Friday, September 30

Higher Prices To Come At Walmart

"More than 300 labor unions and other liberal groups are joining forces for 'Higher Expectations Week,' a series of 1,000 events intended to pressure Wal-Mart to make reforms in such areas as 'affordable health care, corporate responsibility and economic justice.' According to the Wal-Mart Watch website, labor unions taking part in the campaign include the Service Employees International Union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the United Food and Commercial Workers."
Do these people not realize that Walmart doesn't pay for those things, their customers do? Corporations pass along all the corporate and employee taxes they must pay to their customers along with all their other costs -- it's called "overhead." Those "overhead" costs are embedded in the price of everything we buy.
Some of the supporters of these unions are: Other participants in the week-long series include such liberal groups as the Sierra Club, United for a Fair Economy and Pride at Work, as well as local affiliates of the AFL-CIO, the National Organization for Women, the ACLU and NARAL Pro-Choice America.
So what happens when and if they succeed and Walmart has to raise prices to pay for all those "economic justice" costs? Their prices go up and they are no longer competitive in the lower price market. Customers stop coming and the jobs are no more.
Come now, Unions and all you generous Liberals, whose interests are you promoting here? Not the employees. Not the customers. Who?

Wednesday, September 14

Roberts, the Supreme Court and Contemporary States' Rights

I recently heard someone say (in a rather snide tone) that if John Roberts should take Chief Justice Rehnquist's place on the Supreme Court, it would be a case of the clerk taking the boss's job. My reaction to that was "so what?" Who better to fill the master's shoes but the apprentice trained at his shop?

One of Chief Justice Rehnquist's legacies is his belief that the Constitution limits Federal power. Throughout his tenure on the Court, he did everything he could to emphasize and reinforce those limitations. Chief Justice Rehnquist understood that respect for federalism does not mean that there is no legitimate role for federal authority in protecting fundamental individual rights and advancing national interests. It simply means that the Constitution must not be interpreted to give the federal government unlimited power.

He came to a court that had traditionally, from the 1930s until 1995, held that the constitutional provision granting Congress the power to "regulate Commerce . . . among the several States" gave the federal government unlimited power to regulate anything that might conceivably have an impact on commerce. Many Constitutional experts claimed that this was not only blatant defiance of the Constitution but downright illogical.

Writing for the Court in the 1995 case, United States v. Lopez, Rehnquist amended this judicial error. He reasserted the principle that the Constitution gives Congress only a limited list of "enumerated powers," at the same time giving the states authority in areas where the federal government cannot intrude.

As it progressed, the Rehnquist Court limited Congress' ability to use state governments to advance federal policies and actually limited Congress' power to enable individuals to sue state officials.

Constitutional limits on federal power benefit conservatives and liberals equally, although liberals have traditionally assumed that federalism decisions furthered conservative politics. However, many liberal policies--gay "marriage," for example--have much better political prospects in "blue states" than in Washington.

If we can assume that the apprentice was well trained and tempered by the master, one might also assume that John Roberts would continue to promote that same limitation on Federal power.

Limiting federal power promotes competition between the states and we all benefit from competition. States with unpopular policies lose residents and businesses.

In a nation with strong federal power, there is little room for dissent. You agree with the federal government or you go to another country. When states can go their separate ways on key issues, a wider range of citizen opinions and preferences can be satisfied. If you don't like the policies of your state you can move to another where the laws are more sympathetic with your views.

The present Supreme Court, however, has managed to undermine Justice Rehnquist's legacy with their recent Gonzales v. Raich decision wherein they held that federal law supersedes a California law legalizing medical marijuana. In that decision they gave the Commerce Clause a broad interpretation. Justice Rehnquist and recently retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor each wrote dissenting opinions on the verdict.

Therefore, perhaps the most telling and crucial question that should be asked of Judge Roberts is something like, "How, Sir, do you interpret the role of the federal government as it relates to the contemporary interpretation of states' rights?"

Saturday, September 10

Katrina: An Unnatural Disaster But No 9/11

We're home. We've traveled all over the Eastern and South Eastern US the past six weeks and had a truly grand time. Even Katrina couldn't spoil our fun, although we were saddened at the tragedy we saw on news broadcasts whenever we happened to chance upon one.

Now that we're back, catching up on laundry and tons of mail while unpacking and rearranging things to make room for new acquisitions, we're catching up on the news, as well, and are amazed at the senseless blame and accusations that seem to have been flying about since the storm hit. What can those people be thinking?

An attack by nature in a single region, predicted for years and with plenty of warning so that citizens could get out of the way is in NO WAY comparable to a pre-meditated attack on United States citizens by an enemy intent on destroying the entire society.

Add to that the murder, rape and pillage by citizens of the communities, accepted if not encouraged by police, who simply looked the other way and allowed looting and you have a frightening yet predictable anarchy. Frightening, obviously. Predictable because of the mindset created by the welfare society espoused, created, supported and perpetuated by the liberal factions in our national politics.

Among the thousands of emails I'm plowing through this morning, I came across this piece, which I reprint here with complete agreement and sympathy while faulting, again, a mainstream media that once again has missed the real story:

An Unnatural Disaster: A Hurricane Exposes the Man-Made Disaster of the Welfare State

by Robert Tracinski
Sep 02, 2005
by Robert Tracinski
It has taken four long days for state and federal officials to figure out how to deal with the disaster in New Orleans. I can't blame them, because it has also taken me four long days to figure out what is going on there. The reason is that the events there make no sense if you think that we are confronting a natural disaster.

If this is just a natural disaster, the response for public officials is obvious: you bring in food, water, and doctors; you send transportation to evacuate refugees to temporary shelters; you send engineers to stop the flooding and rebuild the city's infrastructure. For journalists, natural disasters also have a familiar pattern: the heroism of ordinary people pulling together to survive; the hard work and dedication of doctors, nurses, and rescue workers; the steps being taken to clean up and rebuild.

Public officials did not expect that the first thing they would have to do is to send thousands of armed troops in armored vehicle, as if they are suppressing an enemy insurgency. And journalists--myself included--did not expect that the story would not be about rain, wind, and flooding, but about rape, murder, and looting.

But this is not a natural disaster. It is a man-made disaster.

The man-made disaster is not an inadequate or incompetent response by federal relief agencies, and it was not directly caused by Hurricane Katrina. This is where just about every newspaper and television channel has gotten the story wrong.

The man-made disaster we are now witnessing in New Orleans did not happen over the past four days. It happened over the past four decades. Hurricane Katrina merely exposed it to public view.

The man-made disaster is the welfare state.

For the past few days, I have found the news from New Orleans to be confusing. People were not behaving as you would expect them to behave in an emergency--indeed, they were not behaving as they have behaved in other emergencies. That is what has shocked so many people: they have been saying that this is not what we expect from America. In fact, it is not even what we expect from a Third World country.

When confronted with a disaster, people usually rise to the occasion. They work together to rescue people in danger, and they spontaneously organize to keep order and solve problems. This is especially true in America. We are an enterprising people, used to relying on our own initiative rather than waiting around for the government to take care of us. I have seen this a hundred times, in small examples (a small town whose main traffic light had gone out, causing ordinary citizens to get out of their cars and serve as impromptu traffic cops, directing cars through the intersection) and large ones (the spontaneous response of New Yorkers to September 11).

So what explains the chaos in New Orleans?

To give you an idea of the magnitude of what is going on, here is a description from a Washington Times story:

"Storm victims are raped and beaten; fights erupt with flying fists, knives and guns; fires are breaking out; corpses litter the streets; and police and rescue helicopters are repeatedly fired on.

"The plea from Mayor C. Ray Nagin came even as National Guardsmen poured in to restore order and stop the looting, carjackings and gunfire....

"Last night, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said 300 Iraq-hardened Arkansas National Guard members were inside New Orleans with shoot-to-kill orders.

" 'These troops are...under my orders to restore order in the streets,' she said. 'They have M-16s, and they are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill and they are more than willing to do so if necessary and I expect they will.' "

The reference to Iraq is eerie. The photo that accompanies this article shows National Guard troops, with rifles and armored vests, riding on an armored vehicle through trash-strewn streets lined by a rabble of squalid, listless people, one of whom appears to be yelling at them. It looks exactly like a scene from Sadr City in Baghdad.

What explains bands of thugs using a natural disaster as an excuse for an orgy of looting, armed robbery, and rape? What causes unruly mobs to storm the very buses that have arrived to evacuate them, causing the drivers to drive away, frightened for their lives? What causes people to attack the doctors trying to treat patients at the Super Dome?

Why are people responding to natural destruction by causing further destruction? Why are they attacking the people who are trying to help them?

My wife, Sherri, figured it out first, and she figured it out on a sense-of-life level. While watching the coverage last night on Fox News Channel, she told me that she was getting a familiar feeling. She studied architecture at the Illinois Institute of Chicago, which is located in the South Side of Chicago just blocks away from the Robert Taylor Homes, one of the largest high-rise public housing projects in America. "The projects," as they were known, were infamous for uncontrollable crime and irremediable squalor. (They have since, mercifully, been demolished.)

What Sherri was getting from last night's television coverage was a whiff of the sense of life of "the projects." Then the "crawl"--the informational phrases flashed at the bottom of the screen on most news channels--gave some vital statistics to confirm this sense: 75% of the residents of New Orleans had already evacuated before the hurricane, and of the 300,000 or so who remained, a large number were from the city's public housing projects. Jack Wakeland then gave me an additional, crucial fact: early reports from CNN and Fox indicated that the city had no plan for evacuating all of the prisoners in the city's jails--so they just let many of them loose. There is no doubt a significant overlap between these two populations--that is, a large number of people in the jails used to live in the housing projects, and vice versa.

There were many decent, innocent people trapped in New Orleans when the deluge hit--but they were trapped alongside large numbers of people from two groups: criminals--and wards of the welfare state, people selected, over decades, for their lack of initiative and self-induced helplessness. The welfare wards were a mass of sheep--on whom the incompetent administration of New Orleans unleashed a pack of wolves.

All of this is related, incidentally, to the apparent incompetence of the city government, which failed to plan for a total evacuation of the city, despite the knowledge that this might be necessary. But in a city corrupted by the welfare state, the job of city officials is to ensure the flow of handouts to welfare recipients and patronage to political supporters--not to ensure a lawful, orderly evacuation in case of emergency.

No one has really reported this story, as far as I can tell. In fact, some are already actively distorting it, blaming President Bush, for example, for failing to personally ensure that the Mayor of New Orleans had drafted an adequate evacuation plan. The worst example is an execrable piece from the Toronto Globe and Mail, by a supercilious Canadian who blames the chaos on American "individualism." But the truth is precisely the opposite: the chaos was caused by a system that was the exact opposite of individualism.

What Hurricane Katrina exposed was the psychological consequences of the welfare state. What we consider "normal" behavior in an emergency is behavior that is normal for people who have values and take the responsibility to pursue and protect them. People with values respond to a disaster by fighting against it and doing whatever it takes to overcome the difficulties they face. They don't sit around and complain that the government hasn't taken care of them. They don't use the chaos of a disaster as an opportunity to prey on their fellow men.
But what about criminals and welfare parasites? Do they worry about saving their houses and property? They don't, because they don't own anything. Do they worry about what is going to happen to their businesses or how they are going to make a living? They never worried about those things before. Do they worry about crime and looting? But living off of stolen wealth is a way of life for them.

The welfare state--and the brutish, uncivilized mentality it sustains and encourages--is the man-made disaster that explains the moral ugliness that has swamped New Orleans. And that is the story that no one is reporting.

Source: TIA Daily -- September 2, 2005