Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dumb Letters: Privatize Yourself

This is a whopper from some knucklehead from the Cascade Policy Institute. (I'm not linking to them. You can Google them if you want. Basically they worship at the altar of Milton Friedman.)

The issue seems to be that U.S. National Parks aren't serving their "customers" the way some people think they should be. The letter writer seems to think that the issue is the "bureaucratic mentality" at the Parks Service. I always love this idea. Free-market ideologues always love to complain about "bureaucracy" in government, as if there were absolutely no bureaucracies in corporations.

"Instead of remaining a lumbering Leviathan, the Park Service should embrace market principles and privatize the parks. ... Since these privately managed parks wouldn’t have the luxury of using other people’s money, they would need to accommodate consumer demand. The solution? Privatize them, of course."

Of course. Consumer demand? Really? I thought that the Parks Service was about keeping lands pure so they wouldn't be overrun by sprawl, industry and advertising. Privatizing them would lead to exactly the kind of "progress" that the National Parks were supposed to forestall.

Of course, if they were using private money, those people supplying the money would naturally be expecting a return on their investment. And how would they be getting that? Trees don't generate a lot of revenue, unless you're cutting them down. I'm thinking it would be along the lines of turning all of our parks into Disney World, with fee-based attractions and miles and miles of advertising. A significant improvement over all of those boring trees, I'm sure.

"In addition, since these lands would be managed by environmentalists in the private sector, there would be little risk of regulatory capture by special interests, which was all too common in the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations."

What environmentalists in the private sector? I also love how "special interests" means people looking out for the public welfare and not, oh, the oil industry, which looks out for the profits of a very few people.

The comments section shows a wealth of wisdom in knocking this lunatic down. I wish the WaPo would have given the responses to this letter equal placement. This guy is ludicrous.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Vive la Similarité/Différence (your choice)

Joyeux le quatorze juillet! It's Bastille Day again. What does that mean for us here in America?

Well, it means that we should celebrate the fact that we're just like France. Thanks, David McCullough, for explaining it for us.

Except, wait. He's full of crap. We're nothing like France. So sayeth Edward Glaeser.

Mon dieux!

Monday, July 11, 2011

When Is a Person Not a Person?

Jesus, Mitch McConnell is odious. Just freaking odious.

Here's a very short Salon item about something stupid McConnell said recently. But Salon got the emphasis wrong in this one. It was entirely inappropriate to bring up the Casey Anthony case when discussing trials for suspected terrorists. But McConnell's real ignorance was shown in this gem.

"I don't think a foreigner is entitled to all the protection in the Bill of Rights."

Really, Mitch? You don't think? Do you need to research that? 'Cause I can help you there.

Our constitution, which conservatives have pretended to revere so much recently, not only does not support this, it directly contradicts it. Here's what it says about the matter. It's Amendment V, which has only been on the books for 220 years or so, so I can see how Mitch might have missed the news.

"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

See, it says "no citizen shall be..." What? It doesn't say "citizen"? It says "person"? Oh. That stinks. That covers, like, everybody. What kind of country is this, anyway?