Monthly Archives: December 2006

Apparently, It’s Not Really Our Money After All

Just in case you thought that those coins in your pocket were yours to use as you see fit, the U.S. Mint has other ideas:

WASHINGTON — People who melt pennies or nickels to profit from the jump in metals prices could face jail time and pay thousands of dollars in fines, according to new rules out Thursday.

Soaring metals prices mean that the value of the metal in pennies and nickels exceeds the face value of the coins. Based on current metals prices, the value of the metal in a nickel is now 6.99 cents, while the penny’s metal is worth 1.12 cents, according to the U.S. Mint.

That has piqued concern among government officials that people will melt the coins to sell the metal, leading to potential shortages of pennies and nickels.

Unless I’m missing something, doesn’t that also mean that the Mint loses almost 2 cents on each nickel it makes and loses money on each penny as well ? Yea, that makes sense.

Postive Developments In New Jersey

Faced with a mandate from the State Supreme Court, the New Jersey legislature yesterday passed a bill authorizing civil unions that give gay and lesbian couples the same rights as married couples:

NEW YORK, Dec. 14 — With a mandate from New Jersey’s highest court to offer gay couples the same rights as heterosexuals, the state legislature voted Thursday to create civil unions but stopped short of using the word “marriage.”

Gov. Jon S. Corzine (D) has said he will sign the bill into law, making New Jersey the third state, after Vermont and Connecticut, to offer civil unions, which extend to gay men and lesbians all the rights state law affords married people but give them a separate status.

Corzine, who does not support same-sex marriage, will review the details “sooner rather than later,” a spokesman said.

The proposal passed the state Assembly 56 to 19 and the Senate 23 to 12. During the Senate debate, Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D), the prime sponsor of the bill, suggested that the legislature might in the future change the term “civil union” to “marriage.”

In the end, the name doesn’t really matter, though. What matters is that the state will no longer be denying an entire class of people the right to associate with each other in the way they desire. While not perfect, it is certainly an move in the right direction.

Why The Republicans Lost Part IV

Over at Reason, David Weigel argues that the explanation for the Republican losses in November is really quite simple. After 2004, the GOP decided to concentrate on its social and religious conservative wing and ignore libertarian oriented voters completely. It started, Weigel argues with the Terry Schiavo case when the GOP pandered to the evangelical right in what was probably one of the most disgusting displays of law making in quite some time. But that, Weigel points out, was only the beginning of the reasons for the decline:

“The libertarian West,” Hotline Editor Chuck Todd wrote in a post-election column, “is a region that is more up for grabs than it should be. And it’s because the Republican Party has grown more religious and more pro-government, which turns off these ‘leave me alone,’ small-government libertarian Republicans.”

The decline isn’t entirely the Republicans’ fault. They just created an opening for their opponents to exploit. The Democrats in the libertarian West, tenderized by the wipeouts of the 1990s, reassessed their positions on the Second Amendment, public land, and taxes, and reintroduced themselves to voters. In the Bush years, they gave stronger support to civil liberties than most of their Republican competitors. At one Montana debate, GOP Sen. Conrad Burns lambasted Democrat Jon Tester for wanting to “weaken” the PATRIOT Act. Tester shot back that he didn’t want to weaken it: “I want to repeal it.” Tester won the election.

Of course, the PATRIOT Act isn’t a “social issue.” That’s part of the point. The Bush-Rove iteration of the Republican Party, with its tight focus on social issues and its coordination with religious groups to turn out votes, fell dramatically short with an electorate for whom other subjects had more salience. In future elections, that skeptical segment of the country will only grow larger. The libertarian states of Arizona, Colorado, and Nevada are growing as the Deep South and the Rust Belt stagnate. And young professionals in Republican killing fields like Virginia and Ohio are getting more socially liberal, not less.

Even the existence of anti-gay marriage amendments on several state ballots, all but one of which passed, didn’t help the GOP. Here in Virginia, Amendment 1 got more votes than soon-to-be-former Senator George Allen, even though Allen logically should have been the choice of the people who opposed same-sex marriage.

