Sunday, June 28, 2009
Kim's 'blog, The Path of Most Resistance, and Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish have been added to the non-Arizona 'blogroll that usually displays down at the bottom right.
Sonoran Alliance, the major right-wing 'blog in this state, has been added to the roll. Like 'Blog for Arizona, its anti-rational partisanship and occasional descent into outright cliché of the lowest sort makes it often grating, but it's nevertheless a good source of information.
In the Arizona section, "Chandler Criminal Defense" is the 'blog that used to be called "Brown and Little PLC". Terry Bressi's fantastic Roadblock Revelations, keeping us abreast of his own Federal civil rights case and Border Patrol infringements of civil liberties, is certainly worth following. Dustin's Gun 'Blog has improved over the last two years to the point where it's now frequently insightful, in addition to being a reasonably thorough source of news concerning firearms legislation in Arizona. Both have been added.
Major tax reform seems like a nonsequitur response to the State's budget woes. The House seems to be counting on the coming tax reductions to be offset by an influx of economic refugee businesses from high tax states, something think-tank whitepapers have been promoting heavily. While that's possible, it's not a sure thing. Modern, high-tech business clustered in (e.g.) Austin and Silicon Valley in part because those are areas where highly skilled employees will want to live. In the latter case, the presence of one of the world's top universities helps. Social climate, largely intangible, can often trump regulatory climate. Engineers, scientists, highly educated and highly intelligent people tend to like the company of their own and tend not to like when their foreign or homosexual colleagues are subject to constant hostility from the neighbors. And Arizona never attracted any major educational institutions at all; its land-grant university is the closest approximation. Tax code simplifications and rate cuts will bring business here at the margin, but it's doubtful that Arizona's (already low and relatively simple) taxes are what's keeping Californian business from coming here.
This isn't to say that the Democrats are any better. Perhaps they're worse. See (House Minority Leader) Lujan's nutty remark in the Star article: "Certainly we want to help to incentivize businesses to be successful, but we also need to make sure we are preventing this huge economic crisis we're going through now from occurring in the future." It's possible in principle for a "huge economic crisis" to be caused by underprovision or mis-provision of public goods by government, and possible in theory for underprovision of public goods to be caused by taxes being too low. But the idea that the current recession is caused by underprovision of public goods is ridiculous. Arizona's low taxes didn't cause moral hazard at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, didn't induce overleveraging, didn't create the systemic risk problem in the credit default swaps market, and didn't cause the money market to seize up. Taking it to still be Saturday at the current hour (a stretch), I'll say that David Lujan's remark is the most ridiculous thing I've read all week. And Friday I was helping an (unnamed) state Libertarian Party executive director get over some of his misconceptions about climate science, so I've read some pretty silly things.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Without explanation, on this 'blog I've characterized 8th District congresswoman Gabrielle "Gabby" Giffords as a non-leftist moderate. I've taken a bit of "heat" about that backchannel from a few movement-libertarian readers.
In Democrat circles, two documents about health care reform have provoked outcry from the far left (the soi disant "progressives"):
- A leaked draft memorandum from the >Third Way organization recommending that any "public option"--that's the term now being used on the Left for a government-run health insurance (or insulation) scheme--compete on a level playing field with private insurance and come with a sunset provision. This is still a draft, and not yet an official Third Way position, but we shouldn't expect the final product to be different in spirit.
- A statement by the "Blue Dog Coalition" caucus recommending, among other things, that the "public option" be defecit-neutral, compete on equal footing with private schemes, and only be offered if "triggered" by a failure of market reform.
The Blue Dog proposal for a "trigger" is quite interesting, and deserves support, as it would change the terms of the debate for the better. If the "public option" is treated as an experimental fallback in case of reform failure and not, as the "progressives" would have it, a goal in itself, dialog about how to fix the market will naturally follow. That is the discussion we should be having. What is broken, and how do we fix it?
Giffords is a Blue Dog Democrat and an honorary Congressional chairwoman in the Third Way organization. It's reasonably likely that she supports market reforms and a "trigger" for the public option. Yet someone (who will go unnamed) who attended her recent "town hall" meeting on health care reported at the most recent Pima County Libertarian Party meeting that she's a supporter of government-run universal health care.
