Saturday, July 29, 2006

Lesson for Prairie Students

The following is a mini commentary by the Racine Journal Times.

"Thumbs down to The Prairie School for charging for the use of your tennis courts. Yes, you paid for the new courts. Yes, you're a private school and have every right to charge for their use. But your new summer tennis club does little to cast off the elitism associated with your school. Drop the fee and give something back to the community; it'd be a good lesson for your students."

I agree with the Journal Times on one point. There is a lesson here for students. Here it is. There are many people who have contempt for the private sector. Many of them become journalists. They may be deeply caring people, to be sure. They love equality. Thus, they do not like to see wealth, as it is a visual reminder of inequality. If things were equal, this wealth would be redistributed fairly. This is the essential problem that the Journal Times has with The Prairie School and their decision with regards to the tennis courts. They claim that Prairie should give back to the community. But what has the community given to Prairie? Prairie is tax exempt like any other non profit organization and they receive bussing service for their students. Otherwise they get nothing from the community, unlike Racine Unified, which gets roughly $12,000 per student from the community. In fact, Prairie School and their parents ARE giving to the community. For every student educated at Prairie, the taxpayers save roughly $12,000, because those students are not incurring that cost at Racine Unified. Does the Journal Times berate Unified when they charge admission for a basketball game? Of course not. There is an obvious double standard being openly displayed by the Journal Times. But get used to it kids. If you should succeed in life, you will no doubt find people that will envy your accomplishments. They will want to drag you down to their level of misery. Don't let them get you down.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Shocking Business News!!!!!

On July 23rd, the Journal Times ran a story regarding the Prairie School's decision to charge customers for the use of their tennis courts. Ordinarily I would not find this to be newsworthy, but apparently the JT thinks this is news. So I thought I would relay the follow news item to the Journal Times.

To whom it may concern at the Journal Times;

Aften a not-so-agonizing internal debate, the owners of Dimple's LLC in downtown Racine have decided to continue their present practice of charging customers money in exchange for merchandise. "The exchange of money for merchandise is a key component of our overall business strategy," noted company spokesperson Denis Navratil. "Besides, exhaustive research has revealed that charging money in exchange for goods and services is standard practice in a wide range of enterprises" Navratil continued. "For example, Wall Mart continues to charge for their products. So does my doctor. Even the public sector is getting in the game. I have to pay the government a sizeable chunk of cash for a small sticker that I adhere to the bumber of my car. Whats next! It would seem as if we are in the midst of a "charging for goods and services" epidemic." But some things in life remain free. Dimple's LLC has decided to allow any non-smoking, shoe and shirt wearing individuals a FREE opportunity to wander through our store. This offer is limited to the regularly scheduled hours posted on our door.

Feel free to print this news item in the paper.

Free Market Faith?

Reader Wade asked about my faith in the free market. His post can be read in the comment section of my last entry entitled "Racist Demands".

My first thought on the viability of free markets is that it has nothing whatsoever to do with faith. I advocate for free markets because of what I have learned through study and experience. There is so much evidence available that demonstrates over and over again that free markets perform better than government controlled markets.

But free markets appear to be on somewhat shakier ground when it comes to providing for demographics that are small in size, such as handicapped people, or people with size 24 shoes? Would Walgreens have handicapped parking if it were not mandated by government? Perhaps not. I own a retail store and I sometimes carry shoes, but I will not carry size 24 shoes. Should the government mandate that I carry size 24 shoes? Am I discriminating against people with extremely large feet? You bet I am.

I suspect that if handicapped parking spaces were not a mandated , many if not most stores would not have them. But I also suspect that this would present an opportunity for entrepreneurs in a free market. Some businesses could profit by specializing in meeting the needs of the handicapped.

Now government can only mandate that which is possible. Would it make any difference if the government of Bangledesh mandated handicapped parking spaces, gently sloped entrances, etc...? No, because there is not the money available to meet even more basic needs like food and shelter, forget about cars and parking spaces. Only in wealthy countries can the government succeed in providing parking spaces for the handicapped. And let us remember that the money taken by our government is available because free individuals create far more wealth than does government enterprise. In countries with less economic freedom, there is less money for the government to take. Thus it is our not-completely-free-market which is, in a roundabout way, providing the handicapped parking spaces at Walgreens.

Of course free markets are not perfect, but then perfection is not an option. The question is whether economic freedom produces greater results than other forms of economic organization. The evidence suggests that it does.

