Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Wind Power Alternative

Michigan, along with five other states and with the blessing of the Obama Administration, has signed on to a plan to, perhaps, in the future, put wind turbines offshore in the Great Lakes. The idea, of course, is to create alternative energy sources. And, of course, there is significant opposition to the plan.

We are skeptical of the long term value of wind power. Yet it seems a better alternative than solar power, at least in the short run. Especially when you consider that the folks behind the current plan, if their numbers are good, expect that enough energy could be created to power 300,000 homes while providing about 20% of the world's wind generated electricity. The plan would also, supposedly, anyway, encourage investment in wind power technology. That would in turn create jobs.

So far, so good, so far as it goes. But what are the criticisms? They could harm life on the lakes. They will kill birds (as wind farms already in existence do) and perhaps displace other animals. They would mar the seascape of lakeside homeowners. They might even drip greases into the water, causing harm to the ecosystem.

None of these concerns are without merit. It is wrong to wantonly harm animal life, for example. But would the harm caused by offshore wind farms be wanton? Not really; we need the energy, and as such the harm to animals becomes corollary and not directly intended. People and their needs are more important than birds and fish, after all. Possible injury to the ecosystem needs to be taken seriously too. If our aim is help our brothers and sisters with necessary human requirements, then we cannot do things which may, however unintended, hurt them.

As to hurting the view, well, perhaps. But now we are getting into the matter of the needs of the many versus the needs of the few. That's not a point to be administered lightly, for we never want to harm the legitimate rights of the individual even if it's of a minority view. But we cannot have a tyranny of the minority either. If a feasible new energy source for the bulk of us means a less spectacular view for, we might as well say it, the economically better off (how many dirt poor people have lakeside homes?) then that's just their bad luck. Besides, we doubt the view would be particularly good from cold and dark homes.

As with so many other innovations, a proper caution and a decent respect for the needs and rights of all involved must be taken into consideration. But in the end, reason must rule. If lake generated wind power has far greater pluses than minuses (so long as no real moral objections are found), pursue it. Otherwise, forget it.

The real ideal on the issue would be to allow private initiative to seek other, better, and cost effective energy sources rather than government pushes for presumably PC ideas such as wind power. But we write in context and expect to be taken that way. That other issue is for another time.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Protesting Education by Cutting Class

During the course of the morning yesterday, groups of students marched around the Frederick Douglass Academy in Detroit. They were accompanied by several adults, and they chanted, "What do we want? Education! When do we want it? Now!". This during school hours.

We do not know why they were walking along around the school. But we do not have to know. The fascinating irony of the situation is more compelling than whatever it is they were actually protesting about or for. They want education. They want it now.

And they're willing to skip school to get it.

We doubt very seriously their sincerity on the matter. It would have been more impressive if they had gathered on a Saturday or even after classes were over and made their protest then. On their own time. But we know enough about school age people to know that the bulk of them almost surely didn't really care about whatever it was they were marching about. They were getting out of class, and that's what mattered.

Their voices died out quickly. Their chanting was strong at first but faded fast. By the second loop of the building only a few were chanting, and then with no regularity; the majority talked and joked and laughed among themselves. Yet they still marched. Their protest for education, whatever they might actually mean by that (an interesting question in itself), was apparently short lived.

But they got of class, and that likely sated their desire.

There is no need to take them seriously. They were likely being led by somebody, some presumed adults who felt that a protest was necessary. A teachable moment, as the educators say.

It is doubtful they learned anything but self aggrandizement. It is a lesson which will not help them in life. But it tells us all we need to know about the public schools and the brand of education they sell.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

$4.06 Per Gallon in MIchigan?

In the news this morning, gas prices in Michigan have topped the $4 dollar mark. The average price in the state is now a record $4.06 per gallon. What effect this will have is unclear.

Or is it? With unemployment in Michigan under 9% for the first time since September 2008, it is fair to wonder how gas prices will affect that modestly downward trend. Especially when you consider that an unemployment rate of 8.8% isn't exactly healthy anyway, and as gas prices affect the economy in about the most pervasive manner (what isn't affected by gas prices?), it seems absurd to think it would help ease the woes of those who cannot find work. All this before we consider Michigan's rate of those who have given up finding full time work. That rate is right around 17%. That's one in six people.

But wait, there's more. In a state which values the tourist dollar as much as Michigan does, how many folks won't travel here from our neighboring states simply because of added fuel costs? How many people from southern Michigan won't go to Northern Michigan just because of the cost of gas?

On another surely related note, the City of Detroit has announced cuts in its bus service. The left has already decried the move, which will make it harder for city residents to get where they need to go. Yet what further cuts loom as the Detroit Department of Transportation needs more money for fuel?

Of course, this is all good for us. It forces conservation. It means, or at least it is alleged to mean, that fewer people will die of the effects of carbon based fuels in the air. That's what the Democrats tell us, anyway. The same Democrats who, in 2006, blamed then President George Bush for high prices at the pump hurting Americans. The same Democrats who cried 'big oil' back then. Apparently big oil isn't such a demon with a Democratic President.

