Monthly Archives: February 2007

Funding Government Through Externality Payments

In most of the libertosphere, you’ll likely hear the statement “Taxation is theft.” The general implication of this, of course, is that for us to right this wrong, we must have no government, or government financed entirely by voluntary contributions. But what if there was a third way?

What if we could fund government entirely through the externality of pollution?
» Read more

Be Prepared

“Be Prepared… the meaning of the motto is that a scout must prepare himself by previous thinking out and practicing how to act on any accident or emergency so that he is never taken by surprise.”

-Sir Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts (emphasis mine)

First, extremely brief story time. This Thursday I walked into a dorm on campus, turned the corner, and found a female lying unconscious face up on the ground with a rather large pool of blood behind her head. I made sure 911 was called and applied first aid. The night ended with me spending 5 minutes in the bathroom scrubbing my hands to get the blood off. Head wounds bleed. A lot. Anyway, there is quite a bit more to the story, but if you want to read that, head on over to my place. This experience has led me to a larger point that I’d like to share.

The point is best summed up in the Baden-Powell quote at the top of the page. If you are truly going to be prepared, you can’t just go through the training. Training is important, yes, and if you don’t at least know basic first aid skills and CPR, you should take a course or two. But training alone won’t get you through a situation. There were at least two bystanders that I know knew what to do. But they didn’t, at least not initially. I did. I’m not going to try and play this up to be some huge deal; it’s not. Obviously, it wasn’t much of a life threatening situation. But I only found that out after I got my hands bloody and investigated to find out just how bad things were. If, say, it had been an arterial wound instead of a head wound, and say I had froze up for another 20 seconds, or I hadn’t been there and the bystanders I mentioned above had frozen up for that 20 seconds, that could be the difference between life and death. You have to run through things in your head before hand, play out scenarios, so you know exactly how you are going to react and don’t have to think about it. If you are taken by surprise, you will freeze up for that 20 seconds (or more), and as I’ve shown, that can be the difference between life and death.

It is a process that never stops, either. You always need to be reevaluating and rethinking things. For example, with this most recent case, I’ve thought about a couple of things. First, I’m going to start carrying a pair of latex gloves on me, so I’m never put in the uncomfortable situation of getting someone else’s blood all over my hands. Also, I needed to do a better job of taking charge of the situation. The friend was introducing too much stress into the situation; I should have just asked someone to take care of her and get her calmed down instead of trying to do it myself. Finally, I found that I needed to be better prepared to make small talk with the victim. I didn’t take the opportunity to find out anything more about what exactly happened, and I was finding that I was having to force myself to talk to her, which shouldn’t happen. Like I said, always something to learn.

This isn’t just something to do with basic first aid, either. All sorts of contingencies need to be planned for. LW over at Blackfive’s place has done a good job over the past week detailing disaster preparedness, an area I’ll be the first to admit I am piss-poor prepared for. Here’s a summary. Just a quick, by no means comprehensive list of things I’ve thought about: natural disaster (tornadoes/T-storms being the biggest threat where I live, although flooding depending on the topography), a large scale terrorist attack, fire, mugging attempt, car crash (both being involved in one and coming across one), heart attack, shooting incident, leg injury with myself (how do I get help if I’m alone and can’t walk)…the list could go on and on. The point is that you need to always be actively thinking about and preparing for these incidents so you are able to act and respond effectively.

And just so we’re clear, hitting 70 doesn’t clear you from responsibility for this. Those senior citizens seemed to be pretty prepared to act and defend themselves appropriately. Are you?

I’ll let RAH have the last word:

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
-Lazarus Long, Time Enough For Love

UPDATE: Nick posted some good links for first aid and other survival gear in the comments.

GOP Georgia legislators v. Genarlow Wilson

The Genarlow Wilson case has been the talk of the blogosphere here in Georgia this week. Wilson is currently serving a ten prison sentence for participating in an oral sex act with a 15 year old, which is a felony. Wilson was 17 at the time of the act. Had Wilson had intercourse, it would have only been a misdemeanor. Wilson’s case caused the legislature to close the loophole on oral sex. However, Wilson still sits in prison. » Read more

Couldn’t Happen To A Nicer Bunch Of Guys

It seems that the Religious Right is finding it hard to be relevant in the race for the 2008 Republican nomination:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 — A group of influential Christian conservatives and their allies emerged from a private meeting at a Florida resort this month dissatisfied with the Republican presidential field and uncertain where to turn.

