Filed under: Politics — Christian Schneider @ 2:15 pm
While it’s true that the Capital Times newspaper has trouble drawing readers, it’s a little surprising that they can’t even get their own editors to read it.Â Here’s an editorial from today’s paper, in its entirety:
Campaign against flawed veto plan
Gov. Jim Doyle says he’ll wait until closer to April to decide how vocal he will be in opposing a proposed constitutional amendment to tinker with the governor’s veto authority.
Doyle should not hesitate.
The amendment, which the Legislature is expected to place on the April 1 ballot, is so deeply flawed that it would have the effect of enshrining in law the worst veto abuses.
In other words, this badly written “fix” is worse than the problem it seeks to address.
This newspaper has for many years advocated making constitutional changes that would limit the veto authority of the governor, so we are at odds with Doyle on this issue.
But all supporters of good government — and the smart balancing of legislative and executive powers — can unite in opposing “cures” that are worse than the diseases they seek to treat.
As you probably know, this constitutional amendment seeks to eliminate the “Frankenstein Veto,” whereby governors can stitch together words from old sentences to create laws never intended by the Legislature.Â In fact, during his campaign for Governor in 2002, Doyle himself supported eliminating this abusive veto.
Yet the Cap Times thinks… and follow me here… that voters should oppose this change because the amendment doesn’t go far enough.Â That’s right – we should keep this ridiculous veto authority alive because it doesn’t completely shut the Governor down from every type of abuse.Â That’s like saying we shouldn’t outlaw assault with knives and guns because people might also be beaten with bats.Â Apparently, we should reject the constitutional amendment because it only gets at 90% of the problem, and allow Doyle to abuse the veto for the next decade while the Legislature tries to pass a more draconian measure.Â (Getting Democrats to agree to the version that passed was a miracle, much less something more restrictive.)
It gets even better.Â According to the Cap Times, Doyle is supposed to campaign against this amendment because… it doesn’t restrict his own authority enough?Â He’s going to say “Gee, I’ve really abused this crappy veto authority, so you should let me keep doing it because this amendment doesn’t keep me from coming up with new ways of screwing taxpayers?”Â Doyle is going to urge people to maintain his crazy veto authority because he might continue to abuse it?Â That’s like an alcoholic arguing he should be allowed to drink all the Wild Turkey he wants because sometime down the road he might be tempted to have a beer.
Â The Cap TimesÂ says that the consitutional amendment is worse than the problem it seeks to fix, yet offer no example as to why that’s the case.Â Apparently, because they say so, it must be the case.Â In fact, this exactly the opposite of the effect the amendment will have, which only serves to confuse both their readers.Â
I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that Governor Doyle has recently used the Frankenstein Veto to increase taxes and spending.Â The chances they’d take this nonsensical position if Mark Green were currently Governor:
Filed under: Elections — Christian Schneider @ 10:26 am
Neil Heinen has his metaphorical undies in a bunch because he believes the Wisconsin Legislature has sat on its hands for the last year. In a tortured attempt to shoehorn this point into a Christmas theme, he says:
These lawmakers saw the upcoming elections under the tree, all wrapped up with a card that said “To Help You Get What You Really Want Next Year — Re-Election.” Inside the box were instructions to avoid enacting a statewide smoking ban, avoid extending health care to all and above all avoid reforming campaigns and elections. So exchanges are in order. Return to sender and the maybe jump right into New Year’s resolutions like “Do what’s best for the citizens of this state, do what we were elected to do, act like public servants, and justify the public’s trust in us.”
Basically, the Legislature has been ineffective because they didn’t enact all the nutty left wing BS he favors.
Perhaps he is unaware that the Senate’s attempt at cramming a $15.2 billion government-run health plan into the budget jammed up the Legislature for months. Thus, the “health care to all” which he so craves actually caused a great deal of the inaction which he criticizes.
Furthermore, Heinen just naturally assumes that all of these initiatives he espouses are just “no-brainers.” Taking away a citizen’s individual freedom to smoke just makes sense, right? Why can’t Wisconsin enact a health plan that will cost low income workers jobs and drive business out of state? Shouldn’t we be in a rush to spend taxpayer money on campaigns and enact laws silencing citizens who want to have a say in the political process? What gives?
Laughably, he blames all this “inaction” on the fact that there’s an election coming up in 2008. (Hope he has this same script ready for 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, etc.) It’s an assertion without any foundation in reality. Are we to believe that Senate Democrats, in inserting their bogus “Healthy Wisconsin” plan into the budget with one day’s notice, weren’t doing so with an eye towards the next election? Are the only ones being political the ones that opposed throwing out the state’s entire health care infrastructure with about 8 hours’ notice?