You see, Michigan, we're fine. Indeed, we're better off like this. So our food prices may go higher. We should eat less anyway. So we can't travel as we would like. Staycations are better anyway. So more of our disposable income will go into our gas tanks merely because, well, we need to get to work in order to pay for our gas. So the poor won't have the bus services they need. Let them eat cake.

That's what your President and his minions think of you. You're better off spending extra cash on gas. And vote for Barack Obama in November!

Well, remember all this when November 2012 rolls around anyway.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Calm Needed in Trayvon Martin Case

The Trayvon Martin case marches on. Today, his parents and attorney attended hearings in the House of Representatives on hate crimes. The debate about his intentions the night he was killed, or of the attitude and intention of the man who killed him, however, will go on for quite a long time.

The real bottom line is we don't know what exactly happened that night. Whatever exactly occurred was surely terrible no matter what the background. If a young man, any young man, hate crimes be damned, is killed without just cause, then we are faced with an unspeakable atrocity. If a guy just doing his job is being railroaded, then we have a moral affront against him to consider. But we, the public, simply doesn't know which it is, or whether perhaps it is even something somewhere in between.

Yet there are forces in this country which can't have that, and they may well exist on both sides of the spectrum. No matter what they say, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton don't truly know how exactly the events transpired that fatal day. But it does give them a cause, or, rather, fuels their fire about race issues. Issues upon which they rely for a forum. Does this mean that race wasn't involved in the Trayvon Martin instance? Of course not. But simply because of the obvious circumstances, it doesn't mean than race was involved either.

The defenders of George Zimmerman ought to be careful as well. They don't know any more about the case than what their counterparts on the left do; each side seems willing to believe what supports their basic creed and little more. That just is not fair to Martin, Zimmerman, or the cause of justice.

Nor can inflaming sentiments help the case. One of the problems with hate crimes is that, quite frankly, they dilute and distract from the real point of justice. If a young unarmed man doing nothing he was not within his legal and moral right to do was murdered, we have a terrible crime against him and humanity. But Orwellian crimes, made up essentially to support some blanket causes and not in themselves criminal, hamper rather than aid justice. Motive, no matter how reprehensible, can never be criminal, because motive itself is a thought, not a physical act. Unless, of course, you believe in thoughtcrime. We may as well round up everybody then, for there's few of us who don't commit that.

In the meantime, we need to stick to the facts, and let the proper authorities act as the facts dictate. Sure, call them on the matter if need be. Demand they act, if you have some really good reason why they should. Beyond that, don't make a young man's death a social or political football. His memory serves no purpose if used to divide the nation for mere sectarian gain.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Who's Against These?

There are many things which no one seems to oppose. We're all for peace, correct? Education? The environment? Observing the Golden Rule, perhaps, if such references are not too religious? Yet so often these claims ring hollow. They must, you see: for peace and education are just words. By themselves, they really mean nothing.

It is critically important that we bring up and discuss the important questions which must follow these words if our actions are to mean anything; indeed, if the words themselves are at some point to be of value, of good use. WE must ask: peace under what circumstances? Peace for whom? Because of course peace in the sense of a lack of war was very useful for Hitler and Stalin yet was a rather poor mantra for Austria or the Communist Bloc.

Simply put, the next time someone asks you if you are for peace, or education, or the environment, ask them relevant questions before you answer. Ask them peace under what conditions? Education to what purpose and in what manner? The environment for whom and how? Before these issues are addressed we have nothing but a shallow and insipid pool of vacuous semi-thought. Yet afterwards, we may actually accomplish things.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Detroiters welcome State Oversight

Detroiters have been expressing their opinions lately on the almost certain arrival of at least some kind of state manager. Whether it will come with the cooperation of city officials or not, intervention by Lansing seems inevitable. Interestingly, according to individual views posted in today's Detroit Free Press, it looks as though many more residents support it than not.

The general concensus appears to be that elected city officials aren't up to the task and that state help is necessary. Some do feel that the city government ought to remain in power but that Michigan ought to give Detroit the money it needs or support the city with a bond millage. The problem with that attitude is that Detroit leaders have shown no ability to get a decent hold on city spending. Additional funds through bonds will not address that.

Further, simply asking that Lansing give Detroit whatever money it needs ignores the obvious responsibility the state has towards its constituents in the rest of Michigan. Even granting the obvious size and importance of Detroit towards Michigan's overall well being surely cannot mean giving the city free reign over a horse it has not been able to tame as it is. It is either arrogance or stupidity to expect Michigan to do whatever Detroit demands of it with no type of oversight.