The event was a meeting of the Council for National Policy, a secretive club whose few hundred members include Dr. James C. Dobson of Focus on the Family, the Rev. Jerry Falwell of Liberty University and Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. Although little known outside the conservative movement, the council has become a pivotal stop for Republican presidential primary hopefuls, including George W. Bush on the eve of his 1999 primary campaign.

But things are different this time around. The front runners for the GOP nomination aren’t beholden to, or even liked by, the Evangelical Right:

Many conservatives have already declared their hostility to Senator John McCain of Arizona, despite his efforts to make amends for having once denounced Christian conservative leaders as “agents of intolerance,” and to former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, because of his liberal views on abortion and gay rights and his three marriages.

Many were also suspicious of former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts; members have used the council as a conduit to distribute a dossier prepared by a Massachusetts conservative group about liberal elements of his record on abortion, stem cell research and gay rights. (Mr. Romney has worked to convince conservatives that his views have changed.)

And as for the rest of the field, they aren’t too appealing either:

And some members of the council have raised doubts about lesser known candidates – Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Representative Duncan Hunter of California, who were invited to Amelia Island to address an elite audience of about 60 of its members, and Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, who spoke to the full council at its previous meeting, in October in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Although each of the three had supporters, many conservatives expressed concerns about whether any of the candidates could unify their movement or raise enough money to overtake the front-runners, several participants in the meetings said.

The Times story goes on to speculate as to whether this apparent marginlization of the Religious Right would be a bad thing for the GOP, which traditionally has needed the support of these voters to win elections. I agree that this threat exists, but I think it also points out the growing reality that the days when groups like this could have a significant impact on the Republican Party may be waning. They don’t represent a majority of the voting public, and they certainly don’t reflect the views of most Americans on social issues.

Right now two of the three frontrunners for the GOP nomination are essentially anathema to the Evangelical Right and the third, Mitt Romney, is the subject of a lot of distrust. If they can get this far without the support of this supposedly important segment of the party, doesn’t that mean that these people aren’t quite as powerful as we’ve been led to believe ?

New York Congressman Proposes Assault On Free Speech

Maurice Hinchey, representing the 22nd District of New York, is proposing something called the Media Ownership Reform Act. What it really should be called is the Death Of Free Speech Act.

Here are a few of the highlights:

Our airwaves are a precious and limited commodity that belong to the general public. As such, they are regulated by the government. From 1949 to 1987, a keystone of this regulation was the Fairness Doctrine, an assurance that the American audience would be guaranteed sufficiently robust debate on controversial and pressing issues. Despite numerous instances of support from the U.S. Supreme Court, President Reagan’s FCC eliminated the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, and a subsequent bill passed by Congress to place the doctrine into federal law was then vetoed by Reagan.

MORA would amend the 1934 Communications Act to restore the Fairness Doctrine and explicitly require broadcast licensees to provide a reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views on issues of public importance.

Isn’t that what talk radio really is ? People call in and voice their opinions on the issues of the day. Yes, it’s true that most of the successful talk radio hosts lean to the right, but that is a reflection of two things; one is that the hosts are largely a reflection of their audience, and the other is that the truly successful hosts are the one’s that are entertaining. The reason Air America failed isn’t because of some vast conspiracy against the left, it’s because their on air personalities were just plain bad.

What the Fairness Doctrine really did when it was in effect, though, was give broadcasters an incentive to steer clear of controversial political topics. Spending the day programming talk shows about investments, or gardening or other things that really aren’t subjects of controversy is a heck of a lot easier than trying to ensure that every conceivable viewpoint on the subject of, say, the Iraq War, has an opportunity to be heard ?

Alex Harrison at Human Events puts forward the problem nicely:

Putting aside the flagrant violations of the First Amendment, compliance with a new Fairness Doctrine would be a nightmare. What constitutes an opposing viewpoint? Who gets to present that viewpoint? In our contentious and diverse world of politics, there are few issues which only have two sides. Is Cindy Sheehan’s view on the Iraq War the same as Hillary Clinton’s? Does Hillary get to come back and revise her opinion (again) after the latest poll? Is the naked “cut and run” policy of John Murtha the same as the nuanced “redeployment” of Monsieur Kerry? I suppose it depends upon what the meaning of the word “is” is….

Renewing the Fairness Doctrine would not bring about the paradise of intellectual debate that it’s proponents dream of, instead it would bring the days of hard-hitting political talk radio to an end. Then again, maybe that’s exactly what it’s proponents want.

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