The story was much the same all over the country. The “values voters” that the GOP was relying on, and which supposedly saved Bush in Ohio in 2004, weren’t enough to carry the day. Until the Republicans figure that out, though, and stop pandering to the religious wing of the party, they are only going to see repeats of what happened in November

Previous Posts:

Why The Republicans Lost
Why The Republicans Lost Part II
Why The Republicans Lost Part III
Why The Republicans Won’t Recover
Why Republicans Need Libertarians

First they came for the gamers…

German legislators have found it necessary to defend the lives of Halo’s Covenant Elites, Killzone’s Helghast soldiers, and countless generic terrorists and Nazi soldiers. “Killing” these “persons” could be punishable by a fine or up to 12 months in jail.

If such a law were ever to pass here, it is one that I would be happy to disobey.

h/t: Instapundit

The Return Of Socialized Medicine

The death of Hillarycare may have set things back, but that doesn’t mean that some Democrats aren’t still thinking about turning the health-care industry into an arm of the state:

WASHINGTON — Several business and labor leaders on Wednesday hailed a proposal to provide health care coverage to all Americans through a pool of private insurance plans.

A dozen years after Congress rejected a Clinton administration plan for universal health care, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden offered a plan he said would provide affordable, private health care coverage for all Americans, except those covered through Medicare or the military.

“Employer-based coverage is melting away like a Popsicle on the sidewalk in August,” Wyden said.

Wyden, a Democrat and a member of the Senate Finance health care subcommittee, said his plan would “guarantee health coverage for every American that is at least as good as members of Congress receive and can never be taken away.”

And thus we are back to the beginning of the logical fallacies that have infected the debate over health care policy in the United States for the past several decades. First among these is the idea that health care is a right equivalent to the right to free speech or the right to life. The problem with this, of course, is that traditional understandings of individual rights merely require people to leave each other alone. The new understanding of rights, however, includes the right to demand that others — whether those others be employers or the government — provide you with benefits.

The second fallacy is the one implicit in all of these proposals, the idea that the free market is somehow to blame for the current state of American health care. If it weren’t for the fact that health care has been heavily regulated for at least the past 40 years, and the fact that government has been among the major provider of health care benefits during that time, this argument might actually make sense.

Reality, however, tells a different story. Thanks to government regulation and, in part, to an insurance system that shields consumers from the true costs of their health care choices, the medical industry is among the most distorted in America today. Blaming capitalism for the failure of a system that has been under the control and regulation of the state for so long is completely absurd.

Another Sign Of The Decline

Amendment XXVII to the United States Constitution:

Congressional pay increases. Ratified 5/7/1992.

No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

The United States existed for over 200 years before such an amendment was necessary. How much of a lack of trust does it show in our legislators that only 14 years ago was it actually ratified? We’ve now gotten to the point where we can’t trust our legislators not to increase their own pay while in session. Granted, in current times when the power of incumbency is so strong that 98% of the crooks typically get reelected, it’s a moot point. It’s still a sign of the trust we place in them.

Oddly enough, the amendment was originally slated to be one of the original, and was sent to the states for ratification with the other amendments now known as the Bill of Rights. It took until someone looked back into history and realized that it was still possible to ratify it that it actually happened. What occurs when an amendment limiting the powers of Congress languishes for 200+ years to be ratified? Well, Congress fights it on technical grounds, of course!

Notwithstanding the Coleman v. Miller decision, Speaker of the House Tom Foley and others called for a legal challenge to the 27th Amendment’s irregular ratification. However, the Coleman ruling made clear that only Congress has the authority to determine whether an amendment has or has not been properly made part of the Constitution. The courts would not involve themselves in such a “political question”, the justices asserted. Because Congressional opposition to ratification would be seen as little more than self-interest, reaction on Capitol Hill was muted.

However, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, then-President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate, scolded Wilson for having certified the Amendment without Congressional approval. Although Byrd supported Congressional acceptance of the 27th Amendment, he contended that Wilson had deviated from “historic tradition” by not waiting for Congress to consider the validity of the ratification, given the 202½-year lapse since the Amendment had been proposed.