Still, it is heartening to see so many city dwellers willing to accept that Detroit needs help which its leaders seem unable to provide. Perhaps there is hope for Detroit after all, in the long run. In the short run, expect jeers from the people in power who will lose it in the coming days. It's hard to go from big fish in small ponds to little fish in a larger sea. But the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the entrenched and privileged few.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Dingell and National Health Care

In Michigan and across the nation yesterday, thousands protested against the derisively termed Obamacare on the second anniversary of the massive federal intrusion into the lives of average Americans. In the meanwhile, some groups held protests in favor of the act.

Michigan Congressman John Dingell, in one of the counter protests, called health care a right rather than a privilege. Yet that is all nothing but liberal hooey. If they were to amend the point with something like, the ability to pursue adequate health care is a right, there could be no argument. On that level, it's little different from pursuing a job or a home or any other basic need.

So the question then becomes: does the federal government provide our jobs? Does it provide our homes? Does it give us our daily bread? Does it put directly the clothes on our backs or the cars in our driveways? No? So why, then, should it have any direct say in our health care?

Especially with the proposal as it is today, which at the heart of it all really only commands the individual to buy health insurance, who cannot see that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is nothing more than the government trying to solve a problem by legislating about it? If Washington were to simply order everyone to work and eat, there could be no poverty, could there? Yet people would scoff at that, and rightly so.

The fact is that a problem of the scope of health care cannot be solved by mere legislative fiat. There are too many variables involved, and not the least of which is that health care is actually something you only need if you are sick or hurt. Seeing as food, clothes, and housing are needed every day, if simply passing a law to improve the human condition would in fact improve it, well, shouldn't we begin our reforms in those areas? Day in and day out, those things are more important to us than what might happen to us at some undetermined time in the near or far future. We'll be hungry every day. We won't necessarily ever need hospitalization or long term care.

This isn't to say that health care is not or should not be of concern to the person. Of course it should; so much so that it ought to be left up to him. The proper role of government is to create and maintain an environment under which he can do that, exactly as it should be with regard to his pursuit of jobs, housing, and clothes. Anything more is an affront to our freedom and our dignity,

Congressman Dingell is right: health care is a right. So get out of our way and allow us to seek it as best we can, by passing laws which allow for our freedom of choice on the question. After that, kindly leave your demagoguery in Washington.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Deadliest Catch: Bread and Circuses?

The Deadliest Catch is one of the most popular shows on the Discovery Channel, and it's easy to see why. It is certainly entertaining, and there is a great degree of excitement watching the men involved battle one of nature's harshest environments in the Bering Sea. Still, the practice of king crab fishing and reality television such as this show ignore a question which is of paramount importance: is it worth the risk?

An awful lot of men put their lives at stake for the sake of a seafood delicacy. Should they? What kind of decadence is reflected within our society that we should demand such a food at so terrible a risk, especially as so many other foodstuffs are so readily available so easily? Remember too that two sets of ships are in peril for this: the crab fishermen themselves, and the boats carrying the film crew.

The obvious retort - no one makes them do it - is entirely invalid. No action is moral simply because those involved freely agree to engage in it. What is being done must be moral in and of itself. With this, an awful lot of time, money, and effort is regularly put forth for at least an arguably dubious reason.

We don't have to have king crab on our dinner plates. We don't need to battle rough seas and risk our lives merely for our daily bread. We certainly ought not do things out of any macho need on the part of those involved. In short, we need to ask ourselves whether such delicacies are worth the trouble, or whether an interest in watching guys put their lives on the line for them isn't a bit too reminiscent of the savage events of the Colosseum. In this day and age, we ought to be beyond such entertainment. And perhaps we should learn to be a little more grateful for bounty we already have.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Women and Contraception

Feminists for years have had their slogans. One of their traditional sayings is, "Keep your hands off my body". They use it to assert a right to abortion, based on the idea that their body is their body. How does that sentiment work within the context of the recent contraception imbroglio?

We now have the Sandra Flukes of the world claiming that the government ought to pay for their birth control. Does this mean that the government can put its hands on their body?

Of course not, as such. What we have here is the typically liberal demand to give the liberals whatever they want and for whatever reason they want it. Never mind the obvious contradiction going on within their thought. They want birth control, it costs them money, so someone else should pay for it. Simple as that.

The fact is that women control the entire birth control and its sister abortion rights debates in a way which would have them up in arms if the tide were turned. If a woman wants an abortion she can get it, no matter what the father of the baby might say. Yet if he doesn't want the child, she can still carry it to term and sue for the support of the father.

Inconsistent? To be sure. But the left cares not about consistency. This latest example but makes the point crystal clear. They want what they want because the want it, and no amount of reason will turn their sights from that. With your money and their libido, they can have the times of their lives.

Yet conservatives are the selfish ones in the world. Go figure.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Right to Work in Michigan

The Board of State Canvassers has approved petition language on a proposed Constitutional Amendment which would prevent Michigan from becoming a right to work state as well as place in the state Constitution collective bargaining rights. Governor Rick Snyder has asked the union backers of these ideas to, well, back off. He wants to avoid having any terribly divisive issues on the November ballot. The unions in turn say that he has backed all sorts of 'anti-worker' legislation and that this is their only way to fight against that. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce says that the measures will be fought by business tooth and nail. O what a tangled web...

