Saturday, January 30, 2010

FFF ... again

From a recent edition of the Email Update from the Future of Freedom Foundation:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Nothing is so galling to people, not broken in from the birth, as a paternal, or, in other words a meddling government, a government which tells them what to read, and say, and eat, and drink, and wear.
— T.B. MacAulay, Southey's Colloquies [1830]

Monday, January 11, 2010

To the extent that a society limits its government to policing functions which curb the individuals who engage in aggressive and criminal actions, and conducts its economic affairs on the basis of free and willing exchange, to that extent domestic peace prevails. When a society departs from this norm, its governing class begins, in effect, to make war upon the rest of the nation. A situation is created in which everyone is victimized by everyone else under the fiction of each living at the expense of all.
— Edmund A. Opitz

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The state provides all

A recent post of mine over on the Blog at Mises.org:









The state provides all
Jim Fedako

My wife and I just celebrated the birth of a beautiful, brown-haired boy. During the night, as I was waiting for nature to run its course, I walked around observing the maternity unit of our chosen hospital.

Though this was our seventh trip there, as I ambled about, something caught my eye for the very first time. There next to the door to labor and delivery was a framed license -- an Ohio maternity license.

Wow, I thought. I hadn't even bothered to verify that the hospital was licensed by the state. What if it hadn't been? Caveat emptor, I suppose.

At home, with mother and child asleep, I looked up the licensing requirements. Upon review, it seems that I had been confused in the past. Where I once thought that the health care market (or pseudo market) provides for the wants of the patient, I now realize that the family waiting room and the amount of clear space was provided by Ohio law.

Thank goodness for the caring state. If those altruistic do-gooders hadn't regulated maternity units, "Immediately accessible examination lights" would be nowhere in sight.

And if this requirement wasn't law, hospitals would board the windows to the nursery, denying families the opportunity to observe their new additions sleeping away: "Observation windows to permit the viewing of newborns from public areas, workrooms and adjacent nursery rooms."

Of course, you can be certain that the laws and regulations were not drafted to harm or inconvenience major hospitals. They were drafted to price competition out of the market -- what little is left there.

So given that my hospital has a 24/7 Tim Horton's, it only a matter of time before "immediately accessible warm food" become the next requirement. Because we can't have expectant fathers eating from vending machines, can we?

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Davis effect (or the superintendent effect)

It turns out that Morgan County schools improved without Davis improved as much as Olentangy with Davis. Money well spent.

Anyone willing to bet that Olentangy with Wade-O will improve more that Green Local without Wade-O (that's called a suckers bet, by the way)?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

And Now, the Rest of the Story

So Harvey was just another gracious informer. Turns out we were duped the whole time. -- Jim

From LewRockwell.com

And Now, the Rest of the Story
Posted by Lew Rockwell on January 24, 2010 08:29 AM
Thanks to Jim Fedako, who says that the late radio personality
Paul Harvey was “just another neocon.”

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A career criminal

A recent post of mine over on the Blog at Mises.org:









A career criminal
Jim Fedako

Most mornings, as I begin my drive to the office, I turn to wave goodbye to my wife and two smiling cherubs, a wave punctuated by a few honks of the horn. A harmless way to start my day -- or so I thought.

I just found out that it is illegal to use a car horn for such frivolity, in Ohio anyway. According to The Columbus Dispatch, "Ohio law says that horns are to be used only to avoid danger, although police normally don't cite friendly beeps or the occasional frustrated fist to the wheel." Who knew this law existed? Or that it extends to private property, nonetheless?

While it is magnanimous that police rarely enforce this law, the law still exists, punishable by a $120 fine -- as one local woman recently discovered.

Having a full deck of little-known laws gives government an upper hand -- providing government with an arbitrary and capricious means to punish those whose actions annoy and offend its petty officials.

In addition, the reality that the state can trump reasonable, harmless actions with little-known laws adds uncertainty to our plans. So instead of investing and facing the whims of government, consuming current capital may become the rational course of action.

An arbitrary and capricious state is a hallmark of the developing (nondeveloping?) world. Is it our fate also?

When you meet me, know you are meeting a criminal -- a criminal who plans to continue his unlawful ways. It's the only right thing to do. The state and its petty officials be damned.

Note: In Ohio, it's also illegal to blow a whistle while riding a bicycle. I plan to do just that as soon as the weather warms. Meaningless disobedience to stoke the internal fires for liberty.


Note: As expected, this drew comments over at Mises.org. Here is one of my replies, which may add clarity:

Classical Thinker --

I disagree:

1. It is a liberty issue. The law is silent on decibels. No aggression needs to occur. In a libertarian world, your fury has no legal standing unless you were aggressed. I am guilty for the action alone, which is true whether I lay on the horn in your neighborhood or give a slight toot where no one else is found. The whistle on a bike is another good example. Blow a whistle while riding in Ohio, no matter the time/place, and you broke Ohio law.