That's funny. I don't recall hearing anything to that effect during either of her campaigns. And Michael Bryan, apparently back to 'blogging at the far left Blog for Arizona, isn't reading her that way. Libertarian Party or Ron Paul/Mises Institute libertarians, especially of a certain age or educational background, have a peculiar difficulty listening to and understanding people from anywhere else on the political spectrum. (Or even people who largely agree: I've lost count of the number of times old-time or autodidact LP libertarians have taken me to be a "socialist"!)
They ought to slow down and quit concluding that anyone who doesn't speak their code-words is a left-wing extremist. Republicans, too, need to learn to take her for what she is. Building a winning coalition for real health care reform is going to be difficult; writing off Giffords as being solidly on the other side is incorrect and strategically foolish. The "progressives" are trying very hard to convince her and her fellows that only a "no-trigger" public option is acceptable; those of us who prefer fixing the market to destroying the market need to keep her in our camp. Voicing our support for the Blue Dogs' proposed conditions for a public option is a start. If you live in the 8th District, give her office a call at (520) 881-3588 (Metro Tucson), (520) 459-3115 (Cochise County), or (202) 225-2542 (Washington DC).
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
On the way in yesterday, I remarked to Rae Ana "I was almost overwhelmed by the temptation, but that sign dissuaded me": surely the view was beautiful, looking down at the canyon-bottom ranches and farms, but so are the two miles on either side.
But on the way out, I thought I saw a deer to my right. But deer don't climb rock walls, and don't have horns. Then four more joined it, and I realized that they were bighorn sheep: one ewe, one ram almost helmeted by his horns, and three juveniles in all, walking four-legged along a canyon face that would challenge a rock climber.
We parked on the bridge, and watched them pass. Good thing, too: two basketball-sized rocks landed five feet in front of my car.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:
Section 1. Title 15, chapter 2, article 2, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended by adding section 15-248, to read:
15-248. Students who are not citizens; data collection; annual report; withholding of state aid
A. To the extent permitted by federal law, the department of education shall collect data from school districts on populations of students who are enrolled in school districts and who are aliens who cannot prove lawful residence in the United States.
B. The department of education shall submit a report on or before December 15 of each year to the governor, the speaker of the house of representatives and the president of the senate that summarizes the data collected on a district by district basis pursuant to this section. The department of education shall provide a copy of this report to the secretary of state and the director of the Arizona state library, archives and public records. The report shall include the following information:
1. Research on the adverse impact of the enrollment of students who cannot prove lawful residence in the United States.
2. A detailed estimate of the total cost to the taxpayers of this state for the education of students who are not citizens of the united states, including a separate detailed estimate of the total cost to the taxpayers of this state for the education of students who cannot prove lawful residence in the united states.
C. The superintendent of public instruction may withhold a school district's apportionment of state aid if the superintendent determines that the school district is not complying with the requirements of this section.
A few remarks:
- Note the use of language such as "cannot prove". This implies a hearing or some other setting where a student is required to prove legal residence. Schools are not authorized to conduct such hearings, nor should they even attempt it. It creates a hostile environment for student, teacher, and administrator alike, and wastes valuable time. Moreover, none of the parties involved are trained to do this. Leave determination of immigration status to those who can do it properly: (Federal) Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
- Providing "detailed estimates" itself is a waste of time and resources.
- As I've mentioned regarding various anti-immigrant bills on this 'blog, aliens with and without the proper visas are part of the state's tax base, paying income and sales taxes--often providing false identification papers for the purpose of paying income taxes, an activity the xenophobes like to call "identity theft"--and at least indirectly, through rent, paying property taxes. One can report on the cost alone, or gross cost, but any assessment based on that would be unjust. Net cost is better. The bill doesn't establish whether the districts would have to report gross or net cost. I suspect for Arizona--and I've seen studies demonstrating it at the the Federal level--that illegal immigrant families' net burden on government is less than or equal to others of similar occupation.
