Saturday, March 7, 2009

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff 17

I Want To Be Free
For the first fifty years of my life I often wondered what I wanted to be when I grow up. Thanks to Rational Jenn and her children, I now know. I want to be free when I grow up.

Barbie and the End of the World
With the world as we know it coming to an end, a West Virginia legislator has decided that banning Barbie dolls is just what the state needs.

The proposal from Democratic Delegate Jeff Eldridge said such toys influence girls to place too much importance on physical beauty, at the expense of their intellectual and emotional development.

"Basically, I introduced legislation because the Barbie doll, I think, gives emphasis on if you're beautiful, you don't have to be smart," Eldridge said.
It may be true that Barbie promotes beauty over brains, but Mr. Eldridge is promoting brawn over brains. Rather than use reason and persuasion to make his point, he chooses to use the point of a gun. One can only conclude that he played with a lot of dolls as a child, as his own intellectual and moral development seems to be rather stunted.

Rush and the Lap Dogs
The clamor over Rush Limbaugh and his desire to see President Obama fail is both enlightening and entertaining. Republicans are oscillating between distancing themselves from Rush while attempting to avoid alienating his millions of listeners. It is a comical dance that illustrates the problem within the Republican party.

Though I am only an occasional listener, I did catch a fairly good monologue by Rush this week. He exhorted Republicans to quit acting like Democrats and return to their principles. The problem, he said, is that Republicans are debating policies rather than principles. And he is correct. But the problem goes deeper than that--Republicans can't debate principles because they accept the same basic principles as the Democrats.

Both parties accept the premise that moral behavior consists of serving others. Both accept the premise that the individual is subservient to the "general welfare" or the "public good". So long as Republicans accept these premises, they can only bicker over the details.

If Republicans wish to have a true debate over principles, then they must reject these premises. They must embrace the principles of individual rights and their moral foundation--rational egoism. Until they do so, they will remain lap dogs to the Democrats.

Treating the Public Like Mushrooms
Despite the trillions of taxpayer dollars spent to bail out financial institutions, the Federal Reserve does not want to reveal the names of the companies receiving our money. Doing so, the Fed says, might cast a stigma over those institutions, according to Bloomberg. Bloomberg has filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act seeking the names of these institutions.

Banks oppose any release of information because that might signal weakness and spur short-selling or a run by depositors, the Fed argued in its response.
We certainly wouldn't want the public to know which banks are not healthy--the public might act on that truth. Instead, the Fed prefers to keep taking our money while keeping us in the dark. So much for transparency.

West Virginia has Nothing on Texas
As if to prove that Texas has its fair share of prattling politicians, State Senator Mario Gallegos has filed a bill to force the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (HLSR) to create more diversity on the show's board. According to KTRK:

"No Latinos, no African-Americans, no women of any color," said Texas Senator Mario Gallegos. "It's 100 percent, nineteen members, are all white males."

Senator Gallegos on Friday made it official, filing a bill which would require non-profits to appoint a board of directors that reflect the diversity of its constituents, answer fully to all open records requests and make reasonable efforts to increase minority participation in contracts.

The dear Senator conveniently ignores the fact that HLSR is a private organization, and as such, it has a right to do whatever the hell it wants. As far as charities go, it is one of the best. It raises hundreds of millions of dollars for scholarships. It provides teenagers with a venue for showing their livestock. And it provides something of value to the "donors".

(You may wonder what the big deal is about a livestock show and rodeo. As the world's largest livestock show and rodeo, HLSR is truly a spectacle. To see hundreds of kids proudly showing livestock they have raised is a pure joy. To watch the calf scramble--kids get to keep the calf they capture--is both fun and sometimes agonizing. To watch bronco riding and calf wrestling provides an appreciation of the skills that are so vital on ranches. And as an added bonus, there are star performers, such as ZZ Top, Reba, and Clay Walker.)

Sheila Jackson-Lee, the Congressentity with the perpetual scowl, also had to chime in:
If it has to be through laws and oversight, then that it must be. But we will have a livestock show that is representative to all of the state of Texas, and can be a shining example in this nation of change, productivity and respect.
Actually, the livestock show is representative of Texas--it is based on the voluntary consent of all involved. Those who participate, attend, volunteer, donate money, or anything else, do so of their own free choice. But this is what Gallegos and Lee find distasteful. They don't like the fact that individuals might make choices that they don't like, and as legislators, they can can use force to impose their values upon others. If Lee really wanted to set a shining example, she would start repealing laws and protecting individual rights. That would be a real change, and would show some real respect.

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