It is rather silly of the Governor to ask that divisive issues be kept from the ballot. Politics are all about settling divisive questions, and to ask that they not be spoken of is simply stupid. But the unions are playing with fire when they attempt to enforce within the supreme law of the state rights which so obviously only help them.

Surely even the most extreme supporter of the unions must see that enforced unionism is, at the least, questionable in terms of human rights. How can anyone seriously argue that they are for someone who is against them in terms which unionism commands? Can they really say, "I'm so much for you that I'm going to force you to follow me", and expect to be taken seriously in the public forum? It seems that Christianity doesn't even demand that, and we're talking about the salvation of souls there. With unionization, we're talking about mere jobs. Such demands are sheer effrontery, and nothing but.

Still, if everything must be unanimous there can be very little progress. We could have no nation unless the tiny minority who may not want it are compelled to live in and participate in it, through taxes and whatnot. That certainly appears to be a higher calling than mandatory participation in bargaining moves with which the individual may not agree. That person could be wrong in a particular situation, true. But it seems more dignified to protect his personal options than live by simply majority rule, which may itself also be in error in particular situations.

The bottom line is that we ought to back off entirely and let the individual businesses and the individuals involved work it all out. Unions may well be necessary in some cases. But surely not all. Especially as such a close state as Indiana has become right to work, it will hurt our recovery prospects in Michigan to enshrine in our top law mandatory unionism with all its creeds. Such actions aren't in the best interests of Michigan. As to who they might help, well, notice who filed the petition wording.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

OIl and the Irish Hills

Thar's gold in them that hills. It's been know for several years now that the area in Jackson and Lenawee Counties called the Irish Hills has had oil. The area currently produces about 2% oil the oil used by Michigan residents and is the largest oil producing part of the state.

But of course, angst follows the wells. The people in the area, even those benefiting from oil pumps on their own property, worry about the long term affects. Chief amongst the worries are the environmental concerns which come naturally with the oil industry, as well as problems such as road damage which come with the heavier trucks needed to haul oil and oil related items in and out of the area.

There are worries about contamination of the drinking water and the odor of petroleum, fears of earthquakes which may result from the drilling. To be sure, none of the issues are invalid. They seem to get right to the heart of the trouble with our nation's need for oil: we need it, yet wherever it's found it's going be at the least inconvenient for the locale.

What can we say about that? The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, as a general rule. We need oil and there's some where you live. Beyond a genuine, verifiably serious risk to your homes and well being, we don't know what else to say. We need to get to the crude.

That sounds cruder than we mean it. But, sadly, sometimes things simply are what they are and no one can really do much about it. Sure, it's easy to say that those of us who don't have to deal directly with the smells and the road destruction and the worry about the future for the locals to say, go on and drill it. But, what else do you want us to do? What else can you do? It simply is what it is; might as well make the best of it.

Sometimes life is a bowl of cherries. Sometimes it's a bowl of lemons. After finding out which, you just have to do the best you can with what you've got. Our sympathies are with the folks in the Irish Hills. But our overall well being needs the oil. It's another one those trade offs life forces on us as a whole. We do what is best within reason, and be grateful that it isn't worse.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lewis and Mitchell

It's amazing how thoughts may randomly pop into one's mind. We are further impressed when two or more of them may have a certain connection which gives us pause.

C. S. Lewis speaks of being a democrat (a small 'd' democrat, it should be noted) he says that it is because he distrusts his fellow men rather than believes in them. No one, himself included, he says, can be fully trusted to run other people's business, so it's better to diffuse power than allow its accumulation in one man or group.

Richard Mitchell, an outstanding yet little known writer on education issues famous, so far as he is, for his works under the heading The Underground Grammarian, teaches that education is a preparation against the world more than for it. The world, so to speak, will mislead you, it will lie to you, so that the only decent education leads you to think for yourself as a check on the world's attempted ill effect upon you.

These are two quite interesting takes on things. They lead us to wonder whether there might be such things as negative virtues, ideas positive in themselves though emanating from negative perspectives. They are difficult to disagree with, yet display an understanding of the world and peoples around us in an unexpected fashion from unexpected sources. As such, they quite naturally lead us to think and wonder.

How about you?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Stupidity and Authority

It is the kind of thing which makes us think that maybe the civil libertarians have a point after all. The City of Detroit Police Department, in the settlement of not one but two lawsuits, has agreed to respect the First Amendment rights of citizens and visitors to the city by not writing tickets tickets for behaviors which are not in fact illegal. You see, the DPD has been found to write tickets where no offense was committed. One case in particular involved ticketing a man for loitering in a known drug trafficking area. Yet he was legally parked at the time (he was in his car) and no such statute was ion the books.