One final thought. There could be some very ugly results if a completely free market were the norm. Perhaps the handicapped would be neglected and the elderly would be left to die of starvation amidst our plenty. A free market is great at creating wealth, but not so good at redistributing it to the needy. But must the government perform this function? When the government takes over this job, we are then absolved of our responsibility to others. Perhaps it would be best if the government did not perform these functions. We would have to come face to face with the problems in our community. It would be the responsibility of individuals or groups to address these needs. This is the way it used to be. Have you ever wondered why there are so many old Catholic hospitals?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Racist Demands

Serial race-baiter Alfonso Gardner was in the news again, with the following request, "Why don't McReynolds and Lehman debate in the minority community and tell them what they will do for the minority community if elected to the state senate? What I want them to do is to quit this attack and get down to what are y'all going to do for the minority community? Have debates. Lay your agenda out."

Gardner has laid out his agenda. The only thing that matters to him, apparently, is minorities. The rest of the community doesn't matter.

Suppose white racists made the same demands. "What are you going to do for the white folks. Forget the minorities. We, the white folks, can deliver the votes. What are you going to do for us?" Now this fictitious quote is quite ugly, is it not? But is it substantially different than Gardner's demands?

I would suggest to both McReynolds and Lehman to ignore Mr. Gardner. Your job is to help the community as a whole, not to Balkanize it.

Proportionality For Non-Jews

"While we believe the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers is deplorable and should be responded to in a just manner, we find it unconscionable Fiengold would condone lawlessness on the part of Israel. Israel's intentional deadly attacks on civilian population centers and civilian infrastructure in Gaza and Lebenon constitute illegal collective punishment of innocent men, women, and children in these areas. Israel's "serious" response to the kidnappings violates the principle of proportionality that must be observed when acting on military targets."

These are the words of Pete and Sonali Knotek and their entire letter can be found in todays letters from readers in the Racine Journal Times. I have some concerns with their argument.

First of all, Israel's military is not responding only to the kidnappings. Hezzbolah has been lobbing hundreds of missiles into civilian areas of Israel, which has resulted in the deaths of innocent Israeli men, women, and children. The authors neglected to mention this important fact.

So what is Israel to do? They are being attacked by terrorists. Innocents are going to die. The unfortunate choice facing Israel is whether those innocents will be primarily Israeli's or Lebonese. Of course it is Hezbollah, not Israel, that has created the danger for the innocents in Israel as well as the innocents in Lebanon.

Now, with regard to Israel's "intentional attacks on civilian population centers", the authors neglect to mention that the attackers, Hezbollah, are located, quite intentionally, in civilian areas. The only way to fight Hezbollah is to fight them where they are, which is in civilian areas. The responsibility for the unfortunate civilian deaths is Hezbollah's and only Hezbollah's, because they are using innocent civilians as shields. If the terrorists were fighting from non-residential areas, would Israel still be attacking civilian areas? I don't think so.

Well how about the attacks on infrastructure, such as the airport? Clearly some, if not most infrastructure has military uses also. The airport could be used to resupply Hezbollah if Israel did not destroy it. But who should bear the responsibility for this damage? Hezbollah and only Hezbollah because they initiated the aggression.

But is Israel's response proportional? The proportional response to someone who is trying to kill you is, if you value your own life, to kill them first. Israel's response is proportional.

I have a question for the authors. Is your concern for innocent Jews proportionate to your concern for innocent Lebonese? After reading the letter, I did not sense any such proportionality.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Solving Crime

The Racine City Council just took a bite out of crime, or so they think, by limiting the number of payday loan stores. Studies have shown that crime increases in locations with numerous payday loan stores. Some on the council apparently believe that fewer payday loan stores will mean less crime. I do not dispute that there is a correlation between crime and the number of payday loan stores. The question is whether there is correlation and causation.

In my ill fated run for County Executive, I recall a similar kind of thinking. At least one of my opponents cited statistics that indicate a lower crime rate in areas with higher rates of home ownership. I have no doubt that there is a correlation between home ownership rates and crime rates. But the would be County Exec concluded that public policies that gave taxpayer money to people so that they could buy homes would reduce the crime rate. Or, to put it differently, the would be County Exec concluded that there was causation as well as correlation. If not owning a home causes crime, then the solution is to give people homes.

Which brings me to my modest crime reducing proposal. I live in Wind Point, and I am willing to bet that there is a higher percentage of Mercedes here than in the high crime areas of Racine. I am also quite certain that there are fewer murders in Wind Point than in Racine's high crime areas. There is an obvious correlation between the number of Mercedes and the absence of murderous behavior. Therefore, if we really want to reduce the number of murders in Racine, we need to increase the number of Mercedes in Racine. I suggest that we purchase a hundred or so used Mercedes and park them strategically throughout the high crime areas of the city. Peace and tranquility will soon follow.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Lefty Logic

If you get a chance, read Father Bruce Clanton's op-ed in the JT entitled "The challenge of planting trees with our lives." The commentary reveals the truth. Only the truth revealed is other than what was intended by the author.

