Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rights Versus Rights

I was talking with a few recent college grads on the subject of rights. They were proponents of what I think are categorized as positive rights, things such as a right to a college education and the right to health care, proper housing etc... I on the other hand am a proponent of the basics, life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, otherwise known, I think, as negative rights.

The rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, don't demand anything of others except the respect of those rights. In other words, for me to exercise my right to live, all that is required of others is to respect that right by not killing me. My right to liberty simply requires you not to enslave me.

Among the problems with the rights proliferation favored by my young friends is that they can't be accomplished without chipping away at the basic rights favored by liberals (true liberals that is) like myself. For example, the right to a college education necessarily demands much of others. Colleges must be built, professors must teach, and this all costs money. Thus, your right to an education requires others time and money to provide that right. And in the process, one's own rights to liberty and one's own right to pursuit of happiness are diminished by the demand to provide a college education for someone else. And I am willing to bet that the advocates of rights proliferation are far more likely to be squishy on the most fundamental right, to life. What good after all is the right to a college education for the aborted/killed baby?

And on a tangential note, isn't the notion of a right to a college education rather silly if you think about it? One must have the intelligence and the drive to earn a college degree. How can those be guaranteed? It is a bit like me demanding the right to bench press 400 pounds or the right to be a pro bowl defensive lineman.

And lastly, to the extent that a right to a college education gains acceptance, we will see a commensurate increase in muddled thinking on rights.

Card Check Versus Secret Ballot Recall

Methinks we just might be witnessing the important difference between the secret ballot and card check. Presently we are amid the card check segment of the recall election. So we have some awkward moments like a Unified teacher asking for signatures at the family Thanksgiving party. I would guess there are those who might just sign to avoid a confrontation. What they do at the polls absent the pressure is anyone's guess. But this much we do know. We won't have anyone refusing to sign the recall who subsequently votes against Walker in the election. So the Dems can gloat about the number of recall signatures they can get. I doubt they will be so pleased with the election results.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Reasonable Union Myth

Continuing with the recall theme, I spoke with a woman who stated that the unions were offering all the concessions that were needed, such that Walker's subsequent "gutting" of union collective bargaining "rights" were a needless and largely personal attack on workers rights.

I didn't ask but do wonder whether her or anyone else really believes this narrative. My own belief is that unions have reliably demonstrated a pattern of conceding nothing unless it helps members and or union leadership. And this is how they should behave insofar as it is an organization created to empower its members.

The reality is that unions offered benefit and pension concessions as a tactical move to stall and hopefully prevent the needed curtailing of their political power via the forced unionization of government employees and the subsequent steady flow of dues money. And this was the right move for the union insofar as they were negotiating from a position of weakness and this was a desperate attempt to forestall the more damaging attempts to end the forced unionization of members and the restriction of certain bargaining opportunities.

But for anyone to conclude that the unions were simply looking out for the people of Wisconsin and offering reasonable concessions to ease the strain on the state budget - rather than a calculated attempt to retain as much power, money and influence as possible - well, such a person is either ignorant, delusional, or both.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ad Hominem Recall

I have talked to more than a few folks eager to recall Governor Walker. Invariably there is an intense personal loathing of the man. He is arrogant, he is condescending, he is power hungry etc... Some of these same folks will acknowledge that the cost of government employment was such that something at some point needed to be done. They want to recall him, it seems, primarily because of the manner in which he did what he did.

I will admit that I haven't spent much time listening to or observing Governor Walker, and that I generally like his policies, but what I have seen of him would not cause me to dislike him personally. He presents as a low key and reasonable person to me.

My own theory is that, upon scrutiny, Walker's signature policy move of limiting government union power was far from draconian, even for those directly affected. Thus, the emphasis for recall proponents needs to be on Walker's personal attributes, and any negative qualities must be relentlessly exaggerated or fabricated.

I don't think this recall will be successful as a result of such a week argument in its favor.