The rank stupidity of such actions confounds reason. As that actions itself took place in November 2008, it further boggles the mind that it would take more than three years for a resolution to the issue. How could any lawyer reasonably represent the DPD under such circumstances? How could they not expect the ACLU (the driving force behind the legal action) to make hay of it?

Detroit police officers must now be reminded that those who merely verbally oppose, criticize and question them cannot be threatened with arrest. We admit having our qualms about the whole question authority idea as a philosophic point. It's one thing to question authority if you honestly seek knowledge, which of course you have the right to do in potential arrest or ticketing situation. Yet it is quite another to question valid authority simply to incite, or to question it's very validity when it is in fact valid.

But, admittedly, that is a sidebar issue here. How this case even became a case is the real question. What kind of police do we have in Detroit when at least some of them feel compelled to issue tickets for nonexistent infractions? It seems there are things at work beyond simple Constitutional matters. There should be no officers on the street who do not know what is and is not a ticketable or arrestable offense. This requires more than reminding the men and women in blue to respect the Constitution. It seems to call for structural changes within the selection of training, and retention of officers.

The incidents, to be fair, are likely isolated. But that makes then no less an affront to the rights of the people, especially, of course, the people directly involved. It even offends perhaps more the good officers who we are sure form the vast, majority of the ranks. Yet we must suppose that they respect the action taken, or they would not be the good guys themselves. We are all the better for that.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Solvency Board Cometh

Mayor Dave Bing and the Detroit City Council are appalled at the plan Governor Rick Snyder has for their town: a nine member panel which would control Detroit's finances. It would allow the Mayor and the Council to keep their job jobs as chief executive and chief legislature, and that's about it.

To those who claim that it strips Detroit of its political representation, well, it hardly does that. Detroit elected officials stay in place, and they have a say in who gets appointed to the board. Mayor Bing and the Council in various combinations will select 6 of the 9 who will serve on the Board. Further, as cities are the subsets of the state and not independent entities of their own volition, then seeing as Detroiters still vote for their State Reps and the Governor they are most certainly not losing their right to select their elected officials.

Detroit has messed around for far too long and gets far too much from the State as it is for the city to have any real moral ground to cry foul. When even the Detroit Free Press editorializes that the Mayor and all should accept the plan, it speaks volumes about how bad off the City has become. It may be, as Stephen Henderson states in the Freep, an emergency manager under another name. But it has become necessary as Detroit leadership simply has not stepped up and done something about the crisis.

This situation cannot reasonably be painted as us against them, Detroit against the rest of Michigan. Detroit already gets more money per capita from Lansing than any other municipality in the State. The City has simply refused to make the tough calls necessary for solvency, and now it will pay the price. That's not tyranny. It's governing those who have displayed they can't govern themselves.

And it probably should have been done a long time ago.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Science Holds no Value

One of the great debates between the Christian and the scientist is the degree to which we are animal or spiritual. Many scientists wish us to be wholly scientific in our approach to humanity and understanding of ourselves. It is really a rather shallow outlook on human nature or, even, the necessary consequences of a purely scientific view of who we are.

Science has apparently discovered the part of our brain which helps us to recognize justice. It asserts, at least in some quarters, that goodness is innate within us physically. Yet it ignores the very real point that whether good occurs in us naturally is an entirely different question from the judgment of 'what is good?' or the expectation that people will do good.

How do we know what is good except to be able to judge it in our individual and societal actions? Or are our scientifically minded friends suggesting that we just 'do things' and they happen to be good? Either way, any judgment about good, any assertion that 'this is good' cannot come wholly or entirely from within ourselves; there are too many of us with too many of our own nuanced ideas of good and bad.

Or are you saying that everyone from childhood, without guidance of any kind (parental, societal, or spiritual) will necessarily elect to do good? No Lord of the Flies scenarios possible? It begs the question of why people (and it should be obvious that all people do bad things sometimes regardless of physical construction) do bad things. Why does the thief steal, if he knows in his heart and head that it's wrong? Further, what's free will, if we are born with, say, no choice but to do good?

It should surprise no one that we are hard wired to recognize justice; we are, at the end of the day, physical as well as spiritual creatures. It should not be shocking news that a just and all knowing God in the very act of creation would make our physical selves able to recognize spiritual, eternal, and absolute truths, truths outside our own will, thus enabling us to see (so to speak) justice. That science has discovered as much enhances rather than detracts from our knowledge of God. It strengthens, not weakens, our relationship with Him. It makes our spiritual side and our physical side properly complimentary. It raises us from the mere animal into a higher plane of existence.

Science does not tell us who we are in our entirety. It only sets us on that road. How far we trail along that path is ultimately up to us. And the questions we discover along that way will not be empirical.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Electric Cars Found Wanting

GM will halt production of the Chevy Volt for five weeks due to a lack of demand. A company which makes batteries for electric cars lost around $258 million dollars. Electric cars aren't selling, and even hybrids aren't doing all that well, despite gasoline being at around four bucks a gallon in most of the country. What does it tells us?

