Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thought of the Day

Who would have thought that buying a dog would require more deliberation than saving the U.S. economy?

Racy Discussion at UWP

I have been invited, by a Parkside student, to a discussion at Parkside today (5 pm, Molinaro Hall, no info on UWP web site) concerning homphobia in black churches. Given that this discussion is coming on the heels of the California vote concerning gay marriage, and the widely discussed fact that blacks voted to preserve traditional marriage, or oppose gay marriage, (choose your own narrative) I can't help but wonder whether the underlying assumption of the discussion will be that opposition to gay marriage is synonymous with homophobia. Anyway, I guess I will have to go to find out. But it is pretty gutsy of Parkside to have two traditionally liberal groups go head to head. If any sparks fly, I will report back later.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Not Really Black

Kay at Kay's Blue Racine has questioned the blackness of Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele. So I, not wanting to be among the cowardly in our nation, called her on it.

Seemingly, authentic blackness has less to do with skin color or national origin and everything to do with the degree to which you accept liberal orthodoxy.

Reaching this conclusion about black people requires a few intermediate steps. First, you must assume that black people do not possess the intelligence necessary to detirmine their own political viewpoints. Second, you need to assume that black people are not individuals with varied thoughts, upbringings, and experiences but rather are members of a monlithic group with identical cultural experiences that should result in identical political affiliations. And thirdly, you must confer upon yourself the authority as final arbiter of all things black, even if you are a white woman from a small town in Wisconsin.

I don't meet anyone's definition of black, but if I did, I am quite certain I would want nothing to do with people holding such condescending views.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Shall We Overcome?

The Racine Journal Times ran an article today about some Horlick student agitators gathering to sing some old civil rights song called "We Shall Overcome." The group is working to overcome some obstacles like the self segregation that was happening at school and issues in the community such as unemployment.

Tucked at the very end of the article is this paragraph:

"Horlick senior Breana Stephens said too often she sees there are classes at school where there are mostly students of one particular race. For instance, she said advanced placement classes often have mostly white students. It's one of the issues she said that the community still needs to "overcome" as the old protest song says."

Unless Horlick has a whites-register-for-classes-first policy, I think it is an aversion to studying that needs to be overcome. Neither a lovely singing voice or a heartfelt concern for minorities will help much in Calculus class.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Harding for Mayor #2

I enjoy grappling with tough issues. And the recent flap about mayoral candidate Jody Harding is a tough issue.

A year or so ago, Harding wrote that people on the government dole should not be able to vote while on the dole. These people include those who are on food stamps, housing assistance, farmers who receive subsidies and others. The Racine Post has all the details.

The word "crestfallen" probably best describes my initial reaction to this news. But after a day or two of reflection, I have a different view.

For starters, Harding was discussing a real problem. It is a problem when a person votes to enrich themselves. In virtually all other circumstances in real life, this is considered a conflict of interest that should be avoided via a recusal.

For the record, I disagree with Jody Harding. There is no legislative solution for this problem. Detirmining who is or is not voting for selfish reasons is simply not possible. People should not vote for selfish reasons, certainly, but education and morals are the needed antidote to this problem, not disenfranchisement.

And finally, the mayor of Racine would have no authority to disenfranchise anyone, so this whole issue is just a bit of political philosophizing on her part. Granted, it does suggest that Harding may be a bit prone to saying what is on her mind but I like that in a politician. I still hope she wins.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Nation of Cowards

Attorney General Eric Holder recently said that we are a nation of cowards when it comes to speaking candidly on the subjest of race. Is he right?

I think he is. The problem is the political correctness that has been brought to us by leftist intellectuals. The only acceptable conversation on race goes something like this:

The larger society (whites) have oppressed and continue to oppress minorities and must work to rid themselves of the racist attitudes that are the cause of whatever social problem exists in a given minority community.

If you depart from the acceptable conversation, there is a good chance you will be thought a racist.

And since very few people want to go out of their way to be considered racist, they simply avoid the conversation.

And yes, this is cowardly.

We can't just complain about political correctness. We must confront it and the problems that it causes. And, IMHO, the politically correct attitude concerning race encourages minorities to give up while holding racist views themselves, that whites are the cause of their problems. And this prevailing attitude is very harmful to minorities. It is also cowardly to blame others for your own problems.

So yes, we are a nation of cowards.

Unasked Question

How often in recent weeks did you hear some version of the following question?

#1) Liberal journalist to Republican opponent of the stimulus spending: "Why is it that you now oppose spending but you did not try to stop the excessive spending that occured during the Bush administration?"