- It can be very difficult for a young citizen child of illegal immigrants to prove he is in the country legally.
- It's difficult to see how the precedent in Plyler v. Doe applies here as no child is being denied anything based on immigration status or ability to produce papers; school districts are instead penalized for not producing a report. Nevertheless, ACLU-AZ staffer Mary Lunetta has indicated that a 1978 opinion (Pre-Plyler!) from Arizona's
attorney general (either Bruce Babbitt or Jack LaSota) advised against having schools ask kids their immigration status. I haven't found the opinion myself (but have requested it), but supposing the reasoning applies here, the State will have a very costly legal fight on its hands, and if the former AG was correct, it will likely lose. This 'blogger firmly opposes state funding of political campaigns. In the same spirit, I strongly object to what amounts to state subsidy of anti-immigrant posturing.
- Who cares, really? Concerns about gross vs net cost aside, in a classroom of twenty-five students, what is the marginal cost of student 26? Is there any indication that illegal alien children--or children of illegal alien parents--are a considerable burden on the State? The bill implies "no" as it would impose a substantial paperwork burden on schools to produce evidence on the matter, evidence rigged by the bill's language to be one-sided. "We'd like to think this is a problem, we know in our gut that this must be a problem, but we don't have any evidence; the schools will produce this evidence for us." That's nuts.
- If we had a sane visa policy, this discussion would never leave the barroom because the bigots would never be able to attach the word "illegal" to peaceful people responding to market forces, or to their families. The solution to illegal immigration remains the same as it ever was: a (reciprocal) shall-issue policy for work visas with Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and any place else, so long as it comes with a free trade agreement.
Leave an ALIS comment, as I did, or call Education Committee members, and let them know how bad this bill is for schooling, Arizona, and common decency.
Afterword: Read the list of sponsors. At the head of it is--no surprise--Cardinal Arch-Bigot Russell Pearce. Yes, the same Russell Pearce who lost a finger as a policeman in the course of brutalizing Latino kids and has suffered a Captain Ahab-like monomania ever since. And please pass that link about his finger around. People need to know who this clown really is: a bad "tough guy" cop turned bad legislator.
SB 1113 is what the hoplophobes have called the "guns in bars" bill and what the rest of us might as well call the "lunch at Chipotle" bill, allowing concealed-carry permit holders to carry in alcoholic beverage-selling restaurants so long as they do not consume alcoholic beverages, and placing the burden on restaurants that object to this to post conspicuous signs.
We can complain about open carry being left out--I carry openly to and from the range--and the provision prohibiting one from consuming any alcoholic beverages at a restaurant while carrying is overkill. (Drunkenness and having a glass of wine are two rather different things for those of us who weigh more than, say, eighty pounds.) But this is clear progress. The only real "hole" left in our right to carry in Arizona is the universities. (That is a major hole, meaning many pedestrian and cycle commuters, including most PhD students, are effectively prohibited from carrying on their way to and from work!)
According to Senate staffer Karen Winfield's e-mail announcement, the vote is as follows:
N ALLEN C
Y ALLEN S
N BURTON CAHILL
Y GRAY C
Y GRAY L
N LANDRUM TAYLOR
N MCCUNE DAVIS
Y PEARCE R
Y PIERCE S
Not exactly a party-line vote, showing that the Democrats are coming out of the Stone Age on RKBA, little by little. Note the "Yes" votes from Amanda Aguirre and Manny Alvarez. Republican RKBA supporters intending to vote in next year's primaries might also want to note the "No" votes from Jay Tibshraeny and Carolyn Allen.