2. It is a free market issue. I was employed by the US Peace Corps in Jamaica. It was easy to see (on the surface) that there are many ways to profit through investment on the island. But, and this is big, there is no way to guarantee that you will not violate some regulation or law. And since the police and bureaucracy "enforce" regulations and laws in an arbitrary and capricious manner, a business plan would need to include a large percentage for bribes, fines, etc. The amount, of course, would not be known. So there was no way that I would ever invest there -- which explains why so little foreign investment occurs there (outside of that which is protected by US influence, bauxite as an example). This is the reason why Haiti is such a mess. If laws are known and applied consistently, entrepreneurs can add them to their business plan. But when laws are hidden and arbitrary and capricious, why invest at all.

I agree:

1. I am no market utopian. It could be that private roads would be plowed less than government roads due to market preferences. But the total service that I voluntarily purchase will be more efficient than what government supplies. It may be that I would rather save a few bucks and be inconvenienced during the occasional Ohio snowstorm.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Browbeaten by hypocrisy ... at the Columbus Zoo

The enviro-saints over at the Columbus Zoo ruined a recent visit by constantly browbeating me with their hypocritical nonsense. At ever opportunity, and at ever turn, they condemn the wasteful actions of man. Yet, notwithstanding the history of zoos with regard to environmental issues (slaughtering animals in order to make a few bucks on the ones that survived the hunt and trip to the zoo), the enviro-saints never even mention the resources consumed by the zoo, 24-7.

In full sight of these Pol-Pot-esque return-to-nature displays, stand the amusement rides and Zoombezi Bay, and the golf course, with acres of asphalt separating the two. I'm evil,but it is OK for them to sell plastic trinkets -- overpriced, nonetheless.

It gets even better in the summer, with the doors opened at the air conditioned stores. I guess it's OK for them to use resources because, by definition, they are good stewards of the planet. It's only fools like me who are the ravenous consumers and evil polluters. Yet the enviro-saints willingly open their gates to those who pony up a few bucks in order to see the depressed animals, and to be browbeaten.

Nonsense upon nonsense. And freely I paid for it this time.

Ron Paul: a man of principles

Just like Davy Crockett of yore. And this is why most Republicans hate Paul ... they cannot stand a man of principles. -- Jim

From LewRockwell.com:
Why Ron Paul Voted Against Aid to Haiti (H.R. 1021)
Posted by
David Kramer on January 21, 2010 09:32 PM
Statement of Congressman Ron Paul
United States House of Representatives
Statement in Opposition to H Res 1021, Condolences to Haiti
January 21, 2010

I rise in reluctant opposition to this resolution. Certainly I am moved by the horrific destruction in Haiti and would without hesitation express condolences to those who have suffered and continue to suffer. As a medical doctor, I have through my career worked to alleviate the pain and suffering of others. Unfortunately, however, this resolution does not simply express our condolences, but rather it commits the US government “to begin the reconstruction of Haiti” and affirms that “the recovery and long-term needs of Haiti will require a sustained commitment by the United States….” I do not believe that a resolution expressing our deep regret and sorrow over this tragedy should be used to commit the United States to a “long-term” occupation of Haiti during which time the US government will provide for the reconstruction of that country.

I am concerned over the possibility of an open-ended US military occupation of Haiti and this legislation does nothing to alleviate my concerns. On the contrary, when this resolution refers to the need for a long term US plan for Haiti, I see a return to the failed attempts by the Clinton and Bush Administrations to establish Haiti as an American protectorate. Already we are seeing many argue that this kind of humanitarian mission is a perfect fit for the US military. I do not agree.

Certainly I would support and encourage the efforts of the American people to help the people of Haiti at this tragic time. I believe that the American people are very generous on their own and fear that a US government commitment to reconstruct Haiti may actually discourage private contributions. Mr. Speaker, already we see private US citizens and corporations raising millions of dollars for relief and reconstruction of Haiti. I do not believe the US government should get in the way of these laudable efforts. I do express my condolences but I unfortunately must urge my colleagues to vote against this resolution committing the United States government to rebuild Haiti.

[Thanks to Travis Holte]

$13K more debt

In just three months, my family has been saddled with $13k more in federal debt (see the running debt indicator at the top of the page). Amazing. That is a bipartisan hole that we (my family) will never fill.

note: My family's total federal debt now stands at $320,088, and growing.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Who did? The Republicans, of course

For those celebrating Scott Brown's election, and assuming that federal health care is a goner, keep in mind that Brown voted for Romney's plan. And Brown still defends his vote. He stated during the campaign that he is for health care reform. Just not Obama's version -- at least not right away.

If you think Brown is going to fight the good fight, you will be shocked in the near future as he proposes his version of government control.

(note: Don't forget that Tiberi is a big supporter of SCHIP and federal involvement in your lives -- what you eat, drink, etc.)

-- Jim

From our good friends over at the Foundation for Economic Education:
The Freeman Ideas On Liberty
http://www.thefreemanonline.org

Guess Who Paved the Road to Socialized Medicine

Posted By Sue A. Blevins • July 1998 • Vol. 48/Issue 7

Nearly one year ago, Congress passed and President Clinton signed into law the largest expansion of government health care since 1965, when Medicaid and Medicare were created. This new federally funded program, titled “State Children’s Health Insurance Program” (SCHIP), gives states the authority to enlarge government health insurance programs for children, including medical services in public schools. Congress estimates SCHIP will cost taxpayers $48 billion over ten years.

