Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Archive for March, 2010

On hiatus

Posted by sanityinjection on March 26, 2010

Sanity Injection will be on hiatus for the remainder of the month of March. I will be back in April with more thoughts on the latest news.

In the meantime, check out some of my favorite sites over on the right hand side of the page. I especially recommend this recent column by John Stossel on the looming Social Security and Medicare disaster, which has the potential to make our current recession look like a blip on the radar screen.

Advertisements

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why do conservatives oppose higher taxes and expansion of government programs?

Posted by sanityinjection on March 25, 2010

Most people who are generally familiar with American politics understand that people who call themselves “conservatives” generally oppose higher taxes and expansion of government services (“big government”). However, I’m willing to bet that many people do not really understand *why* conservatives oppose these things. The average person may understand at some level that conservatives are not simply greedy, selfish people who are trying to weasel out of paying their fair share. But with this smear constantly being repeated to them by the Left and their media lackeys, and without an alternative explanation readily available, the stereotype becomes pervasive.

In fact, the conservative positions stand on a solid foundation of economics, common sense and even fairness. I commend to your attention this essay by Hal Gershowitz and Stephen Porter. Although lengthy, it explains in a clear and logical way many key conservative ideas on economics and government, including:

  • Why raising taxes creates a socialist system in which the rich pay far *more* than their fair share to subsidize everyone else
  • Why expanding entitlement programs such as subsidized health care is financially irresponsible
  • How the role of the federal government has inflated to take over things that local governments used to provide and that individuals and charities used to be responsible for
  • Americans are increasingly encouraged to view their life goals as “rights” to be provided by someone else (the government) rather than things we ourselves should work to achieve

The authors conclude by rhetorically asking: “Are you a morally bad person if you do not want to shoulder an ever-increasing government appetite to provide more and more benefits to a segment of the population who view these benefits as if they are birthrights?”

You can only get so many eggs out of the golden goose. If America continues to demand more and more from the top 10 percent – the people who really drive our econ0my – at what point will they get fed up and, like Ayn Rand’s John Galt, simply quit or move overseas?

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Health care reform punishes handicapped, tanning, personal responsibility

Posted by sanityinjection on March 22, 2010

Like most pieces of major legislation, the health care reform bill is long and complicated. In their attempts to fund a dramatic expansion of health insurance coverage and costs, Democrats pulled out all the stops and reached for every possible revenue source short of across-the-board tax increases.

Some of the revenue provisions in the bill may surprise you. According to Bloomberg, the reform bill imposes some bizarre punishments. For starters, the bill places a $2500 cap on pre-tax contributions to health care flexible spending accounts or FSAs. In other words, don’t be too responsible in trying to set aside funds for your own health care needs when you should be burdening the insurance system with those costs like a good socialist.

Here’s another: If you visit a tanning salon under the New Obama Order, you’ll pay a 10% excise tax on top of the price. Presumably this is justified by findings that tanning beds increase the risks of cancer, thereby burdening the health care system unnecessarily. But I think it would be hard to prove that the impact is so great as to justify such a tax.

Perhaps most incomprehensively, if you purchase a medical assistive device such as a wheelchair, you’ll be slapped with a new 2.9% excise tax. That may not be enough to bankrupt anybody, but what pray tell is the rationale for soaking disabled people? What crime against the Welfare State have they committed? It’s not as if they can simply choose to forego their wheelchairs rather than pay the excise tax.

Maybe the Democrats counted on a belief that tanning salon patrons, disabled people and responsible working stiffs don’t vote in great numbers. Let’s hope that, in the words of President Ronald Reagan, “They counted wrong.”

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments »

Health reform a Pyrrhic victory for Democrats?

Posted by sanityinjection on March 22, 2010

Tunku Varadarajan has got it mostly right over at The Daily Beast. As House Democrats celebrate their victory in passing health care reform, they have handed Republicans a very powerful weapon for this fall’s midterm elections. The GOP is now advocating a repeal of the new law, which would require veto-proof Republican majorities in both the House and Senate – probably impossible, but it makes a great pitch to fundraise and campaign on. Polls have consistently shown that the majority of Americans oppose this legislation, and worse – they know that their legislators know that and voted for it anyway. Although I would not go so far as to say as Varadarajan does that Obama’s re-election in 2012 is at stake (there’s a lot of terrain to cover between now and then), the 2010 election prospects for Democrats were grim to begin with and are only getting uglier in the wake of yesterday’s vote. 

