Smoking limits singed http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36~61~2839887,00.html [This is a letter to a state Representative, not a newspaper editorial page.] To Rep. Mark Larson, Republican sponsor of the Colorado House version of this bill: Dear Representative Larson, It is hard to see what hope there is for property rights and free markets in our great state if Republicans vote to trample both. Your statement that "What we're trying to do is return the focus to a health issue, not special interests" is some of the most deceitful and damaging talk I've heard from a Republican in years. Leave fact-free and socialist arguments to the Democrats. As a former business owner, you must be aware that BUSINESS AND PROPERTY OWNERS ARE NOT SPECIAL INTERESTS. They are the fuel of our economic engine and the foundation of our society. I found this on your web site, describing your guiding principles: - Reduce Government to the Lowest Practical Level. - Protect the Free Enterprise System. - Endorse and Practice Fiscal Responsibility. - Protect the rights of the Individual but insist on Personal Responsibility. I don't see how voting for, much less sponsoring, a smoking ban is in keeping with any of your principles. I read on your site that you think the vast majority of your constituents wanted this bill to pass. Not only do I doubt that assertion, but more importantly I believe that many politicians are elected because people agree with and respect their guiding principles, and expect you to live by them. There is no doubt that in 2000, George W Bush beat an incumbent vice-president during a good economy and peace because Bush was thought to have principles and Gore just blew with the polling winds. Who are you behaving like now? Nobody is forced either to patronize or work in a particular bar or restaurant. These transactions, whether as buyer and seller or as employer and employee are voluntary. If there is enough demand for smoke-free bars, there will be smoke free bars. If there is enough demand for bars that allow smoking, who are you to say that adults do not have the right do go there? Your primary goal as a Republican must be to actually live by the very noble principles you lay out on your web site. I hope you get back on that path immediately, and move to derail this ill-conceived smoking ban before you do any more damage to the most basic rights of our citizens. Most Sincerely, Ross Kaminsky Regional Coordinator, Colorado Club for Growth http://blog.rossputin.com email@example.com
For those of you who know the Club for Growth, you'll be interested in Pat Toomey's latest message and the Club's new ads targeting Ben Nelson and Lindsey Graham. For those of you who don't know the Club for Growth, if you believe that limited regulation and low taxation are the fuel for our economic engine, you should join immediately. Here's the link to the new ads: http://www.clubforgrowth.org/appeal/index.php? And the home page for the Clug: www.clubforgrowth.org
Re: Bush Gives Energy Plan Amid High Prices (Washington Post 4/27/05) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/04/27/AR2005042700354.html To the Editors: The problem with our national Energy Policy is that we have one. President Bush alternates between decrying government bureaucracies which stifle and over-regulate, then goes on to propose more government-based solutions. Each tax break, each subsidy, and each regulation simply injects interference into the supply and demand signals the economy would naturally broadcast, particularly in a market with as many participants as energy. From ethanol subsidies to federalizing LNG depot decisions, Uncle Sam does nothing but constipate what should be a thriving and inventive energy sector with impassable rules and red tape while redistributing income from citizens to interest groups such corn farmers and fuel cell manufacturers. Even the arguments for an Energy Policy are bogus: “dependence on foreign oil” is a straw man. If you remove the word “foreign”, the statement represents the real situation. Our dependence on fossil fuels and the price we pay for them would be identical (other than small transportation costs) if our oil were home-grown. I don’t complain about our fuel consumption, but if you don’t like the price you need not look beyond our own borders. With the current high fuel prices and the bogeymen of the Saudis and Hugo Chavez, Bush will probably be able to sell this unnecessary and counterproductive big-government solution to a oil-hungry and economically xenophobic public.