How ironic. When the Democrats controlled Congress in 1993, the Clinton administration was unable to pass its national plan for socialized medicine. Yet with Republicans in charge of Congress, the administration was able to implement its backup plan. According to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), previously secret documents from Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Health Care Task Force show that a “kids first” strategy which could be implemented through Medicaid was the backup option in case the larger plan failed. The AAPS is the doctor’s group that successfully sued the task force to make it release all its documents. The government was ordered to pay more than $285,000 to AAPS because of the White House and Justice Department’s cover-up of task-force information.

When you ask Republicans why they helped create a new government health-care program for children, they will say that it’s what the American people wanted. But that is not exactly honest. Republicans are quite aware that Americans don’t want socialized medicine—or any new entitlement program for that matter. Even public-opinion polls confirm that. In fact, a recent Harvard University survey found that while most Americans think that children have a right to health care, the majority believes that families are responsible for securing that right-not government. Only 20.6 percent of those polled would consider giving that responsibility to the federal government. (Respondents were asked, “Who, if anyone, do you think should be most responsible for paying to make sure that children get this right [to health care]?” Results were: parents, 52.4 percent; federal government, 20.6; state government, 9. 1; employers, 7.5; local government, 2.7; charities, 0.3; and other answers, 7.4 percent.)

Really, Why Did They Do It?
So why did the Republicans help create the largest federally funded health-entitlement program since 1965? It seems the Republicans merely caved into the Democrats’ savvy political strategy, which went something like this: Let’s propose a new government program for children and fund it with cigarette taxes. Then, if Republicans oppose “KidCare” we’ll charge that they don’t care about children and that the only reason they oppose it is because the Republicans get large sums of money from the tobacco industry. This was a brilliant political strategy. Yet the consequences of SCHIP will affect many, if not all, Americans.

One of the greatest dangers of SCHIP is that it will reduce the number of privately insured children. That is because SCHIP creates incentives for families and employers to drop private health insurance and instead take government subsidies for health care. The Congressional Budget Office expects that half of the participants in the new program will be families that give up private insurance. “That’s what happened when Medicaid opened in 1987 to pregnant women and their children with incomes 250% of the poverty level,” Robert Goldberg of George Washington University writes. “Between 1988 and 1995, the percentage of children covered by private insurance fell to 64% from 72%. At the same time, the percentage of children covered by Medicaid climbed to 23.1% from 15.5%. Studies show that at least threefourths of the shift was the result of parents dropping private coverage for themselves and their children. This new program will have the same effect.”

Another concern is that SCHIP could eventually become mandatory for all children, regardless of family income or need. That is what happened to the elderly. Consider that initially Medicare was established to help only poor elderly people, while the better-off were told they could keep their private health insurance. However, after Medicare was passed in 1965, the federal government garnered enough muscle to force private insurers to drop the nonpoor elderly, leaving them no alternative but to join Medicare. Moreover, the federal government has made it mandatory to enroll in Medicare Part A (which pays for hospital care) if you receive Social Security benefits. Given government’s track record, it is quite likely it could force children to participate in SCHIP. It is only a matter of time before we start seeing state laws that say, “Your child must join SCHIP or he can’t attend public school.”

SCHIP is also likely to lead to higher health-care costs. Again, one need only look to Medicare to see how that would happen. Medicare was created with the purported goal to help reduce the elderly’s out-of-pocket health-care expenses. However, their medical costs have increased dramatically since 1965. Medicare grew much faster than ever anticipated, and consequently, the elderly are now forced to pay higher deductibles and copayments. In terms of absolute dollars, their outof-pocket expenses were reduced by only $9 during Medicare’s first five years, from $234 to $225 per capita between 1966 and 1971. Since then, Medicare out-of-pocket costs (copayment and deductible amounts) have grown to $757 per beneficiary in 1995—about $26 billion total. Additionally, seniors pay millions out of pocket for non-covered services, such as prescription drugs. Clearly, Medicare did not meet its stated goal. It is unlikely that SCHIP can do so either.

A Dangerous Alliance
The greatest danger of SCHIP lies in its expansion of government health care in public schools. More than 30 states across the country are already in some stage of implementing KidCare in their public schools. Currently, public schools can provide health services under a Medicaid program titled “Early, Periodic, Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment” (EPSDT): Medicaid pays for any service to treat or prevent medical problems, including family planning, unclothed physical examinations, immunizations, and psychological counseling. Among the providers covered are physicians, nurses, psychologists, social workers, and physical therapists. Since 1967, Medicaid has required states to offer EPSDT programs to all Medicaid-eligible children up to age 21. Then in 1989 Congress mandated that states increase the proportion of eligible children receiving those services from 30 percent to 80 percent by 1995. To reach more children, the states tamed to the public schools.

There is no doubt that increased EPSDT services will mean a loss of parental control. Some school districts provide screening services to all children, whether or not they are eligible for Medicaid. A report by the Center for the Study of Social Policy on how to create school-based Medicaid programs explicitly states that “School districts should not consider the EPSDT/Medicaid program if their philosophy is that it is the sole responsibility of parents to attend to the health care needs of children.”

