Tuesday, March 30, 2010

For Tea: Focus On Ideas, Not Personalities

Late last year I observed the unfortunate fact: Tea Partiers Get Partisan.

It looks like various "tea party" groups in Colorado continue to push an overtly partisan agenda, with the invitation of gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes to speak at the April 15 Tax Day Tea Party in Denver. Maes is the underdog in the primary race against Scott McInnis. What this means is that the event will take a narrowly partisan tone, thereby alienating many potential participants who are more concerned with the ideas of liberty than with partisan, Republican politics. (For reasons explained, I will not do anything that could be construed as support for Maes, which means that I will not promote this rally.)

Another concern I have with "tea party" groups is that their leaders seem increasingly willing to claim to speak for their nebulous membership base.

For example, Lu Ann Busse, Chair of The 9.12 Project Colorado Coalition, a woman who has done some great work, has overstated her role as spokesperson in a March 27 letter to Attorney General John Suthers: "Thank you for standing up and defending our individual rights and Colorado's sovereignty by filing suit against the new federal health care insurance reform act with the other Attorneys General on March 23, 2010. ... Since I am the elected Chair of 24 grassroots groups with over 10,000 registered voters in our combined membership, you may consider this email as 10,000 letters of support for your actions on our behalf."

I too appreciate Suther's work on this front, and I appreciate Busse taking the time to thank him. However, unless Busse personally asked each of the 10,000 members about their views and gained their approval for the letter to Suthers, she has no businesses claiming to speak for each of them. Instead, Busse's proper role is to encourage her membership to speak up for themselves.

I do not always agree with Leonard Read, but he writes some useful comments on the matter in his chapter, "Appoint a Committee," in his book, Anything That's Peaceful. He writes:

The practice of committees, boards, or councils presuming to represent the views of vast constituencies occurs in educational and religious associations, in trade and commercial organizations, indeed in any segment of society where there is a propensity to organize. ...

Actions of the group -- council or committee -- insofar as they are not accurate reflections of the participating individuals, must be classified as lies. ...

On occasion, associations are formed for a particular purpose and supported by those who are like-minded as to that purpose. As long as the associational activities are limited to the stated purpose and as long as the members remain like-minded, the danger of misrepresentation is removed.

It is the multipurpose association, the one that potentially may take a "position" on a variety of subjects, particularly subjects relating to the rights or the property of others -- moral questions -- where misrepresentation is not only possible but almost certain. Merely keep in mind the nature of a committee.

The remedy here, if a remedy can be put into effect, is for the association to quit taking "positions" except on such rare occasions as unanimous concurrence is manifest, or except as the exact and precise degree and extent of concurrence is represented. ...

The alternative to associational "positions" is individual membership positions, that is, using the associational facilities to service the membership... Then, let the members speak or write or act as individual persons!

In other words, we're supposed to be individualists, not collectivists. Let's act like it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Headlight Doctor

Headlight functionality is a matter of safety. So I was pleased to learn that it is possible to polish up plastic headlight casings, rather than replace them. Our headlines have been getting progressively dimmer because the plastic was so scratched and cloudy. So I called up a local business to polish them. The difference is dramatic:



Thursday, March 25, 2010

ObamaCare and Abortion

One of the big fights leading up to the vote on the Democratic health bill (ObamaCare) was over abortion funding. The basic dilemma is whether tax-subsidized health care -- and taxes already fund most U.S. health costs -- will cover abortions.

What both sides seem to forget is that, when politicians control health care, it turns out that politicians control health care. So whether politicians will permit tax funds to subsidize abortions depends entirely on which politicians get into power.

Anti-abortion Christians who think that an executive order or even an explicit legislative declaration can permanently prevent the tax subsidization of abortions are simply delusional. Various Catholic groups endorse politically run medicine but insist that it not subsidize abortions. But when you render unto Caesar the control of medicine, Caesar will dip into tax funds to pay for whatever medical procedures he damn well pleases. That U.S. medicine is controlled by thousands of pigmy Caesars who vote, bicker, and draft reams of regulations first does not alter that basic fact.

Leftists who wish to protect a woman's right to choose to get an abortion, but who deny to all women and men the right to associate freely to obtain medicine and insurance, should contemplate a possible future in which the religious right seizes control of the political machinery built by the left. Prohibitions on the tax funding of abortions will be the least of our worries.

I have some questions for the religious right. Do you really care, at all, about liberty in medicine? Does forcing somebody to finance a kidney transplant register a blip on your moral radar? Or are you perfectly fine with the forcible redistribution of wealth to fund health care, so long as it doesn't include abortions? If the left offered to completely ban abortions, in exchange for the complete political control of medicine, is that a bargain you'd happily accept?

I have only a couple of questions for the left. What sort of world do you think we'll be living in if the religious right takes over the Democratic health law? How is politically run health care remotely consistent with the exhortation to "keep your laws off of my body?"

I don't really expect either the religious right or the left to attempt to answer these questions. Even the attempt to answer them would indicate some residual concern with liberty and individual rights, which I do not believe that many on either side any longer possess.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Colorado's Madness and Magic

The one irritating thing about my '87 Samurai is that it doesn't ding me when I leave the lights on. So, of course, this morning, with the other vehicle in the shop, the Samurai was dead. So my wife had to catch another ride to work. It was sunny, back then, and spring.

Now it is winter. I got the battery charged up earlier today. Then the rain started in pretty hard. I ran a couple of errands. Then the rain turned to snow. Then, surprisingly quickly, the snow started sticking to the road.

But my wife was at work, so I had to lock my hubs (yes, I have to lock my hubs by hand) and call the Samurai into snow duty. It took me over an hour to drive the twelve miles to my wife's work. I foolishly took the back roads, thinking they would be quicker. But those roads are hilly, and only two lanes. On the hills numerous cars were skidding out. I swore under my breath when some dude ahead of me stopped, going uphill. But the Samurai had no problem getting going again. It's the first time I've driven it in four-wheel low. (In that gear I get up to about 25 miles per hour with the other shifter in fourth.) I estimate I saw about twenty vehicles on the way that had either slid off the road or skidded out in the middle of the road. I had to periodically unroll my window and knock snow off the windshield with my gloved hand.

The timing worked out fine, because my wife was working late, in anticipation of not making it in tomorrow.

I had experienced the Colorado madness; then came the Colorado magic. As noted in my "Disclosures Unjustly Compelled by the FTC," my wife works above Nissis, and her shop is owned by a co-owner of Nissis. Because of the snow, the usually-sold-out Face show had a few seats available, so we had the opportunity to stay for the show. When I had time to settle down I noticed how tense the drive up had made me feel.

And, as usual, Face was awesome. They sang two songs I hadn't heard them perform before: U2's "Pride" and Aerosmith's "Living On the Edge." Great show.

For the drive back we took 287, which is four lanes and better plowed. And there was much less traffic. We passed one pretty bad accident involving a truck that had obviously (given the damage) been going too fast for conditions. The trip took just over half of an hour. It took us longer to shovel the drive way once we got home. We estimate we got around eight inches of wet, heavy snow (and that was on top of the earlier rain).

Welcome to Colorado.