For starters, nobody wants the stupid things. Secondly, no amount of government cajoling will make people buy them. Thirdly, everyone knows that the environment is both resilient and not nearly so bad off as the liberal environmentalists claim. When you top it all off with the fact that electric cars and hybrids cost more than traditional gasoline vehicles, and it's no wonder Volts don't sell. Such is not a, ahem, good climate in which you can influence people to buy what you want them to buy. The consumer wants what he wants.

Just give electric cars time, supporters say. But why? Essentially for the same reasons we have already listed, and likely a few more. Outside of a lack of options, you cannot make folks spend money on what they don't want.

You want to spread the purchase and use of electric vehicles? Burn the gas until there's no option but to use hybrids and the like. And get the government out of the car business while you're at it.

The consumers, as we've said, can see through all that. Consumers will not buy because of government pressure, outside of lacking other options. Necessity being the mother of invention, people aren't going to buy nontraditional vehicles without having to. Only when car makers are completely free to produce what they know the consumers want, which means they'll find a way to produce cheaper electric cars and hybrids when it pays them, will such cars become dominant. Before that, we simply have our tax dollars spent unwisely, with automakers forced to spend cash on things which they would rather not. Cash which could be used towards making better gasoline driven vehicles.

Let the market determine what we drive. Anything short of that, or short of absolute necessity, only makes it tougher on the consumers and workers the Obama Administration claims to love so much. Driving up taxes and increasing the cost of personal transportation will only stall private initiative.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Detroit LGBT Community and the Feds

The United states Department of Housing and Urban Development has instituted a rule which says that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people cannot be discriminated against in federal housing. The new rule is one which affects the LGBT folk in the Detroit area. A report in today's Detroit Free Press centers on how a young man, on his way to become a young woman, supposedly, was kicked out of his grandfather's east side apartment because of who he claims he is.

A great many things are at stake here, and where a LGBT person is able to live may be the least of the questions. We all know by now how the Obama Administration cares not for religious freedom rights and rights of conscience. While this rule doesn't appear to go so far as matters of religious conscience, it nevertheless puts us on the road of disregarding religious sentiment. With this rule in place, how long until precedent takes effect and such rules may be made to apply to private persons and organizations? How many Catholic property owners may someday be forced to act against their conscience or let their property go unused, or worse?

The government, or, at least, this government, is determined to force its style of human rights onto the general populace. All the while, it begs the question of whether the person themselves have any obligation to themselves or society. Why does this young man, and he is a young man now and will always be a biological man of some kind, have the right to act against traditional society without considering if perhaps he, and not the larger community, is in the wrong? Why must society cater to him simply because he refuses to think that maybe he needs to change, not the rest of us.

This is not to say that certain people do not merit a certain compassion. Yet compassion cannot mean acceptance, lest we accept thieves and robbers as thieves and robbers rather than as what they are. A good and real compassion would help him understand better who he is, and not who he thinks he is.

What happens with these regulations is that Washington is slowly but surely setting itself up as the arbiter of who deserves what. From bad rules over federally funded housing to controlling your life as it sees fit, citizen, is a very short step. Be wary the little steps which appear compassionate, yet lead to tyranny.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Death Benefits Society

There is an issue which is vaguely tied into the raging health care debate yet has not been seen as such to date. It is the question of the falsely labeled 'right' to die, and it will eventually become part of any health care plans formulated and, if you'll excuse the term, executed by the government.

The question is often dismissed as a merely religious one by those in favor or it. Yet as with a similar moral issue, abortion, it really is not a wholly religious position if it is even particularly religious at all. It is a philosophical question at heart, perhaps, yes, with religious implications, but grounded in philosophy nonetheless. Simply put, if you had no say in being born, on what grounds can you assert, outside of truly heroic situations, a right to determine when you leave?

But however true that rings it is on a bit of a tangent with regard to the politics of the issue and national health care. If the proponents of euthanasia are ever successful in securing a right to die the next step is as obvious as it is ominous: the right to die will become an obligation to die.

You don't think so? Imagine in the near future an 85 year old with severe health problems. He's 85 anyway, so how much longer may he hang on regardless? He will be asked, after that, how much of a burden do you really want to be on your family? Your friends? Society? Do you honestly believe that you should tie up limited resources when they may be used on someone who may actually be helped by them to a greater degree more than you? Should you burden everyone by making them watch you die slowly, watch you wither away despite everyone's best efforts? Save us the trouble, save you the trauma; take the shot and it will all be over quickly and peacefully.

It won't happen? When health care is rationed, it absolutely won't happen? When bureaucrats control who gets what treatments, it cannot happen? Do you really want to take the chance that someday it won't be made to appear selfish that you simply want to live?

