Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dave Hardy didn't draw quickly enough.

It looks like someone was able to cut firearms law scholar and fellow southern Arizona 'blogger Dave Hardy into a few pieces and poke a few holes in him, too.

The picture is worth a thousand words. Maybe one of the nurses told him how much better his care would be when it's free and universal like in the workers' paradises of Europe.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Health Care "Town Hall" with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Rep. "Gabby" Giffords from the Eighth Congressional District is holding a "Town Hall" meeting on the topic of health care reform on Tuesday, May 26, 2009, from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. at Sahuaro High School Auditorium, 545 N. Camino Seco.

If you think you will attend, her office is requesting a response by May 21 to 520-881-3588.

Giffords is no free-marketeer but in my experience isn't a leftist ideologue, either. It may be worth readers' while to speak out in favor of market reforms and against crowd-out and "soft rationing". Cameras may be there. I don't know.

Whether or not I'll be there myself is a toss-up; those who do attend are welcome to guest post about it here. Send me an e-mail if interested.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

HB 2533: Class 3 if you're a reckless pest; Class 1 if you're soliciting employment.

Among the many statutory offenses codified in ARS Title 13 is "Obstructing a highway or other public thoroughfare", ARS 13-2906, which establishes as a class 3 misdemeanor recklessly (emphasis mine) interfer[ing] with the passage of any highway or public thoroughfare by creating an unreasonable inconvenience or hazard. A class 3 misdemeanor is considered a petty offense for military recruiting purposes and carries a maximum sentence of thirty days imprisonment.

Being heard today in the legislature is a bill, HB 2533 which makes it separately unlawful to solicit employment at the roadside if one impedes traffic, establishing this as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Class 1 misdemeanors are the most serious nonfelony offenses and carry a maximum sentence of six months of imprisonment.

You read that right: the bill's one and only sponsor, John Kavanagh, would have nonreckless roadside solicitation of employment, if it impedes traffic in the least bit, be a more serious event than reckless interference with passage. This is nothing more than an attempt to, like the vagrancy laws of old, criminalize being a bum, a cruel kick to the downtrodden down-and-out.

It's unlikely that this bill, establishing a more "serious" offense for less harmful conduct due to the content of the offender's communication, would be found constitutional if challenged. If the solicitor in question were after converts to a religion or even votes for John Kavanagh, he'd have to recklessly interfere with passage in order to run afoul of the law. Most of the time such bills get weeded out or amended in the Judiciary Committee, but this one hasn't been heard and isn't scheduled for said committee. That means it can't be passed, despite being heard in Committee of the Whole today, but I wouldn't put it past the House to suspend its own rules to get some bills of substance through during the last days of this session. Call your legislator, tell him how much this one stinks.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Judging "Local" Mexican

Cultural economist and noted gourmand Tyler Cowen poses the question of what good touchstone dishes are at various ethnic restaurants. I contend that, for Sonoran/Baja Arizonan Mexican, they are:

  1. Aguas frescas, especially horchata and agua de tamarindo. If they don't taste fresh, don't get your hopes up about the restaurant's sauces.
  2. Chiles rellenos. Choice of chile and cheese say a lot. Whether or not the breading is greasy or too eggy says much more.
  3. Menudo, on Saturday or Sunday morning. What kind of tripe was used? How well was it cleaned? How balanced is the dish?

While I'm at it, my top recommendations for Tucson Mexican restaurants--not counting Poca Cosa, which is in a class by itself--are the original (Court Street) El Charro and La Indita. Anyone care to share any Phoenix-area, Sierra Vista area, or Nogales (either side of the border) suggestions? (Don't go to Rosa's, as the beans taste and feel like tallow.) Anywhere else in AZ? What about Hermosillo, Caborca, and other cities in northern Sonora?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Tucson Rent Tax Initiative

In response to the Tucson City Council including a double tax on renters in their budget, three of the area's most prominent "good government" activists, Jerry Juliani, Richard Bayse, and John Kromko, are circulating petitions to amend the city charter by initiative. The text is as follows:

Official Title: Enough Tax

Amending Chapter 13 of the Tucson City Charter by adding a new section called "Prohibited Taxes" providing for the prohibition of certain taxes.

Text of proposed Amendment

Be it enacted by the people of the City of Tucson:

Chapter 13 of the Tucson City Charter is amended by adding a new section, to read:


The City of Tucson shall not impose any tax on the rental or lease of residential property, nor on the proceeds of such rental or lease.

For the purposes of this section, residential property includes unaffixed manufactured homes and residential ground leases. It does not include any rentals or leases for less than thirty days.

Any such tax in effect on the effective date of this act is hereby repealed.

I've given John Kromko a bit of grief on this 'blog, but this time around, he seems much more "on the ball", moreover, the initiative is much better written.

That renters will oppose the rent tax is almost a sure thing. It's mere anecdotal evidence, but even the pro-tax, unlimited government types around the office are against the rent tax. I think if we play up that this is unfair, unnecessary, and regressive, we can count on enough of the homeowner vote to win. (It actually helps here that Kromko is an old-school left-liberal.) It'll help, too, if students actually show up to the polls when there isn't a charismatic sloganist ("transformational candidate") to inspire them to take up voting as a means of self-expression.

Those seeking more information or petitions should visit More on Tuesday's city council meeting to follow.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

ACLU-AZ workshop on rights of "LGBT" students

I just received word of this, which should be of interest to my readers in the East Valley. Note that Quintanilla's activity is every bit as First Amendment protected as a black armband or a crucifix; what's at stake here are not just gay rights, but minority rights in general.

Justice for All: Creating Safe Schools for LGBT Students

The ACLU of Arizona is joining with GLSEN, HRC, and Equality Arizona for a moderated discussion to give students, parents and community members a chance to learn about the rights students have at school, and the many ways to combat bullying, harassment, and discrimination on campus and in our communities. One of the panelists will be Chris Quintanilla, a 14-year-old gay student from Peoria who stood up for his rights after a school principal demanded he not wear his rainbow wristband at school.

Thursday, May 7th, 6pm
Westside Community Center
715 W. 5th Street, Tempe

For more information, contact Community Organizer Mary Lunetta at or call 602.650.1854 x107

I will not make the drive up from Tucson, but I invite any readers who attend to report back either by e-mail or as guest 'bloggers.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Robb, in the Tucson Citizen, gets global warming right.

There are three or four reasonable policy responses to global warming and ocean acidification:
  1. A straight Pigouvian tax: a fixed tax rate on carbon dioxide emissions. This establishes price certainty and allows the government to mitigate global warming in a revenue-neutral fashion, a sort of "Green Tax Shift" from taxing "goods" such as income to taxing "bads" such as CO2 emission.
  2. Cap and auction. This is the "Cap and Trade" proposal favored by Barack Obama. It is essentially a tax scheme, wherein the quantity of emissions is fixed and the price is set by demand when a year's permits are sold at auction. It allows permits to be bought and traded, but doesn't incorporate many of the advantages, of an emissions market as it doesn't establish a persistent property right.
  3. Cap and auction with allocation. This is the system used successfully to mitigate acid rain; permits for emission in or after a year are sold at auction, but some permits are allocated each year to emitters in business when the permit system was created. This thus doesn't so drastically shift taxes to a single activity as do the Pigouvian tax and cap-and-auction--it's less of a one-time shock. When emitters are largely fixed, large-scale operations, it makes sense, but in a situation we want to be dynamic, it establishes a permanently favored class of permit-receivers. Those who can make early cheap reductions in carbon emissions--probably cement makers and transoceanic shippers, and possibly the fertilizer industry--receive what amounts to a permanent subsidy. In practice this has resulted in some Coase-like bargaining, but since the best one can do is stop one-time emissions, buying and retiring permits is a Sisyphean means to reduction.
  4. Cap and trade by establishment of a persistent "property right" to emit. Here the permits that are allocated are not the right to emit once but rather a right to emit a certain quantity per fiscal year. This has been implemented in some of the fisheries management tradeable permits schemes, but has been the subject of far less "straight economics" research than the other three. Its advantages are that it is less vulnerable to year-to-year government tampering, it allows for Coaseian bargaining, and that it makes almost obvious an "Epsteinesque" or "Kaldor-Hicks" framework for reduction of emissions by government: the government buys and retires permits. Unlike the first three, persistent emissions rights do not establish a revenue source for the government, but a small property tax on the permits could be established, to pay for program administration and emissions reductions through permit.

A savvy reader will note that the the first two are limiting cases of an infinite family of policies trading price and quantity certainty. Physicists and mathematicians, familiar with perturbation theory, will probably see this more readily than economists.

None of these could be effective if implemented by Arizona alone. All are intellectually respectable, and all are certainly better than the current state of affairs (unlimited dumping). I prefer the fourth option, which has not been given sufficient attention, but I understand and appreciate why others may prefer one of the other three.

Today in the Tucson Citizen, Robert Robb joins the many savvy libertarians--Greg Mankiw, Megan McArdle, Gary Becker, Brink Lindsey, Brian Holtz, and Richard Posner, to name a few--supporting a carbon tax. He appreciates the tradeoffs involved and is spot-on about the problem with Obama's proposal to use cap-and-auction revenues to offset price changes.

Many free-marketeers are (what should be embarrassingly) unfamiliar with the solutions to global warming that are actually on the table. Not all are as bad as the Goldwater Institute's Byron Scholmach, who, if he's still worried about his ability to breathe should try pulling his head out of his ass, but most nevertheless would rather put made-up tyrannical nonsense in the mouths of the constructive than put forth constructive solutions themselves. If you find yourself among the belatedly clueless, Robb's column is a good place to learn how market liberals (the sort with their heads in the right places) are thinking about global warming.