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Friday, March 31, 2006

Life Is Not A Cabaret, I Guess

Inspired by Liza Minelli swearing off sex, I plan on retiring from the National Basketball Association.

Illegal Immigrants, I Mean, Guest Workers

As we watched hundeds of thousands of Latinos, mostly Mexican, walk out of schools and jobs to protest the proposed immigration laws, the anti-American signage and chants were repulsive. Victor Davis Hanson, who wrote about this phenomenon 3 years ago in "Mexifornia", opines that the reaction of US citizens will not be supportive:

Most Americans I talked to in California summed up their reactions to the marches as something like, 'Why would anyone wave the flag of the country that they would never return to--and yet scream in anger at those with whom they wish to stay?' Depending on the particular questions asked, polls reveal that somewhere around 60-80% of the public is vehemently opposed to illegal immigration.

Thomas Sowell made mincemeat of the claim that we "need" these workers. Since they are largely in the farm industry, this need must mean that without these workers, we would starve to death. But we actually produce at a surplus, provide farmers money to not grow crops and place tariffs on commodities like sugar to artificially inflate prices for protected local producers.

Sowell writes:

In California, surplus crops grown and harvested by illegal immigrants are often also subsidized by federal water projects which charge the farmers in dry California valleys far less than the cost to the government of providing that water -- and a fraction of what people in Los Angeles or San Francisco pay for the same amount of water.

Surplus crops grown with water supplied at the taxpayers' expense and raised by illegal workers can be grown elsewhere with water provided free of charge from the clouds and raised by American workers paid American wages.

Naturally, when the real costs of those crops have to be paid by the farmers who raise them, less will be grown -- that is, there will not be as much of a surplus going to waste in government-rented storage bins.

Maybe an even better question is how can politicians accept and follow the position of these immigrants over the strong opinion of their constituents? Remember who has the right to vote---today. Last night John McCain was on Hannity and Combs. McCain had no response to Hannity's question regarding Mexico's stiff felony laws that include prison terms for illegal immigrants to their country. McCain said that there is no excuse for the Mexican economy loaded with graft and corruption that prefers exporting its population rather than providing a clear free market where citizens have an opportunity.

I think the solution could be to ship illegal aliens (I am sorry, guest workers) to France. Public protesting looks like the rage in France where you need not go to work or to class.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Wealthy Are Abused By Kelo Too

Finally some rich guys understand the horror of the Kelo eminent domain case. When the stakes were low-end homes of middle-class citizens, only free market libertarians (and a few others of liberal or conservative stripes) were concerned over the wanton theft of property by government.

A local government is condemning an upper class private property for conversion into public property. Not for conversion into a bird sanctuary. But for conversion into a public golf course. To recap, prior to Kelo, the government could only condemn private property if the property was going for public use---a library, widening a public road or to serve another public function. And that property had to be "blighted---in some measure of provable disrepair; i.e. a ghetto.

Kelo changed that standard to "public purpose" and opined that taking private property from one citizen (or group) and giving it to another (a developer) could be legal since there would be improved up-scale homes replacing more moderate homes or the property would go to a business that would increase tax receipts.

A WSJ essay tells a new side of the excessiveness of the Kelo ruling. Now, instead of modest homes being taken, a private golf country club is being taken. The mayor of North Hills, in Long island, is taking a swank private country club and will convert it into a public course. Nifty idea. What citizens will run to the support of rich guys losing their (probably mostly white) club. And making it available to regular citizens on a first-come first served basis appeals to egalitarian sensibilities of many Americans.

Attorney Edward Herlihy explains the distinction between Kelo and this case:

The facts in Kelo illustrate the sort of public purpose the Supreme Court had in mind. As the Supreme Court explained, New London is "depressed" and "economically distressed," with an "ailing economy" and "high unemployment," and the city had "carefully formulated an economic development plan" to address its economic problems. The city's purpose was accordingly a proper public one, a bare majority of the court concluded, because it wasn't intended just "to bestow a private benefit."

Contrast North Hills. It's the richest community in the Northeast, and one of the 10 richest in the country. Drive down its main drag, Shelter Rock Road, and you'll learn why: You'll see gated development after gated development, and behind the gates and the fences, you'll see many huge, multimillion-dollar homes. You'll see no economic deprivation here.

While I recognize these differences between Kelo and Deepdale (the name of the country club), I will add another reason to be against this taking by government. Basically, this attempt to wrest private property for public use should be an affront to the First Amendment. The First Amendment allows for "the right of the people peaceably to assemble". That means people who find whatever commonality among them, from race to wealth to political affinity, can choose to associate with each other for any legal purpose.

Transport yourself back to Jim Crow days. Say a Bull Connor-type mayor saw a group of blacks congregating in a lodge regularly. He learns they are discussing a planned bus boycott. So he uses eminent domain to take over the lodge and "sells" it to the KKK for their use. This is a logical upshot from the eminent domain broadening.

The Constitution is a document that enumerates limited powers of government. The Bill of Rights is largely superfluous but does reiterate areas where the government can never go. Powers not specifically enumerated remain in the possession of the people. One of those is property rights. There is no end to the abuse of private property rights with Kelo and its progeny.

Therefore, even if you are a protector of the little guy, please recognize that these wealthy club members are little like you when the opponent is the government. The Deepdale fat cats have rights under the Constitution like the rest of us.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Go NCAA Underdog!!!

Readers of the blog know my affinity for the economic writings of Walter Williams and Don Boudreaux, both of George Mason University in Virginia. GMU is continuing its NCAA Tournament march as they defeated the powerful UConn yesterday. I chose UConn as tournament champ in one of my 3 NCAA pool entries (I also chose Gonzaga and West Virginia in the other entries).

I just read this reprint on NRO of an article written by John J. Miller about GMU's founding and the rise of its law school. Like the philosophy of the 2 writers mentioned above, the faculty is largely libertarian. The law school applies an economist's view to legal issues. It now ranks in the top 50 nationally per a US News ranking.

I have been reading about one of its professors, James Buchanan that Wikipedia describes as "best known for developing the "public choice theory" of economics, which changed the way economists analyze economic and political decision making." The best approach in any area of analysis, especially the efficacy of government solutions to a "crisis" or problem requires a consideration of the economic incentives that affect reaching intended results.

Congrats to the B-Ball team. I am rooting for them for reasons that go way beyond just rooting for the under-dog.

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