Now how often have you heard this question?

#2) Republican to liberal journalist: "Why, if spending was excessive during the Bush administration, as your question suggests, does it make sense to massively increase spending?"

Question #1 is meant to embarrass Republicans and, truth be told, they deserve it. But question #2 is the far more important question and yet it never was asked.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Partner Wanted

I know a married woman who was listed as "partner" of a gay man. This allowed said woman to fly for free around the country, as her "partner" worked for an airline that extended certain benifits to domestic partners.

Governor Doyle is proposing a new domestic partner classification that would, among other things, provide health care coverage for partners. "This isn't an issue of being gay or straight - we are not judging people's lives here" Governor Doyle said.

Very well then. I am glad Governor Doyle won't be judgemental. Though I am already married, I wouldn't mind having a partner, provided he or she is an employee of the state. People form all sorts of partnerships for all kinds of reasons- who are we to judge?- and I would like a partner who can provide my family medical care.

Won't you be my partner?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Stimulus Trial and Error

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker has an interesting idea. It isn't going to happen but he wants to use stimulus money to eliminate the sales tax for the remainder of the year and issue property tax refunds.

I think it is a good idea. If states or municipalities could use the money as they saw fit, we could learn something from the multitude of likely uses of the money. Some cities would build useless libraries while others would reduce taxes. Some would invest in the stock market while others would build solar powered windmills for their rain gardens.

And then, some years down the road, we would have data. We would know what worked and what didn't. But don't expect anything of the sort from this spending package. It will come with specific instructions from Washington.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Understanding Liberals

Just so there is no misunderstanding, the title of this thread is not meant to suggest that liberals are understanding but rather to suggest a means by which others may begin to understand one of the commonly held and mistaken views of liberals.

Liberals (and many others) mistakenly equate or link business and business people with the free market. Business, in their view, is private sector profit-seeking activity and the free market is merely the place where such profit seeking behavior takes place. Liberals have a very limited view of business and a very expansive view of free markets.

Now contrast this with my views of business and free markets. I tend to view business much more broadly and the free market much more narrowly. For example, I think we are all in business. I am in the business of selling stuff. Others may be in the business of selling their time and skills to an employer. Still others are in the business of loafing while seeking to ensure that others provide for their needs. One can engage in any of these business activities without believing in or desiring free markets. The free market is a belief that each of us should be as free as possible to engage in business without harm from others or interference from government. Don't confuse business activity with a free market.

Now let us consider our current economic problem and view it in light of the differing definitions of business and free markets. Liberals see businesses grovelling for bailout cash and conclude that the free market is a failure. I see businesses engaging in profit seeking behavior with no regard for free markets. I see businesses that have failed in a free market and, for the sake of their survival, turn to the market distorters, or politicians, for a solution. I see businesses moving away from free markets and towards distorted, government-run economic activity. It is a mistake or a lie to suggest that these businesses are engaging in free market activity when in fact they are doing just the opposite.

Now this is no innocent mistake and it has profound implications for society. The failed-free-market theory provides the argument for just about every bad idea advanced by liberals. If the free market is a failure, then we have to turn to government for the answers, right? Isn't that what liberals do?

It is no accident that liberals dominate in the businesses that are least free and most dominated by government. Thus liberals are merely engaged in their own type of business when they trash the virtues of the free market. They do this in order to ensure greater government control of the economy because, in the short term at least, it is in their own economic self interest. More public school teachers, more government jobs, more welfare handouts for people who won't work etc...

If you have made it this far, thank you for hanging in there through my rambling and please consider my main point, that business and free markets are NOT the same thing.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Just Say No

The city of Racine wants some of that stimulus money. Top on the wish list is a new $36 million library to be located on Racine's west side.

I hope we don't get a dime from the federal government. It is not that the cash couldn't come in handy, but in the hands of our elected officials, they will obviously just make things worse.

A new library is a perfect example. For starters, we don't need one. We have a beautiful library already. I go there with some regularity and it is never crowded. Usually there are no more than a few people looking at books. Certainly the computers are almost always in use, but addressing this problem could be easily accomplished by renting some of the abundant available retail space and buying 40 new computers. There, I just saved the federal government $35 million.

OK, so they build a sparkling new library using overpaid union labor as required by law. After overpaying for labor, we will then have to hire a slew of union librarians that we don't need. And we will be paying for their health care and pensions for the next fifty years.

If our local officials are going to use federal money just to expand the government, as the wish list suggests, then we will be better off without it. No thanks President Obama.