Clearly, the program implies greater government control over children, coupled with the view of parents as potential child abusers. A case in point is a recent incident in Pennsylvania where a public-school physician gave genital exams to 59 sixth-grade girls without parental consent and over the strong objection of some of the girls. The physician claimed she was looking for sexually transmitted diseases and for signs of sexual abuse. The new children’s health-care program increases the likelihood that public schools will examine or treat children without parental consent.

Parents should also be concerned about the lack of privacy at school-based health centers. Once a program is established, children are subjected to intrusive psychological testing without parental consent. Schools can then share psychological information and records with private foundations and state agencies. With so many behavioral problems labeled as psychological disorders, one can only imagine the labels applied to some students. Also, the school-based Medicaid programs create per-verse economic incentives: the more children diagnosed with psychological disorders, the more money schools can obtain from Medicaid.

But the trouble with psychological examinations does not end with the child’s school days. The results, as subjective as they may be, are entered on the students’ permanent school records, which then can affect their career opportunities.

SCHIP will help expand school-based health centers. Consequently, we will see more psychological testing and group counseling in public schools across the country.

The Republicans won control of Congress by promising to reduce government. But once in charge, they got scolded for their attempts to cut the growth in Medicare spending. One would think they would have learned a good lesson from that experience: it is almost impossible to roll back entitlement programs once they’re created, especially health-care entitlements. Yet instead of learning that lesson, Republicans helped create the largest health-care entitlement in 30 years. Thus, it is fair to say that the Republican-led Congress paved the road to socialized medicine.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fascialism is here

And we let it in. -- Jim

An excellent post over on the Blog at Mises.org.










DOJ Announces Newspaper Takeovers
S.M. Oliva

The First Amendment prohibits Congress from making any law respecting the freedom of the press. Taken literally, of course, there's no such prohibition on the executive branch. Thus, it's apparently okay for the Justice Department to directly control the operations of newspapers.

As I discussed last year, the DOJ's Antitrust Division has been trying to dissolve a joint operating agreement between the Charleston Daily Mail and the Charleston Gazette. The DOJ said it was dissatisfied with the editorial quality of the Mail under the agreement. After nearly three years of litigation, the newspapers surrendered and will sign a new series of operating agreements at gunpoint.

That's not an exaggeration. The DOJ's proposed order expressly states the newspapers "shall enter into, and abide by the terms of, the Amended and Restated" joint operating agreement. The new agreement cannot be modified or terminated without the DOJ's written permission.

The DOJ order further states that, "The publication of the Charleston Daily Mail as a Daily Newspaper shall not be terminated unless it is a Failing Firm and the United States has given prior written approval." Even if the paper fails, the DOJ order also dictates how the Mail's assets must be disposed.

Finally, the DOJ order mandates a 50% discount for new subscriptions to the Daily Mail and prohibits the Gazette from matching any such discount.

So let's recap: The United States Government has forced two "independent" newspapers to sign a contract governing their business and editorial operations, prohibits one newspaper from ceasing to publish daily, and fixes subscription prices for both newspapers. All to protect "competition."

The DOJ order is still subject to a comment period and judicial review, but history suggests neither of these things will stand in the Antitrust Division's path. (And just to be clear, this is coming from DOJ bureaucrats, not the political leadership; this case started in the Bush administration, and there's been no significant policy change under the current regime.)



Monday, January 18, 2010

Another government hack

For whatever reason, most of us want to believe the nonsense coming out of the mouths of government hacks. -- Jim

Editor:

In his article, "Everyone should be behind Third Frontier," Bruce Johnson proves that folks who spend their lives in government are out of touch with the real world.

Johnson claims the previous Third Frontier funds produced "nearly a 10-to-1 return on taxpayers' investment." Using private sector terminology when referring to government action is nonsensical. If I took Johnson for his word, I would be expecting my $1500 dividend check in the mail. But we all know no check is coming.

When Johnson and his ilk gleefully spend my money on their pet projects, the only ones benefiting are Johnson and ilk, plus the recipients of my hard earned money.

Jim Fedako

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Helping Haiti

A recent post of mine over on the Blog at Mises.org:









Helping Haiti
Jim Fedako

Many folks in Haiti have suffered a terrible disaster. And as they dig out of the rubble, bury their dead, tend to the injured and sick, and try to build a future out of what was spared by the earthquake, the readers of this blog should consider our appropriate individual responses.

First: Those folks need our charity. Consider finding a suitable private organization and give, if only a little. Rest assured that charity and liberty go together. And realizing a psychic profit through helping others does add value to your world.

Second: Do not count aid coming from the US government as a gift on your part. That money was thieved from your neighbors. And like all ill-gotten gain, most of it will end up in the hands of evil - the very same folks who have impoverished Haiti for decades.

Third: Remember that government aid is not charity. And even when that aid does provide for a short-term need, it comes with a yoke of suffering; a yoke that will last for years. While private organizations usually ask for nothing in return, government aid comes with a hefty burden - it entrenches the existing kleptocracy and enforces the ideology of theft.