Yeah, since Byrd has shown himself over the many decades to put the nation’s interest above his own, I’m sure he was being completely sincere.

You would think this would have ensured that when the Representatives set their own pay, that would be a binding matter for two years. Thankfully for these tireless champions of the people, they’ve found a way to make sure that’s not the case:

Since its 1992 adoption, however, this amendment has not hindered members of Congress from receiving nearly annual pay raises, characterized as “cost-of-living adjustments” (COLAs) rather than as pay raises in the traditional sense of the term. The federal courts have ruled in cases brought under the amendment that a COLA is not the same thing as a pay raise. Hence, members of Congress have been able to enjoy increases in compensation without triggering the restrictions which this amendment seeks to impose.

Well, when we have a Congress staffed by a bunch of lawyers, I think we all knew you’d find a loophole.

The War Against Trans-Fat: Cleveland Edition

Fresh from their victory in New York City, the food police are now looking at Cleveland, Ohio as their next target in the war against food they hate:

We now have Smoking Police. Are we ready for Crisco Cops?

Following the lead of New York City, which last week became the first major U.S. city to ban artery-clogging trans fats from restaurants, Cleveland City Council on Monday unanimously passed a resolution encouraging a ban here.

The council measure does not carry the teeth of law. But it notes that trans fats contribute to heart disease, and it asks the city health department to work with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health to ban the fats from restaurant menus.

First they came for the knishes, and I did not speak up because I didn’t eat knishes. Then the came for the kielbasa, and there was nobody left to speak up.

Previous Post:

The War On Trans-Fat
The Nanny State Comes To Manhattan
Don’t Like Unhealthy Food ? Don’t Eat It
Trans-Fat Hypocrisy

GOP Presidential Candidate For Judicial Activism

Kansas Senator and 2008 Republican presidential candidate Sam Brownback isn’t happy with a judicial nominee. The reason, because she attended a committment ceremony for a lesbian couple.

Democratic U-S Senator Carl Levin says it’s “very inappropriate” for a Kansas senator to ask a federal judicial nominee to promise not to rule on gay marriage cases.

Senator Sam Brownback says he’ll lift his hold on the confirmation of Michigan Appeals Judge Janet Neff to the federal bench if she agrees to step aside from gay marriage matters.

The Kansas Republican has stalled Neff’s nomination to a federal judgeship in western Michigan because she attended a lesbian commitment ceremony of a family friend.

Levin says the request undermines judicial integrity.

So just because Judge Neff has lesbian friends who are in a committed relationship, Sam Brownback doesn’t want her on the bench. This is not acceptable conduct for a man who wants to be president and serve all Americans.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

A Victory For Gun Rights In Ohio

The Ohio Legislature secured a significant gain for Second Amendment rights in that state when it overrode Governor Bob Taft’s veto of a bill that will override most local restrictions on gun ownership:

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lawmakers voted Tuesday to override outgoing Gov. Bob Taft’s veto of a bill that will wipe out local gun laws, the first time in 20 years that the Legislature has rejected a gubernatorial veto.

The move was all the more unusual because both chambers are dominated by Republicans _ the governor’s own party.

The Senate voted 21-12 on Tuesday to override, and the House voted last week. The bill will take effect in about three months.

Taft, who leaves office in a few weeks, has said the gun bill, which is meant to clean up Ohio’s concealed weapons law, pre-empts about 80 local gun laws, including assault-weapons bans in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo.

The Mayor of Cleveland is already threatening a lawsuit to try to keep the city’s gun restrictions in effect notwithstanding the state law, but it’s clear that this is a major Second Amendment victory.

Support For Domestic Spying Slipping

Five years after 9/11, fewer Americans think it’s such a great idea for the government to spy on it’s citizens:

Two-thirds of Americans believe that the FBI and other federal agencies are intruding on privacy rights as part of terrorism investigations, but they remain divided over whether such tactics are justified, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released yesterday.

