Friday, June 15, 2018

Wedding Cakes

The Supreme Court case, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 584 U.S. ___ (2018), was decided on June 4th in favor of the cakeshop, by a 7-2 vote, 2 of the 4 liberal judges dissenting.

Here are the essential details:

In July 2012, Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins, a gay couple who were planning to wed, entered Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado to order a wedding cake. At the time, Colorado law did not honor gay marriages; so, the couple had planned to travel to Massachusetts – where gay marriages were legal – get married there, fly home and celebrate their union with their family and friends; it was for this after-party that the couple wanted a special cake. Jack Phillips, the owner of the bakery, was a man of “sincerely held (Christian) religious beliefs,” and he refused to make the couple a cake, based on his religious belief that marriage was between a man and a woman. There was no discussion of a message or customization or even any decoration of the cake; the discussion never went beyond a gay couple wanting the cakeshop to make a wedding cake for them and the owner refusing.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Social Security: A Reality Check

You ask a Millennial about Social Security and he’ll tell you, with the utter certainty that Millennials everywhere can’t help but feel, “it won’t be there when I retire, so what is the point; and why should I pay into it when I won’t get anything back?”

And, of course, he is right.  If nothing is done to change how Social Security is collected and disbursed, it surely will go bankrupt well before our Millennial retires.  It is an excellent example, too, of a self-fulfilling prophecy, as Social Security will die for sure if enough Americans believe it is doomed, beyond rescue.  Because if you are sure it will die, why would you waste time and energy trying to save it?

Monday, February 26, 2018

On Regulations, Again

No one likes regulations, none of us likes to be told what to do, no one whose freedom is constrained likes regulations.  But everyone else – the beneficiaries of regulations – loves regulations, as we do want others to conform to our social norms.  Indeed, life would be much more difficult (for most people) without regulations (on others).

Then, considering that 100 times as many people are beneficiaries of each regulation as are limited by it, why is “regulation” such a filthy word?  Why does everyone seem to hate regulations?  Because we only think of the regulations that constrain us, not those that benefit us.  And because we take for granted the regulations that benefit us, while those that constrain us keep us fighting mad, working to reverse the damned things.  So it goes.

What else needs to be said?

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Václav Havel's Speech to U.S. Congress

Jeff Flake mentions this speech in his new book, Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle.  I think it warrants being re-printed and read.
Dear Mr. President, dear senators and members of the House, ladies and gentlemen:
My advisers advised me to speak on this important occasion in Czech. I don't know why. Perhaps they wanted you to enjoy the sweet sounds of my mother tongue.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

White Collar Crime

Think Equifax and Wells Fargo.

Millions of American people were compromised, tens or hundreds of thousands were inconvenienced, and thousands were damaged beyond repair.

When a poor man steals an apple from a grocery stand, he earns himself a month in prison.  When an addict gets caught with the goods (cocaine, marijuana), in some states he is locked up and they throw away the key.  When a corporate big shot gets caught in a national scandal affecting millions of people, he may resign, but he still receives his golden parachute and he doesn’t forfeit any of his ill-gotten wealth.  And he never goes to prison (two Enron officials excepted).

Monday, October 2, 2017

Las Vegas Shooting

I’ll be brief.

One more massacre on American soil, committed by a crazy man with an automatic weapon.  But he may not have been crazy until he went crazy (we don’t know his story yet).

The Second Amendment reads: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Many Constitutional “experts” like to disregard the first thirteen words, a dependent clause.  I am NOT arguing that the people should NOT have the right of armed self-defense (against a neighbor, not a foreign military power), but I am

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Repeal and Replace

Repeal and Replace (especially replace) has proved so damn difficult, nay impossible, for a really simple reason.   Because, if ever Republicans had wanted to provide “health care for all,” they would have designed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka the ACA, aka Obamacare.  And I say this not merely because Obama liked to say that it was a copy of Massachusetts’ Romney Care, but because Obamacare is really Republican thinking.

Does any real Democrat like Obamacare?  No, only elected Democrats in Washington, DC and they have their reasons.  REAL Democrats all prefer Single-Payer Medicare-for-All.  The government is the insurer, not private industry.  And everyone is covered and paid for by the taxes we pay.  Simple.  But not Republican thinking.  No, Obamacare’s true beneficiaries are private health insurance companies and Big Pharma; what a Republican Congress and White House would have designed.

It is the nature of politics that if the Democrats in power legislate Republican thinking, that particular Republican thinking changes its label to Democratic thinking.  Real students of politics, like yours truly, have always to keep on our toes for how one policy and another switches labels for no damn good reason other than … well … politics!

Good Luck to the Republicans, figuring how to replace what they would have designed themselves, with something even more … Republican.  The best they can do is to accept some Democratic thinking, call it their own – and re-label it Republican!