Fourth: The recipients of private charity tend to recognize that such aid is the result of sacrifice on part of the donor - it is appreciated. It's understood that this kind of aid is for the short term only. Government aid, on the other hand, is received with a frown - it is not appreciated, as the recipients expect more and believe the aid will never end, with dependency the result.

Finally: If direct aid is not your thing, work toward liberating Haiti with whatever vigor you can muster. The long-term goal must be the end to the evil state in Haiti, with prosperity arriving soon after the state departs. Any effort that accelerates that change will reduce future suffering.

But until that time, and with many folks suffering, it is charity, through private organizations, that will help those in desperate need.

Note: I was employed by the US Peace Corps in Jamaica and have seen firsthand the results of government and private aid. Private aid is not perfect, but it is not the evil that is government aid.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Letter to the Dispatch

Recently sent, but still unpublished. -- Jim


Dear Editor:

In his letter, "Education system ignores needs of many students," Kim Cellar concludes that public education has failed because it is too politicized. Too politicized?

Whether you are considering the radical agenda of the national teachers unions on the left or the centralized, command-and-control utopia advocated by folks on the right, public education is a battleground of ideologies -- of course it is.

Keep in mind that public education is a misnomer. Those are not the public's schools; they are the government's schools. And government is all about politics, and nothing else.


Jim Fedako

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Teaching spirituality

But never religion.

And here I thought synchronicity was nothing more than the nonsensical babble of Jung and Sting. It turns out that it is now a cutting edge pedagogy.

If you think L. Ron Hubbard and his Dianetics are an anomaly, watch this video from the Teachers College Record, the Marxist voice of Columbia University's Teachers College. This is the stuff is bizarre and beyond scary.

Keep in mind, these ideas are the philosophical basis of current educational practices. Teacher have been inculcated in spiritual nonsense, and they desire to indoctrinate the subsequent generations.

Amazing stuff. You just can't make this up.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Hanks is feraginit ... he's neither fer it nor agin' it

Unless there is some benefit for Hanks, he just can't seem to take sides.

Oh, sure, if his buddies were behind the casino, Hanks would be onboard. But ...

It's better for him to wait and see how the chips fall (and how many fall in his direction) before taking a stance.

Hanks. You just gotta love the guy.



From The Delaware Gazette:
Anti-casino resolution voted down
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
By ANDREW TOBIAS

Staff Writer

Delaware County commissioners on Monday voted down a resolution that would have formally asked Columbus to dismiss the Polaris area as an alternate site for a proposed casino.

Commissioner Ken O’Brien asked for the vote on the heels of a letter from Delaware County Prosecutor Dave Yost to Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman that formally asked that the Polaris area in southern Delaware County not be considered.

Following a vote-approved ballot issue this past November, the state constitution currently calls for a casino to be built in Columbus’ trendy Arena District, to the chagrin of Columbus officials. In a letter to officials with the gaming company that would run the casino, Coleman suggested four alternate locations, including the Polaris area in southern Delaware County.

However, commissioners Todd Hanks and Tommy Thompson said it was premature and irrelevant for the commissioners to take a stand on the issue at this point in the process.
“It would be like us voting to tell the governor of Montana that they should slaughter less buffaloes for buffalo burgers,” said Hanks, who abstained from voting saying he needed more information about the impact of a casino.


Thompson voted against the resolution, but said that the board may consider formal action at some time in the future.

O’Brien said he drafted and voted for the resolution after he was contacted by several concerned residents in the Westerville area. Even though the county commissioners don’t have a say where the casino would be placed, O’Brien said formally denouncing it could potentially have an impact as the process moves forward.

“This (resolution) is a way of giving input, and I think it’s making a clear statement where we stand,” he said. O’Brien and Westerville officials have said they are concerned about traffic, noise and crime increases that might come along with a casino.

However, Hanks said he preferred the process to play out on the state level. He did say a casino might bring in property taxes that could benefit the Olentangy School District and Delaware County District Library, among other entities, but that he wasn’t prepared to take a position without more information.

“I’m not against it; I’m not for it,” he said.

Changing the casino’s location would require a constitutional amendment, which would need to be approved by a statewide vote. In order for the amendment to appear on the May ballot, state legislators would have to vote to do so by Feb. 3.

If the location of the casino does change, Penn National Gaming Inc. prefers the Polaris site the least of the four alternatives, sources have said.

There has been speculation the prospective location for a casino in the Polaris area is the site of the now-defunct Germain Amphitheatre. Westerville and Genoa Township officials have said publicly a casino in the area would not be welcome.

atobias@delgazette.com

Monday, January 11, 2010

A couple of quotes worth reading

From our friends over Freedom Watch:

"To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."

-- Thomas Jefferson

**********************

"This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as we do when the baby gets hold of a hammer. It's just a question of how much damage he can do with it before you take it away from him."

