The reason is clear – they want to be able to track stolen merchandise that was sold to the store.  I suppose I see the need, but don’t particularly agree with the methods.  Instead of passing laws and bullying stores into buying new licenses, did they take a more cooperative approach?  Also not sure there is any need to hold inventory and wait for detectives to do whatever investigation.  I think just recording who sold by showing ID would be sufficient.

I don’t think this video, however, is particularly good at presenting the issue.  It sounds more like a one sided story designed to just make people mad without really proposing any solutions.  Just “City Hall is bad.  Granted, governments at all levels are known for making amazingly bad decisions, but if my assumption on the why is correct, what City Hall needs to do is walk away from the strong-arm tactics that government is increasingly enjoying use of and instead use a diplomacy and cooperation instead.