And one further point. Opponents of President Obama who frame their argument mostly in personal terms are often considered racists by the left. Indeed, the personal or ad hominem argument is rightfully considered one of the weakest forms of persuasion. Yet this is the primary method used by the recall folks. And they get away with it with little criticism.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Serve and Protect......Yourself

The City of Racine has responded to the new law allowing the concealed carrying of firearms by banning said firearms in city buildings. Mayor Dickert issued an executive order and the city is now placing signs reading: No Weapons Or Firearms Allowed On These Premises.

But the fine print is hilarious. It reads: "Although weapons are banned from this municipal facility, the City of Racine cannot ensure the protection of visitors or its employees from individuals who unlawfully enter with weapons and does not offer protection against the actions of violators."

According to the Journal Times article, city attorney Scott Lettney said the disclaimer was in part based on advice from the city's liability insurer. "We're just trying to protect (the city) to the extent we can" said Lettney.

City residents, however, are on their own, defenseless.

And just in case you haven't gotten the message, I will spell it out for you. The city will not protect you. The city will not allow you to protect yourself. But the city will protect itself, from your lawsuits, when you are injured or killed as a result of city policy.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Name That Species

Today I noticed a huge group occupying private property, I believe, without permission. When asked what they were protesting, they produced a lot of noise but no coherent message whatsoever. They consumed everything in sight without paying. Indeed the very notion of an exchange of goods for an honest days work was foreign to them. And they were defecating and fornicating freely and shamelessly.

But unlike their human counterparts, they left peacefully when confronted by authorities.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

On Sex and Drugs

I was asked recently whether sex ed should be taught in schools. My answer was that if a school could, or would, address the full range of thoughts on the matter, then sure. And by full range of thoughts, I mean the major philosophical/religious traditions and their contributions on the subject. But as it is in non-religious schools, those contributions must be (or at least are) ignored. That leaves largely a non-judgemental, you-are-going-to-do-it-anyway, so-let's-be-safe approach.

Why not take the same approach with drug and alcohol use? Should children learn which vein to stick the needle in? Or how to make meth without starting a fire? And to drink a few glasses of water after binge drinking to minimize dehydration?

If adults can't or won't make moral judgements, should we be surprised that children and young adults can't or won't as well?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Newt Gingrich Pinched my Ass

I am concerned about Newt Gingrich's recent rise in the polls. I don't think he can win in a head to head matchup with President Obama. Oh yah, and he pinched my ass at a Tea Party event last year.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Questions Worth Asking

Lately I have been hearing more than usual about the problem of bullying and subsequent suicides of gay youths. As always I am attuned to the possibility of political agendas. So I have done a bit of sniffing around on the internet on the subject. I now have more questions than answers. I suppose I should not ask the questions, but I will anyway.

Is there an increase in suicides among gay youth or simply an increased focus on the issue? Does bullying cause an increase in suicide? If bullying leads to greater numbers of suicides, why aren't we seeing or hearing about suicide among young Asians, as they are subject to the greatest amount of bullying among young people? If gay suicide is on the rise, what does that say about the effectiveness of the LGBT outreach programs that have proliferated over the years? If gay suicide is not on the rise, why is the coverage of the problem on the rise, as it seems to be?

After reading a few articles, I am able to reach at least one conclusion about the media coverage of the issue. That is, it is to be assumed true that the suicides are caused exclusively by external factors, primarily bullying or more broadly a lack of acceptance by portions of society. Don't even dare to ask whether there is anything inherent in homosexuality that may cause internal angst, confusion, despair etc... that may lead to or contribute to a decision to end ones life prematurely.

By no means do I claim to know whether or why suicide is a growing problem among gay youths. But it seems to me that if as a society we need to explore and address a problem, we should be sure consider any and all potential factors that may contribute to the problem. Avoiding difficult or politically incorrect questions may help a political agenda, but will it help a youth in crisis?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

A Progressives Predicament

Proposition A: Force should be used as sparingly as possible.
Proposition B: Governments must ultimately use force to ensure compliance with laws.
Proposition C: If you agree with Propositions A and B, it follows that you would want a smaller government, creating fewer rules and using less force against the citizenry.

Unless you are a "progressive." "Progressives" will tend to agree with Proposition A but work to enlarge the scope and power of government.

Thus "progressives" are either confused, illogical, or insincere about their support of Proposition A.