- Will Rogers

FREEDOM WATCH is information pertaining to government abuse of power, trashing of the Constitution, illegal immigration, 2nd Amendment, political correctness run amok, etc.
It is FREE and sent to you via E-mail.
To subscribe send an e-mail to: FreedomWatch-subscribe@topica.com

FREEDOM WATCH
http://fwatch.blogspot.com/

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A letter worth reading

From The Delaware Gazette:


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Friday, January 8, 2010 The Delaware Gazette
O’Brien’s ‘pessimism’ healthy for county

To the editor:

This letter is in response to Laura Kelley’s conflict resolution letter (Jan 6, 2010) criticizing Ken O’Brien’s dissent from Tommy Thompson and Todd Hanks. Kelley praises Thompson and Hanks for their willingness to accept the “magnificent gift” of conflict resolution from the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, a government-run program. Kelley states that conflict resolution will “lead to unity, openness and transparency” between the commissioners. Translated into language that taxpayers can understand, conflict resolution is a government-run program that encourages government workers to agree on everything despite the pessimism of reality.

I agree with Kelley that Thompson and Hanks have already established trust and unity in their relationship as commissioners. However, the trust and unity between Thompson and Hanks disrupts the private sector and burdens taxpayers in Delaware County.

Thompson and Hanks were unified on June 11, 2009 in voting to purchase the Delaware Hotel and convert it from a private sector tax base into a government asset that requires taxpayer money to support it. In other words, Thompson and Hanks changed a stream of revenue for Delaware County into an expense that must be paid by taxpayers. Thompson and Hanks were also unified on June 22, 2009 in spending $3.13 million dollars on a sewage dump without a stream of revenue or means to pay for it. Thompson asked the sewage company for ideas on how to pay for the contract shortly before voting yes on the contract, as evident on the June 22, 2009 video clip listed on the Commissioners’ Web site. Commissioner Hanks stated that ideas for payment would be discussed on July 20, 2009, almost a month after signing the sewage contract.

All three commissioners were unified in their absence of ideas for means of payment on this sewage contract, however their voting was not unified. I imagine O’Brien’s pessimistic view on spending money without the means to pay for it led to his dissenting vote on the sewage contract.

Implementing conflict resolution for the purpose of persuading O’Brien to agree with Thompson and Hanks defeats the intended design of having multiple commissioners. Delaware County might as well elect a king if they want to wash out dissenting votes and ideas.

Having a glass that’s half empty is good if it’s full of sewage.

Adam J.White
Lewis Center

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Looking for perfection and finding blemishes

A recent post of mine over on the Blog at Mises.org:









Looking for perfection and finding blemishes
Jim Fedako


SS218.jpgAs a matter of fact, modern agricultural nationalism has this in common with other aspects of contemporary economic policy that, far from being a rationally planned system well thought out in detail, it is an agglomeration of improvisations and hit-or-miss emergency measures, which ends by coalescing into something more consistent that ambitious governments can easily represent as the result of a preconceived plan.

With those words, Wilhelm Röpke unveils the truth behind every instance of spin that claims government planning has succeeded in the past. Yet, only sentences later, he makes peace with planning in agriculture.

International Economic Disintegration is a challenge for those looking for a solid stance on liberty. But it is an important book nonetheless.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Access Denied

The folks over at Delaware County Political Reporter know how to run a blog. They really do.

From the very start, I recognized their talent. And I always thought they were bound for the big leagues of blogging. So ...

Ever since DCPR went under cover, I felt as if I had been left behind -- like a minor league ballplayer watching a former teammate put on a Yankees cap for the first time.

So I went under cover (see right).

But then I realized that blogging is about getting your message out. It's not about sharing ideas with your little gang of friends -- that's what email is for

No readers, no message. So what's the point?

I'm back in the open after my four hours under cover. And I'm wondering: Are the folks at DCPR simply laughing at their own inside jokes?

Thursday, January 07, 2010

My bad ... they are the public's schools

And here I used to say that government schools exist for ... well, for government and associated sycophants. It turns out I was wrong. Dreadfully wrong.

According to the latest truth from the district communications department, old Wade-O is letting the masses pick the new colors. That's right, "we" get to pick the colors. What an "important" decision to be placing in the hands of the taxpayer. How magnanimous.

Folks, these really are your schools. And I admit I was wrong. -- Jim

Note: If your blood doesn't boil reading Wade-O's belittling nonsense, you deserve his derision.

* OLSD SEEKS COMMUNITY INPUT FOR NEW SCHOOL COLORS SELECTION
Olentangy Local Schools is once again asking for community input regarding decisions for one of the district’s new schools. During the 2011-12 school year, the district is scheduled to open its fifth middle school, Olentangy Berkshire Middle School (OBMS). While the name and mascot (Sentinels) were already selected based on previous community participation, the district is currently seeking input regarding the color selection for the school.

“I believe that the schools belong to the community,” said Olentangy Superintendent Wade Lucas, Ed.D. “As such community members should be involved in these types of important decisions.”

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Did you catch the non sequitur?

A recent post of mine over on the Blog at Mises.org:








Did you catch the non sequitur?
Jim Fedako




This little video is beginning to appear more often on the DVDs I rent. The non sequitur is glaring.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Teachers leading the witness

And indoctrinating.

Mr. Brown, the social studies teacher speaks: "OK, Bob. So, you think socialism is bad? Hmmm. What does being social mean? What is your community? Doesn't being social simply mean that you are part of your community? So, what is wrong with being part of your community? Remember, socialism is now a term used to attack the concept of people helping people? Bob, are you really against that? Really?" -- Jim


(HT: from a reader)

Where good old-fashioned debate still rules school
By Ben Fischer • bfischer@enquirer.com
January 2, 2010


Sports fan and Shroder Paideia High School senior Brandon Ross thought departed Cincinnati Bearcats football coach Brian Kelly was a disloyal turncoat before a Dec. 16 class with teacher Chad Flaig.