The Racine Lie

Remember just a few months ago when some of our elected officials were touting Racine Promise? The initiative was to be based on a program in Kalamazoo Michigan where PRIVATE donations funded college tuition for graduates of Kalamazoo's public schools. No tax money would be used for this program, we were assured. Well, what do you know, Racine Promise is looking for $5 million from the misnamed federal stimulus bill. Credit must go to JT blogger Twister who pointed out this new, uh, twist in the Racine Promise idea.

One more reason not to believe in political promises.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Question of the Day

My son recently gave me a book entitled "10 books that screwed up the world." Just for fun I asked a few people to guess the books that were included. A few people guessed that the bible was or should be included. Does the bible belong alongside the Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf as among the most destructive books ever produced?

Personally I don't think so, not by a long shot. But I am especially interested in hearing from those who think the bible has had a powerful negative influence on the world.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ethical Dilemma

I received a letter today from a collection agency. They claim that I owe $70 to a local business. I called the local businessperson to inquire about the claim. According to her, in 2006 I agreed to a $70 advertisement in a local publication. I have no recollection of making any such agreement (though I recall the offer) and neither I or my wife recall receiving a bill of any kind, though the lady claims she sent two notices. Apparently the advertisement was run, though I never saw it nor did I receive any acknowledgement of it from customers. Additionally, the lady is a somewhat frequent customer of ours but never mentioned the bill in person. And lastly, she indicated that she remembers my agreement but that it was never a contract in writing.

I floated the idea of meeting her half way but she didn't seem to interested. Additionally, I confess to being a bit annoyed that she took this small claim to a collection agency even though she also apparently forgot about the bill-she recently discovered it on her computer when she sold her business. Will the claim harm my credit rating?

Chime in readers. How would you handle this?

Honest Debate?

More than once I have heard President Obama describe the stimulus debate as a choice between his plan and doing nothing. BO's presentation of the stimulus question is disingenuous.

As I see it, there are three options. There is BO's plan or some modified version of it which involves massive government spending. And then there is doing nothing. And finally, government could slash taxes and entrust taxpayers to lead the economic recovery.

Now my point on this thread is not to debate the merits of the three options but rather to point out that our president is pretending that there are only two and hoping that you won't notice. He is attempting to create a straw-man Republican that wants to do nothing. We deserve a more straightforward and honest argument from our president.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Question of the Day

In 1930, there was a higher rate of employment among blacks than whites. In 1931, a federal minimum wage law was enancted. In 1931 and thereafter, the rate of unemployment for black people has exceeded that of whites. Coincidence?

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Stimulus Question

President Obama's criticism of Republicans went something like this: Republicans got us in this financial mess. Bush never vetoed a spending bill. Now they are opposing the spending that will stimulate the economy.

OK, BO is correct that Republicans spent too much and that their current obstructionism exposes the inconsistency of Republicans on spending.

But if excessive government spending got us into this mess, why would an even greater amount of spending get us out of it?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Election Politics

A month or so ago, nearly everyone in Racine's government appeared to favor a proposed multi-unit apartment complex in West Racine. Fastforward a month and the whole proposal is shot down without a single vote in favor of the project.

There was significant vocal opposition to the project and this no doubt was a factor. But I have lived here long enough to know that politicians are quite adept at ignoring the concerns of their constituents..... except come election time.

Yes, I suspect the upcoming mayoral election had a silent but powerful effect on the vote to shelve this project. Nobody running for mayor wants to tick off and energize large numbers of folks in West Racine. But remember folks, some (or most or all?) of the pols now running for mayor were behind this project just a month ago. If this was such a good idea for Racine then, why isn't it a good idea now?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Rosa Parks of Welfare Scammers

When I read letters like one written by Jennifer Dragseth (MJS letter to editor) I fear for this country. Dragseth was responding to a series of articles in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that exposed welfare fraud in Wisconsin.

"The real scammers are those who pay so little that the state must subsidize them... Reform that will stop the cycle of poverty is to ensure that all workers are paid a living wage... Mothers who choose to stay home with their babies rather than work for a minimum and unliveable wage are not the problem with society: indeed, this civil disobedience might be the solution."

So women who defraud the taxpayers of the state by claiming fictitious jobs and racking up fictitious child-care expenses are not the problem. The problem is people like me, who own businesses and pay people a mutually agreeable wage, because we are not paying enough. The solution, according to Dragseth, is for more women to engage in criminal fraud. Only then, I suppose, will money magically appear in my bank account such that I can then offer my employees a liveable wage.