The poll also showed that 52 percent of respondents favor congressional hearings on how the Bush administration has handled surveillance, detainees and other terrorism-related issues, compared with 45 percent who are opposed. That question was posed to half of the poll’s 1,005-person random sample.

Overall, the poll — which includes questions that have been asked since 2002 and 2003 — showed a continued skepticism about whether the government is adequately protecting privacy rights as it conducts terrorism-related investigations.

Compared with June 2002, for example, almost twice as many respondents say the need to respect privacy outranks the need to investigate terrorist threats. That shift was first evident in polling conducted in January 2006.

That sentiment is still a minority view, however: Nearly two-thirds rank investigating threats as more important than guarding against intrusions on personal privacy, down from 79 percent in 2002.

Slowly but surely, though, the public seems to be coming to the realization that the surveillance state is not the best of all possible worlds.

FDA Death Toll Will Drop Slightly

FDA Reveals Plan for Wider Access to Experimental Drugs

The Food and Drug Administration yesterday unveiled a proposal designed to give thousands of seriously ill patients easier access to experimental treatments.

The proposal would clarify how patients can become eligible to get drugs that are showing promise but have not been fully tested to determine their safety and effectiveness, officials said. The plan would make it easier for researchers, drug companies and research institutes to determine how much they could charge patients getting drugs early, they said.

“From a political standpoint, it reflects the current mind-set of the agency, which is: ‘Whatever we do to ensure that products that are approved have the most rigorous safety data possible, we are not going to deny people who have no therapeutic options access to experimental drugs,” said Kenneth Kaiten of Tufts University.

So basically, they’re saying that if you’ve already got a death sentence and you’re willing to try an unapproved miracle drug for a final appeal, they just might allow you to. Because it’s their job to make a decision for you as to exactly how hard you can fight for your life.

It’s not exactly privatization of the FDA, but at least it’s a good step to not be keeping people from having access to drugs that could potentially provide major improvement to their lives, and is at the very least a pro-liberty maneuver.

America Goes Commie — What Do You Do?

Over at Catallarchy, Jonathan Wilde asks a very interesting question:

At some point in the future, the majority of US voters come to believe passionately in communism. As the presidential election approaches, all polling data points to a probable win by the communist party candidate. And I don’t mean ‘communist’ like Barack Obama or George W. Bush, but rather, a real red-tempered communist like Fidel Castro.

As a person who believes in liberty and markets, what is your best course of action?

Assassination?
Spurring revolution?
Creating/promoting an opposition party?

In this case, escape is my #1 option. I’ve said before, the day I see America coming after the guns, it’s time to bug out. I’m not even a gun guy, but that’s one of those signs that things have gone too far. But as some of the comments there point out, where do you go? If America gets that bad, it may not be easy to find someplace better to go.

What would you do?

John McCain Wants To Regulate Blogs

Arizona Senator, and 2008 Presidential candidate, John McCain has proposed extending federal obscenity laws to require extensive reporting and regulation by social networking sites and blogs:

Millions of commercial Web sites and personal blogs would be required to report illegal images or videos posted by their users or pay fines of up to $300,000, if a new proposal in the U.S. Senate came into law.

The legislation, drafted by Sen. John McCain and obtained by CNET News.com, would also require Web sites that offer user profiles to delete pages posted by sex offenders.

In a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday, the Arizona Republican and former presidential candidate warned that “technology has contributed to the greater distribution and availability, and, some believe, desire for child pornography.” McCain scored 31 of 100 points on a News.com 2006 election guide scoring technology-related votes.

(…)

Internet service providers already must follow those reporting requirements. But McCain’s proposal is liable to be controversial because it levies the same regulatory scheme–and even stiffer penalties–on even individual bloggers who offer discussion areas on their Web sites.

In addition to turning every blogger and web site operator who hosts any kind of a public discussion area into, effectively, an agent of the police, McCain’s legislation would also have a significant impact on social networking sites:

The other section of McCain’s legislation targets convicted sex offenders. It would create a federal registry of “any e-mail address, instant-message address, or other similar Internet identifier” they use, and punish sex offenders with up to 10 years in prison if they don’t supply it.

