Saturday, September 29, 2007

Intangible Wealth

"If all conditions for development other than capital are present, capital will soon be generated locally or will be available... from abroad... If, however, the conditions for development are not present, then aid... will be necessarily unproductive and therefor ineffective."

That quote comes from development economist Peter Bauer in a Wall Street Journal commentary about intangible wealth. The quote pertained to the macro development of nations, but it caught my attention and I think it can also apply to the micro development of children, particularly with regards to their education.

Of course here in Racine we all see the education problems faced by RUSD and other schools. Throwing more aid at the schools won't be helpful because too many children lack those intangible "conditions for development other than capital."

What are some of those conditions for development? In my opinion, the optimal non capital conditions for children are to live in a loving home comprised of a stable husband and wife who are able to take care of themselves and impart to their children the importance of respectful behavior and an understanding of the importance of education, among other things.

The bad news is that the government can't give our children the intangible wealth that they need to thrive. The good news is that there is no shortage of intangible wealth. It is available to anyone willing to take it.

Racine YWCA, NAACP to Merge

OK, I lied. They aren't planning a merger, not that I know of anyway. But maybe they should. The recent news of the YWCA closing its fitness center due to declining membership, coupled with the their newish focus on combating racism, leads me to think that a merger might be sensible. The NAACP is of course also very much focused on combating racism, and I suspect they could use additional members and resources. The two organizations appear to have remarkably similar agendas. Why not merge?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Headless Liberals Everywhere

If you want some insight into liberal thinking, read JT columnist Heather Gascoigne's article entitled "Headless women everywhere." Or just read my analysis.

Gascione became a "strident feminist" of the "women rule, men drool" variety before moderating her views to allow for "the gray areas of a lot of issues." But, "sometimes those strident feminist tendencies come up again. Usually in a heated moment. I try to hold them back until I can find a cogent argument for why I feel the way I do." Gascione also writes "if I believe something, you can be sure that I've thought about the reasons why I believe it. Even if, in the end, the reason comes down to "There is no reason; I just feel that way," I've thought about it."

Note the role that thinking plays for Gascione. First she reaches a conclusion of some sort or other, usually in a heated, or emotional, moment. Then she allows herself time to seek a cogent argument in order to validate her feelings. If that fails, she can simply revert back to "I just feel that way." The reason to think is to justify conclusions based on emotion. That is not thinking in my view.

The reason to think is not to justify conclusions already reached. We should think to seek the truth while entertaining the possibility that we might reach a new conclusion. But if you are a liberal, you get to avoid reason altogether and just say "I just feel that way."

Friday, September 21, 2007

On Housing Discrimination

I have an apartment for rent and I want to discriminate. Yes, you read that right. I have borrowed an enormous amount of money and have spent the better part of a year working on this project, and I would like very much to discriminate against people who will not take good care of my property and against those who will not pay the rent. The problem of course is detirmining who those people are or might be.

Now I have no desire to discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientaion, religion, politics or any of those kinds of things, but I wouldn't mind discriminating against a person who doesn't have a stable job, or who has a history of evictions or criminal records, or even against someone who gives me the creeps.

Do any of my readers have any advice they might like to share? On what basis may I legally discriminate? For example, must I rent to a convicted rapist if he can afford the rent?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Why Pass a Budget?

I am not sure why Republicans would even want a new state budget. I have no reason to believe that it would be any better than the one we have now, given what I have been hearing from our local Repubs, such as Robin Vos. Remember, if we don't pass a new budget, we just extend our current budget. If we don't pass a new budget, Republicans can accurately say that we have a budget that does not raise taxes. Furthermore, a new budget would allow Governor Doyle to make any budget changes that he pleases with his unchecked veto powers. Have we forgotten that Doyle raided the highway fund to fund schools all by crossing out large sections of the budget. Given a new budget, Doyle could include the Healthy Wisconsin nonsense, if he wanted to, by using the same trick. We shouldn't give him that opportunity. Don't pass a budget. Our current one is bad enough.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ethical Dilemma

This morning I played in an tennis tournament with my son. Aside from having fun, the purpose of the tournament is to honor two Racine area tennis players who have died of cancer. Participants are asked to pay $40 each to the American Cancer Society.