Let me get one thing clear from the start: I am not homophobic. I have gay relatives and friends and have not even a thought of judging them in any way negatively about their sexual orientation. The Colorado State Senate has passed, on a party-line vote (Democratic majority), SB28 which adds not only sexual orientation but "gender variance" to employer non-discrimination protections. Bill: http://www.leg.state.co.us/Clics2005a/csl.nsf/fsbillcont3/343295762B9E075187256F5B007711BE?Open&file=028_ren.pdf Fiscal Note: http://www.leg.state.co.us/clics2005a/csl.nsf/fsbillcont3/343295762B9E075187256F5B007711BE?Open&file=SB028_00.pdf [Let's be clear what's going on here: One of the 4 major donors to the Democrats in Colorado in 2004 was a gay man, whom I won't name here. Now it's payback time...although it's hard to imagine that the particular donor would spend a lot of political capital on something this silly and counter-productive.] This bill means that if a company hires someone who turns out to be a transvestite, they can't fire him/her for it. It makes a provision for an employer to be allowed "to require compliance with a dress code and to require persons with gender variance to maintain reasonably consistent gender presentation." But this is simply a lawsuit (or eighty lawsuits) waiting to happen. Not only will "reasonably consistent" mean different things to different people (how many people think Michael Jackson looks like a man and how many don't?), but this is an outrageous intrusion into critical decisions in private businesses. Nothing is more important to a successful business than great employees who bring in, and bring back, customers. How about the hardware store owner who hires someone only to find him coming in the next day with lipstick on? Does that cross the line? What if a judge or jury says it doesn't but the typical macho construction foreman who was a regular customer refuses to shop there? It doesn't matter if you think that the foreman should be more tolerant. The shop owner has no control over that. It's not his job to give sensitivity training to his customers. This kind of thing can ruin the shop owner's business...even if he does win a hearing eventually. While I've heard the Democrats turn down bill after bill complaining that it's not free, this ridiculous bill is slated to cost taxpayers about $80,000 in the first year and $130,000 in the second year for the state to deal with an expected 80 complaints annually. In the fiscal note (the government's analysis of the potential cost of a law), the state assumes that 10 of the 80 have probable cause to pursue. Then "of the 10 cases, 6 settle without a hearing, and 4 require a hearing." Let me get this straight: Taxpayers are being told that we should spend an average of $26,250 per case on the 8 cases likely to go to a hearing in the first two years of this law being in force. We should spend the equivalent of an average worker's annual salary to defend someone who wants to claim that wearing lipstick while working at Home Depot is still quite masculine while Home Depot gets complaint after complaint and loses customers. The legislators who sponsored this outrage (interestingly they are both women) have probably never owned a business. If they have, their time in government has made them forget about what really makes our country and economy successful: freedom from central planning. According to an e-mail update from a Colorado State Senator, "During the second reading, Senator Doug Lamborn attempted to amend the bill to permit school districts to maintain a reasonable dress code and require “transgendered” individuals to dress in a manner consistent with only one of the sexes....Democratic Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald ruled that Sen. Lamborn’s amendment did not fit under the title of the bill. In reality, this maneuver was designed to give Democrats political cover by not forcing them to cast a vote on this controversial amendment. "Undeterred, Senator Lamborn sought to introduce the amendment during the third and final reading of the bill, which required the consent of the Senate. Democrats once again sought to stifle the amendment, but two of their own broke with the party to grant Sen. Lamborn permission to introduce the amendment. Ultimately, this reasonable provision failed on a party-line vote of 18-17." So the Democrats want to argue that schools must permit transvestite students to dress however they please. One can only imagine the possible disruption to a studious environment, not to mention the potential risk to such students because of such behavior. Well, maybe it's an easy way to look for some fast cash....Bob will dress like Betty, take a few punches, and sue the school district for big money. Maybe they should have included that in the fiscal note. One might be tempted to think that if only 4 cases per year get to a hearing then we shouldn't spend any time thinking about this bill. But the problem happens before a complaint when a law like this exists: Whenever a group is protected, employers are especially cautious about hiring someone who is or might be part of that group. In this litigious time, it is normal and rational risk-aversion. Now, in addition to having to worry about the normal difficulties of business, company owners will have to wonder "What if Bill shows up wearing lipstick?" and teachers will have to hope that little Timmy keeps dressing like a boy. I urge all Colorado residents, particularly Democrats, to contact their state Representative and urge them to vote against this incredible and ridiculous legislation. Let them know that you will hold it against them in 2006 if they don't. State Representative info can be found here: http://www.leg.state.co.us/Clics2005a/csl.nsf/DirectoryHou?openframeset
PUBLISHED in the Colorado Daily 5/3/05 http://www.coloradodaily.com/articles/2005/05/02/opinion/opinion03.txt re: A four-way convergence (Colorado Daily, 4/27/05) http://www.coloradodaily.com/articles/2005/04/27/news/news01.txt In your article “A four-way convergence”, Federico Rangel says “We are supporting his academic freedom, what he deems as the truth.” This position represents the fundamental intellectual flaw in those who support Ward Churchill and in American higher education generally. Nazis “deem” certain things as “truth”. Charles Manson “deems” something to be the truth. As Tobias Smollett (mid-1700’s) said, “Facts are stubborn things.” The concept that the truth is somehow defined by what one deems it to be, although a common position among people who fashion themselves “intellectuals” is an affront to logic and a danger to society. Churchill is entitled to his opinions no matter how reprehensible. But plagiarism (of writing and art), threatening people, and calling for more events like 9/11 can neither be considered defending truth nor an issue of academic freedom. These are breaches of ethics and law which must not be tolerated. Any other route leads in the short term to the University becoming irrelevant and in the long term to a society without the ethical or philosophical foundation necessary for survival. The appropriate quote does not belong to Rangel but to Tertullian (Rome, around 200 AD): “Truth engenders hatred of truth. As soon as it appears, it is the enemy.”
Thanks to the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal for bringing this to my attention: In 1983, current Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid offered HR 3589, a bill to exempt all Federal employees, including members of Congress, from the Social Security system. Here is a Library of Congress link to a summary of the bill. Since the bill apparently didn’t go anywhere, there is not a lot of very interesting specific information. http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/D?d098:6:./temp/~bdHZTy:@@@L&summ2=m& It is yet another indication that those who understand Social Security best are the most anxious to find a way not to participate….while forcing the rest of us to pay into government’s pyramid scheme. It comes down to this: Most Democrats in DC only oppose Social Security reform because they want to keep the citizens dependent on government. They don’t care that it’s a fraud, that it keeps poor people poor, that it discriminates against women and minorities, and that it is neither insurance nor investment of any sort. They just want YOUR money.
