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Showing posts from December, 2007

Introducing the Ten-Minute Libertarian

I was browsing at Borders last night and found, among lots and lots of other things, a little book called The Ten Minute Activist , which upon examination didn't convince me to buy, but did make me want to steal the concept. The idea is that working toward whatever your social vision happens to be does not have to start with life-changing involvement. You don't have to give away your possessions, spend Christmas in Iowa bothering people for the candidate of your choice, or load the kids in the van for a family trip to PC World. You can start to make some difference ten minutes at a time. So I'm going to run some of these ideas as I find them, and hope some of you will offer some additional suggestions. Here's the first one: Libertarians are big on personal privacy, and the government--90% of the time--is not. But the Federal Trade Commission has finally gotten around to extending its "Do Not Call" registry to cell phones, and to setting up a user-friend

Looking for a couple of Libertarians willing to do thankless unpaid work....

Over on Kilroy's Delaware there is information about how to run for school board this spring in the Red Clay Consolidated School District. The post includes residence maps for the two districts that are open. If there has ever been a year and a situation wherein an articulate Libertarian advocating for transparency and sound financial management would have a shot at getting elected, this is it. What about it, LPD? Got anybody in that area?

The premature nature of "Scientific" investigations of Religion

Over the past few years it has become trendy among atheists and other methodological naturalists not just to disagree with religious points of view, but to take the offense. Whether it's Richard Dawkins, about whose The God Delusion the New York Times said: Despite the many flashes of brilliance in this book, Dawkins’s failure to appreciate just how hard philosophical questions about religion can be makes reading it an intellectually frustrating experience. And about which fellow evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson said on E-skeptic : When Dawkins’ The God Delusion was published I naturally assumed that he was basing his critique of religion on the scientific study of religion from an evolutionary perspective. I regret to report otherwise. He has not done any original work on the subject and he has not fairly represented the work of his colleagues. [You should read the review, and in fairness, Dawkins' reply .] Then there's Sam Harris with The End of Faith

Places that will make you think

I've been uncomfortable with blogrolls from the very beginning (which was, by the way, .001667 of a century ago). Within the DE blogosphere it seems essential to list those blogs you check into or comment upon, and that's OK. And what criteria do you use for the rest? Obviously, here at Delaware Libertarian I want to hit the standard Libertarian sites, not that anyone reading this is likely (A) not to have ever visited them if the reader is a libertarian, or (B) to visit them if the reader is not a libertarian. Still, I guess it's expected. But I also wanted to cast the net a bit wider than that. Just one problem, I thought: will anybody see placing links on these blogs as endorsements? Then I thought: why the hell should I care? Because placing them here IS an endorsement that you should be aware of what's going on at these places, and if you aren't savvy enough to realize that I don't agree with everything (or anything) running down the left side of

An exercise in brevity

During late May 1940, as the German Army was overrunning France and the British Expeditionary Force fled home from Dunkirk in an improvised fleet of fishing boats, it looked like Adolph Hitler had successfully redrawn the map of Europe for generations to come. The Third Reich had become the sole superpower of Europe: Italy was a satellite, France defeated, the Soviet Union cowed into a non-aggression pact, and Great Britain's forces expelled from the continent. In the grand, patriotic master narrative of history, the story usually concentrates on the gritty Winston Churchill assuming the reins of power, scowling defiantly across the English Channel (looking over his shoulder for FDR and the USA, to be sure), and proclaiming, "This was our finest hour!" as Great Britain carried on the war, virtually alone. In the Mediterranean Theater, General (soon to be Field Marshal) Archibald Wavell sat down and reviewed the prospects of his command, which stretched from Gibraltar

The end of the year and taking stock: all that. What do you want to be when you grow up, Daddy?

Two months into the blogosphere with Delaware Libertarian and I have learned several things, the most important of which is: Attack health care, debate global warming, talk about gay rights, but never NEVER publish anything that might suggest that circumcision is OK. If I hadn't decided from the outside not to turn off comments, I'd be tempted by now. I've also learned that it takes awhile to find your own style and your niche in the blogosphere, and that there are ways you do and do not want to fight about ideas. As an example, let me reflect for a moment on the health care slugfest that I got involved in with Dana Garrett, noman, Liz Allen and a few others over on First State Politics. I wrote some posts here expressing my profound fears about a single-payer system being adopted in Delaware. (For the record, nothing there has changed, but it's the process I want to talk about.) Dana and I went back and forth a few times in the comment section (each of us actua

OK, time to cut the crap: what single-payer advocates won't tell you

Yeah, yeah, the McDowell plan will create instant nirvana in the First State, not only for the 105,000 people lacking insurance coverage right now, but also for all of us who will see the actual cost of health care decline while the quality goes up. Damn blood-sucking insurance companies, the root of all evil. Let's turn it over the government bureaucrats, whose hearts are pure. Just like in Canada. Only not so fast. There is plenty to worry about in Canada, it turns out, where private insurance still pays for 30% of all medical bills, and waiting lists for an electrocardiogram can be so long that one hospital sends out form letters reading, "If the person named on this computer-generated letter is deceased, please accept our sincere apologies." How about the recent Canadian Supreme Court decision that overturned in Quebec the ban on private medical insurance: "For our government, it's a very strong indictment of the way they've handled the system,&q

I am not health care reform: which can also be said of single-payer!

Read it here before the single-payer lobby gets back to it: "I am Not Health Care Reform" by the ubiquitous Drs. David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandlers, whose advocacy research underlies almost all of the nationwide push for single-payer health care. They start by critiquing a Richard Nixon plan that never passed: "He wanted to combine a mandate, which would require that employers cover their workers, with a Medicaid-like program for poor families, which all Americans would be able to join by paying sliding-scale premiums based on their income." They next tar all the current Democratic presidential hopefuls (except that pillar of rationality Dennis Kucinch) for attempting to put into place Nixon's plan and that of other states: "Their plans resemble measures that were passed and then failed in several states over the past two decades." There follow a list of states (Massachusetts, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, and Washington) that have institu

Markets and global warming: some heresies, Libertarian and otherwise

OK, I have formally identified myself as a pragmatic libertarian, and I have stated here and elsewhere that my difference with the scientific consensus on global warming is that I think there is adequate evidence to suggest that we are past the "tipping point," and need to become more concerned with adaptations than prevention. I also pointed out in a comment response elsewhere that "the market" in the larger sense was already moving on to the adaptation phase faster than the government. This was misinterpreted by some as me stating that the market was moving to fix the problem and that we didn't need any governmental or international polcies, interventions, etc. So let's clear up a few things. First, Nicholas Stern, in The Economics of Climate Change, The Stern Review makes it quite clear why "the market" has not done anything to halt or slow down global warming: In common with many other environmental problems, human-induced climate change

The most recent research: Single-payer plans will not fix our health care system

A big, serious, wonkish book you need to read: Michael E Porter (Harvard) and Elizabeth Olmsted Teisberg (UVa), "Redefining Heatlh Care, Creating Value-based Competition on Results" This is NOT a defense of the current healthcare system nor a hit job by social conservatives; it in fact argues that we should dump our current health care system. But NOT for a single-payer system. From pages 88-91 (I am shortening some of the quotes to avoid copyright problems; please feel free to check for yourself that I am not distorting what they said: A single-payer system would have some benefits, especially in the area of insurance coverage. Notably, it would end the practice of excluding high-risk subscriberss from health plans.... In theory, a single-payer could simplify paperwork, because there would be only one health plan and thus one set of forms.... A single-payer could limit price discrimination.... However, a single-payer system would create serious, and in our view, fa

Only here: Answering the Judas question at Christmas

From the land of intermittent internet service and in-laws, I suppose I should do a Christmas post. While I try to not to make it a habit to pull deep intellectual questions out of rock operas, the Judas question in Jesus Christ Superstar has always niggled the back of my brain: Every time I look at you I don't understand Why you let the things you did Get so out of hand You'd have managed better If you'd had it planned Now why'd you choose such a backward time And such a strange land? If you'd come today You could have reached the whole nation Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication The believer asking why God picked exactly that moment in human history to send his Son to Earth for the redemption of sins, and the non-theist wondering why this one movement that began in an obscure corner of the Roman Empire took off when so many others didn't are both asking the same question. Why Jesus in Galilee and Judea just then? Curi

Not at all about politics, but about a man

Today's Snooze J has one of those human interest stories on the front page that they run in the alternate weeks when nobody related to a state legislator is stealing the state blind. You can be jaded on these "feel good" pieces, but I'd really like you to give this one a chance. Family rearranges star's priorities is about DSU basketball player Roy Bright. Roy happens to be my academic advisee, and I have known him for two years. If anything, the article understates the admirable qualities of this young man, and the challenges he continues to face. Entirely too much of the news about DSU often focuses on the Loyer Bradens of the world, so it is refreshing to see a positive story occasionally.

Why it is often difficult for me to be Catholic

"Whereas almighty God has created the mind free...."--Thomas Jefferson The Delaware blogosphere is not always an easy place if you happen to be religious, although I'm not usually religious enough for it to matter. I disdain the uber-conservative fundamentalists of any religion (and especially Christianity) who want to send anybody who offends to hell, or to proclaim Katrina, 9/11, and HIV as God's judgment on our nation for Darwin in the classrooms and queers out of the closets. But sometimes you get less help from your friends than from your enemies. Consider the now-flopping $200 million film "The Golden Compass," based on the fantasy works of avowed atheist Philip Pullman. (Poor Pullman is trying to subvert Christianity, and there they go in the movie and water it all down.) The Catholic film reviewers first gave it a reasonably good review (which in itself causes me to question their acumen; it's tedious at best), then had their review uncere

Demopublicans out of the closet in Iowa

Check out Democrats and Republicans mind-meld in Iowa over at Delaware Curmudgeon. Obviously living a life of lying to your parents about your statist ideology has become two painful for the Demopubs, and they have begun the healty process of accepting their Big Government orientation. To those who have always thought statism was a life-style choice, we ask you to wait patiently for the genetic evidence to come in. We really don't think that we should jump to conclusions. On the other hand, just to be prudent, let's practice "safe" politics and keep them from marrying, entering the priesthood, becoming teachers, or joining the military until we've had the opportunity to insure that they won't violate our children or hurt the troops' morale. We do know one symbol that won't be get frisky outside its species:

SB 156: Dinosaurs still rule (and they hate leather)

I hesitate to characterize Senators John Still III (R-Dover North) and Robert Venables (D-Laurel) as dinosaurs, because my children like dinosaurs. But this, folks, is absolutely ridiculous. Here’s the synopsis of SB 156 : This is the first leg of a constitutional amendment to prohibit recognition of same sex marriages or other same gender legal relationships – whether originally created in Delaware or elsewhere. And here’s the proposed amendment: Marriage is prohibited and void between persons of the same gender. A marriage obtained or recognized outside this State between persons of the same gender shall not constitute a legal or valid marriage within this State. The uniting of two persons of the same gender in a civil union, domestic partnership, or other similar same gender legal relationship shall not be valid or recognized in this State. (Note, by the way, that that Still and Venables don’t even seem to have the slightest idea that there are transgendered people ou

SB 177: Delaware Single-Payer healthcare reform to be funded by regressive tax hikes!

Among the dirty little secrets hidden away in Senate Bill 177 , which would establish a single-payer healthcare system in Delaware is the manner in which it is to be funded. They've got to raise a lot of money to have the government take over approximately 11% of the state's economy. In 2003 the total health care expenditures by Delaware citizens, according the UD's Center for Applied Demography and Survey Research was $5.044 BILLION, a figure that has arguably risen to at least $5.45 billion today. (This is a low figure, by the way, as it does not completely capture the money Delaware citizens spend for healthcare out-of-state at places like Temple, Penn, Johns Hopkins, or Sloan-Kettering.) Of that, again according to the Center for Applied Demography and Survery Research, Delaware citizens paid an average of $2,310 out-of-pocket costs for health care in 2003. Most of this went to premiums, co-pays, pharmaceuticals, and dental services (which are reimbursed by insur

Who owns your children? A Libertarian conundrum

First off--nobody does. Children are people; ownership is slavery. I was just trying to get your attention. I thought about starting this off by citing some of the many negative references to circumcision as a possible HIV transmission reduction agent, but Duffie and "um,no" have done that quite thoroughly in the comments section. So I'll just bleed there for awhile, thanks rabbi. I was more struck by Um's comment that Libertarianism is about Liberty. Circumcising an infant removes the fundamental liberty of maintaining bodily integrity. Depriving a child of part of his penis... Depriving him of the right to make that choice, when there's no medical need... Well, that doesn't sound very Libertarian to me! While I'm still not sure about circumcision and "bodily integrity," this response made me think about who gets to make decisions for children and why. Um,no strongly believes that "depriving a child of part of his penis" is a

The Rabbi had it right: circumcision helps prevent HIV

I love Discover Magazine's Top 100 Science Stories of the Year. Unfortunately, that's the geek in me looking for clips on dark matter and soil problems causing the fall of ancient civilizations. But every so often you find news you can use. Top story number 15 is Male Circumcision: A New Defense Against HIV , which documents the fact having your newborn baby boy visited by a mohel can actually reduce his risk of transmitted HIV by a whopping 60%!!! "Circumcision is thought to prevent infection because the underside of the foreskin is rich in immune cells that are particularly vulnerable to HIV. Small tears in the foreskin during intercourse can also allow the virus to slip into the body." What's really interesting (and dismaying) about this story is that apparently this 2006 study only reinforces a 1999 study done in Great Britain that has been studiously and intentionally ignored by the World Health Organization. The study estimates that implementing a

Where's Waldo? Does Ron Paul pander, and no homos in helmets!

From one of my favorite blogs, Waldo Lydecker's Journal , two very timely posts: Daily Dish Finally Drinks the Kool-aid covers Andrew Sullivan's endorsement of Ron Paul, and why this could be problematic. Can't cohese, can't win presents the most recent, really dumb arguments being used to keep gays and lesbians out of the military. Check them both out.

Libertarian = Fringe?

The fact that it's becoming harder to ignore the Ron Paul phenomenon ($18 million and counting raised in the 4th quarter, half of it in two explosive bursts) doesn't mean that anybody actually understands what it means. People who have quietly been becoming more depressed that the Demopublican monopoly on big-government politics feel like they've found a voice, and it is their hope rather than their logic that forecasts a dramatic, overnight revolution in American politics. They are busy building upset scenarios in which the Congressman marches on to the Republican nomination, and then the presidency (ignoring the fact that, at best 7-8% of likely voters in any of the primaries seems interested). And if Paul did win the nomination, it might prove the abrupt deathknell to their hopes. Novelist and social critic Upton Sinclair stunned the Democratic Party in 1934 by winning the California primary of a populist wave. What happened next is fully chronicled in Greg Mitchell&