Thursday, April 07, 2005

The Papal Lovefest Continues

"The state under socialism treats the individual, not with dignity, but as a molecule within the social organism, so that the good of the individual is completely subordinated to the functioning of the socioeconomic mechanism."

- Pope John Paul II

Money quote extracted from a
great editorial outta Jack Kemp.

Turns Out the GOP Really IS That Stupid

Reason's Hit and Run blog alerts us to the fact that Memogate was a fake scandal.

Turns out
I CAN be wrong underestimating the idiocy of the GOP party apparatus.


Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Going REALLY Local

I'm not sure there's a hot enough spot in hell for the man who runs down a 12 year old on the sidewalk and leaves her for dead.

Leveraging Government to Squash Competition

John Stossel tells us about Washington State politicians and their "Cosmetology Board" designed to crush upstart competition from entrepreneurs giving the consumer exactly what they want:

Some years ago, a married couple, Taalib-Din Uqdah and Pamela Farrell, went into business braiding hair, African-style. They called their shop Cornrows & Co. If politicians' speeches are right, Uqdah and Farrell were heroes: Inner cities need businesses, and the couple had built a booming business in Washington, D.C. They had 20,000 customers, employed 10 people and took in half a million dollars a year. Some women came from as far away as Connecticut, six hours away, to have their hair braided by Cornrows & Co.

Did the politicians honor these entrepreneurs for contributing to the community? Find ways to encourage others to do similar things? Well, the government did respond. But it wasn't with encouragement.

Local bureaucrats ordered Uqdah to cease and desist, or be "subject to criminal prosecution." Why? Because he didn't have a license. "It's a safety issue," said the regulators. Those who run a hair salon must have a cosmetology license. The chemicals they use dyeing or perming hair might hurt someone.

Hair dye is hardly a serious safety threat, but even if it were, Cornrows & Co. didn't dye or perm hair. They only braided it. That didn't matter, said the Cosmetology Board -- they still had to get a license. In order to get one, Uqdah would have to pay about $5,000 to take more than 1,000 hours of courses at a beauty school.

The ruse of using "liscensing" to isolate established businesses from competition is not limited to the hairdressers, but it's that much more transparent due to the trivial nature of business. In the great majority of cases, liscensing does more to "protect" the consumer from lower prices, greater innovation, and better customer service than anything else.

Thank God the
Institute for Justice is there to fight for the freedom of individuals to conduct economic activities without such clearly ridiculous government interference.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Get Out Your Quills

And write your congressperson. Lift the Jackson-Vanik trade restrictions on Ukraine. As Peter Savodnik writes for Slate:

...if the White House views Yushchenko as something more than a democratic motif, a scar-faced vindication of President Bush's free-people, free-market gospel, if the Americans truly wish for the Ukrainian to succeed, they must give him every bit of support they can. They should repeal Jackson-Vanik. They should help Yushchenko convince his people that they were right to tear down the old regime.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Goodbye, John Paul II

When you are thirty years old, your last name is Kuszewski, you've attended 10 years of Catholic school, and your wife's birth certificate reads "CCCP", it's hard to overestimate the impact that Pope John Paul the Second has had on your life. Though at this point I attend church only when I am visiting my grandmother on the west coast and am called upon to drive her, I found myself this afternoon making the pilgimmage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, less as an affirmation of long suppressed Catholic faith, and more as small token of respect for a man who brought about profound change both prior to and during my lifetime.

Regardless of one's feelings regarding the Pope's moral stances regarding homosexuality or birth control or his decrees regarding the role of women in the church, I do believe that any honest evaluation of his reign on the throne of St. Peter would inevitably reach the conclusion that this is a man who masterfully leveraged the extraordinary ability to claim the authority of God for tremendous good and tremendous change in the world, and of course particularly in Poland and Eastern Europe.

Rather than rehashing the well-deserved adoring obituaries and tributes that will be plastered all over the media during the ensuing days and weeks, I will repost here from Lech Walesa his recounting of the inspiration he drew from Pope John Paul II, and express my immense personal gratification to John Paul for beginning the long chain of events that led to the fall of the iron curtain and, ultimately, to the opportunity for me to meet and marry the wonderful woman who I call my wife.

Here we have an amazing thing: The end of the 20th century is approaching, and also the end of the second thousand years of Christianity is approaching. I am convinced as a believer that it was a gift straight from heaven. When nobody believed, we got the Holy Father [Pope John Paul II], who undermines the system. He does not fight, but he is there. During a pilgrimage in Warsaw he said, "Don't be frightened, and change the face of the world." A year after these words, I myself, from 10 people a year earlier in opposition, I have 10 million people. People are not scared anymore, and they are trying to change the face of the world. I am not obsessed or saintly. I am a sinner, maybe an even greater one than all of you. But these are facts; almost all those people with whom I spoke are still alive. After this confirmation, after this gift at the end of the 20th century of Christianity, there is a movement 10 million strong which rises and grows. And we do just what you said. We undermine the leadership role of the party and the right of representation of the workers. We say that you do not represent us, you have no right to govern us. We kick into the soft abdomen of the system, and this encourages others. In other countries they are doing likewise. The rest you know.

- Lech Walesa

Friday, April 01, 2005

The EU Gets One Right

It's rare from that collection of social democrat governments, but they are absolutely correct to raise a stink about protectionist trade and tariff redistribution policies by our government which is constantly lecturing others (and rightly so) about their need to liberalize trade.

In this case, money collected from tariffs on imported goods, paid for by American consumers, is then distributed to companies in America who have the loudest and sharpest whining delegations on K street simply because they are unable to produce a competitive product in open competition.

The sanctions the EU is threatening are precisely the correct response, and hopefully our government will see the wisdom of maintaining free markets and dispense with the Byrd amendment.

Grand Slam, Dick Morris

Print this one and frame it.

...when we put ourselves in her place, more than 80 percent of us think we would want to die. To be told that we must linger in a non-life because of the dictates of a governor wedded to the religious right and a Congress in the grip of ideologically driven leaders seems to the vast majority of us a level of government interference we find too intrusive to tolerate.

Next to a decision that we must live as vegetables, OSHA regulations, IRS bullying and EPA stubbornness pale by comparison. How ironic that, at the precise moment when most of us are prepared to embrace the agenda of the libertarian conservatives, we find the Republican Party, their supposed champions, running screaming in the other direction.

And thus we limited government types are left abandoned in the process, ditched at the dance by our date without a ride home (well, there IS
that crazy kid on the unicycle who keeps trying to get our attention - but he just keeps on making an ass of himself at all the key moments). A lot of us have been voting elephants over asses based on the idea that socialist economic policies have a proportionately greater impact on our daily lives than the FCC fining Nickelodeon for gay sponges on TV or the insistence that some funny bible story get equal time with the science of carbon dating in a biology class in Mississippi. But Dick Morris is absolutely correct in stating that this kind of interference has got to weigh more heavily than those other shenanigans - and that isn't in the GOPs favor.