Furthermore, he thinks the inability of the Legislature to do the work of the “public” is the result of… elections?Â (For astute political observers, “elections” are the process by which “the public” actually gets to tell government what they want.)Â Apparently, the public can’t be trusted to vote for legislators who do the work of the public.Â Ironically, universal health care is only a vibrant issue right now because Democrats think it’s what the public wants – and they plan to exploit that fact in the upcoming elections.Â Without voting (commonly known as “democracy,”) legislators wouldn’t give a damn what “the people” have to say.Â So what’s the alternative to elections?Â Neil Heinen gets to pick our leaders until they agree to double the state’s tax burden? (In the name of “the public,” of course.)
I recognize that spending this much time deconstructing a Neil Heinen editorial is about as constructive as a college student who gets high and pens a 10-page paper on “The Epistemology of Winnie The Pooh.”Â But this is just indicative of the fraud that continues to be local television news. Basically, all you need is a handful of talking points, and your career is set for a decade – it doesn’t really matter if they’re all contradictory.
Filed under: Courts — Christian Schneider @ 12:19 pm
Between members of the U.S. Supreme Court, there has recently been a spirited debate about the role foreign law should play in instructing our High Court. Justices such as Stephen Breyer argue that foreign law has a place in influencing U.S. decisions, while Antonin Scalia believes that foreign law shouldn’t play a role in how we interpret our laws.
After reading this story, Scalia’s case just got stronger.
Court says baby can’t be named ‘Friday’
ROME (AP) — What’s in a name? If the name is Friday, shame and ridicule, according to Italian judges who forbade a couple from naming their child like the character in “Robinson Crusoe.”
“They thought that it recalled the figure of a savage, thus creating a sense of inferiority and failing to guarantee the boy the necessary decorum,” the couple’s lawyer, Paola Rossi, said Wednesday.Â The couple are considering appealing the decision to Italy’s highest court, she said.
Mara and Roberto Germano, whose son was born on Sept. 3, 2006, had the boy named and baptized Venerdi, Italian for Friday.Â Even though the boy was not born on a Friday – it was Sunday – his parents liked the name, said Rossi.
“They wanted an unusual name, something original, and it did not seem like a shameful name,” Rossi said in a telephone interview. “We think it calls to mind the day of the week rather than the novel’s character.”
Since city hall officials are obliged by law to report odd names, the matter ended up before judges in Genoa, the northern Italian city where the couple live.
Last month, an appeals court stated that Friday falls into the category of the “ridiculous or shameful” names that are barred by law, as it recalled the native servant in Daniel Defoe’s novel.
The judges wrote that naming somebody Friday would bar him from “serene interpersonal relationships” and would turn the boy into the “laughing stock of his group,” according to a report in La Repubblica this week.
We all run into the same problem every year: what to get those special people in our lives for Christmas, or birthdays, or anniversaries, etc… In fact, economics can point us in the right direction.
In economic terms, when one person purchases an item for $100 and gifts it to another that might only value the gift at $50, there is an economic loss of $50 in the transaction. The loss may occur because the recipient already possesses such a gift or simply does not want it. Of course there is some psychological and relationship benefits from giving and receiving gifts, but have we not all received or given gifts in the past that were duds and felt badly afterward? One solution that has crept up on us literally in the past decade are gift cards. These alleviate some of the psychological issues that may arise, but gift cards also provide us with economic loss. Not only do gift cards restrict the recipient to shopping at particular retailers that they may not otherwise patronize, but oftentimes recipients cannot find items they want equal to the value on the gift card and are forced to purchase something beyond the value of the gift card. The final solution may be to simply give cash as a gift. Consumers like options, and cash grants the gift recipient unlimited options. But cash is also considered a thoughtless gift and could cause some relationships to rift.
So how do we really solve the economic problem of gifting? Although Santa Claus is a mythological creature, the tale of how children send their wish lists to Santa every Christmas just might work. If everyone exchanged their wants and desires with their loved ones and received in return exactly what they wanted, there would be no economic loss of gifting. Indeed, the giver would be supremely confident in the gift and the recipient would not feel the need to act happy. Wish lists could solve the problem outright. On the downside, the excitement of surprise would be forever lost…
Filed under: Education — Christian Schneider @ 1:16 pm
Yesterday, we here at WPRI released the results of a poll that showed strong public opposition to various state benefits for illegal immigrants. According to the poll, 76% of Wisconsin residents oppose allowing illegal immigrants to apply for drivers’ licenses, 86% oppose giving illegal immigrants in-state tuition, and 46% disapprove of “illegal immigrant children” attending public schools.