I'd have liked to have seen how Rebecca Rios, reputedly sympathetic to last year's (failed) effort to legalize campus carry, would have voted. Gun ownership doesn't correspond precisely to a "yes" vote; Paula Aboud, who has publicly acknowledged having a CCW permit, voted "no." Always strange to see one voting against one's own rights. I'd put it between being a homosexual Republican and being a wealthy Socialist.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Nick Coons is an entrepreneur living in Tempe, CEO of the Red Seven Computer Co., and currently seeking the Libertarian Party's 2010 nomination for U.S. Congress in the fifth district, currently represented by (Democrat) Harry Mitchell. Just when I thought the Libertarian Party was doomed to irrelevancy even in its own movement--or at best to serve as refuge for ideologues and knuckle-draggers and a means for such people to burn out the youth--it adopted a respectable platform and nominated Bob Barr for President of the United States. If Coons does what he says he intends to do, he may similarly return the Arizona Libertarian Party to a level of relevancy it hasn't known in decades. Unlike most of the AZ LP's candidates save Rick Fowlkes (who was chased off by the knuckle-draggers), he's running a real campaign, on issues of relevance to the public (besides the Federal Reserve stuff...), and has set (relatively) high fundraising goals.
Here's hoping he raises the bar. (It's worth noting that word has it that Coons is running on a sort of "ticket" and pooling some resources and manpower with the eminently credible Joe Cobb; two real Libertarian campaigns is probably more than twice as good as one.) Duverger's law or not, Libertarian Party candidates who are a credible threat, who will attract the marginal libertarian voter away from the Democrat or Republican, and who effectively communicate a libertarian (market liberal) response to the day's concerns, will move politicians and policy in a more libertarian direction.
Unfortunately, my ability to take complete, let alone legible, notes during a phone interview has declined since I last played "real journalist" (1999-early 2000), and to make things worse, Nick Coons has a very fast manner of speaking--which isn't to say he's a fast-talker. What I have is below:
B. Kalafut: Why are you running?
Nick Coons: I primarily want to have a platform to talk to people; as an individual it's difficult to be heard--I'd like to explain ideas. But if I did happen to win my primary goal would be to reduce the size and scope of government.
B. K.: Since Mitchell is a Democrat, why not run as a Republican?
N. C.: In my particular district, there are five or six Republicans in the primary. I've been to Republican meetings, and seen what they see as necessary to have party support. Candidates need to have been promoting their party to show they are loyal. I'm no Republican as far as they're concerned.
Ron Paul is a special case, since he originally ran as a Republican in the 1970s. But back then, someone with those sorts of ideas could win as a Republican. I don't know if that is still true.
B. K.: What are your goals for the campaign?
N.C.: I would like to get a double-digit percentage of the vote: 10%, 15%. At least I'd like for the votes I receive to be greater than the difference between the two other candidates....I'd like to make other candidates take notice of libertarian issues.
B. K.: How are you doing on fundraising?
N.C.: Fundraising is yet to come. I've received a few hundred dollars, and am just starting an account. Most of this was unsolicited. One of my small-business clients came into our retail store, which was unusual, saying "I'm here to give you a check."
B. K.: And what about a campaign organization? Do you have staff lined up? Volunteers?
N.C.: Right now I'm working with people locally who want to do campaign management as a career and are just starting out, but as volunteers, at least for now. Many Libertarian candidates worry about going over the reporting threshold; I'd like to raise at least six figures.
B. K.: Any challengers in the primary?
N.C. Warren Severin [perennial Libertarian candidate in the 5th district--BSK] and I spoke recently, and he said he wouldn't oppose me. Nobody else has declared a candidacy.
B. K.: Supposing you were elected to Congress, what committee assignments would you request, and would you caucus with the Democrats or Republicans to get your assignments? What would be your legislative goals in the first term.
N.C. I haven't yet thought about caucusing and have to do more research about committees. I'd like to be on the Finance Committee like Ron Paul; my economic side is my stronger side.
Are you familiar with Downsize DC? I'd like to see the Read the Bills Act passed. On economic issues, I support Ron Paul's "honest money" bills, which would repeal legal tender laws and allow consumer choice of currency...the Fed has no incentive to make the money supply stable...people will shift away from a weaker currency to a more stable currency."
B.K.: Where are you getting your ideas about monetary policy?
N.C.: I've been getting a lot of information from Joe Cobb, from Ron Paul, and from Peter Schiff.
B.K.: Any other first-term legislative priorities?