Then, with the desks arranged in a circle, Flaig asked tough questions: What does loyalty require? Can you be loyal to only one group at a time? What about loyalty to yourself? Is it possible that loyalty to his players led Kelly to downplay the Notre Dame job until after the crucial Pittsburgh game, avoiding distractions? Or does being loyal require absolute honesty at all times?

The teens didn't have all the answers.

But they debated Kelly's departure for the entire class, moderating their opinions when Flaig made a good point and pushing back when they disagreed.

Afterward, Ross wasn't so sure.

"At first I thought he was just turning his back on the team," Ross said. "But then I realized this was a dream job and to ask him to give it up would have been selfish."

Such is life in one of Cincinnati's public "paideia" schools, where the Socratic method, long discussions and classical debate still rule, even as the rest of American public education has taken a sharp turn toward content-based, fact-heavy learning focused on standardized tests.

Paideia teaching, like Cincinnati's better-known alternative teaching method, Montessori, aims to focus the learning process on children themselves. But other than that, the similarities are limited.

Born out of philosopher Mortimer Adler's 1982 book "The Paideia Proposal," the method hopes to restore "classical" education to public schools by teaching children critical thinking, debating and synthesizing information. Ideally, it includes foreign language and fine arts as part of the regular school day, but those features haven't survived budget cuts in many schools.

Cincinnati is a rare holdout in keeping its paideia programming, said Terry Roberts, director of the National Paideia Center in Chapel Hill, N.C. Chicago and Chattanooga, Tenn., are the only other school districts in the United States to still provide paideia education from kindergarten through 12th grade. Elements of paideia instruction, such as Socratic dialogue, are informally used in many schools, he said, but not as a formal curriculum focus.

Other than that, its popularity has declined for more than a decade, he said. For starters, it's expensive to keep fine arts and languages as part of the regular curriculum, as opposed to electives.

In addition, Roberts said, paideia is at odds with the modern era of high-stakes standardized testing.

The Socratic method and heavy emphasis on verbal exchanges between teachers and students is not an efficient way to guide students to passing scores on the all-important Ohio Achievement and Ohio Graduation Tests - the basic standard of measurement for school quality under No Child Left Behind Act, he said.

"Many times that's viewed as 'slow learning,' if you will," Roberts said. "To be honest, I think they're right. But not only is it slow, it's much more long-lasting."

The program came to Cincinnati in the late 1980s when a group of Kennedy Heights residents asked for it to be installed at Shroder, then at a junior high. The neighborhood wanted to create a new kind of magnet school to draw white students back to the school, said retired CPS administrator John Clark, who still trains teachers in the paideia method at Xavier University.

In a paideia school, no more than 10 percent of all instructional time should be spent in a traditional lecture mode. Most of the time, teachers should be "coaching" students with a pattern of difficult questions, guiding them to the correct answer or a new revelation.

Finally, the seminars, such as the one Flaig conducted on Kelly, develop children's critical thinking and verbal skills.

"That's one of the things as a teacher in seminar, you are not the information provider," said Flaig, who's taught at Shroder since 1987, just as paideia was gaining a foothold."You are just kind of the guide, and sometimes they'll go down a different path. You just kind of go with it, and the big thing is to make them think and get them out of their comfort zone."

Unlike Montessori, it's highly structured - all students take the same classes - and Shroder Principal Yenetta Harper emphasizes that the school is a community of learners all working together.

Margaret Peyton, a Kennedy Heights resident who led the paideia charge two decades ago, mourns the gradual erosion of the method in CPS. No longer do the schools have coaches - licensed teachers who help with student coaching, but aren't assigned to a particular class - and languages and fine arts have come and gone as the budget allows.

"It was a wonderful program," said Peyton. "But the way it worked out, they eliminated so many parts of it until it's almost not the paideia we originally initiated."

Judged by the scores on the state standardized tests, CPS' four full-fledged paideia schools are only middle-of-the-pack academically. As a group, they are close to the CPS average.

Program defenders say paideia learning will come back into vogue, as the current mode of content-based standardized tests gives way to the so-called 21st century skills advocated by some educators, which include critical thinking, teamwork and creativity.

In the meantime, Harper and Flaig will continue to teach the paideia method. Even in the hallway or at basketball games, that means "because" isn't a reason and you can't just "feel" something.

"You don't 'feel' here," Harper said. "If you have an opinion, or a feeling, you must have some reason and fact behind it."