PUBLISHED: Denver Post 4/27/05 http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36%257E416%257E,00.html re: Salazar wins points in filibuster tussle http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36~33999~2836331,00.html To the Editors: Democratic organizations, many of whom are outside Colorado, are complimenting Ken Salazar after his flip-flop on supporting up-or-down votes for nominees. Insults are coming from Christian organizations, particularly Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family. Politically, they all miss the point. Those who are crowing about Salazar's new position either don't live in Colorado or were already committed Democrat voters. Those who are complaining now are already committed Republicans. But Colorado has a very independent-minded electorate, with roughly as many registered Independents as Democrats. It is these people who decide elections and who might object to abandoning an important campaign promise. If the election were soon, the flip-flop would hurt Salazar. But since he’s only a few months into a six year term and voters probably won’t remember this, he gains a lot more immediate political clout among DC Democrats compared to what he risks losing in 2010 at home. Salazar’s choice is thus disappointing but not surprising.
re: Frist, Reid Work on Judge-Approval Deal http://ap.washingtontimes.com/dynamic/stories/F/FILIBUSTER_FIGHT? A “compromise” about judicial nominees could be an important political victory for the Democrats, and misses the fundamental point: the purpose and meaning of “Advice and Consent”. Bill Frist should keep his eye on the ball: if the Republicans take the “nuclear option” off the table, they leave the Democrats in a position to block a potential Supreme Court nomination. Judicial appointments are a prerogative of winning the Presidency. The proper role of the Senate is simply to ensure that nominees are honest people, honestly selected. The Senate need not and should not base approval on whether a nominee’s views are “mainstream”, “radical” or agreeable to them. Harry Reid’s offering to approve some nominees if President Bush withdraws others is, to use his own term, a “raw abuse” of power. He should not be allowed to get away with any of his unconstitutional shenanigans.
re: Frist Urges End to Nominee Filibusters (Washington Post, 4/25/05) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/04/24/AR2005042400415.html To the Editors: When Republicans allow the judicial filibuster issue to be tied to Christian conservatism rather than judicial independence, they lose the ability to argue that the process has become too politicized, the foundation of their position against the filibuster. From 1789 until late in the 20th century it was clear that, in the absence of corruption or nepotism, judicial and bureaucratic appointments were a prerogative of winning the Presidency. Advice and consent is not about Senators approving of a nominees views. It is only to ensure the appointment of honest men, honestly selected. The essential function of the judiciary is to be independent of public opinion, a stabilizer on the ship of democracy. By publicly tying the judicial filibuster issue to questions of faith, the Republicans now seem as if they just want to change one type of politicization for another. James Madison would just shake his head in dismay.
Housing Experts Wary of Bubble Fatigue http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=568&ncid=568&e=4&u=/nm/20050424/bs_nm/property_housingbubble_dc People from economists to mortgage brokers to developers are talking about the possibility of a housing bubble. In many parts of the country, real estate prices have stopped going up and in some places they've gone down a bit. But if we're in a bubble, it's not yet clear that it is bursting though it does seem to have stopped inflating. I'm in the camp of "it's just a matter of time" before real estate in most parts of the US comes down substantially in price then remains as "dead money" for quite a few years. So, when is the time? Well, I don't know...but what I do know is that a great way to burst the bubble is for a lot of people to talk about the possibility of its bursting. In markets with a high percentage of speculators among the buyers, much of their impetus (especially among the non- or semi-professional investors) comes from hearing everyone around them talking about how much money they're making in that asset class, whether it's internet stocks, gold, real estate, or tulip bulbs. If these buyers back off, sellers will have to lower their prices to make a sale. However, as I've mentioned before and as is discussed in the piece referenced above, real estate is a bit different because people think there is a "fair price" based on the price their neighbors sold at. They are reluctant to lower their offering price and instead withdraw their house from the market until they are more desperate to sell. [My prior articles on the real estate market are here and here.] Although one might think that fewer sellers would tend to support market prices, I don't think it's the case with real estate, especially near a market top. Instead the lack of properties available to buy will further eliminate speculators from the market. In a situation where liquidity diminishes, i.e. fewer buyers and fewer sellers, the Investment Law of Gravity has more opportunity to take hold. This law, which you won't find in any text book but is here on my blog for you, states that "Asset prices require energy (money) to be lifted but they can fall under their own weight." The bottom line is that people feel most secure in cash (and maybe gold). When push comes to shove, sellers always need the cash more than the buyers need the house or the tulip. Although I often use public sentiment as an excellent contrary indicator, the beginning of public chatter about a real estate bubble is likely to cause real estate prices to decline. And when they do, I expect the decline to be significant and long-lasting.