N.C.: I support the Enumerated Powers Act, which requires that Congress must specify the clause or clauses that justify passage of any law. Much of what makes it through Congress is unconstitutional. I'm not sure if this will stop that, but at least it'll expose it a bit more.
B.K.: Anything else to say about the campaign at this point?
N.C.: Not too much. The campaign has barely started. All of the social-networking tools are set up--YouTube, Facebook, Twitter.
The two major parties don't seem to have a lot of credibility left. They say nice things while campaigning, but don't actually do most of these things. There's a very bad track record. People like to think they get something if they vote for the winner, but a vote isn't a bet. You're looking to ensure that you have the best person for the job.
There was some interesting discussion of monetary policy in there, but it's largely illegible in my notes. Call it "redacted by accident"--playing "straight journalist" is not like riding a bicycle.
Good luck to Nick Coons in his campaign!
Friday, June 12, 2009
I know the author, a probable schizophrenic and beneath the paranoia, erraticness, and abnormal affect a Nice Guy, but did not realize until recently that he's homeless. As he seems very uncomfortable letting people know this--and won't acknowledge the matter when I bring it up--and as he's somewhat of a public figure, I won't name him here. He is a highly skilled programmer, so if anyone would like to offer him a computer "gig" of sorts I'll do my best to put him in touch.
If he takes my advice and migrates to Blogger or Wordpress, I'll add him to the 'blogroll. Until then, just follow the links above.
There aren't many places in the U.S.A. where anyone can simply walk up to a sensitive archaeological site, but no matter where you live in Arizona, chances are high that one is nearby. (There also aren't many places where the Border Patrol simply runs over sensitive archaeological sites as they've done to Santa Ana del Chiquiburitac; accessibility has its drawbacks.)
Black Sheep Cave, a little "hole" in the Tucson Mountains, may not tell us much about the quotidian life of the contact-era Native Americans--probably O'Odham--who drew on its walls, but it is certainly visually impressive. And it's a short walk from a few well-known trails. No, I won't post directions on the Internet, but I will show you photos.
Monday, June 08, 2009
Specifically, if sent to and approved by the voters, it would add a Section 36 to Article II of the Arizona Constitution reading
This state shall not discriminate against or grant preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting.
That sort of fundamentally equal treatment should be something we can all support, but the measure, just like the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative that never quite materialized in 2008, has its opponents, who claim that affirmative action programs prevent racial discrimination. That's outright nonsense: the way to not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity into account is to consciously stop discriminating on the basis of ethnicity, which is not the same thing as giving preferences.
There is a reasonably compelling argument to be made for government affirmative action programs as a sort of remedy for negative discrimination in the immediate past, so as not to "lock in" for a generation or longer the results of such discrimination. If the government for a time deliberately did not hire Martians, it would make sense to give preference to Martians in its next few hires so as not to keep Martians more or less locked out until all the Earthlings retire, and to avoid the effects such a policy would have on the next generation of Martians (and Earthhlings!) But Arizona's preference programs, documented in a 2007 Goldwater Institute whitepaper, are not time-limited remedies to past discrimination and not narrowly tailored in intent or effect even if they avoid quotas. At best they are responses to discrimination of decades ago, but it's more reasonable to call them dodgy attempts to effect, in a roundabout way, group rights and ethnic pillarization. Not so dodgy as New Haven firefighter promotions, but dodgy nonetheless.
Proponents of continued ethnic discrimination have a difficult question to answer, and you should ask them it whenever you get the chance: "How long should discrimination persist, and under what conditions would you support its end?" The answer "as long as there is inequality between ethnic groups" is inadequate. If imbalances still exist, it is likely that they are not the direct result of past discrimination. It is evident that further "positive" or "reactionary" discrimination to remedy such imbalances will be ineffective, in addition to being unjust.