Then, any social-networking site must take “effective measures” to remove any Web page that’s “associated” with a sex offender.

Because “social-networking site” isn’t defined, it could encompass far more than just MySpace.com, Friendster and similar sites. The list could include: Slashdot, which permits public profiles; Amazon.com, which permits author profiles and personal lists; and blogs like RedState.com that show public profiles. In addition, media companies like News.com publisher CNET Networks permit users to create profiles of favorite games, gadgets and music.

What would happen if this law is passed and upheld in Court, of course, is easy to predict. Unfettered public discussion forums would, largely, become a thing of the past as most web site operators will not want to invest either the time or the resources into policing every conversation that takes place. Debate and discussion will be limited. All of which argues quite strongly that these regulations would violate the First Amendment.

All of this is being done, of course, to “protect the children.” The problem is there’s no evidence I’m aware of that children are being victimized by people who post comments on blogs.

CIA Bested By — Google?

Seeking Iran Intelligence, U.S. Tries Google

When the State Department recently asked the CIA for names of Iranians who could be sanctioned for their involvement in a clandestine nuclear weapons program, the agency refused, citing a large workload and a desire to protect its sources and tradecraft.

Frustrated, the State Department assigned a junior Foreign Service officer to find the names another way — by using Google. Those with the most hits under search terms such as “Iran and nuclear,” three officials said, became targets for international rebuke Friday when a sanctions resolution circulated at the United Nations.

The real question is whether Google is any more reliable than the CIA. Well, the names they discovered aren’t even suspected to be connected with the weapons programs.

None of the 12 Iranians that the State Department eventually singled out for potential bans on international travel and business dealings is believed by the CIA to be directly connected to Iran’s most suspicious nuclear activities.

“There is nothing that proves involvement in a clandestine weapons program, and there is very little out there at all that even connects people to a clandestine weapons program,” said one official familiar with the intelligence on Iran. Like others interviewed for this story, the official insisted on anonymity when discussing the use of intelligence.

Wow. So they’re looking for the Manhattan Tehran Project, and they’ve found the National Institute of Science.

I don’t know who to be more disappointed in: the government for relying on Google, or Google for not supplying the right information!

The Government is NOT Your Friend – Part sixtyquajillion

Due to the fact that I am an idiot, and don’t know when to quit working and playing, and rest so I can get better; the cold that our oldest took home from school with her two weeks ago (and everyone else is already recovered from), has in my case metastisized into a lovely sinus and upper respiratory infection (which I am currently, slowly, recovering from).

I’m in the middle of the nastiest case of the crud I’ve had in over a year. I’ve been sicker, in that I’ve had fevers and whatnot, but I havent had this level of chest and sinus congestion in a while; thus why I call it “the crud”, as in what is completely filling every breathing passage of my body at least 50% of the time.

I’m staying upright and breathing due to the wonders of modern pharmeceuticals; a combination of Sudafed, and Oxymetazonline. Of course when the oxymetazoline wears off the crud slingshots back worse; but that’s livable, so long as I’m taking the REAL Sudafed, or it’s generic equivalent.

Let me just note, the new, fake, sudafed works… for about 20 minutes, no matter how much of it you take.

Pseduoephedrine hydrochloride, is the most effective nasal decongestant known to man; and it doesnt cause rebound rhinitis. Phenylephrine hydrochloride, the ingredient manufacturers are substituing for PsE-Hcl, to put it mildly, is not as effective… or even 1/10th as effective for that matter; and it DOES cause rebound rhinitis.

Of course, pseudoephedrine has some nasty side effects, including increases in blood pressure, pulse and respiratory rate, perspiration etc…, as well as vascodilation to a significant degree.

But that’s not why its a “problem”; its a problem, because it’s also the primary ingredient in Methamphetamine; and therefore the government has declared war on it…

…declared war, on a nasal decongestant.

The war on some drugs has made getting the actual medications that work, a lovely process where you must give your drivers license to a clerk, where they record and report on your purchases; and in most stores in most states, you can’t purchase more than 1 weeks worth of recommended adult dosage at a time.