FFF: Nock and Napolitano

From a recent edition of the Email Update from the Future of Freedom Foundation:

Friday, December 18, 2009

Money does not pay for anything, never has, never will. It is an economic axiom as old as the hills that goods and services can be paid for only with good and services.
— Albert Jay Nock, Memoirs of a Superfluous Man [1943]

Saturday, December 26, 2009

It is impossible to be charitable with someone else's money. Charity comes from your own heart, not from the government spending your money. When we pay our taxes to the government and it gives that money away, that's not charity, that's welfare. When the government takes more from us than it needs to secure our freedoms, so it can have money to give away, that's not charity, that's theft. And when the government forces hospitals to provide free health care to those who can't or won't care for themselves, that's not charity, that's slavery. That's why we now have constitutional chaos, because the government steals and enslaves, and we outlawed that a long time ago.
— Andrew P. Napolitano, “
What Is a Right?” [December 19, 2009]

Monday, January 04, 2010

Hanks made a mess ... will the Republicans bless

Will Hanks get the nod from the county Republican Central Committee? -- Jim


From The Delaware Gazette:
Rescinded county contract has yearlong fallout

Thursday, December 31, 2009

ANDREW TOBIAS
Staff Writer

The appointment of former county auditor Todd Hanks in mid-January of this year marked a bonafide rarity in Ohio government: three new county commissioners.

The new Delaware County commissioners began the year on good terms, making good on campaign promises such as getting the ball rolling on better utilizing space in the county’s administrative building, finishing the county jail’s second floor and resuming Internet streaming of commissioners sessions.

However, as the year comes to an end, the commissioners remain in a stalemate over commissioner Tommy Thompson’s effort to institute a state-run conflict resolution program to address interpersonal problems that have emerged.

Commissioner Ken O’Brien said he does not think the program would help, and would be a waste of tax-funded resources. Thompson and Hanks, who often vote opposite of O’Brien, have expressed frustration that O’Brien is holding the process up.

The commissioners disagreed on some issues over the course of the year, but none proved to be as divisive as Thompson and Hanks’ attempt to award a $3.13 million contract to a newly-formed consulting company to convert septic waste into energy.

On June 18, the two nearly voted to approve the no-bid contract at the end of a commissioners session following a lengthy closed-door executive session. However, they decided to delay a vote after O’Brien loudly protested the vote had not been advertised to the public ahead of time. He also said he had not seen the contract until an hour before the meeting — commissioners had only discussed the topic once before in another closed-door executive session, he said.

Following an unruly four-hour June 22 meeting where several members of the public spoke, Hanks and Thompson approved the contract, even though county auditor George Kaitsa said the county didn’t have the money to pay for it, and county prosecutor Dave Yost recommended against it.

Officials with Dublin-based ST eGE said a waste-to-energy facility could generate $100 million in annual revenues for the county and create thousands of jobs.

However, following a meeting with Yost, Hanks changed his mind and on June 26 reversed his vote. Although he vowed he would continue to try to get the project to work, he later abandoned his efforts due to what he said was public opposition.

O’Brien, concerned Thompson and Hanks had kept him out of the loop over the waste-to-energy project leading up to the initial vote, subsequently requested all e-mails between the commissioners and the prosecutor’s office. A county resident who managed O’Brien’s campaign also requested records pertaining to the project.

Subsequently, Hanks in August criticized O’Brien of leading a “witch hunt.”

Some time later, Thompson said a commissioner from another county approached him, having read some of the news coverage over the waste-to-energy project and the resulting fallout, and recommended a state-run dispute-resolution program.

On Oct. 19, Thompson and Hanks passed a resolution to utilize the mediation program, but O’Brien voted against it. He said at that meeting the only issue the board had was over the waste-to-energy project, which quickly devolved into an argument between him and Hanks.

On Nov. 25, the commissioners argued again publicly after O’Brien demanded that Thompson apologize for recent comments he had made to the Gazette.

Thompson had said in that article he had begun to lock his office door after hearing of an incident in which O’Brien entered the office of a county employee and searched his desk without permission. O’Brien said he was looking for a desk calendar to see when that employee would return.

As it stands, efforts to set up the conflict resolution are ongoing and a touchy subject any time it is brought up publicly. O’Brien has said he will not go forward with the program unless a specific public policy issue is identified as a topic of discussion.

Last week, Thompson suggested the commissioners discuss “communication and trust” with the mediator, but O’Brien remains skeptical. Thompson said he and Hanks were to move forward, but O’Brien was not.

O’Brien said he is not sure something intangible like “trust” can be addressed through a mediator.

“I was not going to commit to doing it because I didn’t want to waste taxpayer money on something that likely would not come to a resolution,” O’Brien told the Gazette last week.

But, he said if the state mediator contacts him and is able to show a meeting about “communication and trust” may be beneficial to county business, he would be more receptive.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

A running thread on probability

Mark R. Crovelli believes that all probability is subjective. I disagree. We have been discussing this over at the Libertarian Papers of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He wrote two great papers on the subject (here and here) -- he just happens to be wrong.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Teacher qualifications

Dear Editor:

In his recent letter, "KIPP's teachers are not qualified," Alan Barnes confused being qualified to hold a license to teach with being qualified to teach.

Additionally, Barnes conveniently fails to mention that each of his university instructors was not licensed either.

Would I be correct in assuming that they were not qualified to provide the instruction that allowed Barnes to obtain a license? And would it not follow, based on his logic, that Barnes' license is itself suspect?

Teacher licensure is a function of government. And, as such, it satisfies a political motive, and nothing else.

Jim Fedako