Mull that over, and then let me know what you think.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hang it up, Newt

Super Tuesday has come and gone, and there is still no clear winner for the GOP nomination for President this November. Yet there are still thing we can learn from the primaries thus far.

Mitt Romney is a weak candidate. To be sure, there are places where he's won big: Vermont and Massachusetts, and Virginia. But the Green Mountain and Bay States are essentially one and the same as part of Romney's home turf. Those victories can be significantly discounted. The same can be said of Virginia, where only he and Ron Paul were on the ballot. But what of his other wins?

He barely won Ohio, as he barely won Michigan, two important states in this fall's election. In both states he carried only a plurality, and insignificant pluralities at that. Santorum would have won both states if he had been the only conservative in the running. Idaho appears to be the only important victory outside of New England for Romney, as he he won by an even lesser plurality in Alaska than nearby. In short, there's an awful lot of distrust for Romney among Republicans in general, and conservatives in particular. What does it all mean?

It means we should join the growing number of right wing voices and tell Newt Gingrich to get out of the race.

A simple look at the current delegate count demonstrates that a conservative can get the Republican nomination. Romney current has the lead with 415, followed by Santorum with 176, Gingrich with 105, and Paul 47. But taking away the supporters on Gingrich in both Michigan and Ohio would have likely given Santorum wins there, with the resulting increase of delegates for Romney. Get Gingrich off the ballot in Georgia, where between he and Santorum more than 66% of GOP voters cast ballots against Romney, and Santorum likely wins. One wonders too, with 57% of voters going for either he or Santorum there, what result there might have been without Newt winning in what is indeed his backyard. As with Vermont and Massachusetts and Romney, both Newt's wins can be heavily discounted.

So with upcoming contests in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Kansas, and Illinois, and with four of those primaries or caucuses in conservative land, how might the obviously preferred conservative, Rick Santorum, perform without Gingrich around? Santorum already holds a strong plurality in Alabama, which ought to become a majority with Newt gone (recent polls there show Santorum/Gingrich at 61% combined there). To cut to the chase, it appears as though conservatives can derail Romney, if they can unite.

Get out, Newt. Your day in the sun is done, and you're only blocking it from shining on a winning candidate. We need to take strides as a team in order to have a conservative on the ballot. If our choice is Obama or Obama lite this November, it will surely be your fault.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The President and Birth Control

The Obama Administration may have scored the political hit of the year with the birth control issue. In an era where religious liberty doesn't mean as much as it should, the President has mapped out a plan to make religion look bad while also making conservatives in general seem out of touch with the nation they love. By insisting that somehow, some way the seriously religious support something they morally cannot, Barack Obama may have found a way to ensure his reelection this fall.

He knows what he's doing. He's taken an issue which hasn't meant much for decades now and made it a front and center bone of contention. He's placed supposed women's rights against freedom of religion and is sitting back letting the spectacle play itself out. And who wins? He does.

The compromise he's offered is no compromise at all; indeed, one wonders whether compromise is possible on such questions. To say that Catholic institutions don't have to pay for birth control services yet insurers do misses the point: where does it leave insurers who may have the moral convictions of the Catholic Church? And it still, even if arguably only indirectly, forces Catholic institutions to pay for it.

It would be easy to say that we have a President who doesn't understand the Constitution. But that's not the case: we have a President who doesn't care about it. He's called it 'deeply flawed'. With that attitude, it's no wonder that such an historically important right such as freedom of religion (and conscience) mean little to him. Our basic freedoms are little but political footballs to any community organizer.

Hopefully, Americans will see through this, remember their Constitution, and vote accordingly. But for now, the President has released his bull upon the china shop. And he doesn't care who has to pick up the pieces if it gets him a second term.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Rural Areas Vote Better

If it isn't too late to comment on the Michigan Primary, and we don't see that it is, it appears to us that one fact jumps out which may be more important than any other. It is in how, by and large, Rick Santorum won the rural areas while Mitt Romney tended to carry the urban ones. The results are not hard and fast as there certainly was a mix. Santorum carried the new 13th District which meanders in and around Detroit, while Romney won several counties in the northern lower peninsula. Still, the pattern was there.

A similar pattern can found in the 2008 Presidential election. Looking at a map of which counties Barack Obama and John McCain won respectively shows that rural support for McCain was overwhelming while the President's votes tended to come from urban areas. What this obviously tells us is that rural voters tend to be more conservative while city folk are more liberal.

But that in itself speaks volumes. It tells us that country folk are more independent and less concerned with government. Indeed, that on the whole they don't want government in their lives. They feel they can do just fine without it.

In short, our rural neighbors whether right here in Michigan or elsewhere on the fruited plain are the ones closer to the ideal of American government than the urban dwellers who in so many more ways live and die by government. Unfortunately, they're in the minority, and that's sad. It means the cities are intent to take the country folk with them down the kitchen drain. Majority rules, after all.