It’s interesting to see such stringent opposition to illegal immigrant benefits. What’s more interesting, however, is examining how the education questions relate to one another – there are connections that should be examined beyond just looking at the numbers.
As you can see, there’s a big difference between what respondents thought about children and adult illegal immigrants. It appears that there’s a gap of people more willing to forgive illegal immigrant children than their parents. To them, it likely makes sense that children shouldn’t pay for the mistakes their parents make.
Yet these elementary school children will grow up and go to college. And many of them will be the same kids that the public feels strongly should not get in-state tuition. Presumably, that would mean they would have to pay out of state tuition or be denied entry into a state school altogether. In other words, their education would likely end at a high school degree.
In fact, elementary school students receive a much larger public subsidy than University of Wisconsin students. If the public was concerned about tax money being used to subsidize illegal immigrants, elementary school per-pupil spending should logically be the more difficult subsidy to stomach, considering per-pupil aid is so much greater.
Of course, the difficult question of why illegal immigrant children should be allowed to attend public elementary and high schools, but not colleges, is left up to the people who support the former but not the latter. It appears that 46% of people oppose any and all concession to illegal immigrants, not matter what the age – and another 10% side with the illegal immigrants on all issues. (I am assuming, of course, that there aren’t a lot of people who oppose elementary school subsidies but support taxpayer aid for college.) It would be interesting to listen to the rationale of the people in the middle – who may support one, but not the other – and why.
Most likely, respondents probably viewed illegal immigrants trying to attend the UW as trying to mooch off the system after they crossed the border. It’s unlikely that they understood that many of these kids are actually graduating from Wisconsin public schools. Of course, this is the same rationale Governor Jim Doyle has used in pushing for his plan to give illegal immigrants the ability to pay in-state tuition.
It would seem, then, that to make his plan more viable, Doyle could implement a provision that requires an illegal immigrant spend a more substantial amount of time in a Wisconsin public school before being eligible for in-state tuition (his plan as introduced in the 2007-09 budget had a one-year residency requirement). If a kid were required to spend four years in a public school, the public might feel a little different about their tuition eligibility – as they would be assured the student isn’t just taking advantage of the system.
Of course, even if such a concession were made, 46% of the public appears to be against any type of compromise. So it would still be a large mountain to climb. But it may be enough to begin to convince the gap of people who believe there’s a benefit to educating the children of illegals at some level.
Filed under: Elections — Christian Schneider @ 9:55 am
During presidential campaigns,Â accusations are flying around so fast it helps to go back and examine the basis for many of the charges you hear.Â As Mike Huckabee surges in the presidential polls,Â I thought it would beÂ instructive to go back and look at what the people of Arkansas thought of him as governor.
Huckabee’s biography in the 2006 Almanac of American Politics pretty much says it all.Â In fact, it’s one of the more negative biographies you’ll find – with some amazing stuff:
Huckabee started making astonishing mistakes; his job rating plummeted from 70% to 50%. Huckabee had a penchant for granting pardons; one felon he paroled in 1996 committed a murder in Missouri. In July 2001, he commuted the sentence of the stepson of an administrative aide in the governor’s office whose criminal record went back to 1972. In June 2002, he fired the head of the AASIS (Arkansas Administrative Statewide Information System) project, who promptly told reporters he and other employees had been pressured for campaign contributions and that Huckabee had tried to stifle news of cost overruns–nearly 100%–during the election year. Huckabee also had been in the practice of receiving large gifts; he reported a total of $112,000 in 1999, which included $23,000 in clothes from one state appointee. Huckabee responded–in an election year!–with a lawsuit to allow him to receive more gifts and another lawsuit to stop the state ethics commission from investigating him.
Another self-inflicted wound came in March 2002, when Huckabee’s wife announced she was running for secretary of state. Janet Huckabee was known for her daredevil antics–bungee jumping, skydiving, jet skiing, kayaking–and for her oversight of the two-year renovation of the Governor’s Mansion, a time when the Huckabees lived in a triple-wide on the mansion grounds. She insisted on a 24-hour state police detail while campaigning across the state; when that was challenged, she at first said she had no control over it, then promised to pay the cost, then said she would pay only up to $500. Meanwhile, Jimmie Lou Fisher, with teachers’ union support, called for spending $133 million more for education; she said she would find the money from waste, fraud and abuse, or perhaps from a lottery (though she opposed one). She got more mileage by attacking AASIS and criticizing Huckabee’s grants of clemency and acceptance of gifts. Mike Huckabee won by only 53%-47%, while Janet Huckabee lost 62%-38%. Huckabee called the campaign “a kidney stone that takes six months to pass.”