Until recently the American Cancer Society was a non-partisan organization seeking to bring about a cure for cancer and to educate the public about cancer causing substances. Lately however, the ACS has introduced a new initiative wherin, judging by their own web site, they are beginning to push for socialized medicine.

Of course I don't think that would be a good idea. The costs will go up and the quality of care will go down.

So I can't, in good conscience, give money to an organization who's efforts will hurt our economy while negatively impacting our collective health. However, I already implicitly agreed to pay this money when I played tennis this morning. What to do?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Liquor License Madness

Jim Spodick owns a rather large building on 6th Street in downtown Racine. He is working on the building and hopes to open a business there. I don't have nearly enough details at this point, but the club would include a large enough space for dancing and the business would feature Latin music. Spodick and or his tenant have recently been met with a decidedly unenthusiastic city council when applying for a liquor license. At this point I don't know if a vote has been taken yet on the liquor issue, but it doesn't look good, apparently, for Spodick and company.

I have frequently written about the insanity that accompanies liquor licensing. The city council seeks information with which they try to determine beforehand whether a licensee or licensed establishment will become problematic. Applicants understand this and adjust accordingly. That is why, when you go to one of these meetings, you will hear an applicant say something like "we will not be playing hip hop music or serving 40 ounce malt liquor in bottles" which is code for "you don't have anything to worry about, alderman, we will make sure not to attract any problematic black people to our fine upstanding establishment ." Of course Jim Spodick's establishment will include slasa dancing so there is no getting around the possibility that Mexicans might show up. As such, coded assurances to the council were not an option.

The city of Racine is going to get sued someday for this nonsense, and when they do, they deserve to lose. Licenses should not be issued or denied based on prejudiced assumptions about future customers. Rather, a licensee should get his license based on objective criteria (like whether he has a criminal record or has sold alcohol to minors) rather than subjective and potentially prejudiced opinions.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Steer Clear of Smears

Having been on the receiving end of political smears, I try my best not to automatically believe the horrendous things that are said and written about politically prominent individuals. My hope is that those who have witnessed the vicious smearing of General Petreus by will adopt a similar habit.

Oxymoron Commission

A reliable source informs me that Racine's Landmark Preservation Commission has voted against returning the Civil War cannons to Monument Square, the cannons original location. Now I have mixed feelings about the cannons on the square issue, but what is the point of having a Landmark Preservation Commission if it opposes the preservation of landmarks?

And while we are on the subject, what would you call a conservative preservationist? A preservative?

Friday, September 07, 2007

Sky Is Falling

I was channel surfing this morning when I came upon MSNBC. They were asking whether the US economy was collapsing. Intrigued, I continued watching, wondering what it was that might be bringing down the strongest economy the world has ever known. And the apocalyptic news was the loss of 4,000 jobs.

Now that is not good news, of course, but it follows four consecutive years of job growth. The US economy has added millions of jobs in recent years. Furthermore, unemployment is at 4.6%, very near historical lows. So the answer is no, the US economy is not collapsing.

Now this is not intended as an econ thread but instead a media bias thread. So I wonder, if the loss of 4,000 jobs prompts MSNBC to ask whether the economy is collapsing, what did they ask when the US economy was generating millions of jobs? Or when tax revenue skyrocketed after the Bush tax cuts? Or when poverty decreases last year?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Water Politics

I didn't realize that one makes a political statement by drinking bottled water. Then I heard about a proposed tax on bottled water in Chicago. And this weekend I listened to two different authors tout their books on C-Span. One thought that bottled water demonstrated the superiority of the private sector, while the other author felt that bottled water was proof of consumerism run amuck and the cause of needless environmental damage. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Just Wondering

John Edwards has called for manditory medical procedures as part of his universal health care plan. Anything manditory, by definition, precludes choice. How would Edwards square his plan for manditory medical procedures with a woman's right to choose an abortion?