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October 2012

Another fine piece from Walter Russell Mead

This is excellent:

New York City has been governed by liberals for generations. Surely if blue policies could produce an egalitarian utopia with a strong middle class, we would see it in New York before we would see it anywhere else. If liberals were good at running cities, people from all over the world would be coming to study New York’s public schools, marveling at the extraordinary success with which unionized teachers were transforming the lives of low income kids. Our transit system would be the envy of the world as well; awestruck visitors from benighted places like Shanghai and Tokyo would come to gaze in amazement at the speed, cleanliness and economy of the New York subways. Small business formation would be booming as the bustling economy of manufacturing start ups created opportunities in the inner cities.

Ever wonder why Liberals tend to oppose home-schooling

Kevin D. Williamson explains:

The problem is that progressives operate as though the state owned children as joint property. Dana Goldstein, writing in Slate, urged her fellow progressives to resist the temptation to homeschool, arguing that the practice is “fundamentally illiberal” and asking incredulously: “Could such a go-it-alone ideology ever be truly progressive?” She went on to argue that the children of high-achieving parents amount to public goods because of peer effects — poor students do better when mixed with better-off peers — meaning that “when college-educated parents pull their kids out of public schools, whether for private school or homeschooling, they make it harder for less-advantaged children to thrive.” She does not extend that analysis to its logical conclusion: that conscientious, educated liberals should enroll their children in the very worst public schools they can find in order to maximize the public good.

Excellent point. And following up on that, Liberals who profess this belief should also live and work in poor neighborhoods.

I'm not going to hold my breath.

It should have deeply embarrassed a twelve-year-old

But the Vice President of the United States? I have no words. But Mark Steyn has some:

But the near-parodic locker-room coarseness is grotesque both in its inaptness and in its lack of basic human feeling for a bereaved family forced to grieve in public and as crowd-scene extras to the political bigshot. Just about the only formal responsibility a vice president has is to attend funerals without embarrassing his country. And this preening buffoon of pseudo-blue-collar faux-machismo couldn’t even manage that.

Time to check on California again

"Crazifornia: How California Is Committing Suicide".

Because California had long been blessed with enormous natural resources and a vital, growing population, it had the wealth to keep the impractical Progressive dream going for decades. It could abs0rb the enormous financial and human losses from almost heroic bureaucratic ineptitude (Chapter 5); laws and regulations that suck the life out of both new and established businesses (Chapter 6); ridiculous educational experiments and an all-powerful teachers union that has little interest in student well-being and education (Chapter 7);* environmentalism run amok (Chapter 8); and public sector unions and pensions that have managed to go wherever one ends up when “amok” is a distant memory (Chapter 9).

Lately, though, things haven’t been going so well for California. Part of the problem is the national recession. The other part is the fact that California’s collection of Progressives, Environmentalists, Educators, and Reporters, whom Laer collectively christens “the PEER axis,” have destroyed the state’s ability to tap into her resources, both natural and human. Take, for example, the Prop. 50 fiasco, which is one of a huge subset of fiascos generated by a California citizen’s right to vote on legislative ballot initiatives.

"Bankrupt California".

A refinery fire, a power outage, a uniquely Californian gasoline formula, years of regulating refineries into stasis — all that has finally caught up with the state, as prices soar at the pump. Yet what perplexes about California in extremis is the liberal ability for our state government simply to ignore its own regulations, which it has been using to paralyze businesses for years. For example, a panicked Governor Brown just asked the state air-resources board to suspend the law that requires gas stations to sell our special summer fuel formula through the month of October. The state asserted that a one-time suspension would increase supplies and yet not materially affect our air quality — which begs the question: Why, if that is true, would such a regulation have been passed in the first place?

California has the nation’s highest gas taxes and fuel prices, and the tightest supplies — and reputedly one of the worst-maintained infrastructures, with out-of-date, overcrowded, and poorly maintained freeways. When I head home each week from Palo Alto, I feel like an Odysseus fighting modern-day Lotus Eaters, Cyclopes, and Laestrygonians to reach Ithaka, wondering what obstacle will sidetrack me this trip — huge potholes, entire sections of the freeway reduced to one lane, or various poorly marked detours? If the nation’s highest gas taxes give us all that, what might the lowest bring?