In January 2004 the state Supreme Court hired two former justices as special masters to redesign school finance if the legislature failed to act; consultants had already proposed an $847 million increase to the $1.7 billion state education budget. In February 2004 the House approved a $377 million sales tax increase, with consolidation of districts with less than 350 pupils; Huckabee let it become law without his signature. Criticized for supporting the largest tax increase in Arkansas history, Huckabee said, “Pure conservatism means lean and responsible government, not mean and irresponsible government.”
Huckabee made news in other ways. Diagnosed with Type II diabetes in 2003, he lost some 110 pounds over the next year or so. He quit eating fried foods and sweets and started exercising regularly; he showed his progress by toting a 90-pound girl around a school gym. In May 2004 he started a Healthy Arkansas initiative, to discourage bad eating habits and smoking; no smoking was allowed within 25 feet of state buildings, and the state started paying for nicotine patches. Parents were given children’s health report cards. He started a Get Five fruits and vegetables a day initiative and eschewed an old favorite, fried Twinkies. Huckabee said he wanted government to “model healthy behavior,” but he still opposed a ban on smoking in restaurants.
What?Â His wife ran for statewide office and went negative on her husband to pick up votes?Â This sounds more like an episode of “The Beverly Hillbillies” than a presidential campaign.
Which really is too bad – people looking for a viable alternative to the GOP presidential frontrunners thought they had one in the likeable Huckabee.Â Unfortunately, despite his new devotion to physical fitness, he may not be able to outrun his Arkansas past.
Filed under: History — Christian Schneider @ 4:48 pm
The Wisconsin Historical Society is a wonderful repository of arcane tidbits about our state’s lineage.Â To show that they leave no detail unturned, feel free to visit the online photo gallery they have dedicated to Wisconsin’s Historical Beards.
Filed under: Health Care — Christian Schneider @ 4:37 pm
From England, a report on how government programs intended to help those too sick to work can provide perverse incentives:
Too Fat to WorkÂ
Almost two thousand people who are too fat to work have been paid a total of Â£4.4 million in benefit, it emerged last night. Other payments went to fifty sufferers of acne and ten incapacitated by leprosy.
Billions of pounds is being paid in benefits to people claiming to be unable to work because they suffer from depression, stress, fatigue and unknown or unspecified diseases.
The full list of ailments of the 2.7 million people claiming Â£7.4 billion in incapacity benefits, obtained by using Freedom of Information laws, will fuel suspicion that it is being used to keep them off the official jobless total. It will also fuel the debate over whether British workers could have been hired for more of the one million new jobs taken by migrants since 1997.
Frank Field, a former Social Security Minister, said last night that too many people were working the incapacity benefit system to avoid work. â€œIt is a racket, which governments have allowed to exist for far too long. I do not blame people for working the system, it is the job of politicians to stop them doing it.â€
Mr Field added that because job seekerâ€™s allowance is lower than incapacity benefit, there was an incentive for people to try to be classified for the higher benefit.
This sentence piqued my interest:
A total of 15,600 people received benefits for â€œmalaise and fatigueâ€ and a further 8,100 for â€œdizziness and giddinessâ€.
If benefits were handed out in America on the basis of malaise, I’d be a millionaire.
Perhaps the best part of the article is the accompanying comment section.Â One commenter blames the new “super fat” we are being forcibly fed:
Modern obesity is mainly caused by the synthetic trans isomer fatty acids that have replaced the natural cis-isomer form fatty acids throughout the western world. They are produced during the partial hydrogenation of vegetable oil. These “trans fats” inhibit ATP transport in mitochondrial membranes resulting in reduced metabolism and obesity. They block insulin receptors causing type 2 diabetes (first diagnosed in 1933). They cause most cardio vascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease and depressive illness, NDHD, and a whole host of conditions which are killing 300,000 to 400,000 people in the UK every year and are probably resposible for 30-50% of incapacity benefit claims.
If you want to see the ib claimant count come down:
STOP THE GENOCIDE and BAN TRANS FATS
Not surprisingly, the commenter lives in Sandwich, England.Â I imagine it would be difficult to lose weight if your village is named after a hoagie.
As we all know, this topic was fully covered in the Simpsons episode “King-Sized Homer.”
Is this really what the health care debate has come down to?Â We need to bankrupt the U.S. economy because members of Congress get health benefits?
Incidentally, as George Will points out, Edwards doesn’t have the authority to take anything from Congress, as their health care is statutorily granted.Â But it’s nice to know Edwards’ plan is essentially to increase the number of uninsured in America.