All that means is that a scant majority can make everyone else do what they want. It hardly seems fair. Especially when our great nation as a whole is on the slippery slope to dictatorship. It began when Washington gained its power through ballot box as it has. We'll have no one to blame but ourselves when we take the good down with the bad.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Diversity and Education

An ongoing debate within the political sphere, one which has indeed been carried on since the dawn of the Republic, has been about the extent and nature of public education. it is time that we addressed the issue squarely, by stating unequivocally and emphatically that public education is not a right.

For starters, seeing as education is ultimately the obligation of the individual (if mature enough) or of the parents of young children, then it is up to the person or their moms and dads to see to their learning as much as to their housing, clothing, and food. Society should only step in when the individual or the family needs help, just as it does with housing, clothing, and food. This needs to be said emphatically and forcefully: if you are able to provide for your or your child's education then you should have to provide for it, not the rest of us.

Indeed, with all the blather which the purveyors of teaching at the public trough give towards such ideas as diversity, how much more diverse can you get than to leave education to parental judgment and inquiry? Imagine a world where parents send their kids to schools they like based on their ideas of right and wrong rather than having them indoctrinated by the often errant views of the general society, a society whose 'views' are all too often dictated by judicial and legislative fiat rather of by the rational analysis of the individuals who are more concerned with true education (it is their children involved, you know) than passing fancy? How much more diverse can you get?

Or is diversity not what they truly want? Is their real aim the propagation of erroneous creeds and disreputable acts? To wit, do they want diversity as diversity, which is really only different folks acting different ways with no regard to the value of those acts (something of which even traditionalists should be wary), or do they in fact want indoctrination, the acceptance and living of the acts they, the education elite, deem worthy? Do they really want diversity, or the interpretation of ideas in their own light?

But the bottom line is that education is not a right so much as a duty. When we live up to that, we live well. When we don't, we get whatever comes along. And exactly what we would deserve.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday Morning Musings

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been ordered to pay restitution of $500 per month. That's about triple the $160 he had been paying. It's really kind of a joke, though, considering he is supposed to pay back around a million bucks total. If the money only trickles in, there's almost no point in the city getting it at all. But something may be better than nothing, even if the payments are only symbolic.

Speaking of money, many folks are decrying the %7.6 million which the so-called Super Pacs spent on ads before the recent Michigan Primary. That cash needs to be monitored and controlled, they say. It needs to be done to level the playing field.

Well, why not make Washington less important, so that offices such as the Presidency are less important? Get back to our constitutional roots so that the federal establishment is smaller and weaker, and of course less influential. Then those Super Pacs wouldn't mean as much. But that is, of course, preposterous. Nobody can take care of us like Washington can.

That's sarcasm, by the way.

The Michigan Republican Party has given both at large delegates to Mitt Romney despite the closeness of Tuesday's vote. That makes it pretty obvious that establishment types want an establishment guy heading the ticket. The liberals in the media, the organized party types - at least in Michigan - want bland over dynamic. It's not about beating Obama, at least for the GOP. It's about not rocking the boat, not pricking any consciences with pesky questions about moral good. And we wonder why people dislike politicians and politics.

Ah, that's enough crabbing for a Friday morning. Have a good weekend folks.

That's not sarcasm. Just for the record.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

It is the Economy, Stupid, but not why You Think

The dust is settling in the aftermath of the Michigan primary. It is not so much of a victory as Romney would like, either. Both he and Rick Santorum will get 15 delegates from the Great Lakes State. The race was that close.

This must be seen as a win for Santorum. Michigan is a state Romney won easily against John McCain in 2008 and was seen as home turf. What this means is that Super Tuesday has become very, very interesting. We'll be watching closely, to be sure.

We mentioned yesterday how the political hacks, going back to at least the years of Bill Clinton (It's the economy, stupid) place so much emphasis on economic well being and strong economy. What really gets forgotten when we center out politics on simple and mere economic well being is that creating a vibrant economy would be very easy. If the politicians would allow it, and if conservatives would stress it and actually work to implement the principles necessary for a strong economy. Let the free market take care of business.

No one person or group can effectively manage the economy. There are simply too many decisions being made by too many people day in and day out for that to be a rational possibility. Let folks alone to make their own decisions. Let them become masters of their own economy and the self discipline that would teach would find itself further manifested in self discipline in other areas of life.

Get government out of the way of the economy, too, so that it can concentrate on the areas where it is supposed to govern. Weights and measures, foreign policy, sound money, where necessary for interstate commerce; shrink at least the federal government to the point where there won't be such emphasis on things it cannot control anyway. Get it back to its Constitutional roots and watch the economy benefit.

Yes, we know. Pie in the sky. Or in fact too many hands in the government pie which do not want to leave it alone, solely for their own self interest. The regulators protect their jobs more than anything. So the Occupiers are almost right: those with the money do run the show. Only it isn't the capitalists who really own things. It's a self centered Washington, put there by a self centered voting public.

That recipe we mentioned yesterday? It's been mixed and is in the oven.