Of course the so called adult dosage is calculated so that a 90lb woman can take 4 times the recommended dosage four times as frequently as recommended and not hit the LD50. For a 370lb, highly drug tolerant man, the amount required to obtain the desired result is… significantly higher shall we say?

I used to be able to get 90mg pseudoephedrine pills, mail order, in bulk; take 1, and be good for 4 hours. Now, because of the “meth war”, the strongest I can get at my local pharmacy is a 24 count box of 30mg each, which don’t even make a dent, so I have to take 4 of them. The pharmacy will only sell me 1 box per week, or 3 boxes per month.

I can order them over the internet for a 48ct box of 60mg each, but again, only one box per order, and only one order per week, or three boxes per month.

A federal law, snuck into a terrorism bill, says that I, an adult; may only purchase a maximum of 3.6grams of pseudoephedrine per day; and a maximum of 9 grams per month, or 7 grams if buying by mail order.

So, in order to obtain relief, I take 120mg two or three times a day (yes, it only lasts full effect for about 4 hours, but I can live with that); for 240mg to 360mg a day; and I’ve been sick for 12 days, with probably another 3 or four days to go. Lets call it 15 days, for a total of 3.6 grams.

So, by federal law, I, as an adult, can purchase one course of treatment for myself in one day; if I can get a retailer to sell it to me.

However, those retailers are paranoid about being persecuted in the drug war, so I can’t buy a full course of treatment; the most I can buy in my local pharmacy is actually two or three days worth. So after my two or three days are up, can I go buy more? Nope I have to wait until next week to buy another two or three days worth.

If I buy on the internet, I can get a weeks worth, or maybe even two weeks if I limit my dosage.

But what if there’s more than one sick person in my house? What if I want to stock up for the winter? what if I want to buy in bulk to save money?

I buy most of my OTC medications in bulk from Costco, because it’s a heck of a lot cheaper. I can by as much dextromorphan, or diphenhydramine as I want; in fact I buy it from Costco in 300ct bottles of 50mg each. Both drugs are halucinogenic in large quantities; both drugs are euphoric and stuporific in large quantities, both drugs have a large potential for abuse etc…

So I can buy these “dangerous’ drugs, in 300ct bottles; but I can’t do the same with the most effective nasal decongestant known to man?

Nope, federal law also says that each individual dosage must be packed in blister packs; because it’s more work for someone trying to make meth to pop them out, then to pour out a bottle of mini-thins.

Mini-thins are tiny little 25mg pseudoephedrine pills that used to sell in 120ct bottles for $8 mail order. They were the most popular brand of pseudoephedrine for making meth; because you could buy them by the palletload online, and they had less binders and fillers than any other brand, so you got more of the drug for the bulk of the pills.

They were specifically targeted by congress, and the legislatures of several states; so the manufacturer added guaifenesin to it; which makes it useless for meth (it’s a very strong expectorant that can’t be cooked out in the meth manufacturing process. If you took meth made with it, you’d drown in your own bodily fluids. It’s happened a few times). They also repackaged it in 144ct blister packs, for $30 a bottle.

Blister packs are bloody expensive in case you didn’t know. It was $8 for 120 pills; now, it’s $8 for a 24 count pack of 30mg of pseudoephedrine each, in little individual blisters (and that’s the generic). Each of those pills now costs 35 cents, vs. 7 cents each.

Also, have you ever tried to get your pills out of a blister pack when you’re really really sick? I’ve been sick enough that I could just barely do it; and I’m a big strong man. What about it you have severe arthritis?

So let’s review: I am a grown man, a legal adult, licensed to drive a car, fly a plane, and carry a concealed weapon… I am a parent, trusted to raise my children (well.. that’s another rant for another day). I can buy as much alcohol as I can carry away with a forklift. I can go into a home depot and buy enough poisions to kill thousands of people should I so wish…

…but I can’t buy enough decongestant to relieve my sinus infection for a week?

…and people actually support this policy?