Particularly vulnerable are the 8-10 conservative, anti-abortion Democrats who, led by Rep. Bart Stupak, eventually voted Yes after holding out for the meaningless sop of an executive order from the President promising that the government would not start funding abortions. These Democrats have managed to alienate both liberal and conservative voters, and if the GOP picks up their seats they are likely to stay Republican for the foreseeable future.

Democrats could be facing a situation in which they have purchased health care reform at the cost of giving up their control of Congress and their ability (as well as the President’s ability) to pursue other liberal goals such as climate change legislation.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Protect us from ourselves?

Posted by sanityinjection on March 19, 2010

A recent arrest in Louisiana raises questions about whether we really need laws to protect us from ourselves. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Michael Housey had an argument with his wife in their home. In order to blow off steam after the argument, Housey took his shotgun, fired once in the air and then fired at his own fence three times. No one was injured and the only property that was damaged belonged to Housey.

Obviously, neighbors heard the shots and called police. After speaking with Housey, the police arrested him for disturbing the peace, a misdemeanor. I have no argument with that. But there were additional charges: “illegally discharging a weapon” and “aggravated criminal damage to property” – both felonies in the state of Louisiana.

Am I the only one who sees a problem with this? Apparently it is illegal to fire a weapon in the town where Housey lives, though I cannot imagine how that is constitutional – surely the right to bear arms must include the right to actually use them? Even more egregious though is the felony charge for “criminally” damaging his own property. Is that a level of protection Americans want or need their government to provide? Shouldn’t we have the right to foolishly smash, break or destroy our own possessions in a fit of rage if we choose to do so?

What we have here is a man who could potentially be facing jail time just for blowing off steam. I guess the state of Louisiana would rather Housey kick his dog next time he’s angry.

Hopefully the felony charges will be dropped and we can chalk this up to overzealousness by the police. But they represent one item among an increasing pattern of government seeking to control what we say, do, and even think not only in public but on private property and within the privacy of our own homes. The law does and should prevent us from using that privacy to harm or infringe the rights of others. But on what grounds does the government find itself to be a more lawful guardian of the property of a mentally sound individual than the individual is?

Posted in Domestic News, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Football should be played on grass, period.

Posted by sanityinjection on March 18, 2010

When artificial turf playing fields were first introduced they were hailed as a great breakthrough. They allowed sports such as football to be played indoors, or on fields that held up better in snow or rain, and promised to save money on field maintenance as well.

However, in the 80s and early 90s, it was alleged that these AstroTurf fields led to more injuries to players because of the hard surface and players’ shoes catching in the turf and sticking rather than ripping up a divot. The 90s saw a movement among NFL teams away from turf and back to natural grass.

Then a new generation of artificial turf was developed, combining a springy rubber surface with strands of artificial grass designed to behave more like a natural field. This “FieldTurf” also has been touted as being environmentally friendly because it can be made from recycled tires. Since 2000, it has been adopted for many football fields from high school up to the pros, including 9 NFL stadiums, especially for indoor facilities where grass was not a viable option. Again, the artifical surface promised to save money on maintenance.

But now the injury argument has resurfaced. After studying six years of NFL games,  an NFL panel has concluded that a particularly serious type of injury – to the anterior curcial ligament or ACL – is 88 percent more likely on FieldTurf than on grass. Also, serious ankle sprains were 32 percent more likely on FieldTurf.

Defenders of FieldTurf point out that there could be a number of contributing factors such as what type of shoes are being worn on the turf.  But if you ask the players themselves, their opinion is clear: Their 4 favorite NFL fields to play on are all grass – despite the widely shared view that a turf field facilitates extra yardage for offensive skill players.

