Archive for November, 2011

Traffic means money

Drunk Driving Enforcement Is A Racket:

1,600 police checkpoints may have yielded just 3,200 arrests for DWI, but they resulted in $40 million in fines, plus $30 million in overtime pay for cops and a staggering 24,000 vehicle confiscations. Assuming that there are towing and storage fees involved in those confiscations, add on even more millions that are extracted from drivers, not to mention those vehicles that end up being part of a “civil” or criminal forfeiture case.

Much of traffic enforcement is about issues that are supposed to related to traffic safety, not those issues that are directly related to traffic safety. Speed limits and speed traps are the granddaddies of this. Cell phone use as an attempt to reduce distracted driving is another. Congressional testimony today pulled out sob stories of a dead daughter with pleas to further reduce the hours of driving time for over the road truck drivers and add yet more regulations to their already thick book. Then there’s the debate about using cameras to automate citations for running red lights or speeding.

Drunk driving is another area where measures of sobriety other than driving behaviors are used to promote safety. Since so many traffic crashes are related to driving while impaired, efforts in this area have a lot of weight. The problem arises when the civil authorities tend to see the efforts as a cash cow. That is what prompts ideas such as sobriety check points that take a lot of cops off the road, catch very few inebriated drivers, but do generate a lot of income in equipment violations and other, non-DUI citations and events.

Meanwhile, much unsafe behavior on the road goes ignored – except when it gets so severe it stimulates exaggerated road rage.

Money talks. Governments want more. That is a sad place to focus entrepreneurial efforts and innovative incentives.

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Tea Party vs Occupy mob: permits and licenses and fees

In Richmond, the Tea Party organization noted that the Occupy mobs were getting for free what the Tea Party paid for. They inquired about this and that put them in the city’s cross hairs.

The Richmond Tea Party stands for constitutional adherence, and clearly this has been unequal treatment under the law. We stand for fiscal restraint, and this is a case where a mayor used taxpayer money for his personal agenda. We stand for virtue and accountability in government and that is why we have taken a stand. We will be submitting a Virginia Freedom of Information Act request for all city correspondence pertaining to our Tea Party and its decision to audit us. We will not be intimidated and we will not back down. A Richmond attorney and fellow Tea Partier is currently reviewing our situation. Also, the ACLU has also contacted us inquiring about this matter.[big]

Community Organizing of a particular sort is getting other support as well – even when Congress has said “no”. ACORN has made some adjustments to attempt an out for the Administration in skirting the direction of Congress. Jay Tea sees this latest as a part of a pattern.

… Congress actually passed a law forbidding any government funding for ACORN, its affiliates, subsidiaries, or felonious accessories? It’s OK if you don’t, because apparently the Obama administration didn’t, either. … Obama’s National Labor Relations Board ruled that Boeing couldn’t open its brand-new, $2-billion plant in South Carolina? That same board has some very specific rules about how it can operate, and how certain agents of that board need to act independently from each other — and not collaborate, coordinate, conspire, or confer over certain matters. This is a rather odd rule, but it makes a certain sense when you look into it — the NLRB is set up as a “mini government,” taking on aspects of all three branches of the federal government (executive, legislative, and judiciary). Under that principle, it suddenly becomes clear how each segment must be kept separate, to avoid gross abuses of power.

Well, that rule apparently got tossed out the window in Boeing’s case, where several of those legally-separated individuals swapped e-mails to coordinate their actions in killing about 2,000 new, well-paying jobs from being created.

It seems the stakes keep getting raised.

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The nature of debate: Wisonsin labor unions

They will not go down easy … or something. Gary Larson describes the union war on the Wisonsin Governor. “Unleashing forces of hate, making it personal, unions roll out heavy artillery in their all-out war against their declared enemy, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. ”

This provides another example to examine behavior in debate. First up is misrepresentation (stage 1, denial): “Act 10 does not, as media allege, “strip” collective bargaining — it only reduces its grip on future negotiations by setting limits.” Along with this is the idea that “Union stalwarts take that well-hewn “we’re right everyone else is wrong” position in opposition to Act 10.”

Then there’s the acting out:

Protesters in the dead of February occupied the Capitol. Teachers left their classrooms to protest, forcing closing of schools while they took bogus “sick” excuses to get paid, in effect, for their protesting. (Role model lessons for students in the Entitlement Society in how to cheat.) Thousands massed at the Capitol, chanting, despoiling public property, posting clever signs, blocking Republican lawmakers from going about their legislative business. … Some threatened boycotts of local businesses whose owners did not see things unions’ way, declining to put up posters in their places of business. Some were asked outright for donations to the unions’ cause — sort of extortion on the fly. … A couple crazies made e-mail death threats. One lesser threat — a dark joke, maybe — was found on a note tucked under a Republican legislator’s door. It read: “The only good Republican is a dead Republican.” Such threats, idle or not, along with physical damage to public property and threats of boycotts and attempted extortion, stayed largely invisible to sympathetic, see-no-evil news media, who insisted that the protest was about “rights.” Always, please, “rights.” … A mob 1,000 strong marched lately into a quiet residential neighborhood to protest on the curb in front of Gov. Walker’s home in a once-tranquil Milwaukee suburb

By intimidation, another tactic of the left, or by compulsion (“Sign here or else!”), recall elections might well happen. Guaranteed, the artful left among us will use every means, fair or foul, to get those signatures. Neo-Marxist Chicagoan Saul Alinsky in his Rules for Radicals taught his acolytes that very lesson — the fair or foul part — to achieve ends by any means in political wars.

What will these tactics achieve? That depends.

For a recall election to be “successful,” the public will have to be convinced of something that didn’t happen and wasn’t intended — “union-busting.” Gov. Walker’s critics insist that it was his “agenda” all along, not bringing fiscal sanity to the state, and jobs, to save the state from enormous debt. To convince the public of a false charge of “union busting” will take a clever trick of hoodwinking the non-union, inattentive public. News media will be a pushover, as usual, for spreading the unions’ view, as sure as night follows daylight.

Will the voters just let it go? Or, worse, will they buy into the false reality presented with such vigor?

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Stages of denial: climate alarmists exposed

Often it is the issue itself that gets the attention. Intellectual integrity is behind that and visible in the behavior such as the use of logical fallacies or irrational debate. The climate alarmism debate has stimulated behavior that is so predictable and obvious that the behavior is getting more notice. James Delingpole takes off on the Kübler-Ross model (commonly known as The Five Stages of Grief, was first introduced by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying. [wikiepedia]) in Climategate 2.0: the Warmists’ seven stages of grief.

Here’s an amusing analysis of the warmist trolls’ various lines of defence, which I picked up from the comments at Watts Up With That: (I wd give a hat tip except I’ve gone and lost the bit: if anyone can re-find it for me let me know)

Stage 1: they aren’t real emails
Stage 2: they are real emails but they aren’t in context
Stage 3: they are in context, but that’s how scientists work
Stage 4: ok, this isn’t really science, but you guys stole the emails!
Stage 5: this is old stuff
Stage 6: this is nothing
Stage 7: look everyone! Winter storm! See, we have proof of our theories now.

Repeat as needed

The issue at hand is how to deal with another email message archive that exposes the intent and behavior of the ‘scientists’ behind climate alarmism. The ‘true believers’ are having difficulties and it shows in their responses. These are most blatant in the first two of the Kübler-Ross stages, denial and anger. The stages of bargaining, depression, and acceptance are more difficult to detect and likely yet a long time away as they are a constructive path towards coping with an existing reality.

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Crony Capitalism: Solyndra constrasts to Multistack

US News says Solyndra Is Symptomatic of a Larger Obama Energy Problem

There are lots of people in Washington who have identified Solyndra as part of a regime based on “crony capitalism” that has become the hallmark of the current administration. If that were all there was to it, things would be reasonably simple to sort out. In fact what happened at this one California-based company is only a symptom of a larger problem, one that threatens to grow over the next year and which reflects a fundamental flaw in the Obama energy policy: It is not based on anything reasonable.

The catalog of phenomena that lead to the ‘crony capitalism’ conclusion is summarized. It is the contrast with another ‘green’ entrepreneurial effort that provides emphasis to just how irrational the Solyandra type effort really is.

“Most of the innovation in this country comes from smaller, nimble companies like ours,” Multistack’s Mark Platt told me. “Innovation is what will keep us competitive on the world economic stage, create the jobs we need, and gives hope to the coming generations that America’s future is as bright as ever. The entrepreneurial spirit is America.” … What Platt and Multistack have accomplished, without government subsides and loan guarantees, stands in stark contrast to the failure that is Solyndra. More than that, it may be a model for things moving forward.

As Professor Walter Williams points out, the entrepreneurial capitalist depends upon many millions who put their own money into their decisions. Solyndra is a government putting other people’s money into its decision and that decision was based on ideological fantasies quite separated from reality.

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The Malthusians

Steven Hayward hitsList Mania: The Top Five New Malthusians. A Malthusian is one who takes after the ideas of Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus in his 1798 An Essay on the Principle of Population. James Hansen, the NASA ‘scientists’ so involved in the climate alarmism is first on Hayward’s list.

The most recent I can find is a 2009 article saying Obama only has four years left to save the planet. Since Obama clearly isn’t going to make it, can we expect Hansen to shut up at the end of next year? Of course not; too many lecture fees and prizes to be had.

Others in the Top Five include Bill McKibben, another climate alarmist, Achim Steiner, executive director, United Nations Environment Programme, Stephen Hawking, who thinks we need to leave the planet, and John Holdren, science adviser to the President of the United States.

The underlying factor for these folks seems to be fear that breeds pessimism. Guilt may also play a factor. These factors seem to overwhelm rational evaluation of recent history (especially for the last 100 to 150 years) and ignore the evident ingenuity of man to invent and improve and solve problems. Their view of history seems to stop when the industrial age started and all they can see in the post industrial mankind is the negative.

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Tortured logic: net neutrality

What is it about net neutrality that distorts thinking? It is much like the climate alarmism: Build a model and use it to show how your conclusions have validity. The model becomes supreme over reality.

In this scenario, ISPs profit more when the roads are congested — if traffic is cruising, no one would feel the need to pay for faster service.

Traffic jams, ISPs and net neutrality by Dr. Hsing Cheng and Shubho Bandyopadhyay, University of Florida, and Hong Guo, University of Notre Dame.

What is missing here is the customer. Lip service is given:

Currently, ISPs earn profits from attracting customers — mostly end users — using their computers for things like blogging, Tweeting, and downloading music and movies. For these people speed is an asset they might be willing to pay for. That gives ISPs motivation to improve their service and better compete for users.

But in a non-neutral Internet, the dynamic would change. ISPs would be able to strike deals to give certain Web sites or services priority in reaching users. For sites and services that pay up, there’ll be less waiting when the Internet’s information superhighway gets jammed — their pages will load faster. Those who don’t pay will be essentially forced to sit in traffic.

What’s the problem? Well, what happens when people are “forced to sit in traffic?”

Another factor that is missing is that it isn’t the ends that are the primary concern when it comes to ranking network traffic for priorities in delivery. It is the content. Some content, like telephony, suffers with latency. Some, like streaming media, can handle a bit more. Much, like e-mail or large downloads do not suffer much if there is significant latency. The net neutrality brouhaha is a misdirection by an anti-corporate ethos that blinds some folks to the realities of service needs.

Those people forced to sit in traffic? They either find an alternative route or they put pressure on the politicians to add more lanes and do other things to speed up traffic flow. The common folk are not just passive ignorami waiting for an elite to tell them what to do and that is one of the fundamental philosophies at play here.

