Some Random Notes
Government Bureaucracy and Privatization. Some people argue that privatizing or contracting out a traditional government function is good because it eliminates a government bureaucracy. But the private functionary organization is also a bureaucracy and the government bureaucracy still has to be involved in doing the contracting and in monitoring the ongoing results. A Coast Guard consultant, speaking of the wasted money government often spends on contractors, put it wisely, “A contractor with a profit motive is never a trusted agent. They are a vendor and they are selling you something.”
Older, Dumber and More Expensive. The math on expanding the size of the US Army computes the cost of each soldier and equipment at $320,000. In order to recruit new troops, the qualification standards have been lowered, and the age limits have been increased. One wonders what that amount of money could do toward building a better world if it was spent on diplomacy and economic development.
Paying for War. All wars, including the inaccurately named “War on Terror”, are outrageous financial expenses for the governments involved. Since the only ones who make money on wars are defense contractors, there should be a “War on Terror Tax” on the profits of these contractors.
The Market Is Not Our Government. As predicted here at Sense, George Bush has issued an executive order to give his appointees more power to slow down government regulatory action. The Bush order adopts the philosophy that government regulation should only take place when it is proven that there has been a significant market failure.
Southern Presidential History. Five of our last 8 Presidents have been from the South: LBJ, Carter, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II. In 50 of the 72 years from Washington to Lincoln, the Presidency was held by a Southern slaveholder, and none of the non-slaveholder Presidents during that time was ever elected to a second term.
Violence Is Not Wise for Minorities. Peaceful non-violence appealing to the morality of the majority is the best tactic, as shown by the success of Ghandi and the American Civil Rights Movement. Israelis and Shia Muslims should keep this in mind as they look for a better future,
Only a Coincidence? The two most violent cities in the US for crime in 2005 were also the homes of the baseball teams playing in the 2006 World [meaning the US and part of Canada] Series of baseball - St. Louis and Detroit.
Congressional Forefathers. I was surprised to hear that the father of Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi once worked as a pipe fitter in a shipyard. I always figured Lott had a country club background. I also figured Wisconsin Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, who takes a particularly incensed position on aliens who enter the US to do the "jobs Americans won't do", was the type of Midwesterner who had to work hard for everything in life and was frugal in how he lived. Turns out he inherited a fortune from one of his forefathers who was the inventor of Kotex, and Jim also won $250,000 on a lottery ticket he won while buying beer to go with his imported Caribbean cigars.
Contagious Shooting. This phrase describes the phenomenon whereby a first fired shot leads the cohorts of the shooter to join in and escalate the shooting, based largely on the belief that since the first shot was fired, they must be under attack. It has been applied to cases where several police apply enormously overwhelming firepower in shooting a suspect, who is some cases may not even have been armed. The phenomenon also applies in war situations and is sometimes invoked deceitfully by a nation trying to justify a pre-emptive strike by forming a coalition to retaliate.
US Supreme Court Law Clerks. Each Justice chooses his or her own Clerks, a prestigious anointment for a young lawyer. Liberal Justice William Douglas appointed the first woman Clerk in 1944, and the second woman was not appointed until 22 years later, by fellow liberal Hugo Black. Felix Frankfurter appointed the first black Clerk in 1948, and in 1960 turned down an application from Ruth Ginsburg, who now sits on the Court as the only woman. Ginsburg has appointed four Clerks, two of them women. Stephen Breyer has had the most women Clerks, 15 of 28 in the last seven years. In that same period of time, ornery conservative Scalia has also had 28 Clerks, but only 2 were women.