Also, one of the main reasons for the development of artificial turf is disappearing. With modern stadiums that feature retractable roofs, it has become possible to maintain grass fields in an indoor facility, as Arizona and Dallas have demonstrated.

Of course, stadiums with FieldTurf are not suddenly going to rip it out and replace it with grass, at significant expense. But I believe that for a new stadium, or one that needs to replace its current surface, the arguments for grass are compelling. The sport began on grass and was played exclusively on grass for decades. Modern technology is better put to use making grass fields better and easier to maintain than trying to invent substitutes for what nature does best – growing grass.

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

On this issue, I agree with President Obama!

Posted by sanityinjection on March 17, 2010

I may not agree with the President on a lot of things, but we are in substantial agreement when it comes to March Madness:

President Obama’s Bracket (Courtesy ESPN.com)

The President and I both predict Kansas will defeat Kentucky in the championship game. Our Final Four are the same except that he has Villanova in the South where I have Baylor. I view this as a good sign since President Obama correctly predicted last year’s champion.

Few experts appear to be picking #1 seeded Duke to reach the Final Four despite what is viewed as an easy draw. That reflects a record gained at the expense of an unusually weak ACC this year and a failure to notch many impressive out-of-conference wins.

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Put an end to frivolous state legislation

Posted by sanityinjection on March 15, 2010

It happens every year and in every state in America. Some well-meaning but clueless teacher wants to instruct their class about civics and how a bill becomes a law. They hit on the genius idea of having the class write a petition to their state legislature for passage of a new law. So far, so good.

The problem is that the teachers are keen to avoid having their class tackle any controversial issues, and rightly so: they do not want to be accused of pushing any particular political agenda on the kids. So they settle on the most innocuous thing they can think of, and it’s almost always the same: designating an official state food/drink/dessert.

So what’s wrong with that, you ask? At first glance nothing, until you realize that state legislatures end up having to file paperwork and hold hearings on as many as a dozen such petitions every year. Then you have situations like Vermont, where two schools filed competing suggestions for the state’s official beverage.

These bills are a waste of time and money for legislators, their staff, and taxpayers. They delay consideration of important legislation. Worse, they give children the message that laws are frivolous and that legislators have nothing better to do than worry about what should be the official state dessert – only to become cynical when even that appears to be excessively time-consuming.

If any teachers, or family members of teachers are reading this, I ask you to please spread the word to stop these pointless petitions. You would be furious if, during a snowstorm, your city or town’s snowplows took time out to make donuts in the parking lot to show kids how the plow works. Well, I’ve got news for you – in the world of government, with the economy the way it is, it’s snowing. Our legislatures are too easily distracted from focusing on what’s important as it is – please don’t make it worse out of a misguided attempt to educate children.

Instead, why not encourage each child to find a bill of their choice that is already pending in the state or federal legislature and write a letter supporting or opposing it? (Most legislatures post bills online.) The children will probably receive personalized notes back from their legislators.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Missing the point of Iraq election

Posted by sanityinjection on March 11, 2010

The diplomatic world awaits with baited breath today the announcement of the results of Iraq’s election. Columnists are in a tizzy over what outcome would be best for Iraq or for Western interests.

But all the speculation is missing the essential point: Nobody knows who is going to win. That in itself is the key victory for democracy – a hotly contested election whose outcome is not a foregone conclusion. What other Arab country can boast of this? Lebanon, perhaps, no other. And it’s a far cry from the days when Saddam Hussein used to be “re-elected” with 98% of the vote. And don’t think that the significance of this is lost on Iraqis themselves. With all the hardships they have faced over the last seven years, this at least is one tangible benefit: proof that the destiny of their country lies in their own hands.

Posted in Foreign Affairs | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Michael Gerson: Obama missed the mark

Posted by sanityinjection on March 10, 2010

The WashPost’s Michael Gerson, in a thoughtful and insightful piece, argues that President Obama’s strategic miscalculations on the public’s appetite for health care reform have painted him into a corner where he can only win a Pyrrhic victory:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/03/10/obama_is_choosing_liberal_divisiveness.html

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »