Mar 222010

As the final vote for the Democrats’ health care reform bill got closer, the frantic attempts by Republicans to stop it reminded me of a rather apt G.K. Chesterton quote.

“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types — the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins. He admires them especially by moonlight, not to say moonshine. Each new blunder of the progressive or prig becomes instantly a legend of immemorial antiquity for the snob. This is called the balance, or mutual check, in our Constitution.”

Despite having written that 86 years ago, Mr. Chesterton hit the nail very much on the head. I didn’t know if I should laugh or scream as I watched Republicans motivate their base in opposition to socialistic/corporatist expansion of government involvement in the health care market, as they perversely and hypocritically decried the Big Government nature of the bill in one breath, and panicked old folks with the specter of losing their Medicare coverage in the next.

Republicans fought hard against Medicare in 1965. Why are they now defending it? How long before they’re defending Obamacare? Truly, “Each new blunder of the progressive or prig becomes instantly a legend of immemorial antiquity for the snob.”

Will the GOP ever have new ideas (e.g, those of Cato Institute, Mises Institute, or Acton Institute)? Or will they always be the party of welfare state stasis and warfare state expansion?

Feb 092010

Updates follow the post body

snowbound in Greenfield

a typical Pittsburgh neighborhood street after the storm

Snowmageddon. Snowpocalypse. SnOMG. Whatever you call it, we knew it was coming, and we knew it would be bad.

If you ask Mayor Ravenstahl, though, he and the rest of Pittsburgh’s government aren’t to blame for the painfully slow plowing process.

“Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who left town Friday to celebrate his 30th birthday in the Laurel Highlands and got stranded there, told reporters that forecasts that morning called for 4 to 8 inches of snow. Soon after he got back in town Sunday he was at the city’s Emergency Operations Center talking — he noted pointedly — to the same people he had been talking to all weekend by computer and phone while at the Laurel Highlands.”

Technically, he’s right that the morning prediction wasn’t for a blizzard. My memory is that the prediction in the morning was 3-6″. By midday it was upped to 4-8″ (6-10″?). By the time I left work around 4PM, we were to expect 8-14″. The point isn’t what the morning prediction was, though. The crux of the matter is what city officials did and didn’t do as the expected snowfall rose.

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Nov 032009

Sometimes public humiliation is an appropriate punishment. To wit:

Women who stole from girl, 9, hold public signs of shame

“A woman and her daughter are outside the Bedford County Courthouse holding signs saying they stole a gift card from a 9-year-old girl on her birthday…which the girl set on a shelf while a Wal-Mart employee helped her.”

Shame benefits society by discouraging undesirable behavior. In this case it’ll keep two people out of tax-eating prisons. Hopefully, the perpetrators have learned a valuable lesson and will be better neighbors henceforth. Unfortunately, the girl will likely learn the wrong lesson from what happened to her.

“The girl’s mother planned to drive by the courthouse to teach her daughter the importance of obeying the law.”

Um, no. What’s important to learn is not be a petty, thieving scumbag. Teaching blind obedience to the law instills fear of getting caught without inspiring moral and ethical behavior.

Oct 112009

A tongue-in-cheek post by Justin Kownacki and a debate at Podcamp Pittsburgh 4 with Justin, Tami Dixon, Steve Klabnik, and Nick Pinkston has inspired some thoughts about intellectual property (IP). I can’t shake the feeling that the debate could have been more fruitful if some terms had been explicitly defined. Let’s see if I can sum up the gist of Steve and Nick’s point. Afterward, I’ll offer some suggestions for continuing the discussion.

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