Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Schmidtz finally getting his due.

From this month's lead Cato Unbound essay:
Finally, it is possible to advance liberty and defend individual rights in a manner different from Rand’s, as the works of Robert Nozick, Loren Lomasky, Jan Narveson, and David Schmidtz attest, and thus there is nothing in this proposed discussion that should be taken to deny the importance of their works.

It's ridiculous to put the blustering slob Ayn Rand on the same level as Nozick, Lomasky, and Narveson (and by extension Rawls and Gauthier)--the topic of the month's discussion aside, it'd have been better for Rasmussen to write "It is possible to advance liberty and defend individual rights in a manner different from the neo-Aristotelean treatment of myself and Den Uyl..."

But I digress. Arizona's own David Schmidtz--a sort of anti-Rand in his caution with language and his search for a common starting point with his readers--does belong in that bunch and it's pleasing to see him get his due.

Readers unfamiliar with the dean of local (classical-)liberal thinkers would find his Political Theory paper How to Deserve or the draft treatment of property rights recently recommended by Will Wilkinson good places to start. His Elements of Justice was also a lot of fun on an intellectual level, and if nothing else helped tremendously to clarify the questions. (I'd say it provided a few answers, too; your experience may vary.)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Speech as in beer? On its way out in Arizona.

By now most readers will have heard of the Institute for Justice's Wednesday victory in striking down the "matching funds" provisions of Arizona's so-called "Clean Elections" system.

The text of Judge Silver's order is not yet available. I'm wondering what information she has now that she didn't have a year ago. The preliminary ruling in McComish v. Brewer was back in August 2008. A delay until the end of the 2008 election cycle, so as not to throw the election into chaos and call into question the legitimacy of the results, was certainly in order, but a final ruling should have been given as soon as possible, so that active campaigns--including that of Dean Martin, who is both a "Clean Elections" candidate and one of those who brought a legal challenge to the system--would be minimally damage by the outcome, and the election be truly as "clean" as possible.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tucson vs Business

Tucson has a reputation for being anti-business. We can't point to one or two statutes--it's more of a feeling or a "smell". Rhonda Bodfield's features article in the Daily Star, Tucson vs. Business, spells it out very clearly.

Those of you who live elsewhere in the state should worry if your city sounds like the one described in the article.

If I were one of the City Councilmen facing recall, I wouldn't just agree that something is wrong; I'd take a stand, publicly, against obstructionist, abusive bureaucracy and overly burdensome city codes.

Friday, January 15, 2010

You call that "clean"?

Moreover, ever since triggering matching funds, Sposito has seen each dollar spent on his campaign bestow generate two dollars in opposition to his campaign because one dollar went to each of his two opposing subsidized candidates.

From the original motion for a temporary restraining order against the "Clean Elections" system.

Is Jan Brewer politically tone-deaf?

The committee to re-elect Jan Brewer has filed an affidavit requesting that whatever remedy the courts apply in the McCornish v. Bennett First Amendment case challenging the state's so-called "Clean Elections" system of subsidy for candidates for office not apply to the 2010 election, as changing the rules now would effectively decide the election against those candidates who signed on to the "Clean Elections" system.

Fair enough, although I'm reasonably confident that an alternate arrangement could be found for these candidates. One must question, however, why Brewer was running as a "Clean Elections" candidate to begin with.

I'm thinking that the Libertarian Party should call Brewer and give her honorary membership. One of their many "principles" is to not choose one's battles wisely, to fight everything out, sometimes even to act as though all of one's positions are somehow morally necessary as a package. Brewer's support for tax increases alienated her from the Republican base this year; one would think that some symbolic consilience, or at least an effort to not further aggravate that base when it doesn't matter, would be in order. "Clean Elections" is unpopular with the Republican base. Candidates who, through code-word bigotry, cheap public shows of religious piety, or even respectable hard-line fiscal conservatism, demonstrate that they "belong" can run as "Clean Elections" candidates and still win their primaries. Someone already considered a "RINO" probably cannot.

The Brewer campaign's request is on its face reasonable. But when the decision to run as a "Clean Elections" candidate had to be made, it was already known that the system's legality was seriously in question (due to the Davis v. FEC decision). Given Brewer's difficulty securing the support of the Republican base, it should have been evident at the time that putting the campaign in a position where it might have to appear to support the hated subsidy system would be a mistake.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

A rent tax like Osiris

Shall the idea of a double-tax on renters now be resurrected every year in Tucson? This time, the City Council didn't wait for public outcry to defeat the idea, but why is Mike Letcher even putting forth the idea? This is why Kromko, Juliani, and co. shouldn't have scrapped plans for an initiative last year.

Given the strong possibility of a recall election, there is much more to say about this, when the "real job" lets up a bit. Don't take talk of de-funding the governmental functions of government and emergency services seriously; demand that the city council meaningfully cut the scope of government.