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Figuring out what’s “fair”

Invectus tries to rationalize the ‘Occupy’ mobs in Meritocracy vs. Plutocracy. The essay is a good sample for inspection as it avoids hyperbole and flaming and provides charts and graphs and such impressive ‘data points’ to support the author’s thesis.

“My bottom line: OWS is not anti-capitalist, anti-Semitic, socialist or Marxist. It is about restoring the unfortunate but somewhat necessary accepted degree of unfairness/inequality that prevailed in this country for generations and, importantly, about demanding that the rule of law be applied uniformly (a quaint notion that exited stage “right” during the Bush administration and remains MIA during Obama’s) and not selectively on the masses while the political and Wall St. elites run amok.”

So what’s wrong?

The first thing to do is to look at the presumptions and the nature of the measures. The primary presumption is about an “unfairness/inequity” that has “prevailed in this country for generations.” Another presumption is an implication that the rule of law is not applied uniformly, especially during the Bush administration.

The measure of fairness and inequity is where the charts and graphs come in. They show changes in an index of “income inequality” over the years, growth in average after tax income by income group, “labor’s share of the spols,” output versus compensation, household income and poverty rate, and food stamp participation.

The referent can be seen in the headline “How’d the Gini index get so out of wack?” The key point missing is that the definitions of poor are getting more strained over time, especially in the U.S. and the fact that there is no inherent limit to what someone can earn other than government.

While the top 1% have been doing just fine, thank you, median incomes have gone nowhere in over a decade while both poverty and food stamp usage have both been on the rise.

What is not considered is that, while the “top 1% have been doing just fine,” so have the 99% below them. That is why many of the Occupy mob participants have fancy tents to pretend to sleep in and laptops, cell phones, gensets, and other apparatus to keep them comfortable.

The essay concludes that “OWS is not anti-capitalist, anti-Semitic, socialist or Marxist” but it gives a lie to this. It illustrates an envy of those who are better off that is expressed as suspicion and allegation coupled with a demand that something be done to make things more even in terms of wealth sharing. The reason that the ‘something to be done’ is left vague is because anything specific would make it clear just how socialist the desire really is.

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GSUSA at 100 years: the focus changes

Rebecca Hagelin notes that “This Ain’t Your Mamma’s Girl Scouts.”

A quick look at the speaker lineup for its upcoming convention makes clear that the Girl Scouts are promoting not the traditional values of the original Girl Scouts, but the radical, raunchy values and relativistic decision-making of the trendy left-wing Girl Scouts.

The real theme might be described more aptly as “Reneging on the Promise: Girl Scouts Turn Left in the New Century.”

The trend has been this way for quite a while. Hagelin suggests that those who thing the GSUSA should put its focus back on more basic values let their voice be heard and provides links about how to do so.

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Violence, unrest, and symbols (guns)

A while back the rhetoric was about civility and how targeting goals promoted a shooting. Now, the same ideological leaning people are protesting and Scott Johnson has an update on the Occupy crime wave update. At some sites, a special tent has been set up for a women’s quarters with guards to inhibit rape and similar assault. See also Assaults raise concerns about crime at Occupy L.A. (ht Glen Reynolds). Glen also cites Mark Steyn (MARK STEYN: Way back in 1968, after the riots at the Democratic Convention in Chicago, Mayor Dale…) and the mayor who was there to “preserve disorder” in describing the Oakland Riots.

Then there’s the gun control efforts. This one is towards the idea that the ends justify the means and it is the Attorney General that is in the spotlight. THE HILL: Eric Holder Has A Gun Problem. As the chief law enforcement officer Attorney General E…. That one appears to be an effort to get guns into crime scenes so they can be blamed for the crime and rationalize an effort for gun control.

There is a contrast. Media initially proclaimed it as a similarity but that effort has worn thin as the contrasts have become more blatant and obvious. Sometimes gaining a grip on reality as it is is difficult.

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