Clanton wraps his leftist vision of a borderless state, abortion, pacificism, socialism, gay marriage and anti-Americanism around God and faith.

"We call some immigrants illegal because they cross our borders without proper papers" writes Clanton. Well, yes, it is the papers which would make the border crossing legal. Absent the papers, the border crossing is illegal.

"But when we cross the borders of Iraq, we call our soldiers heroes. Not illegals." Please understand what Clanton is trying to accomplish here. The clearly illegal activity of paperless border crossers is being justified because our troops have "crossed the borders of Iraq". By this standard of logic, virtually any illegal activity could be justified. Some of our troops have been accused of rape and murder. Clantons muddled logic would suggest that rape and murder could also be justified because some of our troops (may) have done so. Now I don't think Clanton favors rape and murder, I am simply demonstrating the absurdity of his thinking. Furthermore, since it is obvious that Clanton opposes our Iraqi border crossing, why not be consistent and also oppose the border crossing into the US by illegals, er, paperless immigrants.

"We expect young people to abandon their arms on our streets, but we demand pride when they take them up on foriegn streets", Clanton continues. Is there no difference between the activities of street criminals and the work of United States soldiers? Apparently not, in Clantons mind. I wonder if he "supports the troops" but not the war.

"We work so hard to protect life unborn. But as soon as too many lives come of age, we abandon them. We do not have the same passion for their health care, nutrition, their education or the environment in which they live." Here is what Clanton is saying. If you oppose abortion, you must also embrace his socialist vision of government control of the economy, including health care education and environment protection, otherwise, you are a hypocrite. I for one, disagree. One can believe that abortion is murder AND that less government and more freedom will result in better health and better education. One can care about the pre-born and post-born without embracing socialism.

Thank you Father Clanton for the clear look at the muddled thinking of the extreme left.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

More Unified Nonsense

I would like to add my name to the list of people who are outraged at the attempt to muzzle elected school board members. Board President Sue Kutz has scheduled a closed meeting to consider whether one of its members has violated school board policy. In a Journal Times article, Kutz declined to name the alleged offender or the offending behavior, though many suspect that school board member Brian Dey has been targetted for his outspoken comments related to RUSD.

It is voters who should scrutinize the behavior of their elected officials. It is voters that should discipline the elected officials that fail to represent them properly. I respect Brian Dey for his outspokenness on school issues. I can not respect any official efforts to silence him or any other elected official. If Brian Dey or any other school board member has violated school board policy, then Sue Kutz should openly state the alleged infraction, and allow a public response by the offending board member. The effort to handle this matter in secrecy suggests to me that it is board policy, rather than Brian Dey, that would wilt under public scrutiny.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Thinking Out Loud

I have recently attended a few social gatherings. Inevitably I am asked about any political ambitions that I might have. The truth is that I would love to serve our community. But I am realistic. I am well aware that my willingness to challenge status quo special interests has rendered me all but unelectable. And that is OK. I do what I do because I believe it is important to consider and debate the issues that affect our community. I don't seek popularity and I won't be intimidated into silence by the thug element of the status quo. That said, I do hope that some of the ideas that I support will find expression in the actions taken, or not taken, by our local elected officials.

Which leads me to a question that I have been pondering. Is winning an elected office the only or best way to influence public policy? I hope not. Politicians vote on ideas. The ideas which garner the most support from people will almost always result in support from politicians. It is not neccessary that the idea be a good idea, only a popular idea. Most politicians are merely the tools through which popular ideas are expresses in public policy. My conclusion is that the best way to influence public policy (in a positive manner) is to help good ideas to become popular ideas. Thus the battle to popularize ideas is at least as important, if not more important than the battle to win elected office, because the politicians will merely adjust their votes according to what their constituents find to be popular.

As such, the critical task is to identify good ideas and share them with the widest possible audience. This is easier said than done. The internet is helpful. A newspaper would be better.

My Apologies

It seems that I have a few readers who are missing me. I appreciate the sentiment and I apologize for my absence. As it is, I have been busy at work and with other considerations, and my mind has not been on the Racine scene to much. But it is very nice to know that there are some people who value my point of view.

I will share a revealing exchange that I had with one of my off-the-deep-end-Bush-is-the-devil liberal friends of mine. We were attending the parade on the fourth and he was making his usual anti-American comments as he prepared to verbally assault the Republican politicians that walked by. I wondered aloud whether the 4th of July was really the day to express hatred for the United States. His response was that he was not proud to be an American. I asked him which country he could proudly be from. He dodged the question and I pressed him to answer. Finally he told me. He is a citizen of the world and is only proud of the United Nations. In other words, every nation is bad, unless we combine them all together and have one world government. Yikes!