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

How Not To Fix The Post Office

Among the many bills passed by the 109th Congress in its waning hours was the latest version of their continuing efforts to “reform” the United States Postal Service:

The legislation would replace the lengthy and litigious process used to raise the price of stamps and some other postal rates with a price cap, limiting rate increases to the rate of inflation for a 10-year period. The change would inject more predictability into postal increases, especially for the magazine industry and other large mailers. It also would permit the Postal Service to more quickly offer discounts for its services, such as promotional rates to attract business in holiday seasons.

The Postal Service also gets billions of dollars in financial relief under the bill. Costs for military pensions earned by postal workers during their time in the armed forces would be shifted from the Postal Service to the Treasury, the practice for most federal agencies. The bill also would release money from an escrow fund to cover postal retiree health-care liabilities.

The legislation would replace a rate-review commission with a more powerful Postal Regulatory Commission, which could set some postal rates and examine postal financial management practices.

In other words, more regulation, not less. And guaranteed rate increases for a decade to boot.This is what Congress calls reform and they actually think it will help:

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a chief sponsor, called the bill “great news for the future of an institution that is critical to our economy and will ensure the continuation of universal postal service at an affordable rate

If you really want to fix the Postal Service, Senator, here’s what you need to do:

  • Eliminate the USPS monopoly on first class and all other mail. Allow FedEx, UPS, DHL, and anyone else who wants to get into the game to deliver first class mail, magazines, or anything else to do so. In the long run, it will result in better service, more competitive pricing, and more innovation
  • Eliminate the regulations that require the USPS to deliver first class mail at a uniform rate. It makes no sense that it costs the same to mail a letter from New York to Boston as it does to mail it from New York to Honolulu. Let the market decide how to price these services.
  • Get the government out of the business of providing pensions to Postal Workers. We don’t do it for the guys who work for Ford and General Motors, there’s no reason we should do it for the guys who deliver the mail.

All of this, and more, has been proposed before but Congress continues to try the same old solutions that never seem to work.

“We Need” Doesn’t Obligate The Government

Over on my War On Christmas Blog post I wrote at the Unrepentant Individual (where I advocate a satirical War On Christmas Blog), I’ve gotten some interesting comments and trackbacks. One trackback came from a Help Save Christmas, a blog that I’m still unsure whether it’s satirical or not. Another was from a definitely-satirical War On Christmas blog. My suggestion to start one was not entirely original, it seems.

But one comment just arrived that I thought needed a response:

I agree with that – We need a national mid-winter, Non-Secular Holiday.

Below is my annual holiday rant – Happy Holidays

Consider this – After Rome took over Christianity it was natural that one of the most important Roman feast days would evolve into the most important Christian holiday – December 25th.

Just four day before is the Winter Solstice, Dec 21st. In the northern hemisphere the shortest day and longest night of the year. This is an occasion that has been celebrated since prehistoric times. It is a marker on the Celestial Calendar that is shared by all of us on this Earth.

Why not shake out this holiday into two days – Separate the religious from the Secular – The 25th will be the religious day of observance, Christians would celebrate it as they like, free from the diluting influences us infidels – and, of course, it would continue to be called Christmas.

December 21st could be the day of celebration for everyone. This has always been known as Yule or Yuletide – it is an ancient name for the season.

We need is a National Holiday for all of us at this time of the year.

You know what, I’ve got absolutely nothing against celebrating Yuletide. But why do we need a National Holiday? If you’re going to wait around for our Congressmen to do something likely to piss off the 85% Christian population, you’re going to be worm food by the time it happens.

Why not just start celebrating it yourself, with your friends. Maybe start an online movement to celebrate Yuletide. Get this thing off the ground yourself. Don’t wait for the government to “create” a holiday that you say has been celebrated since prehistoric times. Don’t act as if you can’t celebrate Yuletide unless the government makes it a holiday, just start doing it.

Christmas didn’t become a Federal Holiday in America until 1870. You may have an uphill battle to get Yuletide declared a holiday by the government, BUT THAT DOESN’T STOP YOU FROM CELEBRATING IT.

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