Notes From Babel

Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

News Reporting Gripe

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Why is it that when a news reporter writes about a recent court ruling, no name or case number is ever provided?  How would I search for more information about the case if I were so inclined?  This is especially troubling when reading an older news article, as this one about a California court of appeal holding that parents have no constitutional right to homeschool their children (outrageous!).


Written by Tim Kowal

February 13, 2010 at 10:03 am

Posted in Rants

Shame on Joaquin Avila and Robert Rubin

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Since going to law school and becoming an attorney, I understand lawyer jokes less and less.  Most lawyers I know are good advocates and, shall we say, “highlight” the facts that best support their position.  And as for the ones that just tell bald faced lies, it becomes part of my job to stick their noses in it before the court.  In short, in my line of legal work, liars don’t often get far before their lies get the better of them.

This is less so when lawyers get involved in politics.  There, the only ones to police them are other elected officials, who often don’t have the time, and reporters who often don’t know what they’re looking for.  In short, unlike in the relatively tight-knit world of civil litigation, no one’s very motivated to keep anyone else honest.

So although I’m glad these slimeballs got caught, it worries me that this is just the tip of of an iceberg.

Written by Tim Kowal

November 20, 2009 at 2:57 pm

Economic Lies Make Baby Jesus Cry

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The White House is reporting a lot of false information about the effects of $787 billion stimulus program:

The AP review found some counts were more than 10 times as high as the actual number of jobs; some jobs credited to the stimulus program were counted two and sometimes more than four times; and other jobs were credited to stimulus spending when none was produced.

For example:

_ A company working with the Federal Communications Commission reported that stimulus money paid for 4,231 jobs, when about 1,000 were produced.

_ A Georgia community college reported creating 280 jobs with recovery money, but none was created from stimulus spending.

_ A Florida child care center said its stimulus money saved 129 jobs but used the money on raises for existing employees.

There’s no evidence the White House sought to inflate job numbers in the report. But administration officials seized on the 30,000 figure as evidence that the stimulus program was on its way toward fulfilling the president’s promise of creating or saving 3.5 million jobs by the end of next year.

. . . .

As of early Thursday, on its Web site, the government was still citing 30,383 as the actual number of jobs linked so far to stimulus spending, despite the mistakes the White House has now acknowledged and said were being corrected.

Deceptions and over-exaggerations about the effects of stimulus money and other spending programs seem to me more egregious than regular deceptions and over-exaggerations about the effects of progressivist policies.  Why?  Because more and more the civilized world depends on sound economic theory for its stability and prosperity, and less and less does it seem we have any idea what “sound” economic policy is when it comes to the federal government spending x-illion dollars on ephemeral “recovery” and “stimulus” programs.  With all the “won’t somebody please think of the children” when it comes to progressivist environmental planning, why won’t they think of our children when it comes to establishing the true historical record about the outcome of progressivist economic planning?  If flopping stacks of money in front of a swamp cooler and blasting it into the either didn’t work, let’s please not say that it did.

Written by Tim Kowal

October 31, 2009 at 8:57 am

Posted in Economics, Rants

Tagged with ,

Don’t Feed the Bears

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Nadya Suleman and her army of 14 zombies are set to come munch on our reality-tv-addicted brains. Would if we could simply wield The Simpsons’ and Paul Anka’s cure for such afflictions as octo-mom and Jon & Kate…

To stop those monsters 1-2-3
Here’s a fresh new way that’s trouble free
It’s got Paul Anka’s guarantee…
(Guarantee void in Tennessee.)

Just don’t look!
Just don’t look!
Just don’t look!
Just don’t look!
Just don’t look!

Written by Tim Kowal

July 25, 2009 at 3:10 pm

Posted in Rants

Regulation Doesn’t End Greed, It Just Requires More Gladhanding

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Steve Bainbridge provides some good explanations why more regulation doesn’t make greed go away, it just modifies the way in which it is expressed, i.e., through rent-seeking. The “invisible hand” is no longer such — it’s just busy in back rooms making deals.

Putting the government’s spanner in the works is unwise for another reason. Used to be the government would shake its fists at the private sector in moral outrage, but ultimately recoil to its own domain. With an effectively limitless federal jurisdiction, finger wagging is now followed by swift, comprehensive, and mindless reform. Government would be better off had we left a few teeth in the Commerce Clause: the economy can’t be your scapegoat when you can claim control of it at whim. Kind of reminds me of the image of the dog chasing the car who wouldn’t know what to do if he caught it. Except there are probably more things a dog can naturally do with a car than our federal government can do with the economy.

Written by Tim Kowal

July 2, 2009 at 5:18 am

The Booming (Public) Service Industry

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John Derbyshire shares the details of a few of New York’s 1,325 six-figure pension recipients:

• James Hunderfund, an employee of Commack school district, will retire September 1 with a monthly pension of $26,353.75. (Nothing hunderfunded about his pension plan, ho ho.)

• Richard Brande of Brookhaven-Comsewogue will also be heading for the golf course September 1 with a monthly pension of $24,222.43.

• William Brosnan cleans out his desk at Northport-East Northport July 1, and for the rest of his life will trouser a monthly pension of $19,058.80.

No offense to these guys — well, not much offense — but they are small-town education bureaucrats. Not only will they be getting annual pensions in the quarter-million-dollar range for the rest of their naturals, they are getting these numbers by law. If New York State’s pension-fund managers goof on the investments, or the market craters, we taxpayers have to make up the difference.

It’s not just edbiz either, though of course edbiz exhibits the greatest outrages. (Can’t we please just GET RID OF PUBLIC EDUCATION?) Local-gummint seat-warmers are on the same gravy train.

• Dvorah Balsam of Nassau [County] Health Care Corp., annual pension $191,380.32

• Stanley Klimberg of Long Island Power Authority: $191,380.32.

• Gerald Shaftan, Nassau Health Care Corp. again, $181,457.76.

These folk are all, as no doubt they would be proud to tell you, “public servants.” The idea behind that phrase is that they are like butlers or housemaids, placing themselves willingly at the beck and call of us, the sovereign public. So how come we, the sov. pub., spend our twilight years clipping coupons in rusting trailers in the Ozarks while our servants enjoy the beach condo in Maui?

From the looks of it, CEO’s and public servants might soon be passing each other in their government-controlled compensation elevator ride.

Written by Tim Kowal

June 20, 2009 at 6:37 am

Posted in Politics, Rants

Words Are Cheap

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From Fox News:

The Senate has unanimously passed a resolution apologizing for slavery and racial segregation in the U.S. and sent the measure to the House.

Something about that just seemed rather silly. And then this made it obvious :

The resolution passed Thursday includes a disclaimer saying that nothing in it supports or authorizes reparations by the United States.

Oh, you mean the apology was all a stunt. That makes sense. Apologize away, so long as it doesn’t cost anything.

[A much more thoughtful post on the subject from Stephen Bainbridge here.]

Written by Tim Kowal

June 19, 2009 at 6:16 am

Posted in Rants