That injustice, acknowledged in both the majority opinion and dissent in Grutter v Bollinger (the U.S. Supreme Court case upholding discriminatory programs if narrowly tailored and limited in duration), is now holding back race relations and may be the cause of much residual ethnic prejudice. We're at the point where many a person of European or South or East Asian ancestry, on seeing someone whose ancestors came from the "global south" be admitted to a selective program at a state university, receive a state contract, or be hired as a state employee, suspects that that admittee, that contractor, that employee may have gotten there through an unfair and discriminatory process. That is not a situation we'd like the suspected "affirmative action" admittees, contractors, or hires to be put in.
The moral authority of preference programs expired decades ago. Light up the switchboards tomorrow, calling members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, asking them to move SCR 1031 along in the process. If you are signed up for the ALIS/Request to Speak system, leave a comment or request to speak. And it wouldn't hurt to leave a message for Senate President Thayer Verschoor saying that although LRCAs are not usually brought to a vote in off-years, the matter of racial discrimination is important enought that SCR 1031 ought to at least receive a first reading.
To quote native Arizonan and retired Supreme Court Justice O'Connor's majority opinion in Grutter v Bollinger:
[Accordingly,] race-conscious admissions policies must be limited in time. This requirement reflects that racial classifications, however compelling their goals, are potentially so dangerous that they may be employed no more broadly than the interest demands. Enshrining a permanent justification for racial preferences would offend this fundamental equal protection principle.Arizona has established no sunset or periodic review for its discriminatory programs. With the state Senate's help, let's sunset them ourselves in November 2009 or 2010.
The case formerly known as Winn et al v Hibbs et al, now known as Winn et al v Garriott et al, a challenge to Arizona's dollar-for-dollar tax credit for donations to school tuition organizations (STOs), charities that pay some or all of multiple students' private school tuition fees, has taken quite the roundabout path through the courts. Back in 2004 it was before the (U.S.) Supreme Court, not (yet) to address the First Amendment concern, but rather to decide whether or not the Tax Injunction Act precludes Federal jurisdiction in the matter.
It was subsequently dismissed by the district court for failure to state a claim de novo, taken to the appeals court again, and has now been remanded to the district court. The Ninth Circuit panel ruled that the Zelman v Simmons-Harris decision does not preclude a First Amendment challenge to the STO scheme because the nature of the private choice involved is different than that of the programs upheld in Zelman.
Supposing that the district court, or the 9th Circuit again, or SCOTUS finds for the plaintiffs, the 9th circuit's remand order points the way to a solution: replace the STO scheme with an individual tax credit for anyone who pays any portion of a particular child's tuition fee. That would be a better solution, too, addressing the double-payments market failure per se.
I still doubt the bona fides of the First Amendment claim. The notion that a tax relief program with clear secular purpose and violates the Establishment Clause because donors receiving tax relief chose too often to donate to organizations with religious organizations is absurd. Establishment is an act of government, not of the people.
Sunday, June 07, 2009
As promised, a few changes are happening at Goldwater State. One of the 'blogs more serious deficiencies was sparse coverage of Maricopa County happenings. I'll now be joined by a co-'blogger, Kim Ruff, who resides in the Phoenix area; the almost two thirds of readers who live in the Phoenix area will see increased local news and commentary in addition to a fresh perspective on statewide affairs. (Who wants to hear from a scientist all the time, anyway?) I'll let Kim introduce herself in her own post.
An e-mail will go out to roughly two dozen potential "regular" guest 'bloggers by 30 June 2009. If you're interested in being an occasional commentator on this site, you don't have to wait for this; sending me a backchannel e-mail will do. My aim is to make Goldwater State more conversational by the time I leave the state, and to be able to hand it over to two or three regular co-'bloggers.
Fall will bring a more exciting development, which I can't say too much about yet. When it happens, you'll notice, right away.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
There will be a rare late night session of the Arizona State Senatetonight (Wednesday) on the state budget for Fiscal Year 2010. You canwatch live on the internet at:
-- Left-hand column, click "Live proceedings"
-- When the TV screen comes up, select Senate Floor
It is scheduled for sometime after the Caucus, which will NOT betelevised. Caucus is tentatively scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. You'll have to keep checking 'til the floor hearing starts.
You could also try watching it on Cox Cable TV (Channel 123). If they televise it live, it will show at the same time as the internet.